Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Saturday 20 June 2009

What do you fear? What do you hope for?

Hope and fear in one immense flash gone,
The switch tripped, the end lost in the beginning,
The question on the road, knocked down, unanswered.
Worst of all, I fear not to know what's going to happen
Next, or ever after in the story, when it won't matter
If Jack and Jill are drowned and love is lost for good,
And the dragon and St George fall down together in a heap,
And a straight white line and a single note declare
Every hope and speculation out of court.
Lips, I fear, closed tight to greet the question,
The blank page, the cold eye, the hollow fruit.
I fear the click as the clock springs tighten,
And hands, with nowhere else to go, go round and round,
Empty railways stations and the shudder of rock and roll.
I fear that no room may be left in the heart for fear.
Yet I can still hope in place of fear, on waking up, to hear
The cold song of blackbirds who know the sun will rise, and when.

Who do you think you are?


marja-leena said...

I like this very much, particularly the two closing lines before the question.

Questions reminds me of another set I've been following called Consequences which is a similar ongoing online game but with a different writer doing successive entries, though not poetic this time. Have you been following it? Should you be interested the latest one is here, with the links to earlier posts shown at bottom.

The Crow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roderick Robinson said...

"Empty railway stations and the shudder of rock and roll" opens up something new yet blindingly familiar, polar opposites which must have something in common, and, for me at least, something I can respond to with interest and something I hate, especially the shudder. The juxtaposition is everything and yet there is no attempt to exaggerate. I wrote two poems while on holiday, over and over, using pen and paper instead of the facile computer. It's a truism but I'm astonished about how things come and go, the latter just as important as the former. At times I felt I wallowed in what I was doing, blindly hoping that I would bring two things together in a way that surprised me. In the way your line surprised/didn't surprise me.

Zhoen said...


Lucas said...

I agree with Barrett that "the juxtaposition is all" and the reverse logic of "If Jack and Jill are drowned and love is lost for good/And the dragon and St George fall down together in a heap" chimes like a carillon.