ICELAND :: monochrome

The surface of an alien planet
Frozen in a thick fleece of snow.
Black dots of lava
Stretch into stark desolation,
A blizzard of white
Smothering grass
Decorating trees
Flat and lifeless like the
Surface of the moon.

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Jagged pieces of snowy glass
Pierce the cratered surface.
Sheer, white-peppered mountains
Puncturing the sky, calm and grey
As the land, so that
It’s not easy to find the horizon
If it exists.

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Then like mirages they appear,
Around a rocky corner,
Smooth and tumbling waterfalls
Plummeting with a roar
Into icy pools, then snakes away
Like a frozen dragon
Off to find its lair.

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But it treads into the path of
A dragon of fire, and from their fight
Great plumes of smoke
Explode roaring from the depths
And bathe the land in
Endless fog.

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When at last the watery dragon
Finds the ocean,
Its fury whips up waves
Roaring and rolling towards the shore
Like an ancient army
Out for vengeance,
Clawing at the sand,
Rising high in might and
Thundering down like a symphony,
Unceasing in rumbling noise.
A constant battlefield
Between the land and sea.

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The wind howls bitterly at the stars,
Buffets at all in its path
A cruel and biting cold
Rubbing skin raw, stinging eyes
And the weather turns
Like a merry-go-round.
Flurries of snow descend from heaven,
Thick drops tossed around
By the playful wind,
The world blurring into
A mass of raining foam.

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The next morning all the snow
Has melted, icy footprints
Vanished into the air.
The calm before the storm
Is like a dam about to burst.
Heaven’s showerhead
Torments mercilessly
The wind dances in joyful fury
White the sun hides in bed.

[Written 26/12/16 in Reykjavik]

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PARIS :: au revoir

Long time no update. I was (and still am) quite preoccupied with this thing called life.

So this is it then.
The last night of a
Great adventure
In delicate memory like
Flickering candlelight.
The wax is short.
It drips into ice.
The end?

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The night is cold.
Clouds blanket skies
And windows are lit.
It is almost Christmas.
Yet the city is empty,
My friends evaporated
Like the last droplets of
Water in a basin.

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No longer will I walk
Across the bridge to
A fancy home for
Long-expected dinners
Made on a whim.
No longer will I see
The same familiar face
Dogging my footsteps,
That charismatic smlie
Beneath messy curls,
The face that marked
My seat in class –
Beside his.

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No longer will I see
The Eiffel tower sparkle,
Take a bus across the Seine,
Ride a bike along its banks,
Stroll into museums as though
I own them.
No longer will I stroll down
The Champs-Elysees as though
It were my local street,
Buy breakfast in boulangeries,
Be tempted by creperies.

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No longer will I climb
Six flights of winding wooden stairs
Be greeted by an orange laptop
And old familiarity.
As for that large unremarkable
Building I once called my school,
With its floors and rooms and lecture halls,
I can no longer say it is mine.
I am just another passing stranger
Who looks upon it with
Fond, forgotten memories.
Today I have passed that place
For the last time.

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Goodbye and farewell,
City of lights.
Though you will always be here,
And I may visit again
A thousand times,
You will never be the same
As you were to me
In these last few months,
In this precious moment.

Au revoir, Paris.

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Written 22/12/16 in my apartment in Paris, on the last night before my flight out of the city.

VIENNA :: city of music

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Black and white

Like pure white gloves
Gliding across
Piano keys,
Seamlessly jumping
Back and forth—
Staccato!—
Or rolling scales or
Gentle chords—
Legato.

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A breath of steam

Crisp morning air
Surrounds proud white
Buildings wearing
Frills and cravats.
Morning dawns.
Raise the trumpet to your
Lips, a triumphant call.

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Spilling sunlight

Light the way to
Your great churches,
Your operas and
Temples of music.
Golden halls and
Grand palaces with
Gardens spilling out
Onto high hills.

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Raise the baton.

The band is ready,
The reeds are wet
And the strings tuned.
It is time to
Conduct your own opera,
Make your own way.

The city of music
Bids hello
And adieu.

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VIENNA :: dawn

Dawn peeks out from the morning clouds
The air is still and silent,
Birds soar high and bells toll loud
The sky is glowing violet

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The great palace of green and gold
Sits basking in the splendour
A hundred monarch have built this old
Site that would us render

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Awed as I sit beneath cold grey skies
Beside the palace doors
As the sun peeks up to rise
Shining on a realm of lords

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It is quiet, empty, cold and clear
The birds hover in frosty air
Ignoring the immense and sheer
Palace, standing tall and fair.

[Written 15/12/16 when I accidentally arrived at Schonbrunn Palace before it opened]

LAUSANNE :: neutrality

Soaring mountains,
Silent lakes
The fog settles like frost
On a morning’s day.
Chilling silence,
Crisp cold air
Wide open streets
Young and fair.

Switzerland,
Your neutrality
Trickles down
To actuality,
Your streets are clean
And calm, tis true,
But I feel like I’m walking
In a hotel room.

Where is your
Atmosphere?
Why is it bitter
And frosty here?
The roads are empty
And too wide,
Ever coldly twinkle
The Christmas lights.

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[It’s called Lausanne but it could also be about Geneva, and Switzerland generally. Written 12/12/16 at Geneva station.]

BARCELONA :: Gaudi

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I
was
never
interested
in architecture.DSC_2424.JPG
‘Pretentious’
was the
word
I
had
thought
it would be:
empty jargon in
place of
art.

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But that
was before I saw
the Spanish maestro’s masterpieces
blurring the boundaries between
natural and artificial,
imagined and real,
forests and iron
next to each
other
living in
harmonious juxtapositionDSC_2431.JPG
like a tessellating
pattern on
the
tiles
beneath
our feet.
Twists and
curves and smooth
carvings make majestic
buildings ripple in the morning
light, stretch the
bounds
of
our
imagination,

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pit surreal against
logic and always come
out the stronger.
Tree trunks
support
false
ceilings
and leaves
wrap themselves
around to form railings,
chimney tops,DSC_2465.JPG
transform
from
ugly poles
to whimsical shapes
on an undulating rooftop
overlooking a city
as vibrant as
a
sunset,
as calm as
lapping waves on beaches.dsc_22661.jpg
Smooth curves and
winding stairs,
vibrant colours
splatter on
facades.
Do
you say
architecture?
I say
art.

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BARCELONA :: Oxymoron

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Incessant sunlight
And wide streets
Barcelona,
You fascinate me
A jungle of buildings
Flashes of colour
Yet golden sand
like perpetual summer

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A beach city
With azure waves
Crashing on sand
In hazy days
Yet just beyond
Is an urban sprawl
Alleyways and
Graffiti walls

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Hidden bars
And quiet lanes
Clothes hung out,
There is no rain.
Scattered parks
Bring welcome green,
Trees and hedges
‘Tis quite a scene.

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And yet rising
like a mighty wave
Crooked edges,
A living cave
The architect’s
Masterpiece
Is for the eyes
Quite a feast

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And others spring
Up in the city
Twisted curves,
White-washed pretty
Roofs and a
Ginger-bread-like house
Rickety pillars
Made to astound.

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Surreal landscapes
Amidst the plain
For this, Barcelona,
You are famed
Yet I find you
A paradox,
Where luxury mixes
With stray dogs.

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[Written 8/12/16 partially in an unknown garden/park, partially in Park Guell]

BARCELONA :: Sagrada Familia

A thousand spires,
A million bricks
Eternal blood and tears.
Soaring towers
Towards the sky
Allaying all my fears.

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Tall tree trunks form towers
Standing resolute
Emanating powers
Of Heaven, God and truth.

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A hundred years,
And then ten more
Before it is complete,
But even now,
Its splendour’s clear
For all the world to see.

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The afternoon sunlight
Shining through stained glass.
Countless colourful rites
In a hall vaulting and vast.

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Breathless silence
Reverent gazes
Behold with awe, and stare
At the height, the might
The majesty
Of this precious place of prayer.

[Written 8/12/16. Apologies for the hiatus in posting.]

HELSINKI :: a long pier

At the end of a long pier
There is a platform
Out in the middle of the Baltic Sea.
A panorama of calm water
Lapping at frozen shores
Dulled beneath grey clouds
Moving incessantly,
Hiding secrets.

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This platform overlooks islands
With bare trees and white snow.
There is a fortress,
Grey snow-capped stone walls
Forbidding entry.
There is an island with red buildings
Backdropped by snowy hills
Like a fairytale.

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The silence is consummate
Save for the water
Against the rock
Or the mumbling of the
Occasional boat.
There is no other movement
From bird or man,
Just still black water.

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Behind me, the main island
Has parks covered in white magic
And dark leafless trees
Await their rebirth.
Colourful buildings weather the cold.
It is a small place yet always
There are people going for walks
Alone, with a dog, with a lover.

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