Poem: How Things Are Captured


When the whole of life clutches at your chest,

Pectoral muscles and intercostals constricting –

That sweet angina of upward propulsion, forced

Downwards – reminding you that it is hard to breathe –

That it is hard to live – and that your imagination is dependent

Upon your body – but that your body is your imagination


Every sensation becomes centered in that pectoral matrix:

Tongues clatter – butterflies flutter – lungs feel sick and lucidly

Sweet in the deoxygenation of their own anatomy


And you reflect on how things are captured –

How to make the ephemeral immortal – how

To forget – not remember – all that needs to

Be forgotten


How to make a cup of tea last forever;

How to keep two pairs of arms from ever being dissevered


But The Eternal Memory continues, remembering all that

Needs to be forgotten, and all that shouldn’t: the little crevices

Where you keep your receipts; those little snatches of conversation

That torment you with their belaboured banality


But then you remember something worthwhile:

When you walked down the leas, and wondered at

Your own lack of wonder on seeing the acne scars

Of Celandine; and you hate them – hate yourself for

Hating them – you hate the recognition that you should

Be moved and feel something; yet you are unmoved and

An outcast of higher feeling; but, equally, those higher

Feelings are still there – you love them – want to kiss them –

To offset your lips as puckered petals against them – those

Little daubs of painted flax that bejewel the countryside



You, too, can be a moment captured;

A memory amputated from someone’s side

That keeps them tossing and turning and awake

All night


A night of tears and agony,

On a wind-swept sofa, wave-riven and briny;

And then the bus ride back in the morning

With chaotic thoughts chorusing at desuetude’s dawning,

And you are ephiphanized with this realizing:


“The world is a better place with me in it,

So I am duty-bound to go on living,

Even though I find no joy or solace in existence,

And have no desire to go on living.


“But I do want to go on living! To really live!

Yes, I live, and I live through pain – but to live

Beyond and above pain, even while wholly

Centered within it – to be happy and unalone

For more than just a moment, but a continuum

Of happy and love-uplifted moments!


“But pain and sadness have become entrenched habits,

As I make myself a sponge of willingness to the sufferings

Of others: how can I give up on pain, without wrongfully

Turning my back on the pain of others?”


So, moments are captured; questions are captured;

And, gratefully, answers are as elusive as imaginary

Lips, and can never be said to be fully captured; while

Wrestling with the desire to distil the purity of man

Into a single sentence


And should you ever find that sentence,

Nail it to me, write it down, but never let

Me read it – and in the meantime I will

Venture forth with the harpoon and net

Of my retentive memory, and hunt for

More moments to capture