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Exposed, illegal, adrift



Selected poems



This cramped corner of the decking planks
is all you have on a pelagic wreck,
a Medusa raft, splintered, rank ...
Part of an interlocking human mat,

you lie exposed and frightened,
to escape the below deck stench
of excrement and illness.
Scant hope here of sleep

unless it be that hunger and dehydration
have numbed concern for pain
of prominent bones on wood.
Your poor boat circulates

like captive plastic in a gyre,
rotates without access to landfall,
a Flying Dutchman journey
for a crime that was never yours.

The true villains in this outcome
bask proudly in their stand
firm against illegal entry
by the family of man.



A Bondi promontory

A tongue of jealousy
ran along the contours of our night.
It licked in hot spurts
at the quieter contemplative moments
during dinner
and erupted like a scrub fire
around us as we stood
on the high dark hill above the sea.

Other people's night bounced in laughter
from the shadow shapes of bodies
nestled on the rocky prominences
or in cave-like overhangs below us.
In the highest place for miles around
we gazed at the dark mystery of water
and tears ran down your face.



Medical encounter

Waiting on a white plastic chair
the sort that's used for outdoor concerts ...
anxiety vibrates inside the room
glassy people fidget
transparent papery faces
they take uncertain steps towards and then away
staff speak slowly loudly with a hint of exasperation

I am ushered to a suite of small white rooms
electrodes are attached to arms and chest
by an emotionally shuttered nurse
wary of information exchanges
eyes averted, a cagey poker player
no names given — odd these days
but I suppose it's in and out so why bother.

The heart sounds which beep from various sites
are manipulated and enhanced
I think of the Tell Tale Heart
though I'm not beneath the floor boards
but unattractively displayed
sprawled partially raised upon my back
like a Lucien Freud painting.

The beeping and the clicking shapes the portrait



A bearer of time

I like the ancient terracotta urn
here in the waiting room.
It proudly sports its chips and scars
in an unexpected afterlife
far from the stones and furrows
of its discovery location
and further still from workshops
of its creation in a place
of sand and olives and callous sun.

Beauty is not its sole function here
but rather an accidental attribute
that accompanies a message to the patients
who slump and cough around the room —
a message about venerable age
or patience and transformation
out of suffering ...
Perhaps a little like a Madonna
in our presence.



Silent ending

What's in between those two extremes:
the having and the state of loss?
It's suspended life, or so it seems ...
The silent farewells — a bleak ethos
that stifles knowledge of each other.
Contact cut to avoid the bother
of dealing with the broken hopes
and moods that plunge down dangerous slopes.

In this communication wasteland
we have no way that we might learn
the things to change so as to turn
perceived attack to a healing hand —
To open hearts at least to sharing
though we eschew more intimate caring.



This day upon my face

The old sun's kiss in sorrow
is offered for my dwindling time.
A thousand possibilities
lurk tucked away in crevices
in unhinged imagination,
in forests and in books
in conversations and in drawers —
hidden in the sunshine
and the shade ...
This day might yet be
unbuckled from my thoughts
and wrapped in images
to set a heart alight.

The morning has the scent of hope
a sweet fragrance of unblemished fruit
perhaps peach skin just slightly furred
or orange bright and sharp —
I will eat it up
held to my face with glee
I imagine perpetual beginnings —
a forever of new mornings
right up to my death.


Frances RobertsFrances Roberts is a teacher and psychologist, with the love of music and natural history.

Topic tags: Frances Roberts, poetry



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Existing comments

Exquisite insights, Frances.. remarkable compassion and language mastery...a beautiful revelation......more of this please......

Charles Murray | 09 August 2016  

These poems touched me in dusty corners of my heart, awakened some real moments of decision, loss of hope. - as well as many joy ful ones.Thankyou

Angela Carroll | 10 August 2016  

Beautiful poetry with a powerful message. I can almost hear the cello in the inbackgoundCongratulations Frances

philip porter | 11 August 2016  

Why haven't I heard of you before? Thank you.

Ann Troup | 11 August 2016  

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” Frances Roberts is in tune with Blake’s auguries and has done what he urges all to do – not just to see, touch, and try to understand our world and ourselves, but to also react to what we come to know. And she shares her discoveries, and thoughts with us in an insightful, forceful, yet so-gentle a manner.

Thomas Thorpe | 13 August 2016  

the ability to pierce the heart is rare and done so well here.

carolanne | 14 August 2016  

Frances' poetry is art for the ears!

caroline | 16 August 2016  

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