P A U L    B R O O K E S



T H E   B U R N


Hand over flame:
Determined to see it through,
I will succeed or burn.

Subdued colour subsists on plainest food:
Poverty frightens affluence,
my brother sustains my flame.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *



               T H E   B L A Z E


Girls under the thumb of lemonade sellers:
I knock and wait admittance,
a sun blazes between her thighs.

It is the quality of the light:
My thumb must move the cornfields,
a strong colour palette bubbles blood.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


           F A I L U R E


I feel a Failure:
The astonishment of my eye;
extreme Contrast. Skewed perspective.

Gust deepens blue; swept dust from a sky.
A Japanese vortex silvers the dark:
British bombs miss their target.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


              M I S T R A L


I’m in Japan. I iron peg and rope
my easel legs against Mistral.
I’m not timid. Almond trees blossom.
My mind allows no contradiction.

Breath in quietude: Thyme, Rosemary, Fennel.
Incense of the quiet roadside; colours
muscle into intensity.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


             O F   T O L E R A N C E


Can’t stomach this bread; beans and lentils
No rice or macaroni. No potatoes.
Tanned and ‘porcupin’d’, with easel and brushes.

Houses of tolerance. Police registered,
monitored regularly. Windows blocked.
Arguments, fights in the street.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


                 M A R I N E R


Acrid stench of oils and turpentine
in the kitchen, among pots. Plates and pans.
You always lose in isolation.

Sharp suited mariner with African colours.
I will save him. Sea is mackerel, ever changful.
He wants to rearrange my kitchen.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


                  T H E   T O R N

Sky is in full flood. Confined in the asylum,
“The Yellow House”, those who would be brothers
climb the walls and cut the rope between them.

I planned a community of artists,
but, Mariner says he must leave.
I hand him a torn headline “The Murderer Has Fled.”


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


         T H E   G I F T


11.20 a.m. on 23rd December,
outside that House of Tolerance: I give young
Gabrielle the cleaner, once bitten by a rabid dog, a gift.

I tell her, as Jesus would have done.
“Here is my body. Have this, in memory of me.”
It is in a small box, cleaned and nearly wrapped.


A used razor on a kitchen top; a trail of dropped blood
on red tiles. Up the stairs I sleep among rags
soaked in it.

A doctor treats my wound: I am isolated in a cell
in another yellow house. All around here are cracked.


 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *


                   H O M E L E S S


I walk as if out at sea, weight heavy on my chest
as if something on it. It gives me poison, drinks my water
Calm grows in a spiral nebulae of trees; I need quiet.

I live at my brother’s expense. I eat coal and paint,
sup on paraffin. A shot to this chest will unburden so many:
A bright yellow into their lives.






   photo credit: ©Author