Images courtesy of jan von holleben
She fancied him he fancied himself a bit
But strung her along enough before he left
She fell head over heels in love with him
And landed up right there in bed
Six minutes ten and counting...
He buckled, fudged, asked 'How was it?'
'Fantastic' she said but thought 'ter-rif-fic
A minute ago he's all over me.
The next, it's all over. Is that it?'
Five minutes thirty and she's looking good
She remembers how sudden he'd given in
Gasped, gasps, is gasping
Her eyes turn round unmoved
To gaze at the empty moon
Three minutes fifteen all systems go
'Don't be like that. What's got into you?'
'Oh nothing' she mutters 'nothing at all'
'Well you knew my position when we started it'
'I only wish' she quips 'I could say you did'
Two minutes ten seconds two minutes five
Shoulder to shoulder, thigh to thigh
Bolder and bolder but never
Eye to eye
Twenty seconds nineteen seconds eighteen
'Think of it this way, I'm doing it for you'
'Oh thanks' she retorted 'I'm over the moon'
'I once thought lovers couldn't love too much'
'Be sensible' he said 'we'll stay in touch'
As he blasted up through the stratosphere
A nation gasped and a nation cheered
And then a computer failed on the flightboard deck
A nation gasped and held its breath
And for eight weeks he was marooned in space
As a nation yawned and turned away
Thirty miles above his girlfriend's head
This is the message the astronaut sent
"Now that the moon beams
Upon my dreams
And nothing is amiss
For nothing ever is
The universe comprises
Two sheets of white silk
On which gravity dances
With big black boots
And comets are just satellites
Refusing to grow old
And moons are only meteors
Who never leave home
Like one of those captive satellites
I've gone so far now I can't turn back
Too long in zero gravity
Bones brittle, muscles slack
Exiled by my adventure
I must circle endlessly in space
Held in geostationary orbit
Unable to return, unable to escape
When I was young one planet was enough
And I never had the urge to roam
But as I grew older I began to wonder
If the whole universe couldn't be my home
I've been here and I've been there
And now I'm a stranger everywhere..."
During this broadcast, solar power stopped
His beacon disappeared, radio contact lost,
At the speed of light his words revert
To the background static of the universe
Once upon a time they say
The heavens were filled with gods
But they took them down one day
And in their place put stars
TV stars rock stars
And every night the people come out to watch
They watch and they wait and they wish
And if they're very very lucky
They might just see one star fall
Seeing the streaming stars, while others sleep
Staring out of the black of a winter's night
Over frozen rivers
She can see each point of light
Shining so specifically
That like a probe or beacon of distress the thought
Flashes across her mind
That this is none other than the remains of her lover
Burning up on re-entry
'No doubt I'm only seeing things
And it's all just in the mind
It's no wonder what with the state I'm in
A trick of the light
The water in my eye
No doubt no
And that's neither here nor there
No no no far be it from me
So here I am getting carried away
But will you tell me please where is he?'
Astronomers made observations, collated data,
But she only registered one passing remark
That the space between bodies is so
Should a star question a star it might
Die before it was answered
Peter Jukes 1983
Newton was not 'Newtonian'
He studied Alchemy and Magic,
Likewise Galileo and Kepler
Sold horoscopes for profit.
The future does not come
To meet us head on,
But blazes behind
Like the tail of a comet.
Peter Jukes 2005, inspired by James Gleick's book 'Isaac Newton'. PS: Ironically, the tails of comets don't "blaze behind them" in the usual sense - i.e. in the wake of their trajectory. Comet tails are particles blown away by the effects of solar radiation, and so depend on their angle to the sun.
There are no more border guards
In the palace of tears
No bugging devices
No eavesdropping spies
Trying to find out if you're defecting
To the decadent West.
Now you can rent a car
Drive it to Moscow or Milan
Buy gift wrapped chocolate
Tread on marble floors
Extract your cash from a swift machine
In the palace of tears
Bodies which together
Seemed so light
Floating above each other
Here take flight
Hearts unravelling like barbed wire
In the palace of tears
I could say to myself
Time spent together goes so fast
Before we know it -
So will the time apart
Me waiting in arrivals
You coming through the gate
But the airline soap removes your smell
I can't remember the last few days at all
Like dipping my pen in frozen ink
Or touching fingers
Through frosted glass
In the palace of tears
Peter Jukes, Traenenpalast Berlin 1999
The Traenenpalast (Palace of Tears) is now a theatre. However, this was once the site of real-life dramas... The Traenenpalast was part of a border checkpoint when the city of Berlin was divided, and the glass and metal pavilion was named after the tearful partings between visitors from the West and citizens of the East who had to stay behind.
Give me neither too little nor too much
But enough to
Fill my cup without
Just give me a window that looks out on the world
Just a door that I can close
And when a friend comes
One roof is enough, one friend is enough, one life
For the man who's walked all day long is
Happy to hitch a ride
And someone who's ridden all day long is
Happy enough to fly
But a man who's flown all day long
Would be happy enough to walk
So give me neither more nor less than this
And when I grow old
All I'll require
Is a place round the fire
And to go
Peter Jukes, Manang, Nepal 1985
With this wind our future comes: so let, oh let
It blow. All that compels us without say
And from which we'll be made to glow - all of it
If we can just keep still will find us and bring
The future that comes with this wind.
Translated by Peter Jukes from a poem by Rilke
I am not there
While she waits curled
Under covers, tense
Hair splayed back
And I am not here
When he came submissive
To tenderness and giving
Into her wishes
The present unsaid
And I am not
There I saw her
Taut and imploring
Where he presses she
'Are you with me?'
And to that urgent
Asking of desire
I heard the other partner
'This is the body's dialogue
Let the covers of language fall
Whoever needs to speak of it
Cannot talk at all'
'I am here I am here I am here'
Are you with me?
Peter Jukes 1981
The words are from one of my very first poems, written when I was 16
Desire is the asp
Is the twisting
In my breast
She changes, Time and
Space, or else
Not here to change
Love was always reaching:
Chubby hands that grasped
An apron as it passes.
And when the fingers were strong
Brown lined, agile
Around your pillow templed head
Your eyes eluded me.
The appeal of appealing
Eyes, that vacuous
Kiss of fire, desire
Is not there or
Then, but in
Peter Jukes 1977
"Love can never die",
You said before you entered
And left me, empty
Averting your eyes
But I keep all your letters.
Sometimes their manner recalls your voice
Struggling to explain the gap between
What you could conceive and
This paper yellows and curls
Yet while the flickering hand feeds the fire
These words are only cinders
But I have made a place for them
Peter Jukes 1978
I often have this strange and haunting dream
Of an unknown woman I love, who loves me back
And who is, at any moment, not quite the same
Nor entirely other, who loves and understands.
For only she can understand my heart,
Only she alone - oh my troubles disappear,
And the beads of sweat on my pale forehead
Only she alone replenishes with her tears.
Is she brunette, blonde or redhead? I don't know.
Her name? All I know is that it's soft and clear
Like those of loved ones who have long since gone.
Her gaze is like the gaze of a statue's head.
And in her tone - distant, calm, and sad - you can hear
The sound of beloved voices that are dead.
Translated by Peter Jukes from Paul Verlaine's Mon Reve Familier