Poetry by Robert James Berry

Dr Robert James Berry currently lives in Algarve, Portugal.  His email is  robert_james_berry@yahoo.com or robert_j_berry@hotmail.com









An undertow pulls up history
On the beach

Deposits another time
Ground down to sand,
Adding to the land.

These fecund flats
Where villas root
Was an old sea bed

And an ice age once ripped at the mountains
Sinking under this horizon.

Looking down to where
In martial ranks
The olive trees grow as twisted
As bad marriages,

Struck by the sun
Who is a red ghost
Bleeding through sea mist

I know at this season
The earth cannibalizes its dead.

Over at the cliffs skewers balance like ballerinas:

The tanner's trade of summer
Has leathered them,
Clamped them to rock stumps resisting the swell
Which chews sea caverns.

In this land and ocean
Explorers' blood runs in the rivers

Sun caked men stoic as churches
Proudly stake their corners
Of four hundred year old towns,

Fortitude flows in the breaking walls
Where mimosas
Thrust at the foundations of time.


The bare stump of winter
Buds under a fine rain.

The river's throat tastes of wrecks
Foundered trawlers hauled up on mud
Idling the season

Till a sunburst stirs the terracotta world.

In town
Clay grains peasant men.
Elegant herons roost the chimney stacks

While slowly the straying hands of time
Sign the sky with evening

And a yellow moon fingers stargazing cypresses
Orange groves and
Bermuda buttercup meadows

Shines on the blue ceramic heart
Of still villas,

Where here inside
A candle burns
As the logs kindle

While I watch wood smoke rise,
The lines crackling on this page.


I am dwelling over tales
While bad-hearted rains
Swell with stony voices
Over the rough country.

Light flickers above the wild lands
This side of the mountains

Ridges flash with violet fire

Then black
Smothering the whole world.

Father's antique clock
Resolves the lengths and breadths
Of time

Assuaging the house's wintry rafters
Which reach down around me.

At my windows
Rain pummels with nightmare fists.
The  sky is flying smoke.


I have a son
Who is six days old.

Cut out of you,
A lavender bundle

Whose slate river-blue eyes are lovable,
Like the mole on your
Fat right calf.

When we are tired as broken drayhorses
Or furious as nursing tigers in love

You pull faces
Longer than a bishop's contempt

While we whisper on vigil

Though nothing wakes you
Once sleep has you,

My perfect little man.


When the rings tightened on your fingers
And your two feet rose like loaves
Pregnant lady

You were stately as a Spanish galleon.

Lilac skin soft as powder
Your hair a jet jewel
Your breasts rising hills

A woman sharper than a tiger
Who bites deeper than a hurricane's teeth.

I am watching your irises
Blacker than ink pools.
Infernos are fanned under your eyelashes.



Childhood draws me
To the brink of a river

Where by the reeds
Bullfrogs are bold as dragons

And sucking mud is more
Treacherous than memory.

Rain sweet as treacle
Plops midstream;

Clouds of sticklebacks
Are magnified to sea monsters
Plunging the shallows.

Now these days have been mislaid,
Extinguished like the sticky orange sun
Of boyhood

The burning knuckles and eyes of time
Sting sharp as chastisement.

I watch shoals of drowned leaves
Spin down river,

Wading round the last bend
Before sunset steals them.

Robert James Berry