Sam Clements – Calando

Clements LE P&W April 2023

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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023

Calando, poems by Sam Clements


these days, the silences stand as testament. History’s burdens, filtered memories,
we breathe, wearier of our shadows, sense more acutely broken lives, the fallen
about us, dreams turned dried-out river beds, joys near forgotten―those youthful
pleasures and eternal optimisms, options as endless as south sea island horizons

these days, it’s the Cuban Missile Crisis rekindled, our minds on the fresh risks
of annihilation, midst tinder dry power-play dynamics, bullying, threatening,
evil intent, the gnashing teeth of little dictators, driven to conquer, to obliterate,
determined to spread their bloody ideologies, weaken, destroy, cause utter misery

these days, rising inflation, climate inaction, situation critical, we struggle to recall
what four seasons were, their distinctive feels, frosted lawns, steady rains, gentle
heat and temperature changes, floods rare―weather events far more predictable,
we grieve relentless fossil fuel burning, the taking away from future generations

these days, we discuss Kafka, Freud, young classical virtuosos and the late string
quartets of Beethoven, the cost of living, stock market corrections, medieval plagues,
political corruption, deceit, disadvantage, refugees, moral standards, deep social
inequities, poverty, violence, resource depletion, arthritis, eye sight, x-rays, surgery.

These days, sorrows linger longer, humour carries more biting pathos, as we sip
coffee from recyclable cups, sitting in cafes by large shiny windows, observing the
anatomies of fashionable commuters, the facial expressions of dogs, cats and children,
we’re more alert to approaching steps, we prepare more ahead, anticipate setbacks.

These days, it’s more about wrapping ups, and revelations, strikingly profound,
still absence and longings, the odd delight, birthdays, anniversaries, intimate soirées,
dilemmas, deaths, messy divorces, intrigue, tax burdens, repair bills and funerals,
we see more vividly the ephemeral things, that fleetingly brush past our finger tips,

lipping the abyss.

The pose

– The day of Adolf Hitler’s suicide, April 30, 1945,
photojournalists David E. Scherman, and Lee Miller, photographed
each other in his Munich apartment, bathing in his bathtub.

It’s your pose, Ms Miller,
I return to:
hand over shoulder,
eyes gazing at the floor,

It’s your sturdy,
muddied US army boots,
fresh from Dachau,
the soiled bath mat,

It’s the portrait of Hitler
positioned to
glare at you,
from the rim, posing too,

It’s the green tiles,
signifying hope,
nature, spring, new life,
but I prefer the black and white

version, segue into aesthetic musings here,
for the light shimmers, heightening the dramaticism,
and I associate the war years with monochrome images―
magnetic pulls across my consciousness.

How I find myself falling towards you,
every time, you suck me into this space,
until I’m almost there, with you,
drenched in empire’s decaying remains,

the triumph of good over evil
―that line dribbles cliched tackiness,
but it’s naturally true―it was what it was,
and you embody it perfectly.

That nude statuette,
right hand on head, pert breasts,
did he gaze at it and fondle himself,
dreaming of conquest and annihilation?

I want to crawl, slowly, across that floor,
the size of an ant, to soak it all in―
this scene, it’s making, it’s electric potency,
to smell its air as a speck of inconsequence,

then sharply withdraw,
back up the ages,
emboldened, impassioned,
baptised, reawakened.


In the blackness, flickering light,
screen bright,
plot sound actors,
privileged lives,

green exit sign latches eye,
glowing gently, comforting minds,
escape route back to the real world,
a relief there’s no fire, despite the cold,

young man, silken fingers, phone screen lit,
soft blonde hair, beautiful skin,
forbidden fruit, so near, yet so far,
tight little arse, cutest guy,

friend’s presence warming, if a little annoying,
as he sucks and slurps on his milkshake’s straw,
and takes large mouthfuls of chewy popcorn,
pieces on the carpet, so worn,

this sea of humans, darkened heads,
these silhouettes, glued to the action taking place,
pin drop thoughts, ticking away, a brief time free
from the struggles of the day.

© Sam Clements

Sam Clements poetry has appeared in Landfall and Jamaica’s Sunday Gleaner, and his flash fiction in the international journal Flash Frontier. He has collaborated and performed at various festivals with leading New Zealand musicians jazz pianist Ben Fernandez, guitarist Nigel Gavin, and singer songwriter Sonia Wilson, as well as with a variety of prominent poets. He has read at recitals featuring violist Milan Milisavljević, principal violist in the Met Opera Orchestra, and the APO’s principal violist, Robert Ashworth. He co-edited, with poet Jamie Trower, the anthology This Twilight Menagerie, published in 2021, celebrating forty years of New Zealand’s longest running open mic poetry group, Poetry Live! where he has been an emcee for several years.

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