Colin Bell

Colin Bell

Colin Bell was born in a Franciscan convent and grew up in Sussex, England - everything that he has done, he did for the first time in Brighton.

His poetry collection Remembering Blue was published in 2019 by Ward Wood Publishing. His poetry has been published in the UK and the USA by Cinnamon Press, Soaring Penguin Press, Muse-Pie Press, Bittersweet, Kind of A Hurricane Press and The Blotter. He has been nominated in the USA for the 2016 and 2019 Pushcart Prize. Many of his Fibonacci poems have been published in The Fib Review and have been set to music by American composer, Tim Risher, in a song cycle for tenor and piano, Fibonacci Poems (2017).

His first novel, Stephen Dearsley's Summer of Love (Ward Wood Publishing, 2013) is set in Brighton in the summer of 1967. It was long-listed for the Polari Prize 2014. His second novel Blue Notes, Still Frames, (Ward Wood Publishing, 2016), also set in Brighton, brings together an aspiring group of photographers and musicians in the year 1994.

Formerly a producer-director of arts documentaries and then Executive Producer, Music and Arts, he made arts programmes for ITV, BBC, Channel Four, and for broadcasters in the USA (WNET and Disney), in Japan (NHK) and Germany (WDR). His television credits include Celebration, God Bless America, My Generation, Menuhin's Children and It Was Twenty Years Ago Today.




Window

Look!
There!
That man.
The sniper.
He's looking at me.
Do you think he knows what I want
when I pull the curtains up here in this loveless room?
I expose my heart with open arms and he just turns away to light his cigarette.


Hot Tub

We
met
at first
in water –
significantly
communicating across blue.
There were silent messages in liquid vibrations
as we bathed there far apart.
Nothing was spoken;
our language
needed
no
words.


Liberty

If
when
one day
I am free,
can I feel better
than now, incarcerated here?
Locked in this golden prison deprived of liberty.
Focused, contained and protected from pain, betrayal, doubt and from life's uncertainty.
Outside my honeyed cell, beauty burgeons and hope begins its excitement-kindling glow, promising a worldly embrace with that joyful unlocking.


Jock

His
name
was Jock.
I liked him.
He pruned the roses
at peace with his three fingered hand.
I named my toy dog Jock in his honour – he liked that.
'What did you do with your fingers?'
'I pruned them right off.'
He wore gold
medals
in
church.


The Bus to Brynsiencyn

I lost my way that Friday night on the country bus to a party in Brynsiencyn.
A remote farmhouse, home to friends, flower children all.
The thrill of possibilities.
Long haired days with bells.
Beautiful
people
set
free.

Free
to
blossom
in private.
Sunflowers
allowed to grow wild.
Liberation in golden corn.
I forget that party but remember the journey
when I talked about favourite films with a curly-haired man who got off at Dwyran.


Music of the Spheres

Flat
Earth,
old home,
marble domed
and painted with stars,
easier for simple mortals
than this slowly spinning ball suspended in chaos.
Pythagoras heard heavenly harmony humming in space – the planets' mystic song.
Divine choreography ruled humanity's fate
whilst we worshipped blindly below,
humble and fearful,
ignorant,
trusting –
less
brave.


Alfresco

Fire
flies,
woodland
seducers,
pinholes in darkness.
Forbidden galaxies revealed.
Summer's harvest, blueberry rich, eaten alfresco
with crystal goblets of golden wine, candlelit alchemy, a magic elixir.
Dreams are dreamt on nights such as this.
You, me, the fireflies.
Oberon-
sprinkled
star
dust.


Reflections

Am
I
that man,
abandoned,
mirrored in mirrors
looking at me looking at me
mirrored in mirrors,
abandoned
man that
I
am?


Solitaire

They
mouth
goodnight
but don't sleep.
The past packed away.
The future ironed, starched and folded.
They lie laundered and sterilised on a listening bed
flexing their muscles in darkness
pretending to sleep.
Solitaire
a game
for
two.


George Best

Foot
ball
hero
sobered up.
George and his Bond Girl.
Two beautiful people and me.
A showbiz breakfast in London's Fortnum and Mason.
Orange juice on ice with a world-class drinker, muesli with Sweden's honey-blond Miss World.
I dressed smart casual, hair gel discrete, stomach sucked in
dreaming of eggs sunny-side up.
We talked of bodies.
After George,
I joined
a
gym.


Running

He
is
running
as usual –
anonymously
pounding familiar hometown streets.
This forlorn middle-aged man is too odd to ignore
when his blinkered intensity
darkens the landscape.
Who is he?
No one
is
sure.

At
eight
a.m.
every day
his ritual begins.
He circles the town for an hour
with a grey sleeveless vest on his emaciated chest,
shorts too short for long hairless legs,
practically naked,
his white skin
shining
with
sweat.

He
looks
angry,
aggressive
and at breaking point
but he never alters his route.
His suffering might be just athletic frustration
or a deeper human malaise
but this routine is
unsettling
for us
who
walk.


Dragon-Fly

Drawn
here
in grief.
Seduction
by melancholy.
A golden pond at evening time.
The liquid fragmentation of summer's dying light.
Propelled here on this last dragon-fly day, translucent wings crumpled,
I fall, water-ripple entranced,
face down into gold.
Diluted,
absorbed.
in
black.


Cerebral

Switched
off.
Nothing.
No goodbye.
No time for coffee.
No circus. No encore. No bow.
No whimper. No bang.
No big deal.
Nothing
to
fear.


Visitation

He
kept
the chair
in situ
there in the garden
sanctified in the position
where it had been lightly abandoned that afternoon
when the roses had flowered as intended, a sacrament of colour and perfume.
The moment anointed with shameless extravagance –
Mary the Magdalene's gesture –
never regretted.
Empty chairs
often
seat
ghosts.


Deadheading

One
eyed,
the cat
watches me,
sitting in judgement,
enthroned on the sunlit shed's roof.
My serene companion knows how to keep his distance.
When I secateur dead rose blooms,
lamenting summer,
his war wound
looks like
a
wink.


Cool

They're

Swiss.

Grown-ups.

Twenty-eight

to my twenty-one.

Cheese-cloth shirts, baggy loons and beads,

Switzerland's antidote to bankers and cuckoo clocks.

It's happening here in a wooden chalet high above Berne where the cows wear cowbells.


Erin and Franz and my first cafetière, black coffee, barefoot, cross-legged on beanbags, a long cigarette that's illegal but welcoming.

It's open-plan - their life and their home. Furniture Scandinavian, Bauhaus-inspired; paperbacked walls, Howl, Playpower, The Female Eunuch, Coltrane on the stereo - soprano sax cool. O brave new world, we speak fluent New York.


New Jersey

I
thought
Tony
Soprano
and speakeasy booze,
guys who wake up and find their guns.
Bruce Springsteen singing Greetings from Asbury Park at
the end of the Holland Tunnel.
Atlantic breaker.
Surfboard dudes
Tattooed.
Chewed
gum.

I
saw
the creek's
rustic bridge,
a house in the woods,
fields of sweet corn and alfalfa,
blueberry cages animated by honey bees,
a white-tailed deer with staring eyes.
Speaking was easy
on a porch
chilled out
with
wine.

I
hold
records
of that time.
Coffee and scrapple,
fireflies at midnight,
hummingbirds immune to the heat.
The tumble-down wood-shed that tumbled down when I left,
hot summer rain on cotton shirts,
crossing a river
to the town
christened
New
Hope.


Orpheus and Euridice

What
will
I see
if I look?
Hell-fire in your eyes
perhaps, or worse, disappointment.
Hand-in-hand, my fingers tighten, you try to pull free.
I'd tried to save you with a song
strumming my guitar.
A minstrel
singing
you
home.

Our
hands
are locked
together.
I'm frightened to see
my wife a captured prisoner
in a silk dancing-dress moist from the tarantella
excitement pungent on your skin.
You are lost to me
now you know
passion's
no
sin.


Narcissus

No
one
but you
can reach me
out here in the world.
Only you, untouchable one.
You read my thoughts, I read yours. Separated, we weep.
Your eyes follow mine, sealed behind glass – I've broken the mirror, look, I bloodied my fist.
You're still there but multiplied, your mouth in each fragment.
Trapped under the water's membrane,
you plead from
this pool.
Pull me in.
Dissolve
our
pain.


Leonardo

Why
is
sky blue?
he wondered.
The man from Vinci.
How long is a woodpecker's tongue?
He could see us as clearly as an airport scanner,
probing sub-skin with a scalpel.
What's behind a smile?
Stretched muscles,
secret
thoughts,
love.

He
was
handsome,
golden-haired,
unlike normal men,
left-handed, gay, no good at sums,
the guest star at Italian Renaissance parties,
a fun pink-suited scientist,
art's great observer.
His keen eyes
see through
us
still.


Eggs

Egg
shells
will crack.
They don't hatch
in boiling water,
the clutch nested in a saucepan,
bubbling, dancing, merrily heralding our breakfast.
Boiled eggs were a Sunday treat at boarding school – during the week it was cornflakes and milk.
On grown-up Sunday mornings, they are still luxuries.
Brown, speckled, some feathers attached,
they warm in our hands,
whispering:
careful,
we
break.


Brimstone

He
wore
too much
after-shave
that's why he was sacked,
the headmaster who made us pray
by our beds every night – listing our sins on our knees.
When he palmed his hands, cuff-links flashed.
We were scared of Hell.
When he left
the air
smelt
washed.


Brief Encounter

Yes,
me.
Barefoot
on soft grass,
butterfly dappled,
lit by the photosynthesis
of new summer leaves
on a train
coming
to
you.

First
sight.
Speechless
in the square
Michelangelo
made for us.
Silent
with
bells.

Eyes
meet.
Two pairs:
the first, deep,
alert, anarchic,
the second,
shining
with
tears.

Grey
plane
flying
through black clouds
bursting with moisture.
I return.
At home
with
rain.


á Monsieur Pierre Moskaleff***

Who
was
Pierre
Moskaleff?
Tchaikovsky's secret.
He was no rock-a-bye-baby.
So why the melancholy lullaby mystery?
Ambiguous piano music redolent of sleeplessness – not a cradle song.
Berceuse for the shadowy monsieur from Odessa.
Poor Pierre, lost to history,
half-remembered here.
A sad man's
cryptic
night
song.


Bede's Sparrows

We
know
nothing
beyond now –
before or after.
Raise the chalice, savour the wine.
The World is our banqueting hall, we the honoured guests.
Like Venerable Bede's sparrows
we flutter through here.
Briefly lost.
Frightened
then
gone.

Muse-Pie Press  •  R.G. Rader, Editor/Publisher •  Passaic, NJ 07055 •  musepiepress@aol.com

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