Devonshire Avenue

Strange to return to a place where you once lived and only saw it from the height of a ten year old. Going back, everything changed, largely unrecognisable.



The street was an avenue. 
To call it that
a bit of show off. 
Rather stuck up 
for a dirt, rutted road, 
dust raised by wheels 
caked the winter sun.

The name oozed Englishness.
(Nothing indigenous here.) 
Sun-dried childhood, 
drenched in endless play: 
we roamed in packs, 
up and down 
to the outer limits 
of our galaxy. 
Look at me, no handle bars! 

Boundaries, 
yet we were boundless. 
The puddles, 
the potholes, 
the empty spaces: the eye 
could see into 
the blue-wide-forever, 
into the untamed. 

On a recent visit, 
the surprise of an intimacy lost. 
This street had grown up,
tree-lined, neatly curbed 
(and the ubiquitous barbed wire, 
electric fences). 

The house, lost in the forest 
my father planted 
a lifetime ago. 
Only the driveway
glanced back.
Granny smoked a Matinee 
and Morris Oxfords 
were the kings of the road. 


The avenue had simply disappeared: 
the yellowing veld of memory 
lost in manicured lawns. 

The sky had fallen 
to the earth. 

This piece started life as a short piece of prose.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame


Wildlife

They stand at the window, peering 
the long distance of time and space.

In the beginning, stretching to when
they were at one with the flora and fauna.

They were wild life on the savannah,
rock artists, story tellers.

Giving me life, they are my eyes, ears,
fight, flight, belly laugh. Knees and flesh.

These ancient grandparents still close,
their blood in mine.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

I returned to this piece, having set out in May 2018 with an understanding of the role of the ancestors in our lives.

You walked by this morning


I had woken from a dream.
There was no light.

It is winter here.

They say
- is it a comfort? -
that darkness
is important,
to imagine light.

In the middle,
we are not able
to bear it.

As you called by
I heard you say,
‘See you in the future.’

That light you gave,
Go big or go home! Huge,
filling the room.

Before, I - we -
had no warning.

Now, the future
is not what
it ought to be.

Something for which
we had no preparation,
a massive body blow really.
Beaten up by the news,
black and blue.

And yet,
as you walked by
this morning.
I saw your light.


For Steve and Ally and those who loved him.

Re-worked from a piece written in December 2018.

Interiors

Awaken to the stillness. 
Honey-light breathes 
in the place 
waiting for the chorus. 

Hooked, drawn-line of thought, 
bent out of hue, 
squiggles, shakes, giggles in wonder 
at infinite possibilities. 

Water-coloured, cloud-sky, 
tree-lined bird-dots.
Framed green-shaped South Downs 
from the train’s window-smudge. 

Muddy-white sheep-lined, field-green 
ploughed-brown train-reverie, 
a childhood song, far away places, 
fading with age.



© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

This is a re-worked piece over the last seven years. It now has found its resting place.

Not quite myself

I woke up this morning
not quite myself.   
To attach a description
is not possible.  
     
It is okay to wake up not quite yourself.
That’s the time   
to go to other places,   
beginning with gratitude. 
     
I love the days 
there is not a breath of air,   
where everything is 
still, where I can hear   
my own breathing. 
     
The light of the living is breath.  
Like the time I learned   
what it is like to have no air. 
     
I remember falling out of a tree.   
I stood on a rotten branch. The landing  not soft, 
all the wind knocked out of me. 
     
Another time, tubing down   
the great rock at Mermaid’s Pool   
– on the Shamva Road –   
and a man on the zip wire,   
going overhead, slammed into me.      

I lost consciousness.   
Fortunately, only momentary,   
like not quite feeling myself this morning.  

Mermaid’s Pool is 20 or so miles north east of Harare 

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Seeds

It will take lifetimes
to understand what is
us. Even if we travelled
to the nearest star,
we would not know.

Perhaps some kind
of answer is closer
than we think.
In the autumn sunset,
I could feel
wrapped up
in wonder.

Sky breaks the blue.
Birds fly into it.
Clenched fist,
the mind released.

It’s okay to have
the don’t know mind.

Whoever learned anything
when things were easy?
The poet said.
With sheer bafflement,
you will be fully employed.

This is the invitation.
In the darkness, light.
Here you can stop.
Remind yourself.


The original entry was a prose piece. I am enjoying going back to the stuff I have written and re-working it, tightening it up and attempting to get rid of the overwritten.

© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

Train ride home

The longest journey you will make in your life is from your head to your heart. Native American saying

The train ride home with you after a day out in buzzing London town, having caught a bit of culture and fun – Viennese portraiture of Klimt and Schiele, expertly explained –  and decaf tea and a pastry, just down from Covent Garden. And then a bus journey to east London to feast on the excitement of Brick Lane. What fun we had. The rhythm of the train takes me back to another train ride heading home after the varsity vac. Then – I was a long-haired youth – and the train clicked and clacked and my bare legs – in the evening scorching heat – stuck to the plastic seats. None of this relative comfort through pastoral England. You doing the impossible Guardian crossword. Me staring into the past: back then – Joshua Nkomo’s men  – in the name of freedom – had blown up the rail line a couple of days before and I wondered aloud – not to be too dramatic – if the home-coming would end in a pile of tangled metal. Funny how that train ride home – despite the dangers – evokes a longing for the touch and sight of a countryside of my youth silhouetted against a sky drop that if it could talk, what would it have said?


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame [Originally published 2013 (adapted)]

After Money Island

Aftermath is inescapable. I wonder if the role of the book is not so much to resolve an aftermath but to build an architecture in which thinking and feeling can be housed in an aftermath. Ocean Vuong in conversation with Jordan Kisner


This is a follow on from a previous blog, Monkey Island.

I have been thinking of the sheer discomfort of having to explain. To explain the black polish. It returns half a century later. The year that King and Kennedy were assassinated. The year that the students of Paris rose up. The year the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. That year I was explaining something that seemed fairly banal. Looking back, I can’t get away from the embarrassment. Explaining to my mom why my underpants were covered in black polish. I must have been crazy not to have just binned them. Out of sight, out of mind. What was I thinking? Better to explain how they were missing, rather than this. The look on the face, and the feeling of shame that had no where to go. That it was difficult to move on over a schoolboy prank and how the white Y fronts were ruined and how they were binned anyway. How every single item of my wardrobe had to be accounted for. That money doesn’t grow on trees.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame

The body writes

Language like the body is a place to store the soul. Attributed to Ocean Vuong.

I wanted to feel it, beyond and out of the eye of the storm. I wanted to feel the afterwards. Beyond the hour, the time, the decade, unsnapped from the actual moment, beyond the creation of the story. We are often drawn back and re-live that moment, thinking that the loop resolves, where we pace up and down in our minds, often praying to end the unwanted. In the storm you are unheard, even from yourself. It is in the time after we can learn that healing has opportunities, coming to terms with the ways things are. It is after that our bodies have the possibility of dwelling in awareness, with clear-seeing, even befriending and turning towards the present where we can feel our beauty and hear our bodies breathing. To go into the wasteland and create art out of the chaos. To discover who we have been all our lives.


© 2021 Copyright Rick Frame