I’m listening to West African Hi Life,
funky drummers pulsing in the
veins of men with lips of shining brass,
women’s legs like stems of glass,
the young guitarist fingers his strings,
testing the catch on all living things
or those within earshot, counting in
time to the music’s resurrection
50 years on in the speaker stacks
of a festival sound system
shaking the building and all states
are temporary but liberty is fleeting
and it is the movement of lovers
that concentrates him, the joy
and the collusion, how they sway
in the dark after the music stops,
when all is not quiet but straining
at itself, as if the self was a chain,
and the movements of sleep are grace
under pressure, the movements of one body
underneath another, the small
motions we recognise in a lover,
nerves, mouth, hands, the eyes,
skins pressed together like pages
of a book we can’t wait to prise apart
with opposable thumbs and rhythmic
movements that move things along
like music does, like West African Hi Life,
stage lights teaming with wildlife,
the conjurer’s art of making us feel like
one great body of water
breaking from one shore to another,
even when our movements on the ground
are small and subject to politics and chance,
the clawing of loneliness and circumstance,
while people everywhere go about their business
without recourse to Hi Life or dance,
and science observes the sub atomic collisions
of particles under tremendous pressure –
what have we learnt of these forces binding us together,
that give us movement, critical mass –
not so very far below us lie
the borders of the known world,
gang masters of the wine dark sea folding money
into money on the shores of The Odyssey,
hand movements of compression and capture
not love or seduction but force, weight and measure,
the pulling apart and pushing together
of life in the acceleration chamber,
settling motions of bodies in their pleasure.


© Tim Cumming 2015
illustration Nick Victor

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2 Responses to Earshot

    1. […] a new poem up on the International Times website, and you can click  here at http://internationaltimes.it/earshot/ to read […]

      Pingback by A new poem, Earshot, at International Times | Tim Cumming on 29 November, 2015 at 3:23 pm
    2. […] was first published by Rupert Loydell in International Times online. It will be published in KNUCKLE from Pitt Street […]

      Pingback by Come within Earshot – Tim Cumming on 11 September, 2018 at 2:02 pm

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