Gerald Solomon


On Amsterdam

Rackety Amsterdam, a market stall,
old disused books, two guys at chess.
Heedless of rain and passers by,
making and working their puzzle.
Leaning head to head, nothing said.

Raindrops, bright skies loosening
Every raindrop a bright sky loosening
from rims, becoming nothing.
Two men, a pastime of white and black,
plastic knights to parley and destroy.

Crowds, cars, vans, all in a mass
cram forward, push on, while
two men old enough to know
a slow game’s best for here and now,
a lifetime to comprehend the puzzle.

Computers crunch numbers,
grand masters turn down their kings.
Tangles of meaning― talking,
to get to the right end, one loses the end.
Words, keys to brass locks of words.

That rage for order beyond order!
One, though, (since nothing means nothing,)
one… number of strangeness, awe,
beginning of nothing beginning…
Beginning the end of the matter.


Pictures of an artist’s pictures, in a book.
Diego. He sits on a chair. All of a piece.

A chair, curve-backed, body-shaped―
already something of a puzzle.

(A chair says it must be itself alone
if to mimic human flesh and bone.)

A bare floor, an elder brother.
His pen moves for a growing shape.

Black lines, thin, to shake semblance.
A net of stress. Brother draws brother.

To get it down, if not once and for all.
A sense of form cloning forms of sense.

A single sun-ray, yellow, naďve―
the glass of turps on the shelf turned yellow.

Incompleteness completes the art’s desire.
Things still become things, otherness inspired.


Tell me he’s still in our thoughts our lost friend,
almost here with me now this many years later.
But if well on the way to being forgotten,
then you and I, what cost of interruption?

All at once I recover a childhood lake in the North,
staring surprised for the first time at very deep water,
streaked green and white, wallowing, ungraspable marble,
and was taught how it constantly changes to mist.

Brash seagulls come in from the coast screeching.
Below them still flat water, winter breezes’ glittering
dents in a distant sun’s reflections, losing its strength...
Sometimes I prefer preposterous signs of calm.

So that memory can return to what has been
already known once, held close in every month:
revisitable thought― not locked, no, not locked at all,
unbreakable experience by enduring surface.

On The Beach

That crazy storm we had last week
broke roofs, broke our tree,
took two young boys out to sea.
Now needing to be sensible,
some say all kinds of help are free.

Thinking. Divining divinity.
Could we have got it more wrong?
Invention, mother of necessity.
Truth, Houdini of meaning,
questionable, if not answerable…

Our Italian fresco last summer:
a lion limps in Sinai to the hermit’s cell.
The saint at work― you saw his ink-pot.
His Latin crib speaks once and for all…
Echos from rocks, visions from the sands.

Another, dusty and in sweat of battle,
wanders off to lean on a borrowed spear,
take his fix on the true, the sufficient.
Ideas ride high as the noonday star
in full career o’er Parthenon and myth.

So much for that. Escape to the present
present breeding true, knocked up by the past.
Wouldn’t you agree that beyond reason and trust,
for us left on the beach it would be best
not needing the universe to be good?

In Wales

Left that small Welsh mining town,
walked on, turning questions over,
got down to a winding unknown river,
watched a strong rush of waters
fallen from our slow far off mountains.

Starlings flying by, a few,
(no portent, just being themselves)
coming down to strut and feed―
adept, made to trust their normal trust.

White waters, exciting, dangerous.
And I thought how salmon, crowding there,
homing in after wide ocean years,
(for safety of their spawn, not themselves,)

how fine salmon must leap to trace their vital weirs.

Copyright © 2013 Gerald Solomon
Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as sales assistant at a bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road he worked as a producer at the BBC. Subsequently becoming engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to an enjoyable period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. He retired early in order to paint and write. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married, with four children, and lives in Manhattan.