Martin Burke

 

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BELGIUM

 

 

WALKING THROUGH A

GREEN DOOR – international arts magazine

– an introduction to Issue Three of THE GREEN DOOR due soon at –

http://greendoor.net

 

We (and the word is used solely in its numerical meaning) are not a group.

Though we are, loosely, gathered about the magazine THE GREEN DOOR, we are not a group and have neither pretension nor aspirations to be one.

I make no claim to speak on behalf of those whose work is presented here yet it is obvious to a reader that one poet seeks the radiance of the Buddha while another seeks the fire of Antigone; that one has been named “a sweet barbarian” and that a wise woman says: “Poetry translates into language that which cannot be said”.

Geography is of course one common bond between us –a bond as real and as tangible as the bonds of friendship. Yet we live, not in the literary associations of Flanders where the poetry is the pity, but live in the actual world of the towns, harbours, fields, air and tangible tang of a landscape which is as alluring as it is real.

We eat, we work, we sleep, we love (and some pray) in a world that is of such concern to us that we seek to offer it no program but to place, silently, our work on the discussion-table of the present, thus also of the future. Not being politicians we have nothing to ‘defend’. Not being a church we have no dogma to propagate.

We are what we each are and seek to be nothing other than that.

To the sociologist of ‘artistic movements’ such statements are nothing less than appalling. That is not my/our concern.

If we were a group, a party, a creed, then we would have a collective identity which we would seek to propagate and impose upon others as some form of ‘liberation theology’ –which would of course quickly assume the status of a new orthodoxy.

We neither have nor want such an identity.

One will seek to call on the Buddha, another will continue to search out Antigone’s fire, while the Sweet Barbarian will go about his business hand in hand with the wise woman he loves.

It is true we have walked through a green door together –yet the gardens we have then walked into have been, and will continue to be, different and separate – a difference we will seek to share with others but never to impose…

 

——————————————————–

 

MARTIN BURKE

 

PRESENTS the Poet

*

KARI BERT

 

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TWO PAINTERS is a photograph of Kari & Gilberte

 

Was born in Kortrijk, Belgium, in 1939.

He has studied, and practice, journalism and philosophy, has exhibited widely, published (as poet, critic, philosopher) in a variety of journals, magazines and newspapers and is rightly credited with the introduction of “nieuwoorden” (lit –new words) to contempory Flemish poetry.

 

Kari, together with his wife Gilberte De Leger he was a founding member and driving force of the Lumen Numen group –and though this group no longer exists as an active group he continues to work with the same principles and intentions.

 

Exhibitions of his work have taken place n many venues in Belgium and France.

 

Kari is one of the essential pillars of THE GREEN DOOR.

 

Lapwing Press (Belfast, UK) a highly prestigious publisher are shortly to publish in a tri-lingual edition his pivotal work OLAF PIRENDELO.

 

 

POEMS of KARI BERT

 

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1

    The green has been seen,

     courting the red,

     trying to breathe in the same wave,

     but the red needed a sparkle of yellow

     and therefore she had to court

     the brush and the fingers of the painter

     and suddenly he knew it

     without an awareness

     but the painting was more living

     and growing like a huge flower

     where the green and the red

     were together as lovers

     and their breath

     made the possible image

     becoming an existing image;

     the painter was less aiming

     and his hands were moved

     by the colours on the canvas

     like the hands of a wise midwife

     and all the words were free and flying

     when the painting came out of the womb. 

 

 

2

IN TWILIGHT WORDING/ LOYAL TO THE SEA

 

In the ill-lit staircase of human daily life

some  humans saw a window

and behind it a  wonderful world.

 

As soon as his eyes began to look

all the nerves and their fibres thrilled

and worked.

 

He felt the answer wording in his body

from the feet to his skull

and the human eye walked

through that land and saw

that flowers kissed some words of him

which he heard faintly

and words kissed deep green blades of grass

and others went behind the hill

 

and the human eye saw that seed

was falling into the earth

and budded there.

 

The first new blossoms germed

shyly or slowly but with joy.

 

In the meanwhile the ill-lit staircase

became much brighter

 

and the eyes couldn’t stop looking,

his whole body working and answering silently.

 

Words were born, strange and shy

but the human saw love and heard words.

 

He knew for certain that words were budding

and that the "eff" will not be in the whispering

of those who were making love

 

and the new name was coming

for what he saw and felt

 

a bright landscape

that kissed his eyes saying:

we are as a reply in your whole being.

 

 

3

The night did not come as a conqueror

capturing the twilight from the evening

but as a new light.

 

The lady on her chair with cats

on her knees knows it

and I guess a laugh in her eyes

as the quiet comes slowly.

 

After the daylight

we see still a world,

but in the light of the night

we discover other real things.

 

In my inner language

words disclose forgotten

or hiding other words

and I hear a real tongue

uprising as a surprise

as the evening does in the eyes,

 

and I too become calm and waiting

for the budding of the verses

of the night, as I hear

the breeze in an unknown grass

and hear unseen soft singing birds.

 

The night brings to my heart

and then to my head

loving sparks of words

that I engrave

on inner white paper to unveil

after the magic of this hour

when the night draws near

and the evening fades away

behind the sky-line

 

leaving me bewildered

and released

in the same twilight.

 

*

 

GILBERTE DE LEGER

 

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Though the biographical provided hereunder is given as separate from the biographical information on Kari Bert, yet he and Gilberte formed a husband and wife team which was as artistically innovative as if was humanly satisfying. Indeed to those of us who knew them we cannot, even with Gilberte’s death, think of one without mentioning the other.

She was born in Oostende, 1923 – Oostende, 2009 into a family which had many musician and artists and she was active as Painter, poetess, graphical artist, journalist, and singer of traditional Oostende songs.

She exhibited both in solo exhibitions, in cooperation with her husband Kari, and as an essential member of the Lumen Numen group.

In 1972 she published a  volume of verse  "Gedichten van Liefde, Wanhoop en Levenslust". On her death Lapwing Press (UK) published a volume of her work in an Dutch-English edition (translated by Kari) THE FEAST OF BURNING TONGUES –work from which was cited as poem of the month in Ireland

Gilberte never made any ‘statement’ regarding her work. It was what it was –that was more than enough for her.

She is included in the Lexicon van West-Vlaamse beeldende kunstenaars, deel 3, Brugge, 1994.

De Belgische Beeldende Kunstenaars PAUL PIRON

Her blogsite can be found at http://www.bloggen.be/gilbertedeleger

Lumen Numen also maintain a blogsite where their work can be further explored.

 

POEMS

That Gilberte De Legere is not alive to make a selection of her work for this issue is a cause of sadness to those who knew her, but given the modesty with which she approached all public displays of her work as painter, poetess, singer, columnist, she would not object that a selection has been made on her behalf.

That selection has been taken from her recent collection of poems, published in English, THE FEAST OF BURNING TONGUES by Lapwing Press, UK, and the illustration above which introduces this contribution was done by her.

 

AMAZON

Howdy Amazon!

Tinselled princess of sandcastles

Countess of liquorice in a glass bowl

Howdy!

Never come back again in me,

My scales will damage

The folds of your inner robe,

Grace for free

On the rocking-horse

You mounted.

The countess of sandpaper

Should chase you

To your first dream

Because she buried you

In her last one.

 

CAUGHT IN THE TOWN

Trees in the town

jailed behind severe glass

of stringed up windows.

Suns in the town

smashed against shamming panes.

Birds in the town

looking for a lighted lake

dive in the flames of the beams.

Their roaming sprawled in circles

patterns

slippery

not to pluck

unless the water becomes eternal

and the flower becomes blue as the bird.

 

SNOW COVERED STREET

Snow

white as butterflies

countless as eternity

umbrellas as mushrooms

raised from humans.

Bent bodies dive

through slantwise wheels,

drag themselves

behind themselves

as they would lug boats.

Birds benumbed

as human feet

search their crumbs

under the chilly layer.

Snow-fun

they call it there

somewhere in Romantica.

 

THE WITCH HUNT

The witch hunt started again.

I have to be speechless as my grave

that I’m not yet willing to look at.

Too young is the witch

that lives in my linings;

too stinging is the urge for magic

that cooks in my innards.

Let them train their burning glass

on me,

prepare the feast of burning tongues

on their sinking ship.

They shine on me with the light

they are losing

and I sleeve and clean

on the whitest canvas

the acquittal of the round dance

with Lucifer.

 

*

 

MARCUS CUMBERLEGE

Was born in Antibes (France) shortly before the war and migrated to Chelsea in the blitz, then to County Cork, Madrid, Peru, back to London, Paris and Connemara, before settling with his Flemish wife Maria in Bruges, Belgium in 1972.

He won a scholarship in English to Oxford, where he boxed and shot for the University, and later an Eric Gregory Award for 1966 (leading British poets under 30), adjudicated by Ted Hughes.

His first collection was published by Anvil Press Poetry of London in 1968. Twenty subsequent volumes have appeared in Belgium, including his SELECTED POEMS 1963-2009, published by Van de Wiele in 2010. Marcus Cumberlege has written much in lyrical stanzas, but he is no stranger to prose poetry, cut-up, automatic writing, haiku, concrete and the extended line. For nearly forty years he has been a familiar figure in Bruges, collaborating with poets, artists and musicians, organizing readings and encouraging the younger generation. He has a daughter, married and living in France.

ON THE WEB

Reflections in Water

a free eBook of meditations from Delphic Ghent Books published January 2011 (go to the eBook website)

Marcus reading Sycamores and Buddha at the Brugge Public Library, April 2009 (Flickr – photos and videos)


Marcus reading poems from Angels at Work in videos by Charles Pieters (YouTube):

 

POEMS

 

A DECLARATION OF LOVE

I am going to make a supreme effort to think positively.

I read these words and say them to myself over and over again.

I will begin with some affirmations. I’m full of self-confidence.

I am loving kind and generous. I’m a reliable friend.

Everything is going to work out all right, now and in the future.

Amida is constantly active saving all sentient beings.

The light of his wisdom fills the universe in every direction.

We are his kids. We’re in the Effort Department. Together we can.

I am very proud to be a member of this worldwide Fellowship

When anybody reaches out for help I want my hand to be there.

I grant forgiveness to myself and all those who think evil of me.

I am ready to die, but first would like to visit Australia.

Maria is the perfect wife and Tixie is the perfect daughter.

If I had taken myself more lightly I’d be flying already.

The formative years and the afterlife boil down to one thing: the Now.

This is not my will and testament but a declaration of love

For all its faults and inconveniences this is the best of all worlds.

I am grateful to my parents for educating me in their way.

I am grateful to the men who fix the light and water from the taps.

Now I shall press a button and visit Bolivia and Peru.

Now I will write the world “hello” and send it to all my family.

I light a candle. Its flame will keep me company through this long night.

No wonder I couldn’t get to sleep. I forgot my medication.

What else did I forget? Oh yes, your brown eyes gazing into my soul!

  

THE STRENGTH OF NOW

The strength is in the now. Not in the words, although they make me happy.

The strength is in the now. And knowing this, I know a little of myself.

The strength is in the now. I need no strength to bargain with tomorrow.

The strength is in the now. I am OK. I’ll cope all right – on Sunday.

The strength is in the now. The strength I have is all I need at present

The strength is in the now. It seems as if I’d stood here all my life.

The strength is in the now. Nothing else matters. I’m glad to be alive.

The strength is in the now. Moments like these are too heavenly to waste.

The strength is in the now. Nothing is moving. Even my mind stands still.

The strength is in the now. The words I murmur make music on the page.

The strength is in the now. I pray for Patrick and hope that prayer will help.

The strength is in the now. The first gleam of dawn is in the sky, by chance

The strength is in the now. I hear the sound reverberate inside me.

The strength is in the now. But it’s not in me, myself, or you, Jan.

The strength is in the now. A serious matter, no idle chatter

The strength is in the now. I fill the kettle and make a pot of tea.

The strength is in the now. There’s no specific meaning in this mantra.

The strength is in the now. I am not the man who went to bed last night.

The strength is in the now. Could this help to cure my bi-polarity?

The strength is in the now. I’m feeling centred. I’m feeling calm and free.

The strength is in the now. I have been in a positive mood all night.

The strength is in the now. But how will my wife and friends react to it?

The strength is in the now. I welcome the challenge of another day.

The strength is in the now. And the now means Namo Amida Butsu.

May all sentient beings find their home in the Land of Peace and Bliss.

                          

THE DAY AFTER (emerging from depression)

Get up with a feeling of gladness that you are alive and sober.

Entertain the certain knowledge that you are not alone in the world.

Galaxies are being born. Bakers and bus-drivers are at their work.

Face the challenge of this newborn day with hope and determination.

Remember that, astrologically speaking, everything is good.

The sun, moon, planets and stars are dancing a spectacular ballet.

Feeling good is a way of sending love out into the universe.

Light a candle to somebody who is less fortunate than you are.

Make tea or coffee and lift the succulent beverage to your lips.

I am grateful for the hours ahead and for water from the tap.

It feels good to stand here alone  before dawn in a pool of lamplight.

I would be amazed if I knew how this day was going to turn out.

Shine your light on the path ahead of me, Michael, one step at a time.

Feelings of fear and loneliness do not belong in my world today.

I love my life and it is unimaginably good to be me.

I am a ball of magnetic energy in a friendly cosmos.

I know where I’m going and have all the time in the world to get there.

Friends are like stars: you hardly ever see them, but you know they are there.

Someone said: if one hour of twenty-four is good, our day is well spent.

For the next two or three minutes I will think only positive thoughts.

Words are all very well but it’s feelings of love that make things happen.

Rhonda sends her love to the world for fifteen minutes every morning.

I can feel the warm love you send me, Rhonda, and return it to you.

After my shampoo and shave a wonderful day can be expected.

 

LETTING GO

You have every reason to be happy. Name one, others will follow.

Contentment comes, once the mind has been emptied of negative thinking.

It’s when we let go that positive power starts flowing into us.

Your chief reason for being here is to enjoy your day to the full.

Let go. When that feeling of discomfort vanishes, joy must appear.

Gratitude begins with little things – a glass of tea raised to the lips.

The absence of dissatisfaction is the prelude to happiness.

Put a positive thought into your mind… you are alive and sober.

It is a kind of excitement we are after – boundless well-being.

You may not feel grateful now, but you are sure to feel grateful later.

I am grateful for the sunshine when it flashes out between the clouds.

Aversion is a turning away from, love is a turning towards.

Let go let God – the ultimate mantra with which to start the morning.

Letting go is an attitude that works under all circumstances.

Try to sustain the good mood that follows letting go and letting God.

Letting go of it all results in a pain-free type of consciousness.

After letting go, I gaze out of the window, filled with emptiness.

Your lack of lustre may be due to the fact that you have slept too long.

Boredom is a virus which poisons your thinking. Send it on its way.

Think of the Mamoré at dawn with jungle birds skimming the water.

Your first haiku of the day is ready to show to Piti and Grace.

Think of the way Maria takes even you with cheerful acceptance.

Change is the only constant element in my life, says Mario.

Expose your heart and soul to the healing touch of your guardian angels.

You live in a friendly universe which is conspiring for your good.

 

*

 

LEVURE LITTERAIRE PRESENTS

 

MARTIN BURKE

 

Is an Irish poet/playwright/editor who has lived in Belgium for more than thirty years and now resided in the quiet market-town of Wetteren.

Though born in Ireland his work belongs more to the broader European/American tradition of visionary involvemen rather than any socio-political school of realism. Regarding his work the magazine Projected letters sais:  “Burke is the eloquent essayist of the sublime” and the Kiosque noted that“His style is far ahead in terms of imaginative inventiveness.:….startling, original work”

He has published books of poetry in the USA, UK, Ireland, & Belgium and his plays have been performed in the USA & Belgium

While sometimes cited as the ‘editor’ of THE GREEN DOOR he regards himself more in the role of facilitator rather than occupying any judgemental seat.

 

He maintains two blogs

burkedelphicghent.tumblr.com

cryantigonecry.tumblr.com

 

Poem of Martin Burke from his book-length manuscript

 

THE OUTCAST ART

1

 

Not enough, – never can be nor will beauty, bird-song, her hair in my face, her hand on my hand not enough

And friendship, its flame saying: “I will be your brother no matter the cost” no, there cannot

be enough

 

And should the State outlaw it then it would be carried on secretly in shadows of trees, tall grass, wild places

And love be carried forward in the furtive intensity of secretive lovers singing body’s joy in frenzied fashion 

Yet even that not enough

Tomorrow, they claim, the season will change but the unchanging season of my heart will beas hungry as it has ever been

As it was that night in Venice

Or that night in Jerusalem

Or any night since among the ghost of elsewhere’s

Though there is no elsewhere that I subscribe to with lasting fidelity

Nor ever will if it not affirm what this town-land affirms

For I have seen the hidden core within the sepal’s binding

Tide within water

Wind on which bird-song reaches to here

Not even should the ice return or sudden snow overthrow essential dominions

Nor will I give up for the sake of larger acres these acres to which I have rooted

Where if I stand at the end of one tradition then I stand at another’s beginning

Where, even were this is not so, it will not diminish the debt to be joyfully paid

Thus my coins are indelibly inscribed with the imprint of Flanders which no largess can ever exhaust even should I become the alms-giver of the world

Full of the un-calm cry of Egypt, the unending death-songs of Auschwitz and Hiroshima, in those sorrows highlighting the difference between the dynasties of power and the dynasties of love

Everything you know emphasis this unbridgeable gap

The apple in your hand appeals to no authority other than itself

Nor does the poem need the predictability of a sonnet to carry its intentions into your mind

to unwind like the rind of a fruit in its call for justice and love

So sleep well ye ghosts, be not unsatisfied, justice will be given you in the fire of my heart

To which I call the ghosts to warm their splintered bones

Then call to Egypt and Hiroshima that I might be their witness

So that if hell has a festival for the damned I will celebrate one for the innocent and living

 

Yet even that –one calendar day of unending joy – it will not be enough

Nor the hymns of heaven satisfy nor the fire of the world out-burn the fire I warm these words at

Nor the grandeur of the world exhausted nor the butterfly abandon its beauty

Nor summer decry the fruits it ripens nor silence be so terrifying it cannot be broken

While on my plate the sweet rind of an apple is enough to nourish my needs

So that even if the ice should return I would be fortified against it

My weapons are these essential nouns impelled by one all-compelling verb and what that verb

is you do not have to guess

The dynasties shall come to know, come to regret, come to atone that they have wrongly disturbed our hearts

And the essence of the apple outlast the tanks and fighter-jets above a people demanding that Egypt be cleansed

As a butterfly’s trajectory becomes history’s trajectory and that foul gap close up its mouth and utter no damnation

So come ye ghosts, unsatisfied citizens of shadows and sorrows

Here is fire

Here is fruit

Here is my outstretched hand.

 

SOLSTICE  SONGS

 

1

Morning so splendid and clear Hans Memling must have formed its lines and tones

Morning already welded to the well of memory like a shrine or pool of light stepped willingly

 into

As if it was the place of making

Flanders that might have been Crete but was Flanders suffering nothing of a Greek absence

Towards which, but never away from, the heart was in migration

Vibrancies

High sun and thrilling

Older songs of earth even the best of summer names could not compete with

 

And the sun staining the monochrome of my eyes

And that great crested bird landing on a nearby branch

And the solstice translating itself into itself as if solely for my benefit

And if not Blake who then might I call on to teach me the aptitudes of summer?

And who cares if our songs would then be profane?

And what is the by-road we would refuse ourselves?

Already the world had no counter-part in the world

There were songs and song-lines yet not one counterfeit note would hold itself against suns’

         burnishings

In which everything that was to happen foretold and then confirmed itself

Hans Memling stirred and Vondel replied –because of which every poem thereafter could be

         written, painted, and read.

 

2

Rain’s aftermath –for such beauty there need be no apology

Nor for the blood-pulse within the stone

Nor for the intrinsic simplicity of pine-cone or shell

The world striking the gong of the heart to a new and firmer formation

For which not even history or divinity could provide an adequate precedence

Nothing had changed and nothing would

We walked the rough sands of Oostende where there was a hint of honey and iodine on the air

Music was stirring on the creel of hope and affirmation for which any apology

would have been a betrayal

Call me then the inquisitor of the world moving wide-eyed or a slouching somnambulist

         among the various shrines

Eyes fixed on the living air, as if Plato’s forms were accurate to the ninth degree

In which I was citizen and exile because of their reconciliation within a verse

As rains’ aftermath was sufficient to be what I needed it to be

 

So where are you in Flanders when there is no Greek absence before you?

Certainly not in exile, certainly not in nostalgia

For which your rough words must summon up all the finesse they can claim from the iodine

         and honey

Do I speak for the earth or the earth mouth its necessities through me where no answer will

         absolve me of responsibility?

And fidelity be measured by what I say next nor any Greek light outrank the creel of light

         I stir on

 

3

A landscape, once it enters the mind, becomes another landscape

Thus the stone-lands of Aran end, in my mind, at this quay-wall

Thus the stone in my hand is the touchstone of the world

And the water I throw it into begins to ripple so that I find it continues to ripple

Towards that future of which, as yet, I know nothing, yet know enough to know

That from the quay-wall the water I watch flow and return

Flowed and returned to water the tree of vision

 

4

Tree splendid tree

Berries and nuts among the vivid greenery

Splendid tree by which every question of the dancer is answered in abundance

Jesse tree, Joshua tree, bark and script of the world

Living flame of morning

Giver of leaf and bole and everything that leaf and bole bespeak and they bespeak so much

Remembrance of that tree of vision planted in those Anglo-Saxon verses that I love

Tree of life and the life lived after that as if the resurrection took place in its purpose and

         shade

As if that was its purpose by which I might write verse –Saxon or Celt or any I like

Seeds of which are scattered in everything I love

Giving music, giving language, giving dialects for the wind to carry

Summer coming early to the world so as to enter every scribble of my hand

Core I would sing of as berries, nuts and seeds fall on the page

 

5

Drawing a tradition from tradition I also intend to cast off the filthy rags

Tides are what I would emulate to wash the stones of memory to a fine and polished glance

Cusp of the year –the world is Ithaca and Jerusalem to itself, we its returning citizens

Noah’s birds with irrefutable evidence

Sailors with, shall we say, “a certain experience of the sea”?

Thus, with a plume in my hat, and facing the tide which begins at my door….

 

6

Solstice on Aran

Crepuscular evenings in the shades of Crete

Nothing strange where everything was wonderment

Our longing hands holding the stones of the world that out of them new language might

         enter

The hunger of our mouths or that from shells we would come to know the sea within the

         sea    

Solstice –our mouths and minds eager

Sudden images of ourselves more pleasing to ourselves than we had ever been

Woods in which we walked at cusp of summer

Glance of sunlight on morning leaves and fresh-cut grass

Where if we sought to sign ourselves into the contours of the world we sought to unply the

         knots and twists of history

Winnowing with an oar the winds which blew from east or west so as to carry to our kinsmen

         the stones Gilgamesh sought 

Standing on ground instructing us to make, remake, make again

Collecting the oldest stories, finding ourselves in goodly company, inheriting enduring light

Thus by its many means the morning called us to credit its greening intentions

Our happy compliance like prisoners of sunlight wanting no escape

Songs of course –our mouths and minds more eager than ever

Thus with Blake and many another

In the lustre of trees become visionary

Fruits of the world for harvest and understanding

Knowing the world by how it knew itself and not by any other.

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