Released (to celebrate Callum’s 18th Birthday 15.8.09)

Callum in the garden



Through eighteen winters shedding their sweaters

to become summers

We have loved you.

The world seems old and hydraulic

as it shifts rheumatically on its oxidising axis.

The clouds purse for an open-mouthed moment

allowing the sun to bolt from its hiding place,

a startled doe, a scuttled exit from the woods.


Time moves, it is 1991 once more.

Here it lies,

A stuttering, spastic year, crying and spewing freedom

when midges and fireflies pull down an iron curtain

And Jeffrey Dahmes himself as he smiles in the dock

And we watch wide-eyed as Lithuania turns

from Communist to Eurovision in front of us

And on the earth’s flipside an exhibition soccer match in Jo’burg

becomes a showcase for death

While in the distance the eternal fire wells of Kuwait

snap like cheap cigarette lighters in Saddam’s hand

And we listen to the sound of a distant storm in the desert

Crying Bravo Two Zero boys and bidding

For the serial rights

To death

And as the oil burns in Kuwait, we set light

To the long black slick, slicker than Elvis

left by the Exxon Valdez, big enough to melt Alaska

And our hearts start melting in anticipation of your arrival.

In the middle of the Soviet disunion

We cross the days off a calendar,

Saying goodbye to weeks

As Yugoslavia waves goodbye to Croatia and Slovenia

Ticking the days away

4th August: 571 drown as the MS Oceanos sinks – but we are floating

6th August: the Web gathers like a matrix to come into being – we are expectant

13th August: Super Nintendo arrives – and we are taking slow steady breaths

And on the 15th you are born to the sound of an iron curtain closing

as we craft your cot

and listen to a few Kurt words as your favourite album shambles in

conceived and delivered at the same time as you

Nevermind cooes the Iron Lady to her Gorby

Nevermind grins Slick Willie as he press releases his open ambition

 in all the right houses

Nevermind we think as Maxwell’s silver hammer falls into contaminated waters

Nevermind we murmur as the Magic and the Mercury submit to the modern plague

And as we shout your name to the world

The KGB runs out of secrets to trade

And later, as you blink towards the sun

A Terry in Waiteing also blinks as a side door in Beirut releases him to the light

And as we christen you

Leningrad becomes St Petersburg again, re-released under a different, older name

with a new dialect of materialism

so when the old boyos provisionally blow their bombs

 in the early morning of a London peoplescape

We know that we have set the fuse to something more explosive.

 You are the point where the past released the future

and from the pieces came the best of us both.


Roy Stannard 6.8.09

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