Bright Islands

The launch of the collection of poems, Bright Islands, which I published in January, has had to be postponed along with so much else. The title refers to something irreducible in our solitariness while at the same time seeking to emphasise that sharing and loving are essential to the living of a fulfilled life. I wrote a five stanza poem, Floor Exercise from which I took the phrase of the title. The performance by a gymnast struck me as a moving expression of our vitality and the struggle to overcome our limitations through concentrated effort. Here is the poem.


Volley of abundant life,
a scatter of bright islands.
Leap proposing hope beyond
the person, fervour
of grief, stern
examination of dance.

Economy of means
beneath the skin,
tension and relaxation
embracing one another.
Rugged attack,
pliant responsive limbs.

Yearning runs through, runs
slant, steadies.
Reasserts as balance,
is undiminished.
Nothing is settled
as the performance blooms.

Protean, she knows the mix
of touch and taste,
spikes of intensity, surface
steeled in the direction of travel:
self a riff between effort
and its extinction.

Where emphasis lands its blow
meaning is transfigured.
The execution stuns.
It is not about what it is about.
Where does the gymnast
stand in this regard?

Published by davidcookpoet

I am a husband, father and grandfather. I retired from a busy working life as an adult psychiatrist in 2014. My interests are in literature, philosophy, modern jazz and horse racing. I might represent those four fields by Shakespeare, Kant, Charlie Parker and Lester Piggott. Like nearly all of us, I can identify a number of formative experiences, one of which was a psychotic episode in my first year as a psychiatrist. This reinforced an already established interest in mystical experience, and a sense of how little human beings know. My intellectual bugbear is reductive materialism, and I am surprised at the lack of moral imagination of those who promulgate such views. It seems to me they need to consider ,perhaps by exposure, just why totalitarianism is so horrific.

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