Tag Archives: Scott Elder

Poem by Scott Elder

Recital

 
The sound of her name rings in the air.  It’s always been there.

Alice is waiting.  An aisle flutters under her footsteps.

At the end of the aisle a piano is waiting.  It’s ever been there.

Instants flicker and merge to a hum. She stills her breath

to breathe in the silence, closes her eyes and envisions a field.

The field is empty and covered with snow.  A lady is standing

dead in the centre.  Alice, she whispers, it’s time to go.

A blackbird starts, wings a line through snowflakes falling.

The notes begin to bubble and purr.

 
Scott Elder lives in France with his three young children. Since winter 2013 his poems have appeared numerous magazines in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA. A first pamphlet was published by Poetry Salzburg in July 2015.  He was a runner-up in the 2016 Troubadour International Poetry Prize and his work has been respectively highly commended and commended in the Segora Poetry Competition 2015 and the Wild Atlantic Words Competition 2015, and long listed in The Plough Prize 2015 and the 2016 Cinnamon Pamphlet Competition.

Poems by Scott Elder

A Swallow in the Garden of St Joseph’s

Who knows what lies in the pit of it?
Gaunt fossil of itself, dull eye.  Consider only the slip of distances,
greys fading to blankness, (Space has no soul, you mutter.)

the perspectives,   folding     unfolding     folding      etc.
A dark obsession, (still you) not quite deep enough
to drown in.  Your thoughts pall…The little

lead soldiers hobble past from some ancient war.
They seem to be looking for a home in back alleys.
A tattered platoon sniffs out your lair.

You look up at them looking down in…
Out of a fold—a cleft silhouette (This is your cue.)
drifting through ruins of late afternoon.

You follow in the wake of the drift.  Your image blurs to a stain.
The stain sets on the horizon.  It’s there,     still there…
then, hallelujah, it’s gone.

 

Aftermath

I

It’s maybe in a dream.
Ask the man holding the gun,

or place your palms on the floor.
They know how to listen.

The earth is my witness, you blurt.
Children sense the tension. The shaft

runs deep.  A canary is chirpless,
and this is only the beginning.

II

The lady in spelter holding the lyre
is not looking this way.

Lovely lady, lady of grace.
Still, I feel her gaze.

One day they’ll melt you down.
The Devil’s in this! they’ll say.

III

What runs through the stray dog’s howl,
those boneless words adrift?  Go north

to lovely Lesbos, to Samos or Kos! 
Ruin’s no longer at bay. The risk remains

in the blood pulse.  Hold your ear to your wrist.
Listen to the Aegean at midnight,

a black and moonless water
promising to pull you away.

 

 

Scott Elder studied at the American University in Paris and the University of Puget Sound. He lived as street musician in Paris and London, then worked as a mime in France and Portugal before spending twelve years in a Buddhist hermitage in France. He now lives in Auvergne with his family. His poems have appeared in Ecumes,  Poetry Cornwall, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg, Cyphers, Nimrod International, The Antigonish Review, The French Literary Review, Crannog Magazine. and will be appearing in the forthcoming issues of Big Muddy, Quiddity International Journal, Acta Victoriana, Dream Catcher, and Cake. His pamphlet ‘Breaking Away’ is published by Poetry Salzburg.

Review of Breaking Away by Scott Elder

breaking[1]Review of ‘Breaking Away’ by Scott Elder.

Poetry Salzburg Pamphlet Series. ISBN 978-3-901993-52-7

 The qualities that most appeal to me in these poems by Scott Elder are their elusiveness and ambiguity, a mood of absence, an impression that what is not said is as important as the actual. ‘Her only presence is     a painful absence’ describes the woman on a train waving goodbye to her lover but distanced in her imagination so that she is ‘A ghost of herself’, a reflection in the window, her gaze ‘drifting through glass/through the man on the platform’. (Absence). In Esquisse the narrator feels him/herself carried by the spirits of ‘Blackbird, Elk, Wolf, and Swan’ while he measures ‘your absence in dust fall./Every mote on my lid tells its story,/and we listen to each till the heartbeat/ends.’

The title of the collection (and the title poem itself) enhances this impression of intangibility. ‘Wind hissing through a dozen halyards/confirms that somebody’s gone’ says the narrator as ‘A gull floats off in the broken half-light./Then another, and still another.’ (Breaking Away). In another poem we have a man ‘who might be an angel./He seems to be looking this way… I can’t quite piece him together. His look is familiar as scent remembered,/yet something keeps falling away.’ (The Man by the Roadside).

The poems in this pamphlet are lyrical and mysterious. ‘Listen to yourself listening’ says the poet. (Drowning at Sunset).The world depicted is ‘a freeze and a cringe, a fox/in full leap, suspended in time.’ There are images of seagulls, sparrows, feathers, breath and the wind, all dancing, flying, falling – a ‘Winged Stillness’, a finger-tip touch. (Gift of an Artist’).

Elusive, fleeting images – yet there is brutality too in Scott Elder’s poetic world. ‘The kick and bite of a .350 Magnum’ makes ‘a brutal entrance’ (Witness) as it does in the words of Penelope who says ‘When you came into Ithaca/I loaded my gun.’ (Penelope). Throughout, there are references to myths, folk songs, fairy tales, a wealth of symbolism and intriguing surreal touches as in Before the Fall where Dumpty sits for hours listening ‘to the whispers of swallows in a dingle dangle dusk.’

Scott Elder’s publication from Poetry Salzburg is rich in subtle, evocative poems. It is the forerunner, I am sure, of a great deal more.

Mandy Pannett