Daniel
James
Cooper

Slate Sculptor

 

Poetry

Click a title to read...

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE 
FROM MY BEDROOM WALL 
IN MY CONCRETE FLAT 
OUT WEST OF EDINBURGH 
IN WESTERHAILES 
I PAINT OUTCASTS 
LIFE ON THE FRINGES 
MY OWN FESTIVAL 

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE 
GREYHOUNDS, A DEAD STAG 
A HANGING CARCASS 
IN A BUTCHERS SHOP 
AN EMPTY VODKA BOTTLE 
IN A DOORWAY 
THAT LOOK IN HER EYES 
WASTED ON A SPLIFF 

I SAW THE LIGHTS OF PRINCESS STREET 
BROUGHT UP IN WESTERHAILES 
I PAINTED LIFE TO MAKE ENDS MEET 
MY FLAT IN WESTERHAILES 

I SAW THE LIGHTS OF PRINCESS STREET 
BROUGHT UP IN WESTERHAILES 
I PAINTED LIFE TO MAKE ENDS MEET 
MY FLAT IN WESTERHAILES 

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE 
GYPSIES, SCARRED BOXERS 
A SKINHEADS RAZOR BLADE 
SLASHING THROUGH MY CANVAS 
ADIDAS HOODIES 
HANGING AT THE FAIRGROUND 
SPINNING THE WALTZERS 
IN A NEON BLITZ

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE 
BURNT OUT CARS, GARAGE FORECOURTS 
GANG CULTURE SNAPPING 
AT MY CHARCOAL STICK 
THEY STARE IMPASSIVELY 
DEMANDING OUR ATTENTION 
DARING US TO ENTER 
REJECTED FOREVER 

(DOUBLE CHORUS)

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE 
BENEATH THE PENTLAND HILLS 
ABANDONED CARAVANS 
A CHAINED FERAL DOG 
MUZZLED FROM ATTACKING 
A PASSING STAG 
PASSING THROUGH A SUBWAY 
OF METHADONE LOVE 

I CAN PAINT THIS ESTATE
IN MONOCHROMATIC GREY
WHERE TOWER BLOCKS MERGE
LAND AND SKY
MERGE BLOOD, SWEAT, TEARS
LIKE CHRONIC SPILLAGE
DRIPPING OFF THE CANVAS
MY INDIA INK PAINT 

(DOUBLE CHORUS) 

Inspired by solo exhibition of Paintings “Way out West” by Edinburgh artist Norrie Harman

LETTER FROM HOME

EARLY MORNING, CAIS DO SODRE 
OLD CROONER RECLINED IN SUN 
SINGING, BEATING RHYTHMS 
ON A FUNKY COLOURED PLASTIC BENCH 
THIS SOUND, CREOLE TONGUE? 
SUNG TO THE RIVER THAT BROUGHT HIM 
LATE NIGHT LISBON DANCE HALLS 
A BLAZING RED RUFFLED SHIRT 

WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 
WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 

EVERYTHING SEEMS STRIPPED AWAY 
RHYTHMS, AN AGING BODY 
AILING HANDS BEATING SONGS 
AN EXORCISM IN LOVE AND LOSS 
ALWAYS THINK OF HIM HERE 
OLD CROONER RECLINED IN SUN 
A BROKEN POT OF BROKEN MEMORIES 
WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 

WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 
WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 

BEATS TIME, LISBON WATERFRONT 
PLAYING RHYTHMS OF LIFE 
DREAMS FELL APART ON BUILDING SITES 
NO BLACK REVOLUTION TELEVISED 
NO GIL SCOTT-HERON PASSING BY 
A FUNKY COLOURED PLASTIC BENCH 
AMONGST TOURISTS, IMMIGRANTS 
NEVER BATS AN EYE 

WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 
WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME

DOWN HERE ON RIVER TEJO 
AWAY FROM SUBTERRANEAN SLUMS 
NO PLASTIC BULLETS FLYING HIGH 
IN CAIS DO SODRE ALL IS FINE 
IN BLAZING RED RUFFLED SHIRT 
FLAT CAP PUSHED BACK ALL DIGNIFIED 
BEATING OUT A RHYTHM Of LIFE 
WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 

WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME 
WAITING FOR NEWS, LETTER FROM HOME

CROW HILL

MADE OUR WAY ON STONY PATH
FIND CROW HILL A DISTANT MOOR
IN SWELLING LAND HEART GREW FAST
ROLLED, KISSED IN SWATHES OF HEATHER

HIGH ON TOP NEVER LOOKED BACK
SUN CAME UP THE STONY PATH
RAY OF LIGHT ACROSS THIS LAND
BE WITH YOU IN GOLDEN MOORS

SUN WENT DOWN CROW HILL BLACK
SKY CLOSED IN ON DARKENING GRASS
EVERY STEP OF STONE WE MADE
HELD YOU IN WIND AND RAIN

THEN IT CAME LIGHT ONCE AGAIN
TOOK YOUR HAND NO TURNING BACK
LEFT IN PEACE A SILENT HILL
ON VAST MOOR FAR FROM HOME

UP ON CROW HILL WITH YOU
LOVE SANK INTO HEATHER
UP ON CROW HILL WE KNEW
LOVE WOULD LAST FOREVER

Inspired by Fay Godwin exhibition of photographs "Land Revisited" National Medium Museum, Bradford

STAR FALLEN STONE

BESIDE THIS DRY STONE WALL
OUR WORLD WAS NEVER ENCLOSED
ON FALLEN PIECE OF STONE
SCRIBING YOU IN A STAR

SEE SUNLIGHT ON YOUR FACE
YOUR FULL ROSEY YORKSHIRE CHEEKS
PLACING YOURSELF ON MY CHEST
MY BRACKEN COVERED HARRIS TWEED

BENEATH MY FLAT CAP BRIM
I WATCH YOU FALL ASLEEP
YOUR HAIR GENTLY SWAYING SOFTLY
LIFTING SLIGHTLY IN THE BREEZE

THE DAY IS DRAWING IN
I FIND MY HANDS BEGIN
PLACING YOU ON THIS WALL
A STAR FALLEN STONE AGAIN

STAR FALLEN STONE
CARRY ME HOME
WHERE THE WIND BLOWS
NEVER ALONE

STAR FALLEN STONE
CARRY ME HOME
WHERE THE WIND BLOWS
NEVER ALONE

Inspired by the line, Star Broken Stone
From the Ted Hughes poem "Where the Mothers" (Remains of Elmet)

LISBON WATERFRONT

TOURISTS
IMMIGRANTS
LISBON WATERFRONT
A HARBOUR WALL
HE SAT
EMERGING
LIKE SOME KIND OF SENTINEL GUARDIAN
OF THE RIVER TEJO 
NO BLOCK 
NO FACADE 
ONLY FREEDOM

SLATE GIRL AND THE QUARRYMAN

She lies naked
On a rock of slate

Her greeny blue eyes open
To find herself in a quarry

Rolling over the surface
Rough against her skin

She finds a discarded sheet of hessian
Wraps it around like a shawl

Out of sight she hears a sound
Follows it through rocks and slabs

Leading to the edge of a yard
Where a quarryman is riving slate

Confronts him at the rock he rives
Reaches out to him

Unaware of her presence
He does not sense her touch

She makes her way from the yard
Without a backward glance

Returning to the rocks and slabs
Back to where she came from


Influenced by the Neruda poem “Fable of the mermaid and the drunks”

GIRL IN THE GOTHIC QUARTER (Extract Song format)

She walks out from Le Seu
Cathedral of Barcelona
Her name is on street signs
All over the Gothic Quarter
Today her cult remains

She wanders through the city
Afraid of persecution
The roman flames had burnt her
Now no longer a martyr
She will not burn again

Her name is Saint Eulalia
Girl in the Gothic Quarter
Done to death by the Roman Empire
Girl in the Gothic Quarter

Inspired by the carvings inside Le Seu (Barcelona Cathedral) of Saint Eulalia by the 16th Century  Spanish renaissance sculptor Bartolome Ordonez

LIZA OF THE LEAVES (Extract Song format)

Between sunset and sunrise
The woods fall silent
To a wild woman
With leaves in her hair
She moves through the trees
Into deep unknown shadows
To confront her fears
Without any care

From dusk till dawn
Under the moonlight
She’s close to nature
The woods are her home
She knows the fears
The woods can bring her
The hunted the hunter
Into the unknown

The rustling of the trees
The flashing of carlights
The flickering of moonlight
She’s liza of the leaves
The rustling of the trees
The flashing of carlights
The flickering of moonlight
She’s Liza of the leaves

Inspired by “sharp’s wood”, solo exhibition of photographs by Bradford born photographer Liza Dracup

TOPOS V

On the ancient paving of Placa Del Rei
In the heart of old Barcelona
Eduardo Chillida’s Topos V
Brings iron and stone together

Sculpture and masonry embrace one another
Through space, form and identity
A basque corner in Catalunya
Where ancient and modern meet

I enter the space in Topos V
An enclosure of two iron sheets
That rise into semi circular openings
Mirroring surrounding gothic arches

MANX SHEARWATERS PASSING BY (Extract Song format)

5 O’clock in the morning
Across a moonlit tide
From hollyhead to Dublin
I listen to the sea

Out there in the darkness
I hear a cackling sound
Manx Shearwaters on the waves
Flying towards me

They flew into the night
Like flying black crosses
Their long dark wings
Dipping under a new moon

They hit the moonlit tide
Lifting off waves, swirling the sky
Their raucous call
Breaks the silent sea

Out there on the waves
Flying into darkness
Manx Shearwaters passing by
Great flyers of the atlantic

Out there on the waves
Flying into darkness )
Manx Shearwaters passing by
Great flyers of the atlantic

THE LOUCHE BOYS (Extract Song format)

Down by the sea
Around the old port
Louche boys of Raval
Left their etiquette on the Rambla
These pimps, dealers, thieves
Parade themselves against church ruins
They’re narcissistic souls
Wretched on poverty stricken alleys

What love do they have?
What religion do they know?
Their holy trinity
Is written on the street
Written on graffitti slashed walls
Louche boys of raval
Thieve, betray, deceive
Crime their doctrine

Louche boys hanging around
Working streets of Raval

Louche boys hanging around
Working streets of Raval

They stand like statues
On Placa Jean Genet
His thiefs journal gives them sainthood
Louche boys of Raval
Left their etiquette on the Rambla
Down by the sea
Around the old port
They’re mad for danger

Louche boys hanging around
Working streets of Raval

Louche boys hanging around
Working streets of Raval

BEST BEDROOM IN LEEDS

According to my best mate
I have the best bedroom in the whole of Leeds
Over looking Headingley cricket pitch
Today of all days happens to be a match day
I realise that our friendship today
Is nothing more than a hybrid form of utilitarianism

I look at him binoculars in his hand
Watching a West Indian batsman
Through his West Indian eyes
He claims to be a distant relative of Brian Lara
Encomuims of beach cricket
Hitting sixes into boundaries of ocean and fertile green oasis

I gaze in ennui at the sun
The Caribbean sun
Lowering behind a battlement of chimneys
That rise above a field
Pitched in a brick quarry of back to back terraced housing
Where West Indian men are playing cricket

GIRL AND BEGGAR IN SQUARE OF PINES

I was sketching in Placa Del Pi
Beneath the great rose window
When a beautiful girl entered the square
She moved along the side of the church
Sat beside a buttressed wall
I made my drawing for her
She came over, threw me a coin

Across the square
There was a beggar
I remembered him five years ago
Outside le seu with his amputated arm
Begging behind the sardana
I gave him the coin the girl threw me
As he begged beneath the pine trees

For Maria Batti

THE WINDOWS (Extract Song format)

I pass him every morning
Walking down Briggate
Across his brilliant windows
That flick, flick and flick
He works his way along the street
Stepping over soapy streaks
Into the dawn he throws it all
Swirling his sponge in knots

In the morning light
His windows come alive
They sparkle and shine
They show his soul

In the morning light
His windows come alive
They sparkle and shine
They show his soul

STONE MASONS OF BARCELONA

I sit in the shade
Of Santa Maria Del Mar
On the side of the church
Stone masons are carving gothic moulds
Into blocks of Catalan sandstone
Honey coloured in mediterranean light

The sound of skilled men
Fills the square
The weight of the mallet
Dropping onto the chisel
Perfectly executed in sustained rhythm
These men of stone are a dying trade

Time stands still
The bell tower chimes the hour
Nothing changes in the gothic quarter
Stone masons chipping away
Chipping away through centuries
On Santa Maria Del Mar

I left the square
The sound of men working
Alive in my head
Chiselling words into a poem
I wanted to be with them
Stone masons of Barcelona

Daniel Cooper 07932 381978
Email: lintel75@hotmail.co.uk
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