(Ver)blind

er was geschreeuw
maar niemand leek te horen
er werd geroepen
maar niemand wilde reageren
er werd geworsteld
maar niemand kwam ertussen
er werd gepeinsd
maar actie werd er niet genomen
nogmaals werd er gekeken
maar geen mens werd gezien

de menigte
zag zichzelf pas
oog in oog
tijdens de stille tocht

© Dave Thomas 2016

I Struggle

to connect loose threads on the rear of a tapestry
to perceive what our interwovenness could have been

to recapture moments of mutual pleasure
in a lingering mist of supression

to distinguish façades of normality
from gnarled, indifferent reality

same flesh
different plumage

© Dave Thomas 2016

Zomer ontbreekt

Woordjes dwarrelen in mijn hoofd,
als drijvende bladeren in een kabbelende beek.

De warme herfstkleuren ontleden
en trekken uit mijn gedachten weg.

Ontbindende woorddelen nestelen in mijn achterhoofd,
fermenteren, conjugeren en sijpelen door in mijn gedachten.

Plotseling, als een rivier in vloed, razen ze door mijn hoofd,
zelfs boomstammen kunnen hun geweld niet weerstaan.

Emoties gezakt en hoofd schoongeveegd,
letters kiemen in mijn verzande gedachten.
En, gevoed door de lenteregen,
vormen ze woordjes opnieuw.

© Dave Thomas 2016

Impoverished conversation

spaghetti letters tumble
jumble in Tetris
Letris falling
appalling, bereft of emotion
commotion, passing through the motions
of oceans
of scalding verboseness
closeness, sentiments starched
parched, tapioca still talking
hawking in a
ratcheted rut

© Dave Thomas 2015

Ghent

shrouded in naked silence
Van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
scarcely attracts a visitor
at the Museum of Fine Art

a mile away a heaving throng
gawps at leftover Christmas trinkets
purveyed from converted garden sheds
nestled between medieval churches

tourists step into these religious bulwarks
to gaze at a former world
oblivious to a faithful few
who gather seeking the divine

outside
the masses instinctively congregate
and process fitfully through ware-laden streets
in a carnival without effigies or masks

© Dave Thomas 2015

The girl without a face

Another evening, same meal. I stand dutifully at the table corseted in my Sunday dress. Ma and pa stab at the lacklustre potato chunks on the large communal plate. Pa’s worn face has a doleful gaze. Ma’s is harder to read.

Our oil lamp shines like a Christmas star above the table. As if the nooks and crannies of our hovel have anything to hide! Just a few ladles and a painting adorn its dank walls.

We all wear the same drab earthen blue, the ladies’ flaccid bonnets doing their best to look white and not grey. My aunts have skin like the bark of knotted willows. Mine is still the bark of a silver birch sapling struggling to survive.

The clock strikes seven. Ma and pa continue to eat without exchanging a word while my two aunts natter incessantly about all and sundry but nothing in particular, their speech punctuated solely by sips of insipid coffee.

Caught between babble and silence I look beyond ma and pa to the painting on the wall, a present from a would-be-preacher, a newcomer to these parts.

Pa pushes the plate towards me. I listlessly pop the starchy lumps into my mouth gulping coffee to wash the blandness away.

Full but not satiated I gaze out of the window into a night darker than my hair is black. My eyelids fall and I dream inside our painting. I’m the blond-haired, girl in turquoise-azure dress laughing outside with the boy in crimson red.

Ghent

shrouded in naked silence
Van Eyck’s Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
scarcely attracts a visitor
at the Museum of Fine Art

a mile away a heaving throng
gawps at leftover Christmas trinkets
purveyed from converted garden sheds
nestled between medieval churches

tourists step into these religious bulwarks
to gaze at a former world
oblivious to a faithful few
who gather seeking the divine

outside
the masses instinctively congregate
and process fitfully through ware-laden streets
in a carnival without effigies or masks

© Dave Thomas 2015

Art as propaganda or reality?

The Kim Utopia and North Korean Perspectives

After an hour of studying the paintings and watching a documentary about North Korea in The Kim Utopia exhibition a restless feeling seeped under my skin. My western mindset found the paintings of ecstatic workers, sublimely pretty traffic wardens and tranquil farm scenes far too surreal. Yet other paintings depicting barbaric American soldiers torturing a North Korean or setting crops on fire struck a chord with the atrocities in Vietnam, adding a possible sliver of truth to the overt propaganda machine. Yet what kind of regime would commission a painting of bounteous sheaths of corn at a time when most of its citizens were starving? And why does nearly everyone always look so vibrant and happy?

Read the full article