Sunday, 22 November 2009

Book Launch / Further Away from Home

Rainy Sunday evening greetings all,

A little update on all things book-related, which are certainly gathering steam, as the launch date rapidly approaches. With the launch-party night, on November 28th, nearing, things are getting both nerve-wracking and exciting. I'm looking forward to meeting some old and new friends that day, from 7.30pm at The Continental in Preston (

Some of you will have seen me reading at a couple of events this week. I'd like to say thanks for coming along, and giving the new work such a warm response! Unlike with 'Sunrise and Shorelines', where I would read a similar selection of favourite pieces at each event, I'm trying to give everything from this book a fair hearing, so those of you who've seen me performing at several events should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from 'In Memory of Real Trees' by now.

'Postcards from the North', included with the last mailout, seems to have received a particularly good response. Among others, 'Further Away from Home' also got its first airing at Preston's 'Word Soup' this week, and seemed to go down well. Therefore, in the tradition of previewing new material with these emails, I've tagged a copy of that poem onto this message.

Should any of you want to reply, with comments, feedback, or for any more information about the book launch, I'll look forward to hearing from you here or on

All the best,

Mark Charlesworth


Further Away from Home

Abandoning the comfort of a subterranean nest;

the enveloping sheets of a warm, familiar bed;

the shelter of a domestic haunt

that, all through childhood, had been in sight,

even in the dusk and rain,

visible by a single ember burning in the grate,

and trading it all for three years in the wilderness,

was never an easy decision to make.

But standing on the brink

of a world that threatened

all the potential hope and nightmare of a fairytale,

you knew you were doing right

by treading in the wrong direction.

Taking leave from the beaten track,

ill prepared, clutching at a compass and crumpled map,

you quickly discovered that true travelling

doesn’t need a plan or guide

to diminish the crooked beauty

of an indigo night sky,

aching with myth and inscriptions of classical legends,

tales of old friends and ghosts

concealed in every constellation.

Plummeting several-thousand-feet-or-so,

rugged coastlines fight erosion

and reclamation by a violent sea,

emaciated trees cling on to every precipice you pass,

among plants with pockmarked petals and poisonous stems,

and, as you speed through,

both intimately connected and completely detached

from the landscape of sheer, sublime hostility,

you wonder if you’ll suffer the same fate of falling

as the limbless branches,

lying like littering debris

in the isolation of an unchartered ravine,

unwilling to spare or shed its secrets.

But, if you look very closely,

you can see

the length of a highway

mirroring a path through the stars,

the wilderness oblivion of possibility,

like a desert plain

snaking to the epicentre of a canopied trail,

and watched by the passengers on a restless sleeper train.

I feel I might have passed that way too,

awake until daylight

then too tired to move,

and I struggle to remember if I made that trip alone:

third year on the road – still looking for home.

Instead, there was the brief delusion of substitution

in a gloomy gallery

dedicated to achievement and progression,

an artefact of all things artificial:

warehouses hosting cubist figures and manmade machines,

scaled-down towns constructed of mirrors,

telegraph poles fashioned to look like trees,

an air-conditioner simulating authentic summer breeze,

circulating in a surgically cleansed atmosphere

but eventually joining vapour trails

scattering on the western wind,

the otherworldly labyrinth of steel and glass dissipating,

transforming into rural England.

I look round again to find

a second familiar shadow once more walks in stride,

side by side

every ticking second.

The uncharacteristic desire for abandon

is suddenly overwhelming.

I want to run out into the road,

fearing no threat of imminent collision,

throw up my arms to meet the downpour,

savouring the stain that spreads across the heavens,

bringing with it thunder

and an atmosphere charged with the eastern promise

of Indian summer,

reaching some destination at last

in a city decorated by dizzying colour

and strange sounds from twisted strings.

I feel the intensity and heat,

the healing effect of each falling droplet

as the moment rises to crescendo

and the clouds give out a final moan,

before diminishing into the distance.

When it’s over,

we stand by the roadside,

you and I together

and somehow alone

with each other.

We stroll towards the sun

as it dips from the horizon,

watching our reflections growing longer,

then disappearing entirely with disconcerting urgency.

And on a bridge, in spectral shade,

a train performs its practiced part,

slowing towards the station,

spilling a new set of stories onto a crowded platform,

and then – as though indifferent – moving on.

Always moving on.

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