Looking Back – a poem

Looking Back


Perhaps in decades to come

You may look at an old photograph

Of a familiar scene from long ago

And see an image of a man

Staring back at you through time.

In that familiar place

He appears

Caught in the moment.


You might notice his stance,

His dress and demeanour

And wonder at his gaze.

What was he thinking?

It may make you wonder

About his life,

His intent and purpose.


When you look at that moment,

Forever captured in that instant,

Frozen for ever in time.

It might stimulate curiosity

As to the story behind that scene

In which that image was seized.


What thoughts were going through his mind?

Where was he going?

What life had he led?

What was this moment all about?

For than moment never existed on its own;

It was merely part of a continuum.


If you were to revisit that familiar place

There would be an empty space

Where that man once stood.

It is full of a story

That will never be told.


Opher 5.1.2018



This poem was stimulated by my photographer friend Richard Duffy-Howard. He was talking to me about photographs taken from long ago connected to his work on the river Humber. Using the wonders of the photo processor of Lightshop he has been able to isolate individuals from the old images. Those ghostly figures stare out from those photographs. Each of them have their reasons and stories. But we will never know more than we can glean from the evidence of what we can ascertain from the image. We can infer lots from the way they look and hold themselves. Part of their story can be guessed at – but only part.

It made me think that one day in the future somebody might be looking back at an image of me – a ghost from the past – and wondering.

We are all fated to be fleeting ghosts in a changing landscape.

It made me think of the Roy Harper song Hope. What strange ghosts, strange archaeology we become. We are so fleeting.

14 thoughts on “Looking Back – a poem

  1. Is that you hob-knobbing on the fly with some double-barrelled name Tory boy?
    How high the lowly Liebourites wish to fly. So many end up as Tory wannabe’s if it wasn’t for lack of education, money and the right accent. Look what happened to Tony Benn! Lol.

      1. He says but he’s still using his double-barrelled pretentious name.
        It’s alright, I get it, no need to hide the truth from me. It always comes clear in the bright light of day. Oh, is that a bright light I can see?…

      2. David – don’t be ignorant. He’s a Corbynite trade union rep who works for the council. He took on his wife’s name when they married for reasons of equality. You should never jump to conclusions should you?

      3. I had no intentions of offence.
        I’ve heard it all now. I had always thought equality was expressed though actions and not official administrative procedures.
        You don’t do humour very well do you? I was hardly being “ignorant” and in fact a long way off from such.
        But that’s what you lefties do, you get in a spot and all sense of reason escapes you are out come the childish insults. The internet is a blaze with that these days.
        No friggin’ wonders most of Benn’s bezzy mates were Tory boys.

  2. Namaste Opher 🙂

    Interesting thoughts. It makes you wonder who will actually remember us when we’re long gone, dead and buried and indeed for how long. Those who have family leave a legacy of course: a continuance in the continuum. Those that don’t, well, I suppose they just fade to grey and disappear back into the soil.

    Makes you realise how precious life is and what we should look to get from it before disappearing off this mortal coil if only to leave something for posterity in our wake.

    That’s quite a penetrative stare.

    Enjoy the rewrite/overhaul process you have planned.

    Namaste 🙂


    1. Hi Dewin,

      Yes it always makes me think. I do tend to think in terms of legacy. We only live as long as we are remembered. But the ripples we leave radiate to touch far off shores.
      There’s a poem there!
      That was my photographer friend Rich getting me to look weird!

      1. Namaste Opher 🙂

        Hmmm. ‘We only live as long as we are remembered’ – I find that something of a lonely thought to consider, and whilst true, it seems far to abrupt.

        As for those poetic ripples we leave – it seems a great pity those ripples don’t reach far away shores whilst we still are alive. Imagine if they did and weren’t just a legacy we leave?

        Rich did a fine job – it’s a well composed photograph. The black ‘n’ white a timeless touch.

        How’s the rewriting gong? Have you started yet or still organising your thoughts?

        Namaste 🙂


  3. Dewin – yes it is a sobering thought that should drive us to do better.
    I think the ripples we leave are already touching many shores. We are not aware of the good they do. We hope for tsunamis of social justice, compassion and pleasure but in reality we are countering the waves of selfishness and greed. Those waves add to the zeitgeist of the moment. That is our legacy. It doesn’t even have to be noticed but we make a difference. The battle for good is constant. We’re in it.
    Rich is a great photographer but who likes their own image? I look at me now and it bears no resemblance to the person looking out through my eyes.
    I am ruminating and getting my ideas into shape before launching into the rewrite. It is happening. Have you started on Conexion yet? Some of your observations might feed in.

    1. Namaste Opher 🙂

      This endless sea of life just seems to go on and on and on, ripple after ripple, wave after wave, all arriving somewhere but doing what exactly when they arrive there? These ripple, these legacies we leave that in turn combine as history, what good does it do if the world doesn’t learn from mistakes? We aren’t the first ‘age’ of humankind, and we’ll certainly not be the last but yet it seems to me each time a new age comes along we’re right back at square one: infants still learning. I don’t mean technology, or science, but every other facet of our being appears to have to start again from scratch. I just don’t understand it at all.

      Do we each really make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Does one person really make a difference at all? Does the butterfly that flaps its wings in Australia really create a tidal wave off the coast of Torquay, or whatever it is? And if so how long does it take for all those infinite number of connections to exist. It’s like the question about monkeys and typewriters and them arriving at a time when they create the entire works of Shakespeare. It’s hundreds of thousands of years: it’s just far to long. Our evolution as a species is just so slow.

      Whilst there is matter in the universe there is also antimatter: perhaps one cannot live without the other. Good versus evil: it is the exact same thing…where is the synthesis in the equation, where is unity?

      You write – ‘I look at me now and it bears no resemblance to the person looking out through my eyes.’ It strange isn’t it how a photograph can encapsulate so much about us – and just how many thoughts we have when we view that image ourselves. Decades of memories have all led up to that one moment when the camera shutter went click. I don’t have any photos of me, nor my life. I think my mother may have a few of when I was a child. I somehow prefer it that way.

      I’ve trawled through 27 boxes this last three days, and have 10 or so to go. It’s defo in there somewhere, I know I packed it. The boxes are contained in a small area at present – with other larger items – each day I have to move it all just to get to the boxes I want, and then pack it all away again when done. I will find it. It is there…probably in the last box I come to. There is other stuff I cannot find either like leads for electronic gadgets meaning my camera is currently redundant. It’s not good. I should be well practiced at moving by now, but it still infuriates me when I lose or misplace stuff. Drives me up the wall!

      Keep ruminating, I will catch up with myself this week and get feedback to you. Leave some flexibility in your ideas.

      Namaste 🙂


      1. Still mulling – there is always flexibility and indecision. I teeter on the edge of the wind like a gull’s wing, forever falling into hopelessness but buoyed up by hope.

    1. Namaste Opher 🙂

      Still mulling and cerebrating – tis the way with words: they own us; our thoughts and expressions, and play with them at their leisure.

      ‘I teeter on the edge of the wind like a gull’s wing, forever falling into hopelessness but buoyed up by hope.’ – ooh, this is rather good 🙂

      ‘perhaps the good we generate counters the bad of others and we succeed in holding back the tide.’ Perhaps it is so and certainly possible within our sphere of influence for the duration we are here – these are the ripples we create – we leave hoping to have imparted to the next generation the wisdom of our experience: in most cases this may be true, at least on a local level.

      Governance of the world – the mentality of the Establishment and self-declared elite: those whose wealth always finds them in power – seems only to perpetuate the same myopic thinking as it has always done with the sole purpose of maintaining itself. It is innately self-centred, self-serving, blatantly selfish and greedy. It is these people who thwart evolution – who have always thwarted our evolution – who will not let go of an abstract concepts called money and power, who do not and will not believe that the true wealth of nations lies not in the treasuries bank vaults but within the hearts, minds, and souls of its people. It is their comatose mind-set that prohibits our species ascendancy. Their negative influence – their control of everything that would otherwise promote progress – is the retaining wall bounding what should be an ever-expanding ocean of human creativity and reinvention. The perpetual division and conflict they deliberately instigate is the antithesis of humankind’s desire for betterment and transformation. It is not so much what to do about them, but more how governance can retain degrees of control whilst actively progressing humankind/human nature. It will necessitate relinquishment and redistribution of power, unilateral co-operation and agreement to de-stratify society, create greater equality, greater sense of freedom, quicker innovation, and faster transition. All this is possible if only the insidious propensity for wealth acquisition – the selfish gene – could be eliminated from their thinking: if only the world turned on an axis other than money.

      Namaste 🙂


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