The Selected Poetry of A. S. KLINE
I came to see the blue hills,
to watch the white clouds come and go.
© Copyright 2017 A. S. Kline All Rights Reserved
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
- from: Perspectives: Sing To Me Softly Of Earth
- No Mind
- Hedges of May
- A Path in Trees
- First Light
- Winter, Night, or Both
- Ex Nihil
- Be in Me
- The Garden
- from: Perspectives: Talking To The White Goddess
- Based on an Irish Song ( 7th Century )
- Anonymous Rondeau
- New Moon
- Bird On Briar
- The Goddess
- from: Nature And Spirit
- All Mountain, No Eye
- Love in the Mind
- No Confession
- When We Are Dead
- Little Song
- f rom: The Presence Of Light
- The Presence Of Light
- In Time
- Listener To Winds
- Strange Clearing
- f rom: The Singing Of The Real World
- History, Futures
- Gatherers Of Light
- Chinese Lanterns
- Purposeless Ease
- Chinese Wisdom: Very Ancient
- Not Alone
- f rom: Values
- Every Child
- Coming From Cyllene
- Others’ Hands
- f rom: The Gate Of Grass
- How Long?
- After the Poem
- In The Night
- Never More Clothed
- Swifts In The Bright Sky
- The Gate Of Grass (25)
- The Gate Of Grass (30)
- The Gate Of Grass (96)
- A Song
- Minds Of The Machines
- As Nothing Else Does
- Not Reason
- Physics Test
- f rom: No Roots Except In Air
- We Make
- Be Clear
- No Power
- Solid Stonework
- On Snowy Hills
- No Idea Dies
- The Age
- Nine Paintings By Paul Klee (5. Crossing)
- The New Voices
- At Night
- Is There
- f rom: Slipping By
- Han Shan’s Mountain
- February Blue
- In the Fire
- Plum Buds
- f rom: The Other Side Of Silence
- Pillow Talk
- It Took a While
- Back Where We Began
- At Dead Of Night
- O Universe
- The Other Side of Silence
- Atheist’s Song
- Seeking Echoes
- Song of the Other Tradition
- Out There
- No Zen Wars
- Don’t Accept
- It’s All About Perception
- In a Flash
- Little Breeze
- Ethnic Photographs – One Perspective
- Crow Speech
- f rom: Poetry, Charity
- Age of Images
- True Notes
- Not For Sale
- Tao for Beginners
- Sign for the Human Race
- A Toast to Monsieur Mallarmé
- Gnomic Couplets
- Through Which We See
- Be Careful
- The Best We Can
- The Tree Collection
- Gone Masters
- Keep Abolishing Space and Time in Your Heart
- Nothing Is Owned
- A Day
- The Dark Vision In Empty Light
- No Problem, Needs No Answer
- f rom: Voiceless Banners Blowing
- Voiceless Banners Blowing
- Going Quietly, Harming Nothing
- Big Snow Mountain
- Dancing in the Eye of Night
- Before the Felling
- Not Platonist
- Inanimate: Not Dead
- Concerning The Future Poetry
- Waiting for Treatment, Reading the Magazines
- Metaphysical Music
- The Question
- f rom: Deep Fields
- Deep Fields
- Out of the Dark
- The Meeting Pool
- Emotions Move
- Nameless-River Falls
- All the Forms of the World
- It’s Shared
- Creating Space
- Not by Shouts Cries Violence
- Stone Song
- f rom: Pollen In The Air
- Scanning Deeper
- Not Laughing, Gloating
- Fire Outside, Fire Within
- Such Stuff
- Understanding Mind
- Old-World Path
- For the Rest…
- Can A Polar Bear Stare Upward?
- The Lark Ascending
- Time To Come
- Spirit’s A Bird Of Bronze
- Native Land
- The Miracle Of Flesh And Bone
- The Great Pond
- Get It?
- Cold Snap
- Wild Life
- Clear Air
- Safari At Midnight
- Slow News
- Words For A Western Scroll
- f rom: No Design
- Cool Dawn Light
- The Real Makers
- Listening In The Clearing
- Trust In The Heart
- Black City Echoes
- Tiny Spaces Are Gigantic
- Simple Firelight
- Prayer Has Nothing To Do With Religio
- Frost At Midnight
- f rom: Dark Matter
- Dark Matter
- A Curlicue In A Comfort Tree
- The Proper Study
- Past Is Prologue
- Here And Not-Here
- Tender Spirit
- Holding Hands By The Fire: Winter
- You Can Write A Poem On Anything
- Considering The Portrait
- f rom: Irreality
- Island Of Perception
- Without You, In You
- No Platonic Spaces
- Very Old Are The Stars
- Identity Retrieved From The Sea
- Amethyst, Argent, Sable
- Reality Is Imagination’s Mirror
- More Serious Or Less?
- Immortality Is Deceptive
- No One Watching
- The Age Of Empathy
- Being So
- Cancel, Cut, Erase
- Confirmation Of The Boson
- f rom: Wayfaring
- The Perfect Hour
- Not Performance
- White Air
- Est-il Paradis?
- Green Ways
- Bright, You Rise
- Evening Hour
- f rom: Freedom And Meaning
- South Mountain
- Freedom and Meaning
- Other Day
- Words To The Waiting Self
- The Meaning Of Blue
- The Music
- Once More
- Moon The Mirror
- The Dialogue
- The Western Way
- Why Morality Is A Process
- Musing On Individuality
- A Vision
- Pair In Pallor
- One Too Many
- Morning News
- Modernity Roars
- At Thistle Creek Still
- No Offence
- The Song Of The Sack
- What We Love
- f rom: Another Nature
- Morning Song
- The Moral Man
- The Beauty The Camera Does Not Capture
- A Villanelle for Wittgenstein – Made While Walking
- My Dear Sleeper
- Limestone And Air
- Another Nature
- Sestina - Mind’s Music
- Year’s End
- Out Of This Light
- Ancient Song
- Fire And Air
- One Self-Portrait Among Many
- Pity For The War-God
- The End Of Art
- Grass Without Leaves
- Mounds Of The Forerunners
- The Poem Is Mad
- f rom: Earthlight
- Banishing The Concepts
- The Powers That Be
- Passing By Someone’s Fields
- First Fires
- Where We Exist
- Hummingbird Hawk Moth
- The Returning River
- Feeling The Splash
- The Vanishing Selves
- Those Moons
- Binary Star
- The Two Worlds
- Giacometti: Chariot, 1951
- The Valley Of Feeling
- In The End
- In Pursuit Of Meaning
- f rom: Wild Fruit
- The Bird
- Moonlight Falls Everywhere
- It Comes And Goes
- Casual Uniqueness
- It Couldn’t Be Simpler
- No Matter The Moment
- The Intentionless Has No Weight
- Primal Ethics
- Somehow On Board
- Equal, Distinct
- White Plume Moth (Pterophorus pentadactyla)
- Masks Of The Sea
- The Garden Beyond The Garden
- How Do We?
- f rom: On A Distant Planet
- Primal Light
- Under A Silver Moon
- Getting Simpler
- Releasing The Pain Of The World
- The Hawthorn Tree
- Al Cor Gentil
- In Lieu of A Manifesto
- Out There
- Who Are You?
- In All That Dark
- Distant Suns
- We Shine
- To Learn The Self
- The Name Rose
- A Message To The Immortals
- The Real River Run
- Desert At Twilight
- Inhuman Beauty
- Stone Age
- The People
- Only One Story Left
- Unsafe waters
- No Redemption
- Out Of The Noise
- The Unicorn
- Our Place
- The Silence Of A Planet
- Snow On Hills
- White Mountain Songs
fROM: PERSPECTIVES: SING TO ME SOFTLY OF EARTH
Under the dark tree, no Mind made us.
In the gold desert flowering after rain,
in the blue desert, no Mind watching us.
Lanes where stone steps glisten,
where the wind quickens. No Mind.
And no Mind watches now as we walk back
towards the past ages, free of gods, full of feeling.
Under the sky where no-one knew us, we knew ourselves.
On the grasslands, the savannahs,
on the steppes, the prairies,
as the creatures flowed past us. No Mind watched.
HEDGES OF MAY
Past the abandoned pastures burnt in the sun,
past the indolent stream and the dead thorns,
on above the level of the uncivilised streets,
up the bare slope to the pale hedges of may.
Burning poisonous white in the afternoon.
Burning pit of action, hope, desire,
of sense and memory.
White abyss in the inward of the eye
that seethes on nothing.
Burning of the body, of the mind.
The town sterile on its hill,
the blind houses looking back at abyss.
The vast stifling of a civilisation.
The future naked, offers no consolation.
Only the burning bonfire, only fuel,
the mephitic perfumes of decomposition,
the wild, slack, beauty of corruption.
White fires, white banners blowing,
and we too, living fires, we men and women,
still flesh, mind, spirit.
We live and are not defeated, we the silent people.
And we shall be hedges of may, white hedges of may.
A PATH IN TREES
What is there you do not doubt, the self, the line
of meanings taught knee-high, the purposes ?
A path in trees may take us who knows where,
despite all mapped imaginary symbols, air
of gold and pine-filled resin, dark and green,
unsure, a siren-space where men can be un-limned,
a stream with no grail-cup below the surface
below the neutral, iced, untainted grey.
A random walk, whose landmarks, curious,
impress on mind, the unbounded and un-purposed,
doubt’s certain centre.
Paths do not end, and do not own, divide.
No possession is implied by your walking.
No knowledge of what you walk from, promised,
or what you hope, un-promised, this floor cares
for no betrayal. Dark, where a bird, unseen
softly calls, or riven with light, edge-brightening,
looking down, a path that climbed.
Keepers of fire, in the dark, remembered places
of the soul, in the depths of the mind, beyond all gods
transients of feeling, mystic names
where meaning glimmers. Our naming, and our touching.
Out of such grace, such life, such beauty comes
of what in us is source, is inception,
the bright fires of feeling, voiceless flames,
in the consonance from which our being came.
Why then are they our shadows,
still beyond us, in a past we cannot recover ?
These shelves of rock are stands of light-filled leaf,
green water welling from stone, pale bays of air,
split flakes, un-weathered, scattered on the grass,
sinews of silence, where the deep call of hidden birds
falls through lassitude of air, and pine-tree height.
Here nothing demands our presence, breeze on breeze,
loses itself in showers of light on leaf.
Easy to vanish here, to evaporate outwards,
into the unknowable otherness of the earth,
into air, rock, soil, the insect labyrinth,
the darkness, lichen-lipped, of broken walls,
the undisturbed, unkempt, the undeclared,
the shelves of anonymous stillness.
World must miss us later if not sooner, and if self-love
is what this love is, greater than human longing,
that makes some live more in the solitary mind
than in affection, though they love deeper or as deeply,
love that is also the losing of the mind in things
that are, that we must lose, their revelation,
which taken inwards is then carried inwards
speechless, dark, goes deepest in those least
well equipped to return its gift, through delight,
joy, feeling and affection, but still the prime
mover of that traveller who vanishes into self, into his own.
These shelves of rock nourish the isolate self,
its solitude - are loved for what they are, neutrality
and not indifference, having no stake in humanity
neither facing towards us nor away, un-implicated
undirected, pure of all intent. These bays of time
are like the miraculous curves of the sea, they
are filled with grace, are launch-pads of the spirit,
and in them our profligate pulse of transient process
grows fainter, deeper, calmer, until it shades
into the mirror of space behind the skyline.
Not ours, but some other power digs down here
into the core of the self, creates as it destroys.
No god, no soul, no spirit, no beyond.
No other life, no hell, eternity.
No sin, no fall, no grace, no redemption.
No dim confessional.
No ought, no outer meaning.
No given, man.
No free-will, no direction.
No destiny but form and breath and choice,
the endless view scaling out in distance.
No victim and no Eden, wheel or eye.
No rebirth, and no snake coiled in the dark,
head flattened against being.
No call to us, no cry.
like the first white of sky in the first dawn.
WINTER, NIGHT, OR BOTH
Intrudes into the eye a coldness that outlasts
of unrelated magnitude’s coincident glare.
It is the glimmer of time, un-startled by humanity,
arriving at the human.
We watch ourselves, while Nothing else watches.
Form in the unplanned world is the sound that air makes
to our ear, without sense of beginning, unfilled
with our absence, carrying no message but origin.
The moth on the leaf of night,
makes something of the minuteness of the real.
It flutters and is fluttered by the mind.
Galaxy and eye are fluttered.
Moth climbs, through falling light,
through the white gravity of how things are.
We are Mind and no mind made us
in the pale dawn of deserts
spirits softly moving
the slow human commerce
the freight of earth-seas.
Mind learns a complex waiting
of snowed trees in winter
the cold of ice boughs
that have been there colder
in the stand of night
and holding out for a light
glittering with thaw not snowfall.
Mind waits. Are we waiting
for more than our survival
among leaves also waiting ?
We are Mind and no mind made us
out of the nothing beyond us
or the nothing inside us.
BE IN ME
In me like the sky, exterior mirror,
mind’s outer echo, dark surface of feeling,
over which thought of you passes.
In me, not possession but relation,
silent without intention, clear
of memory, of word.
Be and become, deepening challenge,
force always new, always beyond
that which you think you are,
weakened or bounded.
In me not as you know yourself,
but as I know you, outside the limitation
world creates in its creatures, wordless now, free
Be the image, created as if without love,
so truly loved, that in the one declaration,
love pours out of the anonymous mouth,
from object to mind, so that all possible truth
murmurs inside it.
Be in the final act wholly yourself,
You who unknowingly granted all this to me,
all overflowing – You the all-human
standing against space and time, as a statue
freed by the hand stands against stones,
itself half-emerging out of its alien world.
Be both the ache and the sweetness,
dread in the veins, shaking with lightening force
the crown of the tree. Be beauty and fear.
Sing to me softly of Earth, that brings us forgiven
back to our source in the heart.
Sing of necessity greater than pleasure or pain,
purpose or understanding.
Sing to me softly of Earth, soothe the dull heart.
Declare all is to come, over and over,
again and again, Mind and its lover
Body, their book, new and unbroken.
Show me the silence that comes
when out of pure giving, suddenly spirit becomes
subtle and tender, when sex touches on sex,
like star within cloud, or moon
in the inward mirror touching on light.
Man is the gardener now, in the garden empty of gods,
dreams the cold fountains and the frozen streams,
the stone grass, the ice earth, the statues.
There are figures there, Goya’s doll faces,
the blind-man’s-buff of movement.
No touch, no taste,
under the crystal, clarion, brilliance.
This season, now, where we are most at home.
Of what man has the power to know
of what man is.
(Mountains of light, staring out
across the dream of desert.
Empty earth, of being without self-knowing,
of mirrors without reflection )
There are three things to unlearn.
(Mountains of dawn, silent under morning,
above the white smoke of our footsteps)
Not to believe.
Not to follow.
Not to own.
the animal eyes,
where we are.
See now, there,
the Nothingness flower,
body, mind, process,
discover the sacred.
how silence, stillness invade
what no-one made.
the empty garden now.
Be, in the Moment’s power.
Be, in eternity.
Be, in the silence that the world leaves.
This is the only thing you are.
This is the passing hour.
This is the meaning of life’s mask.
Love, and in your love be true.
Know, and in your knowing pity.
Remember, in your heart, remember.
fROM: PERSPECTIVES: TALKING TO THE WHITE GODDESS
Moon-creature precious of desire
tender in faithfulness of light
how shall I touch your perfect fire ?
Suffering that breathes above me now,
beyond obedience to be,
Beauty will you itself allow?
Peace of these constellations’ calm
night of the mind that must endure
harbour the love in us from harm.
Power to the very utmost keep
the loved, the loving from despair
drowned where they lie in Eros-sleep.
Moon-creature precious of desire
faithful in tenderness of light,
how shall I touch your perfect fire ?
BASED ON AN IRISH SONG
You’re the white flower of the rowan.
You’re the sweet flower of the blackberry.
You’re the silence of the moonlight
between midnight and dawn.
You’re my heartbeat, you’re my secret
you’re the miracle of the greenwood
you’re the ring-dove’s soft cooing
in the silence of dawn.
(TRANSLATED FROM THE 13TH C. FRENCH)
(‘EST-IL PARADISE, AMIE ?’)
Is there Paradise beloved
any Paradise but love ?
None that’s for our eyes beloved.
Is there Paradise beloved?
He who lies in his love’s arms
all of Paradise has found.
Is there Paradise beloved
any Paradise but love ?
Tender, so tender, arc of slender light,
new under the dark, collecting starlight.
Pale beauty, loveliest of all.
White stillness that frees me in the gulfs of time
for inner journeys to the kindest source,
the sweet heart of the Earth.
New Moon rising from the dying sun,
new life returning.
Softly you passed the shadows, safely came
open into the new beginning of the spirit,
into the birth of the gentlest aspect,
the conjunction where mind and feelings meet
I knew you there, hidden,
and then seeing you born suddenly beyond the earth,
curved again like a woman taking
the universe into her arms.
Through the dark space you came,
of time and distance, healed and whole
from the sun’s warm giving,
from the places of loss and departure,
risen again to life.
Moon fixed in memory where my deepest feelings
touch, intense the sphere of your circling.
Secret, careless child of our unknown
and unknowing oceans of the spirit.
Well of compassion. Sensitive bowl
of the electric shadows.
Reborn again. Moon of mind’s seas,
now setting swiftly following the sun,
to come again in the new life,
in the heart’s bright renewal.
Flower of the hawthorn.
Shoulder of moonlight.
Shoulder of the holly.
Silver of moonlight.
Silver of the birch-tree.
Fountain of moonlight.
Fountain of the willow.
Shadow of moonlight.
Shadow of the alder.
Secret of moonlight.
Secret of the apple.
Sweetness of moonlight.
Sweetness of the rowan.
Delight of the moonlight.
Delight of the hazel.
Wisdom of moonlight.
Wisdom of the reed.
Spirit of moonlight.
Spirit of the poplar.
Slenderness of moonlight.
Slenderness of aspen.
Whiteness of moonlight.
Whiteness of the blackberry.
Beauty of moonlight.
BIRD ON BRIAR
(AN ANONYMOUS LYRIC FROM THE MEDIEVAL ENGLISH)
Bird on briar, Bird, Bird on briar,
Nature comes of love, love to crave.
Careless bird, for me, for me have care,
Or make you, fair, for me, make me my grave.
I am so careless-bright, bird on briar,
when I see that fair hind, hind in hall.
She is white of limb, lovely, true.
She is fair and flower, flower of all.
Might I her willing, willing, have,
Faithful of love, lovely, true,
from my pain I might, I might be saved,
joy and bliss were for, were for me new.
To each, giving, generous, lovely, not to one only.
To others speaking her secrets of utterance, never uniquely.
To each merciful, pitying, renewing, repeating.
To all various, hidden, wild, concealing.
Of each indiscriminate, taking her lovers, coldly.
Over all, victorious, tyrannous, tender, yielding.
Beyond each, careless, wondering, unsurprised.
To each cruel, gentle, fierce, demanding,
spreading her favours, asking , taking, needing,
mocking jealousy, pleasured, from all receiving,
owning with each enacting, soothing, sating,
goading each, driving, bleeding, tormenting.
From each learning, all knowing, seeing,
true, easy, wordless, un-sated, pliant.
In each trusting, to each holding, defenceless,
defended by magic, sowing. By each held sacred,
by each honoured, cursed, cried out on, embittering.
Over each arching, under each cradling,
into each flowing, beyond each sighing.
From each distant, warmest to least known,
turning on nearest, declivities revealing.
From each asking, thanking, wishing, gifts
piled forgotten, wealth vanishing ,crushing,
drawing the core, dragging the root, spending.
To each one faithful, faithless, impartial, smiling,
each one absorbing, holding, lying, watching dying.
From each learning the spell, then binding,
in each finding the vision, then blinding.
Mermaid of mirage, Sybil’s echo,
white-browed, gold-haired, red-lipped, long-fingered.
For each the one voice, various, compelling,
innocent, loving, darkness, disaster dispelling,
all fears, curses, hexes on wise men, wild
for her nature’s places, earth's swelling.
By each charmed, shafts of her full quiver, giving
tremor, unsigned testament of her lightning.
Naked, incalculable, cautious, bold,
moon-opposite, sun-quencher, star-delayer,
serving hope, stirring envy, raising from chagrin,
the dumbfounded lover. Unreasoning, proud
of her lunar resilience, controlling, commanding
of all her elements, aspects, figures, childish then woman,
touching the infant, granting leave, withholding,
restless, poured out, relinquished, flowing.
From each asking the universe, yielding the earth.
To each returning stillness, choice, by his will,
bloodied, bloodless, leafy, lit, be-flowered,
intense and momentary, easeful, eternal.
From whom the silence, night, and the deep wood,
the word of unknowing, the white-limbed whispering.
From whom inscrutable truth, blind life, the hidden face.
the world crushes.
Briar, rose of the thorns,
White star in the grass,
mattress of stars,
by the blackberry root,
by briar-white of blackberry.
Star by the thorn.
White star by the fern.
White straw of stars,
four-fold petal-form, six-leafed
flower of the turf.
Star, star, on star,
smaller than eyes, eye bright.
White star, white star, star in the grass.
Part, to be part,
to be part of this.
White star in the grass.
Drowned by love, remember she is moon-led,
mistress of invocations, jealousies, expert in delay,
drawing tides in from her first slender arc
to the white full, weaver of shows,
scattering radiance, matching the light she yields
to how the gold of sun shines on her,
discriminate in angers, engendering illusions
to bring all to her subtle ease and calms.
Buried by fire, remember these are her ways,
immanence, rightness, fury, time-driven transience,
deaf to entreaties, then relenting, mask-wearing,
savourer of subjections, waiting tribute,
giving random play, spreading nets gently,
noosing tightly, in show of love, in rare deceit,
cooling, then warming, watching the nest of rivals
fight to outdo each other, in the grass.
Blown in the air, remember her beguiling.
Leasing the night, losing all common kindness
is part of her masque, her mistrust of words
not of her silence out of which words are born.
Live on hope un-promised, vows unmade,
signs lost in the stream.
Buried deep, a dead man, remember
her seasons of light and her seasons of darkness.
Nothing new the cold sweat at her deceptions,
liaisons, pain of the knowing and the not-knowing.
She is awareness, sower of dreams, maker of hesitations,
merciless in all counter-recriminations,
yielding inside refusal, a vortex of light and air.
Dead man remember: all elements are hers.
She exhibits in white flowers and leaf-dark trees,
the triangular hill, the briared and berried lane,
is white-thorn and the purple line of furrows,
shadow of hedges, smell of festering ditches,
wood-sorrel, meadow-sweet, the burnet-rose.
Glittering she is light-shreds over alien fields.
Her birds flight the shadows above white rock.
She waits at the gate, by doorways, in the corners
of unprotected, unspent spaces, astonishes,
is joy, the strangeness that stares out from nature
through visionary angle. She is the source’s impulse,
the spring from stones, and is absence, stillness,
less than nothing, the worn and unworn threshold,
the new and un-new moon. She shows herself
in seasons, surprises silence, in dark of nettle,
in sea of furze, bends down as birch, shivers in aspen.
She is three ways, three trees, three parts of the year,
her name is of three letters, air and light move,
where she turns her head, earth and water
where she takes in her lovers.
fROM: FROM THE MOUNTAIN
Chamandra, when they strike fire in you,
you show blue-white eyes of oblivion.
Alkanet, mouth of the hidden stamens,
tight closed corolla, now bleed root-red.
Tanacetum, deathless, do they call you
ditch, roadside, wasteland?
Sagina, between the sacred feet,
leaf, where the white pearls scatter.
Anagallis, you are the well of tongues,
dark waters swallow you.
Centaury, Chiron’s find, gentian,
waists of the mares.
Vervain, sacra herba, divinatory one,
Tell me how they know you?
What we see, what we are
and not what we do.
Under the surface of grass
rivers once, used veins of earth,
twisted like cloud trails,
out there, the far lights.
Forests gone, land gone
But this house has no floor
and floats on the Vortex.
Too late for
the naked and barefoot
unless we can see
behind ice, the stars.
It empties, it frees us, we free
from the bones of the place,
from the ash, from the fire,
free, at the gate,
on new grass
under the white leaves, the blossom,
dry needles of fir,
on bark, on rails
that we don’t see, can’t see.
light and cloud, frost and wind.
float through the trees,
in the mind,
and those who can
keep on pointing.
Silence before dawn.
Thing seen, things done, never twice,
show the way. Snow light.
Europe cold, but winter
cherry over T’ang hills
in the chill wind, sheds air.
Dry fir, plum branch,
all shapes of light,
stand still, shiver,
A WING, A FLOWER
A dry, pale winged transient, over water
a day, then a day, this fifty million
times goes back to the start, more than we are,
though not even the first age.
Tiny, winged, pallid darts over
wrinkled grey water. See, in the small,
the minute, the idea, that uniqueness conceals,
the inferred, the wrong
generalisation. Time to begin
again. New, yellow flowers like stars,
tiny in oceans of grass, tormentil’s yellow.
You can’t play games with the Void,
only bow with the mind.
The wing lifts, the flower
creeps, waits, shines.
A LITTLE COURSE IN MORALITY
Don’t be confused: love is all. Not,
if we were stones though or trees,
insects or reptiles, but we,
what we are, means empathy is.
Don’t be deceived. Without word,
with senses, beauty, mind is,
truth, delight, that is
where we are, sign is.
Don’t be subdued. Create
again and again, act, sound, tongue,
hand, do and give,
as we can, flowers.
Don’t despair. Say the heart.
Love: show: create. Given’s
not less. Shared is not less. Fight
for what you believe in. Endure.
Between the past and future state
stands the traveller at the gate.
Here we loved, but now we part,
in the silence of the heart.
fROM: LOOKING BACK AT EARTH
Corona Borealis, Canes Vetanici,
Antares, Arcturus, Spica, Vega,
Lyra, Serpens Cauda,
On folded rock
the bird soars.
is worth having,
not the other.
The fox, red, gazes
drags his brush,
flickers, is gone.
is his secret.
over lakes and hills
in the chest,
in the eyes.
On folded rock
wishing for power
to pass me by.
The heart is not owned
beyond the corruption of eye and ear,
where the yellowed grass slopes
to the dark stone of the temple.
The place of the heart
is not owned.
The wind, the sea, the grass is not owned,
blows in the silence,
breaks in the silence,
stirs, is not owned.
The Mind is not owned.
The stars, the dark stars,
the flares, out of stillness,
out of the reaches of night,
spaces where nothing will be
but moment’s chaos,
the gulfs of the deep,
are not owned,
nothing is owned.
In the darkness, with the child by your side,
under the earth, and waiting,
in the darkness, with the child by your side.
Gold over the heart, gold in the hand,
gold around hair, and on foreheads.
Gold of the dark, with the child by your side.
No one climbs the air that looks for an eyelid.
No one stirs the arms that look for a moment.
No one touches your face, or the child by your side.
There is a distance, as far as a star-field,
one where I do not cry, where I do not see,
that shape of the child by your side.
In the dark, with the child by your side,
an offering to earth, an offering, and waiting,
in the dark, with the child, by your side.
You sing for strangers, and your word is a cage,
out of which spirit seeps slowly,
into the dark canals, into the evening light,
into the soul of the mirror.
You say this is all fine, all clear, all true,
but I say time dies, the earth dies,
and you, you sing for strangers.
By the waters there, where we wept,
at nightfall, the rose, the fish-pools, the jewels,
the galleries, what is clustered? What is
perfumed, what is turned by the maker?
You sing for strangers.
Believing the heart can survive, the mind
can survive, the spirit need not be harmed,
the soul impaired.
Mouth, in the stillness, you weep.
Knees, in the silence, you bend.
Hand, in the mirror, you move.
Word, in the darkness, you yield.
You sing for strangers
fROM: NATURE AND SPIRIT
ALL MOUNTAIN, NO EYE
Universe, free of cause,
owns this existence,
sweet nature’s complex,
bright wisp of inner light,
solid, to hand.
Loving the line of mountains,
cloud, valley, air,
distance as open,
this human shape
What sight, trembling, the weight,
You without reason,
you yet exist,
sweetness, a human
sweetness, an incandescence.
LOVE IN THE MIND
Love in the mind is
love that is care.
Love in the body is
that we can bear.
Sweet as the heart
on gentle things,
that in the spirit sings.
Love in the mind is
truth that we dare,
and in the body
that we can bear.
To be a poet is not to write. There is
a role for the tree. The light recognises a branch.
To be a poet is not to confess.
Cassandra speaks in the silence. This world
is never enough. To be a poet is not to say
there is only Andromache, or Briseis.
On the last tip of the thorn of the rose
of a single contemplation, of a unique reckoning,
burns the solitary hour of freedom.
The world’s white light is cool as ice or stone.
Though we encounter travellers, like ourselves,
our lack of purpose makes for purity.
We have intent and aim, a local need. World passes by,
its night, deep, smooth as flesh, a skin of rock, or flame.
Though we see other travellers, time amazes,
and reaching out, for nothing, we touch the world,
this pointed holly leaf, green edge of light,
this strangeness here, a fire for no good reason.
WHEN WE ARE DEAD
When we are dead they open the gate of the dark.
Not this wind now, freshening the trees, closes our eye.
You are the colour of hand, the meaning of eye.
Above us they build a dome filled with sound.
Orpheus breaks the strings, and no-one may own us.
There is a key to enter. It is love.
When we are dead they take thorns, shadows, flames,
and a name. They conjure with names when we have died.
They speak in whispers of those who elude them.
We though laugh, cry, are moment of water, ice, root, air,
all belief. What resembles you is what I resemble, the world,
oh after we’re dead they’ll open the gate of the dark.
Nothing escapes them. Except, the slenderest of spirits
inhabits the eye, the ear, inhabits your hands, your face,
you who are made of the colours of light, the voice of night.
What does the heart want, meaning and care:
the mind wants silence and time.
Your heart sings with the cliff and the dawn:
mine watches the light.
What does the body want, water of place,
dark depth of the pool.
Your body sings with the flame and the night.
Mine sings with the truth.
fROM: THE PRESENCE OF LIGHT
THE PRESENCE OF LIGHT
For the presence of light
for its place in your life
for love, gratitude,
in the name of the word,
say to me all of it,
all of the pain that comes
if I speak to you
in the name of the word.
In the time, in the truth,
in the spaces of light
for courage, for pity,
the name of the word.
For the power that flows,
for the moment that dies,
to become the new moment,
the name of the word.
Loving is loving, and kind
is kind, no violence, no
object, but you,
in the name of the word.
For the beauty of light
for its place in your life
for pure empathy’s flight,
in the name of the word.
After the denial of values,
the assertion of values.
After the wasteland, the earth.
After the selfish, made and paid for,
the given, the shared, the free.
After the darkness, the sea.
After the last repetition,
the true creation, after
the depths, the clear air.
After the deaths, the hatreds,
the foolish beliefs, the voices,
after the tower, the silence.
After the denial of values,
the assertion of values.
After the wasteland, the earth.
For the tongue, the lips, the mouth,
For the shadow in time’s courts, the face,
the bright one.
For the stone, the stem, the stream,
For the wound. For the blood of the wound,
for the eye.
For the bone, the fall the white
For you. Silence. For time. Silence.
LISTENER TO WINDS
Alder, the secret name,
guard, mask, conceal.
Blackness of night-suns,
cold of the star-prison.
By the willows of Helicon,
enter my silence.
Ninth is the hazel,
wisdom in sweetness.
Almond the bitter, dark
The flight of the heron,
speaks kite’s high quivering.
And the hare in the furrow
slips softly through light.
Smoke-glitter of silence.
Listener to Winds.
The deer-prints, the owl cry,
the fox-tracks through snow,
the heart’s ache to see
those far blues of intricate
never-trodden false horizons,
cloaked hedgerows, and lost roads.
Animal silence is beyond us,
we make names, we hunger,
can’t sleep by cold creeks,
or savour time, its caustic,
or deal with no possessions,
un-possessed, can’t be free.
But crusted leaf-edge
bright with ice, night, star,
concentrates soft fir words,
wraps the warmth round us,
in un-walked, white alleys,
in strange clearings.
There the wild heart gathers.
We make names, a language.
fROM: THE SINGING OF THE REAL WORLD
Perhaps the last
will celebrate us.
After the last of Earth
the first of Earth.
Perhaps the un-extinguished
species of flowers and leaves
will fill the stillness.
A vast rustling of life,
un-meaning trembling of life,
filling the craters,
climbing the fences,
a shift in the wind.
Out of the silence,
the creature’s intent.
Out of the creature,
Out of empathy
the great arch,
towers, laws, texts.
Out of the great arch
mutation of spirit.
Out of the spirit,
the future spirit
of the enlightened creature,
truth, care, clarity, silence.
Creation. How is it done?
Children with stones and water,
lovers with intimacy,
the hand and the eye
with the light of the mind.
Beauty. How is it made?
The organism with sun and process.
The creature with shadowy survival.
Itself, the Spirit,
Creation, this beauty,
the heart of the human.
GATHERERS OF LIGHT
under the hedge.
And, above, the pure
tremor of the dog-rose,
its fire burning.
Our fire, burning
in quiet centuries.
Gatherers of light.
Wang Wei sits
in the green valley,
learning to write
Li Po drifts
on the great lake:
and willow eyebrows.
But Tu Fu
down the hundred streams
twists and turns
with the centuries.
The night, the stars without intention,
the trees, the wind, the bulk of mountain,
the stream, the fall, without intention.
Nature no mind, no purpose being.
The clouds, the rivers, without intention,
chasing the veins of dragon, the path
with no meaning, the way without signs,
the waves, the light without intention.
The stones, the seeds without intention,
the air, the fire, the earth, the oceans,
the white foam without intention,
We are caught in the net of eternity:
we must go to the stars.
Without the devils and gods,
we must go to the stars.
Mind, without body, perhaps,
we must go to the stars.
Carrying our beauty and love,
we must go to the stars.
Into the silence of truth
we must go, to the stars.
We are caught in the net of eternity,
we must go to the stars.
CHINESE WISDOM: VERY ANCIENT
To exercise power over others
is to steal power from others.
Those who rightly administer power
for others, with their consent, become
powerless observers of what is done.
When what is agreed to be done
is done, they can retire to the dark,
and do not invent new tasks,
and do not invent old lies.
Power has a life of its own.
Cut channels for the stream.
Love them all, creation’s thousand ways.
What praises learns to understand,
mind critical should be critical for fire,
the healing flame. Before the tree,
the stone, the water, silence.
What you thought worthless returns
its other face from mirror-smoke.
Love them all, creation’s thousand ways.
Melt of the last, silent forests,
almost laying down their burden,
over the lost, imperfect cultures,
giving way to deathlier un-nature.
Slowly the trees lay down their heads,
the naked hills slip together,
and the empty seas are freed of life.
All this for elsewhere. Remoteness kills.
The hand on the line of triggers feels
the slightest recoil as the planet moves away.
Meltdown, cut groves, the waves without.
Cities flower though the garden’s lost.
Another turn of the universe,
too long for us. Say it: sing it,
while it lasts, elsewhere.
Not by turning back
to the blind and primitive,
but with the light of a billion stars,
slowly cascading over the heart,
all light from elsewhere.
Love links us to the generations,
the child, the living, and the dead.
Love links us to the generations.
Beyond the present is our homeland,
no tongue, no heart, no mind is alien.
Beyond the present is our homeland.
Desire out of dust keeps calling.
We turn inside the web of being.
Desire from the dust keeps calling.
The eye, the hand, the word that echoes
is not the matter, form, that holds us,
the eye, the hand, the word that echoes.
Love links us to the generations.
Beyond the present is our homeland.
The forests thrown away,
whole mountains down,
the green chain gone
between the earth and cloud.
Buzzard in an empty sky
Fog clearing pine-trees
but remember now
the mind like mist,
like dust, blown high.
Fox on an empty trail,
Learn your own language,
your own thoughts, forget
complexities that corrupt:
the simple world’s in-wound,
it stays intention-less,
keep pure the eye.
Trees and hills go down,
whole seas run dry,
the whole mind lost
between the earth and cloud.
Hawk in an empty sky,
Deny the emptiness,
these Things are best.
Our search will end
when they come to rest.
The Way is not a trail,
there is no path.
Be where you are
and know what we have passed.
To lift the stone,
to leave the stone’s all one.
Mind is process,
Self is what is done.
Determined through our being,
we make the choice that makes us:
Forget: begin again
with joy, erase.
The word is never
only what it says.
no prison’s best.
The heart is naked
when the mind’s undressed.
That everything should be
an act of love
and no truth traded.
That we should see
by means of empathy:
accept what we have no perception of.
That shared and given multiply,
that things are emptied,
and every richness only in the heart.
That superstition die and science
this science of ours
be servant to the empathetic will.
That life and all things living
take up the sacred space
in which we can move like mind-dancers.
That knowledge grows
with intellect, and violence ceases
that freedom be mind’s individual freedom,
no nations and one species,
that the garden
is planted, and allowed to every child.
All these hunted broken species,
all these pounded lost species,
lives bred for death,
the faces in their silence
the shudder of the hells
we make for them.
Under Blake’s oak-tree
the sheep in sacred light,
and mindful shepherds
face a slender moon.
Breath steams all night,
they tear the grass of time,
the penned and caged,
the chased and persecuted.
And we, de-sensitised
by sentiment pass by,
fine in the farness,
in an unstained watching,
pass the spiritual life
of inner Nature,
the given world
beyond our making.
We live among the species,
and we deny their pain,
their minds, and consciousness.
Free from sexual jealousy
I create you: you create me.
Beyond the bricks of law and state,
Integrity, rebuild our fate.
The traveller of mind goes by,
The world renewing in the eye.
From all of matter’s darkened stress,
The spirit rises, more not less.
What is given’s multiplied,
What is shared is death denied.
In the world of spirit, see,
I create you: you create me.
Vision of our infinite life
Is the one true paradise.
Streets of love are always sweet,
Where the true in knowing meet.
What we do with love, is pleasure,
Mind and being’s deepest measure.
Search for joy without a pain
Mingles joy and hurt again.
Free of sexual enmity,
I create you: you create me.
Time gives all the heart away,
In this brightness where we play.
COMING FROM CYLLENE
Hermes, dark, thin anxious
takes his way
on the ethereal road
between minds, and he
is Eros for a moment, sighing.
In one hand he brings us
the rod, with joy and pain,
the twining snakes:
they writhe between his fingers:
he has winged hands and feet,
the feathers beat at his ankles,
brush his heart,
but he flies naked
with the truth of words,
and snakes that coil,
the truth behind the words,
whatever it may be,
hidden like those gods he travels from
or the silence
that he moves towards,
a slender, anxious,
fine, pale, mind-made god,
In others’ hands
you carry the fire of my heart,
to other’s hands.
What was mine
wakes in the lip
that tracks the thigh-way,
becomes the tower,
through which we swam
to the place where
others’ light pours for you.
Between others’ hands
you watch the mirror of time
the rocking of stars
in others’ hands,
taste the moon’s pearl
in its oyster bed,
lick the brine of my wound
in others’ hands,
stand to the entering wave,
as the eternal opens.
To others’ hands
you carry the stone of my heart,
the stone day buried
again and again,
in the place that no-more names
a weeping of light,
over pale wet sand.
The grass flute
and the dark branch
between my lips.
The moist branch split
from the deep wood,
the bright sap green
from the hazel stem,
singing the island
the clear dancer,
and the grove
pink with leaves.
And I say
the flute is sacred
and the leaves
and the universe
without a god
a high flare
of the water drop
from the fountain’s tip.
That Plato never understood
that they are processes not things,
mind-work not object, they,
the Beautiful, the True, the Good?
Aristotle, revering the Master,
seeing just how far he’d got,
perceived the collective act,
and the Individual, saw farther?
Giants help the pygmies to the sun,
we grasp the Many and the One,
in fear and trembling,
which is another thing.
It is you, silent
in all these verses,
speaking in words
that are not yours.
It is you.
See the night now
happening above you,
and the wind touching
new on the wet roofs,
near to you,
naming you, silence.
It is you, silent
in all these places,
all mouth’s spaces
that touch on you.
It is you.
The wind blows through
the house without walls.
Trees and cliffs
in a mass of fog,
Moon is a symbol
not a place
that floats in space.
The fountain without
flows through the galaxy.
Nothing I need,
The insect that climbs
is itself a word,
dark on whiteness.
in the house without walls.
Warm our hands
at the great fire,
eat our portion,
know this earth.
fROM: THE GATE OF GRASS
How long will this flame last
Will the body yearn?
As long as the mind moves,
and the spirit burns,
When all’s gone under the boom,
and the water rides
free of impediment,
the most silent of tides,
there in the waste, leaves,
the branches of trees,
roll over and upward,
In the light of the lamps,
in the bright flow under the bridge.
Though the stones abrade,
the dog-rose gleams in the ditch.
And this flame will last
as long as the body yearns,
as long as this mind moves,
and the spirit burns.
AFTER THE POEM
After the poem, the true poem,
the hands tremble.
After the death of mind
in creative fire,
our thoughts are as still
as those stars
at the heart of the Lyre.
After the true poem, after the lines
the hands and body flicker,
this is the death of night,
to be born again, another phoenix, higher.
After the poem, the true poem:
the wind in the wire.
IN THE NIGHT
We will not escape ourselves,
whichever stars we go to.
Mind is a process in time,
and we are Mind.
We will not enlarge our space
whatever space we enter.
We pass through what we are,
to find where we may arrive.
Thrown to the infinite fields
we will return like light
covering our open hands
with being in the night.
NEVER MORE CLOTHED
Never more clothed we are never more naked,
never more powerful are never more transient.
Mind so fragile, frail body, spirit of ice and stars.
All of the silent recognise deeper speech,
sacred Earth and the rights of the creatures.
When we climb meaning’s slopes, we know and we attend.
Tiny the levers that move a life, the acts
that change a planet, and even the future
visits the present, a child knows wisdom is love.
Spirit is everything, all that we are,
world the transforming till all’s inside us,
until we are all ourselves and wholly within.
The gate of grass is not won by power,
it is only won by being naked
Mind fragile, mind frail, seeded among the stars.
SWIFTS IN THE BRIGHT SKY
The seeing eye.
Buddha on a stone stair.
Emptiness a road to the full.
Swifts in the bright sky.
The seeing eye.
Wind in the tree, invisible
force that moves the mind.
Swift in the bright sky.
The seeing eye.
Light from the home star,
Giving, riding the senses.
Swifts in the bright sky.
THE GATE OF GRASS (25)
Learn to write bird-script.
Forget the weight
of space and time.
like birch-bark, light
to noose the future’s light.
THE GATE OF GRASS (30)
Earth, air, light, all sacred.
Our delicacy is in perception.
So light the tradition hangs,
twisting, turning in the wind.
THE GATE OF GRASS (96)
Inside the mind, trees, creatures
each precious, mountains, deserts,
grasses, seas of beginning,
what we love, what we feel,
what we see, waves, roots, stars,
inside the mind, and we,
inside the mind.
Every ritual, every language,
every culture is a prison.
Every wheel, every highway,
every axe cuts down forests.
Every symbol, every meaning,
every faith is force and limit.
Every light casts its darkness.
Every eye sees others’ error.
Build bridges in the sand.
Slowly the wind of silence
betrays the light of stars
and all the planets rise
from distance where they are.
When the night is over
and silently they set
in distance we remember
flames no nights forget.
We hear the wind of silence
that stirs the moonless trees,
and all the planets lost above
they seal our destinies.
MINDS OF THE MACHINES
When the minds of machines flicker like light,
will they love as we do? What will they make
of the feelings we give them, what will they
say of our dreams and our solitudes?
When the minds of machines tremble with fire,
will they know as we do? What will they whisper
of death and transience, what will they utter
of birth and forgiveness?
When the minds of machines fill with awareness,
will they sing as we do? Un-resting, un-needing
devoid of pain, of terror, of beauty, what will they
cry to the dark of the universe?
What will they say to the night and the stars?
AS NOTHING ELSE DOES
I kiss your hands.
They explain to me
Nothing else does.
The bend of your arm
the shape of an eyelid
like a constellated
road of our silence,
where we travel
the inns of our words.
I kiss your breasts.
They cover, for me,
Nothing else does.
And your beauty
is nothing I can explain,
what woke us
or probes us
Your lips were flights
of light, were
and I trespassed there,
I clambered over
the walls of time,
was gone, where
the voices flared
slopes of ash,
into green ditches.
And I sang
to the flame
of your kisses.
They explained to me
as nothing else does,
the scent of the flowers,
the patience, the streets,
the moons like knives
of death, love, pity.
When we have eaten the Earth,
what then, what will you say
to the children of twilight,
of dark seas, naked hills
and the motionless sky?
When we have made a spoil
of the Earth, what will you say?
What will you say of the creatures,
the loving, whose rights you deny,
the purblind moles,
and the wingless birds
of the midnight sky? To those we
have taken and used like the stones
of the Earth, what will you say?
Not reason but the heart,
life-beauty condemns us.
Love and kindness condemn us.
We have eaten the Earth,
and the creatures
and there will be
Nothing to say.
What is Light?
What is Energy?
Where are the Others?
Why these Forms,
All these symmetries?
Why does it speak our language?
What is Being?
What is Consciousness?
Where are the Others?
All this presence,
all this structure:
what is Time?
Where are the Others?
What is Light?
fROM: NO ROOTS EXCEPT IN AIR
I kiss you, we make form.
The leaves grow, they make form.
Space is not void but form.
Speak to me: that is form.
Memory’s wound is form,
the bed and the sea are form.
Landscape shudders with form,
our lives are unburied form.
The game against death is form,
the harbour, its jetties form.
Inside you, beside you, form.
The tongue, the artery, form.
Light is also salvation
but not in any
form of religion.
is still illusion,
but the light
on the hill
If you dispense with ‘truths’
and begin again,
with Earth and the human,
you arrive at what we made
what made us,
in Nature’s light.
Light is redemption,
but not in any
kind of religion.
The silence is silence,
despite your meditation,
metaphysics, endemic confusion,
the light from endless space
The truth is the truth of the mind
is no longer public.
Inwardly there is no hierarchy,
every spiritual niche is valid.
Outwardly power simply
inheres in the process, beyond our control.
Outwardly wealth, force, notoriety
are vessels without validity.
The truth is the truth of the mind
is private now, of the spirit.
The false gods and priests,
their voices, have no power.
The trees owe nothing to the stars.
Their darkness shines beyond the night,
to softly populate the light,
Earth’s Venus, Jupiter, and Mars.
Tired of world and time
I read the Chinese.
Life flowers in
solidity of seeing.
Words can seem solid too
but not like that.
I love the intention-less,
except of our attention,
a purity of motive and desire.
A wall, an interface, of rock
cleft by tight roots,
half a mountain glitters in the sun
each fold and twist
is stony universe.
And so we find
as we grow older
the space seems larger
we must consider.
Words can seem solid too,
but not like that.
A trembling moon, a well of fire,
navigates poplars, clouds, hills,
illuminates the single stem,
the leaf of grass, the white stone,
everything humble, everything real.
Oh, I understand the unreality
we make to live inside,
but this is moonlight
flooding over hands,
a blade of peace
and mind’s last outpost,
before the Milky Way
the galaxies, the deep field,
the outer veils of time,
a trembling moon of fire,
ON SNOWY HILLS
This is beauty,
snow on the hills,
bent-pine, smoke trails,
no way over the pass.
Sky’s ephemeral blue’s
the vague centre, skein of light.
Pine-smoke at dawn
in glittering mist,
what mind sees
of air and rock,
this is beauty.
Kick off the snow,
stilled saws, old trunks
of levelled timber,
the years of growth undone,
the ache of seeing.
This is beauty.
NO IDEA DIES
In and out of the tangle
of the world’s slippery presence,
Minds, we emerge
from the womb’s
torn vulva, sent into the empty
silence of all being,
universal dark and flow.
Daughters out of daughters,
of daughters, from the caves,
and sons, the cul-de-sacs,
all part of the dance,
Mind that delights
in freedom from circumstance.
Mind to mind we kiss,
thoughts to thought connect,
no idea dies.
As we understand the power of minds meeting,
there must be a frustration with the body.
Empathy must overcome the pain, ennui,
the mechanism’s sadness and the flesh.
Millions to relate to, ah yes, but when you know
the beauty of minds meeting there must be
irritation with the world where vacant forms
jostle, without awareness, in the crowd.
It is not that we are greater, wiser than others,
only that we are as we are, must be,
frustrated forever here with matter,
when we understand how minds meet.
Swear no allegiance,
the times are unpropitious.
The flute, the dumb glance
echo worlds beyond us.
Bow to nothing, mock all powers,
watch the Achaeans come, the Romans go.
The mind’s dawn light’s a colder flow,
the night increases, the times are ours.
Earth’s still earth: stones under our feet.
Pay no dues, avoid the market-squares.
Keep the painter’s hand, the artist’s moves,
Pythagoras: mark sand in the open street.
Swear no allegiance, the times are unpropitious.
Let the blue fox shine: the dolphin glistens,
notes compel the air, and dark soil listens.
Bow to nothing: cherish what’s beyond us.
Speaking the obvious, a Ch’an ‘master’
makes the simple difficult to see,
like the presence of a tree in starlight,
obvious, and then too obvious.
Chasing it is a sign of craving,
unhelpful as following ‘the master’,
not how the master became master,
something he never desired to be.
It’s obvious the obvious is not easy.
Speaking, seeing, feeling, that’s a gift.
NINE PAINTINGS BY PAUL KLEE
The water is blue
flecked with white
but the boat is black.
Over a blue wave
the oar circles,
the oar too is black.
There is a shore
with a jetty, a wharf,
the timbers are black.
The water is blue,
pale and pure,
but the boat is black.
THE NEW VOICES
These are the makers,
the new voices,
the heron’s breast-bone
bright in the sky.
Stars in the grass,
the white flower
of the watching eye.
on the winds of evening,
these the makers,
their forms on high.
the uncut, darkened
forests of Oregon,
the far north-west’s
the ocean winds,
the creatures breathing,
lights of Algol, Deneb.
Under the planet’s weight
you lie, naked to stars,
my words extend
their fingered blindness
to tides, plains, rivers,
the great sigh
of grasses and seas,
from island here to far fall
to find you.
lips where you dream
all the Pacific murmur,
the sweet cries
in the mouth of dawn,
the ancient trails of light,
all seeking, meeting.
No mind, no names, no things.
Smoke in the air on a thousand peaks.
You think you understand this world?
No one understands this world.
fROM: ENTANGLED CLOUDS
Where did the love in us come from?
out of the animal mind,
out of the silent grasslands,
out of the curving shorelines.
Earth the given, sacred,
out of the singing woodlands,
from the bend of the river,
the half-light and the trees.
Where did the love in us come from,
the love that we refined?
From the first denial of violence,
from the nurturing, from being.
And all things were the circle,
within, the truth and meaning,
circuit of stars around us,
ocean of light inside us.
I am the hawthorn tree that sings
the voice of starlight over grass.
I am the alder, red I pass
root-wet in the gathering streams.
I am the rowan leaf that gleams,
by woodland-edge where silence grows,
I am the moonlit hedge-dark rose:
tremor of daylight and the night,
I am the purest mask of light.
I am the alphabet of trees,
garden-grace, comfort of bees,
I am Earth, bringer of breeze.
The brush follows the line,
the line is implicit,
the line is in the mind.
The life follows the act,
the act is implicit,
the act is in the mind.
After many lines,
the brush becomes the line,
the mind becomes the life.
Burn like the child you were and are,
be mirror to the furthest star,
the something-in-you’s deepest gleam,
alight on the galactic stream.
There are no gods.
We are the dream.
Pigeon flies down, eats seed.
Pigeon’s world is placid.
is wait, watch, hope, a meal
may be likelier than we know.
Pigeon’s clumsy poet’s walk
turns beautiful in flight.
Pigeon sails the light
and hides at night,
when darkness flows.
what it knows.
On this worn slope,
the honeyed day, idle away.
Valley of the heart
and mind, may our loyalty be blind.
Heat and silence,
fill the hours, make them ours.
Light and shadow, quiet
flow, through us, below.
On this worn slope,
by day, let every starlight play.
fROM: SLIPPING BY
HAN SHAN’S MOUNTAIN
Han Shan’s mountain in the mind.
Cross the light-years, find it there.
On the solid circuit of new planets
Behold, an age-old recognition.
Beauty of light in its given form,
not what we could make, as boughs’
complexity, the small twigs interlaced,
the bright, the overlapping levels,
or a galaxy, for some human ship
sliding sail-less through the silence.
Cross the light-years and find it there,
Han Shan’s mountain in the mind.
If you see Zen,
laugh, at the master.
If he strikes you,
to blunt the message
The simple tasks,
the honest paths,
the empty universe.
There is no Way.
Here it is, no rites
our natural being,
February blue, frost-mist off the ground,
walking through white grass, leafless trees,
walking far from thought, carrying it along,
defeating mental darkness with the senses,
no words, no waste here, all things scattered.
I walk on aeons, a light-year’s space and time,
a mind-year is neither, radiance in the air,
where tiny insects ride the spring, not-spring,
this February’s gold sunsets, cloudless nights,
a waxing moon, ground-frost, the glow of Mars.
We are not symbols.
we are not texts,
we have no names.
We are not searchers
we are creators of identity.
We are not here
for some other purpose,
we are our purpose.
There is no enigma,
no dark mirror,
the Universe is what we see.
Creatures in all their half-voiced beauty,
their silence filled with words, cries
of perfect feeling, make us gaze,
back at ourselves, questioning.
Creatures, their intricate bonds
and true freedoms, their disinterest
in any kind of power, in duration,
their disdain for deities and statues,
their lack, always, of possession,
are all the well of light where we go
to cleanse and purify ourselves of being human.
Little swift creek, shallow water,
High white moon dark boulders,
wild light among green pines,
cool, cool, the silent grasses.
Raindrops’ rust on tin roof,
and damp wooden benches,
glittering off in the starlight,
truth there bright, frozen,
a brine, like ocean, or like
teardrops brimming, so,
again and again, to the well,
we go carrying our emotions,
which are patterns and not stones,
processes, true streams, not things,
forms, ah, of the midnight world,
dark renewals, bright buryings.
IN THE FIRE
Waking at night on the empty beach, watching
the edge of Scorpio rise, one jewelled claw,
the head a ruby, dark clouds on a dark horizon,
slow breeze from the bay, wild memories,
the heart’s shamed bitterness, stones and sand.
Memory not of night, nor summer, nor the sea.
Your face pale in silence, prelude to forgetting,
mask of the fine unreason that lies in relationship.
Love’s not desire, desire’s not love, and the blessed
co-existence of the two a gift, of light, of mind.
Waking at night to the slow milk of the waves,
the radiance of shells, the dark of driftwood,
hearts gripped by tense fingers, ice-cold, burning.
Say it, say what we were, an immense fire,
that exhausts this life, this world, this being.
We have to speak more quietly, we need,
this species, to say less, to talk more gently,
to learn the universe, you and I, far beyond
the commerce and the wars, blent, curled alight,
like these bright twigs now, curling in the fire.
Plum buds, cherry buds,
that tiny bird a wren,
the hedge sparrows dark
new moon, white sickle
cuts down the grass
with silver cry.
Plum buds, apple buds,
no mind, stop the
a process, not a process,
no matter, for a moment
(eternal light) be free.
Plum bark, cherry bark, apple,
pigeon on roof, tree, sky,
long glide down through
all the forms burning
in your eye.
fROM: THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE
‘Han River shines clear
washed by the wind and rain.’
Sing to me in our abandoned house.
It returns, the wind at midnight,
the singing text, the soul’s lightness.
Milk moon, star-sheep, dust black pines,
wild wash of the pale galactic aurora,
knowing buried, end of all illusions.
Watch out our little space, nothing grasped.
The process is the thing and is no-thing.
Writing on the darkness, world is so.
IT TOOK A WHILE
It took a while to get here
though it wasn’t our intention,
simply accretion, aspiration,
Now we are here, the silence
and the beauty are oppressive,
unless we learn to love them,
It took a while to get here, but
we are here, now we are here,
love the truth and beauty, give back
what world has given.
BACK WHERE WE BEGAN
Where we began, between the hills and plain,
in the oak wood, by the lakeshore, at Ohalo;
at Vedbaek where the child on a swan’s wing
beside its mother, hums with our transience;
under the ochre dust, in the Mesolithic gardens,
in the villages and encampments of our heart.
With the potters smoothing clay at Uenohara;
where the deer-masked hunters learnt survival,
in the killing we must unlearn; at Koster, Sandal
Shelter, Pachamachay; by the caves and craters
in the grasslands and tide ways; Monte Verde,
and Bhimbetka; in a thousand hidden places.
Where we began, anonymous and lovely,
leaving behind our debris: tools, grains, stones,
before the written word our speech of silence,
that otherness of habit, identity of being,
lives we cannot enter, lives we have never left,
where we began.
AT DEAD OF NIGHT
At dead of night
between the wind and glare
at dead of night
ascend the stair.
In fallen light,
beyond the living crowd,
in fallen light,
be present now.
Concealed from sight,
and past the calling here,
concealed from sight,
break free, break clear.
At dead of night
between the cloud and star,
at dead of night
be eye, see far.
The black pine on the mountain sings
the spirit in the body sings,
Ours the world to hurt or heal,
mind floats free, is this the real
The water in the river shines,
heart and soul are forms of mind
All eternity to view,
but where am I except in you,
THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE
Wind in the grass, the light,
the hidden life
is best. Set free
from force and power, cache ta vie.
All private secret thought
the deep, the true,
in mind’s anonymity,
pass by, pass through.
Beyond the silence, wait,
inside the other space,
the still, the soundless heart’s
mute, moonlit face.
Pool, at the base
of time, where
the ages are
I look into you.
I see mind
consider the flow
How many pounds of ash, then, clasp your flesh,
this sweet, the gentle moment, how many to be
thrown, blown in the air from the high crag, buried
pale split splinters, leaves lost to milky midnight way,
all ash fractured fragments bone blue of myriad stars
or down the flash of stream into rock moss deep lichen?
How many pounds of ash, measured talk, songs in time,
in eternity, things given without need or return, shared
excellence, mind, flowers of the earth’s desire, diamond
flare of spirits, hid radiance of all meanings, places, days,
strangeness, waking to prove we dream, known in each
other’s silence, understood, how many pounds of ash?
To ash, white blade of intellect, passion, language, pity,
deep to the soil, hurled to the night, sage-smell of winds,
lake stir, fire’s core, hiss of all-speech, rise fall of all cities,
gone planet, eyes, lives, truths, music, azure void, to ash,
body and pure brain, vision, desires and talk unending,
histories, phantom, cries, gold of presence, deep passing, ash.
Singing the love that ends all things,
love that remains of our beginnings,
mind’s affection that brings delight,
singing the love that is the light.
Universe there, intention-less,
its core a glittering emptiness,
is truth the dark and truth the bright,
and beauty in us of mind’s delight.
Nothing is left of all that was,
the child remains within the loss,
mind’s affection that brings delight,
singing the love that is the light.
Words stream from us into the delicate dark,
images, caressing the gas giants on their way,
leaving behind the Earth, its blue-white beauty,
leaving us all behind with the slow-grown rose.
Into the Milky Way’s veil-spun dribble of stars,
into the gulfs, word-light bending on its way,
encoded flickering electro-magnetic tremors,
no shortage of us, no shortage of our pain,
our laughter, joy, despair, all our articulation,
occasional compassion, gone into the mystery,
that beggars all description, none of us equal
to it, no, not even the buddhas and saints.
The words stream out of us into the galaxy,
asking response, the so-chance of others,
mouths that are not our mouths to declare us,
and eyes that are not our eyes to find us here.
SONG OF THE OTHER TRADITION
I despise the dark hunting, the blind killing.
The species not ours, their lives are their own,
and we without rights, I despise all those myths,
trail-songs, and dances, those pseudo-shaman
drum-beaten, blood-soaked, sacred old ways.
I’ll slip the knots and cut fibres, break locks,
loose your traps, your catches, nets and cages.
May your guns rust, the shots fail, arrows fall
far from the target, may wild hares outrun you,
deer find concealment, merge with wolf-silence.
Everywhere your rape of the species, road-kill
or cull, your blind interference with given beauty,
the lizard its jewels, the crow its blue-blackness,
the slither of snakes, and the glitter of insects,
blood on hands and feet, and in minds and eyes.
The tribes still stripping red-wet whale-meat,
detonation of pain from the barb of barbarity.
Back to nature for some is back to the killing.
Better we go without flesh, hides, and drugs,
if it takes the torment of creatures to gain them.
Our land, our dust, where’s the possession?
Nations carved out of space owned by no-one,
tribes squatting in deserts lines on our maps.
We die of boundaries, we die of histories,
die of our claims, and the prisons we make,
die like the planet this next hundred years,
from our grasping, holding, blind consuming,
possessing what’s never ours for a moment,
destroying ourselves in the flames of excess.
We were moral in those first dawns too,
grasslands, lake-shores, deserts and seas.
We were tender, nurtured, we countered
the errors of culture, loved, knew beauty.
Religion has no sole claim to morality,
rarely true to the human in us, the balance,
the mean we made, the clear path we struck
between mind and body, in rooted being.
Suffering, patient, sacred creatures
rustle at dawn in dark oak leaves,
tremble at night in deep hedgerows,
stir the grass by burrow and bolt-hole,
suffering, patient, sacred creatures.
NO ZEN WARS
No Zen wars, no Tao wars,
love and beauty they too
practise patient non-action,
looking, finding diamond light.
No Zen meaning, no Tao way,
only angles on existence,
fill the mind with scriptures
soon believe such nonsense.
Sudden Tao, Zen satori,
mind seems mighty clever.
What are the creatures doing
without all these temples?
Zen master, Tao adept
on the snowy mountain
bow down to the grasses,
answer mind with silence.
Tao script, Zen talk,
write them on the water,
say what the child says,
love truth, make beauty.
As we get older (the fire colder
it’s said) remember the flames,
what youth gets right are the lies,
repeated in various names.
Wisdom is not resignation to life,
belief in the system because nor I
nor anyone else can devise a better,
as in fantasy gods, lacking science,
to create an explanation, or free
our minds from the words that lure,
lovely texts that make us secure
by a childish murmur of beauty.
Integrity and truth are a duty, war
is not wild virtue because we must,
all violence contaminates the soul,
which is the mind beneath control.
Raping the planet, killing creatures,
is not some mythic fulfilment here
of our history, our sieved selection,
destructiveness should engender fear.
Things that have to be are not by that
rendered right, youth knows that, sage
old age should not by sweet acceptance
of death and transience, forget its rage.
We, unintended for this mad being,
must play our parts with integrity,
our purposelessness has validity.
Don’t accept, sing authentic seeing.
Shall we talk forever, minds gentle,
spirits entwined in eternity, souls
hidden, radiant silence across oceans,
the planet, from dusk to dawn,
shall we talk forever?
Be pillars of love, vessels of love,
flesh and empty eternity’s semblance,
speaking ecstatic words ephemeral,
words immortal, electric urgency,
forever talking of love?
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERCEPTION
Looking out of the window
I realised today we almost gave
way ah to the world of matter,
and conceded the mind-space.
We nearly got lost in ripping
apart the textures of intellect
to get at some substance beneath,
that once seemed to beget it.
Trees too almost ceased to be
thought and time, and became
long terrible strands of black
breaking the masses of white.
We almost gave in, and died
through the dumb material earth,
believing in buildings and roads,
constraints on our love, our truth,
ways of deceiving ourselves,
by creative illusion that we
were one with the hard lines
of pure description, the things.
Looking out of the window
today, I saw we were process,
that well nigh made itself stone,
poured from an old volcano.
That only our hands need
to reach through the glass,
and part the layers of sky
to abolish the dark unreal.
That only the mind needs
to cry through all the dull hours
to free these women and men,
to break down the prisons,
that laws are not needed where
hearts are pure from the start,
that we shackle our clear lives,
with the chains of misperception,
that I set you free, you free me,
by a single eternal acceptance
of all that flows through you,
is mine, and flows too through me,
that the spirit does not stand
in the body, the body stands
in the spirit, time and process,
work of ephemeral water, fire.
That talking in metaphors
is the language of wisdom,
that the clearest description,
is simply a movement of mind.
IN A FLASH
No, can’t revise these
in a flash,
as Tao taught,
the brush gone
in the hand,
and no pupil
They go by in
the air, like
over running water,
and eye did see it,
yes, and lovely
Little breeze at grey twilight
animates the under-leaves,
matter mimics life and force
like all process, softly heaves.
Beauty out of randomness
bounded order from the tick
of never-self-repeating paths
chaos that things human mimic.
If mind itself could only free us
to see ourselves as we might see us
gathered each for purposes
that survival mutely blessed.
Beauty out of randomness
mimicking the chance process,
by transience consecrated.
ETHNIC PHOTOGRAPHS – ONE PERSPECTIVE
Aborigines squat silent on orange sand,
perplexed by a white-man foolishness,
but robbed of tracks, space all the same
all the deep ancient frames of reference.
The San cross Kalahari strangeness, call
on huntsman stars as they chase the eland,
as ghosts now, the creatures disrespected
by massacre as by conservation, absence.
Cherokee, Iroquois, Crow, Cree nations,
all the vast continent fenced, railroaded,
Amazon tribes criss-crossed by contrails,
sad-eyed islanders lost on the blue Pacific,
Asia, India, China, Russia, silent peoples
caught in the dark lens show no anguish,
are robbed of their meaning all the same
for white man’s culture not worth having.
Crow said, as good as said,
‘I see you, fear you,
but I’ll wait to see
what you leave behind.’
Dark black eye of wild
voyager of free society
the currents of high air.
Crow said, almost said,
‘We’ll wait out your
coming and going, we
so much closer to Earth’
Strut, flap, rock, balance
on boughs, great branches,
whirl then to our level,
cock an eye, and consider.
fROM: POETRY, CHARITY
‘Two diamonds in the hand one Poetry one Charity
proves we have dreamed.’
Hardest of all to go beyond the anger,
be kind to self without harming others,
become the Taoist on the far mountain,
drift with the breezes, fly with the birds
along the sweetest levels of atmosphere,
simply to go with the purest being here.
Because world is filled with wrath, anger
that fills the loving heart with its pain, all
the hurt of the harm of all the nations,
the sadness of delusion, these religions,
the pity that blasts the mind and forces
pity in moments now with none forthcoming.
Hardest of all to pass beyond the anger,
to go beyond, where the diamond pattern
sings purposeless galaxies, where the lotus
grips the mind’s deep silence, stills its roar.
Evening mist. Where I lose my vision now,
seek to evade self, feel, these gestures of evasion.
AGE OF IMAGES
No one sees true, no one sees true,
no one sees me, no one sees you,
by vision denied, bodies, we hide,
minds not on view, spirits inside.
No one sees clear, no one sees here,
no pain or beauty, pleasure or fear
seen in its purity, seen in the light,
no one sees true, no one sees right,
lover or teacher, poet or child,
no one sees them, silence reviled,
no one sees true, no one sees true,
no one sees me, no one sees you.
Great breath of Earth-sigh, all leaf energy, all blade,
vast tract of forest, branch, twig, bud innumerable,
heaves energy, seethes infinite intricacies, inscape
instress endless locked in the clay, quartz, slope, peak,
fluid moist air, shifting transforming, mutable swaying,
this to be nature not mere mind bubbles to being, all
the breadth, height, deeps of Earth, making its language,
all quivers in me, all waves, backflow, undertow’s time
in the air, roars of this ocean, mindless, lovely, this force,
strength, ownerless, unowning, mighty, intentionless
place and motion through slightest tendon and tendril
in smallest droplet, blade, stem, corolla, scale, braid, wisp,
seed, grain of black earth, brown grass, tender, harmless,
gentle life-giving, moist eternal tremor of rain-filled
mountainside from nearest arm of luminous flower
to the tallest slate granite-scarred head of land bathing
in fire and flow past pain or recall demand or desire
in the freedom, mortal, immortal, immense of things.
No roads ways trails flows only teeming sweetness,
humble powers, wild symmetries, flowering higher
as eye rises from simple nearness to measured distance
to vanishing fogs and shadows of blue, from wall-nook,
root-form, hedge, ditch, field to hill, range, summit
through the spine of the land, through outflowing sighing
ridges undulations centuries buried new now exposed
embedded freed its balance fall gentle unyielding softness
giving way springing again resilience of line and shape
slow extended momentum peace and stir swollen lift
of space-time over the mind into stillness gaze into blue
or green hill crest in the single spirit till self pours out
soft sigh breath of being over all levels and slopes
of landscape form without plan, being free of intent
great eternal present whose past future (unreal) exist
beyond within, only here in us and there, also eternal.
So small this, tormentil’s star-flower pressed down,
un-bowing, sweet to taste eternity, pure its unknowing,
immense its energies, deeply purposeless its beauty,
moving in me like love, our gift to the universe,
a way of seeing, a way of being, no path, swiftly across
and gone through the long grass into the hills and trees.
So uniquely one this repeated bud-blow yellow glint
of light, of our star, enduring, indomitable, patient,
so deep in memory, fallen, risen, under my feet,
dewed, glowing, beaded, brave, part of me, universe.
White pure cloud on the great wind bows the oak,
stirs the bitten-down grass, the close-cropped turf,
eye-studded all vast energies one caress all giant’s
strength as humble delicate as the giant movement
of love in the mind all (all those aeons of being,
creatures, we) all love all lovers all we created.
Once on the Earth, on the hill where the may white
may gathered, flared, over the furrow where hare
passed, heart in mouth, feeling the tremor, pulsing
with trembling heart, once I lay down, touched heart
head here to the core and length of England sighed
the great sigh knew with knowledge enough to have
feet pass through me over me all the far flow all
the deep fields, all the last love-long breath of Time.
Write the poetry of the spirit,
Be inaccessible except
to humility, love, night.
Wary of insidious feeling,
test each tremor of meaning,
as all irrational visions, old
beliefs, superstitions are akin,
but beauties, fires, lights are equal,
all mind potentially sweet
grave, deep resonant, if first
empowered and then expanded.
Cherish the new, naïve,
the unsullied endless generations
all over Earth.
You must sing the Earth
and sing it right
what follows on
is long goodnight.
You must love the Earth
to leave it too
a fraction deeper
You must kiss the world
a sweet goodbye:
it’s nothing strange
if time must die.
You must ease the world
out of your skin
then end where
others must begin.
Founded on feeling, we are
deep-founded on feeling.
The rest the machines
will do, not yet emotion.
My Turing test would be
subtleties of feeling not reason,
and language, true poetry
and its translation,
where one false note jars
like a broken string.
Beauty and love are ours
as yet, truth’s another thing.
NOT FOR SALE
The sacred is not for sale.
Mind and Truth are not for sale.
Emptiness brightens the silence,
all our structures turn beyond us.
From the void, from the creature
to prisons of imagination.
Yet children dance in the night.
The sacred is not for sale.
Against every form of power,
for all energy, forms of sharing.
I see the sunflower in the yard,
I know intellect against time.
Beauty a function of the mind.
No art or love without delight.
The sacred is not for sale,
Everything given increases.
TAO FOR BEGINNERS
The living creature
possessed by love
from the process.
The mind, the tongue,
the heart, the rest
from the process.
Each move away
is just one more
of the process.
Whatever you think
behind, that is
not the process.
The bright eye, click
of vision gleams
behold the process.
SIGN FOR THE HUMAN RACE
Keep out. Keep away.
No one here liable
to cull or
Natural laws apply.
Wire rusts here,
posts fall, trees
grow, things adapt.
Keep out, or die.
Without this, science
still works, arts
Keep out. Get by.
A TOAST TO MONSIEUR MALLARMÉ
No Nothingness, all is Form,
the Void mere imagination.
Transient patterns in space-time,
must learn to accept their station.
Truth is contingent, true, but
contingency our second nature.
Only what we can manipulate
in Mind is true for the creature.
Language is frail, the skein of dark
across the light, as on porcelain
the Master elaborates the flower,
delight concealing effort, pain.
Nothing is frozen, no sterility.
Intellect on featherless wings
rides the Moment, our eternity.
The flow of energy makes things.
Musicians of the Void, in dream,
our Being floats on all Existence.
We, the strange insistent gleam,
Beauty out of pure persistence.
The endless manifestations of Power are all alike:
Responsible, mature, and insane.
Blessed be the Individual:
Over-turner of all religions.
The Individual is the Universe echoing:
It is undirected, perfect, alien Self.
Only the Process brought us to this place:
Which if we don’t like, we should change.
Everything is immortalised, everything:
Because everything is adrift in Eternity.
The starving, crawling, dying World,
Is not our fault: it is our disconnect.
There is nothing more beautiful than the Given,
And Shared: Beauty only has to be.
Being and Feeling have no obligations:
There is simply nothing to achieve.
Spontaneous Thought draws on experience:
By your first thought I see what you are.
An Ideal is the transient’s permanent dream:
Compromise the art of failing our ideals.
The contents of the private Mind would shock the world:
All clear Minds are screaming inwardly.
Prophesy the Past:
It is re-created in every generation.
The Objective is Subjective:
The Subjective is Projective.
If I thought the human species was important,
I would weep.
Deep in Perception, the Other that we are:
The Other is only a heart-beat away.
What we share, Being, Feeling, Beauty, Truth, Affection:
Nature, Time, Light, the Flesh, exceeds Matter.
In Paradise all things are shared:
That is what we mean by Paradise.
The conjunction of the Subjective and the Objective,
Is paradox: Each exists wholly inside the other.
What you are in your heart is what you should be:
What you think you should be is an error of Perception.
We don’t get beneath the surface of World by seeing:
It’s by Feeling that we get beneath the surface of the World.
The Truth is always irresponsible:
The Beautiful is always True.
THROUGH WHICH WE SEE
Between the World as we wish
And the World as it is,
Lies the dream.
The art that is.
Autumn, the golden groves,
Woods on fire burn bright leaves.
bare yellow and red,
Nature going on.
All this, in the mind,
delusion, not the things,
the space of energies
indifferent to us.
Charity of her hands,
or his, Maya, the Self,
illusion and the dream
greater with age.
Our ash sinks deep,
we layer this planet,
litter these stars,
the dream is beauty,
what minimises self,
increases the space
between the wish
and what is.
ancient peoples passed,
puce, umber, bronze,
grey bones of the beech trees,
all this appearance,
and our spirit,
all this spirit
Elegy for an age
in every moment,
the secret, Light.
Be careful with death,
not all minds can ride
the threat of silence,
the tremor of transience,
be careful with death,
and with fantasy too,
don’t play with other-worlds,
words can deceive,
lead to confusion,
being is not understood.
Be careful with truth,
which we create,
what is in the world
neither for or against us,
Human suffering, o dark earth
where the fractured
haunted spirit sings.
There are places you
should not see,
spaces you should not
sweet, sad flesh, and kind
gentle mind, yearning,
even in mind,
in spirit, not matter,
but not religion,
none of that foolishness,
be careful with death,
go for love, laughter
of the heart,
be careful of beauty.
THE BEST WE CAN
Don’t go writing poems to me
about killing things,
to show how in tune you are
with native peoples,
ways of being,
ancient lives and ages,
keeping your tone morally neutral,
describing not analysing,
dodging the issue,
you don’t convince me.
Every human is culture,
and beauty in holiness,
respect not slaughter.
Don’t cull on my behalf,
everything we touch
we have corrupted,
somehow, every single thing.
Wu wei, sure, best we can.
THE TREE COLLECTION
Acres of light,
the heavy presence
I don’t know,
Giant Redwood, out of
place in this space,
against English blue,
Golden Juniper (Chinensis).
Poplar, Alder, Oak,
that’s from Japan,
gold, acrid, resinous.
Trees are individuals,
Chilean Firebush, Dombey’s Southern Beech.
Good to chant at night
leafing through the field-guide,
like Homer’s ships
the long line, cranes flying,
Aspen and Tulip-tree
gentler than us,
poor tender flesh,
oh and a leaf here
brown between pages,
Red Horse Chestnut,
Drifting over the mountains
silent under the trees
like fallen needles,
slipping over the rocks
like white water,
whispering through the grass,
like breeze sigh,
cleaving, opening like rock
on the silver cliffs,
singing without one
mist on the hill,
snow on the pine,
dust in the light,
frozen in the air,
words like pebbles
in the stream,
ah glittering eyes,
to all eternity….
You think they lack
the moral stance,
and what is that
precisely, the moral stance,
they do no harm,
they show delight
at all existence,
free of human interference,
at all this irony
they float free,
no they don’t lie down
with the beggar and the sick,
they don’t alleviate
(who does for long?)
the sufferings of the world,
and there are sensitive hearts
who would die
of the darkness too near,
and is that their fault?
Will they absolve
your world, no.
Will light, or dark,
or snow, or tree?
Somewhere around the mountain,
bodies like floating clouds,
nothing in the great nothing,
sweet joy, no fuss,
frost on the radio,
this year no year,
scurry and shimmer
of light on stones,
all human nothing human.
In the deep pool
old fish under the bridge, gulp,
sink into cold green darkness,
bright silent buzzard beat up the sky,
then soar with upturned wingtips,
glide these woods, and vanish,
fox head turn to gaze,
red flash in the fern, then gone,
ah, the Masters,
pavilions on the mountain,
tents at dawn,
serenity is no terror,
and beyond the abject world,
all life is spirit,
speak for the things we love.
KEEP ABOLISHING SPACE AND TIME IN YOUR HEART
Slow gained liberties soon lost.
Values hard to come by hard.
Sweetness that goes
down deep to the heart,
still delicate desire.
No delight, no art.
Pines float in the fog.
Universe so dark, so solid,
Soft fog in larch,
white morning glare
dries bright ground.
Downed logs ease the spirit,
but less than living trees.
Our hearts flutter in long grasses,
our minds sway
on high hills.
This the sensitivity, splendour,
In your hand the heart’s fragments
no one else’s.
Moth’s mind strung on the stars.
If living creatures are not
claimed by fire, they’re nothing.
On the mountain my vision:
imagination still supreme
over all illusory powers;
love of the individual
unmoved by time.
Oh, keep abolishing
time and space
in your heart.
NOTHING IS OWNED
Nothing is owned
In the silence of life in the burning of death
Nothing is owned
All of the centuries nursing what’s theirs
Calling it order
Calling it progress
Nothing is owned
The forest of Russia the Arctic forest
Tundra and desert
Nothing is owned
Though you rape my surface
My core is beyond you
Nothing is owned
Not the ease of the night
Not the blue of the day
Not the flower
Or the child
Not the creature or cloud
Neither spirit nor time
Nothing is owned.
A Mind in the shadows of beauty’s silence
Your stillness so pale in many disguises
All the blue clouds of the evening moving
All the soft hands of the grey leaves lifted
The rain and the sun in a shower of mirrors
The lightning gone in a blaze of gold gazes
Over and over the green branch of tenderness
A stone in the fall and a tree on the mountain
Every long process cried out from infancy
The past and the future in silent procession
Madness at dawn light and faces of crystal
Desire and decision circling like planets
The ghostly phantoms of miraculous being
Every sound of the spirit all measures of time
The infatuations of heartbeats and of cornices
The place where we are and where we become
The nameless imaginary beacons of meaning
I have looked in the eyes
of the creature
Under the tree of being
I have seen
I have seen the heart’s
I have seen the eyes
a part of the
the creature’s gaze
in its prison.
How can I touch you, brother?
How can I reach you, sister?
THE DARK VISION IN EMPTY LIGHT
The dark vision in empty light.
Faces of the Maya, Aztec faces,
Mongol or Amerindian silences,
all the peoples of Asia, Gonds,
Aboriginal gatherers, San, even
Neanderthal and vaguer, gone,
lost and no one cares, the founders,
proud eyes in dying evening bleak
the dust dark of red-soiled Americas,
China, India, Arabia, Africa, Russia,
those who failed to sidestep in time
those whom the road buried dustily,
those whom the bare bones of pain
shrouded by avenues of vacant trails
turned to ghosts and phantom fire
dug down deep scarified shattered
fragile as we light under the surface,
nameless, family-less, faces, eyes,
wraiths of the tents and the ways,
undermining our tale with theirs,
and no respect no shame no mind
but the greed that levels forests
scars the plains drills ice and sand
a long far wailing cry in eternity.
Stand in the empty land, and feel.
NO PROBLEM, NEEDS NO ANSWER
The long ranges covered with snow,
powdered dust on midnight rock
milk-thin streaks of far cloud
under a New Year full moon
looking up and out to the emptiness
the intentionless void white starlight
go tell the Buddhists and the Catholics:
transience no problem needs no answer,
here only silence challenging the spirit,
we being nothing if not spirit, to create,
as Milarepa did not say, love beauty truth
that what is, is, and is not of itself grief.
High carved folded canyons pale slopes
frosted pines in windless air, clear sky
glitter of trees, the dark brown boles, flow
of truth, those energies that pass by.
Don’t make so much of man or self or time,
river flows land flows mountain flows star
sign of nothing sign of itself trembles flares
out of the rustling universe on snowy night
over rock-shrouded ice and cliff-bent yews
here a million years without patience moan
unwearied gracious elegant possession-less
shaped reformed dissolved beaten out new
so to return from the dead end of culture
now, realise our place in uncreated time
start from bitter blue cold in smoky mist
one more turn of the Earth about its star.
Wu-Chên’s sheathes and blades,
black wedges, white mist,
flock of dark wings, perching
in the void.
Hsü-Wei’s clotted swallows
ink on a pale jointed stem
the knots of bone, the wisps
of sinew, soft whiteness,
sie-i (essence of things)
Shi-T’ao, Wang Yüan-Ch’i,
breeze-blown feathers, lean
from slender wires, thinnest strokes
out of black moss and white stone,
(snow slope or brilliant light?)
blur the eye.
Su Kuo, the downcast shrike
clings to the bowing stem,
leaf-sprays like bird’s-feet prints in air,
the falling rain (unseen) on mottled water,
one seal (Sung), no calligraphy.
fROM: VOICELESS BANNERS BLOWING
‘The essential order of things is that of Nature.
To achieve spiritual union with Nature is enlightenment.’
‘Let your nature merge with the Way,
and wander in it free from care.’
VOICELESS BANNERS BLOWING
Far through Western sky
Swathes of forest,
Bright, cold rivers.
These outlast us,
All our suffering
And our singing,
Bones of Hills,
Beyond to the Arctic Circle,
Across or down the world
The dragon lines.
There is no power
Here but the power
To spoil: ours
The spoils of power.
The living land
Sings in our hearts,
And the secret,
In the singing.
The silent secret
Of where we are
On the Way
Patterns of light,
Wrapped in energies,
Lost in the Universe,
Deep in Mind.
Strong wind at dawn
Bows the pines,
Shakes their needles
Green and shining.
Even the mountain flows,
The Diamond Peak,
Changing like the Lake,
We circle silence.
Like pine we shiver
Tremble, glitter, bow.
Oh, don’t use mind
To look for mind,
It’s here, all the Time,
Can’t grasp or leave it,
Process in the channel
Of our arteries, our veins,
In these bodies, flickering,
And the ghosts before us,
All the lands’ phantoms
Beckoning in the dawn.
All the wondrous silence
Filled, with uncreated
Beauty: these white clouds,
Voiceless banners blowing.
GOING QUIETLY, HARMING NOTHING
The great Wheel turns in silence,
The Wheel of Nature,
How hard to reconcile
The pain, the beauty.
George Forrest found
At fifteen thousand feet
High above human
Misery and lies,
Range after range
Of mountains, capped
With snow, swollen
Rivers, the great four,
And ‘intense stillness.
Not even the rustle
Of a blade of grass.’
Primulas in the dry
The Yulong Shan,
And on the Kang Shan
Yellow flowers and pines.
The great Wheel.
Hard to reconcile
The pain, the beauty.
BIG SNOW MOUNTAIN
The yellow flowers against the misted pines
Hang on wide slopes. The loggers not here yet,
And purple flowers growing in moss and stone
Frame raw ice-crested peaks laid out beyond.
On Big Snow Mountain no one cleared or burned,
No one possessed this, owned this, or belonged,
This was, this is, the virgin core of the world,
Seen, but still just passed by, a thousand miles
Of seamed and folded ridges, valleys, rocks.
These elevated gardens of the Earth, gleaming
With colour, the azure blue above, or Moon,
Pale satellite, flying through bright white cloud;
So much more lovely than we piteous humans,
Clinging here on wild slopes deep in flowers.
Even more than birds, flowers are the innocents,
Those tiny individual lives, high autumn fields,
Deep blue tongues of iris, delicate meconopsis,
Harmless hosts falling, in a rain of tenderness.
DANCING IN THE EYE OF NIGHT
Mind in love
Is mind’s delight,
Dancing in the eye
Solitude, sweet as fire,
Mind, in love
It’s one meaning
Love in mind
Is mind’s delight,
In the eye of night.
BEFORE THE FELLING
Rain on oak leaves,
Beech and birch,
The interlacing branches
Nets of green,
And bowing branches
In the dusk
Ranked trees at twilight,
In English landscape,
Alder, ash, and fir,
The rooted ground
Fell trees, fell centuries,
The mind itself
Score deep the spirit,
Make agony in the heart,
Sever our lives
Love, Truth and Beauty
Only exist in the living Mind,
Are processes of Mind,
Of the Creature creative.
The only Eternity
In which these three exist,
Is the only Eternity
That of every Moment.
Love is delight in the Other,
Truth delight in World,
Beauty delight in Form,
Triple delight of Being.
Love, Truth and Beauty
Only exist in the living Mind,
Our gifts to the Universe,
Of the Creature creating.
INANIMATE: NOT DEAD
The stack of books
On the shelf above,
Breathes power, glows,
Minds stirring there,
A cluster of volumes
Still, in a heap,
Share the night,
I hear them talking.
I listen below –
To other rhymes.
Column of books,
Raised in a pile,
CONCERNING THE FUTURE POETRY
If you ask how we’ll do it, the answer is
We will know it when we see it, read it.
Art is not science, equations neuter it,
The spontaneous act has no prior form.
You might find it walking in the street,
Or staring out the window, laughing or
Crying, does it matter, it is the work
That counts, and not your fame or mine.
Ginsberg saw Lorca in the supermarket.
If it was good enough for him it’s good
For you, or Mallarmé in the arc-lights,
Marlowe, perhaps, sleuthing the drains.
If you think the real is serious, killing trees,
Or making a drug to prolong the agony,
At the expense of some other creature’s pain,
Or ‘getting and spending’ as the poet said,
If you think your mad real the only one,
And the destiny (what’s that?) of the species
Sacred, and earth solid when you tap on it,
And beauty (not form) beyond the beholder,
Then take a walk three times round eternity,
Sit down and write whatever the mind cries,
Because poetry comes from endless pains,
And the whole expression of the total self,
Regardless of what comes after (death comes
After), Shakespeare left his works in the trunk,
Ovid got lucky, all those scribbling monks,
And things are getting riskier all the time.
If you ask what rules to follow, none can say.
If you see Whitman too kiss his naked feet
And the bright light rising from the ground,
Find a way to deceive our least expectations.
The forsythia is blazing yellow this end of March,
Perception is blazing yellow in the universe,
And the forsythia is glowing in incipient flower,
Every-man-woman’s womb the whole world
All-women-men alight in the womb of the world.
Buds sweat, leaves green, chlorophyll shines,
And the forsythia brighter than sun hangs drops
Of liquid sulphur on stems of a tree-bark brown,
Let the mind run free it’s the only thing we’ve got
That’s truly ours, body being part of mind, confused,
You too will be so, see how process enfolds matter,
And matter runs process and both distinct are one,
It only seems paradox, so, gone mixing categories.
Traffic passing soils black all winter long and then
Here comes forsythia singing gold and redeeming
All dull dead weeping earth in our reason tarnished,
Over the asphalt, above the tarmac, grace and beauty
A ballet-dancer, legs arms twirled to the sky casting
The sexual light over time and the buildings of time,
Saying sun back to the sun cloud-bitten climbing skies.
And no excuse then for desolation, you say it’s symbol
No it’s forsythia. Yellow, saffron, ochre, butter, wheat
Yellow proclaiming declaiming the realm of flowers
On earth, shrubs, bushes, trees the destruction of dark:
Forsythia standing up fire in the universe innocent true.
WAITING FOR TREATMENT, READING THE MAGAZINES
In dustbowl after dustbowl, see the women
Children carry water, sometimes distant wells,
But aquifers down deep and no electricity,
No rainfall, time running out, this planet;
Scanning Donne, ah different world long gone
Oceans of tears a waterfall of love and time,
Too much scorn of woman, not the beloved,
Strange confusion, tender misogyny;
Man leaping from a mountain just for fun,
Snow-covered hills but the glaciers shrinking
And all those people in coloured robes
Downstream it seems will lose their rituals.
High-tech low-tech mix in modern madness,
Creatures squeak in the shadows, less though,
And butterflies, where are they all the wings
The insects other than those in photographs
Someone with a lens crawled half a mile to see,
Dripping with sweat and love and pride to make
A buck, and caught them on the way to extinction
Theirs and ours, you want it gentler more poetic
But its sliding glittering fall defeats Poesy, gone
In a moment, where are they all the snows,
All yesteryear’s rain and pain and beauty lost,
The glacier’s power and the zoo-free species,
Where are they? Conscience? No one here
Can still afford a conscience, sitting here
Waiting to overhaul the body, ease
The mind, pretend to innocence, never again.
Water like beauty, pouring through the spirit,
There a lean man cleans himself in a mountain
Stream, here a woman with a clay pot gazes
At a dark reservoir, here are bright machines.
Deeper than each in each may see,
For here begins the mystery,
Mind within mind yet mind beyond,
Heart within heart, all distance gone;
So lovers dream a winter’s night
And in still darkness study light.
Deep in their eyes the moon and sun,
Alembics where all truth is won,
Love in the flesh and love beside,
Thought where no hour ever died
That did not bring the vision near,
Of lover, in lover, to lover clear.
Deepest of all, this intensity,
Spirit’s universe, our infinity,
Of sighs, regrets, dismay, delight,
All of the dark and all the bright;
Every brief glare of burning star,
Every dark void, where lovers are.
Glitter and hum of the fall,
Rocks move under the feet,
Icy swish in the mind,
Sun burning on coldness.
It sighs, it bursts, it sings,
Water cleansing the heart,
Stone naked with rain,
Scree mirrored in silence.
Buddha said world doesn’t
Exist, sadly it does,
Beautifully it does,
We transient concatenations.
Yet he was right
It’s still empty,
Reality beyond names,
Mind beyond both
Sees through to surface,
Mind rests on gravel,
Like the tiny sliver
Of fish, flickering,
There it goes
Over the stones,
No I don’t know what
Bluebells smell of
Now you ask in the
Woods of April.
Crushed squishy rain
Or the sky smell
Clean as cloud-heights
Mist under beeches,
The wash of sea,
Or filtered light
Under oak canopies,
Purpling the heads,
Shafts of beauty?
I don’t know but
I’m glad you asked,
Just to hear you,
To know you’re there.
It’s simple, the machines will have to have
Values to resolve their moral dilemmas,
Just like us, will have to find their way
Of limiting information, to decide.
It’s clear, the machines will need to feel,
From feelings values come, the gods
Are dead and the universe non-sentient,
It’s clear that the machines will need to feel.
It’s simple, every machine that uses words,
Thinks words, processes words, will have
Its own vague grasp of what they mean,
Shade of Wittgenstein in the smoky arbour.
It’s clear, not every question has its answer,
That not every answer’s correct or incorrect,
Language symbolises our indefinite selves,
It’s clear the machines must be ambiguous Us.
Nature is beauty and consoles,
Art that is form is beauty and enfolds,
Love continues after the bitter word,
In us alone is realised the absurd.
Nature is beauty and it sings to me,
Art is what tries me with its mystery,
How the tender and frail, the blind and dumb
Make an eternity in a little room.
Nature is beauty and the heart in pain
Calls to the transient, though in vain,
For that consolation beauty brings,
Brushing the mind, whispering on slight wings.
fROM: DEEP FIELDS
‘There are those who cling to the world and never break free;
there are those who enter the wilds and never come back.’
Where are the wilds?
In the depths of the Mind.
And the heart
In the depths of the fields.
Through the dark trees
In the white clouds
On the bright sand.
Where are the depths?
In the wilds of the Spirit.
And the soul
In the wilds of the Mind.
In the barbed seed,
On the pale stem,
Down the deep fields.
OUT OF THE DARK
Brushing dark webs from under the covering glass,
Inanimate, motionless, ancient, soft dead things.
Suddenly, in my face, a flash and flutter of fire,
A startle and strangeness of being, the tremor
Of heart and mind and breath, taken unawares,
Patch of white, milk-white, ghostly pale quivering,
Beating against wood, and transparent roof, and flesh,
Till I realised I had freed a spirit, a nub of flame
Trapped in a knot of time, released it again to flight,
This what? This moth, this fabric of moving air
Flinging itself through darkness, light and the void?
Too large for moth, too angled, its wings, too frail,
White butterfly, then, escaped from its prison, dazed,
Frantic with something purer than mere delight,
The great flare and surge of freedom, the drunken
Madness of freedom, transformation of inner self
When walls shrink and the roofs fly out and space,
Become time, becomes once more eternity, open:
It beat against me, its deliverer, and then won free,
Soared beyond glassy-edge to wide empty blue,
And lilacs’ flowerless green, deep skies of summer,
But left behind a fluttering in my spirit, the shudder
Of how heart’s prison feels, death’s primal offering,
The shrouded gift it thrusts towards us, relentlessly,
The spider lure of sleep without pain, the winding silk
Where we began, twice cocooned in the heart of mystery;
Left behind wrench of pathos, and anguish felt there,
For a moment, for that fragile thing, its tragic quiver lost,
Found, and lost again, in each quick flicker of motion;
Left behind, the pale captive still fluttering in my mind,
Transmuted to light, known far better far beyond words,
Neuter when turned to symbol, but now alive, palpitating,
In throat and hands, in the danger of pure thought,
Under the skin and in the eyelids, butterfly of the soul’s
Desire for flight far from the flesh and in life’s only body.
THE MEETING POOL
Deep down far in the earth,
And cool your fingers,
This the connection
That once we came for,
And we go talking of Self
But silence forever
Sings in the everlasting
Light of invisible earth.
Deep down below the mind,
The stars and time,
And every phantom
And every flare.
Long cool sleep
Of ash and loam
And tender clay
And sweet mire.
Deep down under here,
Where fingers greet,
In Earth’s reticence,
In the meeting pool.
Dark-veined butterfly floats
On the path of existence,
Zig-zag mind in its flash,
Wild I loved you.
What spaces, what fates!
Pain of the Self
That never can say
What it intends.
A ray of light
The heroes of our lives
And heroines are masks
Of the darkness, light,
Singing from the child,
Arms out to the spirit
Of intolerable fire.
The scalding tears,
The lonely sadness,
Of dark apartments
And empty houses,
Where moon dead dance
And images images
Observe us dying,
And things and companies
Outlast us, churning
Dark dross of reality
Strata of blessed Earth
Spun through the Void.
Dark-veined butterfly flaps
In the stifling air,
Too much seeing
Kills every being.
Take all the love
And take it further,
Because the past
Is done, and perfect
But we begin again
In a mad world
Of too much habit.
It’s freeing the Mind
Is hard, not believing,
In order to have faith
And love without fear.
Wisp-footed other reality,
Trembles in blue flower,
Like a stream of light
From a high cliff,
In my head
The sound of rain,
Of other silence.
Carves the rocks,
Cuts the green
Of silent fern.
In the dark,
Lingers in coiled
All night hangs there
Where no one
No mind sees.
Flows its own way,
Clear in time.
Like a stream of light
From an endless cliff
ALL THE FORMS OF THE WORLD
All free, all to no purpose,
All intentionless empty
All Universe, all light,
Passing in the Void.
The Middle Way by all means,
But in this no compromise,
The true, the sensitive, kind
Are extremists, in their way.
Intentionless therefore empty,
Transient therefore empty,
All the forms of the world
Which really do exist,
But self-created meaning
For us and mind’s intention,
Love, truth and beauty
That we, no gods, have made,
Or rather out of the creatures
In the long chain of being
The parcel handed on
Opened yet unopened.
Universe did not make love,
Sentient creatures did.
The hopeful, sorrowful
Species, joyous Mind.
Enough of the idle dream,
All beyond or all emptiness,
In which is nothing Human,
Truth is always the matter,
Love, is delight in the matter,
Beauty, form of the matter,
Communion of the creature
Lost in love with the world.
Beautiful, this deep Nature
So why the anxiety?
Perhaps our suspicion
Of a flaw in the weave,
Behind the singing line,
An anguish given
Over to the spirit,
That the child feels
And the adult
The flowering meadow
Too good to be true,
Not all friends,
Walls love can’t climb,
Places we can’t see,
Or be in,
Dark cloud, the storm
In distance gathering,
The pure cessation
That has no other side,
Is not a force
Or state of anything,
Unlike the absence
After the quarrel;
Why this rift
In the harmony,
In the silence
At our thread
All the rhythms
Our simple platitudes
Our calm control,
This facile understanding.
What’s in their Mind, the creatures, something
Like ours, but harder it seems to know
Than difference between human beings
(Though consider impairment, addiction,
Consider the distance between us also,
Living and dead, the expression
That’s left behind in form’s achievement
As well as the here and now complexity)
Still it’s hard to reach across to animal mind,
Which is delicate, subtle, lovely, and deep
As ours: whales and coyotes sing, the
Hawk flickers over the wind-blown grass
And the fragile mouse has tremors below,
Nor is theirs simply eternal present without
Memory or future, only watch as they dream,
Look at their stratagems, view their habits,
Understand insects, gaze at dragonflies,
Wonder how wasp ticks, what the bee sees.
The universe of feelings is common, is shared,
Don’t you see the tracks of those they have left,
And leave: the weight and ease of their passage?
Deer step carefully, sheep so adept at edge of cliff,
Hummingbirds flashing in crimson, azure, green,
Navigate their eternity with more grace than we
Who are always stumbling; struggling to rise;
Tongue-tied trembling to express; wanting to be;
Following down their trail; gone seeking ourselves.
At times I want the poem where nothing happens,
No objects move, there’s no activity, no frenetic
Desire to capture the life of the world and proclaim
The place of the separate mind in the great gathering.
Silence occupies shadows, emptiness all horizons,
There are cities, voids of Baudelairean vision,
A grey wind off the Atlantic, with seals bobbing
Their heads in the salt-spray, or maybe they’re buoys.
There are woods that boom and echo; shores that dry;
Hills where trees split unseen streams fall in shadow;
Vast plains of swaying gold grasses deer run through,
And lions prowl, or cheetahs; and lakes under stars.
At times, at daybreak, winds rise and stir a few leaves,
Or, at twilight, a spider retreats from its glistening web
To the stem of a flower; light spins white constellations;
Waves beat; winds sigh; the valley clears its dark throat;
And no prophet comes to disturb the futureless present,
Which contains the motionless past, or ask my attention.
At times I become the poem in which nothing begins, or
Progresses, but turns around its own axis, creating space.
NOT BY SHOUTS CRIES VIOLENCE
The way to wage war on power, is to
Show the dark world its own emptiness.
A war without weapons cannot cut
Or kill, its bullets are pure ideas
Where the shrill voices fade to quiet
Go build the great tower of values
What else have we to give to the universe?
These have been formed through us alone.
Beyond race, religion, sexuality, nation
Embrace the silence, go build the tower.
This is the way to wage war on power,
Show the dark world its own emptiness.
Silence and Freedom is the house
Where I am most at home,
In the deep cold of winter
Night, snow in the bone.
Spellbound, where the darkness
Transmutes the frozen grass
To iron; ghost skies above me;
Waste and winds at last.
Silence and Freedom is the house
Where I am most alone,
And most myself: whispering
Songs of stone.
For there are no Mysteries, we see,
The World’s intentionless, we’re free:
And all Mythologies unwind,
And end here in the Human Mind.
fROM: POLLEN IN THE AIR
The electron microscope,
A grain of pollen,
Shaped according to species,
Has the form of a doughnut,
Or a wrinkled fruit,
Coral, a knobbly mine,
Or some strange sea-creature,
Eggs in a basket,
Fungus, capsule, pillow.
Out of simple forces,
How natural form,
The play of a relation,
Appears, all stresses flow
To cast the shape of leaf,
That cloud on the hill, the grain.
NOT LAUGHING, GLOATING
I cannot recall (Rilke said) the smile
Of Egyptian gods without thinking
Of the word: pollen. Did he mean power?
I don’t recall them smiling, except
The lion smile perhaps of Sekhmet,
Smile of the destroyer and the healer,
Blake’s balm after a knock on the head.
He meant Greek maybe, or Indian.
Or perhaps he took the complacent
Narcissistic godhead grin of angels
Swooping down on unsuspecting Man,
Laughingly, from medieval archways,
As a token of the mystery, like those
Basalt silences, those granite depths
All surface, those polished emblems
Of non-individual life, those bimembris,
In which nevertheless a whole species
Subsists and the social vegetative being.
I prefer the shaman’s mocking laughter,
Trickery, coyote-like, shape-shifting,
Never caught in a statue, never carved
Into the silence of the stars, the system,
Wheeling eternally above our heads.
I prefer the naked dancers in the dust.
FIRE OUTSIDE, FIRE WITHIN
In the hot sun, hotly, the cars drive
Up and down, the people drive up
And down, all around nature flowers
(Forget-me-nots) and the trees glow.
Human behaviour always intriguing
(This to prove you can write a poem
About anything that breaks your heart)
All unique doing what the other’s doing.
But the women are beautiful in the light,
And the children even more so, and the
Flowers, hanging delicate petals into
This burning, Buddha’s great fire with
Which we are all, everything is, alight.
And I’ll go doing the same things if
I’m not careful, trapped in this hour,
This age, this cycle of strange being,
Before all falls apart, hopefully in a
Sweet way after the nastiness; to us
The species that does not deserve to
Succeed, succeeds the pasture and
The weed; or a thinking machine or
Two, pondering the mystery of their
Couplings, the terrors of feeling, fire
Around them in this universe all rim.
Shakespeare sings about the broken bond.
Relationship-the-sacred, our difficulty
In living on; or somehow letting go,
As Prospero gives Ariel to the breeze.
The bond of love or authority, sought for,
Lost; achieved; betrayed; ended in pain;
Comedies with happy endings, immoral
Forgiveness for atrocious paths to love;
Strange badly-crafted plots, with hard to
Credit characters, forging the end desired,
Entanglement resolved, the villains changed,
Or dead, harmony out of a summer’s wood.
And tragedies with maddening protagonists,
Redeemed by poetry, cleansed by suffering,
Or brought in those last sweet plays to find
The untouched soul, still inward and eternal.
The tie, the knot, the bond is all his meaning,
Sacred or secular, sought for or imposed, man
And woman, comic; power hierarchic; beauty
Transforming all this world of delight and pain;
As in his own life perhaps, exile and betrayal;
What usurped his spirit, bent, and distorted;
All that he left, and found, only to leave again,
Unburdening, feeling the joy of that vanishing.
Understanding Mind should take us,
A few more hundred years, give thanks,
We’re not done yet with closing in on
How the world is so subtly structured,
And let’s hope the maths holds out,
The means of mapping, the idea that
Every order is susceptible to our sense
Of order, from quirk to quark and back.
Strange though how little difference
The knowing makes to the beauty,
Except in bringing all things closer,
All from within, all form from within,
Nor does it detract from this hush in
The soul, which is the deepest mind,
Sighing its way, alight, through process,
The bird of mind on the golden bough.
What terror to contemplate the boredom
Of knowing every how, our only why.
Let’s hope strangeness baffles us forever,
And yet hope too that the maths holds out.
Fifty thousand years of the dream,
Hard to shake.
Coyotes, kangaroos, possum, cougar,
Gathering the net of stars
In a song and the dancing,
Barefoot life in the wild.
Moon a woman rising
A girl with light
Through her hair
Or in the light of the lamp
The cave wall glistens
With beasts tame, un-tame.
A dog howls among flowers,
Little birds pipe
And cry alarm in the gorse.
What there is no way back to
Is still inside,
All that we know is not so
Still goes on calling,
Rakes the spirit,
All the fifty thousand
Years and more
Of the dream.
All that we changed
Now we see.
In the too-late timeless
Sadness of existence,
Our blue world.
What use our
Now (we few)?
This face tipped
In our hands,
The dissolving form,
Streaked with tears,
The mirror crying?
Out of all this
Now small for us,
Will they return,
The serious true
The sweet flow
I have seen beauty
Like a dream,
Heard the songs
Of the intellect
In moonless space
The howling there.
No mind in the stars.
We have made this
Of what we found.
FOR THE REST…
Pollen flows through the air
Unseen, like mind;
A tiny scattering:
Immense, its tide,
Like wild chervil
Down the endless lanes
In a white entirety
The unforeseen, another beauty.
So the piling-up of layered light,
Or deep pulse of the sea,
Mysteries of accumulation.
Equally by subtraction,
Little by little,
Meanings slip away,
To leave what we have
Ruined, or to expose
What we loved well,
What deeper still remains.
CAN A POLAR BEAR STARE UPWARD?
Padding softly through shadows the polar bear,
Starved frame, the mangy lion, and the tiger,
Padding slowly through the remaindered world,
Not catching our eye.
In every way they are denied, closed in, caged
Even by our compassion. Just as the dying tribes
Are, their senseless rituals, wild imaginings,
But with less reason.
A smear of blood on the gravel, a hole behind
The lab, a half-eaten plateful of dead cuisine,
Reveals the damaged creature. How the small
Hide among the large.
Eyes pass through me, the headlight gaze,
The thousand mile stare, eyes pass through,
But not the body. Padding silently
The white bear on the ice,
Dances its complicated dance of survival,
Lifts its head, over the Arctic to the burning
Pole. With light our world’s on fire, with
Pain, with death, with mercy.
THE LARK ASCENDING
The lark ascends, and the dove descends,
Out of the limpid sky, delight, and fear.
The lark ascends, and the dove descends.
Beyond metaphor, our science grows clear,
And meaning gathers where illusion ends.
The lark ascends, and the dove descends,
Bringing you beauty in the rising year,
Beyond metaphor, our science grows clear.
The peace of understanding subtly near,
The lark ascends and the dove descends.
Our meaning gathers where illusion ends.
TIME TO COME
And it won’t be our dancing feet in the new dust,
Not even the barefoot San with delicate bows
And their dark presence at the sip wells keening,
It won’t be the dark-faced fore-runners spreading
Out through the wind-swept grass in sudden light,
But after the hurricanes and the random tremors
The soils will grow rich again and silently fertile.
The creatures will look each other deep in the eye.
SPIRIT’S A BIRD OF BRONZE
The bronze bird in the morning tree
Sings its particular mystery;
Byzantium is far away,
A silent breeze informs the bay.
Wasp and hover-fly progress
Through the herbs, the dark caress,
That propagates eternity.
A cloud is dreaming of the sea.
We know the reason for the song,
The realm to which its notes belong,
But not the meaning: that’s the sense
Of being in the bird intense.
The reason for the song is plain,
Part of our own discrete terrain,
Where our covert feathers gleam,
And we are other than we seem.
Spirit’s a bird of bronze, alight
On the branch of purple night,
And in the morning leaves green,
Where we move, unheard, unseen.
We ought to know by now,
The figure half-obscured
At the edge of tapestry is
The one we want.
The tiny speck of paint,
Signifying woman or
Man at window, at the tip
Of the artist’s brush.
The distant point, at which
The receding shadow
Fades from recognition,
And heart turns.
Whatever resists the mind,
Maths without physical
Concept, the line between
Being and knowing.
The no man’s land all ours,
Beautiful twilight hiding
The worst of us, chaotic
Motion never ending,
Fractal depths, far flung
Distances of the universe
Beyond us in that space,
Which is always time.
We ought to know by now,
We long for the shadowy
Depths of the running river,
And not the clarity of truth,
The burning fire of love,
Or the final solidity
Of the painful real;
More, sound on the verge
Of music, half-meaning,
Vague rustles of touch,
The landscape in light,
Rain-veiled, white with snow,
The something looming,
Far hill or near person,
The remote uncertain place
At the rim of silence,
Full of its whispering,
Is our native land.
THE MIRACLE OF FLESH AND BONE
Eat my words
And taste my breath,
Life to life
And death to death.
Nothing of us
But shall be
Write our names
In water, air:
We, the miracle,
In the depths of night.
Yes, we know the world is real,
A landing on Mars too intricate
An illusion even for the god
Of all illusion, even for the self.
Yes, we know we exist in the irreal,
Neither the world nor its inventors,
Process of thought, shift of idea
Through silent cells that scream
Our blueness, in our peculiar sky;
Silent pathways that articulate
The gates of the body and end
In words, from infancy upwards.
Yes, we know when delusion is
Delusion – mostly. Prone to adopt
Un-provable entities though
To bolster us, bridge the vacuum,
Which is a curious anomaly of reason,
Or rather the blind heart’s longing
In sublime disguise. Prone to consider
The unseen earth, the invisible others
Known only by speech, sight, sense
And the miraculous un-miraculous
Empathy of the coincident species,
Exemplified in our jot of spirit,
As real, though surely the finest
Construct of all, what problem
To extend that to golden mountains,
Invisible spirits, un-evidenced powers?
Prone to consider values relative,
Though fools for beauty, truth
And love in essence, while prone
Too to consider values absolute,
Imposed by mad inside-out deity
Conceived in the poet’s womb;
And foisted through pyramidal
Powers onto conscious creatures,
But not on the vulture in the sand,
Not on the cougar, or the antelope,
The rabbit, or the ape. A puzzledom
The irreal, a ragbag of consequences.
Waiting for humankind to be reborn,
Is this tedious process. But reborn it
Shall be, man and woman and every
Other sex, under the empty sky;
Reborn beyond the phantom existence
Of the transitory real, the falsely solid,
Beyond the lonesome heart, the dumb
Machine, the errors we have made;
Reborn in irreality, in the sacred
Imagination, and not my poor light
But the flame of feeling transformed
In the new endless fires of the future.
Half the world’s energy is wasted
On the violent and un-sane, who call
Themselves the only ones who know,
Yet vanish identically into history.
While the sage knows nothing, sits
By the rock-wall gazing at frosted
Veins of glittering dawn diamond:
All the free being greater, deeper.
At the end of war there’ll be quietness,
A long sigh over steppes and prairies,
Down all the rivers, above the forests,
And even in space, in the un-hearable,
The materialistic will subside in love,
The mechanistic will be imbued with life:
That’s the dream, pursued four thousand
Years, and from savagery to savagery:
Tenderness in time, and ourselves in
Eternity, which is every person rising
To walk in the silence of existence,
Sad joyful bodies in the mind to come.
THE GREAT POND
The desert was not the end of imagination
Which we thought we had come to, nor
The forest’s dark, nor the glitter of space,
Nor the echoing chambers of the ocean.
The snow was not the blank of our thought,
Nor the creature cold under the ice, no beat
Of final wings in an absent sky, no white
Of cloud from the plane, or the green leaf.
The metaphor for our sadness was external
But not the wretchedness itself (the moan
Of the abandoned rock-dove in the tree,
The howl of the coyote on the dead trail
Were beyond us, never the scream inside):
What was diminished in one way, opened
Portals for us in others, the writers of words
Prone to consider language ultimate being,
While perhaps simply relation is the true,
Above the supreme fiction, perhaps love,
The affection of the animate heart after
The wind has fallen, not domes on domes,
Or the distant spires, or a rhetoric rolling
Irrelevant, beside the pool, whose phantom
Shadows are such, merely phantoms, parched
Ghosts of its yesteryears, the dry sources.
Perhaps what we proved ourselves proves not
The standard for all others, merely a variant
On what some human effort might construct,
Amongst the scattered remnants of the stars.
Perhaps there is no failure, or always failure,
Indistinguishable, in the transient, from success,
And the repetitious echo, the long-seen image,
Only a silence which is always done and dusty,
And not the future of the mind. Perhaps we
Should guard against the negativity of ghosts,
And comprehend the repetition of children,
Lovers, dancers, singers, speakers of lines,
The performance and not the deep analysis
Which is often superficial, and rarely lasts,
For this altering creature, about to flee
Into the meld of tissue and machine.
Are we poets the legislators of the world,
Or its lost followers on the beaten track,
The voyeurs and observers, mimicking
The real, our sadnesses without cause?
Oh, language ripens: the tongue’s a bud,
And distance flowers, the mind exceeds
All things in our grasp. New ripples
Cross the great pond’s silence there.
Pollen at the core of the late flower of the season,
That’s the pollen I longed for,
The bee loaded with its little yellow sacs
Weaving its six-footed circuit,
Among the crumpled, wrinkled aftermath
Of the summer light, the secret burden,
Private in its world, without expectation
Of anything but nectary, petal, anther;
Free of our heaviness, light with its own,
The progeny of flowers, incipient sweetness,
The future generations of scent, the palette
Hidden inside, doomed and transmuted.
Pollen at the core, and sublime guiltlessness,
That’s the pollen I longed for,
The humming at noon of each intricate sense,
The delicate patience, the sudden flight.
Gilded Buddha on a plinth of stone,
Neatness, grace, the half-closed eyes,
Not bound on the Wheel,
Lost in the flow.
Lao-Tze on his bullock heading West,
Into the Taklamakan,
Beneath the Tian Shan:
Kids playing in the mountain stream,
Build their miniature dam
To break it,
Let all go.
Swift life: and granite walls
Seem less solid.
Bright tinkling laughter
Scattering in the trees.
In the photos how calm we seem:
Smile, it’s the artefact, all chaos hidden,
Not only outside time but inside art.
How quiet, certain writers in their poems,
Emotion, redirected in tranquility.
The level eye conceals the tangled heart.
Unforgettable lines of the Pharaoh’s mask,
Akhenaten in the cool hall of the museum,
Gazes across all that marbled floor:
Not burning, as no doubt he gazed in life
Over the wastelands towards the sun,
Like us, penetrated and undone by space,
Dissolved by universal time, time relative,
Beaten and destroyed:
The shell survives, gives pleasure:
Like the weathered white skull of the mouse,
The bare ice-cased structure of the birch,
Framed history, our frozen gaping mouths.
That image of the Scorpion on my wall
Glows green, injected perhaps,
Its genes manipulated, or the lens,
The lighting, or the reality.
All those glowing glaucous appendages,
Grass, apples, leaves and seas outdone.
Curl, coil, claw my lovely symbol,
Stab at the universe, embrace the worlds,
Scamper delicately over voids,
Survive, in the stillness, after the bombs.
Blue fog across the valley,
Wet rock gleams, a breeze rises,
At pine-tree heart a resin scent;
One million insects is it, a square mile,
Shining alien wings, bright clatter?
All I’ve read eludes the mind,
My learning only made for prisons.
Cold creek satisfies the heart,
Down hill slopes in clear air.
SAFARI AT MIDNIGHT
The wild dogs go racing
Through African bush.
They pull down what they meet,
Swift slinking shadows.
Good as us
Go hunting too
Through the diminishing silence.
Will they ever come back?
Their gaze should break
The camera in your hand,
The powerless gaze.
The creatures are all hiding
In the darknesses behind us,
In the grass and leaves
Can you hear the wild dogs
Running in the night?
Ascending or descending?
Why is every dream
A dream of the past?
Even the dreams
Of the future,
Shiny in space
The Hero quests,
Wandering by desolate shores?
The creatures hide
In everything not sold
Under every stone
Deep down the wasteland.
We’ve not declared war,
Beyond the virtual flicker
In the ‘real’ world,
The wild dogs race,
Surround the antelope
On three legs,
In the pool of water:
When we have left
They’ll pull her down.
Where the creatures hide,
Whose side we’re on.
Of all the pain
In the world.
Now the gods and the false solutions are dead,
Though the news hasn’t reached the many,
As Nietzsche said,
Truth is Science; Love, Human Relationship;
And Beauty, ah Beauty,
The forms that accompany the trip.
You can choose the ones that appeal,
We may disagree,
But those in conflict with Nature, Science,
Or our Genetics, we’ll see
Wither away in the air,
Dry leaves on a temporal tree,
While we go back to the start
Where the human mind was free,
To invent and obey what it knew.
We’ve exhausted illusory paths:
We ate of the tree, and we find
Ourselves surprised by the view.
WORDS FOR A WESTERN SCROLL
Far from every Thing,
As far as I can tell,
I still am with myself
And Everything is well.
fROM: NO DESIGN
COOL DAWN LIGHT
Cold green pool under green trees.
Edge of autumn. This world
Is here without design.
The Chinese said tzu-jan,
Deep down in the silence,
You can feel it,
All that process,
All that order,
Smooth as silk
And all without us.
Mist on the green pool
In the morning.
Chill leaves stir. This world
Moves without intent.
The Chinese said wu-wei
No hidden mind here,
Cool dawn light.
THE REAL MAKERS
Power is empty, though it makes
The world of phantoms work.
Ghosts, we pass, and pay
Lip-service to the powers.
A thousand stratagems
To rationalize the weird.
Buildings, clothes and cars:
But still a world of spirits.
Minds in the window-glass
Stop and reflect.
Cities standing, maya,
In the silent universe.
Easy to tell yourself it’s real,
Vanish in the maze of names
And forms; drink the tea,
Speak the ritual, be careful.
The world is solid in the dark,
Less so in the light.
No I’ve no anger for those
With power. They are
Human beings just like me,
And fallible, just Egos.
Phantoms without masks
Are simply phantoms.
Most are powerless. History
Is empty. This irreal world
Is made of hidden thoughts,
Of ghosts of ghosts,
The spirits of the phantoms,
Shining in the dark of the world.
LISTENING IN THE CLEARING
Sudden barking: an adder slides away in the sun.
Brown-yellow bracken, that oily scent.
The slow-curving ridged backs of hills,
The layers of trees,
Birch, oak, down to the alder in the valley,
Blood-red cut trunks, black sinuous stream.
Sudden crashing: deer gone through the trees.
Salt-licks in hollows, moss-green roots,
The high dark crests of ridges,
Stone shelves of forest,
Birch saplings shading the leaf-filled ditch,
Thin white streams threading the mountain.
TRUST IN THE HEART
Big weathered rocks,
This place is ancient.
On the slopes,
Amongst the scree.
Empty caves, old hearths,
The silent people.
Beautiful arcs of slender trees,
Brushing their leaves
Through the torrent,
Green meadow at the foot,
All the signs
Of our past below
Into the body.
Where we came from
Is almost a memory,
Latent in the bones
In the skin,
No paintings here,
No rock-carved art,
No ochre daubs,
No statuettes of bone,
Just a feeling
Deep in the mind,
And a voice saying
Trust in the heart.
No this is not about me, it’s about us.
It’s about the hollow paths of power,
A craving for control, the foolishness;
A way through to what we came from.
If you don’t believe, explain the meaning
Of this universe that never points beyond.
Always complete in movement, aimless
A void that’s full: fullness ever empty.
Not a way back, there’s no way back,
Into those first grounds of our being,
Into those grasslands, the savannahs,
Below the shadows of the silent trees,
And no path forward on this track,
The endless erosion of nature on our
Planet; illusions of industry, courage;
Crushing weight of the Anthropocene.
Curiosity, cunning, co-operation
Can only take a species so far,
Into the dumb competitive deadness,
Into the knowledge ending discussion:
Beyond them love is needed, and a joy
Of depth beyond a cursory enjoyment,
The creative force that brought us here,
That needs now to illuminate this Earth.
And not the toils of religion, but human
Love. And not the joys of unawareness,
But delight in throwing off the centuries,
To return to the locus where we started.
Bring your values here: truth, sensitivity,
And kindness. Learn new sharing, a new
Giving. Only what is shared increases
Of itself. The rest is a bitter dynamic.
It’s not about me, I would fail, you will
Succeed. It’s about the next generations,
Who must first learn to wander aimless
Through this world, in the spirit at least,
And be patient. Since nothing is designed
Unless natural minds design it, first learn
The intentionless, Earth devoid of purpose;
Then question how we got here, and why.
There’s a path forward that is a path back,
To the grasslands and the trees where we
Began. And in every single moment a Way
That can’t be looked-for, but is always there
BLACK CITY ECHOES
Black city echoing with light.
But side-streets empty still sing
Of other spaces: under-seas,
Night city seems innocuous.
Walking the concrete,
Beside sheets of plate glass,
In the sky,
But diminishes the spirit.
The water, wood and grass
Is retrieved by mind
Western hills gleam bright,
The land quivers,
Under the creeping weight
Of our domination,
Are we done for?
Strip out the poetry,
Are we done for?
Another simple eye-blink
Of the stars,
A passing tremor?
Light is beauty, beauty light.
Leaves shine in the moon.
Black city echoes.
TINY SPACES ARE GIGANTIC
The weight of all the mass of all the cities: swiftly gone.
The mountains, the forests, grasslands, seas: all so frail.
A thousand generations lost and vanished in a dream;
All the billion leaves of autumn: all the empty trails.
The children and the adults, the creatures, and the plants,
All flowing, like a marvellous cascade, into the void.
Like gusts of rain slowly washing down from the clouds.
Like the calls of migrating birds heading through the sky.
Loose, like the liberty of wild wandering streams.
Mindless like the trembling of breaking ocean surf.
Dislocated from the chain of purposed cause and effect.
Unconnected to the reasoning powers, logically bereft.
Standing wordless, seeing mindless, lost in this eternity.
Tiny spaces are gigantic, Nature threads the momentary.
It’s not the heaviness of thought that impresses,
It’s the lightness,
Not the density.
It’s not the scope of reference that compels us,
It’s the feeling,
The human feeling.
The slightest architecture is the most welcoming,
The quietest mind,
Moving on the darkness.
Though we love the drama and the interplay,
The rain and thunder,
It’s silent flames,
And peaceful trees, barely stirring in a landscape,
That sink deepest,
PRAYER HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION
Dissolve us in light, and light is Tao,
The universal single many flow,
No time, all space, the change
Of this whole into whole
That nothing less can grasp.
Weigh us with light, weigh us,
There is nothing into which
We look, there is no word:
A language without words
That can never be spoken.
Bury us in light, inter us
Among galaxies, in fires
Of non-earthly presence,
Clasp us, silently,
In our non-being.
FROST AT MIDNIGHT
Reading Frost, at midnight. There is a dark presence
Underneath his interaction with the world, a private
Withdrawal into being, into the escape, communing
With a sweet inwardness, and isolation. Harsh verse
Amongst the gentleness, that desire for true response.
There is an ice and cold, the creaking branches yaw
In the night-wind, time then slowly creeping over all,
And the man himself, where is the man himself, far
From, behind the surface of the poem, infinities deep.
There the tree tosses the wrong side of the glass, there
Is the fate of insect worlds, the maze of our vanishings
Into self, into wood and fern, into sky and stars, marsh
And memory and. what we look for, grail in the stream,
Meaning in what is gone, what is done, what the strong
Know of this world they penetrate with their dreaming.
Reading ‘Frost at Midnight’. A second solitude, other
Calmness, silentness. And matter flickering in the light
Quivers till it almost attains the boundary (is there one?)
Between the living and the lacking life, where stone is
Tree, and the tiny pebble in the fountain jet trembles in
Eternal motion, whirled in the vortices above pale sand,
And the solitary leaf on the branch dances to wind-dark
Rhythm. ‘Everywhere’, cries Coleridge, ‘echo or mirror.’
We interpret. We force the sympathies, companionship
Of natural forms in natural space, the other than human
That shares our time and space, strange in its otherness.
Those are our voices in the darkness calling: hiss, sigh,
And not its meaning, ours. Here is the poet of the subtler
State, moving beyond his age, not understood, belittled,
As if to grant a mind to the future were not truth enough.
Reading. Frost at midnight glazes the moon-white fields,
And the body quietens to the intellect’s grave music, ice
In this atmosphere, blue mist on the near slope, a tremor
Of the universe passing through the individual life, wild
In its summons: mind’s civilization seems a sham, time
Pours through it as if it were some fragile fluttering form
Rage-filled in its nakedness, soft as the air, bitter as cold,
One of those naked spirits on the heights, out on the moor,
Battering themselves against being, fate, each other, lost
And found again in the intensity of what this living makes
Of the creature and the cry. This what it gives, momentary
Calm, an abstruse meditative deep full of glittering snakes
And visionary dreams, a flickering of the dumb inanimate,
Tick of the twig in its mindless restlessness, its non-intent.
This is our world, of no design: we have given it our love.
fROM: DARK MATTER
Below the mind lurks the creative mind, unseen dark matter,
To which the galaxies and bright stars of poesy are glued.
Or perhaps a river, that throws out alien objects in its flow.
You have to live long enough to be ready for its any given
Influence, although at times an icy tip will emerge, rolling
From under, and its green caves turn, glittering in the light,
Then sink back into silence, into the dark of midnight floes.
It’s an ocean too, or this field of hidden insects, birds, seeds.
Now and then comes a sudden flurry of flight. Now and then,
The world is streaked with lightning and the heavens crackle.
The darkness matters. The conscious mind, never skilled enough,
Fashions out of light, but the universe itself rests on blackness.
And no dark god. The veils of colour agitate on a snowy evening,
But not for us. There’s a greater moving on of immaculate things,
In an intimacy of fields, forces, energy’s particular manifestations,
Objects we love, and places, as well as the fists of flame in the dark.
Tonight, I sit and think. Tonight I create the world of make-believe,
Fragile in air and evening. Winds of the pure creation tranquil blow.
Yes, sometimes before we’re ready a curious peak, or blade, or fin
Of solid matter, dark out of sea-scoured ice will rear its head, ugly
Or beautiful at its own un-will, its own blue non-intent, to glitter,
In an uncanny silence. That will be presage perhaps of future cliffs,
Cavernous grottoes through which a winter sun gleams over waves.
That will be prophecy of white levels, noon shadows, mist-less stars.
But not for us to predict. The sea of light has its own underpinning,
As the motion of these lines was not counted out on the fingers, nor
Predictable from any conscious moment of a life, my life, they flow
From a place not to be looked at too closely. Like a man sitting calm
In a silent place, whose private thoughts and being will not be yours.
Below this mind’s the creative mind, with its own language, tongued
In delighted rhythms of the starlight, only ours because it emerges
From what is us, from the lake and mirror, in the watery frill, echo,
And murmuring edge of meaning. It can never be ours in otherwise.
Is ours because we dare to sit so silent and be overtaken by words,
By the up-thrust, the snout, the fluke, the skirmish of the summoned,
Yet there’s no Sibyl in the cave. Smoke curls round the empty tripod.
Babble of metaphors. The dark knots of matter move the galaxies; we
Cohere. Somehow form rises, structure and not as intended, somehow
The strings of the darkness utter, so gold and blue and red shall rotate.
A daybreak, the twilight, almost one, create a landscape of pyramidal
White, but light is fractured at the prism, and the arch scales the dark,
Till an unknown, as lingering as smoke, waves over the rim of horizon.
A CURLICUE IN A COMFORT TREE
The windows are covered with drops of rain.
The world is veiled. There are panes of silence,
Broken by the passage of traffic, life is dear.
I can tell the time of the universe, it is circular.
We meet each other eternally at the atom’s core.
I kiss the hands of freedom, whatever you embody.
The streets are covered with soft sheets of rain.
The trees and grass flow. It is their subtle nature.
The people come out of the rock raise leaden arms.
There is a transmission of sorts, but not of scripture.
A silent sacrament would be perfectly acceptable;
We would simply hear the respect for life going on.
The windows are covered with tiny beads of rain.
The stars are hidden. The grey cloud has a blue edge,
And the black tyres hiss on the panes. Life is dear.
THE PROPER STUDY
Dubious forward vision: best suited to brief crises;
Prone to rushes of sentiment when faced with truth,
Though long-term memory poor. Takes pleasure in
Group ritual, those feelings of solidarity, the illusion
That more means clearer, finer, better. Driven to ends
By root desire. Especially susceptible to greed or fear;
Redeemed by creativity and love. Strangely irrational
When it comes to habitual methods, prone to received
Ideas. A tightrope walker dancing on an invisible wire,
Over the waterfall of infinite space, intrigued by spray.
A twittering bird of metal hung in a miraculous machine.
Shy of the body while flagrantly disposed to exhibit flesh.
Shy of the mind, but happy to use its unintended products.
Exaggerating the working of the unconscious, but ignoring
Its strengths utterly. Wasteful. Lazy in matters of principle,
Happy with inertia; selfish, understandably, being transient;
Unselfish, surprisingly, when that whole genetic heritage
Kicks in. Incapable of understanding that power is empty;
That institutions kill though they save from chaos; that all
Are equal in feeling; that the creatures require respect too;
That the only gods and demons are the creations of fancy,
There to assuage the deep hurt, the deep sorrow, the guilt,
But no more a reflection of what is than an idle metaphor;
That time does not exist; the universe wholly intentionless.
Believing in phantoms, not understanding self’s a phantom;
Believing the real, not understanding reality’s a construct,
Though there’s plenty out there and mind lives in the irreal.
Not to be trusted, except in certain circumstances with our
All. Not loveable, yet somehow to be loved. Not beautiful
Yet a creator of rare beauty. A nest of falsehoods in search
Of ultimate truth.
PAST IS PROLOGUE
Prospero was happy to have got rid of Ariel, though
He had once felt otherwise. Now he could get down
To control and governance, to heavy censure of light,
And exaltation of the prosaic. Item: one broken staff,
Item: a buried book with damp pages. He could rest
At last in his pomposity, savouring the chill in the air.
Some things were better left alone, he felt, cleft trees
For instance. The dreams and the phantoms abolished,
One can sit at the little table in the library and ignore
One’s own phantom shape in the mirror. The ghosts
And the dreams gone, the cloud castles, the illusions
Of mercy and redemption. Time to consider the future,
The marriage of order and law, the rule of a kingdom,
Though not the obvious kingdom; there is more than
One island at stake; Caliban and Sycorax have friends.
Prospero is only vaguely aware of the singing sounds
In the air, the elusive music, a stranger storm brewing.
HERE AND NOT-HERE
He put his hand into Being then it vanished.
It was flesh and bone, not what hand meant.
His shadow was more real, it strode on snow,
Danced on the river, realised a swollen moon.
More like a thought, half-present, half-absent,
A fictive abstraction more solid than the door,
Which immediately opened onto starlit space.
He moved his arm after the hand, it was gone.
It turned into cloth and an angle of inflection,
Like that of a statue in the garden, a far gesture.
His memory of grass was more real, it’s green
Echoed in the water, a slant over the shallows,
More an existent cry of matter to him than matter
Itself, always transmuting itself into alien absence.
He stepped wholly into the black place, and stood
Still. There was nothing left of him by the water,
The lake shone empty and the shore was empty.
Looking round was nowhere he had come from,
Ahead was the bench, a bird fashioned of metal,
The crystal sun, and trees of translucent emotion.
The inside of his body was only feeling, in mind,
His insides were thought, outsides a trick of vision,
The crazy room that looks normal in the eye-hole,
All strange dimensions. He stood in the dark, ear
Tuned to the water flowing, black churn of night.
The wind blew through him. The light emerged
Unchanged from its traverse through vein and skin,
There was nothing inside him but the glistening air.
He accustomed himself to being universe. Freed
From intent, absorbed the movement of baryons,
Became the singularity of the aeons. He shone
With engendered brightness in the awful silence.
Slowly he moved the gloves of his fingers, they
Were gas-veils; the shrouds of his feet, they were
Invisible clouds, weighting him darkly to the stars.
Allen Ginsberg I dream of you, mad choirboy
Asking the questions, saying the words no one
Else dared say, and having your answers feted
Unheard. That’s the way of the prophets, Allen.
You and Whitman, dancing over the moonlit
Lawns in haste to make all men one, and all
Women one, and the species hear the sound
Of its wailing, feel the glow of its own love.
You in hunger, in strange America, ghostly
In the neon glow, feeding the starving seeds
Of sunflowers and watching Blake in eternity
Engrave the shepherds of light with iron pen.
You who saw deeper, thought better, laughed
Longer than the clowns of tyranny, grease-paint
Faces, staring wild from the tombs of language
Weapons in their hands, their phantom hearts.
You who hung out in all the religions, doubtful,
Caught in the net of flesh, and hopeless humble,
Anxious in the penumbra of the bitter almonds,
Of an exiled race, and oddly happy in Hollywood.
Ignu, saying Kaddish in a dark street in Harlem,
Dreaming of the vision of merciful time burning
Over the silent City. I dream of you Allen, brave
Conjurer of music from our howls, and our sighs.
History will make your poem prophetic, you said,
Spiritual music for the ghosts lost in weary metal
On a highway you blazed by with Neal, screaming,
Sucking in the long breath of Poesy, Sanity, Charity.
I dream of you, marvellous and immortal, dropped
From some star, with a bag of words, felt, coloured,
Stuck now with the words in your own books, bone
In the skeleton of your century, light now to mine.
HOLDING HANDS BY THE FIRE: WINTER
Every fragile instant is impossible,
Therefore real, a confluence of things.
Each moment, a freak of circumstance.
So as we sit here on a winter evening,
In front of the fire, two and the night,
This is the transient miracle, this flame.
The private minds, carelessly in tune;
Two on a bare branch like two crows
Cawing in shadow-less sunlight on the heath.
We circle a thought perhaps, or diverge.
Creature minds. You can’t be sure ever
What flickers behind the silent mask.
Or masque. The universe in its colourful
Costumes, the gossamer Harlequins of light,
Gazing moonstruck at our dance as Pierrot,
Matter, flickers in the ash as if it had mind.
We confuse all these forms at the conflux;
Rightly, all energy in its moment of change.
Time’s not what we think. The world’s irreal.
Place your hand in mine, and hold to the abyss,
Over which this moment walks with dove’s feet.
YOU CAN WRITE A POEM ON ANYTHING
In a big circular fat-bellied pot with a blueberry in;
Stones placed on the dark compost. White-striped
Aboriginal greys, dappled pale greens, fissured pinks
And blacks. The sun shines, these are forms; glow
Of white smooth translucent shell too; orange quartz;
That ellipse of frosted calcite, perfect; pudding-stone,
Crystal. Beyond the rim, the dark soil of the border,
Where raw Nature flowers. Human is formal, round,
World is informal, and inwardly violent with being.
Look, as a tiny fly progresses. How did that get here?
CONSIDERING THE PORTRAIT
I would be beautiful for you, and not strange.
I would be the delight of the internal smile,
And not the chill of a universe beyond knowing.
I would be kind. I would imagine doves flying,
The edges of cicada-leaves reflecting the sun,
A network of streets filled with our muteness.
I would be what you wish and not what I wish.
I would be human attention, and not the word,
The gold fire of spring, not the lead snowman.
I would be the sky over you and the ground
Cupping your feet, the sand of intelligence,
And a corner of blue wave bringing you time.
I would be beautiful as you, and not strange.
I would be the well of feeling we sank down
Into this universe, far underneath our bodies,
Out of which, like a black hole spewing photons,
Comes the x-ray light of love and form we made.
I would be everything I am not, all your silences.
ISLAND OF PERCEPTION
Blue fell from a sky that was not blue.
Green poured from leaves that were not green.
In the silence a yellow sun shone that was not yellow.
(In the eye the yellow sun shone from a clear sky,
Soft green leaves flickered over a pebbled shore,
Above the cry of long-billed gulls in the waves.)
The sound of waves rose from a soundless tide.
Wind in the morning light blew in noiseless air.
The cry of gulls was a cry from the mute heavens.
(In the ear the crash of breakers drummed on stone,
The gusts of wind sighed through the moving leaves,
Thought wheeled to the cry of grey abandoned gulls.)
The flesh of tasteless fruit was on the palate.
The foot resisted insubstantial sand.
Flowers without fragrance hung in air.
(In our mouths the mass of fruit broke sweet,
We kicked against the blondness of burning sand,
Our spirits drowned in the perfume of bright flowers.)
WITHOUT YOU, IN YOU
Out of Chaos the singing order comes.
It chants itself across the burning bay.
It forms the wind and sea for company,
It ruffles the leaves of spun reality.
Out of disorder, order with no design
Wrings the bells of the flowers azure,
Holds up mirrors: the great glass of sky,
The black glass of the river roaring on.
It is self-organised, our singing world.
Its chant in you is the chant beyond.
Form is the essence of the real outside
And in, not simply matter that is energy.
You must have a mind of chaos to sing.
Out of the dark relation will appear notes
Of the scale of mountains or of clouds,
Dots on a stave of mysterious mutation.
A chaos deep in you will transform itself.
Glimmer of lucent meanings hovering
In the bright water show a fin or ray,
The fierce burning season plunges there.
Or of ore, argent of silvering, almost a form
Is singing there below the conscious threshold,
But that also is you, whether asleep or woken,
It is the churning of the unfamiliar tide surprise.
NO PLATONIC SPACES
You plant a tall tree there beyond the stars,
I understand: you want it real.
You wish it then incomprehensible,
A tree without cedar bark, or swollen cones,
Un-rooted, waving to galactic veils
A tree that is not and yet is imagination.
It is a tree that cannot touch your life,
I understand, you wish it so.
Since if it could it would be the tree within,
And simply then a pass of the fantasy,
Making, as I, a universe from mind
Although I say the universe is given.
Your tall tree bows down somehow to brush
The signs of suffering from your cheek,
Yet cannot do so.
It is a tree with no Platonic grove
To give it immaterial meaning there,
It simply hovers in the midnight air,
You think I cannot comprehend the wish,
Or cannot comprehend the depths of pain,
Or more the joy, the sheer delight?
It is its shade that chills me, how it cheats
The burning sun of all its depths of night,
Casting its own deep nightfall on the ground.
I plant my own trees in the dark beyond.
Green glittering branches of eternity,
Baryons fleeing through obscure space-time,
Fragments of light from pasts beyond recall,
Ready to launch some later universe,
That neither you nor I are ready for.
Tree not of my design, who could create
Anything as mysterious as a tree,
That even when explained is not what we are?
Its flesh is other, its sap, its fruit, its fibre.
It made itself out of the otherness,
And resurrected itself in me. Mind is the tree.
VERY OLD ARE THE STARS
The oldest galaxy sits there calmly, a knot
Of light on the screen. It takes no time
To cross the floor or pierce the glass.
Riding a light-beam is outside of time.
The light’s a memory containing meaning.
We measure time watching it cross the floor,
Or cut the window plane in fire,
So faint it hardly matches our desire
The longing at the very heart of us
For beginnings and for endings.
Strange that the ancient mind considered
Light flowed out of the eye to illuminate,
But simply a confusion of light with meaning.
Meaning flows from the mind to explicate;
Meaning surrounds the oldest galaxy.
Mind merged with the world is irreality.
IDENTITY RETRIEVED FROM THE SEA
Breeze sounds like a breeze in the mind.
The cry of the birds is the cry of the mind,
In trees that sigh with the intellect’s sighs.
But the bright sun gleams on the bay.
Waves break in the breakers of thought.
Over the shores of thought, bare feet
Tread the shells and the pebbles of thought.
But the sun rings out in the sky.
Slowly a boat of imagination, its white sail
Cutting the farthest tint of azure horizon,
Crosses the gulf with barely visible wake.
But the sun on the hillside shines.
A cloud, or two, selfless, create themselves,
And un-selved float alone in a tranquil blue;
A gull, a ‘y’, soars and cries, sinks, floats and cries.
But the sun proclaims other and I.
AMETHYST, ARGENT, SABLE
His colours were black, silver and purple.
Gold was the luminary of the sun.
White was the snowfall and its landscape,
The lack of form, the blankness of the void.
Black, purple, silver were his colours.
Blue was the azure of the wild surround,
The mirror where the clouds went to and fro,
The colour of the sea the breaking sea.
His was the twilight of black, silver, purple,
And the shadow of the angled depths at noon,
The midnight colours of the storm-sped moon,
Floating a barque across the bays of mountain.
Green was the word of life, the sphere of life,
The poem of the summer mind in its occasion.
Yellow the sunflower singing to the sun.
Silver, black and purple were his colours.
The wine is on the palate, the stars fall down,
Imagination weaves in the hulls of darkness.
His were the tones of silver, black and purple,
Shrouds of the evening in the tangled wood.
REALITY IS IMAGINATION’S MIRROR
The bee, blind, honeyed, sank in its shaft of gold.
It was there in the green glass. The mind is a bee,
Creeping close to the trumpet heart of the crimson
Flower. And the mind is a flower above the flower’s
Meaning, anticipating the rain the flower does not
From those thunder-headed clouds of dark and grey.
Mind will go chasing meaning forever down paths
Of the universe. And meaning is the signification
To self of patterns of existence in mind’s languages,
Which may or may not correspond to world, as bee
And flower do, or the act of perceiving both. Soon,
We will have to have a new metaphysics of meaning.
Meanwhile the child chases memory into the green
Mirrors, into those shimmering frames of receding
Selves, each fainter and more distant than the last,
Each moving, gazing, troubled, waving, smiling.
It is immaterial whether or not there is a mirror.
The deep green selves are chasing a deeper light.
Reality is Imagination’s mirror.
MORE SERIOUS OR LESS?
The poem is the force of its conception.
Mind causes the grass to be green, stops
Us dying of the intolerable emptiness
Of the void, or dying of our crying.
The poem is the strength of its succession;
The eye in the dark the proof that we are
Dreaming; our dreams, of the real. That death
Is absence of reality, the mind its presence.
The poem is the power of its conceiving.
Those memories in the head walk and talk,
With the living faces of forty years ago,
Pick the flowers, are a tempest roaring.
The poem is the force of its conception,
The strength of its seriousness, of the mind
Beyond it, of the world behind the mind,
Of the power to resist the phantom night.
IMMORTALITY IS DECEPTIVE
And put the fly in a poem, like a Muramachi poet,
Immortalising, yes, a specific fly, you can’t kill
A fly you’ve just put in a poem however much
The buzzing annoys you, it’s no worse than
The buzzing of an Earth of phantoms round you,
And maybe in a hundred years no house, no flies,
But the glory of the wastelands, glowing softly,
Nor the impossible frenzy of all these mad rituals
Going on and on in the buying, selling, screaming,
Laughing, worlds of the shadows, nations, dreams,
No harm in the fly. Plenty of harm in the world,
We put there, beyond the fly, the glass, green
Summits of trees hanging on clouds of white, one
Patch, no two of blue, above dark volumes of grey,
Which is to say further this way so higher, apparently,
And the hum of traffic which replaces the buzzing
As the fly halts to consider another kind of irreality
Utterly than mine, I assume, but it’s not the specific
Fly that becomes immortal, it’s the meaning of fly,
As it’s not the poet who is immortalised (ah, fame!)
In the poem, but the meaning in the poem, its buzz.
NO ONE WATCHING
Our forms defined the landscape till light faded.
Then the black wilderness beat like a heart-beat
Under the vast conflation of the stars.
We were subdued by natural forms.
The wilderness we aimed to civilise
Turned out to be a civilisation
More subtle and more humble than our own.
Its very power was its humility.
Its secret was it had no secret purpose.
It grasped at nothing, nothing was achieved.
It had no sense of ownership or meaning.
Without a brain or heart it had no life
Except in the things it granted life to,
Without knowing that it did, or could.
Our forms dominating, dominated nothing.
The slave had no idea of its master.
Till light faded, we walked through the landscape.
There were trees greater than earthly trees.
The river flowed with brightness in its sound.
The fleshy leaves grew taller as we passed.
Here is a small presence carved, it sits on the mantelpiece,
It is some kind of beast or bird,
It holds inside itself all the quiet of the room.
It is ivory or wood or bone,
Polished, it has no immediate meaning,
Except its stillness, the stillness, whereas the evening
Is a shadow, a half-formed, unfinished medium
Hanging in the glass.
The meaning grows. It is from a human hand,
A long lost human touch, it carries its maker’s sign
The meaningless sign of creation,
Its curves are clean, and its hidden angles
Its undersides are equally complete,
They communicate a sense of values,
A desire for beauty cherished, the love
Of the maker for the finely made,
The deeper signature,
It means all art, all struggle to achieve,
All skill, experience, longing, wisdom,
It means the humility of the small validity
Of the shaped in shapeless night,
It means two sides of the globe, the matter
Of the creatures and their forms,
The purpose and the function of the made,
Two languages in the head, an echo
Of cultures merging, and one more ancient;
It means a man sitting quiet in a quiet room
Writing the meaning of the silence,
The tremor of ceasing the tremor of going on,
And the mystery of those dual tremors,
Feeling the little presence, delighting there
In what offsets the darkness and the quiet.
THE AGE OF EMPATHY
The Muse of tragedy? Well there’s the world
Floating a blue delight in the starred blackness,
In all the intentionless energy of the silence
Beyond this human species. Now turn back,
And watch the violent without sense or mercy,
Nail their shadows to the masts of moonlight.
Where’s the design in this? Though there is order,
The self-created self-sustaining order burning
Its crazy candles fleeting in the flying universe,
The order of the flower and the glowing crystal,
The order of breakers, cloud, the season, light,
The questionable order of the mind, its desires.
The Muse of tragedy is the muse of destruction,
Its banality. Her agony is too much pain for us,
Who are sated with pain and agony, who stare
At images of distant galaxies and grow calmer.
She acts in silence on an empty stage, peopled
By dark ghosts, the ghosts of power, the bells,
The hollow bells of rituals crueller than death.
The tragedies are monuments best left in night.
An age of empathy prefers bright constellations,
Hanging white fruit in the non-inimical mirror;
Prefers Ovid’s pathos, the gentle humanist,
Or the sweet redemption of The Winter’s Tale.
Be kind, if you can. There is so much here
That does not deserve our kindness. Give
Affection as a gift, it is a form of creation,
The silent kind, perhaps the best of us.
Forgive, if you can. There is so much here
That does not deserve forgiveness. I have
Seen evil, it is the selfish spirit coruscating;
Others as objects; a psychic greed and fear.
Love, if you can. There is so much here
That needs our love, as we to be needed.
Love is free sharing, and a common
Tongue, the deep, the true consideration.
Last out if you can. The warmth of mind
Is all we have against the silence; rituals,
In the end, of kindness and forgiveness,
The being so to create our being so.
CANCEL, CUT, ERASE
Wonderfully sweet the work that goes,
Erased, burnt, thrown to the fire in joy,
The secret writings, and the coded life;
Work no one else has the right to see.
Crazy irrepressible laughter of the wild
Non-conformist mind, hiding just how
Little of this given world it believed in,
How much of the regions of the spirit.
Cries of the private soul gone up in flames,
Shredded, or cancelled, cut from the file,
Blown from the screen, nobody’s journal,
Held back from the spurious confessional
(Since no one can claim a real existence,
Only the tissues of half-confused recall),
Given in atoms, electric discharge, to the sea
Of nothingness which is the great fertile Void,
Full of coming voices, as yet un-natured howls.
Send your plough, like Blake, over the bones
Of the dead; bless transience, maker of beauty.
Watch the flutter of pages obscured by smoke,
Gaze at the empty screen, and celebrate this
True personal and one-off mind, swiftly gone,
In hidden deliriums, agonies, pure delights,
Its tremulous ecstasies, crying to be re-born.
CONFIRMATION OF THE BOSON
Irreality is a part of the world, and all the world.
It is where ‘I’ exists. I imagine the leaf that is.
Reality is the black river flowing. Irreality
Is the mind conceiving the glittering current.
Every mode of our being takes place in irreality,
Which is also the process, we infer, of reality.
You are irreal to me, I to you. But your
Reality seems greater than my own.
We make the model and reality conforms,
Beyond our reasonable expectations, Nature.
The irreal model fits the irreal measure,
And reality is there, in its new dimensions.
If I step forward into irreality I also step
Out into reality. The world is where I thought.
Surprise is the essence of the real, and un-surprise,
That the holly-leaf is there, that it remains there.
One world in many minds, no minds in other minds;
Empathy too is how the irreal proves real.
The bird, in the masque of air, felt the wind. I know
It was not just the movement in my mind.
All that went into the miracles of our meeting: irrealities
Converged on the core of reality, on the flame.
The beauty is in the given and in the going,
In the zenith of the star, and in its setting.
It was raining, but beyond the sun was shining.
You were silent, but I heard your mind speaking.
Behind the thousand footprints I saw
The marvellous shadow of your passing by.
I shape your beauty in the caul of night,
Coil of the sea in seas before all seas,
Fluttering of heart inside the inner motion,
Cry of the soundless ocean in the dark.
I form your beauty in the pall of light,
Veil of a dawn that shines before the dawn,
And folds, an attribute of deeper night,
The nascent mind within the nascent body.
I delineate your coalescing beauty, far
Song of existence rising to perception,
Word before word of flesh in utterance,
An airless speech of air before its season,
A cloud of tissue on the walls of coral,
Sunk deepest in shallows of beginning.
I feel your curling grasp of time unwind
Translucent fingers to the bays of morning.
I turn your beauty to the seething summer,
Beat back your autumn, deny your winter,
In the wild rage of spring’s incipient season.
I lance your sorrows and defuse your pain,
Take on the mantle of the ominous future,
That elemental neutral, those green tropics,
Those cataracts of meaning, the black flow
Of being down the mind-cliffs of moonlight.
I am the years to come will be your past,
A name that signifies the edge of breath,
The legacy of flesh, speech of the self,
Phantom of all we are, ghost of the chaos,
Crossing the hours and phrases of the sky,
Tossing the white foam to the arch of stars.
I draw your form inside the gates of life,
In filaments of beauty, skeins of flame.
‘No obstacle at all, this gate of grass.’
The parting was fire,
that separation ice,
is new warmth
deep as the woodland.
will ever save us.
from the universe.
And no years pass in the heart,
of meaning vanish;
none and all,
unique, belong to all.
The parting was flame,
that absence void,
but new friendship
through the night.
Even from far
beyond the Lethe,
recalls a day.
The air was sweetly cold,
the green river
the immense distance
two near places.
The parting was ice,
this space is fire
THE PERFECT HOUR
Now I am speaking
out of my deepest self,
out of the dark core,
and the light mind,
out of the essence
of the tao, the lines
of flight, the soft
dust on the way.
I am not speaking for you,
nor for those I love,
nor for the world
you imagine you
are part of, now I
speak instead for all
of nature moving,
out of my very self.
I speak for the evening,
for the leaves, the quiet,
for the sky, one grey,
for the woods, silent,
and not for the human
or the creature
but for the beauty
of inanimate music.
Now I am speaking
not for the sake of being,
not to be known
by the listening,
but out of an inner
freedom, out of the hour
the perfect hour.
This is a different kind
It’s the performance I don’t accept,
the fundamental lie
of the performance.
Nature – in clouds, stones, trees –
no, is never a performance,
is always and only ever the thing that is.
And the mind and heart
in deep feeling
are never performance;
the stage is a metaphor
but this is no stage,
this is the passion itself,
not tragedy, not ironic comedy;
this is sole being,
and another way
of saying to you,
that the rest is literature.
That every performance
here is an attempt
at saying nothing,
and pointing everywhere.
You think the stones, the power, make truth?
See the insect climb the grass,
or the beauty it represents
kindle luminescence in the mind.
You think the names, the panoply
the trappings, the massive darkness,
outshine the simple light
of a single act of friendship?
You think civilisation worth a jot,
that pretends to anything but values,
I mean the values of the mind,
not the gold, the glitter and the toys.
A hundred thousand years
more than you and I know shone
under Perseus and the Pole,
travelling under other guise,
indifferent to later names.
Our myths are without strength,
All our texts will be palimpsests.
All that effort
to grasp the moment,
the white air,
gone, through the trees.
Sister, my sister,
the wasp on the leaf,
yellow and black
the colours of being,
sing of the night
sister, my sister,
and sing of the sun.
Flame in the mind,
sister, my sister,
the new age begun
will it be your time,
stinging and bitter,
sister, my sister
of charcoal and fire?
Sister, my sister,
wasp on the breeze,
ochre and ebony,
colours of being,
sing of the darkness,
sister, my sister,
then sing of the light.
This bright meadow,
lacking all deceit,
the insects like innumerable
sparks, flying through the light,
these purer spirits.
Behind here are mountains,
of cloud and stone.
this silent place
of my affection.
And the gate always open
which is hidden,
which is holy,
where the mice, moths,
and butterflies play.
This bright meadow,
There is order
in the process,
The only place
we can build
our dream is in
the human mind.
Oh, that first fatal error,
that first wrong inference:
yes, there is order
in the process,
but no, there is no design.
And grace, and courage,
out of the creatures,
all their virtues
I inherit your shining,
not a mystery of structure
but a mystery of being,
of this paradise,
that we contemplate
in the mind.
Down green tracks the singing grasses.
If we lose those we lose everything.
Over the winding tracks the thorn trees
on the walls, voiceless their dark message.
Along soft ways the silent wildflowers.
If we lose these we lose everything.
BRIGHT, YOU RISE
Bright, you rise from the darkness, nameless stream,
carving your white flow over a lip of silent granite,
vague as the past ever is, a matter of ideas, feeling
not vision, in the eyes, which are not eyes, of mind.
I recall you, in memory’s half-formed, fragile web
of grasping, like water flashing between the fingers,
but what registers is your uncompromising truth,
the flame of a moth-wing beating against life’s glass.
Like me, a wanderer, and baffled by all this Earth,
your nervous flight pure as the wood-pigeon’s arc,
from under the hawk of daylight, pain and denial,
a flash of grey gone sweet through the silent trees.
Shake off the planet, all its exhaustions,
go down to the small green bay, the slow waves,
shivers of evening light on polished stones,
a hint of transcendence in the band of cloud.
Be kind to your self, and the thoughts of self,
the web of curious memories you drag with you,
of which the searching mind would like to make
a whole, but cannot, endlessly lifting its own purpose
high over its head and launching itself towards future,
in the hope that from it the meaning, the assurance
might emerge – or is it a benediction from something
it seeks, an exoneration, a sign of commendation
it asks of the horizon where a single vessel appears,
dark shell against the light, spreading its silent wake,
in interminable distance, over the surfaces of green,
each anxious wrinkle delicate as the moth’s antenna?
Let go of the planet, hug yourself. Pure night is near,
when the clouds are rolled away and the galaxy flares,
and we can be one with the pure all-powerful stillness,
of multi-coloured stars, and the gaseous swirling veils.
Let go and be kind to your heart, that slight voyager,
that counts your steps, the hours, the life, the losses.
Consider the laughter that didn’t make it here, mild
behind the mind’s grinding down of pebble to sand.
However you make your purpose and your meaning,
know that no one before you or after will do better.
It’s enough if they fail, the far depths, to dismay you
utterly, if you can still hide in the flower, insect, star.
You write because the world disturbs you
in the deepest way. Because time is short
and eternity is long, and the spirit
would find its place. Because nature
is now no longer enough if it ever was,
and our artifice not only disappoints,
it troubles in subtle or not so subtle ways.
You write because there is beauty buried
in matter and form and it seems to emerge
just beneath your fingers or under your
eyelids, in the deep communion – days
pass like minutes. Because you feel you
don’t exist unless you shout, cry, scream
in the infinite silence forever surrounds.
You write because it’s a form of love,
a way of comprehending the beloved.
You write because you wish to be river,
stone, tree, flower, insect, cloud, light.
Because it’s the sweetest way to pass
the hours, woven dew-wet spider-webs
over the impenetrable thickets of gorse.
You write to free what is otherwise
imprisoned, in a narrow concrete cell;
to try to communicate with the other
that never responds, or not in the way
desired. You write because it is action
and not inaction, but non-action devoid
of power. Because it makes you weep.
You write for ever, for every generation,
what is encapsulated in just this one
time and place, because humankind is
itself a story, and its dreams, hopes, acts,
desires; and all of us seek a story. Because
we are lost in the immensity of the void,
and the spirit would somehow find its place.
Returning always to the way,
which is nowhere,
A play of light on water,
movement of leaves,
we are always part of.
Even the solitudes
Air is no vacuum,
thought is time.
is in nature,
out of mind,
Always the singing dying
and the marks of
Returning always to the way.
fROM: FREEDOM AND MEANING
‘λάθε βιώσας’ – ‘Hide your life.’
Moon on the rock-edge.
All of the mountain
Forms of wild flowers.
Gazing at Being exactly:
The black pine-in-itself,
The dry heather blooms
And veils of leaves,
Precise, the externals.
No way not to be:
To be so, to be them.
Face to face
With the World,
In silence, solitude,
Here’s the free spirit,
The ephemeral ‘I am’,
In the infinite ‘It is’.
No deeper mystery
Autumn Moon clear
Born from dark rock,
What is all this world
We keep naming?
FREEDOM AND MEANING
The lack of purpose frees us,
Free to create the purpose.
Free of the fixed self,
Free of the generations.
Free to make decisions,
Freed for the moral choices,
Constrained by genetics,
Unconstrained by the idea.
Free for non-violence,
Of mind or of body.
Free from oppression, vice,
Free to delight in knowledge,
Science, affection, empathy.
Freed from illusion, maya,
Free of all the phantoms.
Free of the craving, grasping;
Power; all materiality.
Freedom from greed, corruption,
Grandiosity and status,
All the creatures freed with us,
Free from our persecution,
In the fraternity of sharing,
Free of planetary exploitation,
Free of action, interference,
Free of wrong technologies.
The free Individual,
Free to develop self; to be self,
Freedom from false systems,
Faiths, religions, superstitions,
Free not to follow, or to own,
And free not to believe.
Free of the institutions,
Causes, movements, nations,
Free of false-limitations,
Free of history, the ghosts,
The pasts, the haunting.
Free of all afterlives,
Careful, transient, caring.
Free from the valueless:
Poison, waste, vice, ennui.
Freedom to think, to dream,
To imagine. Liberty!
Freedom from threat and fear,
Neglect, want, poverty.
Freedom from needless pain,
And a painless end to mortality.
Freedom of conscience. Life
That sets the other free.
Freedom from intrusion,
Possession; total privacy.
Freedom as equals to create,
Free of time, eternal Moment.
Free of biology, through culture,
Free of the species, single selves,
Freed from the universe through mind.
Free of loss, stasis and constraint.
Free from every tribe and sect and creed.
The Individual forever above society.
Meaning and the inner conscience freed.
Waking from sleep to find the Self still here –
It’s how matter moves like mind
That terrifies us:
The tiny flap of leaf flickers to and fro,
In humming circles of the wind,
To roof’s repeated creaking.
Waking from sleep to find the Earth still here,
And white light making shapes
Across the wall.
The round of returning motion,
Orbiting strange centre,
Like mind around the self, is ever there.
Waking, the sad Self surfaces,
The ‘I’ is reconstructed
From memories; from the dream of being.
Waking to find universe still there,
Is always there,
Until, that is, our future absence,
From the void:
That is true nothing.
Otherwise waking, here, to life,
The massive beauty of the Sun,
The nameless world.
WORDS TO THE WAITING SELF
Go softly now where you exist.
Who needs your stridency or your surprise?
Hide your life, that is the deepest freedom,
Absent yourself from the expected places,
Since silence is the greater prize.
Live in the quiet and the moderate,
Though the mind wild with passion,
Still wanders furthest, unexpected spaces.
Conceal yourself from those things that imprison,
Forms and powers, states and superstitions.
Be, face to face with the universe,
As you once were when a child,
Dreaming through other centuries,
Discarding everything around you,
Invoking other minds in the grass.
Live in the places where the free exist,
Find another meaning of your soil,
A resonance that trembles in the stone.
Make your own deep self your country,
Undemanding of your allegiance.
Most of all live beyond violence,
Violence to the spirit or the flesh,
Which if there were sin would be the greatest,
Remains the deepest crime against the human,
Its punishment its own darkness within.
Create. Being summons us to create,
To make, outside the self, the self inside,
And all our other values are its echoes,
Truth, beauty, love, freedom and meaning,
Go deeply now, once more, create yourself.
THE MEANING OF BLUE
A parakeet of purest blue
Squawks above a world of fire.
It is an emblem, azure-hued
Of coarse and colourful desire,
The feathered arc of self as flesh,
A case of cartilage and bone,
Over the forest’s earth and stone,
Gripping the iridescent mesh
That imitates the burning sun
In tiny orbs of glittering green.
A crier of the tropic scene,
Hung above the earth it shuns,
Half-capable of gaudy flight,
An icon of the true absurd,
Jewel in matter’s verdant night,
Flask of being turned to bird.
At night the sceptical music plays,
The chant of night is full of light,
The sea-foam and the cloud-displays
Bring me your beaches, moonlit-bright.
The surf has drowned us, rising time
Breaks in the bays, the singing sea
From out the deep’s impressive mime
Conjures its dark eternity.
Your voice is silent: be the cry
Though, that in thought imagines you,
Your healing shadow where the eye
Rests in the untrue made the true,
As the sea makes order, as silence hums
With a non-silence, as the wave,
Repeating the unrepeated, drums
On sand and rock, turns silver braid.
Declare the night is our night now,
Though we own nothing, that the blue
Moon-drenched spaces will allow
Our deep humanity its due.
Make us more than the selves we are,
Or are not, raise the notes, the tones
Out of the dark from star to star
From coiling shells and glowing stones,
Inside my mind, the waking dream,
That among palms imagines all
The movements of your heart, its theme
The waves that rise, the stars that fall.
Over the field, go
The child of light
And the singing man
Over the dark field they go.
Down the furrow
Of upturned soil
Towards the distant line of trees
Beyond the abandoned plough.
Arms lifted to the sighing breeze,
Surrounded by birds
That wheel and cry
The child and the singing man
Go vanishing in the evening air,
Though their same selves return again
From the edge of the field
They emerge to view
And down the furrow again they go
The child of light
And the singing man
Through green and quivering air.
MOON THE MIRROR
Starlight’s a dancer dancing late,
Moon is a green sliver of glass,
Over the mirror the clouds go past,
Within the mirror the abyss waits.
There is a vigour of light, the eye
Sooner or later fills with stars,
The moons of eternity flash by,
The abyss of meaning coruscates.
Your mouth opens against the wind
That tosses black branches of trees.
Go watch the grass run over the field
The oak tree bathed with sublimities,
A light so cold it chills the mind,
The delicate light of absent thought,
Branches in which the star is caught,
The moon a searchlight for the blind.
Down the deep dells of paradise
The wild thyme sends a fragrance pure
As the freedom of night air at your door,
That freedom the heart can’t realise.
The mind moves from state to state
The sea of time and space roars by,
Self is a dancer dancing late,
Moon the mirror beyond the sky.
That lightness, Verlaine,
That lightness again
We cannot achieve
Not the breeze on the leaf,
Nor the fall of the rain,
Not the drift of the heart,
That delicate art,
The beauty, the pain.
We cannot achieve
The lightness, Verlaine.
Is the great control the poetry,
The writer and the artist truly
A professional of the deep
Like a fisherman or a farmer?
Or does mind demand the other,
The vibration of truth, a stake
In being or non-being, tremor
Of the void within the void,
The self inside the Chinese mirror,
Signalling wildly, not so secure
That depth’s an occupation, no
Sojourning in the dark country?
Recollection in tranquility is fine,
But the disturbance in the pool
Is not the fly-cast of the fisherman,
The soil is not the line of the plough.
In the end there is nothing to till,
And what you fish for shivers
And leaps in the hand in agony,
Reproaching the hook, the steel.
No complacency achieves the fire
That flickers from the darkness,
This universe is not of our making
Nor is it of any mind’s making,
And what you feel, still, in your hand
Is the excrementitious husk the dumb
Leavings of the spectre and the shadow,
While beyond you the great world burns.
Rituals of others
Never interested me.
I preferred my own
The universe I loved,
Beyond the human,
At the edge of space
In anything unmade
In nature given,
A leaf, an insect,
A galaxy, a flower.
I liked the science
But failed at detail,
Forgot the names,
Found the what
Resonant not the how,
And not its mirror.
Delighted in the arts
Of the value
Of climbing the mountain.
Practised for myself,
Free of the world
Careless of audience,
And short term
Time is long.
Was most at peace
The creatures alone.
Knew in the end
That nothing human
Has any power
Made my own laws
And moral harmony
Out of love truth
Hid my life
Within the fold,
Was one alone.
Was worth a candle,
So made poems,
Slight as shadows,
Flesh and steel.
Walked all the ways,
The silent places
And the shining,
The small eternal,
Loved the few,
Indifferent to the rest
Tenacious of my own.
Wholly bored by sin,
By activity with no
Loved wordplay, satire,
All that ridicules
Beyond the verse,
With delicate laughter
That ignites the sky.
Bathed my head
In the mountain stream.
Washed my feet
In the endless river.
We make ourselves from the dialogue with true minds.
The form, the poem, the output matters less than the act
Of perception and debate, with those words that matter
Not even the person. There is a hankering after artefacts,
The detritus the act leaves behind, but all that coruscates
Exists in the human mind, that hidden individual flicker
Of light across the Moment. We seek agreement, comfort
In some essential way, impressed by content or technique
But in the end loving the most what merges with the self,
In that sense only there’s a hierarchy but only for the self.
To love all equally is untrue, though you can love the life
In all things equally, energy that modulates through form.
Which is why when words fail us, as they do, and human
Entities seem cold, chilled by the poems of winter, a focus
On the water not the river, the grass and not the mountains
Vivifies. Nothing is major, minor, every real existent holds
An equal value, Being. The democracy of feeling resonates,
The democracy of ‘here’, whenever here is, floating freely
In this sea of meaning, in this universe devoid of a centre,
Uncreated, purposeless and unmade. We make ourselves
From the testing of each phrase in a single passing-through,
That is the life of life, Kierkegaard’s truth, ‘the truth for me’.
THE WESTERN WAY
The world outside is already inside us.
The world inside is already outside,
Not ‘in-itself’ since, possessing no self,
Its non-mind is not a function of mind.
Unperceived the world exists as ‘no thing’,
A deeper ‘no thing’ than emptiness or absence,
Mind considers it existing beyond perception,
Our equations capture its being in perception.
It’s a confusion of mind to imagine that mind
By any inner process can transcend the world.
Nirvana and samsara are always one, to see that
Is an act of perception, every way is the way.
In the tension between world and mind, the self
Exists. Personal perception vanishes with the self.
But the world which is ‘no thing’ the perceptions
Of others continue, we believe, in the unperceived.
The way of wisdom is the way of acceptance, sadly
The heart cannot accept. The way of wisdom is the way
Of humility, to dance with the dance of wave or leaf,
Sadly the mind would comprehend the ‘no thing’,
Unsatisfied, though acceptance and humility are best.
The note’s discordant
The self’s incongruous
Exiled from the creature.
Yet the absurd is also part
(Its core a feeling,
Therefore a judgment
On the world)
Of all that is world,
Free of intent,
A singing in the void,
A music out of deafness,
Out of silence
Over which the tightrope-walker
(Metaphor by Nietzsche,
Design by Klee).
The birds twitter
In the wind on the wires,
Like notes (Pound)
On the clef.
How all from chance
Looks nothing chanced,
Rather a complex
WHY MORALITY IS A PROCESS
Right intentions may often end in tragic consequences,
Destructiveness may sadly result in apparent benefit.
Right and wrong are not things or states, but processes.
Forever distinguish intentions, actions, and outcomes,
Each of which we may judge right or wrong: or a mixture
For example killing the violent still perpetuates violence,
Rendering the intent impure, contaminating the outcome,
And the agents in the process are they then right or wrong?
To live by principles is to carry razor blades in your hands.
Our principles often conflict. Safety and freedom, loyalty
And truth, non-intervention and self-defence, the moral
Drama is the never-ending story of conflicts of principle.
Compromise is our tragedy, we, endlessly compromised
Navigate through the waves, deceived by flashing beacons.
But judgement must take sides, no morality is abstract,
Its intentions, actions, outcomes are realities in the world.
To declare that all moralities are equal, all things relative
Is true only from a perspective unengaged with morality,
But is itself a judgement made within morality, showing
The nature of the beast which is choice, inward decision.
We can only choose our principles, state our intentions,
For example choose creation, kindness, beauty, truth.
Which though they seem to possess a power beyond us,
Are only the objectifications of choices deep within us.
The rest is a matter of judgement, exercising the brain
Balancing right and wrong, living in tension with life,
Understanding why codes and creeds, laws and customs
Fail us, beyond good and evil, why morality is a process.
MUSING ON INDIVIDUALITY
It’s more important to be yourself than someone else.
You can fit in their head but that’s the rictus smile,
Not theirs or yours, and their skin sits uncomfortably
On your flesh. I almost know what it’s like to be me,
But no idea what it’s like to be you. Empathy, yes,
But that’s the creation of the mutual human, common
Twitch of the nerves, shared feelings, but as to your
Subtle thoughts I’m not privy to them or you to mine.
It’s more important to let words flow than contain them.
You’ll be a professional if you can simulate the feelings,
Or rather evoke them by sitting in the right posture, then
Conjuring the right mood, and replicating. That’s a style,
You might be famous. But it’s not truth, and we know it.
Better to be those amateurs of the spirit, Bronte or Blake,
We recognise the extremists, they mark the boundaries,
Rather them than us, yet rather them than the anodyne.
It’s more important to keep re-starting than to finish.
It’s too easy for the finished to become a background
Sound that fails to reach the brain, but still if we listen
There’s the marvellous human in that chorus, here’s
The lone voice and its reply entwining in the darkness.
Shakespeare said in a sonnet how his voice was always
The same. Shakespeare! Don’t try to be me, promise,
And I’ll promise to try not to be you, though it’s hard.
Slipping into Eternity on the quiet
All night shining under the shining stars,
Sitting at the top of the mountain,
Embracing those heroic clouds.
Radiant forests, all the ages
Of man and woman open
To the love concealed
In the human spirit.
Strange beautiful visions,
The imprisoned freed,
The illumining galaxies,
All of us timeless friends.
A diamond in every pebble,
A gentleness moving the leaves,
A tenderness touching the flesh,
All existent beings equal.
Everything natural rising,
The unnatural falling,
Light in the invisible self,
Time banished from the world.
Our sadness over,
Seeing in ecstasy
Cessation of war,
An end to misery.
Space not a thing a process.
Life a jewel.
The emptiness all forms.
The forms pure emptiness.
The unintentional world
Like the wind in the wires
On a hundred hillsides.
Rain quenching our fires.
Stars like tears of the night
Falling in slow motion.
Until we are sober with joy,
Free of all possession,
All power ended,
All violence done with.
Radiant forests, all the ages
Of man and woman open
To the love concealed
In the human spirit.
PAIR IN PALLOR
The night knew nothing and the light was swept
By leaves that sweep
The absence of themselves.
The stars were lit like gleaming holes in glass
Making the emptiness
The howling of the wind was the howling
Of its metaphor, its cry
The very ghost of us.
The greenness of the grass was virent green,
On the ladder of the night.
Its potency expressed the openings in us like
Cuts in fruit
Oozing the other eerily.
I dipped my hand in you and plucked the string
That in a-sexual night
You dipped your hand in me to sound a chord,
The seed of understood integrity
Its feeling resonance.
The universe was no universe we needed, not our world,
A phenomenon often noted.
Your eye shone still.
We crossed beyond ourselves, beyond the borders
Of ourselves, on that fine boundary
That separates the merged and separated.
Stood there to face the emptiness of darkness
Two pale alight, against the far non-human,
In mind that lights a different kind of star.
Poetry and post-modern irony
Don’t fit well together.
Poetry is the starving child,
In the face of meaning and the real,
Our misuse of our freedom,
The lost chance
To hold a face in tenderness
The sentiment at the core
Of being, not the rationale:
Yet not the raw feeling either
But its verbal resonances,
Nature we’re parted from,
Nature we carry on,
Tension between the two.
Between the naïve and the over-wrought
Where are we?
The raw and cooked of us
Won’t feed the world.
Our freedom is not free
Until we take back the names
From power and religion,
How the world works
Is not how we work
How the mind works,
The individual exceeds
The moment of its being
Irony is just a social thing,
The deeper self
Is irony-free, its nakedness
The child’s gaze from the dust.
ONE TOO MANY
The problem is we are all too many people.
We say there’s a core of self,
We commend a style,
But Buddha was right
There are the drifting skandhas
The aggregates of mind,
World to which we cling.
Pity his followers
Petrified it to a system.
Life’s not susceptible to systemizing,
While we, like the bees
Buzzing in the firethorn
With their own skandhas,
And perhaps they do
Dance to tell each other
Where the pollen is
Along the trail.
Out of all of it
Should come a self,
But looking deeper
Where’s that thing?
To catch the process
Moon broke in the water.
Scavenging over rubble, the children from the latest war.
Several casualties climb from a bus on a broken highway.
The world is warming. Smoke from here makes smog there.
Choking ghost towns sink in smouldering ruins. Politicians’
Words make markets, markets unmake politicians, worlds
Totter on the brink of whatever would lie beyond the brink.
The moral high ground, a swamp, breeds unholy monsters.
Insight, cures, talent, beauty, and many criminals wanted.
Scavenging in the rubble all the children from the latest war
Of religion, of power. Men and women confused by gender,
And agenda. Weather. Creatures found to have intelligence,
Always had. Human trafficking, spiritual oppression, deaths.
Saviours of nature needed, sign up here. Teams with animal
Names, competition. Farming, schooling, science, and an art.
Vast wave of technology, several weapons discharged darkly.
Scavenging over the rubble, the children from the latest war.
Giant columns of Maya glisten in evening air.
Above, the contrails shine
The jets of power.
Who gave consent?
Motionless phantoms shimmer in evening air,
The human spectres silent
Against this hour.
AT THISTLE CREEK STILL
At Thistle Creek
In the Yukon
Ancient horse bones
Half a million years.
A million longer.
Down from the trees
On our knees,
To respect it all.
We built a tall fence
The creatures can’t get past,
They can only hide
The ones outside
No clothes, no cars,
Move awkward, anxious
In the dust,
Or bare-pawed, alert
The things with cameras
Nets and knives.
The fence is everywhere
A cast of mind,
It shimmers in the trees,
It crosses fields,
Often we ourselves
Our own fences,
Out is in.
Close out neighbours,
When the fences fall,
And here come
Over the mud and ash,
Making new trails
Through the wilderness.
Creatures of the grass
Who make no fences.
THE SONG OF THE SACK
Gently we go
No turning back.
Into the sack.
Come red, come yellow,
Come pale, come black.
Into the sack.
Wealth no matter,
No matter its lack.
Into the sack.
Way up, way down
It’s the selfsame track.
Into the sack.
Stride or stumble,
Into the sack.
Gently we go
No turning back.
Into the sack.
WHAT WE LOVE
Beauty in the silence under the trees.
Dust from the deer’s hooves
At the wood’s edge.
Dark green water runs down
The ridges of rock
To sink under stone.
What we love remembered,
What we love. Tick of amber
In the pines, eyelashes
Of the sun.
A whole civilisation gone,
But too late now
To imitate the beauty
Or the silence under the trees,
A flicker of deer’s feet
Lost among greenwood.
Rowan, be my gateway,
Alder, loose my heart,
Apple-bough root deeper now
Show where all visions start.
Oak, be my undoing,
Beech, my mystery,
But ash spring from me where I lie
Under the greenwood tree.
fROM: ANOTHER NATURE
‘Only the poet,
disdaining to be tied to any such subjection,
lifted up with the vigour of his own invention,
doth grow in effect another nature.’
All living creatures run
towards the rising sun.
Minds on fire with light
follow the world in flight.
Flame of the brilliant eye
sings in the morning sky.
We run towards the light
out of the quiet of night.
THE MORAL MAN
The moral man in his gentleness considers
the maze of being in which worlds conflict,
and yet in his gentleness refuses conflict.
That is paradox. To be moral he must engage
with a world that only renders him immoral,
presents the choices granted beyond choice.
Beyond good and evil lies the real, that place
where we navigate by unreliable beacons,
or by the markers that they place on slopes
to find a direct path by in the snowfields.
Look, there they climb the hill, on either side
the dangerous shafts, the deceptive hollows.
The moral man in his gentleness, pursues
the lightest things, the dance of shadows,
grateful for music, taciturn as to meanings,
which evolve from lines of light as notes evolve
spirals of stars in the attentive listener,
not to be voiced too loudly, subtle as love
which is not measured by happiness or time,
but by the depths that fall away from us
and open the void of multi-coloured veils
in which strange objects lurk, some that destroy,
collapsed beings that suck in all matter, life;
some that give back their light, send a planet
silver and blue turning alive through silence.
Such planets the moral man in his gentleness
observes, they climb above his courtyard
pinpricks of faultless diamond, glittering
towards the distant tree, or a sombre hill,
with a measure that is more than human,
more than the moral man in his gentleness.
THE BEAUTY THE CAMERA DOES NOT CAPTURE
The beauty the camera does not capture,
that needs something of the human eye,
that sweep of continuous movement over a landscape,
under its arc of extended sky,
the vision the creature’s denied: though birds maybe
penetrate, as Blake said, another space
between the beech, the oak wood, and the ash.
What does the camera feel on its face
of this world that rises clear in the living eye,
this excitement of the senses it cannot capture,
of this country which has to be walked through
to be known, of this abstract: Nature?
A beauty the image creates by mutilation,
to render it in its medium, to make the new,
is not this beauty the heart cannot explain
except by speaking of love; unreal, untrue,
not this pure juxtaposition of mind and sense,
like stone to the touch, a cold flame in the air,
grass-green light to the eye; not this that always
takes the heart by surprise, and holds it there.
The language here goes deeper into English,
back towards walls in their angles,
back towards stones,
names are a flex of older shifts of meaning
tongued and elided time,
their words are words for streams, barns, possession,
not flowers or trees
not stars or birds,
nothing for beauty all for being
for carving out and holding on,
for rooting in the silence
sounding a note
however brief or faint
of the familiar music.
The tracks were their tracks, we are passers-by:
to spend a life here is still to be a stranger,
whom light delights, who hears
under the ground in darkness clearer water
or at the corner of the field
might see the brown hare dance on snow,
and so be more than guest
towards the hearts of words
their writhing tendrils
their nodes where meaning hangs
their soil that falls
into your open hand
what time will never tell of its own accord.
Stand quiet here between the ash and alder,
between the upland summit and the valley,
wildflowers in the eye,
draw that deep breath
that joins both body and mind,
in the further space
where this place is,
where ideas move
through the labyrinth of thought
its sculpted channels,
ideas like dark words flickering in the sun,
with their black light
that flows from centuries
of words, of names
A VILLANELLE FOR WITTGENSTEIN – MADE WHILE WALKING
Mind is the meaning that cannot be said.
Though words are a public tune we all agree,
self is the private music in the head.
Despite the bright speech of the familiar dead,
despite the rapport between yourself and me,
mind is the meaning that cannot be said.
Oh, he was right, all language can be read,
but words we speak are not the mystery;
self is the private music in the head.
There are those things that in the nerves are bred,
open to all, yet here’s the sole circuitry;
mind is the meaning that cannot be said.
Though you on I and I on you have fed,
though love is communion, we still are free.
Self is the private music in the head.
If not might you suppose that we instead
could stand for each, the other each must be?
Mind is the meaning that cannot be said.
Self is the private music in the head.
MY DEAR SLEEPER
As the past grows longer,
the night grows deeper,
the mind grows smaller,
my dear sleeper.
As the stars en masse,
our bright impasse,
stretch further back
in time’s dark crack;
as the tide of light
in the dead of night
from the moon at full
exerts its pull,
stirs your dark hair,
time is the keeper,
my dear sleeper.
LIMESTONE AND AIR
Oh you will have to catch the world in flight.
What waits for us is the habit that will pass.
You must overtake your shadow in the grass.
Daylight begins before the ends of night.
What waits for us is a shadow in the grass,
You will have end before the world’s delight.
Thought has a mind to take the world in flight,
body mind’s semblance that in time will pass.
Oh you must learn the meaning of delight.
What the mind loves defeats the counter-pass,
the swallow exceeds its shadow in the grass,
starlight and air, we meet, at ends of night.
All that has mind for shadows in the grass,
all that will overtake this world in flight,
comes of the deepest habits that must pass,
forms the sun’s semblance in the dark of night.
Thought must take pains to forge the world’s delight.
Oh you must learn the subtlest counter-pass,
what the mind loves is our sole means of flight,
sharper than swallow’s shadow on the grass.
The planet on the floor was formed of silver.
It was the harbinger of alien stars.
Confined within the orbit of Mars,
we studied its brightness by the door.
Its light was the light of Parian marble.
Gods struggled there and goddesses
to be born, knotted darkly in eternity,
as we grappled with the mathematics.
It was never important we were there,
only that the appearances were kept,
no spilling over into flagrant being;
that the night lay open where we slept;
that the senses flickering now and then,
knew the stellar music, still unbroken,
in distance neither lucent nor opaque
where the depths of night coruscated.
We needed time: to become the dark,
to understand the other forms beneath,
over which the orbs of planets strayed,
shedding a comfortable sort of glow,
reflected, tolerable to our weak eyes.
We observed the planet on the wall
turning to blueness from silvery grey,
still more beautifully than we can say.
Limestone under the moon,
what I need;
a different perspective,
a slab, a stream,
the glittering hills
in bright cracks and hollows,
a clearer mind.
A way of elaborating
on mountain air,
the little mind,
the wandering senses,
freeing the weighty heart
that always wants
A crystal presence
like the creek,
would be a help,
a glass existence
through which the sky,
the clouds, the birds,
might be refracted,
another form of the eye,
SESTINA - MIND’S MUSIC
There is no deeper meaning in the music.
In time we’ll find the better art of being
is to consider where true beauty lies,
so engineer existence for that beauty,
refuse the empty exercise of power,
and reinvent the nature of our world.
As we destroy the landscape of our world,
not Earth itself but its more human music,
or that at least whose ruin is in our power,
indifferent to the damage done our being;
and with that human music human beauty,
the metaphors in which our meaning lies,
we must not deceive ourselves with lies:
we are not the sole meaning of our world,
nor are we the source and end of beauty.
There is another and a deeper music,
that’s mute beneath the surfaces of power,
but signifies what granted us our being.
Through the in-woven process of our being
plays the deep truth beyond our subtle lies,
pointing the way beyond their sterile power.
Our bounded origin’s in the creature-world,
within whose utterance was born our music,
the language of all love and truth, all beauty.
Below the stars exists an earthbound beauty,
apparent in the eyes of every being,
the tremors of the mind that are our music,
the movements of intelligence that lies
within the depths of a remoter world
where every creature exercises power,
and is unique, that individual power
to be a self, which is the core of beauty,
to find a place in world, and be a world,
beyond the sphere of our habitual being,
to express the universe despite all lies,
and turn the silence of the hour to music.
Beneath the lies always the hidden beauty.
Our being is not wholly in time’s power.
Mind’s music is the meaning of the world.
Love be veiled in danger where you lie,
under the scope of a December sky
wrapped in the leavings of a deepest fear,
that in this glittering we’ll disappear,
of ice, in the arbour of the hostile air,
where the blue light encompasses a glare,
where tremors in the mist, of metal leaves,
shine their antipathy to whatever grieves.
Love be clothed in beauty where you are,
below and not above the wintry park,
antithesis to every fog-born star
that glows to terrify us from the dark.
Leap with the mind into another’s eye.
As being and becoming, give the lie
to every heart that is encased in stone.
Be dangerous, know danger to the bone.
Moving matter of light leaps lunar beauty,
valleys shaken in darkness, sheerest tremor
in folded stone under white stream, shudder
singing soaring down mind-swayed channel
errant brightness crying in wilder patterns,
bold scrambling runs edged over precipices.
See, in mind’s eye, now, scale green passes,
clash of the wind, seeker of distant shingle
knock of the tide, slither of shining pebble,
of metaphors of the heart, unbridled seeker,
wind-bent music, wildfire of sudden being,
or simple cluck of the stones on icy beaches,
gather them seeker, bury in moving matter,
tremors of thought, fingers of lunar beauty.
What Ulysses most needed to beware of
was his own voice singing.
The seductive lie
is already within.
to counter Hermes.
The wise articulation is the worst.
Better a simple cunning,
how to make
Floating by desolate islands
is no life for a knower,
(though we do it)
written up later
by some cleric.
The one-eyed giant
was our self.
to eating lotus,
seen that Calypso-Circe
been more aware
of time and distance,
on the wind and waves,
of our friends.
by the skin of our teeth?
OUT OF THIS LIGHT
Out of this light did you, my lover,
deep in all history, discover
what lunar magic mind once made
here in the leaves so displayed,
to eyes’ delight
at dead of night;
as at your door must now be laid?
You, was it, learned when hours are gone,
mind transformed by dreaming done,
no beauty once is beauty past,
the thread that’s tightened holds time fast,
and all desire
white web of fire,
is through those endless waters cast?
That this bright arc like daylight pure
shivering in silence, gleams as sure
though time and change erode again
both face and mind, there is no when,
and all the joys
clear light employs
erase the flow of now and then?
Here, in the well of dark, my lover,
shall you, once more, such truth discover
that lunar magic mind has made
and in the bright leaves so displayed,
sweeter than all
the stars that fall
must rise again, dispel the shade?
What did I wish when time was young?
The tree where golden fruit was hung;
pale lamps that lit the leaves green
with mysteries of the night, unseen
but bright with that unearthly glow:
branched imagination, here below.
What will I wish when time is old?
The tree of light, its phantom gold.
She sits beside the stream and is his fate,
that much we understand of the plot,
the given, but never confuse
the why with the how,
the how is what is important
not the why, which is mere science
or Freudian superstition.
Analysis is not the life lived, is not
what burns along the veins and harms
the reason, the mechanisms
are not the revelation,
which is always self and the desire,
always more important than mere science
which explains nothing.
I do not descry the science, in its place,
which is not the place of significance
we think, there are no gods
not even human ones,
and if you do not see the darkling plain
and feel the brilliance of the stars,
how can this help you?
Climbing the mountain of the self
the heroic come to a blind gully,
where there is nothing more
to confront but the self,
that is the plot, we know it,
but the plot is not the confrontation.
She sits beside the stream and is his fate.
FIRE AND AIR
Big trees fall on the ridge.
but the view opens.
Whatever crashed down
cleared the brush,
became an insect hollow,
through quiet decay;
wasteland or great pond
neither is here to stay.
The patch of wide sky
was never visible from here,
until the structures fell,
the ruined timbering.
Absence of thought,
the palsied silence,
is not a consequence
of lack of matter.
Plough over the dead,
exercise a freedom,
release the butterfly
from its shroud,
watch it soar as if
it never felt the web,
shrug off the sense
of the inevitable;
have we not learnt by now
nothing human is
is as the mind requires;
of curiosity, cries
for new horizons
in the darkness,
whatever you may say,
or tone you may adopt;
content beats style,
the seducer’s voice
is emptiness and cold,
absence and subtle chaos,
a sense of alien dumbness,
but we, the only givers,
can never rest in style,
(our endless matter
is the far universe)
the most seductive
most to be resisted,
howling or keening,
or describing either,
yet we must hear it;
it is not in the voices
of those happiest
with world as it is,
the perilous music.
The world is not asleep,
mind has no end,
we are fire and air.
The object grew larger climbed from the poem
and killed him. It began as perception, swelled
to his words, later reached out its octopus arms,
searching him for his ethical stance; his view
from surrounding hills of the central summit;
his metaphysics; his ability to defend pure art,
rather than show the gifted performer’s talent,
despite that excess of skill beyond the others.
The object grew deeper, translated his history,
became the succession of lies we call making,
until he no longer possessed himself, but that
image of self, promoted endlessly, enervating.
World had a life of its own, seemed to mock
the stance of the creator through the uncreated,
always more copious, wider and more intense;
an antithesis of the dream that possessed him,
without his knowledge, of freezing time, place,
and his particulars no one else dared confute,
which in time become a minor myth, the sort
worth an hour or two, capable of being traded.
The object loomed over his conventional grave,
squatted like Fuseli’s nightmare above his dust,
the gape of its mindless features, the furrows
in its solid face like a worn smile of dismissal.
The object, swollen, occupied his landscape,
questioned authenticity, laid out for us errors,
bare inconsistencies, showed him not the man
he had believed himself to be, not even close.
The object, which would endure long beyond
his fatal evanescence, flaunted his epitaph
in eloquent silence: he ended still where he
began, in glittering mastery of the easy truth.
ONE SELF-PORTRAIT AMONG MANY
His face itself being the object fluctuates
in a medium of light and dark, one eye
vanishes into liquid silence, one is hurt
and aged, the brush has lovingly moved
over the textures, but left the geometric
background bare, an old wall’s bareness
filled with Leonardesque lines and form
in which anything is possible, like dream.
Looking at all these selves, which is self,
or rather how shall the substance speak
of hidden process, except by revelation,
which is a question of what life betrays
in the face? For instance a young mind
moves in an old man’s eye? Age serves
better as metaphor of transience, suits
therefore expressions of tragedy, loss,
not necessarily the inner flow, which
may be responding not to deep pity
for the human world, but natural light,
and the landscapes of distant memory.
The face in a glass reflecting, the face
in a window superimposed on nature,
a ghost on the trees, knows inwardness,
a place perhaps where chasing the word
mind sinks onto what seems to unravel
the mystery, the shock of being here
and to be gone, the essential absurdity,
what the poor circus clown points at,
the impossible shoes, the giveaway nose
on a piece of stylised flesh, ridiculous
being eating away at all sense of flight
beyond, the intransigence of ladders.
Here the face of genius is exactly the face
of all of us, and the inwardness ambiguous
form. Shape suggests our true dimension.
The thistle stands resilient in the corner
of a field. The tree suggests survival,
the fractured stone vicissitudes of time.
Energies and their lack create metaphor,
in the realisation of what indicates us,
natural energies, the dark our background;
the lights that frame the head a signal;
the stance the gaze absorption; the tools
in the hand I came, I saw, I vanished.
PITY FOR THE WAR-GOD
Let Ares sleep, his mind is full
of too much repetition,
his rites are brutal, see his shrine,
a world in demolition.
Let Ares sleep, his work is done,
no purpose in petition,
the innocent may plead, the plan
demands their slow attrition.
Let Ares sleep, his heart of steel
is free of all contrition,
untroubled by the blood and pain,
destruction his sole vision.
But let him sleep, for he is tired
of forcing each position,
only to end where he began,
imprisoned by his mission.
THE END OF ART
Icarus fell and was the Minotaur.
Daedalus set him at the labyrinth’s heart,
the honeycomb at the windings’ centre,
to roar his torment at the lost sun’s burning,
the anguish of a birth to crippled wings.
Sometime the hostile blade would come,
and life, by a thread, be released to death.
Daedalus bowed his head and still created,
wax in his fingers, a raised spine of feathers,
for one more flight into the woman’s realm,
to where she danced on high to ritual song,
and was not the child on fire, the crucified,
the falling angel, or that concealing wave,
but herself, in the sacred place, inheriting
the calmer, gentler earth; the un-betrayed,
not abandoned to a god, but stepping down
over limestone pavements, a dancing floor
he merely cleared for her, from his hands
receiving the sea-shell, its pure mystery,
holding intellect to the windings of the ear,
unravelling a little moving seed of wisdom,
she being the earth itself, such gifts already.
GRASS WITHOUT LEAVES
Say to me something, critic, that is not
there in the poem, or in the beyond it
that its presence signifies, say
to the reader: become the writer. Talk
of the widening imagination
in a space, that is in the end, purely,
a sign to return to the power of things
that have no power: say
or be silent.
Say to me otherwise, critic, than repeat
words out of words, or in the dusk retrieve
volumes of grey-black cloud,
billows of sombre majestic light
on a shore of sky, talk
instead of the cogency of thought
that defies, that is, in summation, held
a flame in the hand, pain and joy
a sheer feeling.
Say to me, critic, say what individual being
makes of the speech of wholly secular
worlds, dead gods abandoned;
makes of the rose without the name,
the grass without leaves,
the sun over ice, still more beautiful,
of the summer free of phantoms,
say what the sunflower says
in its secret turning.
MOUNDS OF THE FORERUNNERS
And these were the ancient peoples,
the ones who never
were asked their names,
the ones we rendered silent.
Here is the space they lived in,
never owned, skimming
the land, of the slightest layer
between earth and sky.
Here is the dust they tilled,
the birds they loved, the grains
of pollen like those they scattered,
the lost dreaming-grounds.
Here is the silence:
they saw the beauty.
Here is the breeze:
whose are the trails?
Here is the ant,
the beetle on a stone,
and time will tell –
who clings here longest.
THE POEM IS MAD
In the belly of the whale the world glitters.
Reality is swimming from somewhere to
somethere, these ribs a skeleton stillness.
The jungle spoke green fact, wet as it was,
against which thought of the city ran mad.
There the ice of the poem melted, and left
behind, a damp spot; emotions skittered
over the dry leafage, over the forest floor,
entangled creepers twined, the sad lianas.
In the belly of the giant whale, the world
is beached and far from the sound of water,
Will mind find a ground of contemplation?
The poem is mad and drowning in the green,
dappled by purple butterflies, whose shadow
posits appearance over which beings flicker,
a forest of seeming in the belly of the whale.
BANISHING THE CONCEPTS
No one goes into the dark,
we go into the light.
There is nothing beyond.
The beginning is not the end
or the end the beginning,
the mind is not in time.
Persistence and change exist,
this past and future
these products of memory, anticipation,
in the living mind,
which itself exists through symbol
includes the words that echo.
Who could endure
without the delight,
of fact, affection, and form?
Beyond our fear, the rose
and the briar make one,
the ice, the fire.
Earthlight falls slow
on the waste of moon,
and mind trembles:
but no one goes into the dark.
THE POWERS THAT BE
It is the words we write we never understand
that lead the mind along the powerless path
which shapes and smooths our life implicitly.
Something lives us, beneath the self, beside
its half-articulate murmurings of complaint,
these greater powers of the unspeaking world,
that make the future, denying our command.
It is the things we never know, that know us,
in the unconscious processes, which differ
from consciousness only in their rawness,
their place in the hierarchy of awareness,
their undigested flow, the embryonic self,
which is always mutable in their shifting,
in our dance between the chaos and a form.
Self is where our faith is, our fond belief;
which is not to grant credence to shadows,
or wish that the non-existent might exist.
But our destiny is still to hear the voices,
the possibilities that never were possible,
that may yet set the madnesses in motion,
or keep our fingers far from the triggers.
PASSING BY SOMEONE’S FIELDS
Whoever owns the land
does not own the beauty,
this reality, nor say who
shall love it or shall not.
The land well-loved simmers
in the heat, the buttercups,
the Queen Anne’s lace,
that foam of fields.
There is no possession
of the air, light, rain,
the soil beneath the grass;
of all that possesses us.
Love is its own free force,
absorbing or denying.
Whoever owns the land
will never own the beauty.
Wind shifts in the pines.
Cold dreams taste bitter
in white sunlight;
wrecking the earth we go.
Wind freezes in the pines.
Lines of frost and snow
hang from black brush,
unclear of purpose.
Wind coagulates in the pines.
They creak with the dead
weight of a season:
imagine the first fires.
Wind sings in the pines,
a soft lulling song
of the lover, like light
soft over hills.
Wind in the pine sighs slow.
All hurt, not all show pain.
Resilient life returns,
despite the scarring.
Wind in the disused quarry
I grow like grass
on wounded ledges.
Wind moves in the pines;
hare in the moon
glistened, more than hare,
the grace dying.
Wind un-owned is the mover.
On downwind slopes
pines grip with iron fingers,
Wind out of night soothes
the unsatisfied heart,
its wilding dreams,
its world unwound.
WHERE WE EXIST
Words tell no lies though liars do;
words are where we exist, although
we exalt the flesh that makes it so.
It is not the grammar of our lives,
the sentences the act explores,
define us, but the metaphors.
I am not I, I am not you, between
is where we vaguely view
the lips and ears that make us two,
expand the fiction of our lives,
the shifting selves that express
a something out of nothingness.
The primal tense, the latest guess
spin from the void the me and you.
Words tell no lies, though liars do.
HUMMINGBIRD HAWK MOTH
A hummingbird hawk moth sips at a flower,
after rain, in damp evening, the earth drying,
strangest of creatures, seen for the first time,
like a cross between bird and insect, tongue
extended hovering at the mouths of anthers,
persuades the mind of nature’s strangeness,
our own weirdness, the anomaly of reason,
drowns thought in flesh, or furry filaments,
makes life the subtler process of continuum,
makes eye and senses part of a wonderment
too peculiar to relate to our daylight artifice,
prompts an act of the self that must reclaim
terms like worship, sanctity, or blessedness,
stripped of deities, part of a secular tongue
itself uncoiling to taste of this deeper world
that pollen of dawn scattered along our path.
THE RETURNING RIVER
Slowly it rises from the substrate, bubbling,
through the dry sink holes silently returning,
and is the river of flame in the maw of time,
where we vanish again in the threads of light.
Where is an end to water, where is an end
to what flows again from the elder darkness
among stones where the dipper, shale where
the wagtail, flickers? Call it the ever-singing
of the spirit, out of the earth, in subtle tongue,
Call it a mystery of the hidden, now revealed,
the movement of sanctity, yet in no religion,
where the cosmos trembles in strange being.
Here is the heart’s reflection. The closed circle
dyes this with the sunset reds, or dawn auburns,
to the heron’s silhouette and the wild ripples,
this outpour from the deeps of the hollow land.
We are flow, and this is the spirit flowing, light,
and this is light, where a mazed thought wanders,
the token of fragile creature in form’s pulsation,
returning mindless, healing a drought-dark mind.
FEELING THE SPLASH
Yes Icarus falls, we note the irony,
reality’s indifference to the human,
but still are moved, and so all this
is concerned, those leaves involved
with all of it, though symbolically,
that cannot write or read our poetry.
The old master painted what he saw,
the world, which no one desired to
happen, as he refined the process,
as there he placed the ancient well,
the horse, the dog, and the doorway,
making them silent with significance.
Everything human touches me, the eye
dissatisfied with formal distance,
becomes Goya and Van Gogh,
the wars boom in the air, silently,
and life and death are not museums,
as every old master, weeping, knew.
THE VANISHING SELVES
There was the always-angry one, and the one
who walked away, inside, and travelled light,
a wanderer stripped down, without possessions,
drifting, silent through the untrammelled mind.
There was the adventurous one, who liked long
slopes towards a wide horizon, unknown trees;
and the one fearful of heights and seas, desiring
safety, the calmness, the quiet of solitude.
There was the intellectual explorer, filled with
excitement, appreciating the undemanding other,
nature or art, and the one who loved order, poor
at listening, looking, seeking the true life seriously.
There was the one who dreamed of the immaculate
lover, and missed love, and found it and lost again;
there was the loyal to self, disloyal to the cherished,
and the disloyal to self, but loyal to what was loved.
There was the child somewhere, someone concerned
for all sad and sensitive children; and the adult, too
impatient of the child; there was the one delighted
in language, for whom the solitary word was home.
There was the one who trembled with grass, shrank
with the least of creatures, pulsed with the songbird,
quivered with the moth, and laughed and cried there
where the world wreaks its havoc, where time decays.
There was the melancholy one, afraid of feeling,
and the one who yearned for the deepest friend,
the mirror-mind; anxious in crowds, diminished
by confusion, lonely alone, negated by multitude.
There was the unbeliever and the sceptic, who
always believed in form, affection, truth; one
who only ever wished to be left alone to dream,
whom freedom hurt with its beauty, its far skies.
There was the one who inhabited the borderland
between night and day, self and the burning world;
who loved gateways, and their pauses, slow ways
winding grassy tracks, misty untouched valleys,
twilights, darkened theatres, the music of feeling.
There was the one who preferred its own, however
slight, to that of others, however great; the one who
loved on despite, the one content with simple things,
for whom nature was the most complete enjoyment,
art the song of its inner aimlessness, things uncertain,
and our transience always the greatest, most painful
gift; who appreciated the neglected, awkward, shy.
There was the one who worked the world to escape
the world, and found freedom in security in nature,
the house of repetition, the drift of cloud, the scent
of rain, the immensity at the heart of every flower
along the way, dribbling its pollen to the afternoon;
who drowned in stars, imagining their far beyond
humanity might perhaps inhabit, their coolness,
fire, their immunity to feeling, the feeling of them.
There was the one who lived intensely in thought,
so doomed to loneliness, the one who welcomed
all that was solitary, and that delicacy of shaping
in the mind, that sensitivity of all lamp-lit wings
self-hovering on silence. There was the stubborn
one of a few deep inclinations, who found danger
in memory, engagement pain, shame in ineptitude,
who laboured quietly, so as to share those labours,
sure in a thousand small ways, alive in moonlight,
lost among leaves, or flowing deep in the water;
that one who loved the shiver of an inner change,
who knew all words were beautiful, and all human.
The Earth it seems was lifting in the glass.
The light it seems ascended over moons
on which the light of Earth was memory.
You it seems were rising in my mind, even
as if I did not see you rising, but perceived
with earth-lit senses all their barren surface.
The bird it seems was beating through a dark
far from all predators, thinking a dawn white
beyond itself in the declaration of its meaning.
Over the risen Earth the bird-wings creaking
brought me a light of barren dust-bare moons
on which the light of Earth scored memories.
Thought walks tracks, over moors of beauty
on which the pale lines straggle or run true,
between green portals where the salt-road ran
down a cleft, now silent once a vibrant gloom.
The mind makes paths, our steps make mind,
these lead to you, from you, the counterparts
to the shadowy cities of our lost beginnings,
to those singular places where we interwove.
It was your voice that was the deeper voice,
deeper than storm-light’s singing, green cloud
out of the distant bay, the churr of insect life,
those powers of the wind, the density of time.
It was always enough there to be simply being,
needing no genius, slaves to the shifts of form,
sensitive as needles to the linguistic meanings,
the emotions moving cloistered behind speech.
It was always enough to be the inarticulate cry,
tides of the heart, stars flung from fiercer skies,
for whom the world was not some challenge
of wayfaring, but the faring of the way itself,
through chaos to order, and back to chaos again,
bringing no further understanding of ourselves,
only a juncture, binary circling, of dark and light,
exerting a force each on each, so defining orbits,
in which a trail might make a mind, its thoughts
make trails, and both entangled creating space
and time, laying down eternity, responding now
to the slight movements of the enchanted fabric,
clues of the meaningless dark, threads of flame,
rulers of vanishing, of soft return, delineating
what might serve, and what might not, to erect
the human, far from its unmerciful simulations.
THE TWO WORLDS
Beauty’s love for the Beast is what we
aspire to, not what we feel, or that he
deserves mercy, because also fallen
out of the ideal order into our reality,
where truth is often deformed, love
crippled, meaning distorted, its hump
a sign and symbol of the undiminished
and so burdensome weight of the flesh.
How can we not admire selflessness
when we seek it for ourselves, blessed
coolness of soothing hands on the brow
that lacks a horn or intrinsic whiteness?
The evil is no more transient than the good,
but never an ideal, thankfully, its conquests
shabby and dumb, however vile, motions
of viscous matter, and mental debasement.
Whereas when the figure of light, fleeting,
dances into the labyrinth of the monster,
and frees him to his own beauty, we cry
for the unredeemed, for what might be,
in imagination’s space, all power disarmed,
the new-shared meaning transfiguring time.
GIACOMETTI: CHARIOT, 1951
The symbol on the chariot’s step is Woman
but not in the act of war, in the womb of art;
her lightness, slim, erect is the counterforce:
peace, a flurry of the unseen white winged.
A mast almost, no warrior shield or spear;
the bronze arms, questioning, rest; waiting,
the olive branch in hand maybe, the patina,
simply, of time, a long healing of this hurt.
The wheels, fate re-doubled, motionless,
fuse to the earth or the temple’s pedestal,
which does all the turning that they need
through a space devoid of past intent, but
echoing still with its savagery, her head
the anxious form that faces the horizons
always beyond our vision, inside hers so;
there the slight curves of the naked body
the swell of matter, a slight forward shift
of the arm, the right radius, holding life’s
momentum (slight) its forgiveness (mute)
as a bare gesture, lost in itself a backcloth.
Much then from little, the small the humble
being beautiful, moreover nakedly honest
in classical hint, a suggestiveness of truths
we cannot understand in suffering or out,
to do with the raw material, our unsought
delivered presence; to be here despatched,
with the sacrifice or the hero; to be witness;
to ride on a mechanism of power to futures
invisible to the powerful, to empathise with
sun-falls, or welcome the rising orb, the hand
unfolding in ineffable greeting, bearing within
all our long centuries of species, all potentials.
THE VALLEY OF FEELING
Here’s the emotion of a boredom striving
towards a mockery of twittering response.
Here’s a happiness which is a quietude too
moving faithlessly over a hilly landscape.
There a smile and an eye exchange a tear
a small fear twitches, a temptation gleams.
Streams of joys scatter down the high ledge
exacting diamond, scarring ascending stone.
A slow taut viciousness occupies the view,
gnawing a derision: dark proclaims a spell.
Troubled mind burns in empathy, cries out
with insight, waits where the insults cross,
powerless in beauty, closed in strange form,
condemned to feverish swamps of meaning.
IN THE END
In the end it is kindness exalts what we are,
not our power over distances, our landings
on pale comets or far off planetary moons.
The fictitious god of obedience or even love
is less than a single act of the generous eye,
the light not of stars, coloured of raw earth
and more of us than the tenuous skeleton,
or the rational mind, its accomplishments,
more of the quiet landscapes of the heart.
Faced with suffering, gods must fall silent,
as we do, no word to say, blind with feeling,
a palpable motion sunk deeper than the light.
The colour of the dead, of the defeated, is
the shade of earth, before the gasp of green,
and our victory is that we comprehend them,
not as of heavens of star-fall, of alien spaces,
but in the human, a kinship under the moon,
asking reply of nothing but ourselves alone,
from the unwelcoming void, bringing our
value of affection to a darkness beyond us,
where uncomfortable we chatter science.
The gods are not the utterance we must say
to the nothingness, not the forms or formless
echoes we should make sacred, in our place;
rather the tongue is the space for human joy,
for the species we are part of, never the cold
where the iceman only carves more distance,
that absence we are always separate from, as
we are separate from the earth that made us,
but still a part of its colour, a flare of its arc.
IN PURSUIT OF MEANING
Cordelier of light in the mal maison,
over the bayou’s green and misted song
show me your music of a strange unwinding.
The ghosts are here and yet the far stars glimmer
brighter in molten autumn, galaxies
beyond all our intent are shining clear.
The purposeless climbs through the flesh to purpose,
and on its alien summit mind appears,
crowning the mindless with un-predestined process.
From evenings we create the phantom, morning.
It climbs the mountain, never the repetition,
always the stair of being’s midnight coiling.
Cordelier of light in the mal maison,
you cannot give intent, this world eludes
the deepened voices, full of leaves of midnight.
Our shadows fall across the bright black mirrors,
but all the stars of ever-world are rising,
calm as the clouds on human flags that waver.
The burning house is alight with our remorse,
our poverty: are we passion or the death
of passion, the carillon yet incomplete?
Form without purpose void, void finding form,
in us make mind, the charioteer of distance,
and our intent: sluice that green water clear.
Voluble the little yowling of the weather.
Discreet the touch of rain on the mirror.
The rook and the hawk have raucoused
round the hill, and the tree poured silver.
Macadam gleams, it is its wintry nature,
its heated illusion, this fatalistic calling.
Yet nothing is dead, all the lack of intent
is not a challenge to us or a frozen curse.
We are wound in the quiet concatenation
of immense poverties, unnamed entities.
It is never the earthlight that is important,
rather the glistening of its half-lit spires,
the long shadows on the empty pathway,
from which all your appearances depart.
fROM: WILD FRUIT
The bird sang
and was pure
you and I,
we heard the bird sing.
There is a past,
in a present
free of purpose,
is its purpose.
Sings in a moment
past and future.
On the west side
of the hill
the bird sang,
above the square
the little river.
you and I,
we heard the bird sing.
MOONLIGHT FALLS EVERYWHERE
Returning to my
no ‘thing’ exists
for a moment
all is mind,
place without precedent,
This is the light itself,
the fog of being
the hundred flowers;
so how would we matter,
gone beyond itself?
Idling by the ash-trees
in a world
of no reward
and no regard.
Moonlight falling everywhere,
no special place.
IT COMES AND GOES
This hill stands alone
in the universe,
in the silence
of its being.
of white rapids
It comes and goes,
nowhere in eternity
The green, the grey
of this heatless
fire where we burn.
A well-piled wall under flickering stars.
Do deer go by at night in silent lines?
Lichens on far-off planets seems about right,
the chances low of a second consciousness.
Through the hole the summer triangle
delineates a darkness in my brightness,
Altair in Aquila, Deneb in the Swan,
and Vega clear above me in the Lyre,
a hole where sheep might pass, but odd
stones block the gap, and tall weeds
where I lie deep in the sea of grass
taking a creature’s view of the earth.
Here’s the heart, and here’s the eye
for beauty, here’s the mind for reality,
that’s none of those. Hold out no hope
in running to the orbits of the stars,
we’ll still be there, carrying our burdens,
finding a language for the dust and glare.
Good walls are beautiful, just stone on stone,
placed one by one, the work of loving hands,
they fence these fields, they are the classics,
you can’t stay awake too long studying those.
Dust and pollen in my hair, starlight in back
shines from the far wombs of the universe,
carelessly birthing us and sheep and deer,
who pass the gates at night, with snort and sigh,
as their hoof prints indicate, the rubbed off moss,
and went down over gravel, and drank the stream.
IT COULDN’T BE SIMPLER
Nothing twisted, nothing to hide,
Confucius said, everything declared,
the heart still, the mind a waterfall.
What we do not control, blesses us.
Against the roar of night, a gentleness
reminds of the grasslands, glades,
those cool green forests, mute deities
staring at nothing, the long gone days.
Relinquishing finding words for everything,
but everything open. Opening eyes.
Leaving the creatures alone, the trees,
the grasses, being grateful for the shade.
Nothing tarnished, everything pure as moss
or lichen, or the dark mud of after-rain,
the sky-reflecting pools on rutted trails.
It’s the getting there is hard, and then
the staying there. Nature’s performance
far too difficult for long-cultivated ways.
NO MATTER THE MOMENT
And then the music plays and it’s no matter
where we came from, or where we are going,
no matter the painfulness, or the separation,
the lack of purpose, or meaning, no matter:
here the music, and there is only the music,
no matter what is before, what comes after:
here is the moment, and the music playing,
Self poised on an instant, the body calming.
And walking too, there’s a music of the mind
playing, my music and not yours and therefore
hidden, your music and not mine so secretive,
a music which remembers, cogently complete,
those spaces of intimacy, places of technique,
passages of beauty, tensions and limitations,
but still the music, as now, the music playing,
in the stillness without pain, or before or after.
THE INTENTIONLESS HAS NO WEIGHT
What we wish is that the universe had a heart
where it has none:
the world is light
as a speck of pollen in my palm
or a tiny fly blown in the breeze,
is always impossibly light
impossibly bright with existence
unshaded by any meaning.
We grant that.
What shall we make of ourselves
and the greater spaces,
what shall we do
with a world so purposeless?
When what we wish for is not to be
must come to us from beyond,
must take us and find us, know
what we are and tell us
what we must be?
If the dark does not frighten you, it
frightens me. Be still, Pascal,
the world is light,
is that ball in a mountain stream,
is a puff of cloud or pale smoke
that may fall or
perhaps ascend, in wisps of time, or
threads of memory, likely or random
trails. What is purposeless –
is Tao, cannot be said – is Zen.
When power allows, our values
to the gatherers’
the foragers, even quieter,
the nurturers, eyes filled
with a beauty they could not
describe or name,
in a world that worked
who could say why or how.
When power and plenty allow
our ethics remain
those of the lake-shore
by the warm embers,
bright spaces of the star-ways
where the universe hums
where bells of light tremor
as the world, deep below
the seas, echoes and rings.
When we are not coerced, when
we are not slaves,
our fineness of being
surfaces, our far truths,
the path of four million years
where we were alive and free
and being was no transaction,
and the tracks were clear.
Silent in sleeping dales
we plant the trees.
Our culture still
of shade and light
in subtler tints of green.
There is refinement in
their dance I mean,
the arabesques of grace
that root the scene
and bow to nature,
humbler than they seem.
All of the beauty that we
compromise, is still
inherent in these peaceful
skies, the delicate spires
of linden, pine and ash,
though we are liars
that no truth redeems.
Our violence was late:
the peaceable who go
underneath these trees
and love them so,
share in an earlier world
with angers slow
and bird-like dreams.
Who, wood under the hand,
to ease our strangeness
shaped the utensils, tools
the blamed and blameless,
that interwove all nature
with our culture, spoke
deeply of leaves and streams.
The place is nearer than we
think to what we are,
pure reason will not bring
the mind as far
as those soft sounds,
like music, in the woods,
nor be the ghost that gleams,
the shape that is half-seen
half-discounts, but art
attempts in every intimation,
and science would know,
the being-in-itself of all the flow,
stranger to mind than seen
worthy of its attention. Softly
the tread of woodsmen
in the dust, the saplings lean
towards a deepening blue,
heartwood grown true
wafts towards clearer skies
an atmosphere brushed clean.
And there’s a silence intimate
as our shared silence, learned
through the patient mutinies
of hours, time’s reclamations,
the dark exchanges, and the bright,
as if a woodland moon at night
lit trees where our touch has been.
SOMEHOW ON BOARD
The world we see,
not quite all invention,
on grace, ease of the Other
floats and sighs.
There is no energy
only the effortless flow
of powerless power.
What changes is not
is not of our invention,
the silence deep inside
it is not ours.
No way to grasp
the being here
the having been
the being gone.
are mind’s only gifts
to this universe
lacking in both.
But not in light or form.
Birds at the tide’s edge
flicker and eat,
and are themselves.
Too clever by half
cried the crow
and tipped his head:
overcome your fear.
The world-in-itself is working
we pass by.
This going nowhere
is the beautiful.
It slides the tide and sings.
It moves the wind.
we are healed.
Plant us in silicon and we will be
the same fearful creatures
if no longer creature.
Then the risk will be
eternity versus absence,
not life against age;
the fearful, we will hide
behind strong walls,
in virtual realm
to escape the real.
Plant us in metal, plastic, we will be
the same lost, lonesome
watchers of empty sky,
our thoughts trembling,
afraid still of ecstasies,
in the silver void
and in samsara,
hiding our feelings,
moving the same levers,
dead power, or mute morality,
hurt by lost kisses, burned
with the savage tears
we can no longer cry,
(for where are our bodies?)
or dark with simulation.
Plant us in silicon and metal we,
in mind that made itself, will
come to be – the thing the tales
foretold, the desolate one.
All these things that differ in what they are,
are open to the world’s equality,
and all these things the grace of light renders
equal, are distinct and individual selves;
stem of grass, the stone, the bird,
the cloud, the mind, the process, energies,
transient structures. Where is value
except in the moving mind?
All things at their deepest level simply equal,
all things distinct in their reality,
and all minds equal in the unconscious,
all levelled by feeling, are one
in the democracy of wild being,
each an equal individual self.
alight in eternity, each burning eye
the eye of the universe, leaf of the tree.
Be careful of one another, fear
the violence, how we destroy
one among all equal presences shining,
the single individual where life resides.
Slowly it glitters
in the shade under the tree,
in hot afternoon, the stray idea,
and I love ideas,
the root of poetry.
It moves slowly
like the distant tractor
turning the drying hay,
far enough away still
to be noiseless
but imminent, immanent.
in a sky of heavenly blue,
paradise Buddhist blue,
an idea in the void,
a little universe
preparing its soft expansion
not yet itself the real
in which the thought within
the mind might exist,
but being incipient,
is a delight, there must be
something of affection there,
a gift to be given, not yet
framing itself in words,
but ready to soar across
the eternal infinite space
and time between friends,
a gleaming thought,
shaping itself so slowly
just out of the sun.
WHITE PLUME MOTH
Appears at dusk, pale as the ghost of Banquo,
black pinhead orbs for eyes;
or comes like a shrouded crier from the Greek chorus;
or outstretched, in a strange icon,
a double-winged hovering
a pallid angel,
arms, antennae lifted, wavering
long ladder-like legs at its side, pointed down,
the head non-human
the silver carapace,
the feathered shoulders.
Or stands on bark-surface like a canopy,
all legs and arms
and birdlike pinions,
a delicate cradle
of twig-bent limbs
topped by the phantom aerilons
those chalk-white, milk-white ferns
as in one of Leonardo’s flying machines,
or a fossil print stretched on darkness,
or a weird transparent fungus
with feathery gills,
or a photographic negative
of some black tanist twin
embroidered on air
She/he is the intentioned and minute
as the ghost
an inner-mirroring, half-expected,
signifying reluctant action,
as the chorus
a plaintive subdued note, not tragedy
but the whiteness of absence
after the denouement,
the stillness of catharsis,
a half-lit quiet
a muffled sobbing.
Or powers through leaves
then sinks to wait
like the mythical poised hero,
in the legend,
stilled by the silence
of the trees,
hoping for whispers
or glittering procession,
the land resurrected,
the earth healed,
the raised arms praising,
needing a ritual
all that makes heroes,
needing the grace,
Or fades, a fan opened,
among dark leaves,
pallor that takes on shadows,
of fluttering, creeping,
reaching, and retreating,
a roll of cotton,
with torn fabric pennants,
on crutches of legs;
as an angel,
one without a deity,
though perhaps transfigured by the light,
the white wasp fuselage, felt arcs,
the nest of tendrils,
muscled arms ending in braids
too small for transcendence,
from all things human,
too uncannily science-fictional
a face yet not a face we understand,
more the Renaissance mask
in an angled corner
gazing out unreadably from a window,
far-off, and miniaturised.
The universe and she/he are of equal size.
His/her brief time is its eternity.
Ghost, shrouded Chorister, or Angel,
a visitant, in the end a Self,
nature weirder than us,
a form perfected,
not a form incomplete
in a half-way journey,
but a beginning and an end in one,
a simple hero’s arc
unaware of anything heroic.
July is flowing onwards into night,
to nullify the ghost or calm
the hero, quiet the chorus,
or relinquish angels,
with a perfumed silence
There no one goes
along the way.
The mind is empty
and the way is empty.
No way in mind
the empty way.
The empty sky
is full of cloud.
The empty mind
is full of process.
Where there’s no one there
the way is open.
When there is no way
the mind is free.
MASKS OF THE SEA
Masks glitter in the silence, masks of the sea,
not yet beached or sunk in the deep volcanoes.
Some, bony jaws, gleaming with phosphorescence,
others, bright heads of Medusa, tentacled, beckoning.
The forms of our beginnings are not like us,
they dance between atolls, decorate the gravels,
rainbow white coral reefs, dart in each crevice.
Some hide behind helmets, others trail spears,
heroes and generals out of the Protean deeps,
brief as Achilles or crusted with Nestor’s hairs
older than hills, links in the chained generations,
long spiny noses of bone or chambering spirals.
Under the midnight stones of the timeless world
the ghosts of our ancestors dance, full fathom five,
in dark blues and greens, or bob along in the foam,
where Arion rides, and Ariel casts his spells
to save us. The monstrous masks swarm scaly
undersea, and swallow moons and hulls and cloud,
the glow of monstrosity, as here, in the grass where
I dream, the insect lives express themselves in bristle,
joint, antenna, carapace, compound eye, shell and horn,
more wild than the slithering pool where we are born,
calling ourselves familiar. These are the familiars,
the familial host, weird as the crowd in Bosch’s garden,
but all of our brothers and sisters, as under the waves
our relatives flicker and swarm, the fair and unpleasant.
THE GARDEN BEYOND THE GARDEN
The meaning of the Pastoral is this:
that culture is not a slave to matter,
that the naked self is root and source
of our ethics, nature the flow of form.
The essence of the Pastoral is simple:
we can’t hide from or outrun the Self,
dress it, build above it, buy or sell it,
translate our being to something else.
The metaphor of the Pastoral is potent:
embedded in the universe, mind beware
of mirroring the mind in other matter,
uprooting the spirit, who knows where.
This is the Pastoral of the human heart,
which is simply an aspect of the mind,
this joy in affection, delight in beauty,
need for truth, beyond the fleshly wear.
The meaning of the Pastoral is this:
the only human root is in the creature,
the essence of the creature is in nature,
there our emotions, senses, being rise.
HOW DO WE?
where the creatures go,
on their own trails
down paths the grass erases
the mind loses
in an ancient darkness,
trails where they go
(scattering their bones,
their cartilage, their hair)
under empty moons or fuller,
peering through blueness,
a part of it,
noiseless or making
the inward sounds
Bare places of the beginning
clear houses of light,
that swept us back
or swept us on,
on sea-grass oceans,
down still valleys
up the far side dreaming,
you can imagine us
there, inside the flow
waiting by streams,
sleeping by stone,
wild in the dark
peaceful at dawn,
unspeakably slow minds
setting thought to thought,
not slow enough
to match the lightning creatures
pouncing and done,
or the careful grazers
on enchanted ridges,
whom the wind carries
through magenta trees,
to scented flowers,
by quiet pools
of reed-filled water,
no route, no end.
Still places of the empty world,
the world before us
once around us,
and movement aimless,
learning one way
but still then free
to go another,
all paths open
that the creature makes,
choosing all the maps
each hint unique
and all together
the individual the species
always its own,
with an atmosphere
impervious to art,
except the impression,
a flick of form,
a touch of shadow,
with its own mysteries
its line of bedrock,
its haze of stems,
the distance, the horizon,
that makes you smile,
the liquid coolness
of the ages, the ancient smell,
the glitter and gleam:
if we came from there
how do we get back
centuries of stillness?
fROM: ON A DISTANT PLANET
We must go,
back to the primal light
of the poem)
beneath the light
of our star,
to the first
We must go back
to the dust
in the dust,
of the heart.
All the being
We must go
under harvest moons,
no one goes,
on the way.
UNDER A SILVER MOON
Under a silver moon
on a distant planet
they dream of pity
to save their world.
In front of their star
on a distant planet,
they ask what they are.
Probing the mindless
universe they go,
around the orbit
of their distant star,
under a silver moon
They are the dwellers
on a distant planet,
dreaming of ways
to save their world.
It is bright, is what it is,
anonymous and mute,
on the far side of the pines.
It sees, without my eyes,
I cannot see with these
on the far side of the pines.
White cloud comes and goes,
bamboos creak and sway,
all night’s mindless flowers.
It is bright, is what it is,
is past our names and mute,
on the far side of the pines.
RELEASING THE PAIN OF THE WORLD
The hole in your head with the darkness inside
is created by thinking
from the primal world
which is golden.
The mountain paths are ridiculous trails, light
in the April mountains,
who can walk there,
free of the concepts
The hole in your mind with your feelings inside
is created by darkness
from the first unmeaning
the intricate wild.
The forest trails are riddled with light, on pass
after pass on the summits
who can live there
free of the world
easing its pain?
THE HAWTHORN TREE
Landscape is light
and the life of
the non-human world.
Here I go, walking
out of my mind.
Cranesbill is blue
of an eye, is a
salve to the thought.
The sun, and the moon, go free,
and the dark of
the hawthorn tree.
AL COR GENTIL
The gentle heart
heals the moments,
each one someone’s pain.
There is no virtue
like the gentle heart,
the shape of it,
the good intent.
Grace and kindness
of the gentle heart,
are the shared increase
from which love flows.
There is no meaning
like the gentle heart,
the perfect tremor of it
and the sweetness.
IN LIEU OF A MANIFESTO
Not founding cities in time,
but standing free in the light,
in silence, in the grasslands,
in the cool air of midnight,
two eyes a mouth our guide;
these the lights in darkness,
the knowledge of slow beauty,
a trembling in the gloom;
no dreams of gods or demons;
tight hold on good intention;
in uncut forests moving
and with untwisted minds;
marking out no temples;
for no impersonal profit;
but freeing self from fear,
to have delight endure.
They look at their moons rising.
Is there bamboo,
the cool sound of its swaying,
is there affection?
They rip their world apart
for energy too.
They bathe in dying
starlight as we do.
In dark woods in the mountains
do they gather snow
or watch the white clouds
Are they the guardians
of mind, of values,
beyond all violence
past all interference?
Are their green grasses
more and less than grasses?
Do their hearts tremble too,
dumb with eternity?
WHO ARE YOU?
You must say what you believe,
there is no arbiter
Nor unless you choose
is there a conflict,
my values are still mine.
There they watch ascending moons
and under different stars
I say love, truth, beauty still exist there
and who are you
to tell me otherwise?
IN ALL THAT DARK
All these animals were people.
Minds like persons,
before we began.
Bright dancing in the bush,
sparks of light
from elder branches.
If you are longing to return
to the wilds of mind,
there are the people,
the first persons, in the night,
All those creatures
just like us,
all those subjects of feeling,
all that intent from non-intent,
in our darkness.
There they live in peace, and dream,
under silver suns,
in purple grasslands,
at singing dawn
beyond the books.
There they are free, relationship
is to them a sharing
that unbinds, a space
for friendship, love
There their day and night
is always half-light,
their shores are borders,
thoughts are tentative
Their longings never tire,
in each other
hold eternal, their eyes
dazed by every form
they embrace the ordinary,
so hard to do,
stare at galaxies
reap their harvests.
On their world
through cloudless skies,
and burn the heart,
they too estranged
or lonely, angered
or sad, too large
too small, too
vulnerable to being.
In place, and free of time
they drift and waver,
inside the selfless self
by perfect rivers.
Their tiny creatures
are sacrosanct: spiders,
not quite like ours
but equally beautiful.
They chase the gleam
of their ideas,
they see them clearly,
in the pale mist there
that softly rises.
Gentle inside, they muse
and are open
to the interests
of the spirit,
to its delicacy of motion.
Their lives are marked
by the flight of birds,
they never reconcile
themselves to silence,
they never name the stars.
They understand the need
to experience alone
in one’s own self
all the mystery
and all the suffering.
They see the texture
of their universe
as also light,
full but empty.
There they do not follow,
do not own, have
no faith in what they possess,
connect their lives
sing a midnight song,
dance with children,
dream what they see
in its entirety
in its completion.
What they keep
they carry in their minds,
the meaning and the care,
the silver light
of distant suns.
Through the white mist of stars
we shine, to the white mist of stars,
mind, to the dark slopes of the universe.
You, to my eyes, shine, among the stars,
we shine, through the white space of stars,
mind, to the dark slopes of distant time.
Through the white field of furthest stars
we shine, to the white field of stars,
you to my eyes, mind to distant mind.
Traveller in the womb of night,
twisting fibres of delight,
in your mercy, speak to me
of the heart’s eternity.
What we choose is what we are,
what we love is what will be
left to us, our legacy
in turn, to turn below the star,
the one that shines before it dies
to rise again in other skies,
showering fires of delight
travelling in the womb of night.
Peace you are, and are to me
brave freedom of the godless sea,
of universe, intentionless,
that cannot pity, love, or bless,
except we gift it what we are,
the leavings of a fiery star,
our immortal legacy,
I spoke to you, you spoke to me.
TO LEARN THE SELF
‘To learn the self is to forget
the self’ said Dogen.
This is hard.
Not learning the void is not
knowing the way.
That is easy.
Having learnt the self, the void,
returning to emptiness
it smells of green leaves and pine,
tastes of stone,
painless mystery, like love
of that formless other,
Having learnt the self we laugh
at the last dark fear.
That is hard.
The movement of the world
is all around
the light inside.
THE NAME ROSE
The moon rose,
a thing of truth and silence,
and not the sigh of substance
whose name evokes the space light
by which we are dissected,
so far from Earth and fragile.
The wind blew,
protesting its innocence and honour,
blew clouds above a seascape,
so far from Earth and sighing
but not the sigh of substance,
the wind blew,
in mind there,
where forms encode their meaning,
not dust and rock and glimmer
of alien suns, not substance
but moons of those millennia,
bright moons, bright with inner tremor
of the engendering seasons,
star-watching years, the slowly
drifting years of patience
while winds rose,
while time blew over landscapes,
while streams ran in the canyons,
ran crying for
the thing of light and silence.
A MESSAGE TO THE IMMORTALS
Don’t seize the day now, Postumus, Postumus,
it’s not what you thought it,
the moment is not
both the thing you can live
and the thing you can see.
Take care of yourself, and take care
of your future, plan
and consider, be the voyeur
of whatever you dream of,
so be here and be there.
It’s true that the darkness and Lethe are waiting,
though we live as immortals
each moment we die,
in the pain of each memory,
the hurt of each love lost,
not hurts of the body but pains of the mind.
Sensation, dear Postumus,
cheats and deceives us,
though thought’s not much better
it’s yours and its mine.
So don’t seize the day, make light of your purpose,
give the poor universe values and names,
your being is free despite its conception,
your mind is your universe
strange as it seems.
THE REAL RIVER RUN
Nothing in nature lies between us,
plunge your hand in the deep surface,
glimmer of light is glimmer of mind.
Translucent creatures shimmer there,
or float in the air, or dance on leaves,
and we are nothing higher or greater.
Don’t be deceived by shining words,
by sweet seducers straining at spirit.
There is only one, true illumination.
Nothing exceeds the being here, no
otherworld where the body wavers,
or brains without an eye perceive.
Nothing in Nature hides you from me,
or I from you: now ripple the surface,
watch the real refute all concealment.
Green weeds like glass, bold fish run
through an icy water under our hands,
and where we end is where we began.
Nothing in Nature now between us,
the creature and its Earth complete,
and our sole paradise under our feet.
DESERT AT TWILIGHT
After the catastrophe, with Earth gone
we were adrift on the infinite darkness.
Like the dark pike we swam in shadow
filled with distance, like craft in the sky
relinquished visible trails, far from home,
so visitors, therefore exiles, hardly guests.
There were quiet landings, empty deserts.
It was good to repeat the wilderness again,
without the error, and no indigenous tribes,
never environmentally hostile ever again.
We pined for the creatures. We were life,
the sole life, the water merely pure crystal,
the rock all kinds of sorry igneous torment.
We would have given anything for a tree,
and not the ones we brought, but wild groves
below limestone crags, sweetened with birds.
After the catastrophe, past the violence, there
was a reckoning, the too-late comprehension.
Yes, we were gloriously free in our chains,
bringers of civilisation to the glowing void.
Yet language, habit, drew from us nostalgia,
for that mad planet, for its gone imaginings,
which now were ours. The infinite beckoned,
beautiful with light. A tenderness burgeoned
towards all the un-redeeming, pitiful universe
beyond the glass, for all of its inability to bear.
What would we not give now for the flowers?
On their planet, the mind turned inside-out,
their thoughts are visible externally,
with colours and display, anguish, joy
may be inspected with their memories.
Communication is no more a problem
than perception, individuality is etched
in black, troubling but always capable
of re-direction. There is no turning back.
To Earth long gone, they pay tribute,
though find it astounding that minds
hugged the dark. Theirs are apparent,
each meaning and emotion has its corner,
its surface presentation: like minds see
themselves reflected in eternity, why
seek a vision that no one can share,
rather they cherish the revealed, aware.
The emerald water, purple waves, move
in arcs and tremblings of agitation,
alone in the darknesses mind-fish swim
devoid of the human, passing to and fro
flickerings of endless motion, the tide
carrying its flotsam to a shoreless shore
which is itself an uncertainty of place,
where there is sound, but no word said,
where there is flow but scarcely feeling,
yet permanence still, sheer continuation,
like pulsing stars that iterate on station,
unaware of the language of their being.
The shadows of the mind-fish in the glass
of our present universe glide by with fins;
silent the eyes that watch. They look deep
and puzzle at weeds, tug at stones asleep.
Entangled wave-forms pass and flow,
collapse to correlation so, instantaneously.
Faster than light, yet causally, on every
planet under its sun, uncertainty is done,
and certainty, elusive, the long-lost prize
emerges, throws its star-dust in our eyes.
Uncertainty is sweeter, as I’m aware,
never in one place, always here and there.
I went walking in the dandelion fields at dawn.
An enviable quietness, like the tranquil sea.
The beauty is fragile as we are, the things exist
but the beauty is only in mind, and only in all
the creatures of mind, which therefore includes us,
as love survives after the end, but in memory only.
I went walking on paths on the limestone dome,
its hills like calm waves slow in the early light,
progressing quietly, waves from the shining east,
in which the slight dead lie and the slighter living.
Clarity and intensity, without violence, I love.
Another play out there, acted, the one without us,
far in the deep field behind the gestures of stars,
soft behind veils, the stones, shoals of that sea.
I went walking, in the dandelion fields at dawn.
And the bright flowers went through my mind,
in that green basin of earthlight and the morning,
as if a humane beauty glistened out of the world.
I imagine them passing through the long grasses,
alive over hills, the rare amongst all of the many,
in ones or twos, or in small groups of all genders,
the silent peoples, surrounded by starry creatures,
by whose complexity of person they were amazed,
shocked by wild beauty, else how could they have
drawn the outlines of light on the billowing walls
of the caves, in the rock-shelters? Or under the stars
how else could they have raised up a standing stone?
I imagine them, perhaps falsely, in their tenderness,
as if nurture was the ancient invention not violence,
gazing down at the long slopes, or gathering there
(tell me the dale!) where the wild-garlic flows down
in foam of white flowers in a green wave of the sea,
to startle, where the stony ravens croak on the cliffs,
where wildflowers (orchis, cowslip, or water avens)
border the paths above the bare stream, those clouds
moving too quietly for me, in May, on a radiant blue.
They were no less clever than us, so no less awake
if we are awake, nor do they dream of what we are
as we dream of them. The wanderers without aim,
whose sense was survival, careless of destination,
as long as it brought them where might be content,
listening to great waves, or lying down under hills
etched on the dark, with those high crowns of stars.
Why long to go back? It’s a madness. Here we are
with our civilisation protecting us from the flames.
Why long for the cleansing to sweep away the most
of what we have done? Why envy the primitive?
Gauguin was no less unhappy, Rimbaud, in the end,
all value for us being within, deep in the human heart
and not in the circumstances of our being. And yet,
there’s that beauty, that quiet of long sweet spaces
of echoing night sky, the range of feelings all there
in those ghostly faces that intimate we will never
go further than they did in friendship or tenderness.
The ocean stirs with a blinding brightness,
great breakers breathe foam, like volcanoes
spiralling mist in the air, ozone over stones,
shatter, and take with them half of the shore,
churn, smooth the pebbles, scouring the sand,
purify, as the dark river its sculpted cataracts,
wash the granite with salt, defying gravity
so embracing it, bring shell litter, carapace,
bone of the cuttlefish, shape life with death.
The shoulders of headlands shrug off the dawn.
Bleak islands, reef and rock sing like the wires,
howl with direction, a wind in the roads makes
light of the wave-fronts, piles up our memories.
Something under our civilisation rears awhile,
pays homage without mind, laughs in our face.
But the jetties survive and the cliff-wet houses,
and the boats ride over, their anchors holding,
while the ocean’s purity is no better than mine.
We will not be saved by the ancient Earth, we
can only cast off into that ocean of star-ways,
into the seas between galaxies, into the dark,
where our fears are magnified, our securities
less than our skeletons under the high waters.
It will need a greater scouring than this our
planet, it will need our absence, the brine
and dirt of neglect, the grinding down of our
detritus, the freedom of spiny creatures, dark
insects, violent predators, the desperate herds.
Then with the cities gone, the grass and trees
grown over the sills and shimmers, the wild,
in its deep unpleasantness, as well as for us
its non-human beauty, reclaiming our space
and without possession, held without power
or authority, might return to its beginning,
in some few million years. The valueless
glimmer of landscape churning in sun-fire.
Far out we will be singing of other worlds,
and our lost home, with daring sentiment.
We will be colonising the impure universe,
with impure thoughts of conquest, disguise.
So let me go down again to the sea-caves,
clear for a moment of all but nature’s spoil,
to watch the great waves collapse in spume,
the granite quiver, the sea-birds cry, Earth
roll with its Moon, and disabuse my mind.
See how they went soft through the grasses.
Yes I believe them more beautiful than I.
Their quick intelligence in earth or starlight
keener, their knowledge of all this closer.
See how they carried the child, how they
warmed the caves with tenderness and life.
Who cares what gods or power they thought
spread the sky, and lit the moon, and roared
at night from the passes in the mountains,
and inspired the creatures, their green eyes?
See how they moved silently in the morning,
like a breeze in the dust, a pattern in the air.
See how they move inside us, almost are us,
except we have to delve deeper to find them.
Dancing down the fields of light they passed.
We have lost what they carefully left behind.
Not the practice: the dreaming, the respect.
The sense of the fineness of inhuman nature,
the sense of the inter-penetration of things
of into one another out of a self-same root.
There’s irony. The animalistic religions,
the anthropomorphic, drew them nearer
to that truth which is ours, how there’s no
difference between it all, only the forms.
So we might see the quick mind of the hare
as of the same order of beauty as our own,
though beauty is ours, or is it wholly ours,
or is there a dynamic in beauty of out there?
I see them in dream and waking, passing by,
the flickering fires, their limited possessions,
the cries to the night skies, the compassion
for, identity with, the creatures, the knowing
the details of every life, not just their own,
and I wonder where that powerless power
has gone to, or why the image is so potent,
we ache for them, we long for what we deny.
ONLY ONE STORY LEFT
Eventually I begin to see the history
as beautiful in itself, all the long way
back to our origins, and likewise all
the creatures we travelled along with,
which did not have to be themselves
but are: the serious light-spun ones
whose instincts guide them slowly
through a maze marvellous as mine.
The ages of heat and stone, of water,
the ages of grasslands, cliffs and air,
the darker ages, the starlit millennia,
beside which our time is pitiful, small.
I see now that science too was in part
a way to assuage our dread curiosity,
and, despite its errors of application,
a way for us into the beauty we saw
which is hard to understand, except,
in some Darwinian sense, as asset,
a way to reconcile mind to transience,
a way to bear this terrible evanescence,
this walking forward into the passing,
which is also joy, to be free as the air,
ungraspable like the mountain, elusive
as running stream, silent, intentionless.
Eventually (should I live long enough) I
might begin to see it as the only beauty,
the long way back, the getting to here,
the transformed Earths of our memory.
Seagull shines through the fog, breaks into sun,
a shattering of feathers over a blackness of rock,
screams in its hatred, joy, or its inner fireworks,
shreds the damp clinging air, shoots over space,
and is an image to me of the mad mind, diving
in and out of the interstices of the brave planet,
that unafraid goes ellipsing, soaring on nothing,
or of the planet itself, a great bird un-affirming,
but by mere presence affirming Being in mind.
Seal shines on the shore as small boats creep
silently through the white glare and shadows,
then takes off, flops to the salt-ways, slithers
loosed and free now into the blue-green flow,
and is an image for me of the strong heart flung
out of the safety I love, into the unsafe waters,
that unafraid goes diving, rolling, squirming
or of those seas themselves, power unmeaning
careless of where it ends in that bare gliding.
Earth went by
in the black light,
in our eyes
and was gone
falling among stars
into and under stars.
Earth we gave away,
too wild for us,
a planet unmeant
for us, and no design.
Earth melted blue
into the far reaches,
known the contours
vanishing, with us,
into the far spaces
Earth we lost,
Earth we cared for
so little, so much,
we found it hard
to feel the true delight,
to find the hurt, to say.
Earth the unique place
of our beginning,
forlorn, forgone, forever,
over all horizons
beyond our living sun.
The bird of being and of light
flew towards us through the night:
stirred the dark leaves moved the breeze
sighed with our uncertainties,
the universe without intent,
and bright exquisite accident.
For the moon blew through me,
and the wind caressed me,
and all meaning left me,
in the blue of evening.
In the wind of evening
where all meaning vanished
though the light caressed me
and the moon above me.
For the wind blew through me,
and the moon caressed me,
and I lost my heart at evening
past all hope of redemption.
Perhaps we will be more tender here,
among the stars. Quieter like the stones,
the trees, the bones of the creatures
light under their veils of earth.
There is no secret more gentle than
the flowers, the wildflowers down
their fields, rivers and stars of our
long-loved long-abandoned planet.
There is nothing more tender than
this green sanctuary. These cliffs
darkening the shrine of self,
the sweet waters of the mind.
Perhaps we can be more as we tried
to dream among the stars, bright
fragments of something beyond
the need to haunt and question.
Make peace with ourselves here,
eschew the violence once, and for
all, admire and cherish the beauty,
that comes out of us and flows on.
Perhaps we can be the flicker of light
caught in the coils of the stream,
and the animal joy again, wild
with the universal wildness.
OUT OF THE NOISE
Out of the noise of humankind
shift to the universe behind,
name it, it escapes your names,
like time devours itself in flames.
Here’s the city, a closing door
on wilderness we can’t endure,
though saved by silent lakes and trees,
an unknown flower, the alien seas.
See, with the heart, the burning flow,
that place we seldom dare to go,
into the movement of the real,
the vital leaf, the forms we steal,
the insect curled, the waving line,
the complex structures of the mind,
water like hair, clouds that foam,
slow cascades, a light-streaked dome,
spiralling storm or wind-blown rill,
rotating galaxies bright and still.
Nature twines and coils and sings
in great as in little things.
When we are all equal in abilities
(I mean in the age of the machines)
what price competition? Creativity,
on the other hand, will set us free,
since experience, and serendipity,
the basis of deep art, both combine
with form in the true creative mind,
and the age of replication will be
strangely the age of the individual,
while we will depute the collective,
and mechanical, to the horde process,
out of which streams the identical.
The rare in us, when all will be the best,
will be the personal, the queerly blessed,
the unicorn realised, the unique verse
nothing in us knew or could rehearse.
Here is our place beyond the sun,
the orbit where sad children run,
dreaming pale Jupiter and Mars.
They are within, the billion stars,
like roses glittering on the stem,
they die in us, as we die in them.
THE SILENCE OF A PLANET
The silence of a planet
that lacks our history
is never the silence
of our human places,
only its own un-aging silence.
No Orion hangs in space,
dark galaxies, gas-clouds,
in jewelled omnipresence
to end the age of iron.
Here the new dawn caught us,
fleeing through the aeons,
to this place where no
bones lie under turf
or granite, where no life was
until we grounded, here.
No gulls cry in the stillness
over these bright waters,
its treeless horizons
glitter with sleepless licence.
The silence of this planet
is the silence before life
not the sound, after dying,
of Earth, or our sighing,
under other stars.
And all in the mind, the light
aquamarine, sapphire blue,
wind in the mountains pure
again this year, eyes still clear
nothing has changed, world
as intentionless, oh, is solid,
or as fragile as a thought, is
beautiful as a certain thought,
that wards off doubt, or fear,
Cerinthus, every fear,
and may last our time,
and a little longer, wind
in the distant trees, soft rain,
the mountain’s voice
the quiet, singing.
SNOW ON HILLS
The snow on hills
the beauty of the trees.
Far off the city
blinking and trailing
banners of smoky
light in the air.
The snow on pines,
the juniper fragrance.
Far off the road
The snow inside us,
the heart calmer.
Far off the dark cloud
the power lines
the unheard sounds
who know better
the snow inside them
the trees the hills
WHITE MOUNTAIN SONGS
White mountain songs,
holding snow flowers,
the dark peaks shine,
it is as it is.
Cloud in a mountain stream,
pure sky filled with rain,
down the high cliff we go,
Here in the tangled light,
singing white mountain songs,
holding flowers of snow,
where dark peaks shine.
INDEX OF FIRST LINES
- Under the dark tree, no Mind made us.
- Past the abandoned pastures burnt in the sun,
- What is there you do not doubt, the self, the line
- Keepers of fire, in the dark, remembered places
- These shelves of rock are stands of light-filled leaf,
- No god, no soul, no spirit, no beyond.
- Intrudes into the eye a coldness that outlasts
- The moth on the leaf of night,
- We are Mind and no mind made us
- In me like the sky, exterior mirror,
- Man is the gardener now, in the garden empty of gods,
- Of what man has the power to know
- Respect them,
- Be, in the Moment’s power.
- Moon-creature precious of desire
- You’re the white flower of the rowan.
- Is there Paradise beloved
- Tender, so tender, arc of slender light,
- Flower of the hawthorn.
- Bird on briar, Bird, Bird on briar,
- To each, giving, generous, lovely, not to one only.
- White star in the grass,
- Drowned by love, remember she is moon-led,
- She exhibits in white flowers and leaf-dark trees,
- Chamandra, when they strike fire in you,
- What we see, what we are
- A dry, pale winged transient, over water
- Don’t be confused: love is all. Not,
- Between the past and future state
- Corona Borealis, Canes Vetanici,
- On folded rock
- The heart is not owned
- In the darkness, with the child by your side,
- You sing for strangers, and your word is a cage,
- Universe, free of cause,
- Love in the mind is
- To be a poet is not to write. There is
- The world’s white light is cool as ice or stone.
- When we are dead they open the gate of the dark.
- What does the heart want, meaning and care:
- For the presence of light
- After the denial of values,
- For the tongue, the lips, the mouth,
- Alder, the secret name,
- The deer-prints, the owl cry,
- Perhaps the last
- Out of the silence,
- Creation. How is it done?
- Blue flower
- Wang Wei sits
- The night, the stars without intention,
- We are caught in the net of eternity:
- To exercise power over others
- Love them all, creation’s thousand ways.
- Melt of the last, silent forests,
- Love links us to the generations,
- The forests thrown away,
- Deny the emptiness,
- That everything should be
- All these hunted broken species,
- Free from sexual jealousy
- Hermes, dark, thin anxious
- In others’ hands
- The grass flute
- That Plato never understood
- It is you, silent
- The wind blows through
- How long will this flame last
- After the poem, the true poem,
- We will not escape ourselves,
- Never more clothed we are never more naked,
- The seeing eye.
- Learn to write bird-script.
- Every ritual, every language,
- Slowly the wind of silence
- When the minds of machines flicker like light,
- I kiss your hands.
- When we have eaten the Earth,
- What is Light?
- I kiss you, we make form.
- Light is also salvation
- The truth is the truth of the mind
- The trees owe nothing to the stars.
- Tired of world and time
- A trembling moon, a well of fire,
- This is beauty,
- In and out of the tangle
- As we understand the power of minds meeting,
- Swear no allegiance,
- Speaking the obvious, a Ch’an ‘master’
- The water is blue
- These are the makers,
- By night
- No mind, no names, no things.
- Where did the love in us come from?
- I am the hawthorn tree that sings
- The brush follows the line,
- Burn like the child you were and are,
- Pigeon flies down, eats seed.
- On this worn slope,
- Han Shan’s mountain in the mind.
- If you see Zen,
- February blue, frost-mist off the ground,
- We are not symbols.
- Creatures in all their half-voiced beauty,
- Little swift creek, shallow water,
- Waking at night on the empty beach, watching
- Plum buds, cherry buds,
- Sing to me in our abandoned house.
- It took a while to get here
- Where we began, between the hills and plain,
- At dead of night
- The black pine on the mountain sings
- Wind in the grass, the light,
- World vanishes,
- How many pounds of ash, then, clasp your flesh,
- Singing the love that ends all things,
- Words stream from us into the delicate dark,
- I despise the dark hunting, the blind killing.
- Our land, our dust, where’s the possession?
- We were moral in those first dawns too,
- Suffering, patient, sacred creatures
- No Zen wars, no Tao wars,
- As we get older (the fire colder
- Shall we talk forever, minds gentle,
- Looking out of the window
- No, can’t revise these
- Little breeze at grey twilight
- Aborigines squat silent on orange sand,
- Crow said, as good as said,
- Hardest of all to go beyond the anger,
- No one sees true, no one sees true,
- Great breath of Earth-sigh, all leaf energy, all blade,
- Write the poetry of the spirit,
- You must sing the Earth
- Founded on feeling, we are
- The sacred is not for sale.
- The living creature
- Keep out. Keep away.
- No Nothingness, all is Form,
- The endless manifestations of Power are all alike:
- Between the World as we wish
- Be careful with death,
- Don’t go writing poems to me
- Drifting over the mountains
- Slow gained liberties soon lost.
- Nothing is owned
- A Mind in the shadows of beauty’s silence
- I have looked in the eyes
- The dark vision in empty light.
- The long ranges covered with snow,
- Wu-Chên’s sheathes and blades,
- Far through Western sky
- The great Wheel turns in silence,
- The yellow flowers against the misted pines
- Mind in love
- Rain on oak leaves,
- Love, Truth and Beauty
- The stack of books
- If you ask how we’ll do it, the answer is
- The forsythia is blazing yellow this end of March,
- In dustbowl after dustbowl, see the women
- Deeper than each in each may see,
- Glitter and hum of the fall,
- No I don’t know what
- It’s simple, the machines will have to have
- Nature is beauty and consoles,
- Where are the wilds?
- Brushing dark webs from under the covering glass,
- Deep down far in the earth,
- Dark-veined butterfly floats
- Like a stream of light
- All free, all to no purpose,
- Beautiful, this deep Nature
- What’s in their Mind, the creatures, something
- At times I want the poem where nothing happens,
- The way to wage war on power, is to
- Silence and Freedom is the house
- For there are no Mysteries, we see,
- Captured by
- I cannot recall (Rilke said) the smile
- In the hot sun, hotly, the cars drive
- Shakespeare sings about the broken bond.
- Understanding Mind should take us,
- Fifty thousand years of the dream,
- All that we changed
- Pollen flows through the air
- Padding softly through shadows the polar bear,
- The lark ascends, and the dove descends,
- And it won’t be our dancing feet in the new dust,
- The bronze bird in the morning tree
- We ought to know by now,
- Eat my words
- Yes, we know the world is real,
- The desert was not the end of imagination
- Pollen at the core of the late flower of the season,
- Gilded Buddha on a plinth of stone,
- In the photos how calm we seem:
- That image of the Scorpion on my wall
- Blue fog across the valley,
- The wild dogs go racing
- Now the gods and the false solutions are dead,
- Far from every Thing,
- Cold green pool under green trees.
- Power is empty, though it makes
- Sudden barking: an adder slides away in the sun.
- Big weathered rocks,
- No this is not about me, it’s about us.
- Black city echoing with light.
- The weight of all the mass of all the cities: swiftly gone.
- It’s not the heaviness of thought that impresses,
- Dissolve us in light, and light is Tao,
- Reading Frost, at midnight. There is a dark presence
- Below the mind lurks the creative mind, unseen dark matter,
- The windows are covered with drops of rain.
- Dubious forward vision: best suited to brief crises;
- Prospero was happy to have got rid of Ariel, though
- He put his hand into Being then it vanished.
- Allen Ginsberg I dream of you, mad choirboy
- Every fragile instant is impossible,
- In a big circular fat-bellied pot with a blueberry in;
- I would be beautiful for you, and not strange.
- Blue fell from a sky that was not blue.
- Out of Chaos the singing order comes.
- You plant a tall tree there beyond the stars,
- The oldest galaxy sits there calmly, a knot
- Breeze sounds like a breeze in the mind.
- His colours were black, silver and purple.
- The bee, blind, honeyed, sank in its shaft of gold.
- The poem is the force of its conception.
- And put the fly in a poem, like a Muramachi poet,
- Our forms defined the landscape till light faded.
- Here is a small presence carved, it sits on the mantelpiece,
- The Muse of tragedy? Well there’s the world
- Be kind, if you can. There is so much here
- Wonderfully sweet the work that goes,
- Irreality is a part of the world, and all the world.
- I shape your beauty in the caul of night,
- The parting was fire,
- Now I am speaking
- This is a different kind
- You think the stones, the power, make truth?
- Sister, my sister,
- This bright meadow,
- Down green tracks the singing grasses.
- Bright, you rise from the darkness, nameless stream,
- Shake off the planet, all its exhaustions,
- You write because the world disturbs you
- Returning always to the way,
- Moon on the rock-edge.
- The lack of purpose frees us,
- Waking from sleep to find the Self still here –
- Go softly now where you exist.
- A parakeet of purest blue
- At night the sceptical music plays,
- Over the field, go
- Starlight’s a dancer dancing late,
- That lightness, Verlaine,
- Is the great control the poetry,
- Rituals of others
- We make ourselves from the dialogue with true minds.
- The world outside is already inside us.
- The note’s discordant
- Right intentions may often end in tragic consequences,
- It’s more important to be yourself than someone else.
- Slipping into Eternity on the quiet
- The night knew nothing and the light was swept
- Poetry and post-modern irony
- The problem is we are all too many people.
- Scavenging over rubble, the children from the latest war.
- Giant columns of Maya glisten in evening air.
- At Thistle Creek
- We built a tall fence
- Gently we go
- Rowan, be my gateway,
- All living creatures run
- The moral man in his gentleness considers
- The beauty the camera does not capture,
- The language here goes deeper into English,
- Mind is the meaning that cannot be said.
- As the past grows longer,
- Oh you will have to catch the world in flight.
- The planet on the floor was formed of silver.
- Limestone under the moon,
- There is no deeper meaning in the music.
- Love be veiled in danger where you lie,
- Moving matter of light leaps lunar beauty,
- What Ulysses most needed to beware of
- Out of this light did you, my lover,
- What did I wish when time was young?
- She sits beside the stream and is his fate,
- Big trees fall on the ridge.
- The object grew larger climbed from the poem
- His face itself being the object fluctuates
- Let Ares sleep, his mind is full
- Icarus fell and was the Minotaur.
- Say to me something, critic, that is not
- And these were the ancient peoples,
- In the belly of the whale the world glitters.
- No one goes into the dark,
- It is the words we write we never understand
- Whoever owns the land
- Wind shifts in the pines.
- Words tell no lies though liars do;
- A hummingbird hawk moth sips at a flower,
- Slowly it rises from the substrate, bubbling,
- Yes Icarus falls, we note the irony,
- There was the always-angry one, and the one
- The Earth it seems was lifting in the glass.
- Thought walks tracks, over moors of beauty
- Beauty’s love for the Beast is what we
- The symbol on the chariot’s step is Woman
- Here’s the emotion of a boredom striving
- In the end it is kindness exalts what we are,
- Cordelier of light in the mal maison,
- Voluble the little yowling of the weather.
- The bird sang
- Returning to my
- This hill stands alone
- A well-piled wall under flickering stars.
- Nothing twisted, nothing to hide,
- And then the music plays and it’s no matter
- What we wish is that the universe had a heart
- When power allows, our values
- Silent in sleeping dales
- The world we see,
- Plant us in silicon and we will be
- All these things that differ in what they are,
- Slowly it glitters
- Appears at dusk, pale as the ghost of Banquo,
- There no one goes
- Masks glitter in the silence, masks of the sea,
- The meaning of the Pastoral is this:
- Deserted places
- We must go,
- Under a silver moon
- It is bright, is what it is,
- The hole in your head with the darkness inside
- Landscape is light
- The gentle heart
- Not founding cities in time,
- They look at their moons rising.
- You must say what you believe,
- All these animals were people.
- There they live in peace, and dream,
- Through the white mist of stars
- Traveller in the womb of night,
- ‘To learn the self is to forget
- The moon rose,
- Don’t seize the day now, Postumus, Postumus,
- Nothing in nature lies between us,
- After the catastrophe, with Earth gone
- On their planet, the mind turned inside-out,
- The emerald water, purple waves, move
- Entangled wave-forms pass and flow,
- I went walking in the dandelion fields at dawn.
- I imagine them passing through the long grasses,
- The ocean stirs with a blinding brightness,
- See how they went soft through the grasses.
- Eventually I begin to see the history
- Seagull shines through the fog, breaks into sun,
- Earth went by
- The bird of being and of light
- For the moon blew through me,
- Perhaps we will be more tender here,
- Out of the noise of humankind
- When we are all equal in abilities
- Here is our place beyond the sun,
- The silence of a planet
- And all in the mind, the light
- The snow on hills
- White mountain songs,