Clear Ground

The Selected Poetry of A. S. KLINE

Clear Ground - Cover

I came to see the blue hills,

to watch the white clouds come and go.

Clear Ground - Quotation - Frontis

© 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.


Contents

Clear Ground - Contents


fROM: PERSPECTIVES: SING TO ME SOFTLY OF EARTH

Sing to Me Softly of Earth - Chapter Image

NO MIND

Under the dark tree, no Mind made us.

In the gold desert flowering after rain,

in the blue desert, no Mind watching us.

Hedges dark-scented.

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.

CREATURES

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 ?

QUARRIES

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.

FIRST LIGHT

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.

The sky

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.

NOCTURNE

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.

EX NIHIL

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.

SEASON

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.

DREAM

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 GARDEN

Respect them,

the animal eyes,

where we are.

See now, there,

the Nothingness flower,

contain us.

Acknowledge

body, mind, process,

discover the sacred.

Examine

how silence, stillness invade

what no-one made.

Consider

the empty garden now.

Attend.

BE

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

Talking to the White Goddess - Chapter Image

INVOCATION

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
(7TH CENTURY)

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.

ANONYMOUS RONDEAU
(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 ?

NEW MOON

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.

ALPHABET

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.

THE GODDESS

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.

ROSE

Hedge-rose,

gentleness,

the world crushes.

Dog-rose,

wildness,

earth crushes.

Sweetness,

tenderness,

being crushes.

Briar,

Briar, rose of the thorns,

you

night crushes.

Rose, Rose

of no-time,

light crushes.

STARLIGHT

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.

VARIOUS

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

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

From the Mountain - Chapter Image

APHRODITE

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?

WATCH

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,

star canals,

out there, the far lights.

Forests gone, land gone

under highways.

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,

deep green

dry needles of fir,

on bark, on rails

that we don’t see, can’t see.

Night roads,

light and cloud, frost and wind.

Old words,

float through the trees,

in the mind,

and those who can

point,

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,

bent bamboo,

all shapes of light,

stand still, shiver,

shimmer, glisten.

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.

GATHA

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

Looking Back at Earth - Chapter Image

INCANTATION

Corona Borealis, Canes Vetanici,

Berenice,

Perseus, Andromeda.

Antares, Arcturus, Spica, Vega,

Cassiopeia, Deneb,

Gemma, Mira,

Rigel, Regulus.

Anguem, Alta,

Orphiucus,

Lyra, Serpens Cauda,

Altair, Crux.

Capella, Draco,

Bootës.

Hesperus.

FOLDED ROCK

On folded rock

the bird soars.

This power

is worth having,

not the other.

The fox, red, gazes

pointedly,

drags his brush,

flickers, is gone.

Deep inside

is his secret.

Look down

over lakes and hills

Mind knows

its place,

in the chest,

in the eyes.

On folded rock

sitting, seeing,

wishing for power

to pass me by.

REMAINS

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.

GRAVE GOODS

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.

STRANGER

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

Nature and Spirit - Chapter Image

ALL MOUNTAIN, NO EYE

Universe, free of cause,

owns this existence,

sweet nature’s complex,

manifold, twist

of idea,

bright wisp of inner light,

solid, to hand.

Loving the line of mountains,

cloud, valley, air,

distance as open,

this human shape

rendered small.

What sight, trembling, the weight,

powerlessness, outreach!

You without reason,

you yet exist,

sweetness, a human

sweetness, an incandescence.

LOVE IN THE MIND

Love in the mind is

beauty,

love that is care.

Love in the body is

truth,

that we can bear.

Sweet as the heart

that lives,

on gentle things,

the tenderness

that in the spirit sings.

Love in the mind is

truth,

truth that we dare,

and in the body

beauty,

that we can bear.

NO CONFESSION

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.

HOLLY-LEAF

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.

LITTLE SONG

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 - Chapter Image

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.

IN TIME

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.

SILENCE

For the tongue, the lips, the mouth,

the throat.

Silence.

For the shadow in time’s courts, the face,

the bright one.

Silence.

For the stone, the stem, the stream,

the branch.

Silence.

For the wound. For the blood of the wound,

for the eye.

Silence.

For the bone, the fall the white

moon-gifts.

Silence.

For you. Silence. For time. Silence.

It burns.

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

tree-core’s messenger.

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.

STRANGE CLEARING

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

The Singing of the Real World - Chapter Image

DIRECTION

Perhaps the last

marvellous silence

will celebrate us.

After the last of Earth

becomes, again,

the first of Earth.

Perhaps the un-extinguished

species of flowers and leaves

will fill the stillness.

A vast rustling of life,

an intention-less

un-meaning trembling of life,

flowing, over-flowing,

filling the craters,

climbing the fences,

a shift in the wind.

HISTORY, FUTURES

Out of the silence,

intention-less,

the creature’s intent.

Out of the creature,

curious, creating,

empathy, trust.

Out of empathy

the great arch,

towers, laws, texts.

Out of the great arch

danger, darkness,

mutation of spirit.

Out of the spirit,

the future spirit

of the enlightened creature,

truth, care, clarity, silence.

HUMAN

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,

with empathy.

Creation, this beauty,

the heart of the human.

GATHERERS OF LIGHT

Blue flower

under the hedge.

Silence glow.

And, above, the pure

tremor of the dog-rose,

its fire burning.

Our fire, burning

in quiet centuries.

Gatherers of light.

CHINESE LANTERNS

Wang Wei sits

in the green valley,

learning to write

bird-script.

Li Po drifts

on the great lake:

butterfly silks

and willow eyebrows.

But Tu Fu

down the hundred streams

twists and turns

with the centuries.

PURPOSELESS EASE

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,

and creatures,

and minds,

and life.

STAR-BOUND

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.

THOUSANDS

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.

ELSEWHERE

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.

NOT ALONE

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.


fROM: VALUES

Values - Chapter Image

GOING

The forests thrown away,

whole mountains down,

the green chain gone

between the earth and cloud.

Buzzard in an empty sky

passes by.

Fog clearing pine-trees

but remember now

the mind like mist,

like dust, blown high.

Fox on an empty trail,

slips by.

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,

flickering by.

MIND-CLOTHES

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,

not despite,

we make the choice that makes us:

Selves ignite.

Forget: begin again

with joy, erase.

The word is never

only what it says.

Revisit emptiness,

no prison’s best.

The heart is naked

when the mind’s undressed.

EVERY CHILD

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.

DENIAL

All these hunted broken species,

all these pounded lost species,

lives bred for death,

swift lives,

the faces in their silence

not encircling

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,

hidden beings,

and we deny their pain,

their minds, and consciousness.

GIVE

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,

passing dark

as Eros,

among lovers.

OTHERS’ HANDS

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.

FLUTE

The grass flute

and the dark branch

I sound

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

are sacred,

and the universe

without a god

is still

eternally sacred,

a high flare

of the water drop

flung

from the fountain’s tip.

META-FEAR

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.

NAMING

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,

over you,

naming you, silence.

It is you, silent

in all these places,

all mouth’s spaces

that touch on you.

It is you.

MOON-FOG

The wind blows through

the house without walls.

Trees and cliffs

in a mass of fog,

white smoke,

distant fires.

Moon is a symbol

not a place

that floats in space.

The fountain without

a source

flows through the galaxy.

Nothing I need,

and everything.

The insect that climbs

the page

is itself a word,

dark on whiteness.

Cool here

in the house without walls.

Warm our hands

at the great fire,

eat our portion,

know this earth.


fROM: THE GATE OF GRASS

The Gate of Grass - Chapter Image

HOW LONG?

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,

immutable memories.

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

of light,

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.

Carry civilisation

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.

BRIDGES

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.

A SONG

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

the darkness.

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,

the darkness,

eternal silence.

Nothing else does.

And your beauty

is nothing I can explain,

what woke us

or probes us

with meaning.

Your lips were flights

of light, were

Artemis’ arrows

and I trespassed there,

I clambered over

the walls of time,

was gone, where

the voices flared

between tall

slopes of ash,

into green ditches.

And I sang

to the flame

of your kisses.

They explained to me

this earth

as nothing else does,

the scent of the flowers,

the patience, the streets,

the moons like knives

of death, love, pity.

NOT REASON

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.

PHYSICS TEST

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?

And Entropy?

And Space?

Where are the Others?

What is Light?


fROM: NO ROOTS EXCEPT IN AIR

No Roots Except In Air - Chapter Image

WE MAKE

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.

BE CLEAR

Light is also salvation

but not in any

form of religion.

Organised illusion

is still illusion,

but the light

on the hill

brings salvation.

If you dispense with ‘truths’

and begin again,

with Earth and the human,

you arrive at what we made

what made us,

intention-less

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

is redemption,

mind’s salvation.

NO POWER

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.

TREES

The trees owe nothing to the stars.

Their darkness shines beyond the night,

to softly populate the light,

Earth’s Venus, Jupiter, and Mars.

SOLID STONEWORK

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,

Nature’s indifference,

non-hostile, undemanding,

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.

OUTLIER

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,

our alien-human,

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,

the outlier.

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,

shattered reality,

this is beauty.

Kick off the snow,

trudge downhill,

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

beaten blossom,

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.

MIND-MEETING

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.

THE AGE

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.

OBVIOUS

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
(5. CROSSING)

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,

alder, rowan,

the white flower

of the watching eye.

Rooks, crows

on the winds of evening,

these the makers,

their forms on high.

AT NIGHT

By night

the mountain-canyons,

the uncut, darkened

forests of Oregon,

the far north-west’s

volcanic call,

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.

Wind-gleams among

leaves

lips where you dream

all the Pacific murmur,

the sweet cries

in the mouth of dawn,

cedar, fir,

the ancient trails of light,

all seeking, meeting.

IS THERE

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

Entangled Clouds - Chapter Image

WHERE?

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.

ALPHABET

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.

BRUSHSTROKES

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

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

Pigeon flies down, eats seed.

Pigeon’s world is placid.

Pigeon’s creed

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.

Pigeon knows

what it knows.

HAVEN

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

Slipping By - Chapter Image

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.

ZEN-RIDDANCE

If you see Zen,

laugh, at the master.

If he strikes you,

answer back.

Autocratic, dead-end

righteous paths

to blunt the message

and detract.

The simple tasks,

the honest paths,

the empty universe.

There is no Way.

Here it is, no rites

no scriptures,

our natural being,

undirected world.

FEBRUARY BLUE

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.

UN-REVELATION

We are not symbols.

we are not texts,

we have no names.

We are not searchers

for identity,

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.

WELLSPRINGS

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.

BRINE

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

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

thinking,

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

evening blue,

all the forms burning

in your eye.


fROM: THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE

The Other Side of Silence - Chapter Image

‘Han River shines clear

washed by the wind and rain.’

PILLOW TALK

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,

self-deception.

Now we are here, the silence

and the beauty are oppressive,

unless we learn to love them,

learn acceptance.

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.

O UNIVERSE

The black pine on the mountain sings

the spirit in the body sings,

O Universe.

Ours the world to hurt or heal,

mind floats free, is this the real

O Universe?

The water in the river shines,

heart and soul are forms of mind

O Universe.

All eternity to view,

but where am I except in you,

O Universe?

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.

FALL

World vanishes,

world falls,

bright foam

of being.

Pool, at the base

of time, where

the ages are

reflected.

I look into you.

I see mind

and spray

of language,

consider the flow

bright stream,

the processes

of being.

ASH

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.

ATHEIST’S SONG

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.

SEEKING ECHOES

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.

EXCESS

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.

BALANCE

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.

OUT THERE

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.

DON’T ACCEPT

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.

MESSENGERS

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

poems, made,

in a flash,

as Tao taught,

lightning Zen,

the brush gone

in the hand,

and no pupil

looking.

They go by in

the air, like

kingfisher’s

azure track

over running water,

arrow-straight, done

and eye did see it,

yes, and lovely

delight.

LITTLE BREEZE

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

sensitively animated

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 SPEECH

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

intelligence gleaming,

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

Poetry Charity - Chapter Image

‘Two diamonds in the hand one Poetry one Charity

proves we have dreamed.’

Allen Ginsburg, 'Ignu'

DISCIPLINE

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.

STAR-FLOWER

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.

SELF-ADMONITION

Write the poetry of the spirit,

don’t perform.

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,

marvellous unknowing,

the unsullied endless generations

all over Earth.

LULLABY

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

after you.

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.

TRUE NOTES

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

cannot depart

from the process.

The mind, the tongue,

the heart, the rest

cannot depart

from the process.

Each move away

is just one more

swift flicker

of the process.

Whatever you think

you leave

behind, that is

not the process.

The bright eye, click

of vision gleams

and glares,

behold the process.

SIGN FOR THE HUMAN RACE

Keep out. Keep away.

Don’t conserve

the rattlesnake,

pass by.

No one here liable

to cull or

prosecution.

Natural laws apply.

Wire rusts here,

posts fall, trees

grow, things adapt.

Keep out, or die.

Without this, science

still works, arts

flourish, easily.

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.

GNOMIC COUPLETS

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,

Birch pointillist,

Impressionist,

Woods on fire burn bright leaves.

Un-leaving.

Birds through

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.

Deep colours,

flickering as

ancient peoples passed,

puce, umber, bronze,

grey bones of the beech trees,

lost smoke,

all this appearance,

and our spirit,

all this spirit

and our

appearance,

waning.

Elegy for an age

in every moment,

gold Maya,

the secret, Light.

This world

roaring emptiness.

through which

we see.

BE CAREFUL

Be careful with death,

darkness

consumes,

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,

longings erode,

ancient delusions

lead to confusion,

being is not understood.

Be careful with truth,

which we create,

what is in the world

is intentionless,

neither for or against us,

beyond

serenity.

Human suffering, o dark earth

where the fractured

haunted spirit sings.

There are places you

should not see,

spaces you should not

enter,

sweet, sad flesh, and kind

gentle mind, yearning,

non-action

even in mind,

is best,

in spirit, not matter,

holiness, compassion,

but not religion,

none of that foolishness,

be careful with death,

and emptiness,

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,

not nature,

and beauty in holiness,

life’s sacredness,

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

of soporific

scented Cedar,

eastern trees

with names

I don’t know,

silvery Latin.

Giant Redwood, out of

place in this space,

but beautiful

against English blue,

and almost

Chinese green.

White fir,

Golden Juniper (Chinensis).

Poplar, Alder, Oak,

familiar beauty,

Wellingtonia,

Sawara Cypress,

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,

Himalayan fir,

Mountain Hemlock,

Aspen and Tulip-tree

Oriental Plane.

Natural profusion,

sweet collection,

gentler than us,

poor tender flesh,

oh and a leaf here

brown between pages,

Red Horse Chestnut,

silent time.

GONE MASTERS

Drifting over the mountains

like clouds,

silent under the trees

like fallen needles,

golden,

green,

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

mouth opening,

mist on the hill,

snow on the pine,

dust in the light,

gone Masters,

brushstrokes

frozen in the air,

words like pebbles

scattered

in the stream,

ah glittering eyes,

who bow

to all eternity….

You think they lack

the moral stance,

and what is that

precisely, the moral stance,

they create,

they do no harm,

they show delight

at all existence,

free of human interference,

they laugh

at all this irony

of being,

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,

soft fires,

serenity is no terror,

and beyond the abject world,

be true,

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,

so light,

so intentionless.

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,

mysterious intricacy.

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

This Earth

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 DAY

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

KIN

I have looked in the eyes

of the creature

and seen

myself reflected.

Under the tree of being

I have seen

my counterpart

in spirit.

I have seen the heart’s

reflection,

the animal

companion.

I have seen the eyes

that share

a part of the

human soul.

Have felt

the creature’s gaze

silent

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.

BAMBOO

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

Voiceless Banners Blowing - Chapter Image

‘The essential order of things is that of Nature.

To achieve spiritual union with Nature is enlightenment.’

Tao Sheng: c400AD, 'The Way'

‘Let your nature merge with the Way,

and wander in it free from care.’

Seng Ts’an: c600AD, 'Trust in the Heart'

VOICELESS BANNERS BLOWING

Far through Western sky

Mountain crests,

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

(Andes, Himavant)

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

This species.

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.

Near Chung-tien

George Forrest found

Blue gentians

Sino-ornata,

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

Limestone cliffs.

Camped below

The Yulong Shan,

And on the Kang Shan

Yellow flowers and pines.

Butterflies, dragonflies,

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

Of night.

Solitude, sweet as fire,

Mind’s delight

Before

Desire.

Mind, in love

Of universe,

It’s one meaning

Now rehearse.

Love in mind

Is mind’s delight,

Dancing

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

Sweep low.

Ranked trees at twilight,

In English landscape,

Alder, ash, and fir,

The gleam

Of trees,

The rooted ground

Of being.

Fell trees, fell centuries,

Cut down

The mind itself

Score deep the spirit,

Make agony in the heart,

Sever our lives

From Time.

NOT PLATONIST

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.

Un-silent paper,

Living thought,

I listen below –

To other rhymes.

Column of books,

Raised in a pile,

Mind resonates,

Matter’s alive.

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.

FORSYTHIA

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.

METAPHYSICAL MUSIC

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.

MINNOW

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,

The world

A pebble.

THE QUESTION

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,

Without brine,

Green waves

Without breakers,

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.

AI

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.

NATURA

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

Deep Fields - Chapter Image

‘There are those who cling to the world and never break free;

there are those who enter the wilds and never come back.’

Hsi K’ang: 223-262AD, 'Letter to Shan T’ao'

DEEP FIELDS

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

Between stars

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,

Among grasses,

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.

EMOTIONS MOVE

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

Abolishes governments,

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

Without technique,

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.

Dark-veined butterfly

Wisp-footed other reality,

Trembles in blue flower,

Emotions move.

NAMELESS-RIVER FALLS

Like a stream of light

From a high cliff,

Nameless River

Falls.

In my head

The sound of rain,

The coolness

Of other silence.

Carves the rocks,

Cuts the green

Trailing fronds

Of silent fern.

Makes islands

In the dark,

Lingers in coiled

Slow pools.

All night hangs there

Where no one

Watches,

No mind sees.

Flows its own way,

Bright unknown,

Changeless depths,

Clear in time.

Like a stream of light

From an endless cliff

Nameless River

Falls.

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.

FRACTURE

Beautiful, this deep Nature

So why the anxiety?

Perhaps our suspicion

Of a flaw in the weave,

A dissonance

Behind the singing line,

An anguish given

Over to the spirit,

That the child feels

And the adult

Can’t escape

Through living;

The flowering meadow

Too good to be true,

The creatures

Not all friends,

Walls love can’t climb,

Places we can’t see,

Or be in,

Laughing;

Dark cloud, the storm

In distance gathering,

Or death,

The pure cessation

That has no other side,

Is not a force

Or state of anything,

Unlike the absence

After the quarrel;

The pain

Beyond separation;

Mutilation –

Why this rift

In the harmony,

This shudder,

This intensity,

Sudden lightning

In the silence

Before dawn,

A call

Stirring ancestry

Pulling

At our thread

Of generation,

All the rhythms

That resonate

Inside

Our being,

The rapture

That conceals

The darkness,

Piercing

Our simple platitudes

Our calm control,

This ease,

This facile understanding.

IT’S SHARED

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.

CREATING SPACE

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.

STONE SONG

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.

DAWN

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

Pollen in the Air - Chapter Image

SCANNING DEEPER

Captured by

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,

A tortilla,

A cowrie-shell,

Bread-mound, lattice,

Ribbed seed,

Eggs in a basket,

Fungus, capsule, pillow.

Lovely complexity

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.

SUCH STUFF

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

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.

OLD-WORLD PATH

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,

And calling.

All that we know is not so

Still goes on calling,

Rakes the spirit,

All the fifty thousand

Years and more

Of the dream.

ANTHROPOCENE

All that we changed

Without seeing

Now we see.

In the too-late timeless

Sadness of existence,

Our blue world.

What use our

Fingertip tenderness

Now (we few)?

This face tipped

In our hands,

The dissolving form,

This reality

Streaked with tears,

The mirror crying?

Out of all this

Now small for us,

Will they return,

The serious true

The sweet flow

Ever-achieved?

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

Qualitatively new,

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,

Worlds diminish,

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.

NATIVE LAND

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,

Mind mystified,

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,

Taste’s promise,

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

A tremor

In eternity.

Write our names

In water, air:

Transient, love

Without despair.

We, the miracle,

Are light,

Shining

In the depths of night.

MUSING

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.

GATHERING

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.

GET IT?

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:

Amused silence.

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.

COLD SNAP

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.

WILD LIFE

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.

CLEAR AIR

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,

White water

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.

Dingoes, coyotes,

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

Inside us.

Can you hear the wild dogs

Running in the night?

Is humankind

Ascending or descending?

Why is every dream

A dream of the past?

Even the dreams

Of the future,

Shiny in space

Summoning Odysseys

The Hero quests,

Wandering by desolate shores?

The creatures hide

In everything not sold

Under every stone

Deep down the wasteland.

Inside wherever

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.

We know

Where the creatures hide,

Whose side we’re on.

The side

Of all the pain

In the world.

SLOW NEWS

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

No Design - Chapter Image

COOL DAWN LIGHT

Cold green pool under green trees.

Grey sky.

Edge of autumn. This world

Is here without design.

The Chinese said tzu-jan,

Of-itself.

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

Without making.

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.

Stone-axe factory

On the slopes,

Bone arrow-heads

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

The mountain.

Something carves

Into the body.

Where we came from

Is almost a memory,

Latent in the bones

In the skin,

Aeons pulsing.

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.

CREDO

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

Inside You.

BLACK CITY ECHOES

Black city echoing with light.

But side-streets empty still sing

Of other spaces: under-seas,

Moonlit forests,

Silent grasslands.

Night city seems innocuous.

Walking the concrete,

Beside sheets of plate glass,

Phantom buildings

In the sky,

But diminishes the spirit.

The water, wood and grass

Is retrieved by mind

From more

Ancient places.

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.

Clouds collecting,

Breeze stirring,

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.

SIMPLE FIRELIGHT

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,

Longest-leaved.

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

Dark Matter - Chapter Image

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.

TENDER SPIRIT

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.


fROM: IRREALITY

Irreality - Chapter Image

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.

NETSUKE

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.

BEING SO

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.

EMBRYO

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.


fROM: WAYFARING

Wayfaring - Chapter Image

‘No obstacle at all, this gate of grass.’

Murasaki, 'The Tale of Genji'

PARTING

The parting was fire,

that separation ice,

but friendship

is new warmth

deep as the woodland.

Nothing else

will ever save us.

Nothing more

will flow

from the universe.

And no years pass in the heart,

no moments

of meaning vanish;

none and all,

unique, belong to all.

The parting was flame,

that absence void,

but new friendship

sends swallows

through the night.

Even from far

beyond the Lethe,

even there,

memory

recalls a day.

The air was sweetly cold,

the green river

the immense distance

between

two near places.

The parting was ice,

this space is fire

between

two

interwoven minds.

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

before farewell,

the perfect hour.

NOT PERFORMANCE

This is a different kind

of poetry.

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 non-performance,

at saying nothing,

and pointing everywhere.

WHITE AIR

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

before T’ang,

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.

WASP

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.

EST-IL PARADIS?

This bright meadow,

lacking all deceit,

the insects like innumerable

sparks, flying through the light,

these purer spirits.

Behind here are mountains,

uncut forest,

endless patterns

of cloud and stone.

Silent now,

no exploiters,

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,

sweet nature.

There is order

in the process,

not design.

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

we inherit.

Bright meadow,

I inherit your shining,

delicacy, mystery,

not a mystery of structure

but a mystery of being,

the quiddity

of this paradise,

that we contemplate

in the mind.

GREEN WAYS

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.

EVENING HOUR

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.

RATIONALE

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

Returning always to the way,

which is nowhere,

and nothing.

A play of light on water,

an ongoing

movement of leaves,

we are always part of.

Even the solitudes

are imaginary.

Air is no vacuum,

thought is time.

And meaning

is in nature,

out of mind,

always singing.

Always the singing dying

resurrecting land,

and the marks of

our passing.

Returning always to the way.


fROM: FREEDOM AND MEANING

Freedom and Meaning - Chapter Image

‘λάθε βιώσας’ – ‘Hide your life.’

Epicurus

SOUTH MOUNTAIN

Moon on the rock-edge.

All of the mountain

Borrowed whiteness,

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:

Incomprehensible

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

Or terror.

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,

Warfare, self-abuse,

Possessiveness, deceit,

Destruction, self-deception,

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,

Pre-conception, prejudice.

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 spontaneity.

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.

OTHER DAY

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,

Eternally existent;

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.

THE MUSIC

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.

ONCE MORE

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.

VERLAINE

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.

UN-TRANQUIL

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.

PORTRAIT

Rituals of others

Never interested me.

I preferred my own

Repetitions.

The universe I loved,

Beyond the human,

At the edge of space

And time,

In anything unmade

In nature given,

A leaf, an insect,

A galaxy, a flower.

I liked the science

Mind knowing,

But failed at detail,

Forgot the names,

Found the what

Resonant not the how,

Existence itself

And not its mirror.

Delighted in the arts

Though unconvinced

Of the value

Of climbing the mountain.

Practised for myself,

Free of the world

Careless of audience,

Always played,

Ruled myself,

Never served.

Understood

Nothing survives

Indefinitely,

And short term

Barely matters.

Time is long.

Was most at peace

Harming nothing,

Leaving all

The creatures alone.

Knew in the end

That nothing human

Has any power

Or authority.

Made my own laws

And moral harmony

Out of love truth

And beauty.

Hid my life

Within the fold,

Never joined

Or followed.

Was one alone.

Sang because

Nothing else

Was worth a candle,

So made poems,

Slight as shadows,

Stronger than

Flesh and steel.

Walked all the ways,

Held landscape

Inside myself

Sacred treasured,

The silent places

And the shining,

The small eternal,

Infinite.

Loved the few,

Indifferent to the rest

Why pretend?

Tenacious of my own.

Wholly bored by sin,

By activity with no

Deep creation,

By command.

Loved wordplay, satire,

All that ridicules

Meaningless status

And hierarchy.

Laughed deeply

Beyond the verse,

With delicate laughter

That ignites the sky.

Bathed my head

In the mountain stream.

Washed my feet

In the endless river.

Vanished alone

Among trees,

Inhabit still

Your darkness.

THE DIALOGUE

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.

AB-SURD

The note’s discordant

Inharmonious,

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,

Wild, meaningless,

Free of intent,

A singing in the void,

A music out of deafness,

Out of silence

Over which the tightrope-walker

Stumbles

(Metaphor by Nietzsche,

Design by Klee).

The birds twitter

In the wind on the wires,

Like notes (Pound)

On the clef.

Random form’s

Sweet non-randomness,

How all from chance

Looks nothing chanced,

Rather a complex

Articulation.

Strange skeleton

That sways,

Mad tongue

That speaks.

Its foolish

Babble,

‘Dada’,

Purest.

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.

A VISION

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

Purposelessly singing

Like the wind in the wires

On a hundred hillsides.

Rain quenching our fires.

Anonymity ascending.

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 emptier.

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,

Greensilver

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

Made modulation.

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.

IRONY

Poetry and post-modern irony

Don’t fit well together.

Poetry is the starving child,

Our embarrassment

In the face of meaning and the real,

Our misuse of our freedom,

The lost chance

To hold a face in tenderness

Forgiven forgive,

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,

Its energies

Are contradictions.

While we, like the bees

Buzzing in the firethorn

With their own skandhas,

Prefer simplicities:

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?

Trying foolishly

To catch the process

Light faded

Moon broke in the water.

MORNING NEWS

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.

MODERNITY ROARS

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.

Who’s innocent?

AT THISTLE CREEK STILL

At Thistle Creek

In the Yukon

Ancient horse bones

Half a million years.

Our ancestors

Hurling stones,

Or spears

A million longer.

Killing

Our intimacy

With Nature.

Nurturing

Crops gave

Decency

To human

Existence.

Down from the trees

On our knees,

Learning how

To respect it all.

NO OFFENCE

We built a tall fence

The creatures can’t get past,

Here

They can only hide

The ones outside

No clothes, no cars,

Move awkward, anxious

In the dust,

Or bare-pawed, alert

For us,

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

Can’t cross

Our own fences,

Out is in.

Good fences

Close out neighbours,

Wired

For purpose.

Civilisations fall

When the fences fall,

And here come

The creatures,

Tentatively often,

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.

Everything vanishes

Into the sack.

Come red, come yellow,

Come pale, come black.

Everything vanishes

Into the sack.

Wealth no matter,

No matter its lack.

Everything vanishes

Into the sack.

Way up, way down

It’s the selfsame track.

Everything vanishes

Into the sack.

Stride or stumble,

Defend, attack.

Everything vanishes

Into the sack.

Gently we go

No turning back.

Everything vanishes

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,

Nothing else

Matters.

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.

AFTER

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

Another Nature - Chapter Image

‘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.’

Philip Sidney, 'The Defence Of Poesy'

MORNING SONG

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.

ENGLISH

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 endurance,

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

sinking deeper

towards the hearts of words

their writhing tendrils

their nodes where meaning hangs

their soil that falls

into your open hand

and discloses

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,

grass underfoot,

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

now silent.

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,

remember there;

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.

NOCTURNE

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.

ANOTHER NATURE

Limestone under the moon,

is curious,

what I need;

a different perspective,

a slab, a stream,

the glittering hills

resilient grass

in bright cracks and hollows,

a clearer mind.

A way of elaborating

on mountain air,

expanding

the little mind,

the wandering senses,

freeing the weighty heart

that always wants

ridiculously

to fly.

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,

another nature.

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.

YEAR’S END

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.

SEEKER

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.

HOMERIC

What Ulysses most needed to beware of

was his own voice singing.

The seductive lie

is already within.

Athene fights

to counter Hermes.

The wise articulation is the worst.

Better a simple cunning,

how to make

wooden horses;

stay away

from Helens.

Floating by desolate islands

is no life for a knower,

(though we do it)

even when

written up later

by some cleric.

The one-eyed giant

we blinded

was our self.

We should

have stuck

to eating lotus,

seen that Calypso-Circe

was Penelope,

turning us

endlessly

into her

errant suitor;

been more aware

of time and distance,

less reliant

on the wind and waves,

more careful

of our friends.

Between Scylla

and Charybdis

what difference;

evading passion

and emotion,

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?

ANCIENT SONG

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.

CONFRONTATION

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.

Civilisations weary,

imagination fails,

but the view opens.

Whatever crashed down

cleared the brush,

carved perspectives,

became an insect hollow,

fuelled regeneration

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

inevitable, necessity

is as the mind requires;

boredom, inspirer

of curiosity, cries

for new horizons

in the darkness,

whatever you may say,

or tone you may adopt;

content beats style,

ultimately,

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.

HYPOSTASIS

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.


fROM: EARTHLIGHT

Earthlight - Chapter Image

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.

FIRST FIRES

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

speaks resurgence.

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,

rock crumbles.

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.

THOSE MOONS

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.

BINARY STAR

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

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

Wild Fruit - Chapter Image

THE BIRD

The bird sang

and was pure

existence.

We,

you and I,

we heard the bird sing.

There is a past,

the bird

has forgotten.

It sings

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 bridge,

the little river.

It sang

all being

and existence.

It sang

a wondering

affection.

We,

you and I,

we heard the bird sing.

MOONLIGHT FALLS EVERYWHERE

Returning to my

original home,

no ‘thing’ exists

for a moment

all is mind,

place without precedent,

unrepeatable instants,

every step

I took

unique.

This is the light itself,

white cloud,

dim valley,

the fog of being

the delightful

vastness,

the hundred flowers;

so how would we matter,

single species

gone beyond itself?

Idling by the ash-trees

under moons,

the inconspicuous

good thought

shimmers,

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,

this mind

in the silence

of its being.

Down-river, music

of white rapids

filled with

the light

of spring.

It comes and goes,

all this,

transient dimension;

nowhere in eternity

to stand.

The green, the grey

the blue

are flames

of this heatless

fire where we burn.

CASUAL UNIQUENESS

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,

the purposeless

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

generated but

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.

PRIMAL ETHICS

When power allows, our values

straight revert

to the gatherers’

egalitarian few,

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

and whispers,

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

ancestral murmurings,

the places

where we were alive and free

and being was no transaction,

and the tracks were clear.

TREE-PLANTING

Silent in sleeping dales

we plant the trees.

Our culture still

envisages courtesies

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

that sophistication

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

in energy

only the effortless flow

of powerless power.

What changes is not

nothing,

emerging

it returns.

The world-in-itself

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.

Beauty, affection

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.

Eyes dazzled,

we are healed.

DESOLATION

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,

empathies, afraid

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.

EQUAL, DISTINCT

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

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.

It coruscates

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,

mind premature.

It shimmers,

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
(PTEROPHORUS PENTADACTYLA)

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

at twilight.

She/he is the intentioned and minute

resting, somewhere,

not escaping:

as the ghost

an inner-mirroring, half-expected,

signifying reluctant action,

mysterious constraint;

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,

cloak out-flung,

in the legend,

stilled by the silence

of the trees,

hoping for whispers

or salvation,

or glittering procession,

the land resurrected,

the earth healed,

the raised arms praising,

needing a ritual

all that makes heroes,

needing the grace,

the consummation.

Or fades, a fan opened,

among dark leaves,

pallor that takes on shadows,

blanched raggedness

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,

too remote

from all things human,

moral, metaphor,

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

answerless.

EMPTY

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?

Deserted places

where the creatures go,

on their own trails

delicately wandering,

down paths the grass erases

dust covers

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,

ignoring beauty,

a part of it,

noiseless or making

the inward sounds

of self-proclaimers.

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

down-slope

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,

existence enough

and movement aimless,

gestating unbeknown

the destruction,

learning one way

but still then free

to go another,

all paths open

that the creature makes,

stepping, resting,

a contentment,

choosing all the maps

fearful finding

each hint unique

and all together

the individual the species

counterpoint.

Wilderness country,

always its own,

with an atmosphere

unreproducible,

impervious to art,

except the impression,

a flick of form,

a touch of shadow,

something there,

with its own mysteries

and unknowns,

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

past forty

centuries of stillness?


fROM: ON A DISTANT PLANET

From a Distant Planet - Chapter Image

PRIMAL LIGHT

We must go,

back to the primal light

(the task

of the poem)

to find

ourselves.

We must

go back,

beneath the light

of our star,

to the first

horizon.

We must go back

to the dust

the rain

in the dust,

the burnished

grasslands.

To fact,

form,

and affection,

the grace

the fire

of the heart.

All the being

and going

is Nature,

the pulse

of energy,

light.

We must go

back

under harvest moons,

to where

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,

abhorring violence,

they ask what they are.

Probing the mindless

universe they go,

around the orbit

of their distant star,

under a silver moon

inventing beauty,

delicate affection,

plaintive music.

They are the dwellers

on a distant planet,

dreaming of ways

to save their world.

GETTING SIMPLER

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

feeling, divorced

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

mindless again?

The hole in your mind with your feelings inside

is created by darkness

thinking, divorced

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

on wildflowers,

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

restores everything,

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.

OUT THERE

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

slowly moving?

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

no arbitration.

Nor unless you choose

is there a conflict,

my values are still mine.

There they watch ascending moons

and under different stars

consider silence.

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,

fearing death

fearing coercion.

All those creatures

just like us,

all those subjects of feeling,

all that intent from non-intent,

strange luminosity

in our darkness.

DISTANT SUNS

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

its sanctuary.

There their day and night

is always half-light,

their shores are borders,

thoughts are tentative

and slow.

Their longings never tire,

their beliefs

in each other

hold eternal, their eyes

dazed by every form

they embrace the ordinary,

simply live,

so hard to do,

stare at galaxies

reap their harvests.

On their world

adventurous moons

travel silently

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

imagining paths

by perfect rivers.

Their tiny creatures

are sacrosanct: spiders,

tree-frogs, mice,

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,

without intention,

full but empty.

There they do not follow,

do not own, have

no faith in what they possess,

connect their lives

by landmarks,

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.

WE SHINE

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

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

is subtle,

it smells of green leaves and pine,

tastes of stone,

is painful

painless mystery, like love

of that formless other,

enduring.

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,

the human,

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 moon-rose

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?

AWARE

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.

MIND-FISH

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.

UNCERTAINTY

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.

INHUMAN BEAUTY

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.

STONE AGE

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.

IMPURE

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.

THE PEOPLE

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.

UNSAFE WATERS

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.

THRENODY

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,

too rich,

too damaged

a planet unmeant

for us, and no design.

Earth melted blue

into the far reaches,

delicate, fragile,

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,

drifting, forsaken,

forlorn, forgone, forever,

over all horizons

beyond our living sun.

ACCIDENT

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.

NO REDEMPTION

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

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.

THE UNICORN

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.

OUR PLACE

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,

other constellations,

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.

CERINTHUS

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

snaking, climbing

cutting canyons

breaking wave.

The snow inside us,

the heart calmer.

Far off the dark cloud

the power lines

the unheard sounds

the creatures

who know better

go secretly

go silent

the snow inside them

the trees the hills

the planet.

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,

immaculate shadows.

Here in the tangled light,

singing white mountain songs,

holding flowers of snow,

where dark peaks shine.


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