Deep Fields

‘There are those who cling to the world and never break free;
there are those who enter the wilds and never come back.’

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

Sonja Langford

Sonja Langford - Unsplash

Authored by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2011 All Rights Reserved.

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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.

Digging in

Chainsaws and drills, the motors in the mind

Drown out our poetry,

We drill down into the core of the world

Extract its fruits,

Glitter of the machines, free of malice,

All the inanimate mud-spattered shells

Not even waiting for their masters,

Never-yet-restless, ever-silent metal

Littering the fields, and reaches of the Earth.

Honest, the men and women who work them,

Labouring in our image,

Killing and saying prayers

To the kill, as if

Our rituals could ever make things right,

Sometimes watching in the pause, Nature,

In all its integrity of blood and dirt,

Show forth a fawn; or wave a leaf,

Green, quivering, mind’s image on its twig.

I too have seen the darkness, seen the maw,

Under the songs and laughter in the bars,

Have seen the creatures slip through the dark

Evading our eyes, silently,

The cougar under the pipe, the night-heron,

No flash-photography to show them there,

Only the infinite starlight, the deep fields shining,

From Pole to Amazon, from sea to sea,

No, there is nothing here to make things right.

Trucks plough the naked surface, crush the stones,

Career, groaning, whining, over hills,

Lay low the beauty, proxies for our pain,

The steel and the perfection

Functional clarity imitating control,

The great wheels turn, but not now in the heavens,

This is the book of Earth fouled with our poems,

Scarred by our detritus, and the agony

Never in Nature, but deeper, in our Selves.

Into the Fiery Darkness

Down the dry hedgerows go the nameless flowers,

The wild ones, not the identified selves of gardens,

But outcomes of Nature, the forms that were there

When we were not, on the empty land, no fields,

Here, in the hawthorn’s intricate green frame

Glistening pure at the heart of jet-black thorn,

Unknown voices, blue, gleaming resonances,

Down there deep in the ditch, and in dying light,

The blazing pyre of intentionless separate lives,

Careless of all our phantom tremors and sighing.

All along edges of things, in the centre of things,

On the mountain ledges and under the lane-sides,

Sprinkled by gates, scattered below stone walls,

They light me, if they don’t light you what matter,

We are the passing breath of this more delicate world,

And each in each finds or loses threads of eternity,

None can show other what burns alive in the heart,

And what should be, and be done, flowers out of us,

In the creative flow or never at all, regardless of all

Gone before, all the lives, words, rules of the dead,

Or the long absurd games of the living, so much more

Harmful, so much less lovely, than flowers, the wild

Witnesses singing from hillsides, cliff falls, layering

On gravel and clinging to sand, over mud and darkness,

Through the star-nights and dog-days, in times, hours

When we cannot see them, neither showing nor hiding,

Existing, almost the bodiless body, the faceless face,

Seen in some other lifetime, once, and eternally known,

Flowers no tears, only dewfall like strange benediction,

Bowed to the ground or equally, silently, turned to the sky.

I consider the timelessness of what is bounded by time,

The infinite depth of what glows in simple transience,

The hole of light we fall through as if into a well,

That moves like water swirling far down in the rose,

With the same awe of the calyx and bud as the fall far

Into the wheel of the galaxy, ten billon stars in the eye,

And the light within, what flows out of mind, and defines

Not this poor moment of watery flesh, but grasps

The whole Earth, the done past, hurls them like seeds

From the blown husk of stalk, into the fiery darkness.


It’s the gentleness we’ve lost, the tenderness,

The water over gravel and the grey flycatcher,

If you know where those images come from:

It’s the shyness we’ve lost, the introspection,

Too quiet to win the world but quiet enough

To see down nearer to the heart of Nature.

It’s the true sadness we’ve lost and the ache

Of hurt at the space of fallen tree, or the flower

Gone under, the tract of land, sky, sullied, time

That belonged to each, belonging now to all,

The agony, intensity, that is heart’s crucifixion,

But beyond religion, in the mind’s chamber.

It’s the childlike simplicity of light we’ve lost,

That washes over the spirit and redeems us

From all the cries in the hostile desert, the dark

Of thought that spawns the sad world’s deities.

Sitting by the stream, or regarding pure rain,

Knowing the light falls here, and never again.

Listening to Transience

Giorgione or Perugino – in a far clear sky,

A sinuous landscape, tiny trees and towers,

The gravity of being, the pure flute, a sexual

And natural resonance, gleams of silvery air,

Those ideal images, contours of excellence,

Savoured because there’s steel behind the light,

Where mind and word are still in concentration.

How will such beauty ever be made again?

Perfection fails, and there’s the weariness

Of the done fashion, and repeated thought,

Plato in some green garden, La Giaconda

Emerging in delicacy under silent fingers,

A touch of being beyond the comprehension,

Loosed from our grasp in this un-serious age,

Beauty of world or woman, music of time,

Cruelty of passion metamorphosed to line,

That thoughtless thought, a fleshless flesh

A force-less energy, and a breathless sigh,

That contrapuntal contradiction of itself,

All life seen clearly only against its death,

And meaning late, and love in dissolution.

And there’s the perfect Cinquecento gaze,

Shadowed intimacy or falls of frozen light,

Pure twisting form, a landscape, innuendo,

A note still echoing, strange ethereal chord,

Some implicit understanding gone beyond,

And now unreachable, its technique gone,

The lifetime’s call, that ache of dedication.

Seeing, Not Capturing

It’s the precise contour of that sheaf of grasses

I can’t catch,

The green, the pale, and the mass of vegetation,

And the face behind, your face, in memory’s deep,

That keep’s escaping,

I’m not good

At capturing exact detail, a poor eye,

A slipshod gaze through which the earth escapes,

Spinning off into centuries, hanging blue,

Or is it blue? against four billion years

Of compounded light,

In a universe of fourteen billion,

Years, light years, what else travels

Far or fast enough to even reach here,

From everywhere, and ours goes everywhere,

Our light that is, the sun’s or this reflection,

Every star a centre, every centre circumference,

Like bubbles blown receiving bubbles

Of light and fire.

There’s a greenness to those blades of leaf

That I can’t capture,

The word green is black here on my screen,

And your face behind I see in black and white

Like a photograph of some great painting,

It’s colour bled away, but itself more real,

And binding,

As unrequited love binds in the lover,

As imagination hovers round the lost,

Like the magenta tone that sheds

Its colour on the knight’s silver armour,

Only for show,

If passion’s foolish then we are here

To be fools,

Studying that delight, all we can give

To the Galaxy spinning, to the Void beyond,

To whatever orthogonal dimensions lurk

Behind the quantum weirdness,

The ungraspable Is inside the equations,

Delight of love, art, intellectual form

That we call truth, our blessed gifts

That any deity might be proud of.

That green against the stone, those seeds,

And feathery spokes, and that white

That creamy white

Where the unrestrained flower bursts itself

Into the cloud-grey day,

Are things I cannot catch

In my net of flame,

Nor you, nor ever you,

This net hung on the light,

This apposition of electrons –

And sombre wisdom’s not this age’s forte –

I’ve not the gift,

To transcribe you, or with a silver lead

Immortalise a single modulation

Of everything that defines you,

A person in the masque

Like that man’s design,

The one whose drawings

Seem like bits of nature,

Dazing the eye,

No not like him,

Neither your eye nor smile,

Nor the contour of the little knot of grasses,

Nor their green.

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.

Out Here

Fields where the creatures go bowing their heads,

Why do they do that, why are they


And why are we?

The savage earth sighs with colour, visions

Of colour flow all night through

My dreams, magenta,

Lilac, umber, and viridian,

The rider bends to the horse, the green horse

Bends its head to the grasses,

Over the stream,

We bend to a quiet,

That is in the world itself,

It’s all this flow, our parting slow

Or quick, this land

Its woods, its fields so self-contained,

Where green horse bows, and the cattle,

The sheep and fox and deer,

All on four legs bow

To Great Mother Earth, her singing.

After Long Concentration

Suddenly the words seem larger

The feelings deeper, a moment,

(I learn to live in my thoughts),

To watch the city in its reality

Blossom in strangest mind

Of this civilisation, its creation,

Know the tears of joy and sadness

The closures and revelations:

Reality has all these faces, like

The old gods’ everywhere-masks.

They swell through the glasses on

The page, the screen, wherever

Time expresses itself in language,

Ah language, tongue of sleeping

Earth, licking with snake-flicker

The ear of attention, and folding

Coil and jut over the core of us,

To bend and flow through mind

With its spirals, whorls, and pools,

And bless this cage in which we rest.

Do you know it, the time when words

Glow and each one holds a sweet

Kernel of meaning and a glitter

Of living light spun from its presence

The clustered connections like stars

Whirled in one galaxy or caught

Like an ovoid, ball or orb of fires,

Drawn out of space, sunk in the eye,

Like a field of green bracken where

Vision is lost, but also intensified?

I learn to sink deeper in thought,

And resist what this world strives

For: not for certain translation of

Its dreams, forgiveness, or to flower,

But rather the process of captivity

What the creature, defeated, gazes

At, the hapless child, bars between,

Each in its prison, gazes, uncreated

And un-creating, the dark fire of

Un-being, strange heart-country.

Because everything we look at

Closely fills us with new fears,

Everything we gaze and enter

Into becomes the alien quiver

That hurts the sensitive mind,

Its flesh, and everything stares

Back at us from the light, so

The more we know the less

We feel at ease with anything,

Not even language, not the word

That bubbles, oozes from deeps

Carries, within, centuries, and all

The constant ‘Now’ long breathed-in,

Sucks life from the living, grants

Life to the dead, and then again

Creates over again world and time

For we who live in each others’ ears,

Cry from each others’ mouths, call

From the billboards, signposts, walls,

Ache to connect, complete, contain.

Beautiful, Shifting Light

It’s the solidity we love

But in reality

Everything’s shifting

Beautiful transience,

The painting’s stillness

Never Nature but Dream –

Time stilled, space formal,

Zero wind in the trees,

Rustling quivering trembling

No thought in the mind, gone

There, no feeling, joy, fear –

Everything rocking under our feet.

Beware of symbols, images;

Mystery and weighty

Calm, it moves,

The rocks slip down

The slopes; the wavering grass-blade

Blowing, not ‘there’, and never

A thing in space, is always

Arc and shift of movement;

And you, no sooner understood

Than gone in other mind,

Nothing that I can grasp,

But wing, but feathery sighing.

Haunted by form, the heart,

It beats, dumb in the flesh,

While yellows and reds

Shine in half-found shadows

Light goes by

Falls on this world

Reflects out into the void,

Flows past Pluto,

No Mind out there,

But ones like ours

Maybe, we think,

Flickering, signalling.

Knowledge makes mystery greater,

The universe is not shallower

By being simple, nor

Are you. Anger, guilt,

Regret are not solid,

But don’t melt either

Just by wishing.

It’s all a tremor

Down to the last vibrating

Elementary wisp

Of imminent energy,

Violent harmony.

I plant my feet on soil-stripped ground,

On stone, on ice, it rings

With space, but time

Sets me adrift on seas

That flowed above

And lava in the eye

Scarlet-black and seething.

I thought I saw my thought,

Called Self, and it was gone

Clever those Buddhists,

Beautiful shifting light,

I too go by.

The Midnight Eye

The aboriginal elder standing

On one leg

Behind him the nuclear flash

And rising pall

Of crazy fury,

That kind of dream:

Rising in sweat at night

To drink fuzzed glass of water

And watch the moon

Almost calms the spirit.

Wolves howl, spit blood in snow,

Those steel traps,

The golf-ball domes,

And splintered trees,

Deliberate arts of war:

Don’t tell your dreams:

Parted curtains show

A whitened world down there

Above, a silver disc

Floats through dark-blue skies.

Old campfires deep, our ashes

Stirred each dawn to light

Mother and child, food,

Shelter, peace

Between friend and friend,

The artist’s dream, forever:

By clouds, a star, it glides,

Pocked by machinery

Will there be wars there too

No sanctuary

Kept, for the midnight eye?

Sounds and Branches

The wind is blowing on granite earth,

Dull muffled tone

Leaf-waves shiver,

And turn the wrong way up

In my mind, pale bellies,

The firs shine in green sky,

Layer on layer they shine:

It’s not what you hear or know,

In the end, it’s what you believe.

It’s what you express in jets of fire,

Or gentle softness

Of moving grasses,

That rub their husks of light

Together, and sigh together,

What you assert, create,

Not how you reason,

The values your heart dictates,

The faith of your deepest season.

Which is not a recipe for believing

In any old superstition,

Or every old superstition:

The wind is blowing

On granite earth tonight,

Here in the half-light,

Love, truth, beauty intertwined

Or there’s no use for the human mind,

No humanity in our re-creation.

In the dark of ice and stars

Beyond the wars, this side of Mars,

Where the wild Moon glitters,

Mother and child in the grass,

Two lovers, in dream, a dog bounds past:

Though the wind blows over granite earth,

Dull and muffled, the soul gives birth

To what gleams through all eternity,

I forgive you, you forgive me.

Neither One of Us

For the Future’s demon machine

Is out to confuse us,

The past and what’s to come

Are totally without depth,

The moment alone is a pit,

A well, an abyss, a hole

With your lifetime in it,

And lifetimes, coiled

There infinite and concealing.

You can fall through the instant,

And vanish from the World,

In time now:

There! No one was watching, you

Disappeared and another

Took your place, wearing your face,

Life shone through a crystal, mirror,

Lens, distorting, to spread

Itself under your feet.

Everything past is all one time,

And so is everything future,

Neither is real, except in what exists

As lingering or determining presence,

So only Now has dimensions,

Time is a scalar, and change

The mover we actually measure,

Not hours, which are simply the echoes

Of action, in ourselves.

Beauty comes out of the abyss of time,

Transience sings in us, and the older

The more complex the half-heard singing,

The deeper the song,

And love wells up and sinks away

In the rock-pools of the moment,

How we would like it to linger!

Why Poesy is always an ache,

And blood in the throat of the singer.

And Truth, the elusive, if we are listening:

Hear the true song,

Masked by violence of body or mind,

Creative truth, where we belong,

Beyond the wars and transactions,

In the un-buyable moment, this one, Now,

Where your Self in your eyes,

And your mind in the word, move on,

And neither one of us dies.


He saw nothing normal in all this,

The world needs people like that.

He saw the echoing angled flight

Of Nature’s shine cutting across

The tractable world, saw phantom

Buildings fall, and children cry

In the midst of our transactions,

But not ‘surrealism’, not a way of seeing,

Simply the alternative way of Being.

Irreal, if you like, un-persuaded

By concepts hitherto conceived,

And dangerously open to expression,

Not of self (always unexpressed) but fire,

Water, stone, soil, light, and ideas

Not of any-place-other’s first making,

An original true, but not for your

Observing, un-biddable, not sharing

Any platform of yours, ironic, smiling,

Like Buddha or a Snake-God on a rock,

But knowing; no ignoramus, no divine

Idiot-savant clinging to mystery or to

Metaphysics; time-traveller, as only time

Can be traversed, down there in the spirit,

And not by mortification or inner calm,

His deepest value laughter, and delight,

More like the Taoist deep in the mountain

Stream, or the brush-stroke of spontaneity.

I felt him in New Orleans black in the moon’s

Wet light, watching the river, dreaming notes

On his imaginary Chinese flute. In Granada too,

Breathing the rain-spray out of Lorca’s well,

The pool of the graven heart and the bare stylus:

I felt him in Paris alone in the twin empty gardens,

At the child’s memorial; then by the mirrored glass.

I saw him stare through our world and look away,

Neither ghost nor angel, those non-existent beings,

But one of us: only seeing lightning in clear skies,

And without Selfhood, carrying his image before him,

Therefore with no creed, history, except that of Man,

And Woman, of every sex and none and every race,

Himself a question, ‘ah, why’ to the rhythms of living,

At once deep in the moment, mind and the stars,

Turning the universe inside-out to show on its surface

Values, the ones that without us would never have been,

That we forget; stooping then, shaping dust in his hands.

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.


I want my mind to be dark

As the Earth tonight.

I want my heart to grasp

The four million year breath.

I want my body to be still

And not ache for you,

And the heart in my chest

To beat for all the rest.

I want to see the lightning flash

That tears down phantoms

And makes meanings

Stand up in the blue.

I want to bathe my head

And mouth and ears and eyes

In the spontaneous fall

Of ice-cool water.

I want to be free of who

And what and where I am

And be everyman-woman

In the womb-tomb of time.

I want to scream with the train,

And howl with the plane,

And sigh with the drunken boat,

And float on the dark pool.

The irrealist song is the only

Drama left to us,

The bitter truth

Before love begins.

Returning to the Earth

Is hard. The pang of

Flowers, the hurt of

Life’s eternal.

No More

No more ghost visits,

Unless it’s the ghost

Of the Sunflower.

No more angels,

Unless it’s the angel

Of Unbelief.

No more phantoms,

Unless it’s the phantom

Of the Underground

Always haunted

Between trains

On dark platforms.

No more priests

Not even the priest

Of the Endless Void.

No more nations

Except the nation

Of one Humanity.

No more power

Unless it’s the power

Of Silence.

No more America

But States of Grace

Chinese Blue,

Gulfs of Joy

Faltering Steppes,

The lost Sierras.

No more pain

Except the pain

Of giving, freeing, being.

No more.

Keeping It In Mind

Looking for something

Quiet as a granite ridge

A creek of green water

Or a gold grass slope.

Something untouched

By you or by me,

Full of insects, creatures,

Burrows, ground-nests.

No use leaving the Earth

If we can’t take it with us,

We already haunt the stars,

We’re already there.

Better to save what we have,

Or think we have,

Full of illusions

We passers-through.

Better the moonlight

Falling on silent eyes

The shelves of ranged

Mountains, forest-trees.

Looking for something

Clear as the dawn,

Free as the fire,

True as the twilight wind.


I turn on the news and think that more

Should be happening. Beauty and love

Should be changing the core of the Earth,

The elevators flowering, the dark side-streets,

Under the moon, filling with slow water,

Hearts opening and hands emptying quiet,

Intellectual thought lighting the fountains.

I read the words, see the images, and find

How little is happening. Studying instead

Of living, fallacies of the lawless wild,

The good hero who seems to leave behind

A trail of dead innocents, as bad as the bad,

No one caring too much what’s said so long

As it’s neatly said, and with lots of laughter.

I turn off the news and gaze out of the window,

Trees are happening. Birds and rain and flowers,

Are taking place in another arc of reality,

In the other universes orthogonal to ours,

Bright multi-verses written by multi-poets,

As a child, I could almost walk into one of those,

Like meeting Chaucer, or entering a Van Eyck.

I close my eyes to the words and images, both,

And all is happening. Place and time vanish,

A coil of stars presenting the snake of matter,

Every place in the vast cosmos equally central,

Equally valid, and no point in spacecraft, no

Where to go, we carry infinity eternity within us,

And everything happening, if the heart is right.

Nameless-River Falls

Like a stream of light

From a high cliff,

Nameless River


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


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


Now The Rain Has Gone

(After Wang Wei)

The mountain empty

The rain is light,

In mind’s

Cool autumn.

Moonlight falling

On pines.

Bright stream sliding

On stones.

Bamboos hiss

As rain goes by,

Reeds bend.

The lonely boat

Floats forever

In fading spring,

Though you

Are gone.

Three Poems of the Hills

‘Precise about the thing, reticent about the feeling.’

W’ei T’ai


Dark deep tracks

Wind-noise, water,

Lines of sunlight,

Thick mosses,


Only beautiful

Emptiness, calms

Relentless Mind.


Paths of pine needles,

Dust, pollen, yellow paths

To the quiet clearing,

Far off, the bright mountain

Shining after rain.


On sun-wet paths

I think of you,

On soundless slopes

Endless flowers,

White butterflies

Fill your dream

Quivering under

Shifting cloud.


In the long grass below the dark trees

At the edge of that deep bright cornfield

I remember us, watching the world opened,

Torn apart, presented to us still beating.

Our concern was with Eternity and so

Unlikely to find sharers. And then?

We were about the business of Being,

Taking no hostages. Time in our eyes.

In gentle talk of the uneasy dead, how

Mind in time could follow miles in space,

As my thoughts now follow you beyond,

Meditative though, as England is, not fiery

Like the States, or dark with Russian pain,

We too saw the light on the mountain slopes

Burning slowly through the generations, saw

Intellect stripping away the ages, laying bare

The reality, we heirs of Enlightenment, yet

To come to terms with Romanticism, seeing,

Though the symbol uniting both, the species

One movement in time though many in space,

A single communion, beyond the single life

Values created in history given to the stars,

And the universe empty because intentionless,

‘No hearts in the ponds, no gods in the woods.’

Dealt with each other in famous speech and eyes

Of meaning, how humankind, compassionate souls,

Might find courage to conquer anger, hatred, war,

Go beyond nations, end religion, learn the quiet,

Embrace the one Earth, extend sympathies, hope,

Pierce the unseen world which separates us all,

Nurture delight where love, truth, beauty meet,

Be kind to the other, and make it last forever.

In the long grass, at the corner of the field, burning,

Burning, in the perishable days of youth everlasting,

Filled with the mysterious thrill of intellectual seeing,

How nothing simply is for us but always deeper, more.

And so all things echoing in endless vision-dimension

With the vividness of grasping and the arc of perception,

Which is the last deep stage always before the letting-go,

The clearing-down to the void, the viewing all as pattern.

And if we failed to break through to relationship too great

For our understanding, then we too were burgeoning corn,

Heads of the wheat, burning gold bright in the morning,

And the agony of our delight like the run of the breeze

In dark shadows over the surface of fields, the joy of our

Pain like the flash of the branches of pine, the fast clouds

Scouring far hills, and all worlds in transient movement,

So that the moments were fused in memory mind forever.

In the long grass under the dark trees

At the edge of the deep bright cornfield

I remember us, seeing the world open,

Torn apart, presented to us still beating.

Naked heart-to-heart truth, and knowing

Too little for concealment, dazed with beauty

Communicating with ages, with Eternity,

How we bind each other into the work of ages.

Everything On Fire

They linger on inside our heads

The people and the times

Bright with fire,

Challenging as in reality,

Pointing our failures,

Blurring our vision,

Echoing in our silences,

And shadowing the moon

When we stare out

In the cold dawn hours.

Reality is not fact for us,

Perhaps it will be for the machines,

But for us it turns to feeling,

Every instant charged with emotion,

And maturity the skill to suppress

What burns the soul,

Or to express it,

How do we keep on the rails,

Some don’t, in this absurd universe,

How do we stand in the Void?

They linger on inside our heads,

That’s what ghosts are,

The imaginary projections

Of our inner knowledge,

How everything has its symbolic strength,

And the greater the knowing

The greater the connections,

Until all things are symbol,

Leaf, moon, or eye,

Burning, burning, burning.

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.

Now the Light is Shining

Now the light is shining

And I should go out walking

Not sit making words glimmer

Till there’s darkness before rain.

Now the light is shining

Many people cast no shadow,

Peace for the body

Awareness for the mind.

Now the light is shining

Between Void and Illusion,

Bent on the grasses

Clinging to the pine.

Now the light is shining

World and Mind vibrating

With the quivering leaves

And every time is now.

Now the light is shining

Be wary of the phantoms

The ones with angel wings

Most demons of illusion.

Now the light is shining

The lost and broken ones

Are singing in the twilight,

Now the light is shining.

Now the light is shining,

I should go out walking,

To see the woods of summer,

Turn their endless leaves.


Drifting with the cloud

Blowing with the grass,

Clinging to the earth,

Under bending pine,

Suddenly, see the moon.

Awake and Aware

Neither haven nor void

To deliver or enter

Only resonant

Being in Mind.

Nature’s not nature

If once created,

The uncreated

Alone is free.

Freedom greater

Than consolation

Giant ego abandoned,

Vast World as it is.

The seethe, the seethe

Consumes the silence,

But never the silence

Gone deeper within.

Life is the answer

Without a question,

Don’t use, don’t be used,

It’s awake and aware.

World of Dust

Treading the world of dust,

Feet deep in the grass,

Cars and trucks go by.

Things at the edge of the road

Dawdle in green hollows,

Slow as clouds.

I’d like to vanish there

Into the distant shadows

Edging the open land

Crossing silent fields

Dive down into groves,

Dreaming by creeks.

Changeless the spirit,

What was: still, there

Pure, disengaged.

Eye following hills,

Freedom greater,

No allegiance.

Don’t let fools tell you

What to do –

The world is dust.

The Fact

Hardly a sound, but stream falling,

Clicking of pebbles,

Dark water

Trickling down through night.

Something about the darkness,

Something about

The quiet, said there.

Not leaf-noise.

One thought in the head,

Where self begins,

And a star, no moon

On the sleepless eye.

Where no foot passes

Something slides,

The fact of the universe,

Exists, exultant.


Dark upward lift of flight over grey rock,

Hawk heaven,

High over pine tips, white space

Sand and fields below –

Sweep down long grasses,

Then up on currents of swirling light,

Wheeling, crying.

Into the eye of the wind, predator flying,

Creature cowering below.

A life of consuming

In bits and pieces,

No guarantees.

Nature harsh at its centre:

Grey hard stone and sky-blue air.


My agenda is freedom,

Yours the liberty to think what you wish,

Question everything, accept nothing,

Vanish if you like into silence,

Express your values,

And ignore the whole world

Of human cries, in delight at nature.

My agenda is freedom,

Why should I believe what you believe,

Or respect your conclusions, though

I respect your being?

And no, morality isn’t relative,

Destruction is not creation,

Love is not hatred.

My agenda is freedom,

Even better than birds or fish,

Mind is less bound even more fluid,

Though we speak the one

Language inside called Human,

I shall speak Poesy if I choose

And if not, not.

My agenda is freedom,

Not to interfere with you or intrude

On you, but freedom of worlds

Beyond us and inside us,

The intentionless, the transient

Is always empty, and our

Society dust.

My agenda is freedom,

To walk into the gloom among

Trees, to be different to you

Though I may look the same,

Oh, we can think what we like

If we don’t speak it,

Silence deepest beauty.

The Visitor

Comfortable poetry came to sit with me,

Drink tea, and watch the flowers.

She spoke to me of comfortable hours.

Pleasant human confessional poetry

Came and sat by me

In a comfortable chair and framed a self.

The seductive poetry of childhood days

And adult longing and vibrant scenes

Of relationship, and interaction’s maze,

Came to me to prove her worth and reassure:

Truth is not beauty, not worth aching for,

Beauty is truth, and we know all her ways.

The poetry that people love, that makes

Them sigh, with half-felt understanding, tenderness,

Came to me, and soothed my loneliness.

Tranquil Days

It is beautiful silence,

Great trees sitting in fog,

Bright hillsides with sharp edges

Tiers of green,

Lots of space and place

For creatures to be,

The kind of misted

Level grassy floor

Our ancestors once lived on,

Huge boughs against the light,

Tatters of sun,

Profound peace.

In this landscape you can dream

Of being human,

Tenderness is easy, nothing

Strains at idle achievement.

We’re going nowhere,

Except into greater complexity,

But here you wouldn’t know it,

And nothing spoils

Consistent scene.

The deep fields simmer,

Objects meet our gaze,

On tranquil days.

Thin Air

Path to path and slowly more complex

The network of routes, the divides,

Until there is no going back,

What’s happened has happened,

And this place is where we are.

The trees, the streams we remember

May be there still, in re-incarnation,

But are not the places we were or saw,

All ways seem equal but in the end

We reach the place we could, no more.

Path after path, track after track, road

On road, and the blue of distance,

That captures us with a sweet insistence,

But all places are mind, one and the same,

Every place we were, tagged with our name,

But for others different, no minds alike,

And no histories. Though what we share

Is certainly the presence, the being there,

The witnesses can only testify to thin air,

The way is gone, despite its turnings taken.

Sleek Birds, Desperate People

Chance nature is our solace for randomness,

The disparate fates, watching the beggar child,

Trying to comprehend what it would be

To be her, and failing.

Watching the blue-throated birds instead,

Scattered here and trying to scratch a living

In a landscape where everything human’s poor,


In the Mountains I Feel Free

Glass ropes of water down the granite slide

End in dragon-foam.

Da Vinci tried to draw the whorls and curls,

Uncannily sighted.

Form and Function never die, the Process

Swiftest in the unmoving stillness,

Hypnotised the eye, these bright scales flare

As in the ink-on-paper of Ch’en Yung,

His vortices of wave and spray,

The singing gliding of immortal forces.

In the Presence of Natural Beauty

The silence of the tree and the valley,

The silence of the mountain and the hill,

The silence of the mind, and the spirit,

The tremor of the universe grown still.

The silence of the moonlight and the cloud,

The silence of the stone and the stream,

The silence of emotion and the will,

The presence of the glory and the dream.

‘The Mountains of themselves are Mountains’

Where grey rock hovers on green precipices

My mind grows clear.

Where water glides over shelves of stone

The heart grows silent.

Clouds and mountains: intentionless.

Hills and valleys: slowly changing.

Passing by, all things seem light.

Flowing through, the self has gone.

This Side of Lethe

For the sensitive, Life is those shameful moments

Re-lived again, now, in the memory,

The dark, scored, burned-in tracks of fire and metal

Thought travels, locked to its infernal landscape.

For the sensitive, Life is to re-work the past,

Those events that others have forgotten,

To drown again in the well, spurt in the fountain,

Fall to the bowl, disperse in the bitter stream.


The dark moth, un-designed, blunders through

A silvered web gleaming with evening light,

Spun by the long-legged spider in the night,

Whose skills, born of Nature’s net, wove true:

Their ancient genetic sieve sifts generations,

Leading to all unwished-for destinations;

The complex moth, antennae, soft furred wings

Beating against the perversity in things;

Intention, spidery species now rehearse,

Expressed in silk, strung from the flower’s stem,

Produced by this intentionless universe,

Catching the moth’s wing by its fragile hem,

Tangling life and death, emblems of sorrow,

Of all strange combats with no clear tomorrow.

Breaks through: chance bliss, as chance despair,

If such deep feelings may be attributed

To smallest creatures, who must only care

To fulfil their function where flight has led,

As the moth ploughs through threads of destiny;

Though we cheat Nature’s sieve in the free mind,

No more choosing to live among the blind

Than fulfil the process that brought us here;

Conscious, watching the sieved moth deceive

The waiting predator in the un-decreed,

Though inter-meshing, lives that insects lead;

Tear through the web; and skim away to leave

The dark spider scurrying inwards to repair

Its inner plan that lays fate’s meaning bare.


Freedom in deep fields and the darkest glades;

Those starry spaces, and galactic other times

Whose light from the past falls in our present;

The beds of watery silence; the far cascades.

Freedom in wandering outside the bounds,

Into the darkness where all tracks have faded,

Far blue distance, and mind’s remotest lands,

The absence, void of language and of sound.

Freedom to be alone, in that remoteness,

Beyond the communication of the living,

Tired of giving, weary of heart’s translation

Of night’s pure solitude to togetherness.

Freedom to feel the ice congeal on lips,

Fill the mouth, touch the unmoving face,

Devoid of any concept of love or grace,

To feel the universe cold at the fingertips.

Freedom to forgo comfort and the flowers,

Freedom to ask no more of I or you,

But do as, in deep snow, the bright winds do,

Carve out and smooth the wilderness, for hours.

Line of Sight

Step by step through the wood: the trees move,

Pure parallax in gold-green of early autumn,

As Proust’s church towers shifted, line of sight

Making them dance: is the world then truly solid?

A dance of trees, like the dance of language, letters,

The Celts’ tree-alphabet, birch, rowan, ash, but here

The smooth columns of beech, the great grey pillars,

And the endless bending leaf-rows a child might ride.

And later, in wood’s edge, by night, beneath the stars,

Dreaming of Earth-parallax, our circling orbit, lines

Drawn to what’s out there, measuring near distance;

Though what’s near for light’s so far for the species.

Perspectives shift, yet the head, the Self, remain still

Our trick to stabilise the world: all born egocentric.

Walk; watch it long enough, this wood, deep space,

As we move; and all the depths go circling round us.

The Invisible One

The deer, invisible, was there in the lens,

Framed in the shot, flat back and slope of neck,

A tan suitcase with legs, and magician’s head,

One of those dancing shamans on cavern walls.

It had looked towards me, though I never saw

That strange triangular face, those vast eyes,

Mysterious with sublime ignorance of all this,

Our mechanics, the clutter of our tame lives.

It was there as emblem of the world beyond,

Reflection of other being to this lost species,

Caught in the lens, digitised, frozen in seeing,

Not an answer, but an echo, a world-response.

And nothing alien, crashing through the trees,

But a reassurance, the meeting in parity there,

As unbeknown to each, stare meets stare,

Only in after-moment, this conjoined life.

All Change Now

It glitters, the poetry of the past,

A stage-set where the characters,

Who share emotions similar to ours,

In the end are utterly other, nothing

Of theirs ours: nor the meaning one.

The assumptions fail, external purpose;

Codes from outside; or lives with sense;

For us the whole thing’s mysterious,

Watching ourselves, our processes,

Turning inside-out, now, like a glove.

It delights, the poetry of the past,

Clear now, like a Mozart concerto,

Seventeen, or nineteen, say; the flow

Of feeling, bright as a distant river,

And its inbound streams; we sigh

At miraculous form, Rembrandt’s

Polish rider, speeding through dusk

Carrying a message from eternity

To this mortal life; see his pale horse,

Its bony presence; and the skyline there

That, like all landscape, all horizon,

Calls to us an interminable question;

Our answer stranger, darker: we are

Twilight, we cannot ride like you, but

We understand. Thanks for your blessing.


And then, the world was there,

Opening in beauty,

The forests dark, bare

Like silence after battle,

And we were not dead

But strangely still alive,

As though we lived on

After our intellectual

Being had ended,

Still turning over leaves

Marking the place,

Smoothing out the ground.

And then, the feeling

Of freedom, wild, alone

Seeing it is always

Like this, how light falls

On to a cleared space

Where knowing is living.

All that time wasted

All the grand diversion

Despite delights of form

Triumphs of illusion,

Ending where we began

In the empty clearing.


We can’t go back to the lake-shores

Or the rock-caves,

We can only go forward to the stars.

Mortal victims, or is it heirs,

Of mind, we can only

Reclaim, in Nature, what is ours,

Morality, and spirit, from religion;

Freedom from power; beauty

From heart-exhaustion and despair;

In discovering the intentionless

Which was always ours,

And always there, shining.

We can’t go back to the first fires,

The first beginning, the flowers

Of moons, the stars and suns opening,

Inheritors of the dream, burning

With outward-ness, while inside

Centuries coiled; thoughts unseen.

We can only unfold these strange

Blue voids, these shores of being,

The myriad halos of those other worlds

Inhabited perhaps by startling things, wild

Wildernesses of lights, eternal gleams,

Un-created depths, some far lost Earth.

A Flow of Dream

Those leaves designed like light.

Weighing them

Against all this human world,

And the deer-prints,

Slowly filling with water,

Deep in black mud, in the rain.

And later, under the stars,

The cobweb

Constellations gleaming,

The wind from the cold side

Of the hill,

Dark pine-trees breathing,

Reduce us down,

To what’s worth keeping

Of this,

Free run of the Mind,

A discontent,

A flow of Dream.


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,


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


At our thread

Of generation,

All the rhythms

That resonate


Our being,

The rapture

That conceals

The darkness,


Our simple platitudes

Our calm control,

This ease,

This facile understanding.


Reading about the relationship

Of Mozart to his father,

I hear an echo of Rilke’s lines

To Ariel.

That terrible desire to possess

The miracle,

Granting less freedom still,

Jealous in pain,

To grasp, forever

What validates the self,

The failing to let go,

Prospero’s role:

‘I made you: serve me.’

He the delightful presence

Given to all of us

For ever, selflessly,

Singing, in the cupola,

Through the keys,

In lips and hands,

The child’s tenderness

Echoing through adulthood

And overflowing,

Crying the one humanity

All empathy.

We are mere commentators

Slight creators,

But still we feel the power

That flows through,

Must learn its dispossession,

Its perfect lack

Of all authority,

Of every tie but love.


Our lament, inside now,

Turns to void, to echo.

Oh, how to express

The burning or the sorrow,

Any longer. We only freeze

In the outer darkness

Or are seized,

And shaken by inner violence,

We cannot laugh or weep,

Because this world of ours

Penetrates too deeply,

Too many voices,

Too much suffering, too far

The needle enters,

Too many wars, deaths,

Tragedies, too much

Ache in our consolation,

Till we scream

Endlessly inwards:

Not outwardly,

No, there we smile,

There expressionless

We transact,

We entertain,

We use confession

Or it uses us

To pretend humanity,

Until the Self

Can sink back into silence,

Nurse the hurt,

A child in the dark,

Or quiet at the window,

One with the stillness;

Or lost in the crowd

Of other faces, mute,

Or deaf with feeling;

Pained by those places

Where on primitive soil

Women still wail,

And men still shriek

To violate our calm;

A sky of stars

Bright with neutrality

Free of all expression,

Although not so,

Since they lack feeling,

And our intention,

Values and therefore

Meaning, which are ours,

Alone, our weight

Of interiority

Our life-burden

Which is life itself,

This consciousness,

This tremor at the root,

This ecstatic poison.

The Trees Are Honest

The trees are honest, there’s no deceit

In the water, the leaves don’t lie,

Clouds contain revolutionary truth,

The rooks going home at twilight

Enjoy the dark gusts of directness

Caw their delight at the real,

The world’s alive,

And veracious,

Red light

Inhabits the evening cedars,

The field of thistles,

The grass bowed over

The silhouetted firs,

With no misstatement,

Nothing is naming

Anything else,

Pretending to anything more,

Kowtowing to fond illusions

Subservient to dream,

Obeying, proclaiming,

Buying or selling,

No imperfections in the breeze,

It goes wherever without intention,

And no authority.

The trees are honest,

They don’t wear clothes,

Only lichen,

Insects, bark, and dust

Of immaculate pollen

That is what it is,

Just generation,

Going on, unasked,

Without craving,

The self-less gene,

And not unconscious

Because that’s our concept,

Whatever possesses no language

Is mute before words,

And lacks all referents:

The air is candid, silent, open,

The world is alive

And veracious light


Reddens the evening cedars.

Looking Outward, Seeing Valley

Trails of mist caught on the ledges,

Tiny gold larch,

Why can’t the eye restless

Hold still on beauty,

The ache in the heart (mind)


The yearning is pain,

And the light

Hovers over the grey heron

In an angle of river.

Trees sigh at the stir of the wind,

Branches rise and fall

A leaf ticks on the twig,

A pebble lifts and drops

In the depths of the flow,

A long blade of grass

Hanging there flicks

From side to side,

The mind too quivers,

Beauty there passing by

Into the fall and fragment

Remorseless destruction,

Despite the endless creation,

And no standing still,

We must move

Ahead to catch this present

As past,


Only place

We can find it.

A billion bright leaves

On a long hillside,

Weigh in the mind

Against the human pain,

Our repetitive agony

So futile tedious

When only this one life

On intentionless Earth

Should make us all

One urge of compassion.

Come get beyond gods

All the wrong process

Suffered from childhood,

Self, delusion, mortal kind,

Too much celebration

Of the marvellous dead,

Too much celebration

Of the trivial living,

Here trails of mist

And the solitary heron.

Coiling white river

And dark, from up here

A ribbon, and logs like sticks

And far off somewhere

Are roads and houses,

Make from fewest words

The tiniest poem.

How can I fix

The mind on beauty,

Stop the restless


Empty thought;

Kill the craving;

Western man;

Re-find beauty

Pastoral elegance

Transient freshness

All warmth, humanity,

All of our tenderness

Those things that fade?

There are things inside us

We never escape,

Space beyond us

We never cross,

Identities we never capture;

Everything, if we’re not careful,

Is only how to pass time,

The mind a skein

Of awkward misinformation,

Facts, wishes, visions,

Speculation, dreams,

All jumbled together

Connected by wires,

Branches of trees hold their leaves

In the air,

The highways are full

Elsewhere. Oh, where

Are you rolling,

Earth sighing

Through deepest dark

In the light of stars,

Yourself un-illuminating?

I want to hear affirmation

Of music, read tender verse,

See glowing colours of light,

Feel what we have given

To the cold Universe

Science examines;

Those voids

With veils of energy

Shining matter,

A god would create if it could;

One step beyond us,

So difficult to breathe

Yet not so for others,

Some born with a stupid


To the chill of pale stone,

And the hurt of being

Simply this creature confused

From the womb of space

And the sieve of Nature,

Mind without role,

Heart without aim,

Love without destination,

Beauty without the means

To fix this in time,

Make all time present,

And moment the stillness

Of art, or art’s repetition,

To catch the white mist, the gold larch.

Path at Night between Trees

White rim of cloud opens

To a show of stars

And a soft dimness

A half-glow

Under rustling oak,

No Moon,

A breeze

Crosses the grasses,

Bird in its leaf-cave cries,

Cold, out of its hour,

Restless air and the night

A beautiful roving

With forms half-seen

And lights that can’t be expressed,

Shudders of being,

Shivers of apprehension,

Dark in this womb.

Chill wood smells,

Heavy leaves

Dew-wet, leaning,

Thoughts that fall

Under gravity,

Constellations high north

Far east in profusion,

Plates of intangible colour,

Over fir, beyond birch

Pine, inter-stellar

Distance, size of a thumb

In the arc of the eye,

Faint glow between trees,

Who’d ever sleep,

Un-tired by such beauty

Creatures roam

Make this their being.

Now scratching of branch

On other,

Tick and creak over

The floor, dust, bark,

Of the wood,

Stand silent,

Breathe universe in,

Become the smallness

Of life on this Earth,

The live spirit joined

Either end to the dead

And unborn,

Put hand on bole,

This roughness of things,

Remember all sweetness

Past, imagine all futures,

Be, in the soughing.

Birds of Thought

No, we’re not merely instinct,

But birds of thought

And the lakes we land on

Are not in nature,

But in the irreal

Between nature and mind

Or rather, of both.

Not drowned swan trapped in the ice,

Or gasping in dust,

Wing-beat of raptor,

Or flicker of wren,

Over shining trails

In the air,

Or deep in the trees.

No, we’re beyond the seasons

Or rather create

Winters, springs, summers, autumns

Of spirit,

Between all landscapes


Between atom and star.

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.

Quiet, Diamond Bright

Heron sees: liquid grey surface, below glitter

Azure over, nothing to fear quite, snow smell

In the air, wind far out from eastern hills: bows,

Bends slow neck to eternal Earth considers light

Waits, not far the gravel beds and quarry waste,

Buzzard-calls, pigeon-clatter, don’t disturb this

Move-less concentration, sometime there’s fish,

Mostly deep glass inwardness of grey-green flow,

A breeze that blows from miles of shadowy trees,

World solid, fluid, feathered; quiet, diamond bright.

Crisis! What Crisis?

Look, if you want something like Dante,

Read Dante; Eliot, Eliot; every poet writes

The presence of her or his age: here’s the hill

From which we see all eras’ fond illusions,

And feel the chill of abandoning our own.

Poetry changes, to catch the altering human:

The world of science won’t tolerate religion,

In the end: enlightenment and games are over,

But not the dance of values, our moral choices,

Not the spirit reclaimed, nor aesthetic beauty,

Nor tenderness for the fragile, pitiful flesh,

Nor visions of the ethereal fire of our world,

This sweet blue planet’s solitary flowering.

Tonight, I Dream of You

Tonight I dream of you, and the fire

And ice of our vision returns. Desire

Is not always desire of the flesh, more

The need of the mind for true acceptance,

The spirit for warmth: where winds blow

Cold on the tundra, wolves howl, and neon

Lights in empty stores chill the wandering

Mind, is where we feel Earth’s loneliness

In the arc of glittering galaxies, dark matter,

What binds and what repels the intentionless.

Tonight I dream of you, fatigued and silent,

One with the lonely ones, solitary

Caught in the extreme tangle of your ideas

I never understood, emotions I failed

To follow. Are you happy with children

Or sad with failed fantasies, or crying out

In the orgasm of body-the-well-beloved,

Or passing like me between the houses

Suspicious of auto dark glass stillness,

In silent America, under the burning stars?

Tonight I dream of you and the fire of love

That turns its slow flame to ash, our Earth

To eternity, flower floating, eye of our warmth

Our values, what we, human, created to offer

This panoply of energies everywhere glowing,

Purpose-free and enwrapped in its own being,

All symbols, all images, what we truly know

And fiercely remember, the flares hovering

High over life, beacons rotating in darkness.

Tonight I dream of you, with every feeling.

Tonight I dream of you. We are vulnerable,

And we posture, both are real: brace ourselves

To perform on the stage of this world, but rain

On water’s more what we are, smoke in the storm.

Do you watch trees like these from a closed

Window; see squirrels running the power-lines;

Derelicts trawling the garbage, hogging the benches;

The rich sliding by on greased tracks to oblivion,

By the stores, the halls, the domes, the hydrants;

Frozen or flowing inside; melting or burning?

Tonight I dream of your meaning and your being,

Both mysteries and far, in my place of departure,

Since everything is alive, nothing lost, though we

Drift apart for all time like swift-separating stars,

Trailing a mist of words, or the colours of anger,

Reds, blue-greens of regret, yellows of jealousy,

Turn white with the void of gone laughter crying.

Sometimes I feel ready to leave, the dark enticing,

But I have things to hold me, arcs of light, trees

Throw tender patterns of shade on the roadway,

Making intentionless beauty, stilling the mind.

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.


Sitting on dark rock reading a text

On Quantum Dynamics, the beat

Of waves on the flat sand, swirl

Of bright water scours the tideway,

Mind running on in the creature

Here, thought enabled in tissue,

All these strange tricks of Nature.

Sandpiper, dunlin, and knot step

On stilts through the sighing wash.

Boom of surf on the cliff, spread

Delta of silt, shale, shell and foam

Covering the debris of ages. Light

Shines on the page, these equations

Our functions that grasp at phantoms,

The shadowy symbols of energy’s fire,

Though its flame can be dark gravity,

Or gasps from a star, black shoreline,

Where the eye is process, like wave.

We sat here by driftwood salt smoke

When our galaxy was ash in the sky,

Learning to see each other long before

We learned to see self, the inwardness.

Now cars wait, metal and glass, above,

While the book of the future wipes out

The book of the past, gull’s necklace

Of tracks, skeleton print of unknowing.

A sea of molecules breaks, world quivers.

He Leaves Us Behind

Soft night walking November woodland

Glints of half-light in silhouette leaves,

Tender shine, from the remains of a star,

Out there below the rise of a constellation,

Orion, heroic gleams in random lines, oh,

Too much staring at world makes us blind;

What foolish people confused by morality

Do to each other, this planet, unwitting;

And no use berating the fools, it’s us all.

Far cloud glows, black cold grips the ground,

Feet slip on logs, shadows cover the stones,

Charon departs in the mist, leaves us behind.

Sweet night walking November grassland

Distant fires, sparks blow high at windfall,

Universe sinks to rest now here in the valley,

And a skein of smoke slants towards Algol.

No room for us on the stream, too freighted

With thought, emotion, the lather of living,

As the poled skiff departs, there’s a moan

Of souls, these spirits embedded in flesh,

Desperate for Lethe, and then to start over,

Clean as the midnight air, as sparkles of ice

Where the water laps stones, perfect night

Of November shining on all of us left behind.

Uncreated Space

No poetry tonight,

Throw away the giant Ego,

Examine the world that is,

One vast glitter of Tao

Stretched in the dark over Europe;

Fountain of light

Seethe that consumes the silence,

Though not the silence within.

No poetry tonight,

Not Pound’s long lament

For a vanished civilisation,

Nor Rilke’s stream of dark joy,

Nor Eliot’s sermon,

Neither unconditional love

Nor infinite compassion,

But only the coming and going

Of thought that leaves

No print in the air, or over snow.

On Cold Mountain

In the house without walls,

No poetry tonight,

The glittering silence

And the silvered palette

Of shimmering presence.

Dark deep moss under pines.

All power is empty.

No poetry tonight,

No way except

Relinquishment of all ways,

All roles are false

All acts untruth,

Hopeless sorrowful species,

Joyous mind,

Uncreated space,

Intentionless Void.


A photograph today

Of a thirteen year old girl

With a gun

Astride a sad horse

With a slain deer

Over her saddle,

The deer dead,

The horse ashamed,

And the girl…

‘Vulnerability with

Strength’ the caption said,

Rather a terrible


Landscape behind her,

Being used, or consuming

The self inside,

Both sacrificed

On an evil altar.

Either you understand

We are creatures

In this together,

Are bared by pathos

Naked to every weather,

Or you fail to see

Yourself slung over the saddle

The bloody muzzle,

Feel pain of broken beauty,

And dead as an adult

Complete the death

Of the child.

Baudelaire’s Symbols

Civilisation distorts

Nature simply presents.

So preserve this planet

Before we destroy some other.

Civilisation creates symbols

It’s true, through which

The subtle mind sees

The world, never new

But always by that means,

Symbolic, and so beginning

Not from where we are

But from where we may be;

Mind is process and symbol

And neither this present

Place nor its past,

But the Irreal between them,

Yet Mind is always the symbol

That Nature presents,

So preserve this planet

Before we destroy some other,

What we make is not given:

How can it deliver

New symbols not there

Already, deep in the core?

Science Fiction: Light Relief

Science Fiction never reflects

The depth of our being,

Since it mirrors society

Though some way ahead.

Whenever did society

Encompass our being?

Aliens, monsters, physics

Of other-worlds, dreams

Of advanced (technological)

Civilisations so wise we drool

At their marvellous powers

Which usually are exerted

Against ‘inferiors’, even if they do

Lead them to paradisial shores,

Colour them blue-green, send them

Down Hollywood tunnels of fire,

Plant them in mystical spaces,

Or flavour them sometime else.

Science Fiction is light relief

From the weirdness and pain

Of moral decisions, the choices

Between our realities; those

We must make, still, to be

More than society, but Individuals.

The spirit is no place, no matter

How many stars and planets

We find or how many creatures

We meet, unlike ourselves.

Values are in the Mind, and

Always here, here our challenge,

To be what we might become

To shape out our destiny, learn

As a species how to be greater

Than this or that piece of void,

Social process, or web of matter;

How to make the Individual future,

Create the space around us,

And not be defined by time,

The co-ordinates of being.

Mind, the process in time,

Take us always beyond time,

And into those depths beyond 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

Undulant Night

No I don’t understand our civilisation

Frenetic activity or the roar of process

Matter mastered we mastered by matter

Alone in the dark with such transactions

I understand various deep pains in the heart

Our humanity lost somewhere on the way

The rationalisation of cruelty violence hate

How freedom is killed no limit to slavery

No I don’t understand what others cling to

Nation religion sexuality ideology race

Being a lover of silence self natural forms

Alone in the universe mind filled with value

I understand the territorial imperative the fire

Engendered in baffled minds by battle-cries,

And that two almost identical human beings

Distinguish each other revile by hidden signs

No I don’t understand why we kill the creatures

Who are ourselves deep down the dark we know

Who enter and leave life devoid of our language

And yet reveal better than us what being entails

I understand how power sucks everything dry

In all its masks including the solacing tender

How we abuse others how we too are abused

How we enshrine this in our social structures

No I don’t understand what we hope to gain

Launching ourselves further deeper in time

Crossing space between planets stars perhaps

Wrecking saving our earth fighting eating dying

I understand how hard it is to love beyond self

Beauty gone by how to fail to capture its fading

Truth and the difficulty of ever saying revealing

I understand darkness pity sadness undulant night

The Removal

Slow cloud volumes moving over the air

Slow thought eternities creatures forms

Lumbering quiet through shadows of sky

Depths in which I find you lose you shiver

In endless tracts of the history of the heart

Valleys and hills of cloud piled up erased

Drifts braided channels of light and silence

Mirror lakes of grass turbulent seas of trees

Ponderous weighty over the dark lake silver

Specked with the lingering stains of swans

Slow cloud moving eternities wreathing sky

Ripples of space-time knots of existent mass

Energies bound unbound promethean shoals

Sombre prisons of flame ice crumpled matter

Vast landscapes dark storm gullies the abysses

Absorbing mind a drowned man flails sighing

And dives with the whales deep rises with stars

Wraps around earth returning on waves of fire

I am process am I there or not there churned

By the living vapour steam of witness ravelling

Slow cloud shape-shifting mounded May thorn

Snow of volcanoes tremor of seamount towers

Turned faster than Earth flowing out far ahead

Yet hanging curtained veiled from eye’s summit

Spilling grey-black over the shadow-green leaves

And here and there a glint of whiter of almost blue

While below I thrust my hand deep into the gold

Crisp remnants of autumn into the glistening core

That somehow holds me is one is the throb of life

This same intentionless glide from root to crown

From west to east or north to south this removal.


When you dig down deep

Or stare at the world enough

Each thing has integrity

Each thing so strong

It defies eludes

Even the things

You disagree with

Even the actions

That disturb your spirit:

To the universe

All process is equal

But not to us.

When you’re sensitised

Everything impacts

Forces meaning on you

Demands to be set

In the poem

Lingers in dreams

Haunts your bed at night,

Even what no longer shames you,

Or hurts your heart:

Beauty comes stealing

Through all forms

Light or dark.

There’s a bird

Green woodpecker maybe

Its dipping flight

Through your eye,

Or a place a time words said

Sounding flutes or drums

Falling in inner space

Descending inside you

To the ground of being

Like the floor of a wood:

Being’s demands

Are far from subtle.

If you dig down deep

All these things have life

Something irreducible

The tough root

Of existence,

Gnarled, hostile,

Other, vague, perverse.

Over the truth we spread

A veil of our knowing

A veil of affection

Our tenderness,

Our vulnerable light.


I wrote too much I grew

Contaminated by writing,

I gave away my freedom

To the tyranny of words.

Instead of breathing air

Hitting the simple trail

Remembering emotion

Or indulging in beauty.

Today I was entangled

Bemused by the Muse

Tempted by civilisation

Hot to exhibit Self.

I wrote too much I died

Into too deep a silence

Closed from every eye

Including that of love.

Today I saw something

In the Mind’s eye, star

Or flower or creature,

The weft of a feeling

And let it go, let it pass,

Went by, wrong choice,

It’s how we are caught

In the world, possessed:

Not to be caught is best.

So Many Faces

My copy of Modern European Poetry

Is no longer modern, all centuries age,

The detail blurs like Earth from space,

Till only a mottled impression remains.

A familiar cover conceals the cries

The pain the madness of a generation,

More than one: how close to the dark

They were, and how open to feeling.

For modern read Twentieth Century

That wasteland of hatred and wars

Interspersed with bursts of being,

Lost century in which I was born.

For days the book sits on its shelf,

Then is chosen, in some hour held

Tight, opened, and there are all these

Cries, sighs, calls, do you hear them?

Some names you know others you

Have forgotten, all served the Muse,

That is, the human spirit, on the edge

Of life and death, all died fighting

The worse than death, the erasure

Of the human, all touched beauty

So many faces at the crossings

Some hands choosing a flower.

A book’s a thing, language seems

A thing yet is a process, the music

The signs unfold in time the echoes

Rise in the hollow heart, the arteries,

Though nothing it seems was learned

There is the learning, so many lives

In all their complexity reduced to this

Or are they exalted, only you can judge.

I turn the book slowly in my hands

Feeling the strength not of success

(Often these poems fail the translation

Fails or the reader fails to comprehend)

But here is the heart-world of images,

Here is the hoard of gold that gleams

Over dead faces and contorted limbs

Over the wire, the craters, the disaster

Though we’re here for nothing, void

Is beauty: it is not enough not to love:

Out of my window light falls on leaves

Voices are murmuring, living, calling.

Distant TV Shots

Vast displays of heavy armament:

Trying idly to guess which country.

The rictus smile of the politician:

The amazing ubiquity of the suit.

Children expressing delightful joy:

Pondering a hundred million fates.

Young eyes in love, always the same:

Something about something leaping.

Vast and intricate mine-head juxtaposed

With a scarred landscape, leafless trees.

Chinese women poling a boat upstream:

One century bows remotely to another.

No sign of the void, the soul, the afterlife,

But a deep collider smashing things together.

Wondering what goes on behind the screen,

Knowing I couldn’t rebuild my civilisation:

Flags, rivers, cities, buildings, always more flags:

Waiting for something small and human, sighing.


They wonder what he looked like.

He looked like many people.

The photos caught some of them,

Ghosts of his passing through.

They wonder how he felt and dreamed.

Like me or you.

Each day he left his genius behind

Each day regained it.

They wonder at the things he used,

The places that he walked,

He used what we use,

Walked a fraction faster than we walk,

No more understood his skill

Than the spectators

No more than the creature

Comprehends its leaping.

They wonder if he felt their pain

Their joy their love

Was greater braver.

He only ached a little deeper.

They search his portraits

For the one true face.

Like ourselves,

He was many people.

Red Fox

Red fox leaping in the deep snow,

Transient, eternal, beauty,

Who can grasp your mystery?

Who can prove hide or hair of you;

Red fox leaping in the deep snow,

Forked light running in the silence;

Or sense the beating of your heart,

Pure, there: beyond our language?

Never Underestimate the Flowers

Though we die, though the lovers

Go into the air, there will be others,

And every instance of pain

Can turn to beauty, the glimpse,

The flare, that face, among shadows,

Will be replaced by a face, other,

Still, beauty will glow in the air,

And Helen live, young, and fair.

Though all is lost, nothing is lost,

Not your face, not we as we were,

That is true, but each moment we turn

Towards woods that burn, bright fields,

And the sea once, beyond us, there,

Your face by other face, other,

Yet beauty shines in the air,

And Helen lives, young and fair.

The Coldest for Years

Hunkering down under snow

We leave off wandering around,

With the creatures,

In holes and burrows,

Watch reflected light’s glow

On the book and the table,

The garden white,

The shrubs bowed down

Like Zen masters

Acknowledging each other

In coldness.

Mind concentrates brightly

In ultra-low-temperature silence,

Calm of unnatural quiet

Cars and people sleep,

Our world is still.

We sigh we listen to music

Watch films talk read

Dream, of life, the dream;

I’ll go out to feed the birds

Give them water,

Blackbird and thrush gleam

Black and freckled brown

In the lightness.

The beauty of our world still

That is never our world

But Nature’s of which

We are so small

And pitiful a fragment.

Roar of plough and truck

On distant hillside,

Hardly affects this peace.

Eternity like this

The soundless stars

That snow the Void.

The Space of the Void

Mind is more than you think:

Though every determinant

Were known of its process,

Its output still would move

Beyond us. Content is deep,

The world is never its laws,

Being is more than we are.

There have been other

Societies, history is not

These re-creations of ours

But a life of its own,

And there are many ways

To live, not even envisaged,

Meanings beyond this mind.

Don’t believe emotions

Are constant, though we

Exist from the ground

Of implicit genetics,

Nothing is fixed. Refine,

Refine, make it over,

Never be bound by your time.

For we are no longer

The characters in novels

We are no longer the word

As it once was uttered,

We are the Tao of endless

Beginnings, and the wild

Space of the Void.


We grow weary of being

Always in the wrong

We seek a place where

We are comprehended

A limestone space perhaps

Bare and cloud-shadowed

Or quarried place one silent

Now, uncivilised and sweet

Or the scooped out hollow

Pool of a river, where a rose

Curves from a broken wall

To drown in the grey coolness

Or a dark path between trees

At twilight after the long walk

A faint trace of rain in the air

The mind irrationally beating

Or better still sink into eyes

Into the gentleness of a face

That is not looking beyond us

That sees and comprehends us

We grow weary of always being

What is so much less than we are

In the alien space of becoming

Always failing; always wrong.

Larger Than You Think

The Mind is large the Universe

Is small. A repetition of space,

Unlike the space of your body

Where Mind in silence drowns.

Slowly the Mind grows deeper

The Universe smaller. Gravity

Draws us upward, the proton

Stays a proton, beauty its dance.

The Universe pocket-sized fits

Inside your dream. It never

Advances, the clouds go round

Ahead is the back of your head

You need a whole civilisation

Of Mind to create one poem

That’s as large as the universe,

Size being a matter of meaning

The Universe has the shape

Of whatever you wish it

To signify: the tree, the fish,

The music, the machine.

Strange Country

Travellers in an always strange country,

We were free without earning freedom.

By our courtyard in time the great river

Rolled its slow flood greenly through us:

Boats veered, the ferry plied. As tenants

Of dark squares waiting, streets brooding

We watched the rain wet the glass, or sigh

In distance. We admired the pomegranate,

Alien holding its solitary fruit to the light;

Our land of joy was preparing to disappear,

Sunk in its landscape of love and suffering.

Softly the huge butterflies, sinister, settling,

Fluttered, largely, in violent vegetation.

The solidity of ages, our stubborn flame,

Made life seem superficial as the morning,

Slight as the trickle of water over stones.

The world consumed our bodies tenderly

Lit you, alive, at the end of my perspective,

Narrowed all things to a space beyond us.

Careless of fate and ignorant of its being

Time, toying gently with us for a moment,

Laid its memories, silt-like, over our eyes.

Everything Of Us Can Be Seen

Slowly there was colour on an empty beach,

Though there were objects in the emptiness,

Each was an aspect of mind turned inside-out:

The glutinous slowness of retentive being,

The slight distaste, or the extreme revulsion,

The tremor of self, now tiny now enormous,

Disjointed creatures, ravelled limbs and eyes,

Hollows where body hides, stains of knowing,

Extended tentacular limbs, blood and faecal

Matter, nails, hair, flesh, cartilage, the bones

Of white existence, soft eyelashes of despair.

Tenderly there was yellow on a burning sand,

Ghost figures wafting towards rock-filled horizons,

Headlands of time, waves of frozen space agitating,

Melted forms, lava of congealed dreams, of sordid

Hates, ludicrous fears, wild passions at the margins,

Edging towards indifferent stones, or green stillness.

There were rock-pools for our existential terrors, pale

Clear, where small crustaceans played with grains;

There was disgust looming, or creeping from the sea,

Over a viscous foreshore, a real no less real because

Imagined; birds falling, dense clouds gathering pace.

It’s A World We Yearn For

Out of the caves and over the meadows

In an ancient world we found beauty,

Long before language: you think

The creatures don’t know beauty?

See how the San and the Aboriginal

Peoples laughed at us, our trickeries –

What purpose our civilisation, it’s

An accretion, outcome of restlessness.

Great beauty of the Universe moving,

The stars flowing, children dancing

Playing in the ferns, wings gleaming

Overhead, red fire at night and stories.

Mouse sits watching as we hoe the field,

The creatures in the stars are insects too

And furred and feathered scaled and sing

In another music, each plant all flowers

We know in their inner beauty, singing

Colour and scent to us, singing forms,

Finer than we can make, and subtler,

All sleep in the Milky Way dream dawn.

Bare feet on the sills of being, pelts, tails,

Masks of animal nature, deep origins

Expressed in what we are, in our flesh,

All tools natural, all ornaments pieces

Of a found world, humility makes sacred,

Not gods or demons, connected lives

Out of the caves and over the meadows,

Each action, then a thousand million times.


We dreamed along empty roads in deep quiet landscape.

By that abandoned railway bridge, I felt the barbed-wire

Parting our selves from silence, from an enchanted land.

There was the territory of gone poetry: we knew its traces,

Lines of relationship, of others, we cannot enter: voyeurs,

How we long to do so, though the mystery would all fade

And reveal the far ghosts as faces empty and still as ours.

We went through all the places that they traversed together,

We followed the trail, those fields through nameless plants

Seeding themselves in air, crumbling fragrant to the touch,

Through all those transient and lovely things, the flames

And lights of their peculiar ground, the resonant pathways,

Down the deep channels of meadows, by motionless farms,

Until we reached at twilight in fine rain that darkened wood,

First seen over timber gate, nettle-thick entrance brooding,

The rides vanishing far off into greenness, settling blacker,

The stifled firs, dead-branched in the lower margins, rising

Out of a mat of needles, pads of dust, a litter of soft neglect,

Felt, as we strayed hushed through its caverns, melancholy

And the nervousness of night; the loneliness of our universe,

Though all its spaces fit inside the mind; life’s pass at death.

Emerged to a green field, warrened, hollowed and unused,

Felt the rain profound on our faces, marched with the dead,

But through a softer dark, where the words still congregate

Over a field, like birds; down the hedgerow, like bramble,

One pale rose still ecstatically singing; in clinging shadows,

Voicing the first world, softly declaring self among selves,

A communion of our meaning, the sole unique thing in us.

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.

Mind Is A Garden

It’s a matter of glittering mind.

Your prison is only a prison

If you make it so, bound

By the tyranny of history.

Our magic power’s our ability

To process the past into some

New future, imagined many

Times, realised never before

In the intricate detail that is

The actual. Words are only

Words, images only images,

But each breath’s a universe.

If you trap yourself in conflict,

Ask yourself, why not walk

Away, into inner freedom.

Nothing un-thinks a thought,

Peace has a thousand ways,

And myriad voices, violence

Only one. Mind is a garden

Tend your gleaming flowers.

Darkest of forces, resentment;

Heaviest of fetters, hatred.

In an instant, turn away,

Be free. Mind is freedom.

Foolishly we chain mind,

Defeat ourselves by memory.

So many causes unreal,

So much bitterness self-imposed.

The external things bind us,

Tribes, nations, religions,

The detritus of history.

But Mind is always free.


There are many kinds of untruth,

Some are easy,

Some feel like a deep corruption

Of the inner mind,

Despite their lightness;

The story told, seems no lie when read

Merely fiction,

Yet to tell a story is to lie;

The role well-acted, seems real emotion,

Simply life,

Yet to act a role is to lie;

Some feel the lie too deeply to do either.

There are many kinds of deception,

Some are masks,

Others are the corruption Plato feared

From art, see it from his angle,

Despite its strangeness;

The myth enacted, seems a sacred dance

And no fantasy,

Yet to live a myth is self-deceit;

To see the vision, seems eternal truth,

A light on being;

Yet to see visions is to plunge into illusions;

Some fear the mask too deeply, to do either.

Reminding Mind

That flickering of the creature,

Lawrence understood:

How its darkness

The darkness of lack

Of language sends us

Headfirst down the slope

Of being into first times;

Into a curious underworld,

An intimate realm of feeling,

No longer accessible

To the civilised mind.

And even the primitive

Human is civilised,

Since word is always light.

That forgiveness we should ask,

For our betrayal:

Our destruction

Of the world creature inhabits,

Our disregard of the deep sacred

Which is absolutely nothing

To do with religion,

And which must be redeemed

And recovered from religion,

In order that we might

Understand, the intentionless

And irreligious earth.

The creature sees us more

Clearly than we see ourselves.

Why are we so honoured

By the creature’s visitations,

By its mute disregard

For our appurtenances,

Its intense focus,

Without intensity,

On its familiar being?

Because in its darkness,

That is, its silence

Of merciless mind,

The bond is still

Unbroken, the unlike

Is still like?

We know the origin,

Which is devoid of gods

And demons,

Devoid of external forces,

And strange commands:

It’s our origin too,

It’s the luminous deep

From which we rise,

The inception of life

And its dark return,

Its power the simple

Power of the symbol,

Reminding mind.

Who Are You Calling Brother?

Somewhere in one of those tall trees

The owl is crying the death of species,

On this planet never the same again,

Under the slow stars, the flying mist.

Celebrate the resilience of a myriad

Of creatures, and life’s wild excess;

The human is precious only to us;

Each insect’s ready to take our place.

And our pretence of loving everything,

Stops short of love, is delight, awe,

Admiration, not in the final analysis

Love, for the ant, wasp, beetle, spider.

We should be careful of calling those

Brothers, sisters, who would despise

Us if they knew; if they could feel

What we call disdain. Speak for them!

We can scarcely speak intelligently

For ourselves, burdened with feeling,

Sharing the blame. No cleaner than

Each other; all entangled in the mist.

I watch a silent moon, slide hazily

Across a stream of stars. In tall trees,

The owl is crying the death of species;

My mind and heart, guilt’s mysteries.

Humility Is Endless

I love that beautiful instant, swiftly gone,

That time, as a century ended and began,

In which poets were sensitised to this place,

With a new concentration on the thing itself,

And not the associations it evoked, on world

And not the self, a gazing, staring, focussing

On what was only then realised to be passing.

We learn to know what we love its vanishing.

Hopkins has it, the sensitivity, and Stevenson,

Being as being, and not how it might be used,

A deeper humility, and recognition, to which

Like Edward Thomas later, they were attuned,

By a sensibility conscious of a world waning;

By knowing their limitations; and its mortality;

By a prescient inwardness. It’s the death of one

Kind of metaphor: the birth of another, deeper.

Some say they’re minor voices, believing that

Stridency, maybe a more universal application,

Make for greatness, they make for greater fame

Perhaps. Their voices sing beyond such things:

And we must learn to go with them into the less

Significant places; to watch, but more carefully,

Inscapes of dawn or spring; those simple grasses;

Some intrinsic moment the dumb eye looks past.

Love Completed

The soft green levels of water rippling outwards

Absorbed the mind, slow bursts of white foam,

Those wild-flowered cliffs, or moonscape sands,

Pale shore, dark rocks, deeper imploding waves,

Transient light, the drumbeat of ephemeral being,

And an eternal flowing. There was a secret flavour

To the mind, a sweetness of the hidden inner core.

The universe outside us, unmade by human things,

Was a land without language, lacking love, but not

Without signs and signals, information: past hours,

The future, not yet wound aching into our present,

A sea of futures brimming beyond the bay, glitter

Of seal-heads in the swell, the far buoy booming,

And something there that moved, flashed, showed

A wing in the air, and swooped to retrieve – what?

Or a fin arcing lazily from silence to silence, spray

Down a hidden blade, carving mysterious distance.

Did we feel the sadness, landscapes of melancholy,

Of what outlasts, inhuman, or only the clasp of the

Precise, the delicate crab, the dark green anemone?

The returning is strange. The thoughts, the feelings

Of a life, too rapid, unformed for words, dialogues

Of the senses, emotions here and remembered, pain,

Desire, idea, entangled reflections, forming the roar

Still of becoming, dying down, to a seethe of waters.

The promise no longer there, but another meaning

Undertaken, done, gifted by all luck, every chance;

The crash of the wave, the glitter of its wash, the fire;

An unravelling of childhood, a reconciliation with all

Freedom. Life poured into its place is love completed.

A Life Is Not Defined By Time

Do you like my quiet voice

That speaks

Of the other reality,

And the greater,

Those pale streaming clouds

And the thin smoke of fires

Far off over shoals of pine

Or reaching cypress;

That talks

Of the green hills and the sea

To which we came

Young and possessed?

Do you like my soft call,

Soft as the sigh

Of the waves beyond the hill,

Where our romantic

Flame burned in the hearth

Of flesh and bone,

Where far off

The mournful bell

Called to the deep drowned,

Moaned in the mist

Through which we moved,

The lovers?

Do you hear my keening,

Which ignores

The details of landscape

Expects you’ll know

The feel of the slope

The grasses

Flowers I couldn’t name

You gazed at

The individual lives of flowers

Folds and furls of leaf

Tiny starred emotionless

Bringers of feeling?

Do you know the granite

Its aeons

Of air, of silence

Which is never soundless

Of time

Which is never passing

(How the symbolic moment

Floats in mind’s slanting beam

Like a leaf caught

As it falls

And held suspended


Do you recognise the place

This space

Which no longer exists

That we inhabit

In the memories fused by the clasp

Of a moment

And thrown to the winds

Like dust,

Do you feel how it blazes

Deep in the being

We never understand,

That we must abandon?

Dead Touch

No I won’t compromise with your

View of how the world works,

No I won’t comply,

Because you think

All things can be bought

And every mind;

That gain is a god

And the word no more

Than a trick of the light.

No, I give you a toast

To freedom

To love without violence

To kindness, concern

For the nurturing of life

Not for the profit;

I give you the world

Before woman or man,

There it spins in the night!


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.

Index Of First Lines