The Other Side of Silence
Michael Baird - Unsplash
Authored by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved.
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- Wordless Light
- Frost at Night
- The Silent
- What We Have Given
- Seethe, Flow, Fire
- Back Then
- No Easy Words
- So Vast, So Small
- Dark Light
- That Place
- Rehearsing All Things Human
- Over All the Planet
- Attending to World
- This Alien Tongue
- All This Society
- Pacific Coast
- Pillow Talk
- It Took a While
- East Again
- This Place
- Back Where We Began
- Those People
- At Dead Of Night
- O Universe
- The Silent
- Not Simply Self
- Too Much
- Mount Lu
- Meditating, Mountain Moment
- The Other Side of Silence
- Bright Bird
- Her Sensitivities
- Nothing Returns
- The Un-opening Gate
- You, Futures
- Clear Creek
- White Sky
- All of it Bodiless
- Think, Meditate, Contemplate
- Pine, Yew
- Entering Leaving
- It Shines
- Where We Are Now
- Beaches not Buildings
- Not Blind
- Harsh Days
- High Cliffs
- Flows Through, Not Seen
- ‘In every pebble there is a jewel’
- Hanging in the Void
- What We Hear on the Hill
- They Sit Quietly
- Unborn Mind
- Atheist’s Song
- Seeking Echoes
- Oh, You Know
- Song of the Other Tradition
- Out There
- Walk Ancient Trails
- February: Hidden Valley
- No Zen Wars
- Don’t Accept
- Meeting a Stranger
- The Path Revealed
- Nothing More Real
- Gone Back
- It’s All About Perception
- Meaning Less
- Jasmine, Buddha
- This China
- Passing Fires
- Pure Vision
- In a Flash
- No Deceit
- Some Day
- Big, Heavy
- Stopping at Night West-bound.
- Imagination Madly Holy
- What We Need
- Song of Eternity
- Speaking Your Name
- Sudden Perceptions
- Small Dark Bird
- Like A Lover
- Little Breeze
- What Have We Done?
- March Sun
- White Clouds Moving
- Words for the Poet
- Cities of Europe
- Ethnic Photographs – One Perspective
- Midnight, Waking
- Words for Federico García Lorca
- In the Streets
- All Mind’s Narrow Ways
- Hagg’s Farm
- In Here, Out There
- Crow Speech
- Symbolic Form, Flesh Form
- The Sword of Truth
- The Word
- Index Of First Lines
It is an aspect of the world: imagine
that the unwatched mirror is empty;
that things inside the room, the room
itself, vanish, when the door is closed;
that there are no words inside the books
till we open them, nor behind the screen;
that the sun dies each night and is reborn;
that the universe, its billion-fold light show
is a darkness that the mind populates;
that non-existent gods spring into being
whenever the faithful say their prayers.
I too make sanctuaries, in art, love, life,
and you inhabit them. Towards the centre
of the tree-ringed clearing, the focus
of the stones, the pavement of the world
and the silence, I walk, to find you there.
Those sacred spaces that human need,
its psychic shadows, force us to reveal,
those openings in the chambers of the heart,
all the fantastic circuits, pillars, hollows,
platforms and arenas, circuses, where mind
leaps rings of fire, to memory’s applause,
I too create them.
It began with the burning where you are
then the jasmine, pear-tree, sweet-briar
took fire, until the gilded edge of the earth
was charring, and the eye itself was flame.
It began with the inner core of you,
the intricate reality of your being.
It began with the vision of centuries,
and the light of futures,
until the mind alight sang mysteries.
From your land the far wind blows,
a western wind.
On my island light matures,
a wordless light.
Through the dark, now, beauty goes,
this clear night.
Bright fire, your meaning flares,
in deepest mind.
Frost at Night
Frost burns in the moon, pine-trees quiver,
light runs round the sky’s deep horizon.
You and I watch through the stillness,
the sound of our whispers shatters boughs.
Mind-traces, cloud-tracks, stars, satellites,
the little planet turns and we turn with it.
Frost burns in the moon, the saplings bend
to set their snow-gifts on all the pathways.
Love makes our delight, delight makes love.
Here are silent stones
that do not express
the burning of lives.
There are trees
that were saplings here
when the dead passed by.
There are walks
below whose surface other feet
entered the silence.
The past cannot exist,
yet cannot die, past
being what survives.
Other fingers touch the rose,
other faces turn to the light.
Now we are them, and they are us.
The silent save us, ordinary lives,
mother and child, the skilful, their skill,
creature as creature, nature in wind and sky.
The mysteries are specious, all that striving,
all the strain, that pain, the grasping,
we are repeating other lives, lost in the flow.
The silent save us, ordinary lives.
What We Have Given
We have given the universe mind,
but its truth and beauty are echoes in mind
of its reality. What is not an echo? Only love.
What do we give? We give the universe love.
And our solitude is an absence of echoes.
and an unrequited passion in the silence.
Truth and beauty have their echoes, they
are the correspondences. What lacks an echo?
Sweet tale, the Prime Mover
giving all the creatures roles and names.
You be fox, you snail, you sparrow!
One god, one rule’s identification.
Campfire myths for minds of long ago,
were always the doubly safe and sweet.
We knew the world then, not like now’s
one giant flow and flowering ecstasy
of unknown future’s glittering emptiness.
Complexity stilled, intricacy stopped,
grace, memory and feeling vanished,
at the moment when heartbeat ended,
in the depths of a life, in the eye,
gone from time, space, a place in being.
Dark, slipping beyond into the void,
stardust into earth between the stars,
ash on the slope, silence under leaves,
another clasp and knot of meaning done,
another fall, another infinite passing.
Seethe, Flow, Fire
Seethe, flow fire of everlasting life,
its leathery toughness,
dark rankness, bright assault.
Fear, disgust, joy, admiration
as it flounders from our past,
thickens in our present.
Seethe, flame, fire,
salmon-spawn, humming-bird, pike,
river-pool, ocean, air,
herds and shoals, dense, soft,
wet, enduring, death-cries,
life-cries, seethe, flow, fire.
Kestrel at the field’s edge at noon, dark shape
and shadow here of this one tree left standing,
black-oak cloud on the blue over crop-yellow,
pallid the boundaries, and the boughs beyond,
down to the sea there, shingle, work of hands,
hooves, machines, and silver centuries’ loam,
coils of a furrowed nature, mind here listening.
Wind-hovering, every wing-beat, every thought,
then life darts through light and small terror ends.
In the grass, in the deep-ditched mud-sunk lanes,
climbing the stone stiles’ deeper, silent England.
The first purity of wood and stone,
walking the reservoirs, world opening,
and this, Nature, sudden and shining.
The spaces then mind launched into,
favoured places in other dimensions,
orthogonal, infinite, light-shot, sweet.
That was the unexplored universe,
the unheard music, unread book,
forms unseen, and lives unknown,
history coruscating, all time waiting.
No Easy Words
Wind on the mountain,
in the night,
bows down the fir-tree,
I am the mountain
hard as stone, then all light.
No easy words, loss
the deep, strange, slow
vanishing, return of all
the atoms to the stars.
A negative, the black, bare
tree at dawn,
a cry, Nature, the non-human,
eternal cry. The ghost call.
Shuttered in the dark, mind
flares, flashes, stills,
no speech, no fluency, to compass
pain, flame, mask,
mystery, this reality.
So Vast, So Small
the individual, the species,
but Nature, ah, resilient,
fragile, an extreme,
the primitive niche,
vulnerable, the other.
or great change.
a danger, a delight,
on an arm of stars,
so vast, so small.
This waste of spirit, all these wars,
the blindness, change them all
it changes, all those minds,
all shuttered in limitation.
Here universe gives voice, one
shining, shimmering, song
through all, one resonant,
majestic, mindless mind-cry.
This waste of spirit that burns
the heart in pity, irrecoverable
death, a human wounding. Only
this balm, dark light, beyond species.
The lion’s cheetah’s leopard’s attack:
but I always sided with the antelope,
those sensitive, fearful, liquid, loving eyes.
The tiger burning far in Orion’s fire:
but I always loved a fainter mist of stars,
the mice, the snails, the insects in the grass.
The universe, this earth, the deserts,
grasslands, seas: but I always chose
the half-known, used, neglected corners,
rust-filled, weed-green, long-exploited land.
That honesty is hardest, honesty of nature
(wind, hail, sea, light), honesty of creature,
solidity of things, the things of hands,
places without names (slopes, walls, copses)
to achieve that, that transparency, is hard.
A silence, of a kind, the inner disengagement,
from Babel, from the world, a truth of feeling,
cleansed of the contamination of history, nations,
texts, like being young again, and free
of destination, no one, no thing, nowhere.
Rehearsing All Things Human
Soft through the night-long winds
the grasses on the dunes rise and sigh.
Metal clangs on metal in the valley.
rehearsing all things human. I search
for dawn-light white glow for meeting
and strange meaning of mind-shadows,
enchanted conversation with the dead.
Soft music of the grass and flying sand,
the jarring clock, a beating out of time,
while all our constructed worlds fall
around me, until Venus in the dawn
the agony of light, the still-existing-here.
Over All the Planet
I understand those mountains in your country,
old-coned volcanoes, old peninsulas, dark trees,
wild mists out to the blue Pacific,
far as Hawaii, and the China Seas.
And the fir forests of the far north, I understand
how the flow moves there, nature’s energies,
and peoples, ancient races clinging
to the bare south-stretching shorelines.
If we could vanish, and nature’s free return
bring a fierce, tough cleansing, its ocean
under mountain, river over desert,
forest into grassland, over all the planet.
Attending to World
Beyond the love, or perhaps
the source of love
what keeps us here
is the beauty.
Beyond the pain, or perhaps
the source of pain,
what consoles us here
is the beauty.
When anguish fails, or perhaps
because the darkness
causes our revulsion,
comes to redeem us, or perhaps
from simple things
Beyond our love, or perhaps
the source of love,
what calls out here,
a taste or sound,
beyond the pain and silence
of the rose, of inner form,
a radiance at the core,
its throb, beauty.
Beyond the love, or perhaps
the source of love,
homing ourselves here,
Beyond the pain, or always
the truth of pain,
our transience, our beauty.
This Alien Tongue
And we are all those lovers,
in all the texts
real or unreal,
all the species,
that enact the story,
buried in every soil,
blown on every wind,
ground down by every tide,
dark under every star,
we are all the vision,
all the lovers,
every paradise gate,
key to every prison,
texts in silvery Latin,
or Romance sweetness,
those ink-brushed characters,
this alien tongue.
Horizon of cloud, blue-lit intricacy
volume, vapour, motion in gauze,
darker on white, grey on greyer.
Intention-less ocean, whose birds
and planes in the inverted seas,
pass through in lesser, pale dimension.
All This Society
One space of the wild-tongued surge in the mouth.
Of the body to body grasp of essentials, grasp of surface.
Of the reality cried at beyond all words, the renewal.
One space of the heart-stopping pulse of the species.
Yearning to go beyond – all this society.
Sea-roar and the dangerous soaring road.
No path up Cold Mountain, how many years?
Boom in the fog, wave-crests in mist-fall,
America China logged, these green remnants.
Steel-barred bridge: climb the spray from the deep,
bushes meet granite, slippery bark’s in the crevice.
The pit of the dark the noise shouts mountain,
this crushed thing sings million year creation.
Void, nothing of life unless it’s all life,
impersonal fire creating dreamlike meadow
perched on miraculous weight of dawn
moving its blue and green earth-limbs.
Snake-thin ribbons make for delicate roads,
all one curious sea-roar mind ascending.
White reefs of the sea, creek’s green clarity,
rainforest fern, silence enough for this eternity.
Sing to me in our abandoned house.
It returns, the wind at midnight,
the singing text, the soul’s lightness.
Milk moon, star-sheep, dust black pines,
wild wash of the pale galactic aurora,
knowing buried, end of all illusions.
Watch out our little space, nothing grasped.
The process is the thing and is no thing.
Writing on the darkness, world is so.
It Took a While
It took a while to get here
though it wasn’t our intention,
simply accretion, aspiration,
Now we are here, the silence
and the beauty are oppressive,
unless we learn to love them,
It took a while to get here, but
we are here, now we are here,
love the truth and beauty, give back
what world has given.
Valley unrolls, mind unrolls,
snowy heights, little huts,
one lone Taoist, mist, trees,
down to pale sand, green sea,
folds and shades of white hills,
rippled creeks, moon-bright
summits, oh, tiny meadows.
Valley unrolls, mind unrolls.
Elsewhere the others are dying
here we are singing.
Elsewhere naked children are being born,
here the sun rises, sets,
here the beauty is mountain,
there it is river, mudflat, dune, sky silver.
Elsewhere the others are dying
here we are sleeping,
resting, playing, over there the wars
blood, sickness, hunger,
here the slow fields under the blue,
the waves, the leaves, the cooling breeze.
Elsewhere the others are dying.
Pines eating clouds, the distant bell.
Out of the night, the real.
Sweet volcanic cone,
red sunlit herons.
Virgin forests, soon logged, slide,
soil the primal fountain.
Place of no return, airport of silence,
caught at dawn with no exit.
These strange countries, past and present,
so small, the lonely traveller.
The years we lived in, numbers.
Memories, they fail to correlate,
history went on by, left detritus,
names of the foolish, the famous.
Jupiter rising, and this blue planet
turns eastward, wind in darkness.
The years that don’t return, far
as the moon’s far side concealing.
Jupiter, and the Gemini, so bright,
the years one place re-configuring,
a mist of self, of others, this place
endless tremor, transient, eternal.
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.
Among the things that do not happen, you happen.
Among the silences that do not occur, that of your voice.
Among the darknesses your night is lit
by verdigris moons and leaves of silver.
Among the eyes that do not open is your gaze.
Among the sleeping bodies yours opens.
Delicate your soul like the souls of the creatures,
who happen in our world where few things happen.
Those people who never seem afraid
of what makes us sad and fearful,
who seem to be in life and not to view it,
while we gaze wholly into ourselves.
Those people always in control
of their bodies and expressions
while for us words fall apart, language
entangles, meaning bleeds away.
Those people whose loves, hates,
angers and silences are hidden,
those true denizens of a world we
venture into, painfully and afraid.
At Dead Of Night
At dead of night
between the wind and glare
at dead of night
ascend the stair.
In fallen light,
beyond the living crowd,
in fallen light,
be present now.
Concealed from sight,
and past the calling here,
concealed from sight,
break free, break clear.
At dead of night
between the cloud and star,
at dead of night
be eye, see far.
The black pine on the mountain sings
the spirit in the body sings,
Ours the world to hurt or heal,
mind floats free, is this the real
The water in the river shines,
heart and soul are forms of mind
All eternity to view,
but where am I except in you,
Mind is in the Universe,
Universe by Mind rehearsed.
I indeed exist in you,
you in me, and so make two.
Beauty, truth and love, we save,
inward only are displayed.
No mind forged us, we are mind,
being in the species find.
World-created, in us world
through eternal space-time hurled.
Oh we can write what we can’t feel,
and we can feel what we can’t write,
and so the I that I conceal
is not the I revealed to light.
Behind the dumb voice always sighs
the living mind that time denies,
the thought that in the darkness rests,
the silent, and so doubly blessed.
Not Simply Self
Not everything in life is fine,
the Tao has no morality,
to live a life can never be
No place for dust to cling, it’s true,
I am not I, you are not you,
but self-redemption without love
will never make the starlight move.
Nothing to lose, nothing to find,
from the beginning all is here,
but our own loss of being is
the least we have to fear.
Some show a clear self-image
are pieces of society.
Others are bare, trembling light
(In the moon great seas,
a silent Arctic dream,
an orb of snow
synchronised with darkness)
Some are solid, chiselled in time,
of their age, at home in being.
Others are satellites, glimpsed
as falling, never quite doomed
Too much you are not here, too many words,
too many thoughts, dreams, memories, anticipations,
too many lightning flashes of somehow recognition
piercing the light, too many night sweats, half-hopes
mind-games, true love’s crazed hard moments.
Too much of the eternal and transient, given, gazed-at
lost and recovered, sweet and bitter flow of irrecoverable
fine life-process, of severed lovers, lit
by a strange entanglement of stars.
Blurred the being, dim the being:
where from, all this existence?
Nature, not knowing, nature
un-meaning, simply arises.
Marvellous accidents, marvellous
presence, unintended cloud, water.
Mind-free in thunderous silence,
is the white fall of endless light.
Not a thing, the thoughtless process,
out of which mind and thinking.
Out of nothing, miraculous powers,
seeing light, and breathing air.
No-self, no-name, mountain peak,
as light, as solid, as passing mist.
Presence here is barely presence,
action here is barely action.
Cloud in the sky, stone in the path,
no difference the light in the water.
Mind is empty of wind and waves
where birds fly and fish leap.
Meditating, Mountain Moment
Harder to say the simplest things,
sitting silent in the rain.
Sun and mist on the west cliff,
dark trees silent beyond envy.
The further we go the less to say,
poetry culminates in silence.
Beauty of blue-grey winter cloud,
one landscape to fill the mind.
The Other Side of Silence
Wind in the grass, the light,
the hidden life
is best. Set free
from force and power, cache ta vie.
All private secret thought
the deep, the true,
in mind’s anonymity,
pass by, pass through.
Beyond the silence, wait,
inside the other space,
the still, the soundless heart’s
mute, moonlit face.
Pool, at the base
of time, where
the ages are
I look into you.
I see mind
consider the flow
Bright bird you make
darts at life,
the jewel that hides
in every stone,
of mind lovely.
Who valued you right
when you were young?
Who understood your
mercurial gemini click
at time, space,
Why were you not set
on the Way,
why the pearl of your
why the misunderstood
arc of your
Yet here you are,
to every shimmer
of leaf, gleam of star
in the blue-hung
every plate of galaxies.
Here you are, in my
heart, a flame
and a flow,
deeper than time,
bird of meaning
flashing your wings
until the heart splits
in desire and seeking
as shield and fruit
ripe and opened,
where you bring me
the burden of earth
its weightless joy.
Heron pale in
the silver water.
All the emotion
of mind all feeling.
All feeling creates rights
even the creatures’.
Feathered robe fluttering
a slender moving
stalking through shadows
soundless at twilight,
a dagger of grey
searching the real.
Heron of beauty,
Express who you are,
be mind’s artifice,
obedience is death,
the idea is alive.
Pursue the ideal or
die into the real,
all process is open.
Freedom is our
evasion of nets
in silence and cunning.
Express who you are,
the errors, the failures,
buying and selling,
they are what limit us.
The shared multiplies,
the given increases,
we are the minds,
the rest is fantasy.
None has authority,
the past is buried
deep in our memory.
Escape from the made,
consider the given,
nature is beauty,
re-new and re-make.
These the three ways
to all creativity,
love, beauty, truth,
three paths to delight.
Love, whole relationship,
truth, the deep consonance,
beauty, that clarity
born out of fire.
Express who you are,
be mind’s artifice,
The Un-opening Gate
The present – all
the trace of the
The paths we failed
to take were paths
only when past
The paths we failed
to take exist,
only as modes
Paths that is
never to be
the un-opening gate.
like warm corners
bright in the light.
Love is the root of life,
love of the human –
not violence, conflict,
Eye to eye in
the warm futures
of the world.
At Clear Creek
Mist in trees,
sparse grey cloud,
brush, white light
on pale green bough.
All past ages now
and here, all one,
all the same
for mind in which
they are embedded,
You point, your hand
wipes out a mountain,
your eye closes,
universe, all gone.
dance on thousand
feet of cliff.
beyond our lives,
thoughts of you,
the ruins of the heart.
Lone wind sings
in pine, the chill
white sky every
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, ah, 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, phantoms, cries, golds of presence, deep passing, ash.
All of it Bodiless
All of it mind, and
untouched, all brightness
not cities cars power death,
but void, emptiness to fill
with heart’s fire, charity, peace,
the lover’s word, touch kiss
of reality, gone thought, history.
All of it spirit, clear, tremor,
easing the pain, calming the terror,
all so strange what we have made,
all the invisible prisons of time,
all of it vision, air, and illusion,
spirit to spirit, hands of trust, warmth,
floating, spiritual silence through all.
All of it bodiless, bodied deep,
shining river of intellect, flesh.
Think, Meditate, Contemplate
Think of you, I think, in the
stillnesses between breaths.
(Clouds, ah, pines and birches,
slopes white ice to the light)
Meditate on you, around you,
through stone tree silences.
(Brown paths, misted hills,
snow like foam in the air)
Contemplate, in the space
beyond words, you, and you.
(Hedges, boughs frosted silver
their light, white smoke breath)
Slow pine, slow yew grows
in the rock, green
against grey, slow
love, deep down
shatters, splits stone.
Delicate, pine, yew secret,
living, and cracking
the core of the cliff,
make ring on ring
build through the years.
Intricate, living silence
of winter-dark root-fall,
forks the white stream,
arms from the rock.
Slower than time, swifter
than vision, yew, pine
green on the grey,
speakers to air, lone
hearts in the stone.
A trickle of light,
through the gate of grass,
through the quiet gate
as of a
through gates of grass
out of and into the earth,
seed, ova, germs of living
dust and pollen of earth,
we eat, split, lips
mouth on each other,
from the wordless gate
darkness of power,
granite on hearts,
deniers of nature,
all our sad monuments.
Yet at dawn light
touches of breeze.
The inward life
greater than these stones
all truth, time,
beauty, sense, love
in the individual
Logged and gone down
on the bones of hills,
logged and gone down,
and the wind bleak,
light, sky, light
colder than heart-pain.
Ah, love, be light
of another kind,
be flesh and form
in the dark,
be green fir birch
be black solid soil singing
be sacred given
Ice on the paths,
it shines, intellect,
eyes that give rest
peace of her eyes
pressing dark silence.
And among trees,
heat the soil,
their form beauty
lead grey boughs.
Coitus of organism,
in this our time
wet fields, silence,
it shines, intellect.
Where We Are Now
Freed from all pasts,
the mind liberated,
from all gods, all laws,
freed by the starlight
by spectra of stars
freed by the sieve,
winnowed by time.
Washed by the white clouds,
bathed by the white breeze,
eyes free, heart-free,
beyond gods and demons,
free of intentions,
free of all purpose,
free of possession,
moon in the water.
Beaches not Buildings
Chime again, shine
pebbles in sea-wash
under bare feet,
eyes to the sky.
or hostile silence
of marbled buildings.
Here there are clouds,
and you, mind,
Click and glimmer,
stutter of stones,
bright against pale,
in the back-flowing wave.
Slowly the vulture
plucks at our culture
darkly the rat
the roots where we’re at
and the worm in the earth
the ant on the leaf
they bury our birth
they silence our grief.
But the civilised mind
attentive not blind
to the real, the true,
the beauty in you,
takes light as its guide
(the inhuman denied)
the moth and the bee
the wings of the free.
Not everything is made right,
pain stirs, reality hardens
eats at the light,
at you, child,
and the maimed bird –
hurting the eye
hurting its empathy.
The green tree splits,
the chill stone breaks,
moon’s arc is eaten,
this harsh spell that almost
shatters the spirit,
though world is intention-less.
‘No core,’ you said,
‘like a dream, my life,
dream slipping by’
the lightning flash
and the moment,
core is empty.
Like light under larch-trees,
our muffled footsteps,
form in the storm,
flash on flash
then pain in the
my spirit in darkness,
on silent cliffs’
Gone, gone, gone in an instant.
On the dark branch
at the lake’s edge
raises his wings
to the sun.
Shakes black wings,
at the flame
of the sun.
Over the glittering
path of water
towards the trees
at the end
of the silent lake,
lifts his dark wings.
Flows Through, Not Seen
bound in the ice
But water flows through,
process of being
empty at heart
softly flows through,
love flows through,
truth flows through.
Bound in ice
‘In every pebble there is a jewel’
The hare still lopes
through the dark furrow,
and Scorpius shines
in the summer sky,
as your eyes,
there in the silence,
The grain in each tree
and thought in each word,
heart’s sexual fire
and mind gone beyond,
Hanging in the Void
All clinging to the earth
we turn, hanging
in the void.
All drifting clouds, purposeless
we turn, quiet
in the air.
All calling in the silent
All fog. Gravity holds us
in the void.
All climbing up the mountain,
The heroes were not
founded no cities,
won no wars, built
the heroes of feeling.
Sensitive as shadows
behind the makers,
ploughed dark fields,
cherished the creatures.
The heroes were no one,
hearers of music
in motion of leaves,
the heroes of feeling.
What We Hear on the Hill
The hiss of the stars,
the space we are travelling
beyond this vibration,
one single note falling,
a flute of light in the air,
an intention-less sighing.
The vast empty breath
of wind in the valley,
stirring through leaves,
caressing the face, uncreated,
a time that is now, not now,
not grasping, not dying.
No depths, only far extents,
corners where turns are made,
the tremor of tiny earth
wandering in slow orbit,
the sad echoes of peace,
silence, everything passing.
They Sit Quietly
‘They sit quietly on shining mountains,
cleanse their spirits in hidden valleys’,
gather white cloud through dark pine-trees,
watch leaves fall on tracks of silence,
finding the meaning forget the words,
(since the beginning, only freedom)
pass time by, on empty hillsides,
not searching to pacify the mind.
Not grasping, enter the mountain.
This is called the unborn mind.
Nothing goes, nothing stays,
shining emptiness all this being.
Lacking fuel, light still shines,
in still space, without a centre.
Nothing’s saved, nothing’s lost,
idle constructs thoughts and words.
Now you see how this is empty,
know your mind, and be free.
Singing the love that ends all things,
love that remains of our beginnings,
mind’s affection that brings delight,
singing the love that is the light.
Universe there, intention-less,
its core a glittering emptiness,
is truth the dark and truth the bright,
and beauty in us of mind’s delight.
Nothing is left of all that was,
the child remains within the loss,
mind’s affection that brings delight,
singing the love that is the light.
Words stream from us into the delicate dark,
images, caressing the gas giants on their way,
leaving behind the Earth, its blue-white beauty,
leaving us all behind with the slow-grown rose.
Into the Milky Way’s veil-spun dribble of stars,
into the gulfs, word-light bending on its way,
encoded flickering electro-magnetic tremors,
no shortage of us, no shortage of our pain,
our laughter, joy, despair, all our articulation,
occasional compassion, gone into the mystery,
that beggars all description, none of us equal
to it, no, not even the buddhas and saints.
The words stream out of us into the galaxy,
asking response, the so-chance of others,
mouths that are not our mouths to declare us,
and eyes that are not our eyes to find us here.
A drug you can’t kick,
obsession you can’t break,
path that imprisons,
ease that enfolds,
also anguish, terror.
Who put the world to work
and made the artefacts
of intellect, tools
of every kind, some
Lost all the beauty,
caught it in glimpses,
locked in texts,
all gone dreams.
This drug you can’t beat,
compulsion that grips you,
road your eyes fix on,
leaves you enfeebled,
here, where we are.
Oh, You Know
Oh, you know,
you have to choose
or get the blues,
or take the way
that runs between,
the ancient dream,
world in a spiritual sense,
not god-ridden nonsense,
real love below,
where body sings
with electric beauty,
and love’s a freedom
not a duty.
Choose earth and light.
Though all’s illusion,
there’s no deceit
in time’s confusion.
Song of the Other Tradition
I despise the dark hunting, the blind killing.
The species not ours, their lives are their own,
and we without rights, I despise all those myths,
trail-songs, and dances, those pseudo-shaman
drum-beaten, blood-soaked, sacred old ways.
I’ll slip the knots and cut fibres, break locks,
loose your traps, your catches, nets and cages.
May your guns rust, the shots fail, arrows fall
far from the target, may wild hares outrun you,
deer find concealment, merge with wolf-silence.
Everywhere your rape of the species, road-kill
or cull, your blind interference with given beauty,
the lizard its jewels, the crow its blue-blackness,
the slither of snakes, and the glitter of insects,
blood on hands and feet, and in minds and eyes.
The tribes still stripping red-wet whale-meat,
detonation of pain from the barb of barbarity.
Back to nature for some is back to the killing.
Better we go without flesh, hides, and drugs,
if it takes the torment of creatures to gain them.
Our land, our dust, where’s the possession?
Nations carved out of space owned by no-one,
tribes squatting in deserts lines on our maps.
We die of boundaries, we die of histories,
die of our claims, and the prisons we make,
die like the planet this next hundred years,
from our grasping, holding, blind consuming,
possessing what’s never ours for a moment,
destroying ourselves in the flames of excess.
We were moral in those first dawns too,
grasslands, lake-shores, deserts and seas.
We were tender, nurtured, we countered
the errors of culture, loved, knew beauty.
Religion has no sole claim to morality,
rarely true to the human in us, the balance,
the mean we made, the clear path we struck
between mind and body, in rooted being.
Suffering, patient, sacred creatures
rustle at dawn in dark oak leaves,
tremble at night in deep hedgerows,
stir the grass by burrow and bolt-hole,
suffering, patient, sacred creatures.
Walk Ancient Trails
Love is freedom, truth without walls.
This is freedom, love without limits.
In the spirit we’ll escape history.
Create, create love beauty truth.
No good all these forms of society.
Living like this won’t set us free.
Sidestep in mind is Tao in reality,
being not forms, deep sensitivity.
Walk ancient trails, praise spontaneity.
February: Hidden Valley
White and green birch bark,
smooth silver too where
tree-creeper dances, climbs,
vertical bird, high cold blue
of February after the freeze,
and hereabouts deer flicker
along trails to fastnesses,
places where they drink slow
ten thousand years, hooves
clicking on ancient granite.
bending, looking, unmoved
by the long dark breeze.
I slip on ice, hand braced
on bright splintered stone
of cliffs weathered, boulders
clogging the hidden valley.
Spirit locks on to matter.
In the lungs air is new fire,
damp earth, the elements
where mind still lingers.
Deer our family too, soft
eyes of long questioning,
hearts throbbing, hot to
the touch, their flanks,
their trails behind rocks
printed on leaf-fall, moss,
this secret space how we
fit true to this universe.
In the silence, temple statue
birds sit on its head, bronze
eyebrows and upturned palm,
far smile at the strange planet.
This the one teaching, listen,
this flutter of leaves behind,
or at midnight the galaxies
blue, silver, cold, voiceless,
this word for human kind,
Sssss, stress-less sighing,
long breath of the universe,
water-pale music of stars,
not the roar of its power,
but the pressure-less touch
of its purposeless fire,
all free of possession,
devoid of authority,
and so blessed we are
that there are no gods,
and no plan, no end
ordained for the process.
Just this one great river
in which now submerged
we are carried along,
No Zen Wars
No Zen wars, no Tao wars,
love and beauty they too
practise patient non-action,
looking, finding diamond light.
No Zen meaning, no Tao way,
only angles on existence,
fill the mind with scriptures
soon believe such nonsense.
Sudden Tao, Zen satori,
mind seems mighty clever.
What are the creatures doing
without all these temples?
Zen master, Tao adept
on the snowy mountain
bow down to the grasses,
answer mind with silence.
Tao script, Zen talk,
write them on the water,
say what the child says,
love truth, make beauty.
As we get older (the fire colder
it’s said) remember the flames,
what youth gets right are the lies,
repeated in various names.
Wisdom is not resignation to life,
belief in the system because nor I
nor anyone else can devise a better,
as in fantasy gods, lacking science,
to create an explanation, or free
our minds from the words that lure,
lovely texts that make us secure
by a childish murmur of beauty.
Integrity and truth are a duty, war
is not wild virtue because we must,
all violence contaminates the soul,
which is the mind beneath control.
Raping the planet, killing creatures,
is not some mythic fulfilment here
of our history, our sieved selection,
destructiveness should engender fear.
Things that have to be are not by that
rendered right, youth knows that, sage
old age should not by sweet acceptance
of death and transience, forget its rage.
We, unintended for this mad being,
must play our parts with integrity,
our purposelessness has validity.
Don’t accept, sing authentic seeing.
Meeting a Stranger
The soft white smoke of pale mist
climbing the flowery, humming
strange mixture of weathers.
High country, quiet with deer
birds, green fir-trees,
birch, alder, oak
deep in the valleys.
Peaks slumbering in rain,
drowning in honey-grass,
you and I talking,
Nature, Science, places:
lost like light
beyond all the lakes
in a world of silence.
Such beauty never again
as comes once
or twice in a lifetime,
the body forgotten,
the mind in another mind
leaping and forking,
divorced from time.
Remember it now,
in the house at night,
meeting a stranger,
getting it right.
Will life win, will we
lovers of beauty,
peace lovers, lovers
of stillness, non-action,
cultivators of flowers,
unmoved by cash
oil of our age,
on every kind
of viol, makers,
will we, in eternity,
which is mind, free,
transform the world,
The Path Revealed
After the jewelled haze
diamond blue misting
of sight as I walk,
eyes fazed by the snow,
this quiet way through
stripped larch woods,
displays the perfect path
the coiled leaf-mould
(brown shapes ochre
veined against silence)
looses stressed energy
warms the surface.
Where we have been
before, reveals us,
where we have strayed:
no life is hidden, here
I break a branch, snap
roots, clear windfall,
long to blend with all
this Nature, so long
beyond us, so far gone,
remote as star-fields.
I am the self, divided
mind from its source,
time showing through,
patient as larch waiting.
Names, places, the long
trails of confessional,
I resist them. What
can it matter, which
tree, which peak, which
friend, which country,
nation? All’s one earth,
lands and seas, islands,
countries of the spirit.
Roots, bindings of mind,
I resist them. What
can it matter, which
acts, which dates, which
movements of time, I
you, repeat, over again
in the cascade of human?
Is there a warmth you miss
in me? Is it the love
of the particular?
I love the particular,
hidden in my life,
hidden in yours, unknown,
the love, the grace,
the blessing of being.
Nothing More Real
Summer hillside feather grasses,
one long sigh of continuous beauty
to the listening mind. Sit to watch
lone kestrel hold its own in the blue,
the beat of life, growing stronger.
Far off valley’s highway roar, is
one long hum of the endless wheel,
power driving power to buttress power,
no way to see an end to that: action
makes us weak, destroys the silence.
Beyond the hills endless rivers,
over the field swallows flicker,
weave in and out dark-backed forms,
nothing but nature describes nature,
nothing more real behind the real.
Orion silent, Perseus dropping light,
on empty tundra the star-ways sing.
Without intention, without design,
this land we scar, these woods we raze,
from China, Russia, to Alaskan heights,
plough deep, destroy, call it progress.
The brush will burn, the seas will rise.
At dawn hawk slides from the mountain,
deer call, trucks slide in waving grasses,
carve dirt-roads up ridges, roar and grind.
A waning moon, caught in deep blue air,
in the sacred depth, in the wind’s idling.
Each footstep crushes creatures, crack
of branches drives ah the species away,
slowly beauty meant for a lifetime slips
sad uneasy down to the creeks, the lakes.
Down diamond sky the trees in darkness,
cast ah at their heart a deepening shade.
Flash of your life, as long as our age
or the timeless universe. A repetition,
one same clear prototype of a species,
all those billion stars, ours sufficient.
Glitter, your whirr of wings, flight
over rank black pools, mud oxbows,
over the oil-slicks and the detritus,
the lightning of your bright seeing,
not my burning memory and future,
my sphere of human life in the hand,
you see all one in reality’s stirring,
not my light, flame of my kindling.
‘Symmetry’ you said. Secrets,
beauty in that, and ‘transience’
this ghostlike real, this foam
of the world without core.
Between us the lightning, fire,
a garden of brimming waters, tall
watchtowers of night, Moorish
silences, incredible journeys.
The beauty between us, the orb,
what is heard beating in darkness,
the transient symmetry of wings,
the pale slow meeting of doves.
No I don’t know what it’s for.
Birthing, eating, dying, the work
of the creatures, nurture, truth
as reality, beauty as immersion,
that I understand, the old space
we come from, the original life,
but not this complexity of pain,
this stress and fire of meaning,
this burden we seem to take on,
this long dark progress, process
of moving away into nowhere.
Birth, sex, love, death, beauty
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?
Greater than surface world:
mind world, and this
world of your feelings,
your body, your womb
that made life.
Greater than dark of the
universe: mind and its
terrible beauties, anguish
and awe, your thoughts
that make love.
Greater than civilisation:
primal body and mind,
the species before being
clothed with meaning
Greater than preconceptions,
laws and religions,
is this sac of yours,
sweet flesh, elegant
Huge moon through
the black oak swells:
this wind is from
the moors and smells
of sculpted ice and stone,
long dark hillsides.
Among the blackened
I chased poets, lovers,
all I could discover
of those who sang
scouring the heart,
voices of generations
and bodies dispersed,
globe-full, a mind-full,
loading the secret soul,
blowing apart this world
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.
Pale water, and flesh’s silence,
the tiled bays shine, the surface
steams, the music stills the mind,
I feel you in substance, spirit.
Hands go kneading your body,
loosening your ties, touching
you at the sensual heart of fire
where the notes possess you,
mind is a moisture, feeling is
being, thought is a swirl of time,
a past in the air, meaning is this
continuous murmur of instants,
a process of bright inner singing
traversing every empty archway,
passing wet along every pavement
towards the deep well of the mind.
It’s meaningless, it’s empty, be free.
Back from history, thoughts of being
the silver silence of the boulders
half-way up the mountain, trees,
forget them, let the mind float out,
the gentleness all beautiful, humility.
It’s thoughtless, it’s intention-less, be
free. Ageless being in eternity is now,
a stone’s throw from the pass, above
all cities, wars, laws, gods, illusions,
white stars are out, mind’s confusions
pass, gone flowing through the galaxy.
Twig of wych-hazel
sprigs of rosemary
in a jar,
nature of reality,
not us, who are
but material eternal
beauty out of time.
Mind only is
form and symbol,
radiant in thought,
Scent of jasmine over all the city,
and here in the house, in the room,
by this chair, the green-white spear-clubs
flower-buds open, five-fold petals, slight
arrow-leaves curling, shed mind-fire
from crystal fields under this night’s
waning orb, high winter moon.
On a shelf, bronze Buddha sits
hand raised, peace, the sign of Dharma
on soles of feet and palms, night silence,
great wheel turning.
This China billions move,
not Li Po’s China
of high individuals,
these field-hands, labourers,
hauliers, boatmen punting down
through rice-fields, under limestone hills
lovely as silk-screen landscape unrolled.
This China, fixed on matter,
pure basic human,
light on endless faces,
bikes past roofs and tombs
of imperial silence,
long-gone mercury pools
mapped heaven underground,
vast states done, Li Po still
drunk under the moon.
The road here the result, so many branches,
uncertainties, decisions, by chance or nature,
mapped in the creature or learnt by blundering
like bears through trees, paramecia in pond-light,
all on a knife-edge, or just environment and genes,
yet some things clear, tiny energy of that message
leveraging a life, two lives, great consequence,
and near-death on a night, the glass cascading
in slow slow-motion through the air, chance
meetings, passing fires.
Inattentive listening, suddenly seeing
(half-hearing still) blackthorn’s white
cascade on the hill, the mind distracted
straying, despite this need to focus,
simply being, devious circuits kicking-in
the eye filled with beauty, or is that in
the deeper higher mind, lower or higher –
my old fault, losing it, sidling off again
down frost’s dim track in the woods,
this once – pure vision.
In a Flash
No, can’t revise these
in a flash,
as Tao taught,
the brush gone
in the hand,
and no pupil
They go by in
the air, like
over running water,
and eye did see it,
yes, and lovely
Making it dance, the word, the eye,
you making music, swirling there
skirts in the air, dance, love, talk,
here no deceit, the one clear truth,
pure openness, mutual penetration
erotic depth, in a word, in an eye,
the body curled in the mind, all
rhythm and meaning, deeper the dance
than a world of reason, matter, power,
one beauty, truth, and no deceit.
Some day walking in beauty friend with friend,
through golden grass to the bright sighing
of trees on the hills and thoughts like suns
of distant galaxies known for the first time,
with innocence, and the glance of strangers
only tenderness and the gentlest encounter,
no sites of power where phantoms cold
mistake their matter-laden minds for light,
some day, we’ll touch and kiss and realise.
Some day beyond the sad desert, fine flowers
of miraculous hearts glowing, warm bodies,
true unbelievers, trembling with joy we’ll come
weeping for all pure humanity forms within
not meat of the world but intellect singing
transience emptiness visions through time,
the enormous freedom of purposeless voids
the sacred laughter of anarchic non-action,
some day, we’ll give and share and surprise.
Some day, on bridges over the wild cities
in moonlit parks, in forests, on lost seas,
beyond all gods, and seizing the holiness,
sensitive, true and kind in charity, mercy,
beauty we’ll go ending the wars of planets,
far through the universe star-ways’ glistening,
like Han river, music of ancient gleaming,
leap from our graves, and gather from ashes,
the primal original human species, we’ll rise.
Some day, blessed by our own uniqueness
among the creatures and equally lovely,
respecting all life (not ghosts or demons),
gazing at hatred in museums of emotions,
serious in lightness, seeking each other,
not the dead bleak dust voyagers of ire
but the delicate journeyers of delight,
not ever-learning existence over again
but some day knowing, some day wise.
Weight of sun on the water, glare
liquid between the trunks of firs,
I laze watching the nuthatch climb,
ants on leaves, and beetle black pincer
pushing the great orb over the desert.
Pharaohs made pyramids, bought only
this same dark weight of sun with lives
and spirits their own included, missed
the point of being, its fragile, sweet
ephemeral dancing, as light as a twig
swung metronome-wise by the breeze.
Back in the gallery, great beetle-domed
head of Amenhotep sits in air, huge mass
of every gone civilisation, including ours
hanging in space over our upturned faces.
We go to sit in the sun, on park benches,
and eat what earth gives somewhere simple
evading this progression towards the stars.
Lake there, glare, weight of sun on water.
Stopping at Night West-bound.
Seeing in the sad lined face of the car-stop waitress
the once girl’s echo of butterfly petal on bough,
I tip her vastly, and watch the wheels tyre-burning
their ceaseless water-mill murmur on tarmac highway,
saying this is the way we come, the way we go,
mindless mechanical metal mooning through matter,
cut through hills, bridge valleys, rail-yards, canals,
carrying all the minds of the world to their mission.
Waitress of night, lifting your thighs to the darkness,
blossom falling over the sleeping poet’s lap and hair,
moon-girl fallen to cups and bowls, reflected gently,
isn’t there something in you greater than what’s out there,
the tender intimate meaning of this frail slight existence,
that is given once, light in the sun, and with us dying
gets reborn everywhere after us crying and laughing.
Cat stalks bird or frog by the garbage heaped rain-pool,
I watch the flower of your face closing, now opening
suddenly to some thought, my thought too, cascade
of memory’s bright stars down the black chute of air,
so that we are two poets of fire, and among the brave,
telling them rise up, re-enter, return to the act that gave.
Imagination Madly Holy
The sex of everyone under the surface stirs on the Earth,
which is not that of the body which is in itself beautiful,
nor that of the raging mind desirous of object-possession,
not even that of the heart which seals us from desecration
by dark phantoms of the world, those with designs on us,
but the subtlest erotic sexual fire of the holy imagination,
which is opposed to every violence, cherishes all creation,
and is pulsing through the city on every stop at the lights,
goes entering and leaving the glass revolving doors eternal,
refuses entry to all transactions framed by devious powers,
delights in every anonymity, much more so in being unseen,
thrills the virgin mind, waxes light in the long-accomplished,
and shows its symbols in poetry, peace, joy and sensitivity,
devoid of belief, empty of purpose, an unfailing fire burning
like the immaterial flame at the core of the earthbound rose.
Under the surface the sex of everyone transforms the Earth.
We take their lives then ask them to bless us,
that’s blood-guilt expressed as religion,
on the cave-walls there in France, Spain,
the Drakensberg, Kalahari, old Sahara,
we took the creatures’ lives, then we spun
ceaseless similar odd mythologies, masks
of our primal error, in the first great garden,
which was somewhere in Africa, not scripture,
earlier than Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists,
we were well away slaughtering the creatures,
though sensitively incorporating them all in art,
in oral culture, perceiving the continuity there,
between ourselves and the lovely non-human,
and noting of course the violence the killing
the death everywhere apparent in primal space.
But don’t go asking a blessing of dark kill now,
better to understand when they die we die too,
that the ancient hunter had virtues not like ours,
and returning towards the tribes is sentimental,
a kind of senseless tourism of the spirit, where
the values we condone are not the primal values.
Take no life: learn to love all our brothers and sisters.
Only now I understand, it doesn’t have to be real,
it only has to be true, to be a reality that happened
somewhere deep in the mind, that never surfaced
to become a visible piece of the tangible world.
A relief! I don’t have to scribble autobiography,
write the amazing long poems of now in memory
or the continuous map of the unravelling voyage,
and can go on making poetry out of imagination,
just as if all these things you read really occurred.
Of course you think they occurred to others really,
because they wrote them down, but to see the self
that would be a remarkable feat of mental-mirrors.
No, they just invented themselves and sometimes
sadly became famous, had to provide confirmation,
by failing to elude us, by failing indeed to explain
that every name reads ‘anonymous’, every image
of the well-known’s really known except to them.
Only now I understand, life doesn’t have to be real,
like poetry it only has to be true somewhere in mind.
What We Need
The problem with every challenge to society
is that the gesture becomes a part of the web,
whereas what we need is a long cool silence,
the touch of yew-trees, cedars, and tall pine,
that the coal-tits feel as they ply the snowy
branches, and the squirrels hanging up there,
something with ice from Himalayan reaches,
on the long slopes to Tibet, where no man goes,
and the over-flying jets and the satellites
see only beautiful contours endlessly white,
sandwiched between the map’s occasional names.
The problem with taking power to fight authority,
is that we all become the tools of power ourselves,
whereas what we need is a long draught of eternity,
the emotionless, intention-less space between worlds,
not yet filled with our electronic chatter, nor that
hopefully of the billion other civilisations, who
have equally failed to grasp the point of existence,
what we need is something of purity’s emptiness,
like a molten mass of white water between pebbles,
or the purposeless buds gone pale on every bough,
the emptiness, the purity of silence, its ‘awareness’.
Feet in the ice-cold water,
walk on stones.
Banded, eroded cliffs,
bush grown on boulders.
Push down forked stick, click
toes round pebbles, slick
shelves soft white rock.
This basic human
mind grown solid
of ethereal senses,
water burns like fire,
cold blue-grey beauty,
grabs the heart.
White in his pure embrace
lay your body down,
hold your mind in mine,
take me where he’s found.
Quick to my spirit cry,
dream us close as you come
to knowing time, to die
through eternity’s bright room.
Bed, table and chair
imprinted in your eye,
lay your true body there,
suffer our depths to sigh,
white in his pure embrace
past all jealousy, see,
how three in one may face
mysterious one in three.
Song of Eternity
Now and a little late I understand this Eternity,
it’s the dimension of spirit against the spiritless worlds,
it’s mind-heart’s joy against the material anguish,
it’s the child of light against adulterations of darkness,
it’s the planet before us pure as the planet after us,
it’s living Poetry against the matter deadly,
it’s beauty and truth against the seductive lie,
it’s intention-less emptiness against purposive trickery,
it’s charity, sanity, mercy against every manifestation of Power,
it’s the Muse of gentleness against the demonic spirits of fire,
it’s a green tree on a hill against the prophetic desert,
it’s imagination against a host of disguises,
it’s space enfolded in process stilled by dream,
it’s Buddha erasing his error the wheel of dharma,
and Christ in his new wisdom refusing the cross,
it’s landscape full of light, free of boundaries,
it’s all the creators, lovers who work forever
to form the hidden universe of light, in age after age,
it’s tenderness of flesh against the dark weapons,
it’s soil of living growth against that death which is not
and that space which is not, called death,
which is only the worlds of life-aware continuing,
it’s the saintly natures of those who deny the given
and yet who know what it is that is truly given,
it’s the labour of hearts to ease the pains of being,
it’s the nameless angel though there are no angels,
it’s the eye weeping, heart beating, mind sighing
for the endless corruptible beauty of ghostly lovers,
it’s the touching of hands on flesh it’s sweet sexual blessing,
it’s world released from self from the mortal bondage,
and self from delusion of self returned to the myriad creatures,
it’s silence of joy waiting for Man and Woman to be born
out of the darkness of history, religions and nations,
and the terrors of anger, hatred, cruelty and mistrust,
it’s the soul being born in us who are born without souls.
In silence, at night I call out to the spirit within us,
to the soul, the heart, all those aspects of mind
we name, as though they were things within, oh
we are no thing within, we are the process light,
we are the uncreated pale lovely without-intention,
in the great intention-less glittering universe dark,
where the jewelled and diamond rivers white flow
beyond every doctrine. We are the people of time,
oh, voyeurs of eternity, hearers of ceaseless songs
of uncounted generations returning again and again
to human frames, to love and mercy, pity and peace
of the gentle pure tender arousals of poets and lovers,
under the returning moon, oh she who comes graceful
silver through branches, whitening grass under leaves,
in the rail-side plot, the whispering meadow, the hill’s
delicate shadows of tracery hedgerows high-climbing
to the ridge of dawn, and the wondrous horizons there
beyond the transient bounds of the social imagination,
in the individual closed-in, opened-out fancy of hours
stolen from all this illusion, this strange phantom being,
this constraint, limitation, matter-bound flesh-bound
prison of seconds and hours, where infinity and eternity
(say to the poet, child, lover, wife, sister, brother, beware!)
are hidden away as the sun is hidden away and the marks
that point out the way, and the sleepless beating of hearts,
and the naked truth under false adornments of nakedness,
and the great pulsating star of the deathless mortal spirit
under the shrouds of matter and the blind roots of custom,
oh Moon, snow essence of England’s raw America’s night,
one moon from all many perspectives of dark-bound Earth,
bringing enduring emotion that eases the suffering of being,
bringing intellectual vigour, and the kindness intimate small
of one for another, and no more than one or another, passion,
compassion manageable in these empty spaces full of powers,
full of the dead weight of power, full of meaningless purpose,
by your light I speak to she who knows, whom I love, to men
and women in disciplined pursuit of the inner crystalline sand,
to those who hear the tick of the clock that goes on endlessly
in the instant singing the music of eternity in our world time,
to their naked being, their secret body of fire, their mystery
of awareness and refusal, of sanity and reticence triumphant,
of the planet beyond show, and the self beyond constriction,
of the silence at night where I call out to the spirit within us
having no greater right than you to call, in the heart’s humility,
the learning of which is endless, and as endless its inner poem.
Speaking Your Name
Sexuality is where you enter the infinite world,
grasping and clasping the flesh that so encloses
to get at the leap of mindless mind that diamond
bright escapes the flesh and illuminates presence,
ah spasm of flame that for you eludes gone time
and launches you into the space of spirit wailing
down all the long valleys of beauty into the heart
where humility ever endless obedience, yielding,
is your soft neck bowed to the forces of the ages,
and your emotions flying scattered down rivers
of ice-cold blazing water into the rapids of light.
Sexuality is where you challenge yourself to be,
where you loose the reins of body and celebrate
the joy of your forgetfulness in intention-less fire
that burns the surface of skin, the damp internal,
that plunges you into the baths of time, lays you
kneaded and lapsing under the motions of hands,
in an eroticism of intellect deeper than knowing,
in a bliss of giving, of the pain and cry of the gift,
in a space where all is accepted, tender, comfort
of none-identity which is beauty of all identity,
which is the species, the sex, majestically aware.
Sexuality is this space where the child goes lost
to find the adult contained in the womb of years,
is the rhythm and music that brings you to love
even love of the wrong object greater than dark
of the unloved ones who are imprisoned in matter,
greater than silence of space without spirit or mind,
greater than fragile limited self bound by its powers
as all are bound, greater than cliffs of sheer fall
from which you leap into affirmation, approbation,
tremor of pleasure that needs only that sigh of one
of more knowing your beauty speaking your name.
We are these bodies caught in the world
is this our compromise with time?
Oh, spirits caught in Eternity’s dilemma,
how shall we ever be free?
Gone, gone, gone in a dream,
what of all these trappings then,
because of such, missing the jewels,
the jewels in every stone?
Who’s this asleep or awake,
who’s this aware or at rest,
this person trapped in the flesh,
ephemeral process lightning?
No way and no way to find it,
No self and no self to suffer,
then what’s this path of fire
traversing this world of flame?
I illusion yes and you,
you illusion less I’d say,
ah but surely love is true,
where no selves are at play?
Small Dark Bird
Small bird shadows me in leaves,
flickers from twig to twig behind
the eye’s imaginative leap, body
of being, every design of light.
The hidden life is best. Be strong
for the true presence in anonymity,
for the work itself, the being here,
the delight in every tiny process.
Small bird’s life is as valid as mine,
feel that then through every nerve
and every pore of the sunlit skin,
believe it, don’t rest in the words.
We all rest in the words, fall short
of the inner reality of existence,
of the bird’s senses (Blake) in its
intricate world, of the movement
of relative time, life long or short
according to the highest moment,
not duration, the now is infinite
the here eternal, watch the bird
arrow-like speed across the lake
bury itself far in the furthest shore,
not every gem’s on fire, not every
small dark bird has to be nightingale.
Like A Lover
The whole world’s quiet and waiting
for planetary transformation, ending
of one age, the age of rapaciousness,
beginning of another, the age of light.
The whole Earth’s quiet and sighing,
for breezes of night and that crying
of the creatures against the moon,
who never understood our agitation,
which makes them anxious, feeling
the surge of our emotion but cleaving
to their long-established hold on time,
their foundation in centuries of matter.
The whole planet is still and breathing,
a layer of life positioned by gravity,
and viscosity, and pressure, and fire
from the inner core, and cool oceans.
The whole world’s quiet and waiting,
tonight, for the rebirth of humankind,
for us to reclaim the spiritual from those
who usurped it in the name of authority.
Only the quiet world has authority,
which it relinquishes in every instant,
possession which it lays down so like
a lover yielding making no demands.
Little breeze at grey twilight
animates the under-leaves,
matter mimics life and force
like all process, softly heaves.
Beauty out of randomness
bounded order from the tick
of never-self-repeating paths
chaos that things human mimic.
If mind itself could only free us
to see ourselves as we might see us
gathered each for purposes
that survival mutely blessed.
Beauty out of randomness
mimicking the chance process,
by transience consecrated.
What Have We Done?
Maybe we’ll sever the branch we’re standing on,
with the cold rattle of chainsaws with the whine
of cutting through bark through layers to the core
scything whole swathes of timber all gone down,
slashing away our branch of the tree of life, end
this age of the planet, leaving the stillness clean.
Then vast stars will rise on the blacked-out earth
the creatures left, insects, deep-desert dwellers,
will creep from their naked holes to swiftly inherit;
and silver streams run bright through empty woods;
and great quiet hum in peace with natural beauty,
when we are done and gone none any the wiser.
Maybe we’ll make it through and maybe not, tell me
reader of unseen futures, or not, as the case may be.
Children who’ve lost control of the world, acceptors
of a destiny unproven, of a system dubious shaken,
what have we done to the most precious of spaces,
dark with our poisons, fouled by desire all our air?
Maybe we’ll dam the river of our being, big boulders
shattered and half the mountains cut away to fill up
the crater of our extinction, the pit of our semblance,
maybe we’ll light the fires, conjure up silent snows
of a final shroud, before the fresh beginning, before
the next pure turn of the tide, the cleansing of shores.
Taken for granted, glittering March sun,
intimate silence of dew-beads on grass,
sweet blue, dark earth, shifting breeze
stirring the leaves the mind at morning,
for how long all this pattern remembered,
our culture soaked in it, all that free light
still welling up clear from the Middle Ages,
those strange wild hearts, a jewelled world?
I feel the seismic change, centuries vanished,
and we gone back beyond, to the first times,
seeking ourselves, the stars real, a true sight
of universe, all of the fast-running reaches,
this spring, taken for granted, this rare order
known for a little and so thought permanent,
but fragile as moth blown from the night side
flickering here into shadow no seeing beyond
into mysterious future, but hillside in new air
pale low grasses waving, the crisp cool beauty,
walk out through fields and trees their murmur
of everything taken for granted, taken for love.
White Clouds Moving
Light as air
the nameless stream.
white grass bows
to the breeze.
No one here
knows our names.
No one here
owns any thing.
Small spirits envy
Slight our minds
On green paths
we slowly wander,
moving in our dreams.
Words for the Poet
Documented a life
in poems like prose
or prose like poetry
but it’s all gone by.
Those moments all
brought to life and
delicate beauty, but
you can’t go back.
Only those who do
believe in your soft
tone of voice your
deep heart’s phrasing
can recover not you
but a trace of a trace
of your being here,
somewhere in time.
So we all go, illusion,
action as little a gain
as mind, but thought
a little more lasting
it seems, for a while.
Oh, we over-value
this species that we
are, but beauty, truth
of nature, how can we
over-value that given,
so much greater than
what we, words, create.
Moments so beautiful
how come we never went back?
Our children so like us
repeating the pattern
reflect us in mirrors,
refracting our being.
how come we never went back?
Cities of Europe
Cities of Europe, masses of darkness,
burn in the night, under the star-ways,
where history gestures in iron statues,
then vanishes light on the rain-grey air.
The voice of the void is the voice of now,
their parks a landscape: fashions shift there,
their withering away of each state of being,
the flourishing there of new consciousness.
My mind goes roaming old Europe, its face
of inscrutable knowingness, its weary sense
of the jumbled detritus of furious centuries
the long fight for freedoms won elsewhere.
Galleries of light, curious corners of beauty,
all human-made and re-worked over again
until their levels are like the levels of Troy,
cloaked in the dust of lost women and men.
Wearing their old-fashioned granite helmets,
uncomfortable in lines of ancient buildings,
misaligned to modernity shuffling by them,
in noise and fumes of our ceaseless grasping.
But nowhere else this marvellous refinement
of intricate mental games exhibited in matter,
these the originals, everywhere else the copies,
submerged as under oceans in pale grey light.
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.
creatures out there, birds
insects click, mice scutter,
languages all, soft pads
and delicate hooves,
murmurs and squeals,
squeaks, eerie yapping
world better without us,
I, curled deep
in our moss of dreams,
waking a moment to hear
feel the moonlight on skin,
touch the edge of night,
hear leaves, smell breezes,
sense cloud-cover moving,
sense starlight ascending,
connect again to pasts
and trails without ending,
strange shivers of fears,
sentiments of being
different to this,
and turn again to sleep,
feel body’s tremor,
the species we deny,
whose space we covet,
no spring silent,
stirs, no April cruel,
now the beauty
of unveiled moon
of shattered silence
Words for Federico García Lorca
In my quiet angle of the twenty-first century
I read your poems, García Lorca;
wonder where under the soil your bones lie;
bring you news from the edge of eternity,
which is the moment, Now, that has
no past no future, those aspects of mind,
those twin projections from our being.
They tell me you existed, García Lorca.
What news from the mountains and the cities,
from your Granada that still sleeps
on the great fortressed hill under the moon,
whispered to by fountains and streams,
decked in the intricacies of the Moors,
cooled by the pure wind from the Sierras?
Your hummingbird is still sipping
the nectar from the flowers, García Lorca,
the children are somewhere singing or dying,
the crimson flow of love, sex that is death,
death that is beauty, time that is mortal
for me now, still rage in our bodies, you
saw rightly, sang rightly, told the flesh
about courage, understood the language
of flowers, knew the anguish of freedom,
which is the mind, heart intertwined
with another’s, love, García Lorca,
islands that flicker bells that sound for another,
you speak to me of the virgin wife,
of naked silver horses on plains of light.
You planted the bandilleras of tenderness deep
in the loving tormented spirit, García Lorca,
green of the hoar frost, gangrene of distance,
now I walk through memory your silent city,
lost among rivers, wells, moist baths, gardens
where phantoms walk, not yours, García Lorca,
feel the touch of your long dark tongue of sadness,
licking my body, whispering to me of one I love,
watch Venus hover in deep blue sky over spires,
taste snow, drown in the light of crystal lamps,
evoke you, spirit, conjure you in my dreaming.
The orange-groves and the lemon-groves call,
and the olive-groves fill with black salt breezes.
Oh, where are you García Lorca, where am I?
Dark red-brick rows wreathed in smoke and silence.
soiled nettled wastes’ neglect, humble beauties,
empty roof-tiles, back-yards, hidden lives.
Reservoirs beyond, where birds, the free souls, sang
out of visionary worlds,
through interstices of mad industrial light, and sank
down mind-sweet blood,
soft feathered bones, black insubstantial ghosts.
My clouds of unknowing, virgin fields, relationships
my shifting grasp on fluid voids, vast fate, white texts,
mind-flights of being
through the wheeling sky, its blue ache a lifetime in the heart.
One girl on cello bows her way to absolute silence,
itself a form of listening, mind vibrating.
Flesh become spirit still is lovely flesh.
Two flutes, rhythm of blue light, fall crossing
dark glass above, pivot and plunge, birds,
out of coming night, their wings trembling.
Three voices make these human cries, moans
of this world, something of beauty’s pure
anonymous call, from time to this eternity.
In the Streets
In the streets I see these spirits
ponder, what thoughts in their heads,
if that’s where thought is,
being simply process of magic symbols
fired in electro-chemical webs.
In the streets I imagine spirits.
In the streets I go fearful,
menaced by buildings, events, though
space is illusion, I walk
on the void, as we all go fall through
eternity, still-eyes, silent faces,
inwardly laughing or crying.
In the streets I feel the enormity
of life, the fragility of being, feel
the muteness of centuries
beauty of thought, and craving for love,
endurance of mind, ridiculous
transience, vertiginously feel.
In streets I am not I, you are not you,
time is not moving, death is a phantom
stalking the flesh, light is a master
carving the block made of metal or stone.
In streets the eye trembles,
in streets the flesh freezes, or sweats.
In streets I think of love, dream,
touch, miracle shared, warmth given, deny
the ghost skyscrapers, phantom
beat of machines; dream solitude, darkness
shining skin, sweet flesh,
tenderness, beauty creating, arc that comes.
All Mind’s Narrow Ways
Over the red desert, time broods
in a space too large for us,
though there are stones, hills, bare trees
delicate derelict watercourses,
paths, the great dreaming.
Our species walked this land,
kicked dust, made shelters,
hearths, birthed, died, danced, carved
rock, daubed faces, bodies
sang the vast dream-song.
Hard truth met harsh beauty
and who conquered? Time
met Space, in mutual coherence,
long vastness, naked, scarred,
emptied itself of meaning.
And Love? Buried deep here
in ritual, in belonging, in all
sweet mind’s narrow peaceful ways
to silence, mystery, light
red sands, white moons, oblivion.
Blind minds here marred lives, made them.
Self betrayed self’s vast spaces of nurture.
(Art not morality, but truth’s the life of art.)
A precious bird, crushed, warm in the hand
made bitter mangling, a curse of harshness,
then loves misaligned, then deaths of feeling,
then failures of shared being, power, force,
rolling dumb, blind, over hills, to the east.
Beauty, Truth, nothing without Love, ah then,
no heart’s country survives the last betrayal:
hill, furrow, field, pond, copse, ditch, runnel,
in darkened imagination. Over the shattered,
ruined red farm falls the shadow, broken roofs,
over crumbling walls, the shadow, empty yards.
I like the way your mind works,
adept, delicate, warm,
a long-legged bird picking your way
over gravel, sand, mud, gleaming
feathered breeze-blown pure,
turning over tan shells, white pebbles.
Among the viewers and doers,
it seems, you are a doer.
Low tide clings to shore, soaks
the rock-pools. Mind blank I watch
tankers slide, boats glide, keels slip
over green sands, red weeds, stone.
Mind works when we stop watching.
You pass, a mover of light.
In Here, Out There
Easy to anthropomorphize
such beauty must be living?
Easy way to easy feeling,
to miracles of being?
Yet what’s the difference between
and feeling simply projected?
Great mountains, white peaks,
soft forest slopes,
feather-grass meadows, water,
cause the same awe, same love,
joy in the watching spirit.
Crow said, as good as said,
‘I see you, fear you,
but I’ll wait to see
what you leave behind.’
Dark black eye of wild
voyager of free society
the currents of high air.
Crow said, almost said,
‘We’ll wait out your
coming and going, we
so much closer to Earth’
Strut, flap, rock, balance
on boughs, great branches,
whirl then to our level,
cock an eye, and consider.
Symbolic Form, Flesh Form
This life I celebrate
is form in you, ah
dancer, light dancer,
sweet line of your flesh.
Curves like hills,
and secret flows,
thoughts in caves,
pure hidden fires.
This is our beauty,
carrying our mind
in memory, symbols,
yet its power is this
to be so expressed
in matter’s delight
your lovely body.
The Sword of Truth
Thought, so much of you
is beautiful but untrue.
Poetry, so much of you
is feeling, always true,
prompted by a thought,
that should not be taught.
Thought and Poetry
had their way with me,
Beauty always and Love,
but Truth stands above,
with its symbolic sword,
holding me to my word.
That it be not performance,
all empty, all for show,
it must flow from somewhere
not clearly intelligible.
That it be more than a way
of passing time in the void,
it must come from a mind
that hovers stilly on silence.
That it be strong with desire,
not the common feeling,
of matter and its despair,
it must conquer all gravity.
That it be firmly rooted,
it must have its origin
in a solidity far greater
than mind-flesh can create.
That it may take the heart
the spirit, the soul whatever
we call it, and exalt them
it needs fire from eternity.
That it may last lifelong
be emotion that endures,
truth must be there inside,
all love and beauty’s laws.
Index Of First Lines
- It is an aspect of the world: imagine
- I too make sanctuaries, in art, love, life,
- It began with the burning where you are
- From your land the far wind blows,
- Frost burns in the moon, pine-trees quiver,
- Here are silent stones
- The silent save us, ordinary lives,
- We have given the universe mind,
- Sweet tale, the Prime Mover
- Complexity stilled, intricacy stopped,
- Seethe, flow fire of everlasting life,
- Kestrel at the field’s edge at noon, dark shape
- The first purity of wood and stone,
- Wind on the mountain,
- Fragile civilisation,
- This waste of spirit, all these wars,
- The lion’s cheetah’s leopard’s attack:
- That honesty is hardest, honesty of nature
- Soft through the night-long winds
- I understand those mountains in your country,
- Beyond the love, or perhaps
- And we are all those lovers,
- Horizon of cloud, blue-lit intricacy
- One space of the wild-tongued surge in the mouth.
- Sea-roar and the dangerous soaring road.
- Sing to me in our abandoned house.
- It took a while to get here
- Valley unrolls, mind unrolls,
- Elsewhere the others are dying
- Pines eating clouds, the distant bell.
- The years we lived in, numbers.
- Where we began, between the hills and plain,
- Among the things that do not happen, you happen.
- Those people who never seem afraid
- At dead of night
- The black pine on the mountain sings
- Mind is in the Universe,
- Oh we can write what we can’t feel,
- Some show a clear self-image
- Too much you are not here, too many words,
- Blurred the being, dim the being:
- Harder to say the simplest things,
- Wind in the grass, the light,
- World vanishes,
- Bright bird you make
- Heron pale in
- Express who you are,
- Human words
- At Clear Creek
- You point, your hand
- How many pounds of ash, then, clasp your flesh,
- All of it mind, and
- Think of you, I think, in the
- Slow pine, slow yew grows
- A trickle of light,
- These buildings,
- Logged and gone down
- Ice on the paths,
- Freed from all pasts,
- Chime again, shine
- Slowly the vulture
- Not everything is made right,
- On the dark branch
- Silent pebbles
- The hare still lopes
- All clinging to the earth
- The heroes were not
- The hiss of the stars,
- ‘They sit quietly on shining mountains,
- Not grasping, enter the mountain.
- Singing the love that ends all things,
- Words stream from us into the delicate dark,
- A drug you can’t kick,
- Oh, you know,
- I despise the dark hunting, the blind killing.
- Our land, our dust, where’s the possession?
- We were moral in those first dawns too,
- Suffering, patient, sacred creatures
- Love is freedom, truth without walls.
- White and green birch bark,
- In the silence, temple statue
- No Zen wars, no Tao wars,
- As we get older (the fire colder
- The soft white smoke of pale mist
- Will life win, will we
- After the jewelled haze
- Names, places, the long
- Summer hillside feather grasses,
- Orion silent, Perseus dropping light,
- Flash of your life, as long as our age
- ‘Symmetry’ you said. Secrets,
- No I don’t know what it’s for.
- Shall we talk forever, minds gentle,
- Greater than surface world:
- Huge moon through
- Looking out of the window
- Pale water, and flesh’s silence,
- It’s meaningless, it’s empty, be free.
- Twig of wych-hazel
- Scent of jasmine over all the city,
- This China billions move,
- The road here the result, so many branches,
- Inattentive listening, suddenly seeing
- No, can’t revise these
- Making it dance, the word, the eye,
- Some day walking in beauty friend with friend,
- Weight of sun on the water, glare
- Seeing in the sad lined face of the car-stop waitress
- The sex of everyone under the surface stirs on the Earth,
- We take their lives then ask them to bless us,
- Only now I understand, it doesn’t have to be real,
- The problem with every challenge to society
- Feet in the ice-cold water,
- White in his pure embrace
- Now and a little late I understand this Eternity,
- In silence, at night I call out to the spirit within us,
- Sexuality is where you enter the infinite world,
- We are these bodies caught in the world
- Small bird shadows me in leaves,
- The whole world’s quiet and waiting
- Little breeze at grey twilight
- Maybe we’ll sever the branch we’re standing on,
- Taken for granted, glittering March sun,
- Light as air
- Documented a life
- Moments so beautiful
- Cities of Europe, masses of darkness,
- Aborigines squat silent on orange sand,
- Lovely night-sounds,
- In my quiet angle of the twenty-first century
- Dark red-brick rows wreathed in smoke and silence.
- One girl on cello bows her way to absolute silence,
- In the streets I see these spirits
- Over the red desert, time broods
- Blind minds here marred lives, made them.
- I like the way your mind works,
- Easy to anthropomorphize
- Crow said, as good as said,
- This life I celebrate
- Thought, so much of you
- That it be not performance,