The Singing Of The Real World


Japan, Edo Period, 1615-1868, 18th century - LACMA Collections

Authored by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved.

This work may be freely reproduced, stored and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Conditions and Exceptions apply.



The strong clocks

sing the star pulses,

far down Gemini,

bursts of light.

The world is a vault.

The dark stars

split apart.

Gravity is the curve

of Energy. A whorl

of time around the heart.

Burning 2

Why should history be anguish?

Plenty live without intensity.

Children, friends, food, work:

most join in the building.

Give, love, share.

Energy flowing in the Moment,

all past and future here,

one big fire.


Seed after seed, then

one stem, slender,

one flower.

Work, work, discard,


plough the earth,

make it yield.

Then sit, watch Nature,

cascade, flow,

seed after seed,

stems, leaves,


Miraculous un-meaning.


Three thousand years,

but this is not the way to live,

or four thousand.

An undirected plume

of energy, still

making trails.

Knowledge is cumulative

not contentment.

Out to sea, small waves,

streaks of shadow,

white caps,

a sail, here and there,

a sail, quick flash

of canvas,

one more voyager.

Three thousand years,

but this is not the answer.


Human faces in stone,

Individuality’s not what

the light captures.

No face frozen in time

other than only human.

The Individual

lives behind

the mask, and changes.

Fluid the word

and the music moving

the word

fluid forever.

Human form in the stone:

curves of arm, cheek, thigh.

Nothing of us is marble, granite,

pretence of power

or solid being,

we are transient light.

Flicker of sun and moon

on the water,

gone ten thousand years.

Nothing frozen in time

that is us, but not us.


Cathedrals like a dark weight,

Mosques like a dark weight,

Temples like a dark weight

pressing down on the earth.

All the buildings,

glass, stone, silent,

weights in the balance

pushing us down into the earth.

Bright air outside

outside the human museums,

of spent religions

stamps of trade,

the symbols of power:

sweet lungfuls of air

untouched trees with

scalloped leaves.

The trickling stream, clear

in its shadowy bed


with lines of energy

all this gravity.

No Track

No track.

Heart-ache shadow of hills,

landscape distance.

Lines on a drawing,

saying hand, mind

and not what’s seen.

Far-off, clouds,

long slopes,

a lake,

winds, valleys,

owl, fox, hawk silence.

No track.

Fir forest in mist.

Grey-blue rock,

the disused quarries’

slow reversion,

Nature’s spread

without intent,

with no demands,

and no authority,

outside possession.

Long slide of stone,

the smell of earth, and leaves,

light, water,

all the same joy.

One Leaf

One leaf

nothing lost.

One flow

over the wrists, ankles,

one stream,

nothing lost.

One star,

one sky of stars,

one cloud,

all cloud,

nothing lost.

One breeze,

one rain,

down one valley,

one bird


Without us,

without this,

one world, one breath,

nothing lost.


Perhaps the last

marvellous silence

will celebrate us.

After the last of Earth

becomes, again,

the first of Earth.

Perhaps the un-extinguished

species of flowers and leaves

will fill the stillness.

A vast rustling of life,

an intention-less

un-meaning trembling of life,

flowing, over-flowing,

filling the craters,

climbing the fences,

a shift in the wind.

The Seas

The seas

most without intention,

and the

depths of the forests,

the wind on the high


stones in the shale deserts,

but best of all seas.

Their slow breakers,

and glassy silences,

their gull tracks

over liquid stone,

their margins

and outflows.

Like snow hills

azure’s drift,

in motion

without purpose,

of energy changing place,

re-configuring time.

It Doesn’t Last

The nothing,

the power,

hard labour.

Sweated years

to support this arch,

built on nothing.

But an hour

to see the beauty.

It’s power,

it’s nothing.

Imprisoned minds

find every crack

and vein to flow through,

half their mind

makes pretence

and some fraction

of their spirit.

It’s power,

it’s nothing.


With our hands

we conserve, preserve -

the guilty.

Can’t have this

without that:

no one is immune.

Riding the wave’s back

with whatever mind,

time has momentum.

Lizards, deer, whales, hawks,

trees, snakes,

Europe, America, Asia, Africa,

sliding under.

All riding, no one free,

riding law, wealth, process –

the guilty.

Can’t have this

without that.

History, Futures

Out of the silence,


the creature’s intent.

Out of the creature,

curious, creating,

empathy, trust.

Out of empathy

the great arch,

towers, laws, texts.

Out of the great arch

danger, darkness,

mutation of spirit.

Out of the spirit,

the future spirit

of the enlightened creature,

truth, care, clarity, silence.


Harness the good technology.

Clear the contamination.

Enlighten the violent.

Employ the silent machines.

Free the mind and spirit.

Teach moderation.

Direct the power to virtue.

Develop human nature.

Find the root of silence.

Learn what destroys.

Learn fresh creation.

Change all these things forever.

Singing In The Silence

‘Have you understood the water and the moon?
One slips by so swiftly but never passes:
the other waxes and wanes but never grows more, or less.
If you look at the aspect that changes, heaven and earth can’t last a moment:
if you look at the changeless aspect, the world inside and outside can’t be exhausted.
What reason have you, then, to envy anything?’

Su Shih (1037-1101): 'The Red Cliff I’


Light of the gateway.

Time, space. What is

all this craving?

Fragile life.

Change, bound

to no wheel.

Free. Un-free.


White spray wets

cold boulders.

White light

on dark stones.

These trees in

the mindless mind.

What moves?

Mind stirring.


Endless flow,

white morning.

Crystal stars

fall through my eyes.

Cold water

in the tin dish.

Piled logs. Cool wind

stirs the mountain.

Walk down a thousand feet.

Climb back, singing.


Water swallows moon.

Moon climbs water.

Water cools stone.

Stone carves water.

Water drinks air.

Air stirs water.

Water swallows moon.

Water swallows moon.



Here your dark centre

makes clear light.

Be still now.

Mountains, valleys

go folding and unfolding.

Don’t own.

Grass here catches fire.

Fire, here, light and silence.


These clouds have no authority.

These rocks make no demands.

These streams claim no possession.

Shared forever it flows out.

Harnessed, it binds.


Green the still lake.

Blue the far hill.

Grey the wet stones.

White the high cloud.

On a thousand feet of cliff,

sits the mountain man.


This secret is no secret.

This way is no way.

What is a silence

is not a sound.

What is a stone

is not a signpost.

This is the stone

of the heart.

This secret is no secret.


At the far end of the sky

ply on ply,

don’t shape it, let it flow.

The un-carved block.

Don’t shape it. Let go.


In the silence

make connections.

Root the heart,

the restless.

Where there’s nothing

to discover.

In the silence,

root the heart,

make connections.



Can you leave it untouched?

Leave it for years.

Not kept.

Not held.

Freed. Untouched.

The raw,

the silent wild.

All free.


Jupiter’s bright

over the lake,

beyond the stones,

light on the mountains,

alien presence.

Don’t speak. Don’t name.

That flare.



Birch there, curled bark,

by alder thicket.

All the threads

of this world

lightly held.

Watch. Wait.

Resonance. Echoes.

We too,

going through.


Poisoned minds.

Barren lives.

All that show

and what’s it for?

Walk away,

don’t look back,

melt into

mountain fastness.


Many words

but one truth.

What is shared increases.

What is given

will not own.

What is free

is sacred.

Many words

one truth.

Love. Give. Create.


Here there’s nothing to believe.

Here there’s nothing to be followed.

Here there’s nothing you can own.

No path, no trail, no thing.

Nature is all that’s given.

Whatever was not made:

once shared, un-owned,

mindless, godless, gateless.


Moon, and its single star.

Tree, and a pile of stone.

If spirit was the only commerce,

mind too would be free.


You must let go

of the mind.

You must let go

of desire.

You must let

the spirit feel.

You must let

the heart live.

What the spirit feels,

what the heart loves,

is your true reality.

You must let go of

the mind.

You must let go

of desires.


Beyond the world,

starlight, silence.

Disengagement is my stillness.

Lost deep in oak and cedar,

carrying the starlight, moonlight.

Disengagement is my silence.


Who can live beyond the earth

drinking the hearts of stars.

lost in green moss, deep

in empty space?

Not to kill. Not to touch.

Not to break. Not to burn.

Creatures here are water, grass.

Creatures here are air and light.

Who can live beyond the earth?


Denying our project,

Nature is waiting.

Ignoring our action,

Nature is waiting.

Green fir, bright pine.


Wind off the summits

slides down a hundred

miles of green pine.

Hawk drops like a stone.

Hand touches the Void.

Hold each word clear.

Slow the mind.

Still the eye.


This path has no direction.

Light shines through the alders,

makes a red silence,

deep glow of forms.

When you see no intention,

when you feel no design,

you touch the veined leaf,

you understand the Vortex.


Bright, quiet, non-action.

Silence without a name.

In your eyes the billion stars,

In your hands the whole earth.

Open your closed spirit.

Take refuge in the Void.


Creation. How is it done?

Children with stones and water,

lovers with intimacy,

the hand and the eye

with the light of the mind.

Beauty. How is it made?

The organism with sun and process.

The creature with shadowy survival.

Itself, the Spirit,

with empathy.

Creation, this beauty,

the heart of the human.

Gatherers Of Light

Blue flower

under the hedge.

Silence glow.

And, above, the pure

tremor of the dog-rose,

its fire burning.

Our fire, burning

in quiet centuries.

Gatherers of light.


Empty the moon, empty

the stars, empty the earth,

space-time is empty.

Energy burns from the Void

into this emptiness,

root of the living. Mind

folds round this universe,

process of emptiness,

itself enfolded, and so creates

from matter and being

the leaves of the forest,

envisioned without us.

What odds on the fragile flower

in a world of power?

Ragged fringes of paler pink,

delicate structures

formed in the light.

No odds on the given.

Nature, intention-less,

streams through the night

brings on our day –

the hour of the powerless

closest to Earth.


Planes in the high sky,

cloud-tracks through silence.

A tiny breeze moves the trees

here, makes them sigh.

Purpose crosses the blue

cave, ploughs

its ten-thousand year arc.

We can change human nature,

body and mind,

fit it to the high trail

over the mountain.

Our intent against

Nature’s directionless freedom.

But the leaf’s beauty

is given, within us,

and given, as ours,

makes no demand,

ever, makes no claim.

Contrails in the icy blue,

ruled over the sky,

over the cloud and the mountain.

Paths of all futures, signs

of all pasts, we here,

moving through.


From atomic emptiness

creature’s Mind created

grass, the leaves, wave,

(something, dark, moved in the water).

Mind sang in the emptiness,

over the spaces of things,

made beauty inside us

(a wing flared, shone, turned in the air)

Mind made empathy, tenderness

made desire and connection

deep at the root, made this love

(is it a face, tiny, in the picture’s shadow?).

Mind made consistency,

coloured and formed the world,

inextricably clothed what it wanted naked,

(Those hands turned all things to gold)

wedded us to all things, only

world reflected in this mirror

from which we cannot look away

(The silvered stillness is perception).

Mind inside projected outwards,

spilled over into universe,

until it filled itself completely

(this hand that cannot grasp itself).

Through You I See

Twined into this soul of mine,

your heart and you,

greater than I can

understand, some

stem from the early world

crowned with profusion.

Out of the great horn of plenty,

the savannahs of the creatures,

their rivers, mountains, grasses:

how can we even imagine?

Place your hand

in the river of light and dream.

Deeper than this spirit of mine,

what you are, part

of that careless touch,

that flow without intention, purpose,

the miracle making its own meaning,

a memory in us,

shimmering, still alive.


The dish, or the cup,

the food and drink,

the table, the chair,

what’s kiln-fired, earth-born,

the splinters of forest, given,

fashioned with hands.

In the ground under us,

ten, a hundred

thousand years

of shaping fingers,

carving minds,

following the grain.

Make something to last,

and beyond yourself,

a knowledge, a word,

a form, a singing thing,

a child, a virtue.

Make in Earth’s image.

Riding The Earth

A slice of cloud by Altair.

Jupiter silver in the East.

‘This wind seeks no possession.’

World-energy blowing through.

One though follows another, in mind,

a cloud-thought-shape,

a star-thought-form,

while moon frost changes ground.

Void and Vortex meet here

in this emptiness of things.

This house stands on nothingness,

light years, ten billion stars.


Flying through space

from which the lights

of Earth are seen.

A hand under your head,

sweet skin like marble,

skimmed by shutter glow,

touched it asserts

this polished silence,

and no machines.

A bed has a peaceful heart,

energy flows through it

into the earth, and out.

From Mars the world is blue,

our shadowy continents

under white cloud,

are quiet,

this globe sits on emptiness,

and any aeon would do.

All silence –

these machines.

The Silent Fire

No mind without feeling,

No goal without desire.

The restlessness of being,

Creates the silent fire.


Flaked obsidian,

barbed arrow casts,

shaped flint,

their prayer

to the creatures,

those equal persons,

charred ash, black stones,

fire of the past.

Up there, on the higher slopes

axe fragments,

down here a circle

full of rowans

deep in fern,

the light of space

criss-crossing blindly,

until, seen once,

it dies into the eye.

Sand, leaves, dirt,

shells, needles, bark,



the litter of being,

one whole history,

gone under.


The labour of centuries,

like a slow plough

in a long furrow,

slicing, leaving

the soft wells of soil,

the dark clotted ridge,

the rain-wet valley.

Cities turned, turned over,

blankets thrown

and lifted, thrown again,

shaken, worn,

with holes and wounds,

pulled threads, torn seams,

but they float on air,

and settle empty,

and through them

the light rays pass.

Nets of lives

drawn in the pool of the deep,

leaves of the species.

Not one hand on the plough,

not one mind behind the blade.

Crooked furrow

running straight

through the labour of lifetimes.

Beyond Specifics

Don’t give yourself away:

life is not confession.

Deeper than truth

the heart of a being.

The creatures’ eyes watch us,

never judging,

our crimes, crimes of the mind.

Be secret. Privacy is sacred.

The uncommon hides

behind the common:

the Individual is nameless.

Don’t open yourself to me,

until I open myself to you,

not by history

or memory,

events and things,

but holding your mind

in mine, mine in yours.

Night Music

Dark rains into the Earth,

soil sighs,

the leaves stir, they sigh.

Dark fire from the stars,

falls over the Earth.

It turns and sighs.

Moon and Earth in dark water,

roll through the currents of emptiness,

unmindful, sighing.

This wind is from Deneb,

this is from Cassiopeia,

moving the pine branch,

a thousand years, sighing.


Iron-beaked grey heron

on the wall of the pool,

hunched S of patience

near the dawn, before we wake,

eyes the world of fish,

steps long-ankled

down the margin,

stabs the silence

before you know it, hear it.

The young one, gangly,

the old one

ruffled white plume of a breast,

the beauty that is experience,

know this noise-free

edge of reality,

where white clouds

hang on city sky:

and bow

to the veins of light

to the source

of food and the self:

in unlearned patience,

hunched over their work.

Not By Naming


without names,

in the body of the poem,

set in the rock,

is your reality,

the line of the flesh

whether we say or not,

or you’re known or not,

un-named, you are

clearly there.

Better to go down

nameless and silent

into the beauty

the shining aeons,

like a secret corner

of carved stone,

some hand laboured at,

then forgot: done

for the art alone.

So much better,

like that,

like a silent thought,

like some unseen


Getting There

Black rooks go back west

into the evening,

from the mountain slope

towards the right

to the lake shore on the left,

against the silhouettes of hills,

where the valley ends,

always a leader first,

and a laggard last,

multitudes in between.

Dark wings on the deepening blue,

over grey stone walls, barn,

road, trees,

and granite ridge,

to the rim of night

over the field

where a shooting star

trailed level green fire

in the blink of an eye.

And they talk as they go,

in bird language,

in dim

companionable flight.

Looking Back

How can we imagine

the outflow of creatures,

the great flood, that vast confusion?

Earth sleeps, wakes, a billion years,

water, rock, mud, minerals,

lands, seas, rivers.

How can we imagine those trees,

all the life of untouched forests,

the silence of mountains, deserts?

Nothing of it owned,

nothing believed in,

nothing followed.

How can this be better than that?

Only different. Knowledge

is power, and power is empty.

There are those who are not,

there are those who seem to be,

and there are those who are.

One Pure Mindless Flow

Science is beauty.

If art is beauty

caught in the net of form,

and the artist ‘a voice’,

Science is the human voice.

To know this world

makes it numinous,

energy’s shining mysteries

move in knowable ways,

life to a child, earth to its creatures.

Truth’s beauty, face of the portrait

stilled for eternity,

what does not deceive, is loved.

All this universe, with no intent,

one pure mindless flow.

Why We Are Here

Mind’s more continuous

than things it lives amongst,

read the voices, what changes,

love, beauty, truth way back,

obscured later, retrieved, later.

Back before gods we were human.

Mind is deeper than it can say,

and so must always have been.

Tracing the paleolithic lines

on the carved walls,

making out contours of hands,

the lives in the rock. We are them.

Mind tracing the curve,

marking the path,

through the light of centuries,

why we are here.

Between Layers

Rock and the stars,

grounded, a million years,

between them, transient mind.

Culture’s a track on the rock,

the litter in earth,

fragile under the soil,

gold over a face,

dust on a stone,

unbound for eternity.

One year and it’s gone.

Touch this cool place,

watch cratered moonrise,

feel our age.

All That Freedom

Eliminate the gods and rituals,

they only obstruct the way.

Eliminate the ten-thousand year

dream, go back beyond.

We are there, still, in the silence.

Feel the emptiness.

All that freedom.

The cascade of creatures,

the outpour of energy.

All of the beauty,

all of that truth.

And we, in love

with what is.

Stop following idols,

stop believing in death,

stop trying to own

what cannot be owned,

all of that freedom.

Go Through

In the dark ages

we go on through.

Between the centuries

of beauty and light,

the untouched earth

and the earth renewed,

all we can do

is live on through.

The arts and sciences

of the dark ages

are preparation for being,

a binding in of the roots,

a net of white filaments

under black soil,

from which, one year,

come leaves and flowers.

All we can do

in the dark ages:

survive the wars,

make what we can,

love the earth,

and each other.


The thread of love will do it,

nothing is lost.

The universe will be there,

unmeaning, intention-less.

Whatever they say, truth

is one truth,

beyond our history, its specifics,

its gods and arbitrary patterns.

Truth and beauty

are not unique to this species,

they are what is,

we their appreciation.

For this to survive,

this tenderness,

and create

a new civilisation,

trust and delight

in mind and beauty,

after every kind of violence,

every kind of futile power,

the thread of love

is enough.

The Same River

The frozen flow of

moon and water,



stands still.

Mind opens

and flowers.

Time, great crystal,

down the ten furrows

of light

to the root of the kingdom

the tail

of the dragon

falls from the air,

in foam and spray,

is the long chute,

stilling the eye,

all flow,

one flow,


Chinese Lanterns

Wang Wei sits

in the green valley,

learning to write


Li Po drifts

on the great lake:

butterfly silks

and willow eyebrows.

But Tu Fu

down the hundred streams

twists and turns

with the centuries.


Minds that lock


take for granted

what they know,

easy, sweet,

under the eyelids.

But minds at an angle,

like flints sparking,

clash of water, fire, metal,

take each other deep,


beyond this safe world.


Now and then

irrevocable Moment,

a place where all

the non-worlds pass,

and real world becomes.

Everything opening

like a flower

or like a stream,

its random,

its non-linear flows,

everything determined

by what is,

but never


The Moment rolls,

space-time reconfigures,


we’re afraid to look at,

awed to know,

fragile crystals,


floating in time.

Through us,

not despite us.


The tall fir

towers into

a marbled grey sky,

calm cloud,

its fans of green,

a slender brother-

sister stands nearby,

lower, the holly,

bright yellow,

and then

the hundred shades

of green,


a darkness,

hiding bird-calls,

liquid phrases,

like speech,

their speech,

heart’s web,

mind’s restless

churn of memories


down here,

the flowing river.

The Force Between

Relationship, O

the force between

human atoms,


that hold,

that love

can’t conquer,

the truths

and oceans

of what’s real.

Rocks split,

trees are forced apart,

the shell is prised

from stone,

washed down the tide,

like sun and moon,

one sets the other rises,


the force between.

Not An Inch

Shattered bodies,

shattered minds.

All violence

is obscenity.

Why then




‘only human’

grant forgiveness?

Our history

is the pure mind



to reach here.

Forgive nothing,


and go beyond.


Sage brush in the night.

Ice, dark, and stars.

Everywhere the creatures’ eyes

reflect our lights.

Searching for the emptiness,

searching for the wild,

but we retreat

in fear to mind.

Each day the water rises,

blue, clear, covers grass.

Civilisation still gets through,

the creatures shift ground.


Dark silence

but Nature

through the cracks.

Waking to morning winds,

pounding rain,

no forms or names,

one Moment now,

back a million years.

It’s solid though this

skim on the land,

over rocks and streams,

sand, silt and gravel,

and history’s litter,

pure Nature a long way back.

Now it’s a silence


in the cracks,

and now and then,


now and then.

‘Master of Heights And Distance’

On the print

of Fan K’uan’s

mountain scene,

tracing the

line of form.

Empty silk

makes mist and snow.

From brush and ink

rocks and pine.

As real, the real emptiness.

Earth floats

in the silence.

A hermit

on the mind-mountain


the heart of Tao.

Don’t believe,

don’t follow,

don’t own.


Threads of light

between us,

threads of knowing.

Minds, hearts,

led to and from the fire.

The long fall

from the cliff

into deep water,

the return,

weeping salt and spray.

The silver-wet fire


the release of light,

sand poured

into that space,

white into open leaves,

the listening mouth.

What climbs there

drinks and

is buried again,

threads of light

between us,


Sideways On

White cumulus floating,

the blue English landscape,

opens the trodden

memories of

specific places,

mine not yours,

yours not mine,


on life’s strangeness.

Clumps of trees, and thick

hedgerows by wheat-fields

of English landscape,

slow-moving days

abstracted from a life,

summer glimpses

of that beauty we

are not allowed to be.

Revealing Mind

If no one but us,

this planet,

watches the light

of the universe,

it is invisible.

If no one but us

this planet

senses the fall

of stars

space-time does not exist.

Invisible, timeless


silent and unknowing,

and here

the strange light

of revealing mind.

All One

All one culture now.

The last clinging

to ignorance, the last

fabric of superstition,

but all of history

all knowledge open,


all one culture now.

A myriad details

of local custom,

but for mind

for the current of ideas,

one framework,

one convergence,

one interchange,

known truth,

pure method,

love, beauty, peace,

one culture,



Watching the bird-dance of mind,

the small bright eyes,

dog, wolf, coyote dance,

bear dance, leopard dance,

all the way into

the insect world,

the dance of mind.

Sense, reaction,

thought, feeling,

one continuum

with shadings,

tell me where

it stops

the dance of mind.

Kill nothing,

respect it all,

what we are,



Plunge from the heat of day

into the cool.

Mind, black print, white light,

the pool of the loved that glitters.

All things are full of what is,

and is not us,

so, all things are empty.

Energy’s not our reality,

body and what of the body is mind,

mind and what of the mind is body,

fused like light in the water,

moon-wet on the stones,

flow solid in air.

Time is Energy reconfiguring,

there is nothing else.

What we are is a tower built from time,

a slender trapeze, a rope

neither flesh nor not,

nor spirit nor not,

and spirit a body

a mind, falling

from the heat of day,

to the silence of shadows.

Moving Earth

Since time is empty

what exists is not in time.

Time is the tremor

of what was. The hours

of the mind are other.

Silence on the empty mountain.

Barred hawk

gyres in the wind.

My thoughts are green fir,

my body is dark pine.

In the silence in the head

the affections of a life

end in emptiness,

sweet glitter,

moving Earth.

The Secret

The voices assert.

The voices clamour

for recognition,

but world is empty.

The shadows press

the shadows, unfurl

their banners, dark

with no device.

World is empty.

The voices beat

with the pulse of light

voices of creatures

and human voices,

but the secret is silence,

world is empty.


Shining Earth

shifts its glances.

Bright avalanche

the gleaming river,

far light

from star fields,

shimmers of bird-flight.

How do they sense

to move as one?

Wind in the trees

picks up the mind

hurls it somewhere

into the cloud banks

into the whiteness,

shafts of the sun and moon,

lights of union,

fusing snow and fire,

in climate of beaten

gold, melting silver,

flow of the waterfall,

cleansing, writing

its wreaths of spray and spume,

quick with life,

shining Earth.

Good And Empty

Looking for spirit

they found their poems

full of things.

Looking for things

they found their poems

full of mind.

All those details

are attachment,

all those words

are empty.


You don’t understand

the respect for it all,

no axe in the wood,

no death of the living,

the creature saved,

the insect unharmed?

You think that only

religions make sacred?

But life is numinous,

order is miracle,

form, of the silence.

Science is this strangeness

of truth, this root

of beauty

all that we love,

this we respect

and we, we make it sacred.

Purposeless Ease

The night, the stars without intention,

the trees, the wind, the bulk of mountain,

the stream, the fall, without intention.

Nature no mind, no purpose being.

The clouds, the rivers, without intention,

chasing the veins of dragon, the path

with no meaning, the way without signs,

the waves, the light without intention.

The stones, the seeds without intention,

the air, the fire, the earth, the oceans,

the white foam without intention,

and creatures,

and minds,

and life.


We should be quieter.

The word carries

too many tremors,

chatters, mocks, cries.

In times of truth

the mind needs kindness.

We must be quieter

watching the goddess,

watching nature,

shared, poured out, given

our angle of light

under Sagittarius,

ten billion years

those flecks in the eye.

Night winds,

dark leaves,

hidden fires,

teach us to be

quieter, quieter.

In winds,

in silence,

spirits touch

these words,

these stars.

Siva On The Wall


like a demon’s shadow

carved under

the god’s foot.

The girl, beggar

in the dust,

small palm opened,


Monkeys in the trees

gaze, pluck leaves,

scamper down the highways,

make out.

In the shade, I think

Europe, America, Asia,

old world, new science,

demon’s, apes’,

the child’s stare.


Opening Ovid

on the human flow,

transmitted fate, event,

the great intention-less

movement of entangled

gods and heroes,

Nature as fountain,

backcloth, refuge.

Passion, burning error,

shining, all their transformations.

The truth passed on.

Intimate kindness


between forces

catching the gleam,

the sadness.

Magical flow

of the net of changes.

Where we begin, love,


pathos, where we end.


These senses,

these feelings

and creatures too

the same,

one movement,

one true crying,

all the years,

these senses.

Mother, daughter,


cave in a cave, in a cave,

the nested hollows,

infinite regress,

the mirrored mirrors,

myself, once, down

alleys of glass,

green echoed.

The child

for three thousand


this eyelid, throat, hand,

these bones beneath,

the fluids, tremors,

these same,

veins, feelings,



All this human

it’s not worth

the flowers

of the hedge

the white clouds

it’s not worth

your pain,


only seems

to be there,


All this human

is light, lighter,

loose, not worth

a Maenad dancing,

a wild calling,

Europe lost,

and Asia vanishing,

now America,

cities, peoples, floating

light, air.

All this human



Stone Age

Slender, shaped

Venus, bulges

from the stone.

A hint of face,

the helmet hair,

arms, belly, legs,

woman, girl,



We are not stone,

she was not,

in the turning hand,

under the eye

of mind,

shaped, made,

sent down the centuries,

a cry

from a cave,

out of the earth,

over these meadows.

Unreal City

People objects

the mass moving,

lost in the crowd

what we know

of thought, silence.

The man, the girl

performing roles,

bought, sold,

people, objects.

All the crowds,

all their tedium,

mechanisms of our world.

Alongside, truth,

a trickster, passes,

creates fire,

skims water, laughing

with slow

luminous mind,

is all displacement

and confusion.

Not peopled, not citied,

the shifting wastes

between places,

real places,

not forgotten.


Sea is cold,

sand is high,

roots of the grass

go deep down.

A naked bug

under the sky.

White clouds seep

shell and stone

and fossil bone.

Roots of the hearth,

ash, deep down

black fire.

One world lives.

One world sleeps.

Ash and roots

buried deep.


an empty sea.


Less is more.

The shared dawn

is all light.

I breathe the

rain’s sigh,

clouds of morning,

winds of evening.

Leaves bend

in eastern breeze.

Beat time’s drum,

the sun’s throat

swallows the river.

Less is more.

Given is more,

blinds creak, shake,

in night’s music,

storm’s eyelids click


earth is humble,

it soaks,

empty hills and plains

all islands,

floating being.

Less is more.

White Silk

Now, sings,

you, I,

distant echoes

collect light

from hills and seas,

energy flows,

time moves,

in change,

forests, marshes.

Nature’s voice,

shining silence,

sings Now.

Birds in the cherries

on old silk

are there.

This century

sliding by,

next a dream,

arc of Now.

All Movement

The private silence.

With stones, stars, herbs,

protect our huts

on the mind-slope.

All movements of the hand

on the body of what we love,

signify light,

signify peace.

The bee sings

at the heart of the flower,

his long tongue

drinks the sweetness.

The dark buzz

in the deep grass

along the spine of Hymettos,

and in the valley’s throat.

Against this world

offering no violence,

to shake the flame, and go

without leaving a trail.


Always nearest to what we lose,

deeper these three thousand years.

See it, Earth, fragile beauty,

blue sail on the dark sea?

Feel it, all the shining levels,

harder to lose what we love,

the shimmering that remains,

the movement of grasses?

It goes down the years, a stream.

Birds eat buds in the pear-trees,

child’s open-eyed trusting glance

flickers over this dark world.

It seems more delicate, more fragile,

this, balanced on a knife-edge, civilisation,

the loved calling more deeply:

against violence, the things of the heart.

Give, Resist

It all fits together,

don’t deny

with mind’s impatience

labour, love, the trees.

The poem, not opposed

to rock, the stream,

all history,

flows from the ice-age

of salt and stone,

the dark eye, soil,

furled sweet bark

skin of the earth.

Mind slides against the grain

of racket, violence, glitter,

slides, slips past, sets

its mark on banded cliffs.


I love your silence,

deep in my spirit,

the beauty of meaning,

your love of the spirit.

I love your silence,

the light of your spirit,

the irreplaceable real.

The Peace of Dark

Mars nearest for how many thousand years?

Midnight orb, red fire, a shadow rose,

eye covers half a year with a finger.

The peace of dark restores the heart,

and here there are no wars.

We exercise our skills, loves, lives,

gatherers of undamaged feeling,

with spirit that creates itself.

The peace of dark restores the heart.

Mars nearest for so many thousand years.

Getting Naked

All day on the long flower-tips

the flicker of butterflies,

like strange quivering petals.

Matter, at some point, becomes life,

purposive form

sieved out, sentient species,

nature’s lexicon.

Complex, to know these knots of time,

these ten million year gifts,

messages like light

from the core of the universe,

and as troubling

when you step aside from the human,

clothes and cars.


We are caught in the net of eternity:

we must go to the stars.

Without the devils and gods,

we must go to the stars.

Mind, without body, perhaps,

we must go to the stars.

Carrying our beauty and love,

we must go to the stars.

Into the silence of truth

we must go, to the stars.

We are caught in the net of eternity,

we must go to the stars.

Chinese Wisdom: Very Ancient

To exercise power over others

is to steal power from others.

Those who rightly administer power

for others, with their consent, become

powerless observers of what is done.

When what is agreed to be done

is done, they can retire to the dark,

and do not invent new tasks,

and do not invent old lies.

Power has a life of its own.

Cut channels for the stream.


Love them all, creation’s thousand ways.

What praises learns to understand,

mind critical should be critical for fire,

the healing flame. Before the tree,

the stone, the water, silence.

What you thought worthless returns

its other face from mirror-smoke.

Love them all, creation’s thousand ways.


Not given by gods, genetic in us

all the fires of cunning, flames

of curiosity, all this human,

its laws, cities, wars, exchanges,

demonic cruelty, compassion,

knowing the better no power reaches,

sliding to dulled gratification,

weight of ten billion beings

pressing, unmindful, on the planet.

Radiance absurd as the coil

of green stem, emerged

from the womb of matter,

sleeping in repetition’s seed,

dying to nothing. Why filling

this time with violence,

jostling of hatreds, the grind

of structure, to get beyond what?

Nature. Silence. Peace?

What we might make, of spirit,

who created gods, wars,

music, image and dream,

if hand touched hand

continually, mind touched

mind, beyond the blind

and foolish heart.


Melt of the last, silent forests,

almost laying down their burden,

over the lost, imperfect cultures,

giving way to deathlier un-nature.

Slowly the trees lay down their heads,

the naked hills slip together,

and the empty seas are freed of life.

All this for elsewhere. Remoteness kills.

The hand on the line of triggers feels

the slightest recoil as the planet moves away.

Meltdown, cut groves, the waves without.

Cities flower though the garden’s lost.

Another turn of the universe,

too long for us. Say it: sing it,

while it lasts, elsewhere.

Not by turning back

to the blind and primitive,

but with the light of a billion stars,

slowly cascading over the heart,

all light from elsewhere.


A child without power has power

to touch the core of things. Women,

men, with power, are powerless

to liberate the mind and spirit.

When we give power away we reach

the place we recognise,


the place of light, the deep attention,

of the surrendered heart.

Not Alone

Love links us to the generations,

the child, the living, and the dead.

Love links us to the generations.

Beyond the present is our homeland,

no tongue, no heart, no mind is alien.

Beyond the present is our homeland.

Desire out of dust keeps calling.

We turn inside the web of being.

Desire from the dust keeps calling.

The eye, the hand, the word that echoes

is not the matter, form, that holds us,

the eye, the hand, the word that echoes.

Love links us to the generations.

Beyond the present is our homeland.

Index of First Lines