The Witch of Endor

A worried king came to me, lord knows why
to measure his luck against the Philistines.
Strange how an eldritch technique can change
from heresy to dogma for reasons of state –
anyway, for all my murdered sisters I gave
him just enough doubt to put off his aim –
he’ll lay down his sword from anxiety, then
lie down and slide along it, slowly, to rest.
I slaughtered a calf to give precursive thanks
and fed him libation to his own pierced flank.

When the gods ascend from out the earth,
justice sees tyrants come off the worse.

V.122

The Codex Exionensis
full of riddles, was forgotten
for years. The curate, with his cheese
and beer, found it useful, sturdy

leaving a ring-kiss from his cup
on the boards – the greatest honour
that is bestowed upon books –
then he got his hard cheese and blade.

He left a cross of cut book-skin,
peeling, wounded it on the feet
and pierced its side with his old knife.
The book was lost from minds for days

’til a monk picked it up, with care
placing it back on the dark shelf
(after a wipe) for a book lives
and can survive bearing such love.

Knowing those shelves well, the monk came
back until he passed to the dark
of the shelved among the old stars
and the book vanished from our world

Then, when the dust had its capstone,
like a hot forest approaching
a castle, the archive came, and
spread its net, and resurrected.

Joan Miro by Paul Éluard

Sun-prey prisoner of my head,
rub out the hill, rub out the forest.
The sky is more beautiful than ever.
Grape-dragonflies
give it form so precise
that I disperse with a wave.

Clouds of the first day,
insensible clouds, that nothing authorised,
their grain burns
in the straw-fire of my eyes.

In the end, to cover itself in dawn
the day must be as pure as the night

V.113 Bond

There was an empire here – therefore
pain is caked into statues lost
on the sea bed. Time is so scarce –
gas dissolves, sinks in the water…

Missiles built with economies
scatter like graphs of a world-crash
and it is beautiful, foxglove
of nuclear Armageddon

The new war is begun because
certain things cannot now be stopped –
aesthetic laws demand of us
complete dedication. Agents

look into the heart of the state
and it looks like a cup of clear
water with boiled flowers – drink me,
says the label, and grow smaller.

He stares upwards, blue eyes cancelled
by the roaring fusion of things
There is no crack team coming, no
hope for a future for the old

Are we ready to lose these hopes?
Denied redemption, what remains
but death? Are we not better than
the worst of the things we have done?

V.100 Loki

You know what to do, in lastness
you feel the god of steel growing
you pray that all will fall away
as hesitation corrupts us

Our time is lived but once, and yet
that doesn’t seem to move us much
But what can we expect from voices
peeling the skin of older gods

The courts of law arranged behind
the gate, behind the projector
screen, where the greyscale mouse dances
and buried viking chess sets crack

A hedonism ramifies –
you don’t know that you’re born, they say
Response: You don’t know that you’re dead –
building great towers in the west

exactly like giant gravestones
and in memoriam to what?
Allow us talk, sir. Allow us
our fortresses in the dark air

Something is dead and its absence
thickens through non-acknowledgement
The engines of capital burn
as particles plot against us

V.96 Nightingale I

In the fume of the late world, I
lie in bed awake. Two o’clock
I turn the light off, finally
to end another day, and sleep.

A whistle, I hear, a trilling
out at the top of the north town –
The air is mild at autumn’s end
and a nightingale is singing.

I am opened up wide by it
I think of waking the whole house
Shouting to the street night, get up
a soft event is occurring.

Open in the window, with cool
air playing on my back, I hold
the phone with its small ear outward
Hoping to give my tired parents

sign of a small brown bird, city
bird now, or lost. I am awake
due to anxious spurrings, a world
that is inexplicable. Sleep

had it taken me, I don’t think
would have had resource to rival
this surprise which is beauty, and
banishes fear. If for a time

The Field

THE ARGUMENT

An itinerant treads through the fields in London, Wales and England, picking through the debris of a culture war, heading back home to the north. They record the thoughts of objects and see the others talking and gesturing, haunted by visions and dreams of the past and future. The field repeats, each time slightly differently. In each field a different assemblage – maybe a castle, or a festival, or a bird

Continue reading

V.88

The lake surface is dusk-white noise –
Just so many cut paper gulls
and silhouette ducks – then the dark
cuts across this inner distance

I sit in the greying evening
reiterate a dead song-form
– that of assuming the stances
of nature. But nature is gone

and what remains is a dammed stream
and what remains is a lake house
– people moan and run from nothing
and wheeze. I can’t reach beyond it.

There’s only the monotone lake
whose forms insulate nothing from
nothing. An image of a false
image. I make my offering:

In the morning, a red dawn comes
and fixes the sky in crystal.
Intergalactic prison ships
revolt and institute the new

through law. But for now, the moon hangs
in soft focus, and swans are fed,
by fallen branches whose mirror
in the lake caresses the sky

City Woods

The wode is a kind of dust –
it piles up around the land’s cracks
where the cleaning equipment
sighs and faints in exasperation

And up close and in it
a tangle and heap of word
with cuts and slices on the plane
where trees fall and bring light.

To walk by, paths which increase
and curve with a complex
runic twist – to read this
it would take a kind of Hecate

Bluebells raise their damp towers
where small grey flies hop to try

Duck

Does any animal float as well?
Resting on this peel of thickness
pedalling slowly, and honking

Duck taught the angels
how to fly – see them now
by the barrage, watching for tips –

just put your face in your armpit
and hang there, careless –
that is how to go about it.

Lessons such as that.
And how to remain calm
in the face of such rain

After duck stands up, wrings out his coat
he waves to the angels, who nod abashed
and calmly floats off into the sky