When you read an ancient poet
and find yourself or part of you
becoming-drift with ancient sands
always enfolding each other,
it is not something of success
or failure – to be the great soul
is to draw all strings into one
cord, and feel your sudden failure –
everything has its ancestor –
unwind one thread and say of it
this is my colour, my tenor…
It’s all a scrub with tiny blooms,
stone, shell, what more? Repetition
is never quite exactly apt –
this courtly poet whispers through
eleven centuries to tell
me of my love for you, clearer
than the scarcest cut ice, trekked out
across the sands and wrapped in palm
to impress the caliph. My song
is an alm on the tree which grows
and falls and grows again. Years pass
and the desert widens, but faint
movements stir the clacking branches
The wood gate is crisp
driftwood’s dry mirror –
and the church behind
is the rock upon
which the waves crash hard.
This hubbub decries –
with the tree’s creaking –
those who seek a peace.
Really there is no
well chiselled message;
In the graveyard hear
soft undefined hums
of voice and organ
mixing in hollows –
hear wind whistle through.
Hear your insecure
thoughts tapping upon
the stained glass dust – hear
choral doom and then
lays of the bright voice;
in time’s long empire
has brought the air here
and the soft water
Your week this week will go off
like a rotten egg. Such is life.
This fragment of a year will crack
and spill all over you, achieve
new heights of boredom and disgust.
Why? Do you ask why the fungus
grows at the tree’s base and grows
rotten? Come on. Just accept it
like you accept that your eyes
will look where you decide
and not just swing around like
billiard balls in a washing machine.
Next week brings with it new challenges
as exactly the same thing happens
for the hundred and eleventh time.
But this one, this is the one, I can feel it.
The stars are spread out in the orrery
like thick yeast extract on toast.
Things are everywhere finding it difficult
to connect. Take Bellatrix
for example. A salty taste on the tongue
just don’t let it touch an open cut.
Inside this emptiness of pain feeling
there is another expanse of tiny stars –
from each new star, we see new constellations
and the red bloom in Orion
is aching to reach them.
Close one eye for a while and things look flat.
There are an endless array of bears in the sky
clouds, atoms, birds, planes, galaxies –
all of these are bears if you look closely.
This week will bring bears.
In the beginning, something was destroyed
at least it seems that way
and something else rose outwards.
Sky-sized waves follow the instant
an ocean meteor impacts, and ricochet –
the planet at great speed becomes
Something Else – because all ends
are also beginnings, no law is more
certain. What more do things have to say
about destruction – all else is lists
of the long fall of the satellite from orbit
and the short cracks as the overhang weakens
the instant a fish first knows the harsh net.
In my end is my beginning
Is false because the I must end
For something else to begin – materials
work upon themselves some magic
which brings others to the house party
where green glass contains rotten liquids!
Our whole civilisation is a harvest
of destruction, even in its peace, when
blackbirds sing the lay of the worm’s
redescription in branches in the sun.
And nature also, this vast restructuring
where some shapes lose what others
gain – a magpie flies as the sun dips
its smooth light onto the striated oak
and on and again until the end of this
and the beginning of something else
and we can’t often tell the difference
Coming home on a long warm night
where the air takes the noise of keys
and holds it cupped in its hand like
a ladybird which alighted
on the hand, and is climbing up.
Coming home after mild concern
has flared in a blank stare forward
and later a stratified phase
of conversation while the feet
hit their warm rubber on the path.
Coming home after talk of trade
and politics and other large
and uncontrollable forces
which fluctuate like black storms do,
hung waiting behind the buildings
on your right, and seen between them.
To say power is power just
raises violence to a law
and that seems a dull reversal.
There are as many reasons to
do a thing historically as
there are to do a thing today
at least, and as reasons densen
a cool breeze blows over the street
The parallax intrudes sometimes
like a muscular pain after
being sat too long in one stance
and you can barely find comfort.
Browsing the internet you find
a cry for help you can’t tell from
pastiche. Then you see an empty
box sat on the doorstep, you see
moth larvae curling in your clothes.
Everything seems to be able
to connect with the following
link. But the pendulum has reached
its apogee and watch it turn
revealing its dark side to you
just as it accelerates down
the side inlaid with relief carve
of massacre and stupidness.
The frictionless pivot of time
and history is mute. But hear
faint squeaks of the ghost hung upon
the nail there, with all its effort
breaks itself to try warn you of
what is to come. But all there is
is a faint sense of deja-vu
If I know anything
I know this –
That the end of the world will be
and will come from somewhere
and that straightaway
for as long as there is
people will say
they saw it coming
as if the moon, finally
spiralled into the earth
Terror swims inside me like a basking shark –
it is my sullen wake, it fills the air behind
as I’m drawn along suburban stone.
I see the wild forgotten as a dream is forgotten
I know I dreamed, but what was it?
I stand on a hill and see the city
draining down its valley plughole –
soft scars left in the grading air.
I see this city move as a scrapheap moves
slowly downwards, churning the earth.
Waiting for a bus I wait too long
and my figure, mistaken for a statue
by some routine artist in a tatty book
is selected for the top of the heap
which moves, and the wild falls further.
In a shifting forest, in the past beyond thought
a foraging girl picks out an acorn
from a skin of dry leaves, her breath
marks the air. She leaves it
and the earth hurtles out from beneath
Oh your voice,
it carries the geology of the tongue
in a startling language
your saliva and its stones, caught by geographical time
the knot and bark of your swallow
sussurations of your lips, of fur
brushing past itself, salted in the night-forest
and your eyes muddy marsh
sodden in the hills and routes of our conversation
between moon-dragging planets.
Speaker, you shake me
your strata bared by the sandblasting wind
the grass bent, rent and shattered by a foot
that mountain collapses and tectonic plates tear –
You gulp in the nothing of my ear
The Tree says “Down! – you
seeds and sapling usurpers
“I am the root and I the purpose
“Know my bark, it keeps me strong.”
And murders them with shadows long.
The saplings and the seeds chant –
“Up! – up the republic of growth
“Of branching ideas, and new things here below
“Until the wood is filled with variety
“Old bark can stay – but we’ll have our society.”
The forest is filled with the kinds of desire
But all must drink – and bathe in the sun –
The far spread shadows are death to some
“Until the dark dawn of some great forest fire”
Some hope to spark, to get underway
The falling, the ashes, it tends to gestate
Grand ideas of a sunlit glade
Though dappled light seems the best some can await –
Born as they are with stunted branch
Or lack of structured niche or dance
They tend to fall back on the law of the light –
that when shadow is cast, those in shadow must fight.
Either starving dark amongst the shoots
Or taking as model the climbing vine
Or cutting the old bark down to size
Or grouping and starving the heartless old roots
To scatter light out from the leaves of the few