Two Poems

Genesis: Coda

This book is an empty
room – on the walls are myths
carved in an ancient hand
the depth of the rock-line
is inch deep. Shadows seep
and diffuse light beckons.

As it happens – it makes
a perfect home for them;
spiders surge in a tide
of grey – babbling softly
build a web on this rock
til tall vault lines hang down.

At the door, sand blows in.
The longer you spend here
The deeper afraid you feel.
The way the grains’ pattern
ignores you – this scatter
Of faint theologies

Author, Do You Pray?

Do not ask if I pray.
There is no need – for life
life is a joke, like this:
You laugh until it hurts
then, as often happens, cry
because you needed to.

and then because all life –
like late Turner – is filled
with a steaming light – so
Hardly moving my hands
I am towed into joy
by rusty old tugboats.

Elegy Written on the National Express

i

To the rusted coach, hurling through country
the misted landscape shows itself brightly –
smoke silhouettes and industrial edifice
rest in the view, as rubble in grey dirt.
Awake but precarious, I’m whimmed by the heat
and I wore too much crap, brought too much ephemera
rummaging for a pen, in notice of others
whose christian voices, here and there pray.
The whispering waving of torque and hot rubber
the passing on centre and passing on right.
The carriage rolls hungry, wafting on the road
in the air of the country, musty and cold.
The air conditioner breathes, occasionally coughing
in this rhythmic trance, the traveller’s loan,
which purchases the journey, cheap.

ii

In the coach, dull head and hot at the feet;
a clash of environments, splitting the cabin
and the swinging spindles of a needle thin turbine
obscured by the copses that spatter the land.
Miniaturised trees, from the fog’s deep gradient,
resting on the morning, and hewn dirt roads
(the trace of the coming expansion) flow outwards
pre-empted by pylons, ancient statues
whose rest in the desert, long after we’ve gone:
Buffeted by cold wind and frost in the nighttime
snow slowly erasing the web of old tarmac
pitch-dark and frozen, but the national anthem
plays still over the land, a deathless anthem
turning the fascist strata, and rousing
the fragments of newspaper to stand.

iii

In the fast fading coach, windows sullied,
shadow eats the occupied roads of the world.
Ambience change brings me reeling, threatened
from dystopian daydreams, to Motor Way One.
The unending chance-driven swerve of the chassis
rends me and jolts in my head and my stomach
and lightly the inevitable sickness sets in,
waiting for the portent’s rain to begin.
Mechanical reproduction’s music marks
the passing of time; it’s all that does
despite the rolling windows, falling country
whose homogeneous peeling marks the whole…
Drowsing in the sullen surge I wait
and London waits for me, churning,
the City dark with mould.

Secularium

The atheist, too, remains able to honour the dead.
Visit hallowed places, facing the casket and questing,
the concrete presence of the particular place, to remember
The chances of life and its radiance challenging all…
These paths, call them atoms, bombarding and flying to exit,
are made from the fields and the force that surround and support them.
And their resting place too, can create its own pull, its own pulsar
which can send those so near it to fly into deep-thought and darkness
spur the raw thoughts, and the frame change to alter the core.

We honour an arrangement, continuing its physical trajectory
by placing our bodies to mediate humanity’s lore…
Barely under the surface, dark movements, the chemicals
guide potentials to work and the material echoes which sigh…
Surrounded by white-stone, skin stretched and face left as an imprint;
twin dark shadows and the mouth which supported the thing.

The ripples fell out, and curling their tendrils about us,
bring us back to return them so close to  the bright path which sent them –
now dim in the grave where its dull glow makes us into rays.
We worship ourselves, in a reverence, humility, and pray.

Wordless, we wait, and bask in celestial company –
falling silent, the mark of the stars which remain all too distant,
is our heartbeat, our faith in the real, and our thoughts – we reclaim.
A body, its myth and its history, charged with emotion…
Our tears thus held back, our earth, our hope, our revery,
stood holding our soft inspiration close, and developing
the state of our souls – our love – our plans and our treasury;
the quiet potentials of the human mind, sparkling
in the tomb of our old friend, or those who we never knew.

We are open to past lives, accept their gifts, and renew.

Notre Dame or The Atheist

What vaults, and well lit
and the gloaming cross, witness
the infidelity of the throng.
They fill the looming vaults with talk:
the talk of the street, or the dining hall.
The many silent signs, supplicant, are passed
just as broken beggars on the street are passed –
“I don’t have the money” – lied to, ignored.
Wasn’t this worth more, I think, than that?

They say: I don’t have the time to be quiet,
to waste my trip, wasting on an unspoken diet
It’s a husk, inhabited by so many worms
eating, slowly, the pews
and drinking the holy water
which was only water after all, after queues
like that in their plastic bottles.

But what vaults, and well lit.
Couldn’t they just be quiet?
Just for a little bit?