Abode

A response to Philip Larkin

I try not to work too much, and don’t drink.
Stretching, I wake to the rustling dark –
to dawn seeping in through the brink
of the window, and the dog’s bark –
It’s then I see what’s really always there;
light streaming in through the misting air
absolving me of days that never quite start;
fallen empires grown thick with weeds,
a knowing smile at capricious needs
and under it all, my whispering heart.

The mind ceases to glare. Not through fear –
some good done, some love given, time
lined up like a jigsaw – here
missing a piece or two, but it’s fine;
there are more puzzles to do, that’s for sure,
while the stars play out their grand impure
drama, which can be a mess –
all scattered across the endless black
that brought us here, and can take us back;
Chaos can stand such a diffident dress.

There is a peculiar way of letting go –
The smile as a cure – like Gautama’s –
who tells of all deaths we ever could know
and did so to teach us: be calmer.
They have seen the Way, like a flash of lightning
in the night’ – now that’s enlightening.
Just relax – no sound, no sight
No touch or taste or smell, no mind
everything collapsing into the void
which we are, and are again, every night.

So. You can only learn so much from death.
You can dream about it, sure, but let it go.
It gets easier all the time. And as for the rest –
The sun will rise. This we can know.
Doesn’t it betray the poet and child
in the morning to sit in stunned and wild
silence, hands clasped in black prayer,
and think this shows some clean truth?
Give me a break. Death is no forbidden fruit
and your whining might just hasten you there.

(Interesting to see that you have no thought
For the deaths of your friends and those you love
as well you ought to
in those dark mornings. Let’s forgive
this self-regard. We know there is space
for all kinds of death; the shadow face
you held up as a simple, clarified skull
is a Janus. And on the other side
is a face of a mother, perhaps, with a soft smile
who takes leave from the world and leaves it full.)

V.63

The future doesn’t exist
only the moment exists, and the moment
is the moment of despair that the future does not exist.

There are no hopes.
There are only desires and deepest of those
the desire to have hopes.

I ride the bus back from town
having achieved a slight melancholy

and bought things I did not need
when I ‘should have been saving’
for the future I do not have.

Love once tore my head open
and everything inside fell on the ground.

Now, I feel no love.
And my head remains empty.
such is time’s slow dripping
and the cloud moves toward the horizon.

Should I be angry? No.
Should I want?
Should… faint red lines iterate upon the past and build to a revolution where hope is reborn as weak as it ever has been that we could one day find a place among things

A Natural History of Destruction

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