Poem: Spider and Sprite

spider.jpg

The spider sends out thoughts from her web,
And receives thread-like messages from the web of the night,
Feeling a tug – a yearning tremor of her matrix – she calls out:

“Who goes there?
Who are you?
What do you want with me?”

But the web becomes motionless and dull,
And she wondered if her predatorial instincts
Were beginning to trick her in her old age

And somewhere, on the other side of the world,
Where night has forgotten to be itself,
And all is enwombed in perpetual light,
A little bird shifts in its nest and sighs,
The ensemble of twigs groaning against
The yearning tug of the wind,
Which slowly whispers:

“Who are you?
What do you want with me?”

And in the minds and brains of animals,
Questions are always being sallied back and forth,
And the switchboard dilates with the impersonation
Of light, and sleeping crows hardly lift their wings to
The blow of far-off musket balls

Yes, things come together,
Even as we sleep,
And spiders and owls can regain their happiness
In the suspicion of a whimper

Learning to let the heart open up,
As we are cuddled by the questions
Carried on the wind

Poem: Cracked Branch

asphalt-cracks-tree-branches

Looking at a cracked branch,
You can cram all of eternity into a single thought,
And all the multitudes of multitudes,
Need only be addressed,
By ensconcing yourself sleepily,
In a swallow’s cosy nest

In that dream of bedstraw and cracked branches,
The sky unleafs itself from its own binding,
And all the pages of history that the clouds inscribe
Time accepts hungrily as an underhand bribe

Then the Usk gives rise to trees of ripple and water,
Great pillars of river – a patriarch’s mighty daughter,
And the tides of the night, unseen in the summer,
Are concealed in the warmest souls of the them all

Little tokens of love,
On a pile of bedstraw,
Against the unsung spire of the day

 

 

Poem To St. Epiphany

neo_pagan_fish_over_the_sleeping_city_by_artfactotum-d4rdc2b
Dear Saint – I am a wanderer,
Though my pathways have been less substantial than yours,
I am not a child born of airports, found like Moses, in a basket,
On a baggage conveyor belt in Heathrow;

I was born in the nests of birds,
And in the eyries of eyeholes
Through which God sees the world

Out in the wilderness, it took me a long time
To fledge – but once my feathers burst out,
You could find me on the crosshairs of any
Cliff-face, bouncing my cries against the clouds

But you strayed to different climes,
Springing from the flipped tails of Norwegian whales,
And your good-humour is the fart joke that inspired the
Laughter of herring gulls and puffins

Diving into volcanoes, you swim through lava
Floes and lakes of sulphur, leaning the language
Of the landscape, and translating it into words

While I get lost in Welsh forests, you cycled through Berlin,
Getting caught up in bondage, and strange gothic sex clubs –
The water of life regurgitated through the leather-bound spiracle
Of a dolphin

As the female Bruce Lee, you punched your way to
Montreal, a prize-fighter of fish and scale, pounding nails
Angrily into ever-shifting floorboards, and life rafts that
Would not move at all

Now your laser-beam has turned its attention to me.
What do you want with this Celtic wild man
Who hides behind pews in abandoned churches,
And ever seeks to reside where The Green Man lurches?

Crawling out from someone’s fingernail,
I will pretend to be a tortoise,
And you, my swan, my Falkor, my dragon,
Use your claws to prise me out of my shell

A reconstruction of sunbeams,
And the dereliction of dreams,
Follow the river until it curves around the bend,

And in a tone lightly teasing,
Pleasant but never pleasing,
I begin a riddle it is not my job to end!

 

Poem: Idle Thoughts In A Chapel

vulgar

Cloistered inside myself,
A one-man monastery,
From nave to navel,
From chance to chancel,
The architecture of my thoughts spiral towards sorrow,
Desiring touch, it flees all things that make touch possible –
Growing spikes – concealing itself in thorny foliage

Yet pollen still draws bees from across the ocean,
As we are drawn by irresistible patterns of migration,
Arcing along courses, as inexorably as stars,
Drawn into conjunction or opposition

Fearing, yet seduced by one another,
We shed fire into each other’s eyes,
And melt like butter, and the silence
Of my prayers is devoted to your potentiality,
Kneeling at the altar of space

I will kneel before the holy see of your femininity,
I will eat of your body as a sacrament,
And drink of your kisses like wine,
Saying prayers in the shedding of tears,
The communion of your arms will be mine

Then, out in the graveyard,
I will bury my thoughts in the body of earth,
And the lime trees will declare the sweetest of boundaries,
Where melody shepherds us in,
As lambs into an enclosure

They’ll pass round the collection plate,
And I’ll leave a poem on it,
And I’ll declare that it is holy writ,
For it was born of your womanly glory

 

Poem: Castles in the Dark

hurstchasingmydream

Trees can become castles in the dark,
Their battlements jagged upon the dusky landscape,
Farmhouses growing up as mushrooms of hill and land,
Horses running silent in precipitous pastures,
Sloping abysmally downward to come back overhead
As a terrible grass sky of sickening green

In this bottle green glaze,
You can seek out the friend within the tree,
The tree within the friend,
Hurrying over ice floes,
And the stones that are the lovers
Of lost volcanoes

You wait in an old stone bus shelter,
For a bus you know no longer runs,
It is your abbey now, your ruined fortress,
Your blown-out bomb shelter from the war,
The stone-walled ghost of a bygone age

In a vicarless church,
Waiting for the sermon to begin,
Or a dry riverbed being ploughed out
By your hungry oar:

These are the images you can content yourself with,
As birds exploit the emptiness of the day,
To gore out secrets with their shovel of song

Little birds from Berlin,
In a moonbeam of pouches,
History condensed into a stone,
And a stone into a friend

 

Poem: Jackdaws In Love

jack

A congregation of jackdaws zigzag above a spire,
Each of their clacks a prayer of unconscious praise
The patterns dissolve and then repeat
Recombining in a thousand different ways

I’ll admit it – I am afraid of tenderness –
Of softness – of anything that can speak
Sweetly to me when I expect only indifference
And repulsion

A loving whisper can wear away a wall
Quicker than a brass band at Jericho,
And a soul-sung smile can disable
Even the most high-tech of security systems,
Leaving you defenceless and worn

But each of my cells is a jackdaw,
Sometimes cohering together in a maze of flight,
At others electing to spend lives of searching on lonely rooftops,
Dropping stolen objects onto the ground below,
To observe the laws of Caws and Effect

If a tree shan’t be my throne,
Then a throne shall be my tree,
And from the scriptural skin of spiral-spun bark,
I will offer shelter to those above and below me –
The Wooden Almshouse of the World

Just by being here, I am unchastened,
My kisses are loosened from their reins,
And seek out streams in which to bathe their secrets,
In the eddies and whirlpools of unknowing

So see me chaste,
And then unchastened,
In the clacking prayer of bird-born syllables,
Strung on every strand of the sky

 

Poem: St. Peter’s On The Rocks

float

When the wind blows,
All trees sing the song of the sea,
No matter how mainlanded they are

Widow-maker willows lure men in
With their fake bird calls –
A life lost in the felling of a tree,
And the crumbling masonry of a sick-bed
Church, filled with the wires and tubes of
Life-support scaffolding, which the wind ever
Wrestles to the winnowing ground

In the face of flooding, pews become pedalos,
And priests float down the River on algae-bound
Bibles – all the farm land around is now an expanse
Of Atlantis, and the crowns of even the tallest of trees
Are but the conspiracies of saplings and weeds

But the horses will not be tolerant of this –
As soon as they hear the gallop of the flood plains approach,
They forfeit the ground, and betake their hooves to the air,
And the horsemen of the Apocalypse versified in Revelations
Have never seemed so bucolic, so mild

The water is the only thing that sings now,
Set up by the occasional whinnying of sky-born
Equine shriek. And as St. Peter’s, Llanwenarth,
Floats down the centre of this riverine world,
You will find me keeping vigil, in the crenelated tower,
Looking for harbour or home

A floating church,
A floating church,
Sailing on the sky of sea

 

Poem: Enchanted Moments

Fairy-Tale-Art-by-Erin-Kelso-25

The places closest to your home are enchanted,

Yes, those places of familiarity, banality, so benumbed

To you through over-exposure – they can be enchanted, too,

They can be the dischargers and speculators of magic,

And a source of ineffable wonder every time you

Leave your front door

 

Things do not have to lose their magic,

Touch need not be divested of its thrill,

For every day is a portrait of change,

And the way you see the light, the sky,

And the verges of trees moving against

The escarpments of time cannot be compared

To any day you have yet had,

Or any that you have yet to come

 

Every moment is unique –

Every moment is rare –

If you took any moment from your life,

And tried to sell it on the stock exchange,

Or through the mediating hands of an auctioneer,

The bids would escalate until the end of time,

And the bounds of numerology would have to be infinitely stretched,

In order to fully entertain them

 

That is how rare any given moment in your life is,

 

Some rare things are poisonous,

Some rare things have life-bearing properties,

Some rare things are so rare indeed,

Even God has yet to discover them

 

So if you want to bring more magic into your life,

You do not need to go far,

All you need to do is go outside,

And find the place where the song

Of bird and trees combines in perfect union

To become the soft whisper of All

Whispering ‘love’ into your ear

                                                                                            

Poem: The Anchorite

Sunset amid Dark Clouds over the Sea circa 1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

At the bottom of the crystal ocean
Lie great clusters of coracles,
All accreted together like so many fossils

Many anchorites have tried to reach this island,
Many more have failed – gobbled up by the hunger
Of the sea, reborn in the half world of The Tuatha De Danan,
Meditating on the glories of God in waters dark and unseen,
Their skins grizzling into carapaces of seal fur:
The bone-made carpets of the deep

Looking out from your stone-built hut,
God gives you layers of Celtic mist,
And you are crucified by the nails of ambiguity
That describe the landscape where you sit:
The Throne of The Holy Fool

Slowly, over time, rock, lichen and moss
Become your skin – your thoughts become
The spindrift of unquantifiable seconds –
Of unquantifiable questions –
And the crashing of the waves sounds like
The creaking of so many turned Bible pages,
Vellum sanctified into wave-worn silence

Baptized in the lonely font of the ocean,
You can see the face of Christ in the face
Of every seal, in the squabblings of kittiwakes,
In the unheard music of coral, and the contorted
Countenance of storms

But, should you achieve your wish,
And live eternal in Christ
To have him live eternal in you,
Then you will watch thousand-year-old
Oaks rise and fall with the passing of seconds,
Forests laid to wastes, and wastes regrown,
Cities to deserts, and deserts to springs,
To the steady thunder of civilizations crushing out
Their own matchsticks, and all the gold found on earth
Ascending to heaven, returning to the fiery
Centre of the Sun from which is was milked

But, until then, let each of the waves be the dial-hands
Of moments killing moments, one moment killing the
Moment that preceded it, only to be slaughtered by its
Ungrateful descendant, muttering:

“Holy is Christ,
Holy is Christ,”

Until you know every cave of the sea

Poem: Fragments From a Welsh Cottage

cottage

Mist communes with a pine-covered mountain,
A snail shell hung, just-so, on branching wisteria,
Clinging to the door frame of a hill-hidden Welsh
Cottage, swaddled in the fleeces of trees and
Distant cuckoo calls

Life, enwhorled, appears as an irregular series of
Revelations, each one more declivitous and demolishing
Than the last – the more you know, the unsteadier you feel,
Blinking in the eye of the horizon, realizing that every sound
You hear is communication, and everything you can see is
But sound frozen

Let us not call it music – it runs deeper than that,
Like water flowing through an inaccessible cavern
That no one hears, yet every man feels in the trickling
Of time and timelessness in those rare, still moments
Of syrupy slowness

And I want to slow it all down.
I see a magpie perch on a steel bridge,
And I jealously wish to possess the peace
I see in its dark, inscrutable eyes

But the obfuscation of feelings in transition
Bewilders me – mine is the peace of strange,
Spectral fish lurking motionless for seven years
In a pool of phantoms

The image and the imaginer,
In the fish-eyed lens of water,
Wearing the laurels of wistfulness,
On a misty mountain day