Poem: Dance By Candlelight

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Dance by candlelight,
Though it took us a long while to get here,
Circumambulating the sacred mountain, tolling
The bells of raven’s calls, kestrels hovering as
Though suspended on strings as we this spiny
Ridgeway walk, over outcrops of sandstone,
Forests teetering precipitous on the lips of
Landslides. Pipits leaping out of gorse and
Heath to be personified as leopard-print
Mushrooms rising out of rotting timber,
Lichen caking everything in the ancestry
Of crystal pure air

But we never discovered the mystery of the stolen wood,
Hot-air balloons rising horizonwards. We drove through
The Valleys, slag heaps, stone bursts, and the chill air of
Keeper’s Pond, to see bridges half-constructed in mid-air,
Built by cranes pushing their hands through the roots of
Clouds – buildings burned out – buildings abandoned –
Stray cats housed, and rockeries unvisited by vole or
Mouse

It is a different world up here,
Where the pink ling yields to the Martian surface
Of autumn, where spindle bushes fruit in public gardens,
Where a screen connects me to you hundreds of miles away,
Every pixel a prison of yearning

I am sorry for my sourness, my irritability,
My sulky moods – this creature, unhabituated to desire,
And spun in the solitude of his own mind’s caverns

I do not want to be a trial to you,
A hardship of endurance,
A craggy mount –
A fist of thorns

But I am no smooth-lipped sailor:
Mine are turbid waters, bespeaking a surface
Of serenity concealing many shipwrecks –
I am sweet, thorny, heavy, fruitful, and unyielding
As bramble o’er gravestone – I am the malleability
Of melted and re-solidified steel, wielded in the coils
Of a serpent

I am the moonbeam’s muscles –
The storm call of a throstle –
The dreaded wish of penny in fountain –
Or a tuppence in the throat of a swan

But somewhere beneath this petticoat of ice,
You unfrosted me – took off my corset –
And enabled me to feel a desire for which
I may or may not have been made

But desire is a fire,
Sending out embers of hope and needful expectation,
And the desire to love, and to surrender one’s self,
Can come so near to dashing on the rocks of selfishness,
As a ship, it becomes hard to steer

But each and every moment needn’t be amplified so –
You can turn a butterfly wing into the winking eyelash
Of God – the tinkling of harpsicord in golden ballroom,
Treading a minuet of careful proportions

Cannot you subdue me and rinse these bad moods from me?
I can be heavy as cement – unyielding as ancient crag –
A standing stone refusing to budge –
Unable to be dragged by man –
All men must come to it

So, you put on your gloves,
Putting your hand softly into my chest,
And say: “Stop being such a drama queen!
You’re nowhere as bad as you think you seem!”
And feeling understood, softened and surrendering,
I let my tensions thaw into healthy tears

 

Poem: Alive Or Dead

dream

Raped by the infinity inside myself,
Each moment confronted by more than I am,
A turbulence of high strangeness, difficult to resolve,
The mystery of darkness in the marrow of man

Laying in bed cocooned in everchanging images,
Beasts from the underworld with ten million heads,
Temples richer than Babylon – starlight flashing in the faces
Of the angels and demons, neither living or dead

I want to make sense of it – yet yield to the senseless;
Explain everything – yet remain mystified,
I feel impossibly powerful, yet utterly defenceless,
A God and a Baby – dying and deified

She keeps me from sleeping, this relentless conundrum,
It tortures, burrows deeper, yet occasionally relieves
The same pain it triggers, unearthing in shivers
The answers and illusions I inseparably receive

I dream of a yellow dragon perched high in the mountains,
The grandeur of her age, immoveable and pure,
I film her with my iPhone, desperate to capture
Proof of the sacred certainty scientists so abjure

But it’s not about proof – hold fast the golden core!
The undying inspiration – the muse within the mad –
Is it possible to be a poet without always being at war;
Caught in the abysm between the good and the bad?

It is the highest vocation, most rapturous, yet hurtful,
A shit-bespattered surveyor in uncertainty’s mines,
A touchstone of experience -yet secure from its terrors
Can you ever hope to be as master of its rhymes?

I do not know – there is no grandeur of conclusion,
No closure, no judgement, no forgiving finality,
The adventure continues -but of this I am certain:
A poet, alive or dead, I ever must be

Poem: The Eternal Sparrow

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It seems foolish and melancholy
To dwell solely on impermanence,
When past experiences dwell in what I presently feel,
And new experiences rekindle old flames,
Switching between streams of primary colours,
Finding continuity in the shadow of what is no longer there

The sparrow may no longer be in the hedgerow,
But you can find his echo in every hedgerow,
And his furtively swaggering call rings out from a blueprint
Even time cannot smother

For wings are the science of the imagination,
And they flap every time a thought returns to itself,
Like roots sinking through a decaying mother,
Buried in a graveyard of heather

To live with William Blake,
On an eternal lake,
In changelessly changing weather

 

Poem: The Restoration

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It was hard earlier in the year,
Clutching shells and stones from the seashore,
When every second without paralyzing fear was
A second of success, but not one in which I could rejoice,
Knowing how swiftly and severely it could be undercut
And swept away – my safety not yet sealed by the satisfying
Certainty of boredom

There were many moments when I prayed,
I yearned for boredom – to experience the drama
Of the small – the Jane Austen banality of domestic
Docility

But I could not yet have it!
All was too intense, every experience,
Sharp and piercing, straining for blood without surcease;
A whisper in the skull could metastasize into a choir of paranoia –
A macabre thought could haunt me all day – a morbid sensation
Cling to me like bats to the roof of a cave

I felt the full reality of the Chinese curse:
“May you live in interesting times”

I came to distrust stillness:
You’re only safe when you cycle, sleep, or walk,
And I hated summer for the firmness of its fire,
The hound nipping at my heels to keep me tirelessly
On

II.
Meanwhile, we sent messages and photos to one another,
I whispered your name as I walked in the woods –
A pilgrim invoking the ghost of hope,
Praying you would be the blade to cut my ties to pain;
All the suffering to which I had been so strongly committed
And which I now wished to divorce

You were my lighthouse, my other shore,
I felt willing to relinquish all of my religious
And spiritual powers and knowledge if I felt
It could secure me a stable future with you

But that was not essential –
Medicined by your love, I am the still the shaman,
The sorcerer, as brooding, strange, gloomy, erratic as ever,
I still speak in a strange tongue, and go onto mountain tops
To chase the fog – I still find my soul’s reprieve in the beauty
Of rotting leaves, and search out birdsong in the cliffs and gullies,
And hunt all my days with a raven’s malaise, loving and revoking
Love in my usual wayward ways

And restored to myself, with you by my side,
I have a dragon to be this crow’s smiling bride