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

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Poem: The Eternal Sparrow

sparow

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

Diary: The Love Of Rotting Leaves

 

leaves.jpgToday I am mostly moved by how beautiful rotting leaves are. They are precious relics, gone unnoticed, holier than hair clippings from the head of a saint, and far more pervasive in terms of the blessings they offer to the world.

Breaking down into mulch and soil, in senescence, they become the very matrix of life, the womb of trees, insects, flowers, and the dancing space of crucial, earth-pullulating worms. When you bundle leaves up into your arms, you are holding the lymph, the blood, the marrow of the earth – the distillation of what it means to be alive.
Let them not go unnoticed. Feel their crunch beneath your feet, the satisfying snap that sneaks into your ears – examine closely the march of mould across its surface – an evolutionary invasion. The landscape of a leaf is as arresting, as fascinating in its ecological brilliance, as any waste, heath, wood, or tundra. It is the thing that fungi get excited about and thirst for – the dankness of its moisture as it decomposes is the muse of goblins and gnomes – the cold, yet warming animation of what was once an exhibition of colour yielding to the life-germinating darkness of crows.
The scent is a mixture of a dirt and promising urine – its dry crackle is the crackle of storytellers round firesides, of pneumonial lungs being cleared. It invites us to scurry, to roll, to play, to be surreptitious. It makes death look exciting in the certainty it offers for regeneration.
Trees are shedding their gifts for us. Do not dismiss their offerings as mere mess or clutter – as an invasion of your neurotic denatured neatness – but as the sensuous tokens of a cyclical eternity. And I look forward to the day when our vapidities of cement are buried beneath leaves, and locked deep in the vault of the earth.

Poem: The Birds of Autumn

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Wind-blown maple keys whirligig through the air,
Whitebeam branches fall to the ground,
Piles of leaves rob the trees of their hair,
And migrating fieldfares erupt with sound

Filling autumn with the commotion of bush-exploding chatter,
Zipping from cypress, to yew, back to fir,
Oh, dearest birds, whatever can be the matter,
To make you whizz, bang, cluck, and chirr?

Is there something you feel that eludes human hearts?
A secret in the chill air that makes you come alive?
Flying all the way from farthest Scandinavia,
You come here to mate, thirst, frolic, and thrive

And I can relate to you, my darling thrushes,
For soon a little bird will be flying to me,
Who will whisper to me, softly, in the night’s autumnal hushes,
And enable me to feel happier than I ever thought I could be!

We too will go flying, swooping over meadow,
Preening each other’s feathers as we recline in the lea,
Snuggled up together as snuggest of bedfellows,
Perched close together in a horse chestnut tree

My passion, once flightless, can now take wing,
And my caresses and kisses are as starlings in the sky,
Though a troubadour, only to you do I sing
Of a heart now empowered to fly, fly, fly

To fly with you, to smell you, to feel your breath on my face,
And the ecstasy and comfort of knowing I am loved,
With you, I can find a paradise in the ugliest place,
Heaven in the rooftops, my Stebba, my beloved,

To be with you as a rook, as a jackdaw, as a crow,
To be a feathered thing – beak against beak –
To nuzzle in a nest – to know and be known,
To trickle with you, as water, down life’s placid creek

And still the maple keys whirligig through the air,
Still whitebeams branches fall to the ground,
But now our migrations bring us together,
And I hear your music in every soft sound

Poem: My Twin Brother

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It is true I died a long time ago,
But discontented with death, I found a way to renew,
Leaping out of the grave, I inscribed my own tomb,
Painted with the ink from a shaggy inkcap mushroom

As an imposter in this world, from churchyards I seldom strayed,
Without tombstones to bolster me, I affeared to be waylaid,
By life much too lively – not as sweet to me
As a flock of long-tailed tits in a dying Rowan tree

But when twilight deliquesces, I still sometimes creep,
To the grave where my twin brother does disingenuously sleep,
Kissing cheeks, and shaking hands, we take eachother’s places,
To test who can tell apart our living and dying faces

Sonnet: Love In The Making

Shelling by Night 1941 by Eric Ravilious 1903-1942

Pulling back the sable curtain of shade,
Unfolding happiness in the shadow of sorrow,
The theatre of light the mountains displays,
As I climb through the thickets of thorny tomorrows,
Searching the escarpments, the ridges, the plains,
Along river and canal bank, by raven’s call beckoned,
Wishing to surrender all the luxuries of pain,
Endured for years, days, minutes, and seconds,
I want to learn about you by kissing you,
To map out the seasons of your emotions and needs,
Desire puts the cartographer back into the blue,
To root out the affection on which our happiness feeds,
My heart is open – in your chosen room,
Waits love in the making – a kiss in the womb

 

Poem: Limestone Dreams

limestone

The limestone here seeps into your dreams,
Pebbles embedded in quartz-stricken seams,
You can fall into empty air where the peregrine flies,
And coppice your own thoughts until a new forest does rise

Then out of the enchantment of swarming gloom,
A bat creeps out of the netting and circles your room,
With omens and prophecies, relinquishing strange jewels,
Singing to you, oneirically, in inaudible mewls

But to her, you are as a thousand shards of a mirror,
A rookery of sounds – the netherest of nevers –
There is no spite – only a refreshment of feeling,
The parishioner plants kisses that are ripe for the stealing

These flowerbeds are not earthly, their colours betray
Tones that are not possible to see in the day,
Creeping slowly through them disguised as shimmering petals,
Green fingers of bracken – teeth of precious metals

With sapphire smiles, turquoise, magenta, and gold,
The most luxurious things to be so wretchedly old,
But the soil is their pardon, the only Bible they read
Is written in the language of wildflowers and weeds

With Green Men in pews, thoughts eroding to silver,
Nothing is as enigmatic as The Wye River,
And with weepers of autumn bringing their evensong chants,
I will reap of the kisses The Parishioner plants

Poem: The History of Spring

The Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes 1935 by Eric Ravilious 1903-1942

When you hear the sound of a bird call you do not know,
And all your manuscripts are trapped inside an old snow globe,
And the violence of frost must be avoided at all costs,
When the flowers ring wedding bells in the woods

Then you must trace your finger along an old dusty map,
And deliberately stick your hand in a rusty bear trap,
And walk through Wales with a cat o’ nine tails,
Lecturing the tongues of the dead

Then the riddler on the roof will stick out his tongue,
And we’ll return to the wood from which the wedding bells rung,
And to the melody of lost time, we’ll end this queer rhyme,
And rewrite the history of spring

 

Poem: Kali Makes Good

kli
Kali has put away all her severed heads
And skulls – “No longer,” says she, “will
I be a lady of gore, but a lady of love!”

“I scarcely see how you can do that!”
Interposed her pet crow, whose sole
Livelihood depended upon her ability
To combine carrion with courtship

“No, I am done with all that!” she declares,
“No more will I thrust and frug until skin is
Worn away to bone and hoof,

“I will serenade the sun, and awaken to the day
In pleated skirts – I shall ice ski across frozen wastes,
And nibble on the nipple of every nunnery –
Not in the gnawing, blood-thirsty way in which I used,
But dainty and pretty, like a new-born kitten, that has not
Yet distinguished right from wrong –
Accepting one and deploring the other!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” scoffed The Crow,
“You were made to fuck the dust of the world.
You may work towards innocence and purity,
But you will do so with such impossible lust
And cruelty, that many would have refrained
From leaping into the grave, had you just remained
The war-hungry whore you are.”

But Kali was not the one to heed such words.
She put on her nun’s habit,
Assumed the form of a lamb,
And dawdled sweetly into the world.

II.
But once a Goddess,
Always a Goddess

Kali travelled over dusty mountains,
Through endless fields of gold,
She tickled her cunt in old stone farmhouses,
And searched in the vastness to find the clitoris
Of the world

She travelled for so long that she forgot
Who she was and became a maid on a poor
Peasant’s farm

She sucked on the tits of cattle,
And so inflamed the appetites of the she-bovines,
They would go rampaging after the bulls, and leave
Them trembling, traumatized in silage barns

III.
But then Kali forgot she was a milkmaid,
She tore off her clothes, danced across space,
Spontaneously, violently, and landed, uninvited,
On a madman’s star – and fucked him so violently,
He became sane, and afraid of his own sanity,
Doing everything he could to try and drive himself
Mad once again, like a chef trying to repeat a drunken
Recipe he knows he’ll never repeat

But Kali grew disinterested and drove herself elsewhere,
Landing on a sacred star, where sex and gender did not exist,
And peace and serenity reigned secure – within a week,
The planet was a forest of cunts and cocks – all the
Androgynous Ones were put to death, and the only
Thing more central than lust was eternal conflict and
War

IV.
Eventually the gods grew tired of this
And determined they must intervene,
And so, intercepting her as she hitched
A ride on a passing comet, they whisked
Her up to The Brahma Heaven that overlooks
The Earth

“Don’t you think you’ve done enough?”
Questioned Krishna, not knowing whether
To look amused or stern

“I don’t know who I am!” she cried
Triumphantly as a little girl, and such

Was the merriment of her ejaculated amnesia,
The whole heaven split in two, and went tumbling
Back to Earth.

V.
When she awoke, she found herself beneath
A lime tree in a German park, with a sweet,
Dirty blonde woman sat beside her, stroking
Her false tresses and curls

“How can I do it, Stephanie?” she asked her,
“I try to be pure and innocent, and yet all I
Leave behind me is carnage and war –
How can I be as sweet and as kind as you are?”

Stephanie smiled and lowered her sweet blue
Eyes to meet those of the Goddess-bound girl:

“You are not designed to be sweet,” she said,
“And you can be sweeter by far by just being
Who you are. Listen to the words of your faithful
Crow – he will not lead you wrong,”

VI.
Then night fell, and the sky was as black
As a raven’s beard, and everything shimmered
With the dense foliage of his feathers, hypnotized
By his guttural squawk
She cuddled into his plumage, and,
In the softness of that sleep, she slowly
Returned to her original form, and the
Bandolier of severed heads regrew
As she nuzzled into his fur

And, closing her eyes as peacefully
As a little girl, she dreamed happily
Of violence and war