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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Poem: The Severn

mudflats.jpg

Wind-blasted hawthorn, crude contender of The Severn,
Crisscrossing mudflats, groove-worn into neurons by sandy
Engravers, with power lines decussating to the relics of old
Power stations, curlew calls twist and spiral out of these
Reefs of landscape, reed beds never sleeping but always in
Motion

You do not need the ocean to be anything but ocean,
Binoculars can look back on themselves to be the obituaries
Of recently drowned tourists – but it needn’t be all so gothic-
Just give yourself up to the salt wind – no need to go through
The mediator of a first-born daughter, when motion and stillness
Are the shadows on horizons, that hemispherical line slicing
Eternity in finger sandwiches

No, there are no castles here – only things that will seem
Ancient in but a couple of years – history can rewrite itself
Every day in these fingers of sand – and the writer is the one
Who writes himself a journey he never planned

Then, coming into vision, accumula and strata non-dizzy
Out of the water, and my pen finds itself to be the etchings
On a wooden lighthouse – a tree carved out of itself to be as
Light-bearing as it really is: burn all your negatives, and
Photograph your own apotheosis – for this is the coming
Of the Future

 

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: Holy Land

Harry+Sutton+Palmer-Wye+Valley+From+Symonds+Yat

Scatter my ashes in the woods,
No holier land conceiveth I,
No Jerusalem or Palestine,
Tibetan Lhasa or Himalayan sublime,

But the soil and water of the River Wye,
Are quite holy enough for me,
No desire for The Ganges nigh,
When I could have these valleys green,

And lose myself in Lady’s Park Wood,
The Little Doward’s limestone cliffs,
Or from Yat Rock espy the terrain,
Of Herefordshire rolling quick

And who will join me on these walks,
A pilgrim in this palace of trees,
Will give me love to keep me warm
In this everchange of nature’s confederacy?

I hope it will be you, my darling,
Who will be right foot to my left,
Who will be the inhale to my exhale
When I am struggling for more breath

But you enfold me, calm me, open me,
As a key unlocking latch of door,
Unto your glass, I will pour me,
Drain me, always search for more

In this quiet infinitude of man,
In this library of secrets, by crows surveyed,
You have the power to be my making,
And to be there when I am unmade

Unmade, yet never lost, not quite,
For there is a light under everything,
There is a song of whispering might,
That never loses its voice to sing

So, tree me, darling, branch me, leaf me,
Be the bark that ne’er will unsheathe me,
Be the Venus to my Mars,
Be the space between the stars

Be the rainfall on my lake,
Be the wine, my thirst to slake,
Be the building – be the stone –
Be the mansion I call my home

But most of all, my dear, be mine,
Be the needle on the pine,
Be the mountain, be the rills,
Be the hollows my mistiness fills

And, mysteriously, I’ll come down,
To be the thorn upon your crown,
To be the cells within your blood
Scattering my ashes in the wood

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: 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: 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