Watching the flow
as all things go
from birth to birth.
Here, one can know
what it’s all worth.
An empty tide
of rise and fall.
is mine at all;
nor large nor small.
The mind reflects
vague shadowy drifts.
The mind connects
blank mists with mists.
The mind projects
meaning – where none exists.
Rich and poor
in ragged procession
pass the door
and dispute possession
of what they cannot own;
like dogs, growl and groan
over an imaginary bone.
Ever so long ago. Today.
Tears will wash away
your broken laughter.
Livingness, held in place,
projects the image of a face.
The face itself no more form has
than moon on water or shade on glass.
Yet fathers forth both tears and laughter,
a story of before and after,
which sports itself upon Life’s waters
until the blood–beat rhythm, strangely, falters.
Then, tears and laughter, livingness and face
stumble here and lose their place.
And all things human are here unmanned
at the granite doorway into no-man’s land.
Say, at this parting of the way
where all things hurt you,
what have you learned to pray
that will not desert you?
Here, where you find you are quite deaf and dumb,
what home-made lifeboat have you made/become?
Going out there is no other
coming back there is no trace.
As Eternity comes nearer-clearer,
the brackets themselves have a smaller place.
Meeting in a far-off future
you will not recognise my face
but will turn away to your then-close family
in your then-dear corner of infinite space.
April has spread out her wares
bluebell, primrose, polyanthus, gorse,
rosemary, hawthorn, wild garlic, dandelion, apple.
For a solitary robin
It is easier to chop down
than an oak.
(The branch you bang
your head on
was an acorn
that you missed.)
There’s a lot to be said for a balanced world
stable and well-fenced-in,
that plays early that prays late
and industriously fills the within.
This world’s a strange place to find one another
with alien flesh labelled father and mother.
Flesh is just dust
in a clearing of air.
A flicker of light-waves out there.
Yet the masses still form
and the movements take place.
Two faces stare blankly back from the glass,
that of a mind and that of a mask.
So let us watch shapes,
shapes and their lovers,
praise them and give them their due
and beg them, discreetly, to let us in too.
There is no molecule but strives to be the whole
(or if it can’t encompass that, a soul).
They slide together each to each
like spider crabs to scavenge a whole beach
and sucking each its tremor from the rest
contrive to make their own illusion best;
so each to each binds close behind their targes.
Swa priketh hem nature in hir corages.
April was hot and dry.
The red earth responded
by blowing as dust in the wind.
The green earth responded
by smothering itself with flowers of a thousand colours.
The Water Board responded
by banning hosepipes
and promising to charge more
for redistributing the rain
(if it comes).
Butterflies appeared early.
A full moon hung above the ocean like a portent.
A comet lit up the north-western skies for two weeks.
the shining screen.
A face half in shadow
in the gallery;
among the guests,
candlelit at the long table below.
in the caravanserai.
Before the whirlwind
in the sandstorm’s eye
tears up the desert.
A severed head
and the black mask of the executioner
on Tower Hill.
Broken masts and torn sails
beneath the waves
and sailors crying,
“Christ have mercy on me!”
until their lungs fill with sea.
A pewter plate
on a thin chain let down
from a barred window
above the city gate.
to and fro,
like tomorrow’s pendulum.
in the mind
from this lifetime or that
or something altogether earlier;
the edges of consciousness
like a dream,
that is – but is not what it seems,
seeking its quietus.
Shadows following footprints,
looking to be reunited
with last year’s feet.
So, who are you?
Oh yes. And what do you teach?
I teach people what they already know.
And what’s that?
That they have nothing to learn.
And how long does that take?
Usually many many lifetimes.
Of hard work?
Of hard suffering.
If you are born Mr Rabbit,
you have long ears
and can hear Mr Fox coming.
But you cannot hear Mr Farmer
before his bullet hits your head.
If you are born Mr Dog,
you have lots of rabbits to chase
But all the other dogs will sniff your bottom
and Mr Man will put a leather strap around your neck.
If you are Mr Man,
you will have lots of rabbits to eat
and leads to put on dogs.
But Mr Teacher will put a cage in your brain
so that you can dance in his circus.