11th HOUR, 11th DAY, 11th MONTH

November Rose.
Pink and white and mauve.
Solitary, still,
among the rosemary and late autumnal gorse.

Sea winds have blown.
The first frosts have frozen the short grass.

Spring and summer are memories,
midwinter an echo in reverse.

November Rose for the dying.
November Poppies for the dead,
who cannot sleep
but stream towards new birth;
whose pain outlasts
the bitter Flanders earth.

 

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REQUIEM: ARMISTICE DAY

This year
the dead are blind
and do not seem to hear
our prayers.
Nor do they seem to mind
that we now own
what they once thought was theirs.

Here
they shed no tear
at all the pain
they left behind.

Now,
when they come again,
they only find
echoes of the long-ago,
and landscapes that they hardly know;
deserted buildings, unpeopled streets,
lonely corridors, empty rooms,
where each his own image meets
in every shape it now assumes.

 

 

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THE SUDDENLY SEPARATE SPIDER SENTRY

STILLNESS is
the space between movements
the crack in the universe
the gloved hand
with the art
to pull apart
two thin life stitches
and let a stab of nothing in.
An eye
with sky behind
for mind,
a face blind,
a sunflower petal falling
stamen to earth;
or bird-song-bird calling
either side of the path.
No eye to meet your eye.

FACES are petals falling
(bird-song-bird),
tongue shapes are
spaces to be heard.
Behind lip and fall
nothing at all.
Only this petal or that
to choose
to lose
to stare at.

FORGIVE a pronoun’s entry
along a spine,
a suddenly separate spider sentry
wanting to define
his continent of cells,
wanting another
a more than mother brother.
Like whispering shells
sharing a spark
the sun let fall into their dark.

NOTHING will keep nothing warm,
Form alone contents with Form.
And so put out the need
for the note scrawled on the music page,
the cricket in the icicle.

THE FRUIT is in the stone
already grown.
The cells
group to fill already forming shells
to keep out out.
This is where lion lies down with lamb:
in dried skin
dried blood
powdered edges
broken flame
particles on particles the same,
and again
in the bone clutch of the brain,
groupings, twitchings, pullings, tame.
Slippings and slidings on a wet palette.

LEAVE the child to his darkness.

 

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OLD WOUNDS

The landscape itself
is cracked and pitted.
Quarries gouged out of the rock face.
Concrete jungles
where forests grew.
A million species drowned
by hydro-electric schemes.
Roman grain bowls
becoming the Sahara desert.

And the figures
that pass through this landscape,
four-footed, two, or none
with scar of tooth and claw
of virus, germ and epidemic.
With facsimiles of torture, rape and death
stored in a kaleidoscopic heap
beneath the not-entirely-undisturbed
surface of the mind.

Forgive and forget, says Prospero.
“Vengeance is Mine” saith the Lord,
“I will repay.”
“Shantih, shantih, shantih”
sings the Upanishad.
“There is this one way…”
begins the Blessed One.

 

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UP TO DATE AND READY TO GO

It may not be the bearded man
who smiles at you and explodes.
It may not be the errant tyre
that slides on the icy roads.
It may not be the scaffolding plank
that bounces on your head.
It may not be pneumonia
that smothers you in bed.
It may not be the fever
that creeps through blood and vein.
Or the quiet worm in the sole of your foot
that climbs up to your brain.

It may be that the breath leaks out
in a mist of expiring pain
and nothing can make it turn about
and slide back in again.

Ready?

 

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GOOD AND EVIL

Evil is the Great Magician
which blinds the inner vision
the painting on its face
disorientates the eye,
the quickness of its hand through space
deceives the sly.

The conjuror peddles his illusions,
the world his backdrop and his stage,
his victims, living beings enmeshed in their delusions
who find their thoughts become a living cage.
They end as karmic prisoners like the living dead
trussed in silken thoughts made of magic spider’s thread.

Goodness is the golden key
which shows your face to me
which seeks what’s true
and shows my face to you;
unlocks the heart of everyman
and sets his spirit free.

 

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USE IT AND BE RIGHT

I wish I was a millionaire
could take it all and give it you
and you and you
and you and you and you
and send you off to let you do
just what it is you want to.

Use it and be right.

And so they left the millionaire
and all went off to everywhere
to do
just what they wanted to.

Use it and be right.

They went. They worked. They played. They slept.
They won. They lost. They laughed. They wept.

From joy and pain
came back again.

One came back in a wooden box
six foot long and bones were its locks.
One came back in a miser’s fist
with fingers growing through the palm.
One came back with the peaceful eyes
of those who have never done any harm.
One came back with a crowd of friends
and a fountain of laughter that never ends.

But one came back as a star in the sky
which twinkled and smiled as it floated by.

 

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