Crossing the Divide
‘Awake! For morning in the bowl of night
has flung the stone that put the stars to flight
And Lo! The hunter in the east has caught
the sultans turret in a noose of light’…Omar Khayyam of Samarkand
Awake now, fellow traveller, come
with me to Samarkand, words
will glow with significance,
exploring subliminal territory,
lightning flashing on road kill,
moonlight on a pearl earring.
The gestalt of fragile images,
stopping the arrow of time.
Glaciers melting into a sea of sand,
the swoop of feathers on the edge of sleep
like a premature sky burial
before the entropy of old age.
A tuning fork singing, looking
to find the nuanced ear.
Just one person who says, ‘I can
get to where you are coming from’.
“I am certain of nothing except the holiness of the hearts affections and the truth of the imagination”……John Keats.
I am the maker of prophecies,
the planter of seeds in the mind of man.
All thought should be free, and so it is,
for seekers of the truth of the imagination.
I am the dreamer of dreams and legends.
I watched over Briseus at Troy until Achilles
of divine blood crossed his madness with mine.
I sent Iksander across the known world
to spread his seed. He burnt Persepolis
when I slept, but he was far from Ammon,
meeting others like himself,
cursed with the weight of history.
I am the oracle in out of the way places
listening to the breeze telling stories
of storms at sea and cities burning,
the sound of insects and birds is
all I need to know about the weather.
Am I the only one who hears the cries?
Across the trembling sapphire blue space
the sounds of war and shouts of protagonists
the baggage train of battle with armourers,
providores, soothsayers and whores,
to feed the appetites of soldiers, vying
with priests for the souls and vanity of men.
Shamans call across the divide
with feathers, sinews, stones and cloth.
Knowing and not knowing their power.
I give them scraps which do no harm.
Only by trance or death can you renounce
the world of ego and spiritual hunger.
Itinerant magicians and necromancers
nearly bridge the divide. I love them,
artists without boundaries,
bright stars, and icy comets.
My presence is an energy field,
an electric fabric of mind circuits,
resonance of past and future,
creating infinite lightness,
Schools teach that I do not exist.
Science and manners will get you by,
but the autistic obsession of savage detail
and a built in calendar lets me out.
Musicians search using instruments
of timber and gut, tubes of metal,
reeds of grass, stretched skins
and wooden hammers, looking
for the sound of this other world..
Writers call out to me but cannot
measure my presence with words.
I am the divine madness that lives
in gifted people and child prodigies.
The savant syndrome that sees
only the hearts affections.
The chess player who says there is
mate in fifteen moves or less.
We shun the everyday games
and feel strongly that dimension of life
rarely visited by sportsmen and their wives.
For profound brilliance and awkwardness
are often brothers in the human soul,
so much is lost in hasty judgement
of these, my eccentric companions.
Searching for The Muse
In the sapphire predawn Hughes’ thought fox
steals through my mind constructing a world
using scents strong and weak from yesterday.
Thoughts sit like cockatoos in a leafless tree
forgetting the noisy chatter of their arrival
each reluctant to start the tumult
of desire over the still small voice.
I wake with an ache in the piercing silence
The earth turns, slowly, inevitably,
silently, without reason or vanity.
My thoughts spread out into the landscape
infinitely thin , into every hollow and hillock
and warm beating heart that shares this place.
Where is our Walt Whitman ,to hear the singing?
A captain full of love and robust innocence.
A spiders silk caught in the breeze flashes in the sun
as the morning mist clears I think of mother earth
and the clues she leaves in her extravagance
Tagore gazed into history and saw the Taj
as a teardrop on the cheek of time. Now,
lighthouses and minarets are used by imposters.
I sing the songs my mother taught me,
and try to conjure a bag of powerful words
to make my muse smile in her secret garden.
Over The Divide With Molly
Its only a short flight for a curious crow
from country’s carrion to the city’s illusion.
The stars are hidden, light kills the night.
Molly and I come down the mountain
to unnatural night noises of drunken
omnivores, loud in their ignorance
of water, vegetation and blood.
In the metallic carbon scented morning
the city cafes and bookshops fill with
the swelling crowd of Babylon.
The hiss of steam, the froth of busy ideas,
warmth and noise of shared ambitions.
The odd poet, alone, tuning his inspiration.
My blue heeler looks for yappers under
the café tables, fed on cereal bits
as dry as politician’s promises.
We pass girls chatting mysteriously
about last night’s possible indiscretions.
There is poetry in their laughter, for
they know the flowers of ambition
can be picked and bloom again.
Sufis to the rescue
The adagio of lost time filled my world.
Doubt and pain crowding like iron dust
on to a lodestone at night. I was in a hurry
to get somewhere. I needed a bag of words,
strong powerful words to describe the world.
Get over it, said a friend, read the Sufis.
Hafiz says even angels fear the kind of
madness that weighs every word on a scale
and takes a ruler to measure the heavens.
You can get that way sometimes, when
you forget to have a drink of love.
The Writers Festival I
Queues wriggling along the wharf,
hands holding cardboard coffees
multicultural bodies dressed as readers.
Books are like a warm bath said a woman,
and I always take one a week.
We have been here before
exploring recesses of the mind.
Bird calls through the mist
clean as a knife through skin
exposing the muscle of memory.
My resting place is far from here.
I watch for signal fires in minarets
and steer my horse past dense forests.
I avoid the blue lake where Sirens wait.
The ceramic splinters of abandoned ideas
rain down through the hum of humanity,
wanting to be heard. They are our
fossil dreams, left frost-like
in sheltered hollows of history.
But in the midst of increasing entropy
we are bound to find barbarians,
flying a little lower than the angels
Writers Festival II
Voyeurs and serious thinkers polishing pedestals
exploring wild minds and inaccessible places.
Moderators protecting speakers and free speech,
question time for punters and literary elites.
Tables carrying slim volumes of postmodern verse,
poetry read and written with passion
connecting art and poetry, poetry and war.
Queues all day, comfort in the crowd of
sympathizers and well wishers sharing
alternative worlds, adventure and bad behavior.
Comfortable opinions and mutual affront
at the unequal sharing of possibilities..
The Winter of Childhood Memories
Winter country shrinks down, dormant
seeking a response from its sky partner,
hard to separate the earth from weather
or from friends who walk over it
with the cries of offspring
dispensing their rough justice.
the tiny hands of grandchildren
hanging on for immortality
Absent friends like kangaroos culled
or visiting pockets of pasture
in alternative valleys of the mind.
A little thinning of the herd, prostates
cut or zapped, some early dementia,
bored with society’s rules.
Finding romance, lecturing on ships,
new relationships, calendar flexibility.
I am not halfway through pruning the vines
sleet is drifting in from the Southwest
the crows are complaining hungry.
I recall fireside company
with a shared remembering,
and the lairs of native animals.
Writing groups, suddenly we must
get it down. Previous generations
left few notes, knew who they were.
Search for identity, driving us.
Nightwatch brings the hero, but
in daylight it is what others see
in the way we queue to be served
and the sinister joy of laughter.
Chatting with country folk about
the dance with stumblefooted nature.
Surfacing of childhood memories.
Clutching the bakelite handpiece, a child
breathing concentration down the phone
party line, three short rings, one long
the metallic sound of wire and distance.
Overnight train rattling into the darkness
carrying anticipation, come on, come on,
to meet wrinkled uncles and facecream aunts
in a place where even time has a suntanned face
With the mail and the weeks papers, the Chrysler
drifts , with the lazy steering but great donk,
through creeks and washouts to scones and tea
on the wide shady verandah of the mind.
The kelpies chained to their hollow logs,
winding each other up until the boss shouts
The windmill turns impassively feeling deep.
The chooks picking and scratching like poets.
The dark interiors of timber pole sheds
held up by their contents and the old peppercorn.
Machines with great flywheels, now still,
slowed by the drift of children back to the coast.
The thankyou letter, light on the upstroke,
heavy on the down, and keep the letters even.
‘I hope you are well…’(haven’t fallen under the tractor…)
‘Yours affectionately…’ curiously formal,
Your loving nephew…’ too sentimental?
Those first letters were an awkward journey,
the final struggle to sign your name, trying
to make it glow with significance,
ambition compressed into one flourish.
Spending hours in the mind’s library.
I am a folder of unfinished poems
slim volumes irreverent of time.
A willy wagtail comes by who knows me
and his confidence calms my discontent
“I am sharing this space and moment…”
Four a.m. on the family farm
Still after dewfall, frost lurking,
starlight from old suns, just enough
to see the clock slowly telling the hours
as I reboot the brain after leaking dreams.
Time to adjust terrestrial water valves,
leaving the dogs curled up, senses switched off
as the farm turned slowly towards the coming day.
A chuckle of water sounding strangely animate.
Blood of my mother, bones of my father
in this sack of nerves and minerals.
What are you, to wake in all these forms
through all the shining years.
To chelate the stones of sorrow
and dissolve the sins of omission,
seeing the inexpressible grandeur of things
that compose the music of the everyday.
Starlight for frogs
A velvet dark moon night
lies under the jeweled blanket
light years away from clicks
and rustles and the frog spawn.
Full of tiny life dedicated
to wriggles and hops and squirm,
cartilage springs and collagen.
Genes for survival, no room for doubt.
Background noise from
hundreds of nature programs
all running at once.
Antennae picking up vibration
ears tuning out static
eyes drinking in shadows
noses filtering life and death,
Senses alerted by where
they sit in the food chain.
Carnivores and insect eaters
keeping plague in check.
Looking at those splendid stars,
light, billions of years old
reminds us with our fragile skin
that we have just arrived.
A Chuckling Swooping Morning
A chuckling swooping misty morning
trees still in the mesmerizing translucent air.
In the present, wondering why birds sing.
Getting on, communicating country,
the eye dissecting the world below,
there is only food and territory.
Turning into a clear hawk hunting day.
There will be blood and feathers,
possibly fur in the grazing afternoon.
The day becomes, fading into past
and future, part new and yet caught
in continuity of nature becoming.
The coming of man, the burning,
the clearing of the land
the arrival of fruit and fences,
but its still a kind of Eden,
as Adam said to Eve after the fall.
Plane noise tumbles out of the sky,
a cockatoo cuts with his angle grinder
the rosella plays the glass harmonica,
wind chimes giggle, tickled by the breeze.
The great god Pan with his dinosaur bone flute
wakes the nature spirits from the third kingdom,
weightless like a sigh, then building up,
stripping the dew, refashioning the world
thrashing pollen from the sobbing trees,
tormenting man wanting to put a limit on things.
The swooping messenger brushes aside
suggestions that the day comes on too fast.
Our sky church is made up in veils of vapour
dressed to show off the coming change,
And finally the concert gets to the ‘Dies Irae’,
abandoning any earthbound pretence of purpose
a hollow eye looks into space, catching the earth’s spin,
making a vortex of cosmic energy, forgetting reason.
Air breathed by prophets, ends in illogical regions
biology abandoned, torn waves and ice, too cold to think
about why this planet has found a gap in geological time
for our brief musical of organic consciousness.
Oracles with science degrees draw synoptic charts, isobars
nudge clouds, invisible pressure, leaves catch forecasts on the breeze.
You would expect something wild on this satellite of soil and rock
tethered by gravity attraction to its nuclear reactor god.
Then summoned by the invisible priest wind sets the trees praying,
a few drops from pizzicato base and light percussion over the hill.
My kelpie hiding in her box, listens to electric thunder,
from the giant devil dingo growling in the next valley.
The lake was a pool of mercury then the wind swoops,
a kadaitja in a willy-willy, seeking revenge from the west.
A front comes molto vivace, the congregation turn their backs
while nature takes a bath, regular baptism, coming ready or not,
The Painters View (in memory of Fred Williams)
The horizon is sometimes there,
even a curved reference dividing
sky breath from earth body.
The colour of soil visible through the trees
which float above the translucent earth.
Fallen trunks like abandoned ideas.
Scale given by the stab of a brush,
there, and there, the mind of the artist
mimicking nature’s random purpose.
Years of comings and goings, drought,
fire and the rivers wriggling on their bed,
the silent music of a complex land.
Stories of water, sand, and fragile life
a cantata of the everyday is painted
like notes on natures blackboard.
Sculpture at Sawmiller 2011
The whine of the great saws, drowned by progress,
fifty visions of what it means to be human
now occupy the harbourside site beside
the barge’s rusty skeleton as reminder
of the impermanence of all things except
spirit and the echo of our singing.
Totems to ward off demons? Maybe its
all just here and now, a garden of dreams
paying homage to animal concepts
fine outlines warping space, seeds of steel,
a chess set of monsters and a wave of sticks.
In the evening these silent sentinels watched,
guarded by the gun barrel of the “think tank”.
The concrete TV’s remained impassive, uncritical,
and the child of the future stood indomitable
on the horned, gap toothed monster of civilisation.
Sculpture at Sawmiller 2014
The sculptures have crept back to Sawmiller reserve,
like a council chuckout pile freeing itself from neglect
and human prejudice, the prisons of suburbia.
The curators conferring legitimacy
on this conspiracy of anarchy and creativity.
Organic consciousness from metal and stone,
an SOS from the third kingdom, nymphs in trees,
wire homunculi, steel animals and wooden angels.
Those human figures dissembling emotional energy
PVC secrets, comic characters playing chess.
Old stone steps searching for another level,
the earth mother and Miller’s dogs unperturbed.
Colour and bling competing with rust and decay,
distorted sacred space made for the human heart
a congregation of fragile images sitting beside
the impassive flooded Triassic sandstone valley.
A Moment In Time
The old kooradgi of the Gundungarra
watched the determined pale men
cutting a swathe through the country
unchanged since the serpent and the quoll
stopped fighting in the Burragorang.
The language of science and conquest
brought the shadow of the English king.
Scarlet and blanco strapped soldiers
walking on cliffs above layers of time.
The country of his mind was being written
with the surveyors brass eye, bringing
latitude and longitude, heading west,
European enlightenment clearing
away the voice and spirit of the land.
For rum, emancipation and tickets of leave
the road builders dug and blasted their way
through the sighing of trees, the voices of
birds, the trickle of waterholes
and the fear and sadness of people.
A moment in time the earth tilted forever.
The sentry staring through the firelight
musket in hand, whistle in mouth
the liturgy in his pocket with his
commission, both meaning little here.
No walls, no fences, endless country,
dingo howls swallowed by the stars,
brittle gums dropping branches,
smoke from unseen fires.
Plenty of space it was said,
as if it was all the same like air. Missing
the point about belonging to the place,
totem animals, the murmuring of streams,
sunlight and shade, the shelter of caves,
the sky turning overhead.
But land was given away, inns built,
and once the women came, somehow
he knew, these unforgiving pioneers
and their children were here to stay.
First Contact 1958
The ancestors didn’t see it coming, knew everything about the desert,
every edible seed, grub and lizard, country, rocks and waterholes.
Smoke out past Lake Mackay, barefoot people saw tyre tracks,
like a pair of strange big lizards. smaller foot patterns sometimes
at campsites and high places, something riding that giant Perenti.
These tracks would change their lives.
Anthropologists followed by feral animals,
cultural and child centres, jam and paint in tins.
Balanced between song and starvation, not for them
vanity of monuments or the seduction of science.
Part of the desert, sleeping in the arms of nature,
their generous imagination accepted our parallel
world, found civilisation and lost their freedom.
Serious people with sorrow amongst their beauty.
The bush lemon marks the faint track
that once carried rivers of restless men
away from the reach of church and state
outside law, beyond the edge of reason,
following traces in creeks to find a reef
abandoned by nature, locked in the earth.
Their ambition and steel tools now forgotten
and the re-shaped land now hidden by scrub.
Letters written and read by firelight,
rumours in coastal settlements of wealth
straight from the soil, without employer or client.
Only canvas between man and his nightmares,
wallaby stew not enough to feed the soul,
it was not churches but grog shops that filled
the need for something greater than gold.
Gold to be hoarded in secret places
like greed and hate, used in desperate times.
Worn on the necks of ladies with certain talents
and fingers of men from families born to rule.
In the old post office, the dust glints yellow,
you can almost hear the Chinese whispers,
alluvial gold sent home in the bones of the dead,
the cold prejudice taken with an obliging smile.
The museum pictures of men now gone,
taking away their wealth and poverty
leaving behind the scarred landscape, lonely
whitewashed chimneys and once warm hearths.
Attracted here by the ruins of past obsession
artists and fossickers feel the echoes of this other life,
searching for wealth amongst the bones of the earth,
were those our ancestors, or another race of men?
Feathers I find here are not from angels,
our sun is taking a European holiday,
twilight Camparis in Campo dei Fiori
watching girls walking on their toes
so heels don’t catch in the cobbles.
Rome maybe full of art and thieves,
watched over by sad Madonnas
and the crumpled body of Jesus. But
the odd piece of art can make you
grit your teeth to slow down the tears
in the face of legends made real,
marble limbs of perfect innocence
faces caught in piety or passion
garlanded heroes, spiritual ascendancy.
But now, jet lagged, brain halfway
between those polished stones
and the reference books on my shelves
I am back in familiar country. Herds
of eastern grey macropods, flocks
of black cockatoos buoyant with
lazy wing beats and funereal cries.
An ecclesiastical falcon watching
over all the space and light here.
There were cockatoos watching the ATM in Rome,
I paid no regard to the handsome gipsy,
like a silly goat, an innocent caught
in Caravaggio’s Rome, I did not feel
his delicate fingers in my pocket.
He found the loot next to some poems,
but, you know, such ephemeral truths
have no currency among thieves.
Under the silver web of the milky way,
that I see when I awake here at three a.m.
I try to build a museum of words,
but I am distracted by the wild pigs
ploughing up the native dog syncline.
Perhaps this country was never meant
for pageant or rich tapestry,
the first Europeans turned north
for spices to perfume their civilization.
As I try to escape seductive history
I look each day here for nature’s miracles
presented without chronicle or opera
in a country that absorbs blood like sand.
Swimming toward light and sound
So thirsty for love, learning
How to hurt a lover, finding
organic chemistry in family.
Watching the clowns, real or mimic
Inorganic ecstasy lurks in silicon.
The trickle of information
The whirlpool of understanding
The curiosity of respect
Trying to condense knowledge
to those few trigger words
in the desert wind of ritual.
Desire like chemicals in the blood
Exploring the demi-monde, how
Much neglect can the body take?
The privilege of knowledge,
The randomness of fortune,
Now you have it, motivation.
Fifty years on sentry duty,
Evolving, looking backwards,
navigating the sea of memory
where currents take you to latitudes
full of weekend colour supplements
and the gossip of the marketplace.
How deep is the well of the past,
Infinite combinations of words
Tell of the moment, the space,
between the shiver and the release.
What Shall We Teach the Children
Of what is the world made, asked Thales,
it is the playground of the gods maybe,
but what shall we teach the children?
An ordinary man may capture fire, another will sing of its beauty
one will observe the earth shaking, another will sacrifice to his demons.
There are those who pray, those who fight and those who choose science,
While the emperor claims the credit for trigonometry of the temple.
The voyager consulting his barometer, chronometer and sextant
coordinating position from stars, declension tables the new liturgy.
Cataloging plants, making maps, longitude, giving things names,
St Elmo’s fire at the masthead, a reminder of god’s presence.
Frogs legs and magnets, those bumping electrons,
voltage differential, like man impatient and curious.
Lucky Faraday with his electric hum, felt the torque,
Found invisible magnetic field even affecting light rays.
Energy and the carbon factor, the heart of the diamond
the pale organic fire of methane, explosive at one in eight.
An element with beautiful bonding, electron spacing
revealing the clever poetic beauty of the periodic table.
Theoretical physicists playing god with infinitesimal particles
stripping atoms, behavior and life in microseconds, but
not knowing the momentum and position of a particle.
Measuring disorder, increasing entropy, imagining absolute zero.
An experiment repeated is a conversation with nature,
knowledge owned by all, like the jugglers built in radar
his instinctive parabolic skill, anticipating gravity,
finding the trope for energy, work and equilibrium.
Let x be the unknown quantity until we run out of questions.
Facts are stubborn things, the age of wonder probably ended
with the silicon chip imagining all, matrix algebra
and differential calculus, mimicking evolution in tiny steps.
Boat timbers creak in the rosemary scented breeze
the sound of gulls fly like departed souls.
The captain wonders who he is,
owned by the salty sundrenched port.
In his mind he climbs the worn stone steps,
blood scrubbed away by the grandmothers
who carried the seed from rape by the victors.
Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, French and English.
Fancy uniforms and false manners.
The women insisted on birthing their child,
the men as usual, never gave a backward glance.
He thinks of his cargo, licit and illicit
the police and the port thieves, the women in the bars.
Olive trees and vines with roots watered
by winter rain stored deep and cool in limestone.
Local bread, strong olive oil, sardines and rose wine.
The sound of the bells cast from Moorish cannon.
The school in the hills will be his first call.
He will leave books in several languages.
Plenty of spirit in this corner of the world,
hard wired in a man, but wisdom,
that came from books and stories,
and the music of love and pain.
The sureness of belonging,
that was the anchor of his soul.
Crouching granite hills lurk in the cloud
the twisted ti-tree trunks consumed by fire
march in tight formation through the bracken,
pockets of rain forest crowd the streams
flowing out of valleys of ferns and mountain ash.
The volcanic cores reflecting the sun
and the sand sediment left by the years
are the landscape of memories of time
spent under the stars and the open sky.
I reconcile the childhood dreams
of my friend who skips lightly across
tea coloured streams of conciousness
staining the always white sand
beaches of memory.
At night lying beside her now I feel
desire to know those carefree days of hers,
but then she’s still the same and more…
The sum of all those unique accidental moments
mixing natures wildness with her willful soul
I am not Pablo Neruda
“How brief and terrible was my desire.”
You existed because of my thirst
confusing me, muy camino indeciso.
I might stop loving you, little by little,
but I am not Pablo Neruda.
I cannot measure a little of infinity,
you are not mine, but part of me
is attached to the memory of you.
Your body and proportion my eyes see,
but I know the frailty of belonging
to the people you meet, awareness of possibility
and small intimations of the heart.
Not in a corner will I place you so I might
keep you prisoner with my peasant sword,
you are the air and the sheltering sky.
Euclid’s ‘Elements of geometry’ always made more sense
than Homer’s Iliad, that selfish circle of men and gods.
The mysterious pi and the square on the hypotenuse
Sharing secrets with brave Prometheus, observing stars,
The intervals in sounds and numbers, the shape of nature,
a man might meet with poets and priests and say
‘god is not the only one to know these things’.
Sappho sang of the heart’s sweetbitter love
while Pythagoras , listening to the ringing
and scales of the Ionian blacksmiths,
was thinking like man, looking for harmony
separate from the gossip of the marketplace
and the horrors of Euripedes with his
barely conceivable crimes against mankind.
Looking at the shape of the Aegean moon
and the curve of its illuminated surface,
a stone in the harbour caused spaced ripples,
the stars on the water swimming as points of light,
the ancient breeze made straight the moorings,
Ignoring the imperfections of nature, I draw.
Shadows and reflections appear, I hear
joy in the intervals of plucked strings.
I load my quill and feel the frisson of ideas
falling into place like lintels framing the physical.
With Archimedes dreaming of displacement
amongst ancient tides, mechanics to magnify
forces that held together the stones of history.
Such neat little proofs, hoper edei deixai.
Some might say it led to guidance systems
for the means to lob the plague on your enemy,
but temple guardians felt power slipping
in favour of these new dreamers, soon
to take a ruler to measure the skies.
Those wandering stars
Tamurlane was thirsty for blood and
knowledge, restless in his silken tent.
He read the captured texts from the west
and built his monuments to the stars
amongst the almond groves of the Oxus.
In the evening he looked at the pattern
of seeds in a crushed pomegranate,
and at sunrise from the top of a minaret
just after the muezzin’s call to prayer
he could see the curvature of the earth
and he never doubted man’s
right to ask questions of the heavens.
His grandson, Uleg Beg, mapped
over a thousand stars with his eyes
wide open in the desert night, wondering
like others on the far side of the world
whether these points of light were
part of some mathematical realm.
He had no way of knowing
they were more numerous than
the grains of sand in the Karakul desert.
Before the understanding of the massive
invisible forces holding the cosmos,
the world was taken up with earthly things
eyes shut to the beauty of mathematics,
nostrils open to sensual pleasure.
Entrenched authority slowed science
from cracking god’s plan for the world.
Some princes in Europe, with an eye
to seeking power beyond the church
encouraged polymaths to map the heavens,
those tantalising stars, a long way
from the cobblestones of Krakow and Padua.
Kepler fitted Copernicus to the ellipse,
while his mother practiced witchcraft!.
From Prague and Graz to Pisa and Florence,
these wandering stars distracted man
from his role as sinner in the creator’s eye.
Galileo found something moving around Jupiter,
the scale of the model was huge,
calculation of these forces was coming.
Centripetal force is a beautiful thing
holding the cosmos and man inside.
Poetry Cannot Breathe Life Back
Poetry cannot breathe life back
or recreate those jaunty steps,
the invincible humour and belief
that their orders made sense,
their supply lines would hold
and the enemy was really the enemy.
The terrible discipline of waiting,
building up the means of slaughter.
The uniformity of uniforms in
company of others swept up
by the indiscriminate rake of war,
death, injury or the guilt of survival.
Young men are never prepared for that
stripping bare of the consciousness.
Far from love and concern, so much
mother’s love buried in foreign soil.
Full of Years
When you are full of years
there are drawers of dreams
haven’t seen daylight since youth.
Issues and elegant solutions,
drawings, maps and memories.
Days of wine and cigarettes,
engraved beer mugs, dusty certificates
tombstones to fragile ambition.
Vinyl discs of tears and laughter
Rucsacs carried over foreign borders,
suitcases of slides, impossible pictures
in wild places impervious to vanity.
These things, might tell me who I am,
probably useless relics, often buried
with the dead in unmarked graves.
Rarely music or poetry, which
explores that space between life and death,
things we didn’t know and don’t own,
intimations of vita brevis, occasio praeceps