Glory Passes


All the mountains have walked away.
The hills, stirred themselves and flown.
Nothing remains but clouds and mist.

Rivers fall straight from heaven.
Forests, hushed and silent now, listen.
Distance is the well of Time.

I sit without words, empty,
(Though words themselves
Are hollow flocks).
They graze and move on,
Ineluctable patterns,
A partial view of constellations:
Midnight cloud.

It is a virtue to forget,
To remember and to forget oneself.
A virtue to see what is without compare.

Unremarked, glory passes
As sun and storm on a Spring day.
Jewelled with light the bare branches,
Silver and dark the upland roads.

The sky laughs at the invention of morning,
Rises up as mountains return
Refeshed and glistening,
World without end.

A Specious Species

A Specious Species ( fragment from ‘Book of Voices’)

Nothing sacred now but our innane, profane cataloging of elements.
Delighting amongst minute, defined aberrations of despair.
Tearing wings off angels, pinning demons, peeled, perused and wriggling.
A reduction to the economic, to the social pressure, to the self-deceived confection
Of low-fat, sugared reason.
Too smart to see the mirror’s edge,
Too self-congratulatory with resonant parsimony, (our rounded, generic, philistine voice),
To notice the hysteric, farting ghosts gesturing in the shadows,
(Who hold all the prompts, pimp and pump the lines).
All the angry poets implode with bluster, become politicians of meagre degree,
Smutty with oiled conviviality, lugubrious with reasonable desecrations.
This world, too sharp, too uncoloured, subtle and muddied,
Requiring battened-down, serial numbered, thirteen-digit barcoded, sixteenth- level encryption, a designed decorum, ready-mealed, chill-packeted
For whenever the sudden, certain hungers disturb the entertainments
Of the bland and chained perceptions.
Blake and his roaring spirits plummet burning from a pest-controlled heaven,
Nicely neurotoxined, polypropylened, thin smiled and NVQ’d.
History scrubbed and redactable, requisitioned, gilded, sold off.
Each empire and squalid colony vacuum-packed,
Date-stamped, forgotten in elusive, intellectual deep freeze…..


FRAGMENT (from Book Of Voices)

These tides, these stratigraphies,
These meridians,
Slightly, gently shifting
(boats on a small tide, moored lightly,
Testing their freedom, anchored
In hierarchies, in distance, from
Sane land).

A certain dance of veils,
A somewhat dramatic covering
And uncovering of chance meetings.
Automatic script (as if any thought
Were planned in any way),
Knee jerk eruptions of things
To put language to, a cauldron
Bubbling up – eye of, gizzard of,
Toe of, brain of…

Always one step away
From dream,
A small distraction
And the doors open wide.
These demons, these angels
Made from our shadows
(Following us humming,
Like bees to each
Nectared crevice)…

This Breath


No sign yet of dawn.
No stars, no moon, no light.
There will be snow on the hills.
It falls, a cold silence.
To wait and see or to return,
Turn away from melancholy, and sleep.

Weighted air drenches shape
But fills all voids with breath.
Warmed and fed, it leaves a small
Certain beauty.
This world, so drowned in joy
And despair, so nourished with dream.

A blessing sufficient for all:
One breath after the next,
Gift, and prayer, and blessing.

This breath:
The most simple,
The most honest,
An uttermost illusion
Of in and out.

This breath,
This sigh,
This stutter:
All the gods watch amazed,
All angels weep with envy.

This breath:
All prayer, all praise.
A river running.
( This valley of Time,
This birdsong of Space).

The only, the one thing,
Tying, holding, moving on.
An only movement,
An only stillness.
Elegance in evocation.

A transept, a nave, a bisection.
An echoed footfall,
A hearth,
A home,
A catacomb.


(for ‘Book of Voices’)

There is a landscape
Knitted over with slim streams.
Bright and dark, loud and whispered,
Each, eternal threads worming
Stories of thought and thoughtlessness,
Stories of song and reasons and whys.
Whole histories, whole epochs, whole aeons.
A continuity of dream, a muttered heart.
A thousand voices vying for eyes,
A turn of attention, an immersion in,
An interpretation of, an affirmation.

Some sing, some skirl, some shout.
Golden chained, ear to tongue,
A merry dance, a forced march.

There is a dark, tangled tree.
From my tongue it pours sap
Through throat and lung,
Wrapped to rooted loins.
A lean language, tango Argentinian,
A whipcrack thing, sinuous sine,
Insinuous, inescapable, one
Of a number of souls.

(On the black hill, a scattering of snow,
The bare trees spell out the names
Of distant saints born from rivers,
All borne to the sea, a tidal deity
Coming and going, coming and going.)

I carry with me, pelican-like,
All the souls, black and noisy as jackdaws,
On the tree from the mother inhabited
Down to now, a flock of sharp eyes
And voluble tongue……




Here, the silence moves,
Breathing through the hills.

A slow rotation of light,
A rolling, simple atmosphere,
An eased exchange of airs.

These valley profiles punch through
A rippled horizon of high hills.

Valley roads snaking through
To the clear, white sky.


Snow is on the hills again,
But the blackbirds know Spring is here,
Singing through the long, cold rain.


LLYM AWEL verse 7, Improvisations.

‘Ottid eiry ar gwarthaw reo;
Gosgupid guint blaen guit tev;
Kadir yscuid ar yscuit glev.’

Snow fall on top of ice;
Wind sweeps the top of thick trees;
Fine is the shield on the shoulder of the brave.

In the second line the trees are described as ‘tev’, thick. This is an unusual use of the adjective and because it is not idiomatic, seems a little clumsy. However, it is difficult to find a substitute that will bring all the meanings that ‘thick’ brings in this context. We could use ‘thicket’, but that is particularly associated with a tangle of smaller plants, rather than large, mature trees. ‘Thick’ means, or suggests here, heavy, large, mature, as well as closely spaced, packed together. With this one word the poet creates the picture of a grove of closely growing, large, heavily boughed trees.
The word ‘tev’ might have been selected because it has an echo of the word for ‘company’, ‘war band’ ‘teufi’ (tewfi). This meaning ties the image of the strong, dense group of sturdy trees to the following line describing the ‘brave’ with their shields. With this in mind an alternate word for ‘thick’ might be ‘serry’, ‘serried’. Now only usually seen in the military term ‘serried ranks’ meaning ‘tightly packed, locked together, crowded together’. But then, the imagery would now only suggest a military comparison, so I left ‘thick’ as it was.

Cold falls on cold.
Snow on ice.
What is slain lays low.
What covers is covered.
The weight of it,
The silence, the
Accumulation of
Immobility, a
Clenched fate.
Wind roars through
A sweep of tangled
Tree tops,
A settled silence
An upper wind thickens
Without repeal.
Beautiful remorselessness
Trembles down on all,
Helpless to conceal.
This serry rings,
Holds close, side by
Side, each with their chant,
Their blood cry:
Strong oak next to
Strong oak, strained
Sinew and bone hard.
Whip fast the holly,
Smooth white its wood,
Curved and needle sharp
Its nails.
Upright is the ash,
Its shivered spear,
Black, resounding.
Stalwart the pine,
Far-sighted, bellowing
Like the sea.
All the trees swaying
Together, thick with
Hunger, a winter
War-band, a stern
How bright the brave
With shields shouldered.
How bright the fallen
Freed in fire. An
Endless song, futile, fearless.
Numberless as flakes
Of snow, the cold fallen.
A road of burning ice,
This river, tree-bordered.
Tattered their flags,
Their leaves. Gathered up,
Swept away.
Snow on ice. When shall
This roaring cease?
This utter beauty,
This brittle glory.
Black root,
Grim rock.

Sent from the Lilly iPad1


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