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A Cloak of Words

A Cloak of Words
(The head of Bran whispering poet’s ears)

A whole long life he muttered dream charms
In the warm safe hall, in golden birdsong.
This life is a metaphor for living, but is not quite,
Is what he said, till curious, one looked beyond the doors.

The cold sea winds, the mist-white cry of gulls,
The memory stripped, fact bones, dream blubber,
Food for drowned thought, shivered clear,
Born again.

The snow creeps down to the valley floor.
A bullfinch in a flash of sunlight.

The Good Raven is cloaked beneath,
hidden and always in our blood.
And he will whisper, good-hearted,
as bright brows burst with illumined fire,
a convocation of the one, the only, bard in many voices.

A sea of hills, and one mighty one striding through.
It is a downward spiral from there, no good came of it,
Except a good tale dusting sunsets with fools’ gold.
Perhaps that is, after all, enough. As much as
Can be hoped for where women are unheard
And men so willing to go to war for pride.

So senseless is this suffering as to drive them raving, about the forests,
To perch muttering in bare branches, to shun the comfort,
To converse with blackbirds, to remember in aeons,
To weigh the heavy genealogies, to befriend stars.
Brave enough to see and to speak in true riddles;
To confound the self-righteous mind, to spit out the grit;
To fire the dark night with lightning, to sweeten bitterness.

And to go unheard, to go misunderstood, to go mocked,
As the world itself is, as the son of the world is,
To be turned into ghosts to frighten children with,
Unfashionable prophets, an annoyance of thorn woven crowns.

Bright-eyed, the blessed carrion-eaters return
Making the most of the already lost.
Wishing them well with a natural grace.
The beautiful bones pecked clean,
A lean, mysterious perfection
Is all that ever remains.

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Bless the Bones

the year sweeps seasons
like a passionate cloud
from these soft hills.

and the bitter cold is here
and the turbulent waters
and the fire that talks loud and soft,
singing of snakes and angels in the grate.

and the hush-now, hush-now of cars
speeding past to work in the draughty town.

the trees dark and bare
sliced in thin moonlit night.

yesterday, the deep, blue-shadowed snow.
now, a knifing wind, a fast melt
and word of valley floods.

bless the bones of things,
though they may ache and ache.
on bitter slope the memories slide.
it is a thin sinew
holds everything together.

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Storm Morning

Storm Morning

Into the slow heron lift of it.
The storm morning roar,
Like a city train, rattles roof and windows.

Druid trees with one eye shut
Stand on one leg and let go of nearly everything –
That is what their roots, deep as choirs, allow.

On green meadow and crashing hill
We push against a sting of rain.
Lost, but not lost as the ones by the sea,
Watching the waves eat the shore and the harbours drown
And all the long, safe years melted away
In a wall of water and sound.

It is a patient world, willing always to start again.
A reformulation of parameters, season by season.
What is gone is gone, the autumn trees say.
What is gone is gone, says the storm of grey morning.

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Taliesin Sutras

TALIESIN SUTRAS
A collection of rambles through hilly literature with strange, unexpected viewpoints. Could be developed or expanded, elucidated, made easier to understand, be given commentary. But the nature of the Taliesin poems themselves have a similar terse sutric layering, a self-absorbed witnessing of their own creation, a multi-depth layering of references, religious and mythic. So I have left it as it is. Unfolded process. A voice coded. Serpent sounds. (The conscious mind drowns without understanding. Let it sink down, breathless. There are tides too deep for breath. Yet they are the ones that sustain, perhaps.)

1
(Dyfalu)
Riddling technique

There are three here
The dark deep
The sun of life
The son of man.

The cross of matter
The spiral of time
The balance between.

Light nailed upon the directions.
Light spinning about its heart.
Annwfn become flesh.

It is of stone and cast in light.
Hoisted above the archway
A dial for eternity, serious instruction.
Like these others, bound in skin, given harbour,
Kept safe for meaning, an older language, still revered,
Just in case secrets remain that will point the way out.

2
(Trioedd)
Triads

Snakes from a point,
Tongues from their mouths.

Development over time.
Enclosure of three fields
Fluidity of emanation

Geometric expectations.

The hooded spirits
(Genii cucullati)

Three cloaks, winter water,
Hidden eyes, secret owls.
This otherness stands forth.

The body is being hidden – unrevealed.
Three things the oracle says:
I shall be silent
I shall be moved
I shall form words.

I shall be still.
I shall be disappearing.
I shall re-emerge.

Magical sustenance:
Three lines is all I need.
A beginning, a middle, an end.

Something will dissolve
Something with coalesce
There will be song and eyes
There will be a return, though
An index of the dead
Is all that remains here.
How much has been forgotten!
We were reborn to remember
But might as well be crows and beetles.
Three is a continuity
Three is a rebirth
Three is the source
Three is where the origin is.
Bard as source.
Bard as river.
Bard as ocean before silence.

3
The Wild Calling

In the presence of the ancestors
Who whisper animal words in our ears.
Wrapped in leaves, these horns are mine,
(I, the son of the conversing stag),
I will speak from out the wood,
From out the cracked stone,
Wild-eyed, wild-tongued, wild in song,
Shouting storm with truth.

The wild informs the world.
It brings news of roundness.
I will speak to you the truth
From the deep shade of the tree.
Cocidius – the red one, the tree one.

4
Transforms

Whatever he moves through
He is followed and caught.
Wherever he goes
He can’t escape the chaser.
Regardless of inspiration
And enlightenment,
He is eaten.
Because he has become inspired,
He is chased.
Three drops:
One pattern.
Food and eater,
Hunter and hunted.
Inanimate tool,
I am wielded.
These changes, these forgettings,
Fermentation.
The wanted whole remains
And continues on.

And is it then the words and their meanings that chase and consume?
Having uttered, a world is set in motion. It will ferment and rot.
One will become another, even if memory still is.
The fixation of a form, its nomenclature, its declension.
It remains, inadequately clothing silence. Coagulating dream.

Having loosed and lost a thought,
The mind is tied, dragged as a shoal on a tide, wave on wave.
The wise one will ask questions that have no answer.
That is the door to the Otherworld, a door ajar, guarded in silence.

5
The world is of words, the words are pictures.
One beneath the other, layer on layer.
The poet fades as his voice grows.
The music of the heartbeat.
The heart that tells the tongue,
The fire that lights the eye,
The wind that carries the soul.

The snow is on the dawn hills,
Rose pink the slow clouds.

Of course, of course, there are golden chains,
Well-wrought from tongue tip to ear to mind.
We are servants of words, slaves of words,
Drowning in their dreams
As the sun and moon drown in each horizon,
Drawn up by the light, by the deep unfathomables.
Rocked and swept away, the unceasing waves of language,
Other worlds, shepherded, piloted to see more than this,
That is still this.

6
These words, not to be understood by fools,
Nor to be understood by the wise:
The utterance of poets beyond the foundations of the world,
Between the sea and the shore; as deep as mountain roots;
As weightless as a hawk’s wind, as tragic as rainbows, as grim as midnight.
Haunted words, ghosted, translucent. Fermented words, boiled, reduced.
Sublimated they become something else,
Though none can say exactly what.
Edge and dream and paradox.
Genealogies of rivers, cataracts of winds, piled up
As centuries and places, never abandoned, always within the heart’s round cauldron
And in the pearl-edged heart within the earth.
A mystery of fabulous questions, an army of silent trees,
Self-created progenitors, whispered on.

Where are the bones of the mist
And the two cataracts of the wind?

Old Friend

OLD FRIEND

We are declining, you and I,
As a dream that senses dawn.
Certainty thins and colours wan,
The story, less convincing, wavers.

Many we have known have now awoken.
Lost to us, they have slipped into new light.
Our hearts now as silent as autumn,
Feeling the creep of gold and azure;
A yearning to be wrapped in simple night.

The mantra and its music still infuse our bones,
The hum of joy within the blood.
Our future is a low mist, down on the hills,
A pearly light that moves with mystery.

SOAR Y MYNYDD

Where we rest
Deep in the mountains:
Soar y Mynydd

Hung in autumn air
Its white walls glowing:
Riverside chapel

Neat as it may be:
A congregation of leaves
Patiently waiting.

Soar y Mynydd.
Even when people have drifted away
The river sings hymns.

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To Wake in Winter

TO WAKE IN WINTER

To wake in the long darkness
And feel the slow cold seep in.

To love, and to war against those
We do not love, is not enough.

Drained and wan, the ache of it.
The decay of worn roads and reasons.

The ravens are silent as they push
Against the folds of cloud.
The hills ripple but they do not rise.

We miss the touch of sudden sunlight
And a simple purpose to go on.

Is patience a curse or a virtue?

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