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After a Long Drought

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AFTER A LONG DROUGHT

The log lorries roaring hungry to the forests,
their bare ribbed skeletons longing for another heavy load.

Such a waste of words this poetry is,
scattered in the warm wind unable to withstand
the returning silence that covers with cloud the hills
turned heather purple
and the curling first thoughts of autumn
and the spit of rain.

The path to Fannog was damp
and the woods smelled of blackberries.
The steel still waters sullen and drained,
the old farm’s walls, out in the shallows,
Surfaced again, thirty years, more, since the last time,
haunting the view,
the craggy rocks impossible in sunshine
after so many years dark under murky waters.

They have receded
pulled back from the tops of their drowned valleys
like lips curled back from a corpse’s teeth,
the bare stumps of black trees, the slope of field and fence post.

We are measured by what remains –
these scars and careless piled debris swept from sight.
“Swimming forbidden. No diving allowed. Submerged objects”,
the bones and worse, the dreams,
the miscalculated grandeur, the voiceless dispossessed,
(as if we belonged ever, as if we stayed).

I have been dreaming of the flooded lands again:
the rivers rising to drown the roads,
all the fields turned sweeping water,
all the hills left desolate, no way out.
As if they were memories,
as if these places had names,
as if these trackways had purpose.

Sinking down, the cracks between dream and memory.
Flash floods, the sudden storm,
turbid waters, long drought,
a draining of the steep slopes,
drying mud on smoothed contours, the feeder streams silent.

A habitation deserted.
Roofless silence.
Low cloud shifting down long valleys.
Looking like rain.

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Yidam Yew

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YIDAM YEW

As though through the bark
The tree remembers
every storm
Every wild sunset.
every dream of fleeting light captured, savoured.
Every rip tide and cloud race, every
Second’s shade and bright reveal.
A mad visionary truth,
The taste of an ultimate, near ultimate, real,
Stretching and scattering certainty of form and view.

At its heart is a red darkness,
a blue darkness,
a glow of orange sunrise and sunsets,
a weight of waiting
and a weight of watching.

It will see you looking at it
through your own eyes.
It will measure the coming and going of your breath,
and know that it is dreaming.

Those who name it,
do not know its name,
which began at the beginning of things
And will continue beyond their ending,
and then will not be completed, even then.

Though there is a snake hiss silence,
though the spine fills and hollows with dust,
though one moment shatters in black light,
though there is a taste of pollen and old books,
though there is a stutter thought,
though there is a window or a mirror.

A perfect dance of stillness,
a perfect song of silence,
a filled void that drowns and opens out.
A cease and a spinning.
Location lost.
A reorientation in a million shards of shadow shimmer.
Wordless is the wisdom of compassionate beasts.

Whetever form it takes,
it is light and time and endless mind
Stretched out in sunlight, flowing as wind and rain,
A map of constancy, road to all things.

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‘Yidam’ is the Tibetan word for ‘meditational deity’. It has energetic presence that encourages awakening and is dressed in a form and metaphor that excites attention. Like all deities/spirits/thought forms, it is paradoxically illusory and of an independant existence more real than the individual personality could ever be. ‘Wrathful’ deities have the appearance of dynamic, fear-provoking, fiery forms that destroy illusion and false concepts.

DHRUPAD 11 (august night)

The hollow hills resounding.
The resounding hollow hills,
Knee-deep in starlight,
Knee-deep in patient oaks,
And the white cries of the fox
And the stretched white cries of owls
And our sleeping souls rising like smoke
Through open windows on this warm night,
Weightless, free of thought now,
Flicking through centuries
As the ashes’ fingers fall and drift
And the berries ripen, sun-polished.
And the dead (who are always with us)
Watch and ripen, remembering old hymns
In an old language, and the music of quiet gossip
And the food of woodsmoke and pipe tobacco
And the too short, long evenings
And the too short, oblivious nights.
Carded and spun these days of commotion,
Made a single yarn end to end,
A story with familiar patterns,
With certain purpose, worthwhile
And righteous, worthy of some eternal reward,
Surely, surely.

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ISSA AND A FEW MOMENTS IN WALES
(Four haiku)

Issa sees the world
holding Issa in its hands.
Both begin to laugh.

Croeso! Croeso!
The sheep cry out.
Rainclouds gathering.

Hesitant at first,
And the birds falling silent,
Cool drops of rain.

Distant, morning train
Echoes off the empty fields.
Sheep waiting for rain.

Bardic Reply

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BARDIC REPLY

Our art is not about sanity.
You, who have learned neither name nor edge,
Who insist there is one word, one view, one meaning.
You can know nothing of this glory, this defeat, this wonder.
Whose life must be pleasant above all things,
despite death and all its monsters, despite the shadows, the whispers.
Trained neither to remember nor forget, muddling through.
Oh the mirrors are sharp and they are fine, but they lie.
That is never your face that looks out -just a trick we
Have become accustomed to, knowing no better.
Staring into dark pools hypnotised, dissassociated, becoming
Numb, drained of decisions, drained of moments,
the buzzing of summer flies, the click of electrical circuits.

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DHRUPAD 10 (small birds)

Small birds sweep low low in the winding lanes, pressed down by a weight of sunlight. They we they swim, we swim slow slow through slow air. A blazing sky cloudless rings slow and dark the slow small waters silent almost almost silent slipping by. They arc and dip and sway the golden grasses’ heavy heads golden purple green grey and the red tipped meadow where the hares hide on the high corner beyond the wood on the high winding road in bitter bright light.
The world this world small and gentle circling around the sun. We move in circles circles now now beneath a cool , too cool and marbled sky. Dry lands scarred and parched fold and spread on golden waves. New fledged the swallows dip and chatter. Slim the chances of rain, locked in slow circles.
Becoming becoming pentatonic I hum in Shivrajani midnight midnight still a horizon’s glow a radiant edge a beauty and sadness the melancholy remembering of small options circling new patterns, satisfied with not quite enough. In the dusted dry the heat dry the rainless cloudless dry.
Gathered up gathered up i am gathered up broadcast arced out released and scattered a mudra a dance seeded . Bundled huddled in sound a conglomerate a husk a bowl a cauldron rimmed spattered jewelled, spitting pearl words.
The rivers the rivers
the rivers we drink from
are the dreams of the dreaming dead.

Terracotta Army

TERRACOTTA ARMY
( for kenza)

Who would not smile, immortal now and beside comrades?
(We are all clay, for the most part unfired, liable to dissolution, unremembered.)
In silent order, under cool earth, set to wait, bellies full, what could be better?
Dreaming of heaven is, perhaps, as close as one can get, without a girl.
The way of Tao is a mystery of dust and the sound of distant waters.
The whispers of the tourists, the cicada click of camera shutters,
The passage of sun and moon like the passing of emperors and empires.
Not quite outside of time, we count our ranks like the monks, mantras.
No need of other weapons: all die before us, our far off stares, our calm smiles.

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