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RISING, RETURNING

Rising through mist and rust and gold.

The rain coming and going and the oaks holding on.

History repeating itself, as it always does,

And the eternal poets weeping and laughing

In their sunlit words.

We shall reach home soon, as we always do,

Until the very last time when time shall slow and stop,

And the oaks, only, will be holding on then

In rust and gold and sunlit drifts.

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BOOK OF RIVER

A thousand page book

On ‘What the Rivers Say’

Illustrated by hand with all

The ripples and such.

Equivalents of sound in line

And what the mind says.

And what the wind says

And where it leads

And where it leads back to

Again and again.

A work folded from

One sheet of paper.

A work transparent, translucent,

Opaque.

Where pages and words

Appear above and below each other.

A multitude of one view, an explanation,

A demonstration of the inexplicable.

And all the voices there,

All the voices from along its length,

Rumbled and whispered

And sung and roared.

Tiny sparkled voices, great voices,

Minnow voices, tree root voices,

Drowned minds of poets

And their pale ghosts.

Voices of tributaries, voices of puddles,

Voices of pools, voices of dribbles,

Of moss dripping, of sodden earth,

Of scoured stone, of squiggling,

Worming things.

Reflections still and stately,

Pride that confuses and leads nowhere,

But the doubt that up may be down.

And the river bed, ah! the river bed:

A history of shatterings, of droughts,

Of flood race, of lost footings, of twisted ankles,

Of sobs, of precious things lost

Forever, forever, forever.

Down to the sea with them,

With the gold and the glistening

And the feathers and fluff of life.

The leaves spun to colour

And down away, away.

Stretched from there to here to there,

Beyond distances and the taste of soil

And the taste of heather and the taste

Of ice and of wind in the sparkling hills.

Self-created words, worm words,

Caddis larvae words, fast, flitting,

Slow floating words.

Half sung, half spoken, half heard,

Half, half, some other,

Some other meaning completely.

Completely star-worn and moon-urged.

Life moving downwards towards itself.

A book of river.

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THE HEATHER NOW

The heather now clouds the hills:

in sunlight, a drift of heaven,

In low, slow rains it is

the colour of sunset storm clouds.

When does solitude turn to loneliness?

.

Fifteen years the eagle flew here.

From Tregaron to Llanwrtyd her hidden throne.

Seeing more than most,

the season’s swift tides blanching the bracken,

green then gold, copper then rust.

.

More than meets the eye,

these growing voids, these lost things, named,

forgotten, decayed, consumed.

A worm eye’s view is the beginning and end

of each transformative engine.

.

New names and a new breath.

A scattering of syllables,

a cry long and fading,

high in the cloudless sky.

A land of stoic disappointment

lies below.

.

The yews of Abergwesyn,

the yew of Llanfechan,

the chapel yew at Cefn Gorwydd

all holding on, deserted.

Folding history into themselves

and holding on.

.

The eldest springs here

are all purging and bitter.

They will keep the long death away

but they too are long forgotten.

.

The hay is in despite the rains,

and the sheep down from the hill.

Good governance is as far away as ever.

.

The eagle free in its vast prison.

Solitude and vision

and the slow rains

washing it all clean away.

.

For the last fifteen years a golden eagle has lived in our area, escaped from captivity somewhere, it has lived alone for sll this time. Just recently found dead -probably of old age.

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TY CANOL WOOD

It is a narrow house, the wood that is made for eternity.

A smoke of dream shivering upwards into air.

The roots of it smoulder below, flame-leaves lick.

It is a narrow house we are born into.

So much that cannot be reached, cannot be known.

The paths wander between moss boulders and broken bedrock,

clothed in thick green life.

Constrained by thin earth, yet they all do seem to dance,

and at night, some say, they walk

and the rock creaks open,

light spilling from golden halls,

and that unnerving perfect music, too.

A narrow road and a narrow house we have set ourselves,

But that is not the world’s way.

She dances and throws it all away in broad gesture,

Sings at the central hearth, though no-one listens much,

and knows that song is food for every soul.

Feels the billowing thunder head, this haze of gnats,

the invisible silver threads beneath,

and the chains of finest gold,

and the footprints of old gods between the stars,

that is birdsong here

in Ty Canol Wood.

This ancient small woodland in Pembrokeshire is named from the nearby house, Ty Canol, ( the central, middle, house). It has links to Otherworld inhabitants, and has a definitely magical atmosphere. Here I am contrasting the open, generous quality of the natural world with the restricted experience of mortality and human perception. The coffin is sometimes traditionally referred to as a narrow house and the tomb to a house of earth.

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ARCHETYPAL

The hunter father transgresses;

The mother suffers unjustly;

The child is taken.

What was wonderful, vanishes.

The light disappears, no one knows where.

Roads, veils and mirrors –

The mechanics of universal dance,

The momentous, minuscule choice.

The bright, eternal child brought low,

Brought back to the wrist of the falconer,

Brought back to rule in glory,

Brought back to catch the uncatchable.

And all the time

It is she that saves the day,

Who bestows and restores balance,

Who names, who summons, who moves

Like a moon through darkness

Sorrowful and joyful and blissfully full.

And the child, neither here nor there,

Neither this nor that,

Tricked by innocence

To reveal the weakness,

To discover an impossible death,

To wait endlessly in the wings

For the lines of the last act,

The resolution.

I ask to know the truth

So that there may be understanding of power.

That the maps are unfolded

And the well-trod, invisible roads revealed.

Because we are free only to follow the well-worn ways,

Because there is only one plot and one story

From the beginning.

Because, tried and tested are the grey chains.

Because, tried and tested is the only freedom.

The rules of falling, and of redemption.

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THERE, THE STILLNESS SINGS

sink down a little, beneath these surfaces.

the same world, a different view.

a cool wind is blowing, though the mists stay still.

the deep hills in the north, the uplands of the south

are nowhere to be seen.

in the garden scented rose petals drop like rain.

sink down and find the earth,

a rich soil of dreaming.

my souls have coalesced

but drift apart as stars do,

As wandering flocks do.

without even trying

the hills begin to emerge.

it will be a hot day

and we shall be grateful for shade.

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FIRST LESSON

You will have been wandering, I suppose,

Through the sunny, vague landscapes of your life

Following the habitual hounds of thought

Weaving in and out your thoughts.

.

You will have come across these words,

Sucking them up, making them yours

Before even thinking, before even thinking,

To whom do they belong? Whose voice, now?

.

We believe ourselves sovereign here:

My mind, my territory, my dwelling place.

But is that really so? (is what I ask.)

You have wandered into other worlds

Oblivious of boundaries, so hungry for more,

So sure of what is.

In an instant, becoming something else

( a folded, entangled irony, to enjoy all the horror movie themes).

.

A skin not yours adheres,

So you become something you were not.

What we do, we become.

What we take in, becoming our responsibility.

.

Shimmering are the edges of the world.

Mirrors and doorways are everywhere.

Names are roles and speech

Sets about great tidal shifts.

.

You know what you know now

By becoming what you were not.

A communion of voices.

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WAR HAS CAST THEM

War has cast them off the mountain

And they have never yet returned

Except their tattered ghosts minding flocks

And the wind and the rain and the ravens.

The stone, green under soil.

The soil, black under sedge.

The distance sailing above cloud

Shaped by worlds beyond reach,

Reciting the names, reciting the names.

SOME GO

They weave these times of plague

with threads of brighter days.

Sharing the names of farms and families:

Nain, hen nain, hen hen nain,

and the tales of the tales she told.

The hearths swept and re-laid

for an eventual return

after the storms of the world blow by;

the family bible left open at Lamentations.

Some go into the hills,

finding the silent walls

moss green, wide strewn;

the signs all but lost,

like the songs of living and dying:

the songs of harvest, the songs of planting,

the songs of weaving, the songs of lamenting,

the songs of losing and of finding.

It is the songs of living

that we have lost forever;

the songs of simple doing

that told us we were not alone

in feeling the rhythms of breath

as muscles worked and tasks completed.

It is all silent in the hills now.

cloud and curlew,

raven and lark.

Memories fade

as the farmhouse walls

tumble under moss.

Hold on to the names,

the farms, the families,

the cherished dead.

Over their heads

the world changes.

Plague days,

words dying.

The Epynt is an area of high uplands between the Brecon Beacons and the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales. A strong, rural, Welsh speaking area, the Epynt was cleared of people at the start of the Second World War so that the land could become an artillery training area. Eighty farms were given a few months to pack up and leave, breaking and dispersing a robust culture to find their own way miles away from their homes. After eighty years the land is still possessed by the government and this year many descendents have got together to remember their families, where they lived, where they moved, who remembers tales of the old days.

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I take my instruction from rivers,

My constancy from the weather.

I endlessly catalogue shadows by their song

And tremble before cracked mirrors.

It seems I fear endings more that anything else,

And the golden dust of victory’s wings.

This debris I accumulate for oracles,

And read meaning into what has gone.

The light of life is an unbearable weight,

Longing so long for irresponsibility.

Silence ye your ghosts

So that you might hear a simpler melody.

You are a moment’s dust gathered

Around each slow breath.

Savour stillness.

There is no war other than this.

Stretched between joy and sorrow

Is where you grow strong.

Attaining emptiness

The world can fill and empty

And fill again.

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RAAG MEGH

find the

slow rituals

that absorb time and space.

.

there is

no hurry,

words vanish, yet

last forever, somehow.

.

the green, warm rains

as soothing as music, fill

the breathing valley.

.

one step

is all it takes

to start a dance

no-one has seen before.

.

we will, for sure,

be swept up in

sadness and joy.

.

we will, for sure,

be persuaded that beauty

is just not enough.

.

slow air pushes

the thin rope of smoke

to and fro by the window.

veils of rain hide the hills.

.

it is green and cool and lovely,

the trees say.

look at our slow dance,

they say.

.

and let go

their tired leaves.

Raag megh is a pentatonic raag (raga) played during the rainy season, but because of its cooling, calming influence is also played at any time and circumstance. i used it as the name of this poem as it seemed to fit its atmosphere and mood. Check out raag megh on youtube, especially those by ustad rashid khan, pandit jasraj and kushal dass.

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