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AN ARTIST DIES

There will be one this morning

who walks out on the hill untroubled

by the mist and the rain.

Watching with a new eye the bright lichen

on the slick rock, the bobbing wagtail

by the water’s edge.

.

Who will wonder only a little

At the acheless knees, the easy breath,

as he climbs the high ridge out of the oaks.

.

Who will never forget the beauty, nor the love,

but who is still drawn on by a certain brightness,

Like something long forgotten now returning.

.

There is a distant sea of weeping and emptiness,

A yearning somewhere far off beyond the day’s glint,

somewhere where everything is still the same,

though somehow veiled and trammelled.

.

And he shall walk among his sheep

without them lifting their heads, even.

And his dogs will wag their tails,

then look around bemused;

and the cat will stare and stare,

blinking once so very, very slowly.

.

And what was unfinished there

in the studio,

now seems utterly complete,

even so.

Good enough to leave untouched,

good enough to say what needs to be said.

The careful line, the hint of colours:

there is no end to this work.

A brand new sketchbook,

open and white,

is waiting.

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WRITE

Write with the surge

Of words that boils up,

Nor tide over the roar

And rushing hiss, the fast bliss

Of licking, foaming sound

Eating sand and landwards,

Landwards up to cloud

Up to grass and sun.

Past the decent reach,

Roaring past the pitch

And yaw, troubling the roads

Eating the lazy lean of worn pathways,

Spitting out new views raw and hot with life,

life that burns bright and dances wild.

Life that lifts its skirts

And does not care.

A fire and flood of windswept words

That will whisper and remain:

“That we were here, that we were here”

Long into the longer silent night.

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THE PERFECT MEMORY

Chapel oak frames the bright morning.

Crow’s wings: black, white, black, in the early sun.

I have reached into perfect memory

And drawn out a continuous stream,

Beyond names, beyond form.

A song from the bright, wondrous world.

.

My heart is burst into four,

Sundered and cast again into gold.

It hangs by threads strong enough for eternity.

Morning now as hushed as breath of nine maidens.

The slow, rotating mists that rise and sigh.

This summit cannot be reached by thought,

But by the rhythm of steady walking.

It goes beyond names, it goes beyond forms.

.

We have moved beyond safety in the ship of chant.

The confederacy of the senses murmurs in discontent.

Currents and cross-tides and the hidden lands beneath

Steer us whether we choose or not.

It has always been so: these sea roads as fixed as stars

And the stones that measure them staring from the shoreline cliffs.

.

A year and a day: that shall be the last feast.

Months-long travel for the final gathering of memory.

The sowing of seed, the tilling of the soil, the hiding of light.

The letting go, the letting go.

Bones buried, doors locked.

.

Pink thrift on the foreshore.

The horizon unsullied.

We shall sink down in grief here.

Washed away, washed away.

.

White crow, black crow, of perfect recollection.

Beyond names, beyond forms.

We are all gathered up –

The long roads mapped between stars,

The final feast where all is swallowed up.

.

Bright are the beams of its hall.

Its fires, a delight, and its succour complete.

Light and dark the chapel oak holds firm.

Vast are the teachings within silence.

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ALMOST JULY

Almost July now

The fragile weather moves through fragile time

Sways like flowering grasses, persistent as bindweed,

Sacred as the falling rose, fragile as breath,

Fragile as hearing the sweeping seas of green dip and rise,

The winds from the west bringing rain and no good news.

Fragile is it all, should you try to hold it.

Fragile is the moment, should you name and label it.

Fragile is the horizon’s light, should you yearn to calibrate it.

Though it is only thus from certain angles.

It is not so in the way it dances,

The way it remembers different times,

The way it sways in eternity,

The way it will change its name in a moment,

Change the steps, open, close, open its eyes,

Pick flowers for incense, for poison,

For your graveside.

A bit late, but I have a bit of a backlog of unpublished words that keeps on growing, so before it slipped completely from sight, here it is. And I have many more mythological pieces coming up at the moment, so this gives a bit of a break from the hard stuff.

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EXIT STRATEGY

.

Easy to make reckless plans with full bellies,

But many hearts sank in silence amid the wild enthusiasm.

To drag us all into darkness is the destiny of heroic leaders,

And it is they and their names will be ever remembered

By the sleek, sleazy poets collecting their nightly gold.

.

Of course, there were plans and there was strategy.

Of course, it was not immediate – that dissolution

Into the suffocating mists of isolating fear.

The poets’ make clear that there was some fine history there.

But we went into the great design believing we brought light and honour

And hoping quietly for at least a little plunder to justify the slaughter.

.

No one had told us that the air there would be sharper than our steel;

That our proud bellowing voices would be snuffed out

Only by the weight of the unutterable silence of that place.

That the chains that chaffed us, ( the poet’s said), were the very sinews

That held our bones and breath, our only strength, our only continuity.

.

We shall be mocked and sneered at by any who survive,

Even refined orators driven mad by the senselessness and broken screams of it.

These bright heroes dragged dizzy from the conflagration of hearts,

Goodness sold for pennies or twisted into shields to refute incompetence.

Greed disguised as quest. That tomb will not be opened.

No triple spells to cajole the lost towards a familiar banality.

No back to normal as the ghostly voices weigh down the thin air

With starved dreams and the corpses of tomorrow’s children.

Nothing but worms, now, of glory.

A heroic sunset it was, and now the cold darkness is creeping in.

.

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THE SHOUT

1

Anchor my mouth in the sun

and let it roar the world’s width

to wake the dreamers

and to find the tides

to race the weed and wrack

and sweep the land clean once more.

A hook is my word

for to catch the shining, leaping warriors.

It is cast out in the waters of the air,

in the brightness of the morning.

It is laced with gold and the promise of blood,

the crunch of bones in the jaws of wolves and foxes,

the ravens collecting the last fading visions of the slain,

The souls, brave souls, looking for new forms in the wild hills.

A hook well tied to reel in the strong eels of wriggling passion

Well knotted to call them back for gold and glory and another day of war.

Deep rooted my tongue in the synaptic shudders of the past.

Deep rooted my buried word grasping the chambers of stone.

Deep rooted so as to throw out long whip-branches

And a sturdy trunk with a thousand branches of meaning.

It is a shelter to the people, a roof and a feast hall.

This tree of persuasion, a fleet sent out by breath,

Each a vessel of contingency, an unassailable fortress of intent.

2

Battle boar sits on my head, roars though my mouth.

A bright god, bright as sun, bright as moon, springs from my tongue.

Its mind and my mind are united.

It is the circle of the land we are sworn to defend.

The circle of time we are to fulfil.

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LOST 1

My white winged soul is over the sea,

Low over the silver waters,

Far from sight, for duty

And the hope of peace.

Gone from this world,

Gone from the next,

Spiralling down to earth

To scour the debris of other’s joy.

There is some small joy in loss,

But not this loss.

Settled and content were we,

As rocks on a sun-warmed hillside

( the popping of gorse, the dust of heather,

the impermanent river of skylarks).

Settled and content, rippled in sheltered shade

(the hum of bees, the dance of gnats).

But each change brings irrevocable change.

Worlds end at every whim,

The ruins dreaming in emptied desolation.

Time, a syncopated stutter

To relive or forget in themes.

The moment before death –

An unravelling of strategy and excuses.

Something pure there, something silent,

Something wrapped beneath the pain and sorrow,

Something unutterably sweet, something eternal flickers

Before the moment and the light dies.

Before the terrible glorious cauldron darkness,

The seething dice thrown before dawn

Where we have lost our voices

And must learn to sing again,

Sound by sound.

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A PERPETUAL DREAMING

.

far away, among the mountains

that uphold the sky,

.

there are those

who forever walk on tiptoe

.

and only whisper,

so as not to wake

.

the sleeping god

that dreams the universe is real.

.

the lullaby of cascading rivers,

the jade clear ice fields,

.

the resounding sapphire sky

with silent wheeling eagles

.

and murmuring chant

from the womb dark temples

.

to keep that sleeper wrapped

in the folds of wonder.

.

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PROLOGUE (dark druid arts)

I have sat down and tasted the words of the dead.

What do they taste of, the words of the dead?

They taste of the feathers of owls and the scent of old books.

They taste of domed silent libraries and the flow of a million minds.

They taste of iron and the flower of blood as it fills the mouth.

They taste of mud and rain and scythed grasses.

They taste of the forbidden, of the forgotten,

of the bitter and the everlasting.

They taste of answers and riddles and orifices.

I have sat down and watched them

As the old words make pictures,

As they attempt to communicate their forgotten truths

and the lying stories, and the power of breath and the power of song.

2

Let these sounds revolve slow:

The seed that sucks in water swells

Reaches out to worlds unseen

New airs moving, new sense, new scenes.

Becoming is leaving behind in darkness

That which feeds us still.

Moving out, moving out, peeling the familiar.

These fragments to be held without adjustment,

Without conclusion, as it were,

And if we were not shaping, as it were,

As if we knew somewhere deep already:

The old languages of the blood,

The old languages of potent dreaming.

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N THE BLOOD

How long does it need to be in the blood

Before it becomes poetry?

How long must it seethe ‘til it yields

A single drop reflecting new truth the old way?

How long mirroring, remembering, discarding,

Disregarding its own and other fashions

Until it forgets the watchers and turns in

To be just itself alone?

A single gnat swims unevenly

Through a still midnight room.

That is what life is, usually.

The wind outside, a faint electric hum,

The tick of clock and cooling fire.

The words sink down

A mulch of debris.

Nothing can be returned now.

It must move on and feed others,

Seek new flesh, bend new tongues.

It will pulse,

A thin capillary pull

To go on its way.

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