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LI PO WAITING FOR DRAGONS (DINAS WOOD)

Li Po, I suppose, will be standing there,
hands thrust deep into sleeves,
breathing the slow hills.
Admiring the play of light
and the way the oaks
catch the late year’s brightness
on their wriggled limbs.

And how green is the gold,
and how golden the air
spicing the hazy distant.
In leaf litter, the rustling
of jays and squirrels,
gathering up the fallen year.
In the glass layered river,
sounds swallowed
and turned to light,
light to sound.

Li Po remains motionless,
holding all the river of his thoughts,
so he forgets nothing, misses nothing.
What has gone, and what arises:
balancing the mind of clouds,
the mind of mountains,
the mind of Dinas, cave-filled, hunched.

He sees the forest crown
shaping syllables: each tree
a slow, fast, steady song.
He weighs dark and light
On the cliffs of Craig Clungwyn.
Notes the rainbow mists
above the Doethi valley.
Floats above the scouring wind,
hawk and skylark and willowherb seed.

Li Po, waiting for dragons,
for the roar of the Tao in the mountains,
the narrow road winding northwards,
the cauldron of the seven stars.
For the eye of the world to open unwavering,
mind melting into mind.

He will not have long to wait –
a century or two
at most.

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DHRUPAD 14 (sky wedded)

seen
see now the sky now
wedded the sky wedded the sky
to silence, silent pool, sun sliding,
sun slides slips bright morning, citrus sharp and thin morning.
still, sharp morning.
Fennel, collecting
collecting fennel seeds so fragrant on my fingers,
green and full and cool and and.
It lies so still so still and cold now
still and cold the slipping sun the slipping sun low and citrus bright
delicate as fennel seed the pink cloud light puffed pink cloud morning, rimmed cold rimmed bright the slipping sun
and the apples falling now out of sight but falling
the leaves crisp and dry giving colour away
giving gold and green and all their days away to watch open-eyed open skied and breathing slow the silence grow
the silent singing silence the singing sky the slipping sun
and the moon still,
the moon still half gone
rolling bright dreaming dreaming of the last night gone,
night dark with stars
and now so clear and still there
there now there now settled bedded laid in silence
the slow dark and light the dancing shade the cool and citrus shadows the glaze colour gazing morning gesture clouding flow
small bright flicker shading clouds now shading sliding sun and riding moon higher still that that
higher than that cool cool riding the day wave bright and glorious cool sky sky wedded it is now.
World sky wedded

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DHRUPAD 13 (emptying out)

The skies are empty now empty of whistling wheeling swallows.
A quiet white
blanket of satisfaction mists the land
the ashes peel curl and fade, the hazels crisp.
Veils thin and mysterious return.

the slow dead
and the quick dead
turn and rise to see the returning tides of winter.

But it is still peace today sunlight floating down
the world slowed but still growing.

Searching for the right words, is it?

Like the swallows
sweeping crying have gone have gone but
for one or two flitting and diving
and getting
their last supper
for a good long while a good while
on the winds to the warm lands,
the sun warming wings and the rising air wriggling with life.

Distance distance words wheel enough enough corner of the eye corner of the mind distance empty.

Searching for the right words,
like counting ripples as rain fills the puddles
and mud coloured is the earth
and mud coloured is the sky and
mud coloured is the day filled with muddy thought
and tongues still as the still hills
and mind as fast as streams and as easy to understand.
The wheeze of swallows fills space leaves space empty space gone gone gone

for rain here cools and day shrinks and the long night the long night dreams dreams and whimpers a new tune
a new song the right words
the right words ice sharp and curled clear and ice bright

and here now here clear and calling and big as hills

and a throat of bursting rivers
and a sleep of dark moments
and shadows longer longer
reaching to horizons and the bell of the star sky ringing ringing and the shiver of distance opening
up and a deep, round silence
an empty skull dome silence
a cave drip drop dark silence a
story
silence where footsteps walk
and branches swish back
and in the corner of the eye the corner of the eye
change
wings
low
and sleek and loping through the drying soughing

a language change a sloping change of light
turn out turn in turn around empty skies

wind empty cloud empty star empty word empty.

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LLANWRTYD EISTEDDFOD 2018 – waste gwastraff
This was my submission for this year’s local eisteddfod, that happened just yesterday night. Good to take part in a celebration of art that has its origins so long ago in the 11th century, even though I am not (yet) able to submit pieces in the Welsh language. There are so many pressures these days distracting people from coming together as communities to appreciate each others’ talents. The Eistedddfodau are truly the jewel of Welsh cultural community. Categories range from set pieces in music, recitation, poetry and song to personal choices and works on given themes, as this was. Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod lasts all day, with children performing in the morning, youngsters in the afternoon and adults in the evening. We left about half eleven at night and it was still going! Each local eisteddfod is an opportunity for those who are aiming to enter the prestigious National Welsh Eisteddfod, to get sufficient adjudication and placements to go forward into the finals – so even in the smallest eisteddfods one can see really top quality performances, as well as locals having a go. Getting well respected adjudicators is a key element in attracting the best performers to a local eistedddfod. At all the eisteddfoddau I have seen, the adjudicators are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful in their comments – a true encouragement to creativity.

I have pared away the warm, waiting wood.
The ring of it: the blade pulled,
The curling lucent layers dropped, shuddered to floor.
The shape changing, the deep cut,
The curving line, the scent within the grain
And the borrowed light upon its smoothness.

To make a bowl slowly by hand
Is to contemplate emptiness
And the arc and sorrow and gravity of it all
As the thin curls scatter.

Not much of anything is needed, after all,
If all and all moves toward a single, singular point.
The rest, remains, resting pointless,
Discarded, unfulfilled, as debris.
Becoming something else, but not a worthy thing.
A means to an end, chaff and dross, lees and leftovers,
Swept and piled to make a kindling for a winter’s fire.

On the seventh day
Was there a pile of junk,
The unmade becoming unmanageable,
The chosen and the unchosen,
The first inkling of heaven and hell?

Where went the scraps?
The unwanted edges, the unfinished lines,
The swirling, sanded away interstellar dust?
Perfection is nothing but a stubborn tyranny,
A piling up of discarded beauty, disregarded,
For a dream, the hope of something that is not yet, not yet.

And this life now, whittled away,
Hollowed out a little more by each breath:
Less remains now, for certain, than what has gone by.
If there is an end, not just a turn in the road,
What shall remain of this slow work, day to day?
What of the careful polished surface, the tidy edge,
The slow shaping, the muscles’ rhythmic ache?

Careful or careless, we blind ourselves with dutiful goals,
Discard what seems unnecessary, untimely, unhelpful.
To make something to hold us safe in eternity
We scrape away the real, carve away the grain,
Slicing through the beating heart of things
To find the food that will feed our deepest hunger.

As a vessel for your grace, or as a begging bowl,
We are slowly emptied out, as a waning moon
Over a restless ocean.
Three drops were all that was required,
All else became poison.

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Our Geography – Pwll Bo

Pwll Bo

It has a new name now.
Only to those who know
is there a hint of something more than this.
Not even in the old language.
Fit for tourists and a simple direction:
Go on and on the winding road past,
straight past Pwllgolchi where the sheep were washed
And the waters slow and tame.
Go on and on and it is the White Bridge now.
Over the roar and tussle of rock and foam,
the screaming rocks, their bare, penitental heads.
The neat, safe bridge, white balustered and grey concrete,
Where the dogwalkers park to wander through
alder column and larch cathedral and birch,
and back again the higher bracken path
with view of slope and arcing hill,
diving into waves of oak and shadow.
No longer a haunt of ghosts and the lost,
no white shift nor silent scream, the bruised skin
and the lead of loss and madness.
No longer the world baring its teeth
And testing your religion.
No longer the long years haunting the impossible crossing,
but a small, white bridge that leads bone still
between here and there.
Not quite have they been banished, the drifting dead,
but swept from sight into the undergrowth
and up the hillside, their voices lost in the water roar.
White Bridge to the Pool of the Ghosts.

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OUR GEOGRAPHY – WOLF’S LEAP

Esgair Bellaf
( The remote ridge)

A rock snout sniffs the air,
a sleek flank shivers from the peeling waters.
By the crumbling heather bank it once leaped
and remains where the Irfon lopes
from its own grey teeth
and spiral spital marks the tight gullets
of feathered stone that sing and sing
of tumbling downward from a midden sky.
It would slake its thirst,
wary on the fine silver sand,
hungry for the lost and forgotten,
hungry for the oak-shaded gullies,
homeward through the humming sedge,
roofed in curlew, roofed in skylark lustre.

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LOCATION OF THE HERMIT

not far from Despair
and Melancholy,
chapels of cloud
established on the edges.
slow, fast days of lightness
rounded out with vowels of woe.

no doors are visible
yet doors there are,
and signs and portents:
ruins and skulls bleached,
and soughing winds
through sighing grasses.

wan, wan, wan
is the long mile.
wan the height,
dark the cliff
smoked in mist.

where the raven wheels,
some little shelter.

to be in, and of, the world,
and so apart!

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