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LANK GRASS

Lank grass leaks light.

Meagre is the wan sun.

The hillside’s low shudder

Shoulders a cold wind.

To and fro the white flocks weave.

The black flocks waver, settle

And disperse in fields.

Time does not pass

That is not sweetly savoured:

Cloaking us in eternal radiance,

An infinity of brilliant shadow.

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WAR CAULDRON

Though they came back

They came back silent

And haunted are their eyes.

The ones cast into the cauldron of war,

An endless source of sorrows.

Silent from what they see.

Silent from what they have seen.

Silent lest the heart break again.

Silent lest the bones become dust

And the dust, the taste of death,

And death, not the worst of it,

And the worst of it, the endless lines,

Moving to the front to die.

Nothing learned, nothing gained.

The drum, the drum, the drum.

Eternal war feeds the cauldron

Dragged from the depths

Where it should have remained.

As if there were not enough sorrow

In this world already.

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DARK NIGHT GARDEN

In the dark night garden.

My throat scratched

by the ice light of stars.

.

Owls soothe the blackness

As best they can.

.

The drip drip of water

Is the passing of eternal time.

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GATEKEEPERS

Sometimes, sometimes, and maybe always,

The doors can be so big

That they cannot be seen.

There is, they say, a wall

At the edge of the universe

So far away, so far away

That light from there has never reached here yet,

And never will.

It is neither winter nor Spring.

The year is a troubled child, roaring.

You know how I write:

I wait for words to come.

I do not send in dogs to flush out the birds of dawn.

I wait, to the souls of rivers and owls, to the world’s breath,

‘Til one by one, they come, gathering lightly,

Bright buds, whispers from the old roads.

And they may dissolve again.

They may dissipate, the offerings of time and waiting,

Just not enough to stay or settle.

The giants were called obstructors.

You might say, doorkeepers.

You might say, guardians.

Huge enough to carve out universes from their skulls,

Rich enough to give a thousand conflicting cosmologies.

It shall be storm all day today.

Waters bubbling down

From the cauldron of the hills.

Clouds dark and eloquent as Afagddu,

Dark as a cormorant preening on his pylon.

The layers of darkness arranged

For a perfect dive into silence.

The world has tipped.

Its weather spills out across the globe.

Excess and extravagance

Eating the hearts of the poor.

We await a new inoculation against greed.

But all our heroes of success

Only hasten destruction.

And so, I bow to the obstructions of giants:

The doorkeepers who block the way

And ask the riddle.

What skill do you possess

That you think would allow you to pass?

What quality, what virtue, to ensure

Any continued existence here?

What is the art that will not destroy?

What is the craft that we have never encountered?

What reasons can you make sound reasonable,

Sliding your guilt out of sight as if it were not yours.

Can you learn harmlessness?

Facing the storm you have raised

Can you abide at ease in the flickering light

Watching the helpless ones be swept away,

Swept away.

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STONE AGE

Snow clouds drift below moon and stars.

The river roars its long distance.

.

What can can we do

But breathe in the warm smoke of fires

And huddle down into the skins of animals?

.

In this way

We become the world’s eyes

In long winter.

.

Hunters of stories

In the mists.

Recounters of the long herds

And the cunning wings.

.

Sustained by the strong life of others.

So we may sing their praises

And with our hands

Shape amber and jet

And flint and bone.

.

Beneath the one tree of starlight

And dancing, rising sparks.

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INDWELLER (Gwyn ap Nydd)

Tell me the first thing.

.

The first thing is fear.

White, empty, formless, unknown.

That is the first thing.

It boils up in the fist of battle,

In the first and last breath,

The whimper of why,

The sigh of receding pain.

.

And it is alive still, this fear.

I am the white hedge of between.

Death, Winter, Hunter.

These, but not these.

.

In the far North

They say the gods that made creation

Were formed in the gap between things.

The first instant, the impulse, the breeze of doubt,

The white vertigo, the doubt.

What is?

What is this that is?

And is not me?

And who is,

And why?

.

My red-nosed hound that hunts

Is a hunter of reasons.

To know why.

My steeds, ever moving on,

Are clouds.

My purpose is unclear,

My definition is to be,

But not to be located,

Nor known, nor named.

Or do I yearn for that ever after?

To be fixed, and simply loved for that?

Like everything else with a place, a reason,

A name, a history, a cause, a story, a remembering.

.

Without the words, when the words are not enough,

The white mist descends and I am fear, utter and complete.

.

And the forgetting.

The breeze stirs the waters.

The deeps that cannot be measured,

Nor named, nor traversed, nor left behind, nor excluded.

Void, or Soul.

Senseless or beyond sense.

Named I will be diminished.

But diminished, I shall be known.

.

If there is something greater than this.

That is the hunt.

To sift through the clamour.

To contain all colour.

To return to the white empty fullness.

This cliff edge.

This between.

I dwell.

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A RAINBOW WALKS

A rainbow walks the yellow hill.

Small birds know that Spring is coming.

The wide-winged hawks, too, wheel and watch.

The rain has reached us now,

Tapping the roof.

Our skies yawn wide here:

From the Radnor hills right round

Through Crychan forest and the hidden dive

To the Sugarloaf and the low lands beyond.

Epynt is the wall of centuries behind us,

The deep valleys of the Cambrians, an uncertain present.

The old stones have been removed,

Or lost, that pinned us to hope.

The roads run thin and crumble.

If you live forever, all this is of no consequence.

If you live one year, or two,

This doubt and uncertainty is extravagance.

Many hereabouts conjure their own futures

From a past they grasp as if it were theirs.

As well to leave it be, leave it be.

There is no power here but a rainbow

Walking, for a moment, the yellow hill.

And the flow of wind and cloud across the horizon

No one can see beyond.

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TALIESIN FRACTALS

1

Nyt o vam a that pan y’m digonat

Not from a mother or a father was I made

The druids know all things are born

From desire and a fear of extinction.

Here I am, beginningless, not born but made,

Unless before the world and before the beginning of the world.

A’m creu a’m creat o naw rith llafanat

And my creation was made for me from nine forms of consistency

I was waiting to be clothed, sound to word,

Word to meaning, meaning to understanding,

Understanding to knowledge, knowledge to wisdom,

Wisdom to poetry, poetry to creation of worlds,

Creation of worlds to fear and desire.

How many souls does the one created consist of?

What animates the articulations of a creature?

O ffrwydd, o ffrwytheu, o ffrwyth Duw dechreu

From a fruit, from fruits, from the fruit of God in the beginning.

Not the seed, not the tree, not the beginning,

Begun from the ripened, time-ripened exudate of the creator.

Not from one, but from many,

Not after but at the start of the beginning.

From the tree of God, from God’s fruit,

From the Garden of Eden was I made.

From the vegetal elements of the world, before the world.

Made by God and by enchanters –

Enchanters chanting sounds, chanting word,

Giving fruit its form, giving God a voice.

2

What he says:

I am not a human.

I was given form with plants,

From fruit, from fruits, from God’s first fruit

(And what was that?).

Made from the elements of the natural world,

From plants, from soil, from water.

I was, yet I continued to be shaped

Or given form, or recreated:

From God’s fruit, from the soil,

Water and plants.

From Math, from Gwydion,

Reared by Eurwys, by Euron,

By Modron, by Math, by Gwydion,

These five enchanters.

Made from within a desert, a fire, a conflagration,

Made before the world was finished.

Brewed, even. The plants collected, the elements combined

With water, the fire of the pot, the fermentation,

Becoming the same but changed.

I fall from the first tree, a fruit of God, ripe and ready.

I melt into earth, become plants, become blossoms, become trees.

All mulched, all matter there is, rotted, fermented, made from that.

And is this ‘I’ one or many?

Singular or compound?

Changed before completion

By enchantments of the five.

Before the world in what should have been,

When there was nothing but fire.

Sacred from the cauldron heated,

Stirred in, changed by fire,

Reared by enchanters,

Made new and new and new again.

Rising from the sullen earth golden-topped,

Golden-browed, filled with voices,

Filled with light.

From the houses of earth, I, We,

Arise. We, Taliesin, a fun guy.

Some. Soma. Filled with exhilaration,

Full, frothing, leaping, loud.

The words come from the deep.

From the dripping dark the waters speak.

As clear as thunder, they will echo

Until they find meaning in minds ablaze.

It is a million voices fractured and combined,

Playing in the light, dreaming in purple night.

The wonders are named and renamed,

Calibrated in wandering souls to measure their worth,

Their awakeness, their clarity.

Dressed in monstrous words

Are the names of being and non-being.

The mediocre can never live forever

Except as soil and falling petals.

3

I, the poet

Who is and is not

And also outside the world

Inhabiting all worlds.

Word warring, slicing meanings.

My spear and shield awen,

My crow awen, my cauldron awen.

From God and also

From the enchanters before creation was.

These words are all lies and all perfect.

They are here to shepherd you

Towards a delightful oblivion,

Towards fire and water and the one tree.

The most holy fruit, the fermented fall

Of exultation beyond meaning.

4

Clarity from confusion.

Not jumping to conclusions.

Floating on the thermals of meaning.

The paths that lead nowhere

Lead everywhere.

And the unexpected provides answers.

Turn away from the problem to find the solution.

The deep world beneath the world:

Everything the same, but shining.

The power of seeing patterns

And of remembering the stories that are used

To make excuses to do the same as before.

5

These bright words:

A skitter rhythmic ricochet

Scattering meanings across centuries.

No weir, no tickle or hook,

No line or net will keep them held for long.

Proud words, free words, unimprisoned,

Validated in memories

Springing out of rushing waters, upstream, upstream,

To seed in still minds,

To become vast again

In distant worlds.

6

Yesterday I was sure of its meaning.

Today I am not certain.

Tomorrow I shall start again

following other threads, other roots

down into the dark soil.

The seeds unfurl though they still

see no light. They taste

many futures and that is enough.

Allowing the breeze to bring its news,

breathing softly, trying

not to possess an outcome.

The wind lifts the smoke upwards,

the edges of the day retreat.

It is in silence the song can be heard.

It builds and dissipates

as clouds do at sunset.

Whole kingdoms dissolve.

Endless blue, then one,

then another star.

7

This world is clothed in words.

Shaped by enchanter’s song.

Brought to being and non-being by utterance.

Silence does not dispel it.

There are always echoes,

Always fading recollections

Into the next world.

8

Whose voice is this, whose words,

Yours or mine, and who is this I?

That is, and was, and will be?

The wind bends down the trees:

They kneel, they sigh, they dance,

They moan seeking shelter in song.

They can do little else when moved.

Where do the winds arise?

From beyond what horizons?

A word was spoken- the first word –

A little breath, and it has been uttered ever since.

The wind growing stormy – no birds are in the sky.

This powerful song has driven away all other thought.

You kneel and bend and sigh,

What else can you do?

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VIEW

Hokusai would appreciate the view:

Garth Bank rising like a sleepy Fuji

Framed by those leaning pines

And the placid, silent sky.

He would have changed nothing,

But chosen the lines for beauty

And the colours calm and dun as the day.

A landscape without pearls,

Though edged by snow hills.

One by one we lose our weight,

Floating upwards to eternity.

The two rivers whisper it

In their deep and hidden ways.

I catch the scent of planed hinoki.

Last day of January.

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SCRIPT

The politics of throwing babies into the blazing hearth.

The myth must rise above all choices of good and evil.

Joy and suffering are characters that come and go,

They have their own scripts.

And no matter how erudite we believe we are,

No matter how much better.

The cycles of myth will do away

With our little stories of greatness,

The prattle of improvement,

Our enfeebled longevity,

Our chaotic randomised knowledge

Of nothing in particular.

In the end we justify conflict

Or run in madness to the wilderness,

Feathered in terror and forgetting.

(There is a myth for that one too).

The pocket watch has free will –

It can stop or go.

But once the spring is tight,

Each cog must do what it has been assigned.

And what truth anyway is greater

Than slowing the passage of time

And the moment that time stops?

The dance begins, the dance ends.

In eternal halls the dance is never tiresome.

Memory, to the gods, is an irrelevance.

‘But there must be more!’

Is also a line woven into the myths,

A function of the equation.

Descartes horribly right,

But still missing the point.

Act, because you must, O Arjuna.

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