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Our Geography –
Nant Crysan

The rowan reddening,
No drop of sunlight wasted;
And the dried grasses to feast on
For finch and siskin.
The blue forest, floating on heat and haze,
Is cool still, the sound of trickling water,
And a breeze far off
On the slopes of Esgair Fwyog.

A row of hills weighs again its thoughts,
The horizon still no nearer.
There, by Spite Inn, the buzzard
Peers from its high post:
Something will stir and food will come.
The world wastes nothing,
Passing on one to another.

The road turns because it must,
Rises because it must,
Falls because it must,
No god complaining.

The rivers of old walls,
The lines of fields left fallow.
And the old names:
The ridge of the runaway,
Haunted still ( the cry of hounds and the drip of fear);
the ridge of the tumbling waters,
Haunted by another sound – of
Gathered ravens and ripped, uprooted, roaring torrents.

This rise and dip of this land
Draped between named places
Always slows and deepens my breath:
The way the hills fold up to the sky,
The way the forests have been patted
Into neat lines at field’s edge,
The way the water of Nant Crysan moves slow
And hidden in the sedge-rippled meadows
Where the black cattle come and go,
The way the fences fall into their own calligraphy
And the gates open always,
always to empty, sighing sky.

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Our Geography (1)

Our geography is mellow and tear-washed,
meandering and mud-stained.
It dreams through mist and slanting rains,
bites its lip and grasps the rooted valley sides.
It sends out messengers and bards
on posts and cries their hovered song.
It wears its history against a fickle, fast future;
views as unbecoming the speed of our own descent.
Though welcomes us back always
to its folded silences.

A Slap of Wind

A slap of wind
wakes the rain.
Its rhythmic verse,
a round choir’s work.
We watch guiltlessly
the dark clouds muster,
dream and dream
the long Sunday through.

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DHRUPAD 12 (cooler now)

The shape curved of silence
in this night round mooned delighted
and cooler by far now the rain has passed
the sudden fast downward drive on roof and skylight
and leaf and gutter the curtaining of distance
the disappearing hills in sound in sound all that has gone now
even the drips gone now and the moon serene through tatters
through arced moments through blackberry shining moments.
The curl of the blade following a line the spiral shaving born with a whisper sound that is that is that is
the beginning of language how silence is shaped and pared away
becoming this and this air held and shaped and let go
the delight of it the song the song the trouble and the maze
refining nothing into something the silent padding cat the sliding silent moon the shining blackberry shining full and the elderberry falling in bunched laughing laughing.
The muscled deep the deep ache and hold and tense holding
the body glides earth soil held by sound and a hum of breath
it is a hum of breath and a sigh of moon and a laugh of shiny blackberry falling falling sweet and sharp and hidden
beneath the skirts of green light the floating skirts of edged cool air
where the nostrils know and feed
and autumn autumn autumn stretches up with smiles
and snapping moments and chains of time split and wired round the dark edges of the wood and the night dogs and the goose by itself on the hill
and the shape of things just so in the silence
and the sound of stirring sight.
Cooler now is silence and the sounds upon it
cooler the steps cooler the path cool the breeze
and the cloud misting valley misting the growing apples sun heavy.
Warm the sun but not as warm as was.
The was warms round and held moments in the round fruits in the swelling fruits and the shapely droop of seed.
The was feeds the is and the is slips silent down watery paths and the is is something it is not.
Becoming nothing but shapes in night silence
night silence now and its press of hum
and silent weight of hum and star thick hum and moon drift hum and blackberry shining hum and the elder berry hum
and the breath of it all and the white hearted goodness of it all
gone and here in a moment.
Cooler now the fires within the fires within cluster brighter cluster sounds and hum and silent shape
and a curve and a curl
and a spin in time
and here and gone
and here again.

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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