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Crazy Old Man

CRAZY OLD MAN

We will not know

how great or small

our gods are

until we have searched

through all the rooms

of this house, uncovering

all the angels and monsters

that live there.

What we are,

in silence,

in the bright darkness

of the eternal starry night.

Whether nothing

or everything,

a spark or a whirlwind

or a bitter flaming tree.

They have left ripples

carved in rock.

They have put up

gateways of stone.

They have veered the hills

around the sunrise.

They have left songs

in the soil

that shepherded

the seeds there.

Dreaming, dreamer, dream:

a dream of awakening

does not bring any

dawn closer.

Spring Frost

SPRING FROST

take this tight

fist of frost

sky knifed

star edge cold.

all night growing

winter chime

whispered seed.

Certain is

fools for fools

while the world turns.

Life and death

a blade edge breath

that flips and loves either.

The in and the out of it

that we would hold fixed

and steady as a sure eye.

King ‘til the Spring sun

smiles over the hill

and dreams of summer

quiet upon the air.

Plague Poems

1

YOU WILL STOP

Green veins

Of sunlight

Take you to

The silent abiding light.

Within the within

Where voices

Are breezes

And waves, and

Scratched starlight

Arcs.

The smoke

Tells you

Who you are,

And from whence

And from where.

2

THE MESSENGER

What did it whisper?

That you were never going to live forever.

That this breath now,

Is your only road, in and out

Of this world.

That fears are seeds of infinite patience

And will push through the neatest pavements.

That time is all you have,

And you have no more time.

That we do not begin, nor end,

At our skin.

That all barriers and boundaries

are children’s games, lines of chalk.

That when you take,

You take from yourself.

That when you talk,

Silence would often have more honesty.

That you stand upon

A web of silence.

That you come and go

Like a breeze between dawn and evening.

That your footprints wash away

And the stars shine brightly.

3

SAPPHIRE SKIES

We contemplate more sapphire skies,

Breathe in and watch for pain.

Whether we will last or not

Is not the question

We should be asking.

4

UNSTITCHED

These most sapphire skies

shall see us stitch by stitch

become unstitched

and standing naked,

wondering how it was,

and why, becoming

took so strange

a gentle slope.

Tides and waves,

a change in the weather,

a blackbird’s rain song.

How could we have forgotten

so easily?

All is absorbed

becoming benign,

a honey sustenance

for new sunlight.

Orkney Sequences

ORKNEY SEQUENCES

1

The wind sings between the grey walls of the town.

It sings of long seas turned to green fields.

Small birds scatter and reform in flowing air.

Islands turn to cloud and then dissolve in the driving rains.

2

Perhaps the first thing you notice is the soft lilt of the land:

The way the colours slip from brown greens to sapphire greys,

And the sound of the waves, a ceaseless singing (that is also in the quiet voice

Of the people who slip between worlds and grey streets

In and out of tinkling tea shops, the warm must of cosy bars,

Turned around through doors by the sharp wind and its slap of cold rain).

3

This wind is not to be escaped from..

It has come this far from a world away.

Though you may wait awhile in the warm quiet,

You must leave to face the remorseless thrust of it.

4

So many miles crossing the earth.

So many miles across the air.

So many miles over the seas,

To the first hearth, the sparking fires,

The strong stone vulvas of the rolling lands

Arching green, gentle green from the green seas

From which the dead do dream,

To which the living return like swallows,

Like swallows sifting their songs, the scything memories.

The dead own all the songs, the songs feed the dead

And keep the fires of the living warm and strong.

5

Deserted farmsteads scattered the slopes

Weathered grey skulls, window eyes dark and sightless

Broken jaw doorways toothless gaping

Slate pate roofs smashed open by war-hammer winds.

They mark the passage of years and the bite of seasons.

6

By whatever ways, whatever ways we come to them

Waiting diffident or with curious eyes to see what they have become.

Until we feed the fire, until we feed the warmth now the long memories,

Until then they are remote as stars whose names are not known,

Whose patterns are not picked out by pointing fingers.

We move towards them and they, waiting or not,

Wrapped up in their own watching.

There is nothing left here but scattered teeth

And broken skulls, voiceless gaping jaws

And the endless wind across the low green fields.

It was better than this, it was better.

Words piled up in cairns,

Words piled up and stones laid out.

7

The central hearth

Where stars burn

Where the gathered starlight burns.

The wind is in a minor key.

Ghosts of footsteps heading north.

This is the last feast

Before the world changes.

Before the old doors are sealed.

Before we throw away our names

And watch for new signs.

Bone by bone

We disassemble our gods

A LULLABY AGAINST FEARS

Do you not see the doors swinging open, swinging shut?

With each breath in and out, the breeze of their coming and going.

.

Cold is the mountain and the white snow will wake you, will wake you.

There is only a moment to know more,

Only a moment to remember and forget.

Until we know what it is to dream it,

We shall never waken.

.

We thought we had removed from ourselves

The scent of death that followed us down

Through all the long centuries.

.

We thought the posy of politeness had done more

Than mask the fear.

As always, it is the smallest of things

Breaks open the delusion

Of genteel comfort.

.

Every room, every landscape, every moment,

Has a door that, should we walk through,

Would take us into other places, never to return.

They swing to and fro with our in and out of breath.

.

A door of leaves, a door of grasses,

A door of breezes, a door of riverbanks,

A door of whispers, a door of praise,

A door of sorrow, a door of breath.

These doors coming and going

Between the world you know

And the worlds you do not yet know.

How many have changed you beyond recognition,

Forgetting the song you were singing

To get lost in a tune unfamiliar,

That better becomes you?

So many doors, remembering and forgetting.

A door of small things, a slight imperceptible door,

And you have gone to be elsewhere,

In sunlight unsullied, in radiance of starlight.

Plague Days

PLAGUE DAYS

The silence grows with the lengthening days.

We may yet learn how to breath in

And how to breath out with simple joy.

We may yet sit still and listen to birdsong,

Settling into the world we almost lost,

And now have the chance to find within us,

As it has always been, as it has always been.

Not Yet

NOT YET

If you go a little way from here,

Down to the valleys and towards the towns

You will see the surprise of green:

The hawthorn hedges already plump with budding,

Blackthorn blossom scattered and the slim beginnings of willow.

But not here.

The hill is waiting yet, as its people waits,

In no rush to lose the cold, clear skies.

Still breathing deep and slow the muddy mulch and bracken,

The silent puddled lanes that measure

The stretching days and spin of stars.

There, (here and there), even a cherry, young and impatient.

Even the black ash swells.

But not here,

Except the elder has begun to heal its emptiness.

One more bright day.

One more clear night

And we shall be full of lambs and birdsong.

But not yet.

Not here,

Not yet.

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