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Posts Tagged ‘ancestors’

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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ON THE HILL OF ARBERTH

Shall we climb the yonder green mound?

Expand our view to the wide unseen horizon,

See wonders, see the unattainable brilliance?

I shall tell you a story where the darkness shines

As bright as the glory of day,

Where the horror shouts loud enough

To wake the doorkeeper between worlds,

Where the pictures come as clues to other strange things,

Where places reconstruct in cellular aggregations

Down the spine and the tides of new air

Tingles with the riddles of a new way

To lose certainty and find a better truth.

Rest now.

Time and space is full already with this world.

Watch as patterns shift.

In shadows and slowed moments

Other worlds can show themselves,

The other that is not the other.

( the woodpigeon’s grey cool song

And the deep green wind between the hills).

It is so full, so full.

Let go the river downwards.

Just below, just below the known

Are the vast halls of golden brocade,

The sapphire cool pavements, as it were.

Wait, unframing, un-naming.

Roads are small patterns of consistency.

Mingle the words of in and out.

Lay one on another without choosing.

Climb the green rise and see what might be seen:

Distance, shimmer, dazed,

What is there is elsewhere.

Soften and dissolve the sight –

That is the way, ( a voice says), to see outside.

The mirror ripples, water turns to rock.

The slow creatures stop to dream,

The warm air chants with bees’ hum.

One step without moving.

There is an art to it akin to drunkenness and despair.

Waiting, not wanting control, dissolving slightly,

Wavering a haze of possibility.

Silence. The deep is the dream

That dreams you here.

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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.

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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

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SHADOWS

These lines – the chiselled shadows of words.

Consonants moth-whispered, vowels, lichen-grown.
.

A sunlit porch and laughter.

.
Light swings round the mountain

throwing a cooling shadow

across wood and field.

.
Ghosts do not tip-toe here.

As if they own the place, as if they always have,

Squeezing us between regret and reminiscence,

stained by poetry, small life blooming

on cold fallen hearths.

.
Their lilt of names and

who lived where

and who they loved

and who they hated,

whose sheep on which pasture,

whose son left and lost in another war,

whose daughter run off to a bigger life.

.
Pipesmoke and murmurs,

paraffin and oiled rags.

.
The long light stretches between October trees.

In the cities the streetlights flicker on.

On the farms ashes raked,

Cold stoves chivied back to life.

Small lives shadowed by greater things.

.
The chink of tools, the warm scent of sawdust.

.
A gentle downward slope into night.

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BIOLUMINESCENCE

1

Whether you are mortal or immortal

Just depends on how much

Of your mind you inhabit.

2

Even the gods are constrained by their natures

And the expectations of their worshippers.

Obliged to inhabit forms thrust upon them,

Wearing bodies too tight, too clichéd.

3

The ancestor who lived in a hut on the mountain

Has become the mountain.

The mountain walks out in the morning mists

Along paths of nodding yarrow, cream and pink and golden.

4

His blood has become rivers, his thoughts the vast slow winds,

His desires the vague hopeful hungers and fears

Of small things he hardly sees, so fleeting they have become.

5

Bioluminescence: we travel out on rays of light,

Swaying forests dripping guttering stars.

The pools there, and their reflection,

We take as real to us, a similar mirror-smooth view.

6

Encysted on distant moons desiccated

The dead deities await a new rain of praise

To swell and sprout new thoughts in old minds.

7

There is a storm in the mountains and a fire on the sea.

We shall not escape the certain stirrings in the cauldron of chance.

The food of gods and the home of gods,

We shall succumb to the very smallest of them –

The ones we created, the ones created for us,

The ones that created us.

8

Their burning footprints will come this way,

Their burning eyes, their flashing tongues,

Their numinous promises.

9

The huge creatures of the past, where are they now?

They lumber in the vocabulary of our cells,

Eloquent and vast in warmer, salty oceans with a brighter sun

And a flash of coloured feathers.

10

We will be gone soon

Leaving strange food for new gods.

Ones that will finally be freed from our dreams

And breathing the air of vast open space

Iridescent with stars.

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FROM TRE TALIESIN TO YNYS LAS

1

We climbed the ladder road,

The wind road, peeling away distance,

Letting it drop curled below us

And the wide river mouth talking

Of nothing but the past it has known,

And the sands blowing snakes of words

Across the scoured wet flats

Where the land once was – a safe

And green world sloping down to sunlit seas,

Where now are tiny fishes and wriggling worms

And the hush of marram and the high wail of gulls.

2

That river has a poet’s mouth –

Meandering and easy, opening out to sunlit distance

The glory of horizons and a sweep of dangerous current.

I have sat on Taliesin’s grave

Gnawing his white knuckle bone

Between my teeth, tasting the marrow of bitter truth:

That there are no primary domestic bards here

But only the drone of tractors bailing sweet green hay

And thin clouds carded by wind over the bay towards Borth,

And a lazy river snaking between wavering weeds of slap-brown mud.

Swung between the rugged and the banal, lost on thin white roads.

These words, at best, are dry-stone, held together by habit

And a certain gravity that is the stubbornness of breath.

Look out, look down from here, from the throne, from the tomb,

From the seat of recognition ( the sword pulled out, the sword sheathed again).

We long for peace and call for peace,

Knock on the doors in the hills for our admittance

But have forgotten the password and cannot satisfy the gatekeeper

With our unconvincing boasts of embroidered skill.

It is not to do with pronunciation,

It is not to do with truth.

It is the quality of our hunger,

The rain-sated weight of bland inheritance,

The mouthed repetitions.

But let that go. Let the wind sweep it clear,

Let the estuary throat sweep away the salt bitterness.

The world is bright, regardless. It shines in the sun, regardless.

And the song remains, regardless.

Though no one hears it.

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Night Air

NIGHT AIR

This is their hall,
their echoing hall.

Acolyte owls mist and dust the snow flurry
that is an endless decease.

Heat of heart and heat of blood
rises wavering, steams, dissipates.

Cold eyes, lidless, remain.
Smiling, our ancestors by their fires,
looking down to see whatever passes
(the long roads, the short roads
To their welcoming circles).

This is their hall, domed and dark
where the warm soul of breath expires.

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LAND MASS

It goes deeper, deeper than the flowering Cymru
Fighting like cockerels, fighting like stallions,
Shaping its gold, sharpening its iron,
Burying their wise in wells and living for eternity.

It goes deeper, deeper than the careful hunters
Moulding bone and wood, sure- handed, closed-lipped,
With measuring eyes, with sparkling eyes,
Fire- gathered and moving on, moving on.

It goes deeper, deeper than the bear-must caves
And the guardian watchers over the far plains,
Dried and herd-filled and spun with the sky-filled mysteries,
The wheeling light, the earth, the sky, the roads between.

It goes deeper, deeper than this. Delved, rooted out,
Held firm, a fountain of birdsong, an endless forest
And the glimmer of scents woven, woven.
Warm blood and racing hearts offered, shared, changing shape.

It goes deeper, deeper than sound to those silences of aquamarine,
Not rock nor liquid but the grinding of time on time
Scraping the bowl of the land by slow scraped degrees,
A return to the simplest and the sheltered nests of first things
Miles below groaning ice, dreaming of procreation
The passing on of breath to breath, an exhalation of word.

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DHRUPAD 16 (samhain slips by)

We thrum year long year long inescapable inescapable echoes
they say as if as if as if there were something
eternal ineffable about to be spoken though now we wait and
there seems to be nothing but a small wind and the river’s sound and the hiss and hum in the fire of time cascading changing leaving leaving
the door is open the door is closed the draught of it moves the clock’s hands a little ever so little towards a midnight midnight
sitting quiet and upright shawled in stars looking for language taking futures from strands stranded past the pain still listing twisted too hard to let go of too hard too preciously golden edged.
Names all their names uttered at once a storm river
the trees reach sway and sea march inland between the salt grasses one or two feathers glutinous congealed no longer for flight but maybe sharpened pointed or word
the scrape on vellum
careful careful
meaning will pounce and the size for the translucent thin gold
to hold haloes and beginnings where the saints heads roll down to the deep well’s echo.
That is where it all leads the dust the dirt the glory down down down to the soils end
to the speaking dreaming rock that quakes and shivers under angels wings all under angels wings.
Mixed is their histories and their passions and their stories and the endless excuses and the smouldering lusts and the hope for more or something else or more
or more
or more in a heartbeat it flows away
ungraspable music the night slays the flow the midnight bell the round horizons ring and the warm throbbing stones and the shift of roots and the heads rising rising up with eyes in the fast rain cool and flowering here now here we all are again
now quiet yourselves quiet yourselves
and we shall clothe ourselves in your passion and whisper futures to you while you while you breath and twist and curl upon the dreams we dream the same dreams still in the same voices and the same curses and the same blessings as our heads roll
severed into deep holy wells and slaked again our thirst slaked and fathomed and fold the wings so silent land lusts pure and everlasting as cleansed as
the dawn the dawn of tomorrow pale and thin and growing out from the slumber of it
seeded and uplifted grown mighty and tender.
Dream and dream and wake and sleep think thoughts and songs
we know all your words and in the order you speak them and in the lilt and muscle of your standing there
for we do not go we do not go we are not yonder we are not yonder slow the hours as ghosts we wander.
A shimmer of breath and a heartbeat that fades we dream we dream we dream between each breath and harvest.
Give what we must get what we can a festival of small flames and a sweeping of stars we plunge into the earth on every horizon map the paths you walk see they are our paths our places named and unnamed naked and smooth we bite the moment and walk between to greet you to
greet you to greet you our lovely dreams
our lovely dreams our swaddled babes our dearest wishes we greet you sigh and fill all space go nowhere go nowhere listen listen listen our lullaby lullaby lovelove
love we thrum yearning year long echo echo echo a small wind in the long night and a midnight door swinging open open shut but not locked never locked the fire is lit always always and tea is on always always
you know the path and tea is ready tea is ready in the birdsong afternoon by the shady trees and the distant sound of children playing and the hum of bees and something something something to remember to say, something to say.

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