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Posts Tagged ‘deep mind’

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UPSTREAM

As the tides flow in and out,
the voices, withering and young, flow around.

We ride the oldest of things against the flow,
back up to a source where the stolen thing
is hidden unknown to any, unknown to all.
Forgotten forgotten, unnamed even,
taken before three days seen, even.

All these places are places and more than places,
more than time, more than ciphers, more than mystery.
Follow one thread of meaning and you will, for sure, tangle the cloth,
lose the weave, the weft and pattern.

To hold in your hand such a bright wriggling thing
and stop yourself from any grasping, from holding it steady,
from pressing the life and scintillation from it.
Mud and leaves it will turn to, where now it is dancing gold and laughing.

A pattern pressed into mud: perfect impression.
But breathe too hard, even, and it will smudge and dissolve.
That is how fine our truth is, how the names and places and tales wriggle.
Take one road but do not forget the others.
Take one small thread end and tease it out, like smoke, like water,
like the music of gnats.

Neither too big, nor too small, you must dissolve everything you are
and quietly wait, memorising the names and their genealogies.
How snow falls; how fire and promises are one;
how darkness carries its weight;
how the gods mould themselves and learn new dances;
make promises that will never break –
singing bones and feather dust in dark halls.

As soon as you are sure of something, let it go.
Do not hold on to what is not yours ( and nothing is yours).

To know what is, you must know what is not.
To know what it is not, you must know what it is.
Lose sight of this and you will fall down long centuries wondering why.

As soon as it was named, it became lost.
As soon as it became separate, it was no longer known.
Moon tides swing to the bright prison where the river bends,
the crooked one, the turning wheel, the water road.

Say the words, say the words, until the words grow wings and fly away.
The sound of their whistling pinions will diminish, diminish, diminish,
and now the wind will rise and bear you up into oceanic moonlight.
If you call me by my name, you do not know me.
If you call me by my name, how can I answer?
If you call me by my name, you have learned nothing.

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SINTERED VOICES (DARK MATTER SPEAKS)

the river cracked open
becomes starry space

So many words it is a wonder that some peel through the razor noise intact
Not feathered limping, severed spluttering, gasping airless, a stupid music.

the void between emotions:
a valley wind that rolls stones

The howl continuous so familiar, the driver of conscientious actions.
Our names rumbling in the caverns of our ever drunken blood.

if the river runs silent
is it no longer a river?

Fearing silence most of all, we dress daily in chatter
Asking only that our dreams too have electric constancy.

listen, you mute guardians:
i will sing all your names

Oh, Enkidu, striding across tidy fields of tamed constraint
I shall kill you, too, though I love you more than life itself.

there are footprints on the moon
the dust of other lives, sighing

Taliesin, Taliesin, you burst from your womb-bag
Loud and shimmering. If you were not so beautiful
It would have been your tomb.

the silent centre of this land,
where is the end of all things

If you were not such a tricky lad
You would still be sitting next to inpenetrable darkness.

when there is knowledge
you shall be struck dumb

Yet here still you caper in circles around the utter void
Flapping your tongue and pulling faces.

all words, the debris
of other’s errors

all the masters have left us
as if they never were

fading petals pressed
between stained pages

an unexpected lightness
of forgetting why and how

this river, more song and sense
than a thousand nations

this tree, most eloquent
in its most eloquent, swaying silences

raven prophecy
whirlwind visions
the cataracts of unstitched minds
save us from all reasonable madness

we are adrift
on seas of fire,
and hungry,
so hungry, now.

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AFAGDDU

Am nyt
Vo nyt vyd;
Nyt vyd am nyt vo
;

Since it may not be
It shall not be;
It shall not be
Since it may not be;

To the light, bright, guileful one
This darkness unfathomable
Is a fear ugly and unbreached.
Refusing its nomenclature
Sullen beyond edges, unruled.
If it has language it is the language of mould
The skittering of small things, of decay.
A mulch, a compost, a howl of vowels
A gutteral bubbling of green mud,
White, stripped bones grinning
Through swags of drooping flesh.
It is the architecture of night,
The logic of humus, its own gravity,
Penetration of life within life,
Life searching out new form,
Stretching for new freedoms,
A rainbow slick, gyrating in fractal.
Subhuman, unruly son of the mother
Held in her arms, limp and ever dying,
Pieta, beneath matter’s crucifixion,
The rot of resurrection, a weaving of thorns,
Refusing the excuses of others, nothing to tell,
Washed in tears, its own aromatic unguent.
A secret not what it seems, that few will approach,
Is the centre of all things.

Vyg kadeir
A’m peir
A’m deduon.

My song
And my cauldron
And my rules.

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Remembering

How many times is it now, this land drained desolate by war?
The straight roads laid out to speed the killers and the already dead.
How they watched the sunlit shields from the heights above Beulah.
How they stood or melted away.
And the wheeling of the ravens and the hungry, circling foxes.

Cold ghosts in white shifts on every stair,
the cough and the chill that will not go.

Poetry is nothing
If not remembering.

As they pass by the curling paths the drovers will make the Welsh girls laugh,
Talking of their yearning for hills and mystery.
The always shaded hollow roads, singing the words of their own language,
Whistling their dogs to move the herds on.

Roads to remembering,
A dark poetry.

And John Dee, whose blood was Welsh,
Followed Giordano Bruno into the Palaces of Memory
From where, perhaps, he learned the distinguishing of angels from demons
And looked into the dark pools of silence and the language of eternity.
His roads were not smooth.

To find a true remembering
is the herding of sheep without boys or dogs.

Wherever we are, it will be a long road home to the place we remember.
Poor Silver John, made bad to scare children,
Lost on the back of night, drowned and lost in bogs.
His eyes, blind sightless moons.
He will never see home again,
All roads turning like eels,
Though the way he is sure he knows…

Memory comes like a summer shower:
Slanting certain rain from a blue sky.
Then in a moment gone and only the reflected puddles left
To join what was with what is.

And who shall there be to recall all the names of the lost?
We, who are now less than this bitter dust.
At our old nation’s heart the blistered blackened tower.
Encompassed by wheels of denial, unnamed, unnumbered.
A concrete void, eyeless, staring at a royal sky.
This tree of burning, falling fruit, shattered and poisoned, discarded,
Rubbed out.

There is nowhere, it seems, not one place, not one vestibule,
Not one chamber in the brain where memory can be found.
It swirls upon us like a holy fog, wrestles us unwilling as an angel on the road,
A ghost on the stairs landing, a voice at dead of night.
We fear we are nothing without it.
Our one purpose: to not forget, to re-infect the future with the past.
A line of names, a road of deeds,
Following the footsteps, fading, fading.

Footnotes:
How clear, how obscure should a poem be? It is not an essay, so meaning might be subordinate to sound and image. But nonetheless, meaning should walk the knife edge if a certain stream of thought is being shared. This piece was for the 2017 Llanwrtyd Eisteddfod with a set title of ‘Cofio’ (‘Remembering’) and a maximum of 50 lines. As usual, a month or two was spent mulling over some themes and then I returned to the first that I wrote, making a few small adjustments and changing line lengths to fall within the required length. ( other poems published here this month are also fragments on the same theme).
The words should stand and the sounds should dance. The meaning might come and go, depending on whether the reader recognises the references or not -something upon which the poet has no control, never has, never will. But in our (Welsh/British) tradition, poetry was a means to transmit knowledge, to be mnemonic. To entrance, but also to remind the listener of the vast corpus of traditional information and to create meaningful links between past, present and future.

The first verse is located in the Irfon valley where I live and where Llanwrtyd is nestled. It pictures specifically the Roman legions who built roads and forts here to keep watch and subdue the inhabitants, the Ordoviciae. Luckily for the Romans, this Celtic British confederacy of the central uplands of Wales supported the rebellion of the Iceni under Boudicca, thereby justifying a complete and utter genocide of that tribe as retribution ( genocide was one of the Romans favourite means of ‘civilising’, though warring Celtic tribes were not aversed to similar actions). This event is merely a model and prelude to all other armies and rightful rulers emptying this land of its people and resources. The First and Second World Wars continued, indirectly, to the fragmentation of traditional rural communities. Above the village of Bealuh ‘land between heaven and earth’, the ridges of an Iron Age enclosure look down on the valley floor.

Roman roads replaced by the drover’s roads that criss-cross Wales and along which the vast herds of cattle and flocks of sheep were driven into England to the big cities and their markets. If one knows a little Welsh, one knows to be wary of some pronunciations. The drover’s may be talking to the girls about the landscapes they love, or they may be talking about sex and genitalia. ( one of the words for ‘hill’ being very close to the word for ‘sex’, and one of the words for ‘mystery’ also a euphemism for ‘genitals’).

John Dee, the advisor of Queen Elizabeth I, was born in London but his father came from Radnorshire. He was undoubtedly a genius of his age, drawn into the metaphysics of alchemy and the scientific revelations of fervent Protestantism. It is known that he met Giordano Bruno, an Italian metaphysical intellectual who used the ancient Classical mental device of the Memory Palace to hold vast stores of information and near perfect memory recall. Dee conversed with angels, formulated an angelic language, was employed by European monarchs to transmute gold, and was the first to suggest the creation of a ‘British Empire’, based on naval supremacy. He died in poverty with his vast library of books, one of the best in Europe, pilfered and destroyed by neglect and ignorance.

Back in the Radnor hills, a well-respected animal healer, John Lloyd, was murdered one night for his earnings. His body was discovered under the ice of a frozen pool. His memory was used as a way to scare children into good behaviour: “if you are not good, Silver John will come and get you..” and perhaps Robert Louis Stephenson picked up the tale somewhere for his Long John Silver bogeyman.

And then to the current forgotten dead. Three months since the fire in Grenfell Tower, a certain indelible stain on the state of the nation. Evidence scurried away, denials all round, media silence where there should be unremitting howls to reveal all the truth and all the lies. Such a symbol at the centre of the land. The beam in the eye. The burning money tree, the cast away human fruit.

Finally, a wee bit of science and religion. Though there are organs and structures within the brain that need to function correctly to be able to lay down and recall memories, there is no ‘storehouse’, no location in the brain where memories are piled up. Remembering is a whole brain process where pathways and roads of habit are somehow stimulated to recreate a past internal or external event. A passing second reference to angels, messengers of God, who, like memories, insist on being listened to by hook or by crook – as Tobias found out when he was divinely mugged on the road. Paths, roads, incursions, disruption, discomfiture, knowledge, revelation, forgetting. All a web spun out by a freewheeling poetic mind only just under conscious control, in much less time than it took to unravel some of the imagery. ‘Not sure what it all means’. Well, that is the nature of the poetry of the deep mind. And long may it confuse and feed us

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CONJURATION

He sits by the window letting the landscape go.
A little incense will stretch and curl in the moving airs.
There is welcome rain on pale, misted hills:
The meadows and their trees will green.

The shoals will flicker beneath thin surfaces,
And there is skill in waiting and skill in catching up the glimmer.
Sometimes it is enough to hold one wriggling thing.
Sometimes a light touch will tease a line,
A bright twist into this world, a hopeful humming reel.

There is the holding and the letting go.
A whisper wish to Gwyn ap Nydd
Who hunts these lost ghosts and churns them upwards.

To mark a path only, or to push down into it,
Or to be pulled willynilly in mad rush and see,
See where it leads, traipsing forgetful, curious.
Or but to float above serene and light as hawk bones,
To not become distracted by maybes,
To contain all, to exclude nothing, to lose track of no slither,
To allow a subtle sedimentation – to be that patient,
To become equanimity, geological.

It will be the touch of madness that marks it out,
The touch of madness they shall not forget.
The discomfort of impossible resurrection:
Light that is not there, a bubbling up of echoed sounds,
A mystery of conjured voices, a song of ghosts.

This, the slow and certain engraving of our vanishing lives
Upon your smoothed and cooling brows; etched, hatched and nested within
Your twigged and tumbledown minds.
A thimble of the past to dull each ache of uncertain stitch.
That impossible race to reach each sunsetting horizon.

Between the moment and the madness
Is where the bright shoals swim.

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AIRSTRIKE

i am man become tree become sky.
travelling north, grey bridges
vaulting green deep scars,
stitches across the stern uplands of heaven.
roaring waters rush thin and white night and day,
they pay no mind to their lifelong fall.

this winter comes thick and fast
with clear days and deep frost.
i sleep always now upon a bed of stars
dreaming of blank-eyed heroes
mouthing stumbled anthems.

our only hope for glory-
to pretend we have more than this.
though the gardens become wild and ragged,
our minds untended, left to doggedly roam
moss-covered, grass-cloaked ruins,
the words left us, handed down,
untranslateable sorrow.

for this do we make our art:
for the fluorescent eggs of time
hatching diaphanous things
in hopes of worthy, unreasonably beneficent gods,
who have already fed and will not slay us so quickly
but watch, drunken-eyed, indulgent.

histories scab over, but so itch we must scratch
and things will never heal as we would wish.
a bitter cold between dawn.
valley ghosts, the sweep of headlights
heading to cities.
one by one, things shall awake from sleep.

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NIGHT THE FIRST

It is not the placid herds of angels mooing praise nor the conniving pedantic demons.
It is not the male nor the female, nor the roaring furious ones, nor the cowered silent ones.
Nor the eloquent silence, nor the tearing ripping void of sorrows and despair.
Nor the words
Nor the music
Nor the movement
Nor the flash of wings
Nor the sleepy curled furry ones
Nor the bleak uplands, nor the cold winds, nor the emasculating inanities.
Not the glorious truths of dust and measure, nor this, nor that, nor memory, nor forgetfulness.
It is nothing but a book of voices, an intercourse of pulse and pause. A regardless cause, a fleabite itch, primary and secondary, a flowering of galaxies in a tumbled arc across what is not itself. A fierce catastrophic ejaculation, a burst of incalculable seed that looks, feels for, fertile ground uncompromised by purpose or censoring scissors redacting sense and nonsense. A piling out of truths and lies. A justification for beginnings. All the words ever spoke uncysted, growing wings and spines to feel the new red flow, to make a difference, a sifting wind blown unmappable, desert nothing to be quenched but regurgitated photonic haze.
It will inevitably
Fail to favour the blasphemers
With muscle and righteousness,
The gore-caked murderers insistent
Will be cropped and fed quiet bones
Ground down by swans
To cloyed, sweet dust.
There it is, a landscape emerging from mist, a dawn construed half familiar, half achingly strange, inhabited, or not,
Pierced with fierce birdsong
And scything swallows.
A slow mind of colour ripped up,
Pasted from a memory belonging to others,
A grated zest palled, recalibrated as means to an end,
Muscular worm palpating, digesting,
Evacuating.
A little nothing, an almost nothing (see there, a failure to avoid fake evaluations, an arrogance indicative of the species that so presumes an elevated itch: the ability to destroy is the right to destroy). Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil of others. Every time. And slay our enemies who laugh at us with good reason, mocking our belligerent, petty gods, our loathsome, vast and irreducible shadows….

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