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Posts Tagged ‘deep mind’

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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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TANGENTIAL (stumbled sketch)

There: art, not a thing,
not a, not owned.
Flown.
A consummation not consumed.
A mirror mirrored. What gods do.
Play innocent of consequence.
What childen do ( when they forget to be good or bad):
Follow the trains of thought noise feeling echo memory dream back back oh back.

Mr. Young,
Dr. Cold
seasoned by dust of science,
almost right, but then again…
Too serious to see the truth.

Tap the words, metaphor, semaphore,
Heirophant, hieroglyph, sign, sigil, psychopomp, or
Orpheus walking in the singing mists.
It is not this, but only just.
It is almost here, and then again…

A blurring.
Ink does it, that small spidering reach,
The small fibres sucking, new chaos stretching,
Mycelia of thought reaching out from meaning.
What Taliesin knew
( the bards struck speechless by
His seed syllables),
It is so nearly thought,
So nearly speech,
So nearly, nearly silence.
A catch of breath, a sigh.
Shall we turn round to look
Whose warmth stirs
The neck’s nape?
And will they then vanish,
Or us, ourselves, dissolve?
Unclothed before the tree,
Giving names,
Bestowing edge.
From where
The seven rivers
Mellifluous flow.
Sprung from the root
Of our moist tongues.
He, the seed.
She, the fruit.
Both vessels hollow,
Ringing.

—-

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DARK PATHS

Weighed down,
dragged down.
The dreary shadows of Hades.
Evaporated, become vapour,
a sigh, a damp complaint.
Tumbling or attaining
A natural level, gravity grave.
All the Wise Ones. Look! They have the heads of animals. All the guardians of the Hours along the River of Night, they all have the piercing eye of hawks, the sharp noses of dogs, the cunning of crocodiles. Look! The Sky Dancers, the holders of secret clarity, flying cloud-free, singing rapt with heads of horse, lion and vulture. Elephant-headed is the vast Remover Of Obstacles, librarian of memory. This is the meme, the clue, the thread. ( this thread, shallow steps into dark cornered gloom, where the monster, of course, is waiting, of course, with bull’s head.) Follow the dream meme to the shadows.
Six weeks respite
from relentless rain.
Now it drives down.
Wherever it falls:
the same streams and rivers fill.
They brim and gurgle
above the howl of wind
in their long, worn familiarities.
The waters rise up, and I am sunk down, becoming nothing. Abandoned. Lost. Forgotten, misplaced. Having lost the long lists, the fabricated descent, step by step, blindfolded, to here. In sepia, well-presented, motionless, in Sunday best, they are staring out nameless. Forgive us our forgetfulness as we forget those who are silent. Forgive us or forgive us not. For it is only the slicers, the severers of arteries, the disdainful destroyers, the meticulous murderers whose names we remember. The blameless, the harmless, all failures unknown. It is to the entrepreneurs of tyranny that we look up adoringly. Those who lead us to the precipices of dogma – it is to their simplistic gravity we tumble into darkness, grateful for the black and white of damnation.
These are the dark paths
through the deep forest,
shadows cast darker,
deeper by whatever light is shone.
From here, from there,
those shades cannot be driven.
They adhere to form and fact,
for that is their way.
However bright the light,
though they may shrink and shirk,
they spin and do stretch to find the corners.
Only if they should self-ignite, bloom,
flare up in glory of their own natures,
ceasing, then, to be the other,
will they become all radiant.
Each speck, each curse,
each scar luminescent.
Offered a single choice, here or here, we set off down the wrong path, at first hopeful but soon abandoned, suspicious of irredeemable error, fated, doomed. Each turn incised, carved in those shadowy lanes, brushed by insect antennae. The rasp of quiet, scaled, coiled flanks. The drip, slow drip of cold poisons. The hero, the fool, the hermit, along the path of crushed bones, dry, marrowless, to the castle of skulls, cemetary of good intentions, of careful planning.
No matter how one thinks of it. How eloquent, how elaborate, how sapient. They will become expunged. The soul is woven from these dark paths, these cul-de-sacs, these alleys. Even, even, without a name, without a body, their tracks will whisper that same pattern, draw along the same lanes, the familiar valleys into oblivion, the pathways of your soul. The slight impression of each signature, the names chosen to be ours. Mind matter cascading along, funneling down the worn crevices, fingertips wearing the print from crumpled maps.
But that is not all. There is no simple black and white (should you still think it so). These dark paths are the roots that feed us. Now and ever. The strings that knot the random into puppet dance.
That shadow identity.
There it is:
that, and this,
shadow
identity.
Vast and strong, stronger even than seems goodness, than polite graces, than washed out, mealy-mouthed heavens bright with weak wonders, bloodless fancy. Left behind to thrive, to wait, to build armies of reasons why: the roads that were rejected, the masks felt to be inappropriate, the behaviour reprehensible, the lusts out of step, the loves and hates unjustifiable. Building our building on the dead, who live yet, who live in the corners, the alleys, the shades, who steer us showing the way ( for they know the light so well, where the limitations dwell). And should you think yourself attempting holiness, or at least well-intentioned, trying hard, socially responsible, you will ( and this is most certain, most true, most shocking, rocking, roaring your slick foundations, my dears), run most, run fastest, run longest, deny the most vehemently what is also the golden, radiant best, the limitless possibles, the unfathomable depths of glory, screaming from it as if it were utter darkness, an ending to, a melting of.
Haunted will we be, relentlessly, drowned in guilt pretending to be good intentions
will we be. Hunted, will we be. Slain over and over.
Dark paths.
Visit the interior
Of the earth.
There shall be found…
There all shall be found.
The source, the spring
That can flow pathless,
Requiring no other truth,
No other choice.
A silver cup
On a fine silver chain
A dip, a sip,
To become
Unchained, dreamed, folded, woven, returned, unharmed, whole.

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