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Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

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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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White with snow are the hills on the horizon.
The rivers are quiet, the pools frozen.
Clouds from the north taste bitter cold sunrise.

The deep, dark, breathing earth accumulates to itself,
As if the threads and shreds of shared sentience
Net down the long years and become soaked
With drip and ceaseless dream, each wish and ache
And spark of memorable brightness,
Catalogued, compacted, savoured, saved.

And with these do they clothe themselves: in a world’s memories
And thus, learn to speak in howls and long whispers,
An aesthetic without emotion, a dance only, a game, a chess board,
A gwyllbwyll, a ritual that is not quite imitation nor mirroring
But has its own exquisite golden reason,
A long dreaming sublimation of spent and careless thought.

All these cobwebs and leaves, they are truly
the only gold to be cherished.
The damp and fusty decay of life thrown off,
Carefully considered and gathered again for feasts of kings and angels
And dark giant forms that have no concern for any future,
but nurture the past cradled in deeper woods, rocked in song,
Draped in arcane languages, swung on sunless, starless seas,
Shattered on mirrored starry pools and fountains.

A moment too slow for this world’s water
( a dream of even clearer water, a blood clear river,
a serpent spiral of cool life,
Silver water, perfect loom of water,
eternal life giver, rock cooled, cave silent,
Tremulous with distant footfalls, distant light.)

More real than the real, more real than time,
more present so it is squeezed between each chink
Of time and space, our substratum, our mother matter,
our folded vast and black pinions,
Our beautiful storm, our glory and tragedy,
our mulch of words.
To where all words sink and their images too,
to reform, re-loved beautiful monsters, free from doubt,
Unburdened of guilt, violent and innocent,
purely, demurely selfish and sharing the virtues of edge and shadow.

Ploughed deep in the dark trenches,
the midnight river boat of sun and moon,
sung with choir of gods and stars and lascivious,
long limbed goddesses born for pleasure.
They will swallow us all, open up and consume,
become fecund and full and birth us over and over,
their lovers named and unnamed, loved and laid to rest.
The smallest of things, a feast of passion most holy.
Most holy the earth and its names,
most holy the mystery beneath us,
the mirror within us, the eyes, the feral eyes,
the hungry eyes that look back
and do not ever, ever, look away.

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I am tired but cannot sleep
Or will not readmit the silent night.

I kneel before the kindled fire
Humbly warmed before its roar.

Its kiss and crackle a comfort
On the round silent dark day.

A skim of dreams caught and lost,
A habitual melancholic stare.

The cats are curled and silent,
Heads held thus, angled, ears ready.

They slip, too, bolsters between worlds,
Watching new ghosts stumbling
Unacquainted with their freedom.

Long held time caught fire
And vanishing up in smoke:
Each a metaphor for all.

A cup of words swilled and tasted,
A meal meagre but stilling echoes.

Eyes will close and close again:
The bright dream fields of morning.

And those I had forgotten,
Still waiting, one door swinging shut,
One door, opening out soundlessly.

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DREAM WORKS

Dark moon
Ripples through
The world.

Strong winds
Along the coast,
Fires pushed fast.

The buried stir,
The sleek hoarders
Of wisdom, stir.

Next to nothing
Is the answer.

A satin edge,
A mighty stillness
Witholding breath,
Inner heat.

Abiding
In emptiness,
The dragons of formation.

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P1050341

MAGATAMA BLINKS

night rain.
slow breath, flared nostrils
of meditating samurai.

drunken skeletons,
clattering arm in arm,
splashing puddles.
rain passes right through them.

five-tailed white fox
rolls over, kisses lover
and creeps out to hunt chickens.

moon lies back,
shivers,
thinking of ocean beds.

calligrapher practicing
with invisible inks,
worlds destroyed and created.

yamaboushi
splashes down mountain path,
breathing rock and root.

five miles high,
dragons and phoenixes
look down on city lights.

crows shift and grumble
nests full of the stolen dreams
of small children.

magatama blinks
turning into a jade bird,
once then twice.

slightly fuddled,
thinking up names
for new brands of sake:
night rain,
samurai nostrils,
calligrapher’s surprise,
moonlit window,
animal seance,
dancing foxes,
shadow river.

poet weaves clouds,
farts, scratches,
remembers, forgets.

cloud scroll, cherry dark trunks.
hooves of the kirin
echoing in the valleys.

there is no magic outside
the mind.
there is no mind outside
of magic.

—-

P1050338

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enoshima edit1

DREAM SUTRAS

Something here in Japan, perhaps the lightness of the summer mornings, perhaps the way the land subtly shivers and sways, perhaps that we are intruders unfamiliar with the nuence of its neural patterns, make night dreams here more vivid. Certainly I awake more often from fright, or from discomforting imagery than at home. An alien technology, or maybe the sake!

in Japan
these eloquent dreams:
still completely mysterious.

Last night, a strong constant wind accomapied us through the entire night. Sometimes I would wake and wonder if a rainstorm was passing overhead, the roar was so steady and insistent.

the long wind
fuelling strong dreams.
mysterious purpose.

Of all the dreams that night there was one particularly convoluted and long-lasting, (or so it seemed). Based around an old man, something of a genius, both an artist and a scientist, as well as an amateur sleuth or criminal investigator. He was involved in many complex layers of research, but was the bane of those who loved and cared for him as his health was failing fast and yet he would not take rest nor ease up on his schedules.

Long wind,
who is the dying sage
so eloquent and ancient, in my dream?

dragon wind
dreams of sages
utterly bemusing.

An interesting point I saw recently on a post about haiku was that amongst the many ‘rules’ was one that stated that a haiku should make no comment. Haiku as a record of perceptions that can evoke numinous emotion without explicitly saying what the emotion should be. Like a haibun, a haiku can lead to endless mazes of commentary and extrapolation. A thought motif, a riff, a theme, can lead to jazz-like improvisations. Now, this rule is not one of simple objectivity. The poet is always objectifying the internal as well as external. Perhaps it is the avoidance of the passing of judgement, not reinterpreting or making a second or a third judgement, that makes haiku resonant, that prevents it simply becoming a commonplace sentence divided into short lines. Who knows…

how many miles is this long wind?
night-long it roars through the curtains.
even my own dreams
are a complete mystery to me.

Haiku, seen as a child-like entrancement (entrancing entrance), a fluidium between self and not-so-self. Paying attention to when nothing is happening, we discover that something is…

roaring dragon wind
how many miles
do you traverse?

as wide as the moon:
this long wind
over hills and valleys.

There is a shamanic, primal sort of awareness in the best haiku. An overlay of worlds. A denial of incorrect or correct ways of perception. Juxtaposition, significant only because it is juxtaposed. For an instant, in this mind, and then in the mind of the reader, sense data and interpretations hold equal value, are equally valid, equally ephemeral.

long wind,
aching bones.
mysterious dream
of ancient sages.

maybe it is my aching bones:
dreams of ancient sages
and steep hillsides.

long night wind.
my dream too,
arising from distant lands.

dream sutras
though inexplicable,
endlessly fascinating.

Finally, the long hours of the night begin to move away, light edges between things, but the wind, having blown away most of my thoughts, still remains.

long wind
blowing away night
to other lands.

In daylight, the warm airs sweep yellows and golds. The palm tree still shaking its dry fronds between the houses, laughing, dancing, bending, chanting.

cats in the sun
eating, sleeping,
composing haiku.

—–

dragon lantern

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CillChroisd

So, since our trip to Skye in late October I have been alert for fragments of a long piece called “The House of Trees”. It is an archaeological process: I have seen the overview, the aerial photographs of anomalous markings. I suspect the subject matter, what lurks below the undisturbed ¬†grass, intimations of structure, an outline, a definite definition. Season by season, I return to gaze from different angles ( the low light or high light revealing something or nothing), tentatively trowel away a little soil ( gold being such a flighty treasure, turning to tin can or brass if not approached with delicacy). Gradually an accumulation of relics, lines, phrases, rivers, posies is piling up. So I have decided to display some current finds, unreconstructed, scrubbed, labeled.

The sections so far can be defined thus:

The pivotal images are a small derelict burial chapel beside a moorland road. Initially I was drawn to it by a large twining ivy plant, white and bone-dead, crawling up the roofless walls. But also a small group of yew trees under which a relatively new gravestone had been placed, so that they acted as a living green monument, evergreen in a windswept, wan landscape.

On the other side of the island, on the main road to and from Portree, we passed several times a deserted croft, again roofless, but this one filled with a copse of young trees. It was not in the middle of nowhere, but on the edge of a small village, newer houses just a stone’s throw away.

Both images of time, of mortality, of people living and passing on. The history of Scotland is depressing: bleak repetition of small conflicts, betrayals, squabbles, misunderstandings, bigotry, famines, disasters, displacement, loss, exploitation of the poor by the rich. As such it is not so different from any other nation’s histories. Perhaps Scotland’s historians were less persuaded by a ruling elite to gloss and gild the facts. The small population, the difficult terrain, has meant that lost villages, deserted houses have not been swept away by succeeding generations. The bitter, unthinking inhumanities that so stain a country’s historical development still remain, accusing, daring the passer-by to forget at their peril.

And the rigid, bombastic stupidity of councils, governments and landowners often encourage a wistful nostalgia for something that never was – a free and unified nation.

The romantic, Isle of Skye, (and by God, it is romantic), for example was parcelled up between bellicose clans, each taking possession of one of the peninsulas. MacDonalds, MacLeods, MacGregors and more, all continuing the Celtic Iron Age ( British) tradition of cattle raiding their neighbours, taking hostages, not trusting each other.

And parallel to this, the mythic grandeur of the Highland imagination ( again, a relict from pre-Christian cosmologies). The Second Sight, the Secret Commonwealth of the Fairy Nations, the spirit haunted wilds, the thin veils between Other worlds that pervade the folk history, the music and the sense of place. It is this that first fuels the project. Sitting in silence one evening I had a sense of being watched by the curious non-human eyes of the island’s Good People, and the memorable fancy that they began weaving, implanting, encouraging images, words, ideas. With that came the contrast and similarity between these mythic entities and the nation’s yearning for Independence, Freedom, Self Rule that re-emerges every generation or so ( and to a lesser extent every Saturday night when “Flower of Scotland” gets slurily echoed down the cobbled streets, especially after the traditional thrashing by England of the nearly always lamentable national football team.).

Time is different in mountain country. Each valley, each glen runs at its own speed, collecting its own data, developing its own reasons, its own story. The horizons are small, the world is a house with walls of green and brown slopes. Legend piles up, each place named for the event it remembers. Memory inhabits and flavours.

The city has its own time too, but it is a time shared by all other cities. Its urgencies are not local, it is fed by roads from elsewhere, it feeds also on its inhabitants, who are within its complex alimentary canal, slowly dissolving. Few cities exist within the landscape. They squat upon it, learning to disregard the geography as the years progress. Cities are not self sustaining. They are parasitical, drawing on the goodness from beyond their walls. Without the constant inflow of raw materials and nourishment, cities will quickly collapse in on themselves, self digesting in panic and confusion.

Anyway, here is the first part, as it is at present. (I will post a few other completed sections in the next few days – so far about ten parts).

THE HOUSE OF TREES

Part 1: A Harbouring of Voices

Come tumbling

Like birds for crumbs:

These lines

Bidden and unbidden,

Broken and insistent

Like gulls.

Small as sparrows,

Bright as chaffinches,

Cautious, sidelong, black watchfulness

As of crows.

Woven, twisted, rooted-

A faint echo from the hill.

For here is not the silence of the far North

Nor its diamond thinness of light.

In the dark the bones gather together,

Get up and dance,

Mutter and gesture seeking meaning,

Seeking purpose.

Plaintive, scolding

Finding tongue.

Whose voice

Is the possessor of truth?

It rises and sinks back hidden,

Forming and unforming,

Like a cormorant on slow black waters:

It will be where it was not,

Leaving no ripples of history or intent.

Ripples LochBay

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