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THE GREAT ONES

We make our own monsters,
Feed them and sustain.
Dark mirrors
That crush, embitter,
Defining right,
Ripping nerve from muscle
Leaving insensate force
To rule and chain.
Their names
Will live forever
While the quietly good
Dissolve back
As if never.

Their rise is ever
Our failure.
A choice,
A strong dream
Promulgated, given,
Over-ruling a more
Delicate path.

(The willows with their wicks of flame,
The hollow, tumbling call of the owl,
The sky’s gentle rain, fingertip chrism.
The hearth cracks as it cools).

The demons we have cast out,
Those we despised and disowned,
They rage free now, running the world.
Exultant, sure, unconstrained,
They know the fertile, dark earth,
They taste the mellow, crumbled humus,
The undigested decay of hopes,
The ephemeral, hesitant prayers
Laced through with doubts.
Wherever they step,
There is the cooling shadow
Of their triumph, the withering
Of breath, the tunnelling of sight.

(On the still air of morning, dew and mist,
A wood pigeon sails, glides, broad-keeled,
Down to its new nest, its new mate.)

Fire of mind spits and blusters,
Fire fanned and racing, consuming
To continue, eating itself, moving on.
Ashes, dust, smoulder, we eat all, move on.
A bitter combustion lacking all restraint,
Lost in itself, howling, ever hungry.

(The six lokas gently dance,
A play of blossoms, syncopated motion.
Gentle rattle, the bone ornaments,
As rainbow dakinis sway cloudwards.)

The rebels refuse to see any ineffable now.
Enough, they think: a trick that breeds complacency.
The will of Heaven: a slave chain.
Deceit they know: deceit they expect in all.
Their flowers that flourish are the bloom of pain,
The mistaken identity, the immortal secret.
Inchoate, needing all, it grows in secret,
Displacing order with hierarchy,
Growing its own executioner.

These are the Great Ones,
The Immortals, draped in gore.
Do not turn away nor shudder.
Only a clear morning gaze will cool them.
Only a tear-fall of bright dew will wash.
Refuse the spark to fury and fight.
Refuse the glory, refuse the judgement.

Our medicine. What shall be our medicine?
Measured poisons, a taste of death,
A return, a clearing of spaces,
An emptying, an unwinding,
A gesture of removing fear,
A small laughter, a shrug.

What shall be our medicine,
What our poison?
Stillness is an action.
Silence an answer.
No choice, still a choice.

Still the choice.
Remain,
Unhindered.
The roaring fires extinguish themselves,
A transmigration of souls.

**

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Moon Dust.

Man
on
The moon –

Your footprints
In dust
Lasted longer
Than the dust
You borrowed,

Now scattered,
Now scattered.

Stepping
Through the mirror:

Another moon,

Another
Journey.

( in memoriam, Neil Armstrong)

———

( On the day Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, died I wrote a few words in remembrance. At the same time I was reminded of a poem I wrote a long time ago about three carved wooden masks of the American NorthWest Coast – Haida or Tlingit, I think. One of the Moon, one of the Sun, one that was called “Just Returned from Heaven”. Such a feeling of loss, of gain, of confusion of exaltation, of the impossibility of explaining, of the impossibility of sharing, was perfectly expressed there. The expression on the face of all those who have seen the unseen and returned…)

Returned From Heaven

I

Returned from heaven,
Face awhirl in changing jade.

Red runs under skin,
Not blood but power.

Between black brows
Is what he knows:
The wings of the hawk of heaven
And where his eyes look.

The eye on the world
Is an unseeing arc.
The keyhole eye
Knows what moves beneath.

The eye that sees
Is the eye of the hawk of heaven
Upon the broad brow.

The ears are shut in silence:
The mouth, falling slight –
Intake of northern air
Without knowing.

II

Moon is as it feels:
Cool forehead upon yellow wood –
A broad light that spreads
The red thread smile,
Looking down,
Broad with vision.

III

Sun mask:
Wild with heat,
His hair of rays and weaving.
Eyes: black-rimmed with looking fierce,
Forehead: white with knowing.

IV

Returned from heaven,
Between sun and moon,
Stripped of all.

The power runs
fast and sanguine
On the blue jade cheeks.

No guide but the broad moon,
No guardian but the sun’s sharp beak.

Knows nothing but
The wings on his brow.
Hears nothing from his shut ears.
Speaks nothing from his open mourh.

Lost in what has been –
Just returned from heaven.

——-

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