Posts Tagged ‘patterns’


Listen, listen, the slow light of solstice morning.

Time shuddering, time standing still.

A word wind muttering indistinct, its rhythms and intent

As steady as oars would be, as steady as oar strokes across a glassy sea.

Listen, listen. We were all in one band, a magnificent number.

Heading west ( always heading west into darkness there, into the mists).

One raised his voice – the song we all knew.

One of those songs whose words would be ridiculous, banal,

Without the tune. Whose chorus impossibly united the living and the lost.

The glass sea slid by. Time ran out.

Some said it was a hard coming of it that year, but it was not.

It was not. It was as easy as breathing.

The reasons, so reasonable. The logic, implacable.

The rhetoric, bombastic and irrefutable.


The watchmen were silent, uncommunicative.

Impossible it was to know the minds of the doorkeepers.

We were there to free the imprisoned,

There to reclaim what had been lost,

There to carry home what had been taken.

Voiceless one by one we fell into silence there.

Burning bright as phosphor bombs falling from the air.

Bright as sparks hammered from the anvil.

The prize was claimed, as it always is,

The light released, the cave broken upon,

The tomb unsealed, the spell broken, the curse trod down.

But the world now, irrevocably changed.

Seven with breath, seven with tears still falling,

Seven tired and justified. Seven wan and clustered stars

Backward looking, racing on.

In a world, in a morning, not ours.


The slim waning moon floating into the stormy dawn,

Losing its light minute by minute. No longer noticed.

Fading into day.

I have cast out on the grass, seeds for the small brown birds,

For the hungry and the cold.

The eagles and the hawks have gone. The songsters silent,

The stately waterbirds, the watching herons forgotten in the fluttering rush.

I shall sing the names, uphold the excuse,

a psalmist counting off lines in a cold cell: the cajoling verses of warrior kings

For fickle vengeful gods, the rosary of blood red beads, the genealogies,

Until the shivering silver-edged awen fails, tumbling into mute silence,

Voiceless watching an unextraordinary morning.


If we had not been so strident, so golden,

Could we have passed the doors unscathed?

Had we understood what was asked of us,

Has we not mistaken guileless honesty as elaborate deception,

A trick to catch us out,

Could we be in those halls still feasting?

There with no needs to forget,

no weight of dust and falling radiant starlight upon us.

No need to elaborate the litany of the dead,

Compose harmonious laments, gather together the names,

as if they meant anything any more, as if we remembered

Their bright eyes, their smiles, their warm strong hands,

Their words around the fires.


The ashes are cold and must be cleared now.

Reset the hearth. Begin again.

The splash of sweeping oars and the crack of canvas receding.

Our bright futures looking westwards: the new approaching night.

It is not what it could be,

Not what was promised.

But it is what it is.

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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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Book of Voices (This Sky: part 1)

Let us say: this sky, as pink certainly as warmed skin.
This, an indefinite and infinite blue, as those eyes.
And as close,and as distant, as God.
Let us say: there will be again,as ever,one voice that begins,
A clarion clear and moon-bright,
One stirring uttered echoing on the valley flank
Or deep on the sacred golden wood,
Cloutie-hung with shredded prayers,
(Shellac shined black ink careful lines on white silk,
Vehement, scratched curses on lead, tight folded,
Hidden in crack and crevice, utterance to vengeful ones
To do it, do it for me).
A shower of seasons tattered reasons,
Shattered, smattered, sculpted, howled to mothers
( hungry and cold in the dark, glint of light
And voice whispered behind the holy door).
Like this, almost exactly: one clear star
Glinted, marked out, a definite oneness,
A line, a shaft, a rope to upness and downness,
Dimensional isness, a road to stick to.
But as eye accustoms to deeper delved
And shrinking edge of silence:
One more there, and another, and so another
Until the sky is dark with inescapable stars
Vying for eye and patterning the mind with yes
And yes, a plan, a map, a purpose, a chorus
Of foamed ejaculate, a tide ripped and roaring in
Upturning pebble feather flotsam bone and tattered weed
( a flap of iodine, a wriggle).
Let us say, this close to madness
Is this close to revelation.


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I had forgotten completely about this work, which I had worked on during an Artist’s Residency in Lincolnshire. It is one of several that I conceived. Only one ever got performed – too metaphysical for most Arts Council’s tastes, I expect.

Here they are presented on the theatre stage of your own mind, no need for tickets, no need for polite applause.

Not quite film, not quite poetry, not quite “Under Milk Wood” ! A sketchbook of a journey through a landscape……..


Night Patterns – Fragments of a proposed performance.

These are the names they suffer.
Name and form.
Foam from the distance,
Light eaten by hungry eyes.
Light locked in the memory of cells,
That recall the first time
They grew from the glimmering dark.

[Followed by names and translations of constellations and stars whilst body outlines are transferred onto the floor]

The woman in chains
The flying eagle
The sign
The hunting dogs
The scorching
Al kalb al mutakaddim
The serpent bitten
Mira Ceti
The pair of compasses

“Whose eyes are these?
These cold eyes.
These flickering eyes.
What names are theirs?
In what designs do they fall?
These cold fires.
These flickering fires.

What are their names
And what are their designs?”

We know them by our own fires.
We name them from our own names.
We shape them to our own designs.


‘Men and creatures were more alike then than now. Our fathers were black, like the caves they came from; their skins were cold and scaly like those of mud creatures; their eyes were goggled like the owl’s; their ears were like those of cave bats; their feet were webbed like those of walkers in wet and soft places; they had tails, long or short, as they were old or young. Men crouched as they walked, or crawled along on the ground like lizards. They feared to walk straight, but crawled as before time they had in their cave worlds, that they might not stumble or fall in the uncertain light……..”

(Zuni creation myth, New Mexico)

“Earth Doctor saw that when the sun and moon were not in the sky, all was in inky darkness. So he sang a magic song, and took some water into his mouth and blew it into the sky, in a spray, to make little stars. Then he took his magic crystal and broke it into pieces and threw them into the sky, to make the larger stars. Next he took his walking stick and placed ashes on the end of it. Then he drew it across the sky to form the Milky Way. So Earth Doctor made all the stars.”

(Pima peoples, Arizona)

A Persian munuscript of the 14th century: “The Book of Fixed Stars”, shows two versions of each constellation: one as seen from the Earth, and one as they would appear to someone looking down on them……..

“By their powers
They traversed the whole world,
Measuring the ancient divisions,
They restricted all existent beings
To their proper forms;
They distributed in many directions
Light amongst the people.”

(Rig Veda, Mandala X. 11. 14)

[Walking barefoot along a pathway or border of chalk powder: leaving black footprints. Then walking on to a black path, leaving white footprints.]


Echoes in the skull’s dome
Sift and shape.
We dream at the cavern’s mouth
(In the deeps, the horned one chants).
Looking out
At flickering shadows,
Dumbstruck with thoughts
We cannot utter.

“Stroking the thighs of Night”

The border. The point between. Grey dawn.

It is late October in the hours before dawn
When the night is all corridors and roofless rooms.
When darkness is milky grey and moving with echoes.
When the wind in the dry leaves might be rain.
When the rain might be crackling flame.
When the whining of dogs might be the crying of children.
When the creatures with no shape move
Along the lines between spaces.

There is a figure in the centre sitting.
The arms extending, holding two rods
Down towards the ground.
There is a figure standing
On one leg between two poles.
There is a figure moving slowly
Along a marked-out path.
There is a tightrope walker.

The mariner’s card.
The flower of distance.
The astrolabe of thought.

Whence these movements of mind?
Walking the shore – neither land nor sea.
Waking nor dreaming.

To consider one possesses thoughts
Is erroneous.

The mariner’s card –
The hunt,
The transformation,
The accidental illumination.

“Not Quite and Only Just”

Waking before dawn, 24th October. The image of a seated figure, holding out as extensions of arms, two long white poles. The sound of the night – rain or wind on the dying leaves; the echoes of a dog or a person shouting…..

[Most movement will involve these two poles, which are the same height or taller, than the performer.
The tightrope.
A figure-of-eight, or a circle is walked, with one pole turning around the other. One stationary, one moving.]

From where do these images emerge?
Who thinks our thoughts?
Why have meaning attached to action?

Action free from explanation.

The line of thought. Ariandne’s thread. Bells, echoes, repeats, repeats. Siva and Ganesh. Time and Space. Doorways.
Justify actions with thoughts, reasons for actions. Categorize, plot, file.
A relationship of patterns.
One electron moving through all dimensions creating everything.
Walking a line on the shore between waking and dreaming.
Random thought or didactic progressions.
Terra incognita.
Fear of the dark, fear of empty spaces.
The filling in of names and dates.
The movements and positions are visual – mapmaking pins and string..


I am trying to put sounds,
Words, to the movement.
Why not silence?
(Cage’s silence in his music – no silence).

Cause and effect.
To describe each action as it occurs.

“Where the moon is now?
At this moment.”

Cause and effect.

“I want you to watch as I watch.
I want you to watch
Because I cannot watch.
You think therefore I am.
You watch therefore I move.
The observer and the observed.
The thought, the act of thinking, the thinker….”

A pattern drawn out in the dust:
Memorised to allow passage through,
Despite the witch who continually tries
To erase it………

Bowls with mirrors and lights,
Skins broken reflecting on the face.
Narration of Cerridwen and Taliesin.
Transformation of thought,
The line of thought,

Pouring torn paper, reflecting silver
Into bowls of light.
Ritual emptying and filling.
Long Man of Wilmington,
Discriminator of Two Points.
Tracing the pattern, memory,
The way beyond the stagnant hills.
The revealing of power,
The footprint,
The pattern.

“Not Quite and Only Just”

[A black background, white figures. Drapery. Covered and revealed. Pouring bowls. Spinning, shifting lights. From an empty space to a full space. Wheels. Movement of the spheres. Scientific facts. Mythological fact. Symbolic fact. Fictional fact.]


Walking barefoot,
The pattern drawn in the dust.
Delineate, explain, comment….

The woman in chains,
The serpent bitten.

The exact position
Of the moon,
Right Now.


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Balance Point ( songs for an equinox)

Fading words on fragile pages.
Autumn winds blew old, very old words into my mind again.
I think some of these pieces, which I wrote over thirty years ago, stand up well. But it is hard for me to tell.
They are like long-forgotten, well-thumbed photographs – difficult to look at objectively through the associated memories and emotions they evoke.

Still it is a nice thing to press them, like fallen leaves, between fresh white pages, letting them float across other’s sight for a moment or two……


Corner of the Year.

(its voice is the essence of the crow – its name is its sound, it can be heard even when it cannot be seen….)

The crow’s call
Across the golden morning.

In my mind
Summer ends.

The fire
The leaf’s fall.
The fire
The world’s edge.
The fire.

It was the crow’s cry
Turned the sky
To autumn.

On the bridge
The corner of the year.
On the bridge
The salmon are leaping.
On the bridge
The fire has fallen.

The crow leans
Into distant blue.

I stand at my high place:
The battle of dawn.
Banner-black cloud pinion
Where cold light falters.

The old fire sinks
To the deeps beneath.

But deep
in the call
Of the dove
on my window

Is where summer
Has hidden.



Mind. Moon. Circle.

(An offering for zen poet, Ryokan)

Deep blue.
The deepest of blues.

That lightens
And darkens
To shape and shadow.

From out of the woods
He steps in silence.
Standing still
With no thought.
Breathing the earth
Through his heels.

There is a closeness behind,
As of dreaming trees,
But it is the past
With no memory.

I was going to meet
Old man Ryokan,
Gazing together,
The glimmering cup of sake…..

One robe is the sky.
One bowl is the moon.

And perhaps
A word or two:
A haiku with the first line
“though we must part..”
Never finished out loud.

A white dancer,
A blue stage.

There is music
But no one watches.

Having forgotten themselves
Which is the moon?
Which is the lake?

Pale lips
The moment
Before speech.

No words.

There is silver.
There is deep blue,
And the deepest
Of blues.

There are no words
And no end.



Corvus corone corone

( for those who love the freedom-loving crow)

Across blue ether’s egg,
This black winged voice.

A rag of will
That pits the wind.
Bone and barb
To carry hunger’s beak,
On the gibbett air.
Moulded sharp
Upon the squall.

Cinder of night
Strewn upon
Day’s garden.
Fall of ash
From star’s devouring.
With a cursing tongue.

What god is his
Whose bright eye hallows?
That marks the quick-drift,
Cross-tide of seasons?

What fist
That clenched the flux
Of elements,
Drove the spring
Tight bound
Around this heart?

Praise Him
Whose passion
Light exalts.
Him whose thought
In shadow.



The Silent Centre, or: The Night’s Road

( this was written when I was working in a studio in rural Lincolnshire for a year. I was working a lot with stars, star names and patterns, the evocative stratigraphy of history and folklore…….)

The silent centre where the slow Pole turns
Winds and ravels in the breath of minutes.

From the root of the spine
To the branching sight
It pulls upwards an arc of thought
Spanning clear into the glimmerimg dark.

Long are the miles of Time.
Long the carts wheel that studded road.
Heel and toe the tongue considers
To mark each stepping place.

Mirae, Arcturus, Menkar, Rigel
Deneb, Vega, Scheat, Enif.

We need and must go
To the edge of the wind’s roaring.
We need and must go
To the shore where all seas still.
We need and must meet
The house at the road’s crossing,
And rest not but pass on.

Long is the road,
The road that the stars look upon.
And it is a fragile holding:
The hold of name and number.
If ever we should forget, oh
If ever we should forget the stepping place,
And careless let slip the line of sight,
Careless let fall the weight of thought
And the heart’s salt tide
Not rule the night.

Then whence and where would lose the circuit’s end.
Lost one by one, the wheels should cease,
And lost, the lights would dim and shiver.
The names of Man, the Spirit measure
Would curl and grey
Forbidding dawn forever.

But where eyes turn
The name shall find them,
And footsteps trace
And tracks recover.
Where edge meets edge
The hope discloses
The constant spark
Forbidding night forever.

We need and must go
To the edge of the wind’s roaring.
We need and must go
To the shore where all seas still.
We need and must meet
The house at the road’s crossing
And rest not but pass on.

Mirae, Arcturus, Menkar, Rigel
Deneb, Vega, Scheat, Enif.



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