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SOMETHING TO BE SAID (MAYDAY)

Pauses grow longer, a melancholy may soon creep in.
We cannot escape our own voices.
( “We rarely go out these days and visitors, though longed for,
are a great discomfort”).
It is a wild guilt that wants our words in other’s heads.
Always a nuisance and a pleasure
to be infected with poetry,
to admit the familiar voices, to see which one leads, this time, the hunt.
Gwyn ap Nydd collecting souls, the ghosts of words,
The white words, the vapoured words,
the haunted words – as poetry is.
‘White, Son of Mist’ – like the morning,
the first attempt at May, after a night of rain,
new in stillness and birdsong, mist on green land,
the ash trees still thinking about their coming fountains of flowers,
roots wriggled so deep in the past, and aching old.
The dunnock’s sweet descent.
It filters down as if spider webs
And gold dust – the flecks
Of memory and forgetting.
A city with loud inhabitants, unkind and strange.
A darkness punctuated with doors and reasons.
As if it didn’t matter, everything collapses.
The moment passes, the tongue gives up.
It cannot make the chords that the brain sings in,
Just one note at a time, syllable by.
There is something to be said for silence.
The way the mist in its own dreaming gravity
Slides along the slopes
And settles in the cwms.
The way it shifts space.
The way it delineates what is not itself.
With what would we fill these silences
Should all the voices stop?

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could I carry
The words of aonghus macneacail
Safely in my head,
A basket of eloquence,
Then my own tongue
(And its roaming spirit)
Would never be silenced.

And my eye would be
Hard as nails, soft
As sea foam
Seeing all, feeling all
In sounds
Round and slap flat,
Like a bodhrain
Of the heart.

Wave-formed sound
Of how it is,
How it may be,
How it was –
A weaving of Time
And Space,
A knotting of nets
To catch the fast, glistening shoals
Of verse,
Clever creel to hold safe
All those
Camoflaged, scuttling notions.

For they are there
When I am in drought,
(lips cracked, tongue
Cleaved to mouth’s ceiling),
Angus, and Sorley, too:
Like sudden, hidden
mellifluous streams
Stumbled across
On the deserted, bleak
Black moors,
bringing fountains of words
Tumbling,
Roaring
For an hour or two
Until subdued
In bog and slough
Or drowned,
quenched,
Tumbling
Over the cliffside
To be lost
In the hidden rivers
Of the sea.

——-

(On a recent trip to the Isle of Skye I bought a copy of Aonghas MacNeacail’s new volume “Laughing at the clock” in Portree.
I have, there and since, been working on a poetic piece in many parts concerning the passage of Time, landscape, life, death, the secret commonwealth of the Sidhe, inspiration, Independance, freedom…..
It is not the usual way I work – a careful fishing for lines, a tentative accumulation of images, and the whole edifice rises and sinks over time like a mythical island. But when I think I have exhausted its potential, or become distracted by daily events, all I need to do is to open up a page of Aonghus’s, or of Sorley Maclean and then my head is filled with a flurry of muse’s feathers ( coming or going), which, if I am fortunate in giving the time to put down the phrases and ideas, can fuel many things.
Language is indeed a virus, it seems. And I am happy not to be innoculated…..)

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