The Road Taken

We think the line ahead

catching the sun’s glancing blow

is a pathway, leading

somewhere, a definite

place, with a start and a stop.

We imagine the gates

standing proud in the sunlight,

declaring completion.

But as the heat of the day

turns to dusk, and the cold

mists of night gather themselves,

the line dissolves, leaving

us alone in the moorland,

no landmarks or signposts,

following the hope within.

What’s the use?

What use is the branch, discarded

in the unknown moments of night?

The beetle may hide in its shade

and find some kind of merriment

before the rains fall or winds blow.

It may trip the heedless runner

seeking strength in the morning mist.

Yet time ticks inexorably

and righteous and unrighteous sit

on the roulette wheel unconcerned.

Only as the sun sets and red

fills the sky, shining through the clouds,

is the question dazzled to death.

Cold steel

and did you feel the wind

stroking your cheek in the late afternoon

its cool breath recalling

the purity of the morning sunlight?

We have watched the green flush fall from the leaves

inside Winter’s grey coat,

and heard the owl’s shriek in the dark hours.

Touched by the breeze we felt

the warmth of our lives just as the blossom

cuts into the blue sky

of Spring and bleeds on to the shining grass.

The crowds of the city

crush the unfolding petals to nothing

and we hear the pure notes,

the sublime illusion of holiness.

 

After Yukio Mishima…….

Clinging

The tower drew him from his reverie.

He felt its dark shadow reaching for him

across the city, painting the worry

that furrowed his brow with darkness. The slim

stillness cut through to something within him

something wordless, known, but empty, alone.

He stood and left his room, feeling the pull

of the tower’s certainty until he stood

at its base by the blue vandalised door.

There, an angry omnipotence declared

its dogmas – ‘GS is fucking OR’,

’Jane loves Dick’ – he shuddered but only stared

helplessly at his own timidity.

He pushed the door which creaked and moaned open

and stepped into the darkness. The city

became mute. He breathed the stale air and then

began to climb the bronze rusted staircase

that clung to the tower’s rim on its dank

cobwebbed brickwork. A cold wind brushed his face

and his steps clanged and echoed. The air stank.

H ehsivered as he rose through memories,

blurred, ill formed, recreated by the lies

he no longer noticed. He reached the top

and looked out, shocked by the lure of the drop.

The city in its barrenness twinkled

mechanically, cleared of the personal

a wilderness, all pock marked and wrinkled.

Here at the top, he stood apart. Only

rough man-handled and machine shapes

surrounded him and the air was cold steel.

Below were cubes and corners, a grid cast

over the land as far as he could see.

It was in its own way magnificent –

the walls of the tower allowed for no doubt.

The ruins in the desert forgotten,

dismissed as poetic sentiment,

charming but unfit for reality.

Realitty was things, it was power,

it was competition and selfishness,

it was corners and concrete, dirt, data,

dominance. He stood here on the tower

as the student faced tanks with his shopping.

Above it all he cringed in the sharp wind.

Yet he continued to look down, seeing

in the geometry, movement, disorder,

the stumbling efforts of man to progress.

It was as if the sap rose towards him,

a pulse touching him through the machine grid,

and he opened his arms to soak it in

and flew, with all life in his embrace.

 

Watching the world

 

Beyond the dark window of disbelief,
Shards of shattered lives catch the light
Of fire and destruction; they lie bloodied
On highways, swept into disregarded
Shapes by the tide of events, providing
No witness to the hopes of tomorrow.
Their virtues are crushed, they join the silence
That haunts, from which we run with guns blazing.
Here is no rhythmic nuance, no subtle
Obliquity of cultural reference.
Death in its cold simplicity has stalked
The pale corridors of anonymity,
Whilst, sitting above the carnage, a bird
Sings his living to the far horizon.

On the ocean’s edge

Coming upon the shining stones
Given life at the ocean’s edge
By the steady breathing
Of the waves, we stoop to possess.
Seeing within the glittering
Yellows, blues and the pearl greys,
In the boiled sweet smoothness,
Reminders, a hint of childhood.
Urgent to hold the imagined
Magic that we think we recall,
The days of bright eyed love
Enchantment at the dewy dawns.
We know the shine fades to dullness,
The ordinary reclaims us,
New possibilities
Become at best a compromise.
But we must still stoop to possess
The shine, the glister, the dreaming;
Still hope to see the shine
Through the matt coating of routine

Theology

Below where the stars are shrouded in light,

rendered invisible by the city’s

illumination, we create a stage

curtained off from that which we cannot bear.

No more do we lookout to the angels

but create small lives in a confined space.

The red wheelbarrow, the jar on the hill,

the immediacy of the domestic

pay no heed to infinity’s magic;

we trap northern lights in digital code

and reduce incarnation to gossip.

We do what we can from this inward place –

small acts of love, the odd sweeping  flourish

of exploration, even poetry

that stretches beyond the solar system.

But we soon close the gap in the curtain

and return to the familiar chorus

– the glow of our artificial light.

Shepherds and wise men walked in ignorance

to kneel beneath the star, th earthbound star

confined now within our curtained drama,

catching a whiff of myrrh’s oily sweetness,

and we wait for the curtains  to be torn

by the unfathomable expanse of death,

the infinite darkness in which stars shine.