The Deliverer of News

I was passing in the blue misty chill
Of morning, intent upon my errand,
When I glanced up and caught his eyes until,
Nods exchanged, we moved on, each in a land
Of our own making, but now with a new
Citizen. A long face; the plump softness
Of infancy forgotten as bones grew
Visible through sunken cheeks; a face less
Given to laughter, stoic, set, all speech
Silenced; he trudged his solitary way
To earn a few pounds and a place to hide
Beyond the reach of hope or memory,
Where he can sit and dream, rocked by life’s tide.

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The dream of enterprise

Do we lose our history

To the fruits of discovery?

 
The tidal wash of in – fluence,

Freed from innumerable homes,

Escaping the stale air of death

Lurking in the familiar,

Sweeps through our nurtured certainties,

Planes the grooves through which we have mapped

Our tribal journeys. Freedom blows

Away the drag of our shared past,

Scatters the dust that had gathered

Unnoticed in our quiet days,

That we now find, connected us

With a world in which we were small

But known. Now we are blown away

Free, alone and amongst strangers.

Transfiguration

He stood on the mountain top. At his feet

the world of the everyday was muted,

transformed into a pathos of colour.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Skylarks singing the songs of the heavens;

Nature raw, eternal, a living past

unmarked by the trivial and worldly.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Black-winged crows, ascetic, puritan, soar

around his head, lit by the evening sun,

animal piety cleansed in the wind.

Surely here was where heaven and earth must meet?

 

Convenient delusion. Here above

the cares of the day, he can imagine

an exaltation of a pure spirit.

He can box off the transfigured, safely

located in a mystical escape.

The past is transformed into dreams, blood free,

pure and mind locked. A life of engagement

with the poor and neglected can’t be seen

in dazzling lights of holy ecstasy.

 
Much better had he stepped into the slums

where the putrid waste of wealth sours the air,

and given transfiguration a place

in the midst of Want, Hunger and Despair

 

Something odd happened when I posted this so have put it on again!

 

The Shape of Modernity

Blood splatter of Gods
is thrown across the vacancy
on which my hurried footprints
chart their course.
Don't look! Don't ask!
Leave the corpses to the closed fancy
of the convinced
stamping on the facts with the force
of their vision. I bask
in the heat. My head nods.

Dim the lights. Let the stains
sink deep into the grain,
grounded by heedless feet.
Let the scientists meet
bubble-wrapped in SOCO suits,
to test tube the facts,
fold them in statistical glue
and evidence bag them out of public view. 

Bring on the dreamers of dreams,
fools that would be masters not servants. 
Let them flay the earth's skin
with their glorious lies
and the adrenaline rush of the crowd.
Smirking beneath the loud
Discords of the market place, the sighs
of forgotten armies of thin
scavengers, and the chorus of the fervent 
deluded, we sleep through the screams.

Dim the lights. Let the stains
sink deep into the grain,
grounded by heedless feet.
In darkness I can greet
fellow travelers groping
through empty halls, hoping
for a warm hand, a cool breeze
and the songs filtering through the trees.

The Tower Block Years

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I wrote this about two weeks before Grenfell Tower went up in flames. I therefore hesitated to post it once that tragedy had happened – it made this seem somewhat crass.

This sense of tower blocks as a blight is it would seem a singularly English way of seeing? It is of course a projection of all that middle class guilt that we love – truth is always more complex.

They appeared across the valley

As I emerged from my foundations;

All breeze block, rough edged

Rutted with channels,

Unsheltered from the elements.

 

They were full of promise,

Of aspiration as they stared

Down the graves where industry

Decayed into wasteland.

They were rising to touch the sky

As if the city raised its arms

In ecstatic communion.

 

What terror this pointer to the heavens

Brings down – an electrical

Storm of ambition

Flashing dreams of mastery

To the impotent; festering

putrid neglect amongst the poor;

Scorning the simple virtues,

The gentle loving of humility,

The saintly courage of doubt.

 

 

And they still stride the brow

Of city hills, hiding

Their stinking incontinence

And rootless isolation

Behind their skyward gaze.

Crack Heads

We live, spliced more or less;

Deep fissures cut carelessly

Through carefully constructed

Fictions; order presented

To the world whilst back kitchens

Crammed with chaos and decay

Reflect a shaming scission

Between ourselves and our display.

Fractured hearts hide in suburbs

Fair faced whilst passions splinter

Long held dreams; desire disturbs

The pale surface of Winter.

The chasms undredged, silt up

With waste waters that fester

In cold darkness as we sup

With some evasive jester.

Beware the peddlers who sell

The holistic; we can dream

Of healed wounds, of salving gel

To smooth the roughly joined seam.

But the best we can hope for

Is an alloy, soldering

Our fractured selves, whole no more,

But in ice and heat bending.

Laughter sits cold on the slab

Crazy cracked as the world curls,

Corrosion pierces the drab

Walled off worlds where anger hurls

It’s insults, drowned by the noise

Of consumption. Consumption

Indeed – hollow eyed choice

With no tear of compassion.

There are bigger fish to fry

Than our lives’ hidden shallows.

Earth cracks, ashes spew to lie

On new lands, spawn embryos

For some strange adaptations;

New creatures feed from our fractures

Forged by agony, stanchions

For a stage with new actors.

Love is blind

 

I suspect the truth is overrated;

Alright for some, who can assume blithely

That the sun will shine and the crops will grow,

Who can stand in silence boldly facing

The watching eyes with their unknown judgements.

For the rest, does it help to know we die?

To be reminded of our impotence

In the face of the world’s horrors? to join

with crawling beasts in insignificance?

We may be faithless, unreliable

Witnesses, easily led to some fruit

Dangling by the roadside. lacking courage

To see the world through the eyes of others;

Yet, is not our blindness a kind of love,

And our gift for unreasonable hope

What exalts us to the realm of angels?