Tree of madness

Tree of madness
tree of angst
set with thorns
sweating blood

pain tree though
evergreen
showering ghosts
shedding loss

Overshadowed tree
insect gnawed
rot infected
lightning blasted

around whose roots
the serpent coils
around whose branches
flits the white bird

buried in heaven
to flower through veins
arteries nerves
capillary tree

in infinite skies
descending up
and ascending down
rod of aeons

on the high mountain
nurturing
moss and lichen
mould gathering
mushrooms

where the spider weaves
and the rocks nest
and the bat flitters
and the kestrel waits.

Tree of time

Tree of time
revolving burning
prising open
history’s lips

drilling its jaws
to spit pips
needle twigs
and wiry shoots

earthed in its seams
and blood routes
ore flowers
on brittle stems

magnetic amber
resolving mysteries
and diadems.

Electric tree
lightning conductor
fuelling years
with quiet breath

tree of creation
tree of destruction
temple planted
worming woody

fibres through
eye socket
and mandible.

World tree
scroll keeping
cave covered
by sky mountain

joy tent pitched
in wilderness
dome whispering
aspire trembling

gargoyle gnarled
buttress of hills
glory cone
mist piercing

latticed steeple
nesting angels
fan vaulted.

Echoing tree
runged ladder
for the soul’s fingers
valved throat

winged glottis
ringing singing
rib cage tree
harmonising

forest airs
coral tree
perpetually blazing
deciduous.

 

Laughter is the religion of love

While troops moved in on
Bagdad last night, we sat
in a car and talked
till the moon quit the sky.

We turned from the suffering
the phlegmon of war,
forgot the children born
with cannons for brains,
bullets for food:
forgot the girls maimed
by the dribblings of nervous men,
the upholders of “right.”

As we kissed we ran
through a fantasy world
where streams bred fish
not to be caught but to swim,
where birds flew fearless
in the trees below the sun,
and lovers sang of love—
not in the past tense, a lament,
but in a now of permanent fruition.

Laughter is the religion of love:
and we laughed while the world crept
to the edge of its perch last night,
and we sang and we died with the dawn.

Gauge and Engage


Gauge and engage the challenge of your courage

throw down the glove at darkness and dance light

on paths unworn by guru or by sage

grant nothing is for granted, get your wage

only from getting right all that you might

gauge and engage the challenge of your courage

 

All precedents are clamour in a cage

priorities, mere prattle, crass and trite

on path unworn by guru or sage

if you must cast authorities in a rage

cast them, yet with humour and foresight

gauge and engage the challenge of your courage

 

And if you cannot stay bright with advancing  age

bind your dreams against austerity tight

on paths unworn by guru or by sage

and run the gauntlet of history, this gauge

you have measured chooses you to fight

gauge and engage the challenge of your courage

on paths unworn by guru or by sage.

Catch You Up

How long does it take to reach the end of the lane,
almost stationary frozen? You tell me ‘Go
ahead and feed the ewes.’ I get my jar and catch
you up, take longer than I thought. But you are there
still, moving barely perceptibly just slightly
swaying side to side. You had said ‘Walk on. I shall be
very slow I shall take a long time.’ As distant
galaxies cross our horizon their image will
be frozen.

You often say ‘Go on catch you up’ but often I say ‘No.’
For I like to walk with you, your way more slowly
than the elephant, as a galaxy at the
end of time, faster than the speed of light, so you
are swinging out of ken faster than glances can
any more pass between, faster than I can see
any longer, than I can ever catch you up.

How long does it take to reach the end of the lane?
You are near the end as we watch the galaxies
fade, their appearance frozen in time. I tell you
‘Go ahead, I’ll see that the fire’s OK,’ as they
recede from us. But you are there still, are frozen,
moving barely perceptibly under the trees,
your dark form gathered in the shade. As we watch the
galaxies fade, just slightly swaying side to side,
by the time you reach the shed the sheep are fed, their
appearance frozen in time.

If I can ever
catch you up, put my arm round your shoulder,
distant galaxies will then be moving too fast.
You say ‘Go on’ as distant galaxies
cross our horizon. Will I ever catch up with
you? The end of the universe, frozen in time
as we watch, will never be able to reach us.

You tell me ‘Go ahead, for they will never grow
older or change. They will only grow dimmer as
they recede from us.’ Then when I come up to the
lane I expect to find it bare, but you are there,
your dark form gathered, too fast for me to see. As
distant galaxies cross our horizon, the light
they emit after the moment of horizon
crossing will never. be able to reach us. As
we watch the galaxies fade, which you so often
forget, you say ‘Walk on. I shall be very slow
I shall take a long time.’ You often say ‘You go
on,’ but often I say ‘No.’ For I like to walk
slowly; your way; this majestic way you exist
and travel through this space on the lane by the trees.

How long does it take to reach the end of the lane?
As we watch the galaxies on the way back the
gob of blood glistens on the tarmac where you coughed
and although animals later lick up the blood
the dark patch stays next morning when the tarmac is
frozen.
I love the way you move so slowly that your mind sees
things differently You often say ‘You go on,’
but often I say ‘No.’ I like to walk slowly
with you, your way; more slowly than the elephant,
as a galaxy at the frozen end of time.

Passenger’s view

In the far distance are coppices
that stand stock still
behind a shifting middle ground
and here, where traffic is quick and perpetual.

Properties change, but not that hanging
backdrop, true
to a mind expectant as actors’ boards
for acts by any available you, you and you.

Yet always others in the audience,
fluffing their part,
betray, come late, blur as they pass
this older passenger fixed in some memory.

Could he sit there by the coppices
and stare towards here,
here would stand still, a middle ground
play on, some distant audience interfere.

Who can return to youth and hope
for innocence
again? Most of the acts are known
and the best that age can do is avoid pretence

praying those distant coppices –
where the possible
was yet to be – retain their view;
the lad, if saddened, be unbetraying still.