The Blackbird's Song (1997)


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I sing of  a child,

Opening to man

He, I wait for in this misty dawn.

Now, the spreading halo of the sun,

Paints the parent forms:

Creeping colours clothe

Two shapes magnificent,-

Man and woman strong.-

If you look out to the west,

At those low-slung lava hills;

You’ll see a woman there;

Lying on her back;

Examining the sky.

Around us are volcanic plains;

Where she walked in pregnancy.

The nearby wetlands she created

Where she went to birth her son;-

But he arrived unborn, and she buried him.


Underneath our city did he lie:

His budding hand crossed under here,-

Reaching to his father in the east-

Signalling in joy.

Just as starlight travels many years

To reach us here; so that

Although the messenger shines,

The king is years long dead;

So his parents still recall


Him sensing in the womb.

This melancholy lump has now retreated;-

To become a pale blue sentinel:

There lain out with its whalebone spine:

Beside this boy, the night’s supply

Of clothes and water and lips now dry:

The reluctant wind’s moisture

Which aridity claimed:

The blue swollen lips

Of this sentinel asleep-

Their living memory,-

Growing every inch a boy:

A limpet driven fast

Into the growling rock of pain.


But roaring on the other side

Throwing glances at his wife

Through this high mountain;-

The father, a reclining man;

Lost in grief and disappointment;

His fiery fingers sweep

His tangled hair:

Often he pours ashes on his head;

Often he is numb with pain:

Blindly will he fall upon

His concrete bed, each twisted hair

Along his back all bent with snow;

His burning ear alive

To the noises of the world.

The child they lost, I wait for now:

He has come alive again.

When a tooth is torn

From the clenches of the jaw;

Such a brittle stone

May be reset a gem:-

I am that reminder:

Not father, but instinctive power:

I have witnessed all the transformations… .

Today, I’m this boy’s guardian:

I came to take him on his way.

From west to east:

A backwards day we’ll run;

Then forward he must bring the sun!

From this lava plain

We’ll make our trip:

The boy will seek his mother here;

Before he takes his leave;

To revisit the violent womb,-

Our city-his last memory;-

Recall his calculations;

Then blaze toward the eastern hills,-

To join his father to his plan,-

To cross again the range

Which makes him new.

Running in the bush;

Body lashed with blood;

Eyes breaking as an atom flash:

He shall see hard things;

But return to us a man.


He is here, inside this fog.

There:  his form I see:

As if wrapped in curls of wool.

I do not hear him come.



I have searched everywhere

To find myself again-

But I have not grown an inch.

I am crystal:  growing;

Though I do not grow.

If someone came

And took my hand;

It would shatter off.

Am I here in vain?

Pressed inside this mist:

Who shall find me here?

But that man was famous,

Who they found inside a glacier:-

Many thousand years ago,

He tripped upon a stone:-

Then, age by age,

The shifting ground

Fed him to the mountains;

Until he surfaced in the icy film;

A hologram of life.

His face had shrunken leather hard:

His fingers were black tongs:

But in his pockets they found grain.

Now, with this new day,

A thaw comes on!-

All part of me, once firm

And set in certainty;-

Persuaded by the sun,

Tumble into grottoes!

Who knows where, or in what form,

I shall reappear?  Not looking up,

Or left, or right;

But under I must turn.

I cannot see my hand

Before my face.  But I hear

That stillness so complete,

It has a sound.  –What is this?

A new spring tree! Oh !

A blackbird’s song!

He throws a plan in music,

Over this white space!

The song has stopped,

Here, by this nest, the singer perched.

Look!  Such fine blue eggs!

But where to fly in this thick soup?

The eggs are warm-.

Does he go?  Have I frightened him?

Or perhaps to feed?  The female:

Where is she?

Now an envelope of mist

Has sent the tree away!

What do I see?



Your image mangled in the glass:

But there is beauty in it.

I go, where you go, in deed.

I placed you in that family

Who, three days ago, did fear,

To let you come out here.

Listen now to me.

You are the child;

Not only of those parents;

But of a larger family.

Now stand before

Your image woven into all.

At last, with you;

I joined up man with man again;-

To open up an eye in him-

For I fear his sight has waned.

A tremendous marriage

Encloses all of this.



You mean, another father and a mother?



Between them should your focus lie.



This new father?



He is the one who is.



The mother?



She is your world support.



Do they know from where I come ?



I found no better place

To raise you up,

Than your suburb:

It is a healing ground.

This honeycomb of houses

Clustering your city,

I chose to place your embryo.

Your cells I grew from traces

Of your unborn skeleton.



What are you saying now ?

That I have lived before ?



Your mother put your corpse

Into the soil two thousand years ago;

As if to ear the page,

Where she has dropped her book:

A book of songs,

Her husband sang

With her each day;

But tunes which both forgot.



Do they know I live?


OLD MAN:        

Oh, now their very nature

Is expectancy.  Not yet.

I am bringing them

A parting gift.

Come:  your mother is nearby.




From the bones of men

I carve my instruments:-

Yet, not all of these assembled,

Could recreate my son.

See, this tiny piece,

I whittled from a jaw.

This slender pipe

I cut, with effort, from a rib.

Every piece of human bone,

Has yielded me a perfect sound.

But I have tried and tried:

Yet I cannot raise a skeleton.

My wife, with her rich garden:

She, who frames the predators-

Cannot grow a single man.

So in music, and to myself,

I must recollect my unborn son.

With music I will bring him on.


Sometimes swirling as the air;

Or laid out open to the sky;

Or bound in animal form:

In whatever shape he wanders,

He wanders as a child.

This infant giant;

Lodged now in our dreams;

So, to us, his image seems

A populace:  folded as a city,-

His figure does not stand alone;

But glints of him watched jealously-

Guarded in tight families-

Not thrown in shatters,-

Knowing he has blown the wind-

Knowing he has opened up the sky-

Knowing he has run an animal,-

Passing through us with a bursting cry!


But in this age he floats unborn;

Struggling to accept a living form;-

So that the centre is locked:

Kept in woman’s place:

To be rifled forcibly;

Or with bastard cunning held;

Or tended by the lulling guiles of love;

Or acted out in scenes of generation;

So that every one of us

Is lost, and cannot play ourselves;-

But may drop an acquid seed;

To plant into the fragrant soil,-

Then watch it idly blossom.


He must outward stride;

Shared in man and woman both:

But channelled in the living stream,

Together, walking on;

Singing of the youthful child.

But he is twisted in eternity:

Breached in time and space:

His feathered head, propped in the north;

His wrinkled feet, tied to the south:

Sprawled and breathing

Underneath the present city;

Writhing wormlike;

Wrapped in heavy sleep:

With every turn,

He sends up news of life.


Events are shifting fiends,

Whose rolling lids conceal

The operations of a dream:

Creeping near, with well-lit mass;

They stroke a finger warmly here;

To make the child believe

He lives resplendent,

In the creature’s awful womb.

Forever rolling,

Forever pressed,

Forever thinking that he wakes

In surrogate room.


But this age has ended;

And soon, the boy must re-emerge;

To cross the great divide to adulthood;

His urban shell someplace in hilly country

Leave behind.  He must end

This glassy state, to rise

From underground, to cast

These comforts off, to assume

What shape he is.

Soon, his crumpled bed;

Now so warmly held;

Shall go unmissed,-

A pile of scaly skin.-

I must resume the wanderings

Of this escalating child:

I must scare this winding tale

Into a striking present:

I must see he pushes through

With tiger’s milk;

So that this child becomes a man.



The fog is lifting.



Go over to that rock.

Look on her who gave you life.



It is a blurry image.

But focussing, I see:

Her face is drawn with lines.


OLD MAN:        

There is no delivery from pain:

Yet she has fought, and won,

This moment in the sun.



I’ll shift my spot.



But you crossed over;

And now, you mask her light;

So that every glinting beam,-

Each reflection of her dream,

Is cut.  Those eyes;

Which previous,

Held a private thought;

Now slide charges into you;-

Unbelieving of this blushing stone.

Let us weave a little further in:-

Deep among these boulders,

Where all the echoes focus;

Her voice is loud enough

To speak with her.



Does the old man hope

To give me to my love?

This boy seems marvellous:

My own, and aspects of my husband

Twinkle over him:

An object wonderful,-

Fixed airily in space…

My son, and yet my son,

Raised to a power

Hard to comprehend.

Am I not afraid

That he may flicker out again?

Does that brilliance hide

The silence of my husband;

Who, offended at the world,

Became  a questioner of beauty?-

A dark form waiting at the centre

To annihilate my heart?-

His sharp breath grunting icicles on me;

His iron hands

Contorting every limb:-

So does my body feel

The violence of indifference.-

Though he did commit these acts;

I would single out, and notice him;

Until, worse than not speaking;-

We were bored of one another.

Nothing then could sway us

Back into remembrance.


Well; in the glory of this maze;

I denied that man.

Yes, there were moods I had:

Pain made me expectant:-

How often would he seem to come,

But did not come.

Perhaps, I thought, I wed too young.

But then, one day;

A man arrived who puzzled me.

I was then a teenage girl.

It was spring, when this guide

(Who was then a younger man)

Came into my house.

I could not look on him at first:

To me, he was a monstrous sight,-

As if pain itself had spat him out,-

Unable to digest this man,-

Or too envious of him;

To keep him slumped within

The poison pit.

His head was bowed;

His features stuck with fright:

His matted hair

Dossed with petals, tasting sweet

As things called sun and rain.

I was dreaming in the shade;

When he caught me in a tight embrace:

A tree had sprung where darkness was !

Slender branches; searching, gripping-

The beginnings of my lust:

First the sight of him-a bud;

Tickling my soul:

Then a mighty plant

Twist firmly ‘round his waist.

I was afraid

To offer him a glance;

As if I feared his sight

Might cause unwelcome thoughts

To crawl about in me;

Where before was dim delight.

Yet; I think I only imitated shyness:-

I was made of stuff so light;

That when he pulled me

To his lowest depth;

I would bob up again:-

No ignorant of gloom-

Yet not built for it.

My pain was accessing my joy:

When that flared up in me;

It sent flames bursting in my heart.

But when forced to show my pain;

I felt ashamed;

As if I would become his slave:-

To be dealt respect;

Favoured with some rights,

And occasional rewards,-

But not allowed to raise my head.


For me, he was a pioneer:

At every turn surveying

Chances for fertility.

He opened up the paths of life;

To liberate my energy;-

He adored my womb!

I think, if he were me;

Then he would certainly

Bear children under every tree;-

And if I were him;-

Then I would probably inseminate

Whole settlements of beast!-

But he would have strange life within… .

Still today, he wanders restless-

Pregnant with his thoughts.

Though his wanderings

Would always face him to my love;

My married life was tossed in storms:

In one such one; I lost sight of him.

Now he has arrived again,-

A twisting point inside the weather;-

Though I see he does not stay.

He says something to the boy;

Points to the city;

Then drifts away-.-

My dawn departs, to give the day.



I glimpsed my mother then:

Felt traces of her voice flow into me.

But if I listen with my feet,

Her teeming world speaks up in me !

There !

She steps firmly from those rocks !

Her eyes dart spot to spot:-

A smile flickers; spreads:

Now is covered over by an earnest look.

Has she seen me then ?  My mother ?

She draws a sudden breath:

A breeze musters in the pine:

An eerie conference.

Before me runs a line

Of quivering trees

Each one armed with pods,-

Ready to defend this mountainside.

Yet bows of happiness

Ache and arch in her:

Her shining breast,




A man says, ‘I am here.’






At life’s end, this traveller flies

To earth, to be reborn.

You enter  now, ‘the land of singers’.

Another perfect body

Breaks into the sun,

To please the air!

How they sing to you:

Hear them sing!

Seducing you to come to life!

Dear, dear singers:

I belong to each of you!

Oh!  Forever live in me:

I have a paradise of energy!









I barely hear your voice.



Then have stronger words:

My face.  My body.

How you shall fill my life!

But as my life is lived;

I’ll see and feel you by:

And thankyou for your gift,-

For seeing my necessity.

May anymore be said?



Speak of my father.



Your father-

Oh, I needed him!

Were we ever one?

We fed the living

From our breasts:

We walked as one:

Can you imagine?

Now we seem apart…


Once, your father said to me:

‘You are part of me;

‘But may not always me:

‘There are other families

‘Swaying in the deep;

‘Holding other things than life.’

And, in many ways;

These words mark our separation.

But for as long

As your voice runs in me;

I am your mother.


Perhaps you wanted

Terrifying words-

To vent your anger, and your fear:-

Your father often used me thus.

Instead; I offer you

This ordinary tale.



Then I am here-but I was dead-

I was lying in a grave-

High over me a city spread-

And; while putrid odours

Fanned my head;

You were examining my dreams;

Wishing that some part of me

Would spring to life again!



I never held you properly then.

I was tearing at myself;

The inmost part of me.-

There, I found; what was all-seeing;

Now, was beating blind.-

The echoes of my loneliness

Pierced with cries the cold expanse.

Then, I began, unknowingly;

Above your grave, as in my mind;

To carve a rough parabola,-

Rounded as a comet’s bed-

Scooped from bloody earth.-

There did I begin to sculpt

The portrait of an eye:

A pearl set in a ragged head,

That joined the model of a boy:-

A baby pressing tight against

My weak and trembling flesh.

But this task, in sorrow, I abandoned;-

So that this single eye;

Denied its body’s history,

Glared vacant onto life.

You see, up there, though almost noon.

This moon I threw into the sky:-

Though slivered now, and fast asleep;

Yet waking soon, will blare in hunger

At our harvest time;-

Gloating amber on the earth.



As for the body?



The rows I tore, and flung

Each stitch among the soil.

In feverish joy, I wove the animals;-

Tying knots to form the seeds;-

The plants-all living things-

This string, I keep;-

Wrapped up in a ball;

Which, at every instant, I unloose,-

To weave these figures.  I love to dream

The passage of a man;

As he threads between

The city walls;- to think about

His private journey

Toward desire; his brave attempts

To win a greater share

In himself; and, not afraid,

But often filled with pain;

He walks cheerfully;-

Announcing to himself;-

Then, perhaps, in time,-

His closest friends-,

‘I am what I am’

Oh, then I may come close to him !:

I plant abundance in his heart:

I weave machines, as vehicles of love,-

To speed him closer to that thought:-

Cars on wheels and junting rails:

Bearing the expectant one-

In this day of marriages-

Closer to his union;-

To that place where he commands:

Laughing with his friends at last:

‘I came as quickly as I could!’

Still; the thought of you remained:

A startling child to feed my hope:

Here, in me, this promise groped:

My secret lay untold.



That old man,-or this shape of him

Who led me here:

Gazing at himself one day:

Slumped in wilds, his weary heart-

Discovered it.   Then, perhaps, at once

In love, or marvelling such sorrow;

Took on him your task.

The old man opened up my grave;

Unfastening the animals

He found gorging on my flesh.

Next; he slowly peeled away

Those sheets of skin

Still harbouring my form:-

Until, at last;

Beneath his fingertips;

My tiny skeleton

Spread gleaming in the sun.

From this, he plucked a bone

(And made a wish?  To you?

Or for the good of me?)

From this, he grated flecks:

These, he sprinkled carefully

In culture, and let them feed and multiply;

To slowly colonise a cell;

Then creep at last

Toward a swelling egg.-

What a spectacle!

Did he show you this at once ?

Or; like a school-child,

Disappointed with his marks;

Reveal the secret only now ?


Are children for a mother

Such tender dreams, that she fails

To ever wake from them ?

Have I caused you, not to wake,

But slide deeper into fantasy ?

Are living ghosts such company ?

Or does such tampering-

This defiance of fertility-

Permit me special rights?-

To speak through wood perhaps;

To stand each empty law on end?

Did the old man come in secret;

Or did he send a counsellor,-

A messenger with lilies;

While he was pilfering my grave ?

No:  he had your sympathy:

I recognised the chemistry

Between the man and you.


Cheap woman ?  (forgive me, Mother)

Or even more discounted man ?

Why this compromise from you ?

Such patience at this horror, me ?

You cannot answer ‘love’;

For, shrouded in millennia;

The poisoned womb,-

Even of its own corrupted will;

In proud embarrassment,-

Unleashes mutants.

Why then, not wait for me

A few more thousand years,

To pop up quietly

In some abandoned yard;

Where, like mushrooms

Sporting fast-appearing heads;

I came-not only one-

But as many sons arriving

Here to coddle you.



Men rise from a single yolk.



But why not several mees?

Do we navigate from messages

Throbbing in this single space?

Does the earth revolve around

The whisker of a cat ?

Must humankind

Crawl into that, through me?

No.  Surely no.

How solitary fools will reach !

Look down at their feet,

And suffer vertigo:

Wonder at their girth;

Amazed to find their life fits in !-

Well !  If all this is me ;

I must come again !



You are never, not the same.

Yet  you have come before.-

Not you here-(what to say ?)-

But the need of you:-

The need is born, then you arrive;-

That will never change.

I only held you then:

I never spoke to you;

You never waded in these eyes…-


How eyes stay the same from birth !

Give me an audience of infants;

And there-already in each glance-

You will find their history.

Let none of us pretend

We are any other than

What we are born to be:-

For if any person strays

Further than their eyes are made;

Death shall overtake him;

And he will die a follower.


These we trail after with our tears !

But now, in this life;

We are united here at once:

I know you are my son.

Try to lead an open life:-

Take charge of my garden:

Spread joy across this plain !

Because I see your eyes;

You may no longer hide;-

How frightening!

For, from now on;

Everything announces you !


Oh, the best days of our marriage !

How men thrilled to see

Us walk powerful among them !

People talked of greatness then;

But I thought: ‘Will they speak again?’

Some brave men said of greatness;

‘There is none; for every man

‘Is entrance into man:

‘Now, here, as we stand;

‘Any man who enters

‘In themselves has greatness.’-

And this seemed fair:-

But when we stood together;

There seemed no entry, in, or out !

‘We always felt,’ said milder men;

‘The great are all the door frames

‘Left behind, as this house of man

‘Was ruined over time.

‘Though each of us are shabby husks;

‘Man shall now rebuild,’ they mused;

‘And we have room for many lives.’-

But when we inhabited our love;

There was hardly breathing space for us !

As for doorposts;-

These were my ears;

Which your father hung

With gorgeous stones.-

But I also heard the disappointed speak.

‘Greatness is a rarity;

‘Whose symbol is the flitting wren,-

‘Which favours one man’s shoulder;

‘Yet skips by another one.

‘How close we came,’ they sighed.

‘He twitters anyway, this wren;

‘And maddens him to whom he sings.-

‘The great mean’s children are born half-winged;

‘And damn the earth

‘For imprisoning them’-

Thus, the disappointed spoke.

Did they ever tilt their heads

To smile upon the sun ?

For though that sergeant wren

And his train of escort women

Always favoured us;-

I believe that greatness shines

In every moderate man.

‘Be careful with your marriages,’

The wren’s assorted wives would say;

‘For a tiny fault may one day,

‘Many generations down,

‘Grow into a man-

‘A monster, who will tear apart

‘Your well-kept family.

‘But a little joy

‘May prove to be a vital seed-

‘Flourishing for many years;

‘Growing strong in centuries.’-

So the wrens would sing to me.

(These birds like women best!)

They sang a melody;

Which held my body

Veiled in music:-

My husband shivered;

Knowing I was woman.

His eyes fastened over me,

A starry vest;-

Or failing this,

He showered me

In jewels of praise.-

But did I ever pity him ?

Never:  I was sure

He was the greatest man.

Yet if, in those fine days;

A better man had entered;

I would have made him mine.


But now, to see a shadow fall;

To watch its shimmering hue,-

Glad to know it fell from you:-

That is nearly all

That I am living for.

How blank, and horrible;

How casual must seem your birth-

But do not fear:-

Have the courage to propose

A simple shape:

(nothing now is needed more!)

Even if this means that we

Must writhe in limitation;-

Yet we would no longer

Be adrift in endlessness.

But do not let me drown

Again in doubt:-

Doubt which poisoned me;

Which made you die in me:

Disease:  the very action of this doubt;

Made substance, woman-me-

The basis of all cruelty;-

An evil creature, baying;

Hidden from my husband’s sight.

What now is he ?  His fallen self ?

When does resolution fail ?

Why does it fail in him ?

How many have I seen,

And bitterness has taken them.

What is he who cannot hold himself ?

Less than man:  his manhood

Riven from the centre,-

Migrated to an abler form.-

Thus, my life and his non-entity

Are now both as one in me.

Is this desolated earth

Merely the uncreated, the unthought ?

To prize their word:

Who is ever strong enough ?

How well I learnt

The qualities of power-

And learn still;-

That means and leverage

Are held in awe;

As the very thing;

The evidence of power.

Money, industry and punishment

Are facets some perceive;

Glimmering in the powerful.

But these men they throw ahead

Hold meagre power:-

They wield an image of the powerful,

And people follow that.

The reason why he often leads

Is that any knowledge of himself

Is feint; and the strength

He buys of you; all these trials

He’ll put you to,

Are symptoms of his helplessness.

He cannot hold himself,

But must react in starts,

To every motion of the world,-

And decimates our family.

We give him eyes to see;

Yet, if something is deprived of him,

He says it was his right;

Then jolts to snatch it back.

It is not enough for him

To stand alone; to trust

He is provided for by us:-

That food falls on his lap;

That beauty is regalia.


But to hold a promise dear-

An unshakeable point-

Until it sways the tide-

Amidst these lies-his word-

A wall against madness-

Oh, I am never strong enough !

Is any strong enough

To make their word secure ?

For then they are the law,

And all must honour him.

No; I had not the strength

To see tradition to the end.

How often do the parents leave

A scrap-heap into which

The children walk in fear !

No, I say!  The child should find

A fragrant garden planted there !



Have you seen my ugly crib?

These pediments of rock

Are bare; stripped of people,

Bare and childless !

Why then did my father stray ?

You are barren, mad-

He has run away !

But I know how women make a man:

They tailor him, but hide their work:

It is her special art, her pride.

I guess you had beginner’s luck:-

This country has a sway:

It is lilted as a cloth.

Yes, I will even say;

I felt your cue:

I drifted to this spot

As calm as stone;-

Blind, in fact,

For all this fog;

Where the features crouched;

And seemed to shrug me off.-

Then your shape appeared;

Even from a few yards back;

Not unlike a rock,-

Until you shifted;

And your eyes,

Peered in mine with milky light-

Then coiled back in fright !

For you saw what he had made:

This weeping hole,

Still tearing at itself-

Stabbed by you and that old man !

How you gape at me !

Yet left alone to heal-

Not raised incomplete;

I might have passed invisible,

Between you shifting nets.


Yes !  I think that you are mad !

My father-he is not near-

You do not really know or care,

How I came to be here now,-

Only I am here for you-

To comfort you, as you require !

Unravelled from that measly twine:

A longer thread to comprehend

This hopeless knot, which is your life !

Did you think-

That when you are at last complete-

When all your tangled paths are shown;

Men will spare a moment

To untie me ?

No !

On seeing your new frame-

These sly, thoughtless captives

Will resume their game;

To leave my bundle slumped,

Still knotted in the corner.

Or otherwise some saviour

Will scissor off my head !



Then you must see they understand !



No: stay over there:

Not by me.  I see where death

Squats in your lap,

And changes you to stone.-

Now poison trickles from your eyes:

To carry me away ?

Is the messenger saved ?

Do you understand me now ?

Cry, mother; but all your silence

Swirls from my deaf ear.


Just now:  why did I break ?

Some things my mother said seemed true enough.-

It was disbelief which angered me.

She was welcoming; and offered me a home.-

But I was once dead:  my body disappeared.

Do I rise again ?  Over and again ?

He said to me she saw me dead:

She gave me up, and dug my grave.

I even think she must have wept-

Leaning on the building-tops-,

Across my concrete bed.

But now, just now, she was afraid:

Mortified to see me there.

No.  I am certain

She was scared to see me then. -

Yet who would not ?

A dead son comes to call:

All grown up and arguing:

Arriving after this much time:-

For men, an age of lamentation;-

Anger over lifelessness…-

To her, perhaps, some empty years -

If she is eternal, -but what is that ?

She feared my father’s words:

‘You are part of me,’ he said;

‘But may not always be.

‘There are other families

‘Swaying in the deep;

‘Holding other things than life.’


From one aged;

I might tear away the years,-

Each principle of pain;-

To find a beautiful lady.-

But for her smile;

And zeal:

The warm tone of voice;

Her activity:

At the edges  of her eye

Was terror !

Which is never

Fear of the unknown;

But the vision; the very sight

Appearing at the opening of knowledge.

What do I hold ?

Why did the old man summon me ?-

Call me up from nothingness

To bring me on this journey now ?-

Is he my father’s property ?

That cannot be;-

For I guess my father

Knows  not of me, and my new life.-

Does he empower me;- to set

Some plan running of his own ?

I should fix an eye on him;-

He seems too helpful,

To be truly good.

I shall keep our rendezvous:-

Strange, if he should prove to be

Respectful of my parent’s love;-

A business even they believe

Has been dissolved.-

Even so; I still conceive

He takes me for a sacrifice.




Here; by the city’s edge;

You sit where your mother was;

When at last she felt

The time was for your birth:-

But she never kissed your face.

It was a difficult age:-

Your mother and your father-,

A world had died between them:

Their words grew dark:-

Mingling in sleep;

Each barely sensed the other.-

Then you arose;

Painful in her womb:

The days fell down around her;

As she lay clutching on her side.

You were there inside;

But would not come:

She beat the earth;

But could not have her son.


Like a moaning wind;

You trace the emptiness

Which shadows birth;-

When the earth cries our for captives;

To fill her yawning cells.

Now falls the moony night

When lust is:-

You are that pale light

Cast mute and strange

Over yearning:-

You have no shape;

But smooth a silent base;-

Where does magnify

A fruitful race.

An arid ball

I see us now;-

But each moment

A view is cast,-

We slip into  ourselves,-


So that our fluid features, flowing,

Find the parent form.



I was thinking of a people

That I hardly know:-

They are moderate men-

Governors, who own themselves:

This was my thought;-

A strong society;-

And; feeling it to be true;

I must walk away,-

From these dusty streets;

From my faulty calculations…-

But nameless ones

Will bind me mute-

Mock me;-

Put strange parts

To run me by:

Stare sharp needles

In my eyes;-

To make them show

The truth I hide.

Too fast, the beatings

Of my heart:-

Too far devotional;-

See:  I am marked a solitary.

Here they come:

Singing music of the grave:-

They pile my fears up in a blaze,-

Then toss my body on the flames.

They spy this fire in my far land;

And wonder what became of man.


But here are empty faces;

Swayed by every wind:

And each time it blows;

They’ll nod a yes-

But then a no.-

A land of rotted doors,-

No entry of great souls apart;-

But skeletal stand;

Spread out as a month

Of lonely days.



Why is baldness fetching?

This sun-crisped shell

Bears the image of my love:-

The body of the swelling seed;

Enfolded in the pregnant earth.

Some day; lying in the gloom;

I would not disagree with you;-

But I have heard, from time to time;

Even in a withered sound;-

A chance for music.-

Each person seems

To strike a theme;-

But this quite loud,

And powerfully;-

In the form of beauty.

This may be their teaching;

And justifies that person

To the surface of the earth.

It is not much the fact

That each of us is worthy

Of being loved, or should be loved;

As are able to be teachers.

You spoke just then of limit;

Of moderate men, who have attained

A table of proportion:-

Let your body rise to that.

My teaching would have joy,-

Utter joy of life:-

Beauty has itself:

Its smile is formed of feeling:-

Then let us fashion crafts of loveliness;

To ‘light the pools of thought’s embrace:-

Let us see if we may share

Each other’s world,-

To learn by corresponding:

Linking lives in one

Rich, teeming class;-

Where resemblance thrives:

Face greets face in line:-

A coloured branch

Out between us grows;-

We live outside the hours,-

Set within our favourite flowers.



But what will this arm grasp

When all the land is blasted ?

How may fingers spread in stone ?

Why does my limit have a right;

When living fluid has run dry ?

I am no respecting son;-

In sleep my parents lie:

The trickling of life-

What benefit it gives-

No one knows.  Why not raze

Each section of their plan ?

I would see it burn, as I am young:

Watch every man

Scream offerings to nothing:-

No-, I shall print

His speeches for him;-

I’ll write them in the sky:-

Their melting eyes will meet my words

Half charmed, and half in fright.-

Then I’ll have the crowds disperse;-

You will be administrator:-

Send rain to blanch the pyres:-

I would not allow the weak

To linger by and soothe the ashes.

Rather, lead the children to the mound;

And press their palms into the dust;

Than let them weep

The cost of being man.



Your anger reels

Back on itself:

Your body feels

The ligaments of joy

Not bounded yet,-

Though you must stand.

This bare rage

Seeks calm, unwatered shade,-

But finding none;

Your temper sours the earth.

The love of friends will bring

The first, fine shoots aching

Into this quiet place;-

Ready for the urgings of pain:

The cool, stirring rains

To stitch each vein of thought

Into a wish.



When before, you heard my voice;

Did a flame creep over you ?

Were you amazed at your success ?



I performed the act of life;

For it is what I had to do,

To save your family.



They live well enough.  Man is one.

Underneath his doubt;

Is he not delighted with himself ?



Is man one ?



You doubt it.



I do; but this only shows

A change in me:

The call for metamorphosis.



Then, old man, learn to live.

I saw your mood take shape

As we drew near my mother’s place.

‘Go over to that rock,’ you said;

While you were bubbling with joy !

But you trudged homeward to your lab.



A sudden expert you’ve become.



Only I am not jealous of myself:

Do not watch myself

With husband’s eyes.

You began with me,

Where you left off the world.



Do not mock at me;

For then together we grow weak.

I raised you up:  I need not say

I took a measure of delight,

In seeing you alive at last.

You are the path from man

Back into his perfect power:

An offering to life.-

Perhaps you are too young to know

How it is you give;-

But you will provide yourself.-

Do you think I ask permission

To pluck you from the earth ?

Is this food of the  body ?

What do you know of killing ?-

Of the urgency to kill, and all involved?

Is man one ?  Is he at one with this ?

Your body is complete !

What does it know of death !

Some ate behind their hands:

Others made apologies

To the slaughtered beast;-

But the living crowd about,-

Gnawing at our sides.



But the friend I found,

I put aside; as thanks to them

For giving life.



You arrive at friendship

Balancing on dreams:

Gathered up in bliss:-

But a question mounts within:-

‘In what way do I give myself ?’



This question clings to me-

It holds me back; giving reasons

For not running after joy.

My friends saw this question

Framed in me.



Your eyes speak joy and certainty.



Have you seen my eyes,

And what must come about ?



I have.



Did I always think on you ?



I could ask the same.



So old.



What comes when no one answers.



No man held the truth ?



All may climb the steps,

But few are resolved.



Come, you must face your father,

Before the day is out.




One brief sighting of a man,

And I must have him.

Now my weaponry and strength

Suddenly appear in me.

Oh, may anything resist

A woman in full flight ?

Her eyes fixed on her prey ?

Despite his snarling threats

Or charming dialogue,

A glance from me, or touch-

Some careful words

Chases out the animal.

But when he sees my beauty,

Glittering between these wings,

He finds a stream he cannot pass.

Then; what would he not do

To taste the other side ?

A glorious rebirth !

So he enters in through me,

Yet what he finds is all the world:

But this the old man is to me.

He brought a gift to spur me on-

A son, no less: 

Young and fresh and troublesome !

Though now they both have gone:

My wings fold up the world…

Yet new life flows in them,

Rushing with the old man and my son

Their path leads from the city’s edge

Then plunges into mountains

Where my husband lives

But my eyes today are crossed in points

Settled on that travelling pair

Blurring out my past…

My wings have opened up again:-

Then let me now take flight !



Now we climb the ranges,

You must learn of your relation

Once energy thrown everywhere,

Now, directing it

To sing a register.

This fact of having life,

Though you do not lift a finger,

Means that you create.

The body is a weather-beaten rag,

Squeezed tight and shaken to the air.

You see the saplings parted in the gale ?

That bird remaining on his perch

Because he feels our steady thoughts ?

Then do not doubt your mind is read.

But you stare out from your place,

Trying to conceal yourself;

As you step upon these plants,

Which rise up like a citadel;

Brought this far in pain,

Sure that something soon will snap,

You smell it?  Fire!  Rolling up this hill.



Point this weapon somewhere else.

Such talk fills me with delight !

Are you my friend,

Or will you one day take revenge ?



If these thoughts sum up in you,

Then they are truths for everyone.

You were made to speak,

They press on you to speak;

Howling with their tongues of fire !

If you commanded anything,

Life compelled you, gripped you,

Then all around these forces prod

That section of the air

Where you now stand,-

Demanding that you speak.

What will you say ?

Cry fire ?  Or run, in fascination

After voices in the scrub ?



I will speak the little I have learnt;-

That pain is an honourable guide:-

The welcomer to other parts of life.

When the time has come to see the sights;

My guide is here; and he will forget

No section of his tour.

What then, does he bring me to ?

Something like a heritage:

A vast dry range of feeling:

Standing as this waving forest;-

And if now it burns, it is because

A part of me has heard his voice:

I followed pain and understood:

This lonely point, once buried,-

Peering through the glass-,

Is broken open by his voice:

Shattering my endless pride:-

I am discovered in my weakness.

‘The man behind the glass was you,’

He says; and now all distance

Falls away;-my body

Stripped of its defiance.

This landscape calls for me:

His seething lungs-tired of shouting-

Red with fibres.  But what is that low hum ?

The grey cloud darting through the flames ?



They are the bees who are my messengers.



Ah!  I have been stung!



He took your lips for nectar.

That patronage has killed him.

Ah!  My heart!  Another one.



What did he say?



That he and I must-



Here is the bee.



We have forced his colony.

Read the stripes which mark his side:-

He was distinguished,-

Not by what he conquered;

(For conquest meant his death)

But in his resistance.  Ah!



The pain will change its course.-

But it makes me want

To utter words the more,-

To shake the poison out.



No:  it is not that.

Those bees were chosen by their swarm.-

The squadron has reformed;

And now jets off.  But from this brave pilot

I have learnt, that I must die.

No,-the bees do not want revenge:

Another army press on them-and me.



Come, stand up.  The fire has only

Singed the tops.  But I hear it surging

Down below.  You must stand.



My journey must end here.

But rearing up below us,-

You are right:  a wall of flame

Shall rise, and break across my head.

Then; I will die.  But I know-

I am certain, that my end is here.

No !  You cannot raise me !

You must run along this ridge,-

Then follow down that spur;-

Who offers his broad shoulder there,-

Out right.  When you have descended it,-

And seem to balance on his hand:-

At his fingers, you’ll find water,-

And him gently stroking it.  The river

Will embrace you, and be your friend:-

Go:  plunge your body into her:

Let her bear your limbs downstream;

Toward her fertile beds:-

In whose company she sits;

They grow at once in love with her.-

She is forever pregnant,-

And delights in it.

Her children nestled at her breasts;

She suckles them with rainbows.

She will lull you fast asleep;-

Changing to a modest stream:-

Then striding firmly, as the rain,

She’ll leave behind her river-form;

Then wake you up, and ask your help

To call out to your father;-

Safe from fire for a time;-

But her brothers chasing  close behind.

For, although they are her brothers;

These firebrands are jealous of her lovers.



More jealous, I suppose, than these trees


Show tolerance.  Look around, how each brave face

Turns to meet the rising glow. She seems nice.

Tell me more, before I go.


OLD MAN:    

There is no time !



Come.  For us both.  A lullaby.



If there is any time, it is slender chance:

Called, writ-, or when advertised,-coincidence:-

A catwalk to launch greetings

And goodbyes.  If there is any time;

It is the hour-hand’s thin passage,-

Your exit out along this ridge.

Fire rears above that cliff !

No alarm-the clock is set for night-

In this same space-then we will rise-.


Well:  for you, a morning dream. 

She is water, dear friend of your mother.

It seems to me they walk as twins.  (Keep watch !)

Her eyes are fixed, and try to focus…-

She would hold an image crisp;

If not for the seas which fill her eyes;

Washed in memories of life,-

Her clawing peaks, and sighing trough,

Searching for her lover’s lands.

Her stance seems active;-

But her intent is serious.

When you spy the cormorant

Anchored on an ocean rock;

Carefully, his wings spread out,

To dry them in the air:-

This bird has seen her majesty:

Her arms before the moonlit glass:

The nightdress trailing her ripe swell:

Soon delivered, but fast to fill again:

This endless surge of love.

Her cheeks and nose

Are nicked, with little cuts;

Just as measurements are marked,-

But these where she misjudged a distance:

Raw as snarling ricochets,

Or the secretive canals of Mars;-

Or else, left as tender monograms;

When she ran joyous

Through the stars.

She wears a string of numberless beads;

Each an eye and winged,-

Without time; they see what is to come.

As dreams, they com by her to men,-

To men, but to all living things.

And when the moment comes for rest;

She feels her necklace, for a pearl;

Then,-as if she held a dandelion,-

Blows on it; to send the troopers

In that bead,-brave, yet moody-

Drifting into space.-We see them come,

When weary:  our body hears the drone above:

Then, silky mantles cover us asleep.

In that instant, all the airmen;

Landed on that field of sleep;

Spring to life with special purpose.

Some arrive as comforters,-

Armed with joy and happiness,

To heal the hopelessness of man.

Some arrive as teachers,-

To show the dreamer some new truth;-

But their missions are not always safe.

She often blows the bead too hard:-

The paratrooper’s lines are twisted-

Tossing them in reins of silk-

Falling like the tousled buds

Of the beautiful white rose,-

Their bones will crack against the earth,-

To stun the sleeper with a nightmare-

Or send a striking vision;-

The fist of each dead aeronaut

Grips the map of his lost cause.

But when you die, she’ll come herself:

Falling silent from the sky:-

The milky lines shoot from her back,

To explode inside your life.

Then, you will know no more.

She will wrap you up in silk;-

Command her men to bear you on;-

Deep into the wilds of sleep;-

To grow inside a secret base;-

Becoming, for a season, one of them;-

Learning you will never die-.


You are just a tiny boy:

Afraid to live, or look on death:

Scared to be without your friends.

Oh, the mother of all plants is scared

To watch her babies pass

Inside the pigeon’s gut !

The pigeons fly

In wheeling circles

As if to trace their memory:

Then return back home.

Some seeds climb from the pigeon,

To unfold in joy; while others

Struggle, squashed and mangled;

Deformed beyond repair.

Oh, she cries over all of these;-

But also she is glad and strong;-

She does not grudge life

For swallowing her children.

Wake up !



The fire leaps up on this ridge !


OLD MAN:     

If our summit is the head,

Then soon your neck is cut.

Quickly now,-descend !

You must leave me here !

I am too much for you to drag:

Either you must die with me;

Or run now from this place.

Go to your father !



The flames have scaled the cliff!

They stomp about; their careless feet

Snapping twigs-now leaping-reaching up

At branches; swinging, yelling;

Calling to each other through

This solemn crowd of trees !

They creep about them, hissing-

As snakes confront an animal:

Now I see their flashing tongues;-

They raise their pointed eyes;-

Just like dogs, their teeth expand;-

Now each one leaps into that tree-

They rip his flesh like parchment!

He stares fitfully; his brow

Contracting with each stab of pain;-

But like a mother who waits patiently

For her children to forget their game,

Though she has somewhere she must go.



You have only chewed

A few small seeds of pain:-

But I am like these tall, proud men,

The trees; who, as me;

Eagerly await the fire;-

This group of teens, who come

Delivering new pain,-preparing us

To feed you all again.

Their hunger knows no end.-

First, they’ll lop off our heads;

Snap away our hands and feet;

Then hang us up,

For days to bleed:-

Beginning at our ankles,

They’ll slice our skins-

Rip them clean from off these limbs-

Strip our bodies carefully of hide,

Then stretch this out to make a drum;-

Beating this to form new life.

You should see it !

Throbbing as the blood-red sun !

After all their work is done.


You will return one day, and learn

From this; but as yet you have no roots.

You must try these on below.-

Stay, and you’ll be burnt to nothing !

Hurry !  The brothers have sharp tongues-

But I know their language-

I will call them over here-

To clear a path for your escape.

Joy and laughter now, not tears-

Now run! – or my words and theirs

Will tear apart your ears !


After I am gone, return.

Go along, and shake the trees.

These clustered men

Are now your family:-

The trees, the fire, and this old man.

Do not single any one

As favourite, for each of us,

Is equal to our task.

(If only we step up to it !)

Remember us, for from this day;

We are your people.

Now go, and trace the mountain down.

Shake each of them awake.

Your parents lie in sleep:-

Chase out their disease.

How they lived !

How they loved the life they had !

Do not wear another’s praise;

Or kill them with their words:-

I have visited the core of things,

And created for myself

A well-rounded love;

Which has kept me all these years.

My senses grew in unison

With every perfect form.


Did your father teach you how to sing ?

Your mother:-.

Yes, here I am; still doting on this life.

Together, and so late !  Tonight, our feelings

Are consumed.  All these years;-but now

Your flower falls, and we await the fruit.-

Another thing-

I never kissed your face.

They have me now, and will not wait

For me to tell them who you are !



Ah !  My foot is burnt !



Go !



Oh !  It is the sweet old man !

Bundled in this heavy glare;

Which, just then,

I saw enclosed;-

Locked within a vault of fire.

But he has nodded off on me !

What ?  Where is my son ?-

Not among those violent boys,

I recognise from shady haunts.

They spiral up these branches

Like parrots skirting burnt-out trunks:

Hangers at a party, an hour from its end.-

Well; to every age its license.  Ow !

They drop seed pods down, and whistle-

Taunting me.  Each shining back

Aflame:  their tilting heads

Are plumed with smoke:

White claws hissing as they climb…

What have you done!  Where is my son!

The old man !  What have you done.



I said, leave me here !

You have called them off too late.

Just then, the shapes of fiery youths;

Now, as snakes, they curl inside

My skin; choosing each a limb,-

Grasping me in readiness-

Waiting in this throbbing heat

Until they are assembled;-

Then they’ll tear apart my bones !



We old fools queue up for this:

The privilege to sit, and shrink, in horror,

At our dreadful premiere;-

This body fall to bits !

But I have come to visit you;

That you may watch me move…

Fill these aches with tenderness:

Revive, perhaps, your long-lost bliss.-

Much like you; I sat with this,

My whirring life, before this icy sheet.

I dandled in the waterfall,-

Allowed such dreams to cover me;

Sunk in fears so strange…  .

Yet night, unfolding nights;

Battered in this torrent;

I heard our river-rock repeat:

‘Fierce !-Fierce !’

What may a woman

Comprehend in you ?

When does she arrive

To find your painful eyes

Submit to her ?

Love pulses here.



That is your world.

Now I move to other ones.

Even knowing how I want you;

My love feels tricked:

It knows it cannot have you.

Checked, it seems to arm itself,-

To clothe itself anew

With fresh garments day by day;-

Which are presentations to your love.

I brought a son to you,

For I respected you;-

But also, and above all this;

A man must now descend,

To order this new world below;-

Which sprouts madly from the rift

That you have called your loneliness,-

Go down to this teeming gorge:

A living offering-a fountain-

Almost shattered by its flow.

He will come to you for solace-

Tired as man has never been;-

Look to you both for justice,-

Run between to weigh the scales.

But when one of you seems less;

He shall come to them with pain.

Where once I held the balance;

The boy has now assumed my place.-

I cannot stay with you.



And he has gone ?



Your son shall soon

Be far from here.

In him lives another race,

Beyond your human family.

They will look, and see a man;

But name him after other things.

The creatures born in conflict;

Amidst your separation:-

The gap which I enforced.

Will you hear how I played mother ?

I cast his hand in steel:-

A seismograph must pen

The conversations of the earth;-

When even chatter may conceal

The end of all we know.



Come.  Come closer into me.



My feeling has gone…

Ah !  My skeleton !

The men perched on the scaffold

Tear these interlocking bars-

Toss them to their friends below.-

The trucks roar off-

Shudder the new corridors.

No !  No, do not stay !



Give me a new family !



Oh, understand this.

I have begun to change.  Soon;

You will  not comprehend me.

What your husband heard from me,

And whispered to you once,

In fear,-of other families-

Well; that is true;-

But he cannot desert you,-

Nor may you abandon him.

Both of you are posted here:

A double landmark fading over time:-

I set your eyes at horizontals;

To wage everlasting war;-

But not one of you , while living;

Shall ever see the other fall.



Yet, my dear, the boy.

(Oh, where have you hidden him !)

He shall watch us plunge;

And, horrified; wish that he were dead.

Where is he ?  Let him come to me !



Wings are splitting

Ah ! Hold me !



Oh, dear !



In my catnap

I dreamt abut a bird.



Did he sing to you ?



Oh, yes !  His song !  But more:

His silences were pregnant!

They seemed as a clutch of eggs.

‘Are they all mine?’ I asked.

‘And must I sit on these?’

But he did not answer me;-

Flying off to find his food.

Then a worm crawled from the ground.

He had a friendly, boyish face:

I felt at once I knew him well.

He sat there for a time; then said:

‘Do you see this harvest at my feet ?’

‘Oh yes,’ I said.  ‘Well, are you hungry ?’

Asked the worm.  ‘Yes,’ I answered.

‘Good,’ he said.

Then together we will eat.’

In my silence, lives the worm.


Oh, see ?  I am changing.

Before your son, this very dawn;

My new life, suddenly

Convulsed in me.  Yes !

That bird sang from my dream;

Like the groom at a reception;

Then, my new form

Came on for an instant,

As these sharpened spikes,-

Then feathers plumed all over me.

Look:  now my ankles

Itch with scales:  soon claws

Will loop underneath my nails.

I am not here long.


Understand !



Love !



Go !



I must tell you-

Please listen.  Know that-

Oh !


Belong beside you.

I want-



You, my boy, recall

A thunderstorm that’s spent;-

Or perhaps the land it ravaged.

Trees all bent, houses split-

The powerlines torn down.



The river.  The river took me in.

She told me if I would not stay;

Then she would see me drowned.

Only when she saw my mothers string,

Did she agree to bring me here.



This string.  But you have met my wife.

Perhaps a special gift from her?

Such things she never offers lightly.

Where her friend, the river;

Governs life with raw, creative power;

The one who gave you this

Honours men with such a gift.

How did you find the river, then ?

She lives in a secret place;

Hid between a dozen valleys.

He finds her, who does not search

For her.  But whoever stumbles

On her flowing hoard;-

That one is rich forever.

How did she appear ?



A slender girl.



Perhaps she learnt from this

She could not shape your will;

That she both feared your power,

While suspecting underneath

You might be the man,

Who would, with this key;

Entice her into dazzling shapes

Of which she never dreamed.

She arrives in different forms:

Sometimes as a man, or woman;

A plant;-she has been even known

To fall in love with marble.



Has stone existence ?



Oh yes!  For that rock was smitten !

All the signs of love in him !

You may still observe it:-

His body thrilled with veins of ecstasy !



And her ?  Did she love him ?



The twisting shells and coral

Are her fond memories of him.

Sometimes in him, these thoughts

Intermingle:  they are the exchanges

Of their legendary passion:

The days and nights

They ate and drunk the world!

How wonderful, to find

In those we love,

Some aspect of ourselves;

Reminding us we grow together.

No:  such a woman

You would not seek on purpose:

She would end your knowledge of yourself.

Let me trust necessity, and say:

‘The old man led you here’.



Yes; he led me from the lava plains,-

My mother’s land out west.

From there, we found the city;

Where I saw my grave.

We then came into these hills.

You are my father.



I am.



You know the old man ?



At the ends of pain, he shows himself:-

Turns up a leaf, to reveal the secret fruit.

He also greets you

On the summits of delight:-

There, he was my friend.

I have known him since the day

That I became a man.

Before then, he came alive in songs

They sung to scare us children.


The old man came again;

At the middle of my life.

It seemed to me, he stepped inside

My need to love my wife.

I did not know of my decline;-

Nor suspect the old man’s doubt-

But he seemed jealous of my innocence.

He was he, who reared

My poles apart; to reveal

This lonely world.

He ripped away a part of me,-

To leave this hole inside my life:-

That part of me who is my wife

Was hiding in the shadow.

We healed ourselves as best we could,-

Inventing words.  But words could not

Repair the fibres aching at our sides.

How difficult, to have to speak

With words, bare words-

These syllables we lodged, as reeds,

Between the whistling gaps.

We used them first in shame;

But then in wonder, and delight:-

Words began to recreate

The world that I once heard within:-

Words became my art.


Yes, I invented music !-

But a woman helped me to it:-

She called it sympathy.

Slowly, and in daily life;

Between us both, a song was born.

The melody she hummed,

I whistled on the run.

With practise, our parts came together:-

Then singing, singing, singing !

Even in the midst of singing;

Forgetting how to sing !

Did the old man fear

That we had lost tradition ?

It was beating here !

Even now,-in these days, son !

Song is often held as nothing !

Faces wince when told

That song will change their life ! 

Even in these days;

They press an ear to ground,

And not believe they heard a sound.

Even in such quiet days;

The old man arched above the earth,-

Pounding its dull haunches;-

Trying to release your life !

How did he grasp a pregnancy ?

How, among this senseless field,

Divine your trembling seed ?

Had he raised you blind ?-

We must have led him to it !

He, our dizzy champion,-

Fenced about with desperate eyes !

But he won out !

Our silences found eyes in you !

You are our birth of song !


But that man; the old man,-

I remember his approach in dreams:

Every facet of his being

Reflected him a thousand-fold:

His eyes, when he came that time

Loomed horrible beneath

A straining brow:

Two bending rods

Held up this massive shelf of rock,-

Ready any moment to collapse.

I did not know,-

But he had discovered in himself

The limit of his power;

And, terrified at death;

Groped madly for an opening

To relieve the awful truth.-

Turning on his heels;-

Spread out even as the universe-,

He saw that every path of life

Was blocked;-then-overcome;

He fell back upon himself,

As into a stranger’s body,-

Floating silent as a dead man.-

Here;-where he should have felt

Most of all at home,-

He tore apart creation;-

Saw in his children’s faces

Evidence of some disease-

Replacing him in silence.


From that time, until today;

He hid himself from all of us:

As friends, we had sung with him

Along the avenues of life.-

But now, the streets were emptied:

The living shrank

Inside their homes;-

To his eyes, conspirators;

Brooding on revenge.

He, like a malignant thief;

Abandoned every friendship;-

There, raised walls, then passing through;

Pressed a hateful grimace

Upon these caverns that you call the mind.

Oh, I read each face a murderer;-

A person hidden in themselves:

Eyes devoid of living speech:-

Deserted eyes like gutted rooms;

Where guest and host alike

Lie murdered in their beds,-

But generations of the same,-

In repetition horrible;-

Unfolding as a monument

To shame and self-neglect.


Tears streamed from my eyes as blood:

Must I live to die once more ?-

This strength which I had mastered,-

Escape from me, and run amuck,-

Spreading stories of abuse and torture;-

Appealing to some higher law,

To charge me with my negligence ?

He moved freely for a time,

This slave; battering at every door;-

My shadow crawling on his back.-

For a time, I said;-

As such a wailing man fell here:

He has vanished into me:-

I do not need his services.

I have raised myself alone;

To stand again as one.


What the worm might teach me !

Creating of itself

A sprawling family,-

Unconscious of desire.-

Men drew cuts

Between their legs;

And opened up the wound in season:-

There was not this fawning love of women-

But deep empathy.

Yet, the old man:

He commanded you to go away ?

To leave him in his pain ?



He was stranded on that burnt-out ridge,

As fire lapped the spurs;

Then leaped up on the crest.

I am sure it would have swallowed him.

Now raindrops fan the embers…

He must be dead.-

Or did life steal quietly from him,-

Neither hurried or entranced,-

In this twilight, as the wind arises,

Buffeting the trees:

So, the old man slipped away ?

But he is dead.

Yet, we shall see him soon-,

Marching over these exhausted cliffs-

Dressed in sparkling green;-

Children sprouting from his fingertips.



No.  You are too generous.

I believe you’ll find the old man,

Now quite the specialist;-

Passing quietly from life to life:-

Repairing, as he travels,-

Himself; in every separate form;-

But learning there,-a scientist-

Apprenticed to his past creations.

Forgive me, son;-but you understand

With what fumbling and hardship

He conjured you.-What drooping wand,-

Forgetting all the magic words:-

The doves fell asleep in his hat !



But for all of that,

He told me to return.



Well, son, be my teacher.

Show me to him, if he lives.

I have much to thank him for.-

But what do you have there ?



A bead the river gave to me.

I blow on this, and in an instant;

I’m in the midst of what I dream.



Come then: let us share this vision.




Now my body wants to fall

From me.  Where does it fit,

After all that I have seen ?

Will life dwell anywhere from now ?

I have watched life’s fabric ripped;-

Saw you rise beyond my womb:-

I have known my life is dust,-

Had the monsters of these facts spring up.

Does it matter life may never

Ride within my womb ?-

Human life, this dream of mine;

May not always find me here.



Mother, you are wrong !

You are always here for us !

Are we surprised at justice

From a woman ?  For beauty is our judge !

Beauty is your victory;

Your passage in and out of time!

What is beautiful cannot be stolen;

Though by ignorance is hidden;-

Driven into grains of dust:-

But in these shining boxes

Lies the garden of my mother !

We may never grumble into nothingness !

Yes!  Though some may tear at life;

Or never find it serious;-

But one life !  Yes !  This life of mine !

Think  what may be done with that !



You are here.



I was following the boy.

We came for the old man.

But I see that he is gone.

Now darkness spreads its fingers out

Between the sobbing trees:

Harrowing the embers, now visited

By tears, which strike the foreheads

Of these sleeping boys,

And cause their hair to stand on end;

Each blinking point, the fires

Which trail the forest floor.

I think your mother knows

Their ruthlessness; yet also

This creative calm; as these boys

Arrange themselves in groups;

Then stride away in gleaming blue.



These constellations are your guide.

Go now, son; steer carefully by them



Go along:  they call for you.

Just so, one day long ago;

They called to the old man;

Compelling him to be as them;

To join their reeling galaxy.

After his initiation,

The boys then gave the man his name.

Because, when they had pummelled him;

He spun madly on his heels,

Throwing fists like fireballs;-

They said he must be born a man:-

It was their nickname for a being

In whom they prized a sense of balance.


Just before, I guess, (to read you mother’s eyes)

The old man called them back himself;

Asking them to cause his death,-

To name him once again.

But, my boy; you are his song:

His tribute to our human kind,-

The melody we sing together,

As the old man travels on.



Go, although the way is dark.

Go, but it is dangerous:-

Go now to your other home;

The family who raised you up;-

To be, more deeply, one of them,-

But now much more yourself.

Say, we are responsible

For their fleeting lives:-

For though you are

Our only child, the old man gave:

He created you

Inside those arts we taught to him.



I’ll go back home, and speak to them.

In time, I’m sure, they’ll come to see:

To learn and understand the gifts

You gave to me.

But I will visit soon;

To perfect these arts of life.

Mother, I will weave your figures.

Father, I will sing your songs.

Without these, I am nothing.



Be now as the bat, who navigates

In darkness.  A man is an immensity;

A spreading cave half-known to day.

Go now, but remember:

In the deepest cavern of ourselves

He raised a pile of stones.

From these, he made your ankle.

This pyramid he built to mark

The perfect centre of the earth,


The darkness curls his fingers

To eclipse the sleeping boys.

But in his palm, these two bright stones;

With which he gives you sight.

Go on!

You will come again !



Go now, son.

Remember us to them.


Our son is here:  the world is new !

Although to set my eyes on you,

Pain flies in my gaping heart;

You know, best of us, we may not be

Again together, as we were.

But why should we be sad ?

For now, our ambling lives

Join the path of this dear child;

To find a wide-awaking dream !



How precious is our conversation !

How wonderful the pollination

Brought about by that old man !

We knew, how strange !  The fruit of love

Would ripen in our likeness:

The life of this young boy !

A cradle bridging every quiet:

Yes, speech has come again !

I hear it follow him in darkness-

The murmurings of men:

Weaving through the ranges:

Burning in the city streets:-

He is creating a new world.

His feet now miniatures of dance;

His eyes are amber suns:

He sets this world before us all,

To start another day.

Now our hearts find change;-

Life laughs at life:

All finery declares itself,-

And we; not forgetful

Of our strength;

Bind our feelings firm.