‘Hey Noah, can you feel a flood
engulf your heart and wash your head?’
‘Never! No referee will stop
my forward pass onto another’s lap.’
Although she has a death mask on,
a mask has no appeal to her;
a mask may seem a shelter
but hope lies in reality.
In truth. In any simple truth;
her eyes are lusting for its beauty
‘You do feel guilty don’t you?
Because you never visit me!!’
‘I don’t know what to talk about?’
No strategies, no comfort zones;
façades have simply dropped away;
Nothing offered in the void. But me.
Falling snowflakes, frail
dancers in a reel
are floating close to death
because a few short ticks
will force a change of form;
crystal filaments connect
and sheets of ice are born
but in any cold
person, system, place,
the sun will wash its face
and amber light unfold
power, cracking warm
so ice can flow back home.
climbs eleven steps to his room, puts on
a DVD, drops himself into magic,
colour, drumming; this is a time to be:
a time of sweet adolescence, childlike wisdom,
in love with attending to buttons, his world’s Aladdin,
asking, wishes, lost in treasure troves.
When Andrew bursts out singing;
first – a shock – and then delight
like a snow-fox seeking freedom
dots a barren moonscape,
catching pools of light.
He sings without a warning
- other throats join in - my son
donates his heart and voicebox,
croons outlandish songs.
‘How about marmite toast’ I said.
‘Perfect’ came a quick reply
and, with a push, a magic toast rack
kick-starts time - he nods his head.
No need for clocks, he’s on his way
when chewing starts a perfect day.
‘You’re luckier than most’ he means
‘but miss the move when life’s imperfect.’
A hand is ticking, ever moving,
clocking now with chances perfect.
Perfect every passing minute,
perfect as a melting snowflake.
For ages I wanted to write a poem;
about a tree – a winter tree outside our bedroom window -
standing black against a blue-grey sky,
its branches reaching out into fine and finer
silky twigs against a leaden cloud behind
with an occasional old leaf clinging
against its wooden lattice; and of a miracle
that sometimes happens on a still December day
when one leaf starts to twitch and move,
by forces unbeknown turns and grows
in amplitude until it waves a vigorous and happy
wave whilst all the rest around stand still. A wave
like that cries out for resonating souls and yes
I wanted to write that poem for ages.
A couple of coins, bright and cold, lie
on a table in a rushing train - flat.
Outside winter hurtles ashen grass
and bare branches, an occasional hill.
As this carriage sways, an engine hums
(engineers rule when gods stand still). Ultimately
journeys complete and I’ll arrive back home
to the sum of a cold bed, no light in the kitchen,
hungry under a darkening dome, I’ll catch
pan handles, cook and eat without grace to this earth;
dumb to a taste of the Present, forgetting
what it’s worth to close both eyes without recalling
underworld times, my past in darkness (young
and clumsy) a reticent fellow or zoom to the future ,
grabbing for purchase onto this NOW that travels forever.
Touching coins remind me of love but, in winter, dark
comes early and always from above, cashing in
with bye bye to daylight, goodbye passing train,
goodbye past and future images. Today I have a
better plan - to hit bullseye without circling:
by being me in essence and form, currency
and appearance, until appearance disappears
and my inner man grows warm by being and ‘not being’
both together. Yes there are two coins within this realm,
lying near each other, intimate as a dream,
and certainly not final when they spin
and overturn their weight, because money
equals power, tomorrow or today, making bread
or music or little children grin by a gift
of coins or even making engines hurtle
when a new driver clocks-on and history
repeats coin, coin, iron and true
spent and spent until oblivion melts
with others in a final wealth-pool or
plummets with a crash unpredictably but also
certainly - like trees and Banks. But for now
two coins begin a next phase of transaction;
a turn and spin, then stop, what next? Enough.
Author of Autumn sulked
in a corner. Again he had raced
into third place, won bronze,
and so he hid in shadow
camouflaged by leaves,
concealed by longer hair and hanging briars.
He had finally got the idea
- he was not a bonny summer
or glitter of winter.
‘Why me!?’ he shouted into corners,
lugged branches off trees in a strop,
battered gulls into silence.
Later, he filled valleys with misty breath
before an amber sun lifted
him high to air
and with much more room to slow
he perceived how, in limited light,
light is a priceless gift.
After rage he waves and sings,
rattles a hedgerow with magical voice
‘Howl often! Hush!’
They fall slowly, old folks,
on cold days
when holding-on hurts,
hurts their limbs too much.
One is fat, another boney,
all have mottled skin
and some wave as they go
ta-ra, flopping their
bumps on the ground
soon to be buried or burned.
All familiar. All follow
cyclical earth, gravity’s law,
heading for stones.
Some drop in sunlight,
and some fall gracefully; never
anger fear or sadness
because they release,
and leave behind potential;
In the conservatory, watch plum jam slide
onto breakfast toast as we chatter
private thoughts, take-in rainy woods.
We talk of painting. How sometimes water and paint
run haphazardly and produce a miracle
– call it an image randomly created.
“It’s the Tao.” you say and grab a red
mouthful “Not human. Not water,
More than human and water together:
a form of magic we can’t understand.”
I chew bread and look out into a tangle
of trees that gesture, drip. I turn to you.
Something and nothing wells, wets, softens,
melts our eyes
Deprived of passion we play chess
intertwining black and white men
not fearing death, the ancient bond,
when wooden statues feel no pain.
Forgetting, when I take a piece,
that hearts are battling, human blood
is pounding for connection here
but, miss the move, misunderstood.
A king falls and our hands embrace
across this board where chessmen stood;
we look each other in the eyes
of childhood, boyhood, brotherhood.
Inside my brain - planets circle round a star
- words I never said;
caged by electricity
lacking courage, sleeping in a bed.
No leverage, no spluttering
associations in my head;
lonely, aging, damned, archaic;
dormant, Yellowstone, dead.
Detail, detail! Yes, but sound matters
and words are never sterile, hungry, sleepy or unfed:
defy gravity, unlock a feeling force because
at least these lines, I say, are fully said.
in autumn, everything darkens,
cuts away from bark and drops
in winter, ice
like glass holds back goods
in spring, to step away and
keep us warm by poking green, busy bee,
in summer, touch
and step through glass and action, cut
to warm flowers and holding hands
how I can be amazed by family
and how we grow apart day by day.
But now we’re together like a pause between breaths, like branches
touching in a breeze and thrilled to meet,
but then again reaching away, longing
for light. And how I carry an old fruitless cargo;
a seed of me wrapped in bark, called ‘experience’.
How can I affirm to know the seed
of anything? Because no rock is ultimately
stable, no term the right term. But words
and ego bubble out of me, congealed,
not nascent, and un-alive; having no
claim to light this moment by living soft
like butter; not hard like a knife.
How metaphors fail! No words can catch
a fire, hiss of inner anger hours
after my ‘teaching’ occurs. Insensitive,
ignoring a poetry of parenthood,
like trust looking out through running windows
onto self. And now my anger burns
and how a real connection quells, no doubt.
His first connection to morning light is all around.
And he sits amongst fluffy pillows, talks
loudly to his knitted toys and friends,
trousers, socks, jumpers before father
mother, brother, or magical other enter
and yet another perfect day begins. No need
to read a newspaper, wear a diamond ring.
His mission now? Look up and sparkle, smile.
The leaves are shuttling down today
like plunging into bed at night:
though most are dropping, some hold up
a celebration of their fall.
Is it that trees are facing death
by dropping limbs? No. They re-birth
within a circle’s trick of growth
expanding out a ring each year.
But now a wooden tree stands forth
against a blue November sky.
Time to grow, remember why:
death is birth, is death, is birth.
It’s time to change so let’s get changed!
Why change? Why change - and into what?’
Any voice can be a butterfly
(fluttering like the tongues of fools)
but, if we could slow time and space,
we’d simply see the world as dream
and feelings, active, butterfly on.
The world’s not lost, the moment’s lost!
Go snail’s-pace with an open mouth
and voices cry a truer song.
Now cock your ear and hear the fun
echo away before we’re lost.
Don’t you dare upset the Big Conductor;
sing and listen; time for change.
Precise etiquette of theatre-goers
ensures we ignore each other, disengage,
with eyes ahead avoiding bonds.
It’s all about a man-made stage
and fixing curtains with tunnel vision
so everything’s … predictable.
Until young Andrew eats a crimson lollipop
and with his little mouth all sticky, sees
an ice cream mountain waved by a girl in front.
He fancies a swap and offers, asks with glee
‘How about sharing?’ She stares ahead, licking
too hard. He clocks me with a twinkle, nods.
If we can say ‘Thanks Mate’ and really mean it,
rain flows rich and long;
splashing words cavort and slowly lengthen,
voices echo song.
When clouds float overhead and spatter laughter,
friendship sits up late
at a dining table drinking lager;
the meaning? Thanks Mate.
it’s great to travel by railway carriage
but when - calamity - a train gets filled
by crying children, gypsies, soldiers,
I long for a little room and pillow
to lay down horizontal and silently watch
a forest of dreams, a cloud of stillness
but down from the roof, a ladder drops
and I simply can’t help myself reaching upwards
at first wearily but then with strength
of hands and feet, defying gravity,
and up I climb through a secret portal
(the same old handle) into a carriage
that rattles loudly with gypsies, soldiers
where I long to lay down horizontal.
We danced like drunks around the mat
singing ‘Lazybones’ bass and falsetto
until our voices were tired and flat
long through the night with nowhere else to go.
But we had to leave the song
and start real dialogue – completely lost,
not knowing what to say next. Outside, rain
washed away the rules, washed away our games.
And now there’s only us, with senses clean
and now there’s only me, perceiving in
time and space these less than empty faces
and from each eyeball I add up the cost
of aging, water, skeleton, brains, rust:
together in flesh, connected by rain.
My son has a word; not a word your mind knows;
the word - ‘izzy’.
Mind you, it does feel like you’re special
when he calls you ‘izzy’.
Mind you, he emphasizes and lengthens
Mind you, he means it when he says ‘izzy’
luxuriously, eye to eye.
My son has a new word;
the word ‘izzy’: it means I Love You.
He means it. He wants you to use it. Mind you use ‘izzy’ well.
He really won’t mind.
When I was 36 … Andrew found me;
he sought me out, tracked me down
I didn’t know why (but now I do)
in summer at the top end of town
by self pity.
Into light he came from tunnel
and darkness, violent convulsions,
yes violence and a face ancient
touching, lolling and I softened;
like a baby.
I wake all of a sudden in the dark.
Sunday morning. Soon I’ll get
to work and put my hands on wood, saw
and glue. I lie blinking into
dusty black and hear outside
rushes of plummeting rain hammering
windows, tiles, freshening surfaces
like when lying half awake
heavy drops drip and splash
meeting and eventually running
downhill into trickle, river, sea.
Mortise and tenon include, uphold
and I join water roaring forwards
back into a dream of night.
The trick, it seems, is to sleep like an angel
then ask Mum to go onto Youtube
in the blue dining room where
sun peeps through curtains.
Still in pyjamas, eat brown toast,
surfing for musicals, like Oliver - the boy
who never lied or cheated. On the news
three Down’s children will be terminated today.
One of those things
- the future in a dream.
I sit drinking cappuccino,
dawn rises amber and I
imagine the liquid
An hour stretches
from milk to empty cup;
this day, week and year, this life
until my coffee drains
the past into a dream.
One of those things.
Open a blind and see what we find;
no worries on what might be lurking behind.
Windows’ wide open, nothing large
will barge us on down if we stand steady,
arms out ready, feet on the ground.
Peep round this wall, nothing will fall
if we play at wizards, walking tall,
dazzling and laughing, wholesome and bright,
igniting a fire on a skittering cloud
and dancing abroad with balance and poise.
Any true voice sings along with the bass
when a melody melts in its time and its place;
we sing all together, harmony strong,
and out from beyond a phenomenal birth
a sounding of earth will resonate through.
Stranger, you stranger, with every click of the clock,
will you stay with me, now
now and and now
until my little song of life is sung?
Matt and Martha, holding hands on the seashore, steal
a kiss and walk away, defying universal
law and tides, new moon and cause-effect.
Recalcitrant, a higher tide cuts
them off with a lunging silver hiss.
Matt is there, Martha’s there: reaching
water, running feet, waving hands, their cries
for help come unrestrained, again, again.
Who know the rest; when sea as teacher surges
up at regular folk, like you and me, in love?
Years don’t count when you’re labeled ‘Down’s’
I’ll always be seen as less than nine
-this year, last year- so be at ease
when two wise eyes begin to crease;
keep your compassion or little frowns
and play for hearts - yours and mine!
I won’t get older even when
the classic ages of man appear:
I’m an infant dressed up as a man
loving dancing - loving friends
and although I’m tentative –loud- unclear
and hating darkness - I’ll be a youngster at my very end.
Everything’s brightly coloured for children:
plums taste of purple and language is light.
Recall how we played and laid on the grass,
all sappy with newness bursting through glass
and what if every day opens as May-day
blossoming buds on an evergreen tree;
child-like-ness fired in your brain, never pruned,
like an unfading flourish, radiant for now
- yes for now - but again and again.
Your uphill path isn’t haunted - even
baseball caps on hikers comfort you
until an unusualness
when something warm and bony
gets on my back, reaches and squeezes
my frightened wrist until
I let go,
alarmed, of my chocolate
bar and the skeleton creature whoops and
to the fallen sweet and grinningly turns,
devours in dust,
and there’s horror
when you panic
by a grinning
now isn’t there?
Darkness lifts although it’s winter
and we lob sticks into the river.
They’re drifting free encased in bark
and, as we walk, the river quickens.
Off they rush under branches, shoots,
until they slow in pools.
We walk away, extending feet,
bending knees, as these two float
together, trusting Tao, and God and Power,
he’s a drunk, symmetrically wailing,
an Am-Dram soloist missing a note,
he’s lashing it, belting it out for the Tempest
in Prospero’s coat.
Seldom polite but full of himself;
upstaging, rampaging, a gravity pull
and his mouth is more open that any old sorcerer
or Titanic’s hull.
But open your eyes, look out at a dawning;
into soft-belly forces, even a taste
of whale-song, tree-root, hyena laughing,
a heart in a race …
… and embrace.
Rattling in his bath, I hear my son chortle.
Squeals and giggles rarely
abound some days … (hear how my mind hurtles
to scarcity, stops me squarely)
but all sounds diminish and even his warm bath
is like a star, a splash,
exuberance, chuckle: he’s certainly having a laugh
before a full stop - then a dash.
He just walked in and down to work
because, today, there’s work to do;
winching-you-in - hug seeker –
far away from normal folk
and you, you’re lucky to get caught
by a shock of hair, swinging gait
and, drawn, you choose to follow on
beckoning hands to crazy fun
until a break point; when he turns
to crack on with his mission,
tack along different breezes,
mischief, toys and glancing eyes.
Oh yes he’s work to do. Ta-ra.
When he wrote ‘Prayer for my daughter’,
Yeats knew everyone has a curse;
ugliness, youth, old age or beauty
fixation, fear, control, abuse
and curses bash exuberance
- so how come Andrew oozes verve
with every glass of lemonade,
or song and any disco dance?
I ask him straight ‘Who teaches best?’
and he replies ‘It’s me, I do!’
‘What do you teach?’ he glances ‘Colours.’
‘which colours?’ and he answers ‘Blue!’
Known as the colour of humility – Blue -
a fractal of love and such a magnificent curse.