Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I will stop writing

I will stop writing and walk out, and in the clamour of commerce I will consider the value of truth.

When I return, the evening light will be yellow and the bird that whistled all day will have fallen silent.

Once again I will discover that I have nothing to say. Perhaps a bright instrument may flash then, in my empty hands.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good Friday

it was the sound of a bird
startled from sleep its wings hurting the air

it was a sound like shame
since then I have not slept

my ears multiplied I heard the hammers
ringing down the cries of men and women

the wing of sorrow
beating louder and louder

words betray the delicacies
which hide in each freckle of each face

each gesture each strand of hair each voice
calling its own call like no other

it is the shadow of love
kicked bleeding from the garden

whose hands burn
through barricades of flame

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Visitor

On whom should we meditate as the visitor? Which of the many is she? Is she that by which we smite, retain, caress, hoodwink, abide, separate the blind mole from the horse piss?

Or is she that other, living in the mind or the intellect as deformation, harmony, diligence, modesty, mischief, mortification, delight, vigilance, flattery, amazement, barnacles, villainy, traffic, innocence, metal, corn, wine or oil: all names for those many intelligences?

First she becomes the brine of the astrologer, which is light gathered from all the limbs of the ocean. She nourishes herself within herself as brine. When she injects that brine into a man, she herself is born. That is her first pearl.

The brine merges in the man's body. Because it becomes his body it does not harm him. He nourishes the eye of the woman within himself. Repulse him, for he is crediting the eye.

Before and after the drowning of the eye, she blesses the music, blesses herself. She lives in her music: that is her second pearl.

The visitor being the fool over again, carries the canker of the family, and the fool having completed her mischance, charms and and is cloven again. That is her third pearl.

The Sage said, when lying in the pool: I understood how the knaves twangled. They put me in that hundred-branched hundred-blossomed isle, but I flounced merrily, I flounced like a sparrow!

The Sage flew to the sea-marge, loved all that she troubled, attained the plot of peacocks, became a wager: yes, became a wager.

(Thanks to The Tempest and the Upanishads)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sonnet: Thoreau in Chernobyl

The woods were beautiful as always, but dry.
It seemed a subtle poison at the roots
drained them imperceptibly of life.
A want, or heightened colour, in each leaf
hinted profound disease, as if the rites
of generation faltered and withdrew
beyond emergencies of flood and fire
to deserts that no green could penetrate.
I shaped my stanzas, but the form seemed trite:
all metre euphemised a deepening flaw.
I heard no frog calls, and the birds were fewer
in species and in number.  I trod
ungodly glows, a covenant betrayed,
a humus rotting slowly into fear.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What I am saying

what I am saying is
assuming nothing
locate the perameters
sight hearing touch
what am I saying
cliché as violation
fear as unbeing
the voyeur flays
to aphasic wreckage
seduction is always
dishonest / therefore
liminal gestures 
dissolve in cities 
of representation
the joke of culture
an abstract capital
a smile perhaps
cheating the stockmarket
despite all that
a hesitant outline
drawn and withdrawn
something specific
in the peripheries
orchids budding
their luminous rhythms
what am I saying
what am I not saying

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


gently we are saved:
your body formed
from bodies so long grieved
by mine is warmed

the moment that you sleep
my mind awakes
I have nothing to keep
for our sakes

nothing to break or hold
nothing to lose
the generous powers fold
to emptiness

the nothing that we are
is all:
vulgar and opaque and rare
and mortal

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the Death of God

In the age of barbed wire, they announced the death of God. Great men traced the flyspots on ancient walls and studied the mutations of stars. Never before was so much knowledge gathered together.

They forgot to examine the dirt at their feet which was, as it always has been, full of God. A vast emptiness winced at the core of things. They thought that if they stepped on the moon, the cancer would retreat. They thought that if they invented washing machines, the asylums would empty. They thought that if they grafted wings to books, the poor would levitate. Nothing worked.

They became more and more afraid, and ordered inventories of their armouries.

They wooed the drug barons of Burma and Mexico, the bankers of China, the executives of Somalia and the Balkans, the despots of Indonesia and Chile and Uzbekistan, the monarchs of America and the Middle East. Many were photogenic and drew huge ratings, and white opium clouds soothed the people. But still they had forgotten God.

In the East, where God had been banished forever, the Pope rose out of the stills of the dispossessed and boxed the ears of the Kremlin. He raised his hands and God stepped forward to the podium. As they watched, a giant crow landed on the steps of Congress and plucked out the eyes of onlookers. A dark cloud hovered over Persia.

They understood then that God had never gone away. His transactions passed all understanding. Not a sparrow fell, but He sold it. He suffered the little children to come to His wars, and His dogma belched from all the world’s leaders. His factories and powerstations obliterated borders and His mansions towered over the hovels of the unenlightened. The electronic nerves of every economy led to the bottomless abyss of His intelligence. They bowed and ate the dirt. Already it was too late.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Extracts from ANTIGONE


CHORUS  There is nothing stranger than man.
    As if he were a storm 
    he strides through the waves
    of the winter seas 
    and year after year
    he wears down the oldest god,
    earth herself, with his ploughshare.

    In his clever nets
    he captures whole nations
    of feather-headed birds 
    and the ocean’s salty brood.
    He masters the beasts
    that wander the open hills
    and yokes with his cunning
    the long-maned horse
    and the muscled mountain bull.

    He taught himself speech
    and the flight of thought
    and imagined the laws of the city.
    He shelters himself 
    from the hostile weather.
    He never meets the future
    without something in his hand.
    He has found a cure
    for every illness.
    Death alone baffles him.

    Skilful beyond imagining,
    subtle beyond hope,
    he can turn in his wilfulness
    to good or to evil.
    When he honours the laws
    of the city and the gods
    his standing is noble.
    But the man who betrays
    the laws of the city
    deserves no home.
    May one such as this
    never sit at my table.
    May a man like this
    never share my thoughts.

CREON   Hard wills are first to break.
    The smallest bridle
    tames the wildest horse.
    Those whose pride is bitter 
    are more shamed as slaves.
    This girl laughed in her insolence
    when she broke my law.
    Am I the King of Thebes
    or is she?
    She is my sister’s child
    but even if she were my daughter
    I’d take her life for this.
    I’ll trample all her pride
    under my law,
    she and her sister.
    Summon her:
    I saw her just now in the house,
    out of her wits with madness.

    Often the mind convicts itself
    when plotting darkness.
    But I hate more those who do evil
    and make a virtue of it.

ANTIGONE  Do you desire anything more than my death?

CREON   No more than that.
    Your death is everything.

ANTIGONE  Then what are you waiting for?
    You have nothing to say
    that can please me
    and I can say nothing
    that will charm your ear.
    What greater glory could I seek
    than to honour my brother?
    All men would say so
    if fear did not silence them.
    But you are a king
    and can do what you like.

CREON   You are alone among Thebans
    in thinking this.

ANTIGONE  They know it too
    but keep their mouths shut
    for fear of you.
CREON   Are you not ashamed
    for thinking differently?

ANTIGONE  I see no shame
    in loving my brother.

CREON   And wasn’t it a brother 
    who died opposing him?

ANTIGONE  Yes, a full brother, 
    born of the same parents.

CREON   Then is not your loyalty
    disloyal to that brother’s memory?

ANTIGONE  My brother would not say so.

CREON   He would if he were given
    the same honours as a traitor.

ANTIGONE  He was not a slave who died.
    He was our brother.

CREON   A brother who laid waste the land
    the other died defending.

ANTIGONE  In death all are equal.

CREON   There's no equality
    between this good man
    and that impious corpse.

ANTIGONE  Who knows what laws
    rule the land of the dead?

CREON   Even in death
    an enemy is an enemy.

ANTIGONE  My nature turns to those I love,
    not to my enemies.

CREON   Then love the dead
    when you walk with them
    in the world below.
    While I am king 
    no woman shall rule in Thebes. 


tonight a small boy is weeping in a forest
he misses the black dog which lay down beside him 
if he lives he'll shape his heart around a trigger
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

a man with ambitions sold him down the river
a woman with a microphone identified the price
a beggar on the riverbank knelt down and held him
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

what price a brain smoking in the mud?
what price a baby spitted like a piglet?
what price a cunt ripped open with a rifle?
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

the man in the bunker makes love to his money
the poor woman pulls a pebble from her pocket
and the face of a child rubbed pale as a dream 
       tell it to the birds
       if any are left to sing of it

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Great Aunts

great aunts are very swallowing and dangerous
they exist all their lives in broughams and monocles
sometimes they recite poetry to frighten you
I have spent whole months trembling for their assignations
I have heard them hooting in supermarkets at the full moon
when they rattle their clavicles entire cities come to a stop
even those constructed entirely of masonite and six inch nails
eventually I suppose they must die like everything else
but the spoons of imagination will not let me believe it