Casting the Die
Mounting the Descent
augers ill. But you’ve gone too far to go back.
The path narrows and perishes into snow.
Around you always higher mountains to assume.
Behind a whispering tells you where to go.
It’s time to catch up. You’re ahead of yourself.
Fresh footprints take shape to mark out the attack.
They fade like snail-trails returning to their shells.
The sky has fallen into the lower depths.
The moon withdraws into a bottomless lake,
whose lack of echo tells you it’s going nowhere.
Stand still and freeze to death. You retrace your steps.
Craters encrust the tracks left in your wake.
If you miss your footing you would walk on air.
A Dream in May MorningAfter Chaucer’ gaggle of geese.
Before Keats’ nightingale.
I dreamed it was the month of May
And, as day came up, there I lay,
awakened by the dawn chorus.
The song of the birds is glorious.
Settling on my roof, they give voice
to what is to come, and rejoice
with harmonies, trills high and low,
that heavenly choirs only know.
No human instrument can imitate
the wondrous sounds that they create
to thrill the ear with full throated ease.
Not a false note. They chant to please.
Now through the window the sun rays
light upon my bed, and give praise
to a bright new morning. The air
is clear and the day is gleaming fair.
It was no dream. I see flocks fly
above the trees, no cloud in the sky.
Hark, hear the flapping of the wings
of swallows that summer brings.
Schopenhauer for Beginners 2:
‘On the indestructability of essential being by death’I'm told when I die,
I'll be at the nub
of the universe
in my maker's eye,
part of the deity,
the source of the love
that created me.
All the rest is dust,
excepting my soul.
As the will, it must
live in a black hole,
stored, for future use
by a new body
which it will choose
for a mortal role.
From this I deduce:
when the death knells toll,
there is no RIP.
Lingering on, we
stew in our own juice
waiting to be let loose.
Nothing Much (or Much Nothing)
JP Sartre’s response to Mallarme’s encounter with Nothingness in Tournon
‘The universe will expand
says Sartre. But nothing not at hand
means something is in store.
You may not have a leg to stand
on, let alone a deep heart’s core,
but on the horizon, there’s land.
So be at peace with the far shore.
And, nothing in mind, having scanned
places where you have been before,
find that nothing has changed. It’s grand
being part of cosmic folklore.
My high horse is a donkey.
I don’t have to carry it
because someone cries out shame.
I ride into my village.
Some neighbours throw stones at me;
and others flowers. I plod on,
leaving the flowers to wither
and the stones to gather moss.
I’m going nowhere that I know.
At the cross-road a scarecrow.
hangs from the signpost. The clothes
could be mine. My mount he-haws:
nobody is a saviour
to his own people.
Chastened, I retrace my steps.
As there are nails on the road
my donkey suffers, not me.
I am nobody’s Jesus.
A Rare OutingWhen young I only saw beautiful people.
Now I see the slightly less than…
It’s so long since I looked in a mirror
I can’t remember my face.
I leave it to others to tell me
when there are crumbs in my beard.
The queue for the expo takes so long
to move - what with paper-work and security -
that I decide Dufy isn’t worth my patience,
and go for a drink before buying
handmade slippers. Art alas has let me down
but at least my aesthetic sense is pleased
that the wool is grey threaded with green,
and my feet haven’t shrunk. Though the gnarled nails
are opaque stubs. On my return journey
I note the Rue l’Avenir is now a dead end.
Still Le Passage de Temps Passê
has become a free-way. I’m home in no time.
Elne: the City the Romans dubbed Ungovernable
The spiralling staircases of Elne unwind
a garden of olives with houses between the trees.
Climb up to the balustrade, and once again find
the angry cathedral facing the Pyrenees.
Le croix des outrages is what we come to see
the crucifixion as seen through the mocking eyes
of Pilot’s soldiers. A clothes-hanger, no body.
Not a blasphemy to the Catalan pious.
Gargoyles in the cloister are mocking their enemies.
The tongues are rattle snakes struck-dumb in rose marble.
The caustic humour is where their venom now is.
You can hear the laughter above the dovecot garble.
In ascending scales, a piano is being tuned.
If it played an air it would be to surrender
notes to acceptance. The discord could be ruined.
Music must be broken in the hands of a mender.
Revenants beside me on the ramparts, submit not
to time or tide, save the exuberance of fountains.
This unruly city knows horizons have got
no limits, beyond the wind-break of the mountains.
The pas de loup of night approaches pace apace,
encroaching on the livestock in the foothills. We
are immortal now, time has been put in its place,
and watch the last sunlight on the plain reach the sea.
Cumulus 3 with M.My clouds with you were all low-flying.
And when they broke, they refreshed the earth.
Now the clouds are all high-flying.
They pass by, absorbed by self-worth.
A crackle on the life-line,
‘Looking up is above
and beyond where I am. I’m
sitting on a dandelion,
a butterfly whose day’s done
having fluttered off the long-run.