Drummer Boy

I know it now,
or I knew it then,
rounding the bend
into a field of sunshine:
what kind of life it could be.

Not one
of speaking truth to power.
I am born of powerful
and dangerous men,
cocksure and confident.

No, I am here
to sway power
with visions of a
small child, running
through sacred spaces

leaping giddyingly
on a shaft of light
and giggling as it
runs through her mind
like melting butter,

chasing it around
the men in solemn prayer,
women waiting in shadow,
her vision disturbing quiet
as it dances in the stillness

of an ordinary day,
all afresh and new,
alive with possibility if
sunlight is how you dream,
dance, your way of life.

History’s Roads

I returned to the buddha tree today,
set ablaze by the white snow of
late spring sprung with daffodils
turning in long sunsets like some
endlessly infinite, recurring movie
played out over port meadow.

All but a few of the blooms are
already gone
passed
blown away by the bitter winds
we had last week after she left.
Just sturdy green buds remain.

It’s achingly temporary,
all of it,
the beautiful suffering lot
of bodhisattva sat under
his spring tree singing
the perfect blossom.

I found a field next to the lake,
and sat like a statue watching
the still water, small eddies
tickling the surface with each
breath of wind as I made faces
and tempted the fates.

A tree’s branches whispered
‘let the past go’.
Not erase, forget, repress,
just ‘let it go’. Why fight
for sticks and stones and
the words of long dead men?

It is my history, too,
but don’t you see?
The shit on his shoulder
is part of the monument,
a momentary release meant
crudely to memorialise

the fight for freedom
long vacant, vanquished
by whitepink men equal
before only our own laws.
Let the statues go.
I, too, need less reminders.

History has brought me here,
far away to the centre where
spring is singing, ringing, winging
through pinkwhite trees while
the heady scent of happiness
hangs light in the hazy air.

History does not live in stones
or stanzas, but in your mind
as the world’s pulsing rhythm,
so let the statues go.
Build anew a beating heart
to the blossoming birdsong,
based on humanity, humility;
on the belief that we
can be better than the
men and women
we remember once being,
in long-ago ages when
the darkness was unbroken.

Wet Windows

A quivering web of jewels,
my window lights up
as the earth rises
after a rainstorm,
spinning sunlit tendrils
that shimmer and slide,
finding and blinding
by looking too long
into the light.

The drops become
splotches on the page,
a dance of make-believe
burnt onto my eyes,
strange patterns in
all the parts I
do not look at.

Every time I read
it seems a different play,
different gems swish,
teardrop fish in
changing light
until its not words,
but sight
which makes the poem,
refracted by wet windows
and a passing, wistful wish.

Oxford Bridges

The sky is an ocean tonight,
a spotted line of white, like
washed up waves which fizz
in foamy baths of salt and air,
breaking across the sunset as
a single jet leaps from sea to sky:
shy, small fish come to sacrifice
itself on the never-ending
altar of burnished air before her,
standing on a railway bridge,
buffeted by late winterwinds,
turning its tail to speckled gold
as the fishjet tries to fly from
the red and black to come.

Of Foxes and Fences

I slip from shade to shadow

sniffing at the light,

tentative paw passing

shards of grass in icy sheaths,

pinpricked moonlight

as the world refracts, retracts

before my loping gait,

swift silence across

the flooded plains and

into welcome darkness.

 

Creature of the night,

wandering ages hence

where no wall nor fence

has ever stood and

standing, fell,

for no mending lasts

against shade and shadow

and the steady clock

tick-tock temporary line

until time is up.

 

The fox flows away

eyes alive to night,

returning me to I

my little sight of life.

Still, sometimes she calls,

stealthy vixen of the dark,

across flooded fields

piercing, painful, sharp:

a reminder of within

our many-voicéd kin.

“Dark Dances”

The dark depresses me,
soul hibernating in this
season of cold things
and distant love.

My self unfurls in curls
of smoke and wispy breath
to form the phrase I
have been looking for:

The milk-near word,
so close to the breast,
so far from the lips;
frozen by arctic winds.

Tomorrow comes slowly,
ends quickly,
and life goes rushing on
in underground tunnels,

subterraneous creatures
chasing wealth, warmth
and a hundred other
tired illusions.

Yet the darkness has
its own kind of clarity,
its own blind revelations
lurking in murky corners

of my manipulative mind,
where magic men
and myth meet,
where the dancing never ends.

“Wild World”

‘He was unheeded, happy,
and near to the wild heart of life’
— James Joyce

It seems so silly,
this business of living
doll-like, dull lives
soft skulls of language
with strange alliterations
building boundaries, binaries
to bind the blind masses
cheerfully chanting
their stilted slogans,
stripped and shipped
by a haunted history.

Yet wild hearts exist!
with madness enough
to let it be.
Who would rather spend
a lifetime answering
the question of
her laughter,
or measuring the
half-life of love
(forever)
than getting lost

in loose alliteration,
trying in vain
to capture life:

There is only love and loss.
The rest, they tell me,
is just rust and stardust.

“Full Moon Lover”

She dances here
in clear moonlight
on a cold night,
her reflection caught
by silver clouds,
whispering waltzes
in windblown flights,
just like she danced
there
and the place before,
still beyond sight.

The greatest tragedies
make life beautiful,
jaunty puppets
that we are,
play-acting life,
singing ‘Fight, fight!’
in the oncoming night.

“Magical You”

I have been searching for You
all my life
on hidden paths
in secret places
long poplar avenues
where no bird sings
lonely points
where oceans meet
and spirit-trees live
on salt-strewn rocks

places with no punctuation
groundless grammar
of the unspeakable
where magic lives
unsignified
I falls into the void
and all he sees
are faraway mountains
pure snow white
whole in reality

a place that the poet sings
to You
dearest friend
full of possibility
in that plunging moment
come to meet
the man who writes me
carefully arranged
in crawling signs
and yet
he dreams of magic!

“Oxford Town”

Silent sandstone turrets light up,
sunset’s redemption of dull days
and my flagging spirit lifts,
blown by a gentle breeze
into the quickly-gathered night
for another conversation
on life and love and choice
amidst the privileged few
who call these castles home.

I know it’s not just merit
that has landed me in a
place of powerful knowledge
and I feel the guilt of having,
like a block of ancient stone
casting its grim shadow across
nine hundred years of history
and all the untold stories which
gather in the fading light.

They are not my stories to tell,
though they must still find a place
so I step slightly to the left,
merge my shadow with the tower’s
sunlit silhouette and strange!
the two seem joined to one
beneath the fast-setting sun
and the many-coloured light
dances playfully into night.