The Lichen’s Lyrics

sunset

He sits before the sunset and wonders
at the slow language of the planet
that slips by us in words longer than lifetimes
sung to the lyrics of the lichen longing
for translation as the fading light falls
through the cave at just the right angle
to engulf the tapestry with fire.

And he stares into the golden night, wondering
what whispered secrets the clouds keep,
like how to fade into blue, dissolve into nothing
and then return
to dance with air and floating seas,
the river of the sky singing a duet
with the slow language of sunset
in a melody it takes a life to hear.

And like the clouds, so long the keepers
of our secrets, we get to dance with floating water,
we get to be the wildness and the wet
every time we fall, every time we are drawn back
up into the blue until the only dream that’s left
is to sing slow words with lichen
and wait
for one day each spring when the sun sets
at just the right angle to light it all up.

Yakhal’inkomo

There is an old song where I come from
and it bellows through the people, singing
the songs of slaughterhouse marches
and what we have lost.

Mankunku’s horn massages the memory of massacres
the pointlessness of martyrs and mothers who remember,
like overhearing Gabriel’s whisper as the child is kissed
and dropped to begin again
in stilted yet quietly stunning music
filled with the kind of silence which proceeds
that first cry of bafflement.

I know this music in my bones,
it crawls over my flesh like a dung beetle,
a blistering desert of fading memories
and a never-ending dune, etched in waves
which the beetle-beat must ascend
in stumbling steps as the edifice slips and slides
beneath him – an eternity of falling heavens.

We are rainbows, my friend
(you must be a friend)
and once I dreamed of happiness,
of a thrush and a garden and still point.

It came true too, at sunset as jet streams
became the golden locks of god over an ancient port
where the footsteps echo,
where the footsteps sound like that old song from home,
and I a ferryman to bear this happiness
from one shore back here.

And, sweet irony, is the task a happy one?
Not always.

But I wondered through the garden of the stars,
I met my becoming and was still.

We are forever ecstatic.

 

WordPress won’t let me add videos – go here to see the title song. This post is dedicated to Yahia Lababidi, a new inspiration of mine.

 

Ruby

We swam your ashes out into the blue
way beyond the break where I knew,
like a child standing in a bucket
connected to the marvelous,
that we are born of water
and all we did was help you back
as the rain swept in and wrote it’s secrets
into the open sand.

Later, a pod of dolphins swam by
and I swear there was some fishy being
glittering just below the surface
so that when I want to see you
I need just ask
the wind and waves where you are.

Not that you’re with them, there on the beach,
no; you are them and I need just ask,
just knock on the sky and listen for the colour,
walk right in and ask

if this is water as it really is,
the swirling memory of everyone you loved,
everyone you hated, everyone you never knew,
and what it’s like to just keep swimming.

Seven Castles

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A delectable death, the butterfly whispered,
newly emerged in the rising light, moving
toward the restaurant at one end of a universe,
a hub where spoken words create worlds
of gateless doors and doorless gateways
discovering, disclosing the circle
in a broad and unfinished stroke
embracing one, returning to many,
brought together and transformed
in a laboratory of personal experience,
a loving ground, snow-swept the stage,
my self engaged in quiet communion,
thunderous silence;
the alchemical anarchy of a free human
set to a big bang microwave background of being
where I waits to be found in It,
not tranquilised by the trivial
nor trivialised by the tranquil.

It’s all nonsense, of course,
before conversation with a common heart,
that most simple song of our soul:

The crickets chirp,
the butterfly takes flight.
A new day has begun,
the same as any other.

Dancing Signs

“I wanted the proof of a living spirit and I got it.
Don’t ask me at what price” — C. G. Jung

What am I but a signpost
left here at the crossing of many paths
to point all ways, for always and no ways,
every way the same,
full of nothing which men divide
by knowing they wish to go
this way or that, preferring up or down
after missing the emerald tablet
at the entrance:
below and above the same thing,
no thing at all.

And so I stand, rooted to this earth,
having travelled far enough to measure
the distance from here to there
and back again,
each sign carefully painted,
pointing at this tree, that apple,
this cup of tea, those mountains:
meant for climbing, eating,
drinking, seeing,
no more, know less:

all of life a lesson
in how to listen
and, having heard,
the signpost sways,
remembering what it
feels like to dance again.

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LBJ

A line of trees
dances in the distance,
swaying drunkenly
before the slate-roofed
houses boxing forward
like some gray beast
set to blow apart this
summer day.

But in the foreground,
a wide green field
and a single LBJ –
little brown jobbie –
bird of my childhood
singing softly of
something unimportant,
but a song nonetheless…

And to the left
a broken shadecloth
flaps lazily back
and forth so that
I can see
the shape of wind,
feel it rustling
in the eaves,
a whole world
acting as the
backup choir for
a little brown bird:

Nondescript,
nonchalant,
an eternity in itself.

Chintsa Cycles

How quickly we forget
the wind when it is
behind us,
how still the air feels
flowing forward in
my saddle,
having turned for home
finished fighting
to find some other place,
knowing, simply knowing,
there is nowhere but
here.

And there is no time,
not even now,
it is as still as
the space cycling
before me,
unfurling between
ruffled sea and
wavy dune,
an endless emptiness
between
nothing and existence,
this middle path
that uncovered me.

For so long I have looked
for stories to share,
stumbling over the
greatest one of all
on a ship called serendip
floating across a meadow
where I walked the plank
in search of strange music
playing through a spring night,
a symphony sprung
from the movement of our cells
and those ancient echo
chambers of your heart…

So break, my love,
break open from
this saddle, seated
at the centre of
our universe
full with emptiness,
dancing in the dark
because that is all
that ever mattered
and no-one ever was,
not then,
not now,
not there.

Always here.

To know, yes or no?

I’m so tired of hearing
‘I didn’t know’.

I grew up
surrounded
by people who
didn’t know
didn’t want to know
couldn’t know
hadn’t the will to know
didn’t know they could know.

How many gyres
must fall
apart
before we learn
that not knowing
is not enough
is never enough
never will be enough
can never be enough if
we want to go on
with this
life?

And what a life
it could be
the not-knowing known
and in such bliss
walking forth
hands outstretched
fingertips trembling
though they may be.

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.