Friday, 30 December 2011
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
Out there walking round, looking out for food,
a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
barely getting by,
no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—
carry some—look for some,
go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
bones hunger home.
Out there somewhere
a shrine for the old ones,
the dust of the old bones,
old songs and tales.
What we ate—who ate what—
how we all prevailed.
Sunday, 25 December 2011
Song for Nobody
A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.
(No light, no gold, no name, no color
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)
A golden heaven
Sings by itself
Friday, 23 December 2011
ladies, for you are all ladies, as the good doctor says, beware the 'danger of serious bodily illness due to excessive straining' especially, i would infer, if you are not in the flower of life.
and for all of us, take a moment to raise our eyes up from the bars, 'ashen faced and haggard' and let a smile for the world at this festive time cresses the rigours of your 'bicycle face'. and do not, whatever, give in to the 'delerium of swiftness' however much you may be tempted and consider that perhaps it is time to be at the fireside sharpening a pencil, enjoying the putting down of thoughts of reflection on the passing year and perhaps a small glass of sherry.
all of which is sound medical advice so have a care.
Thursday, 22 December 2011
To Alexander Graham
Lying asleep walking
Last night I met my father
Who seemed pleased to see me.
He wanted to speak. I saw
His mouth saying something
But the dream had no sound.
We were surrounded by
Laid-up paddle steamers
In The Old Quay in Greenock.
I smelt the tar and the ropes.
It seemed that I was standing
Beside the big iron cannon
The tugs used to tie up to
When I was a boy. I turned
To see Dad standing just
Across the causeway under
That one lamp they keep on.
He recognised me immediately.
I could see that. He was
The handsome, same age
With his good brows as when
He would take me on Sundays
Saying we’ll go for a walk.
Dad, what am I doing here?
What is it I am doing now?
Are you proud of me?
Going away, I knew
You wanted to tell me something.
You stopped and almost turned back
To say something. My father,
I try to be the best
In you you give me always.
Lying asleep turning
Round in the quay-lit dark
It was my father standing
As real as life. I smelt
The quay’s tar and the ropes.
I think he wanted to speak.
But the dream had no sound.
I think I must have loved him.
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
The Yellowhammer’s Nest
Just by the wooden brig a bird flew up,
Frit by the cowboy as he scrambled down
To reach the misty dewberry—let us stoop
And seek its nest—the brook we need not dread,
'Tis scarcely deep enough a bee to drown,
So it sings harmless o'er its pebbly bed
—Ay here it is, stuck close beside the bank
Beneath the bunch of grass that spindles rank
Its husk seeds tall and high—'tis rudely planned
Of bleachèd stubbles and the withered fare
That last year's harvest left upon the land,
Lined thinly with the horse's sable hair.
Five eggs, pen-scribbled o'er with ink their shells
Resembling writing scrawls which fancy reads
As nature's poesy and pastoral spells—
They are the yellowhammer's and she dwells
Most poet-like where brooks and flowery weeds
As sweet as Castaly to fancy seems
And that old molehill like as Parnass' hill
On which her partner haply sits and dreams
O'er all her joys of song—so leave it still
A happy home of sunshine, flowers and streams.
Yet in the sweetest places cometh ill,
A noisome weed that burthens every soil;
For snakes are known with chill and deadly coil
To watch such nests and seize the helpless young,
And like as though the plague became a guest,
Leaving a houseless home, a ruined nest—
And mournful hath the little warblers sung
When such like woes hath rent its little breast.
Sunday, 18 December 2011
The Working Self
the naked man with the briefcase
descending three flights of lighthouse stairs
his neckmuscles held by a hatstand of stress
and a new version of the Inferno blackening his cerebellum
in which the only dead are his poetic texts
and those of all the writers he has ever loved
wanting to be asleep with all the fervour of the truly middle-aged
the naked man running into
the midnight sea at Teignmouth
wiht the surprisingly large breasted girl
he will not sleep wiht later in the sand
all the car-loads of friends all following The Wedding Present
from gig to gi allstoned and half-undressed and
sleepily silenusian in the cold cupping sand
the student standing with a white furred uvula in
the campanile of his newly-smoking throat
before the galvanised facade of Milan cathedral
on his first morning in Italy, before visiting the Brera, the Uffizi,
focusing on the lens as it falls from his spectacles and smashes
on the delicious pasticeria of the paving stones
the seventeen year old staring at Rossetti’s
loganberry compote of a dream of Dante and the corpse of Beatrice
remembering the final cold corner bust up by the bridge
by the Post Office where he stood for hours knowing
she would never feel the need to come back
not knowing that he would never speak to her again or know
her whereabouts or children or the moment of her death
the boy visiting a grandfather
he hadn’t seen so long he almost had begun
to think of him as dead and dreamed about it endlessly
after the rapidly-following death
the slow hand touching the bandaged throat, the querulous witty voice
the dark, conspiratorial spectacles, always
not dead after all but still with him, talking
the boy who dreamt that all his classmates sat in darkness in
a circle and the circle was so large it seemed to contain
all the people of the multis at Trottick, all the people in Dundee
perhaps all the people in Scotland and in the centre was a figure,
cowled like a monk, roating in the darkness with an index finger
pointing and revolving like a planet in an orrery
and when the figure pointed straight at him
woke up in the dark moon-streaked fourth-floor bedroom for the first time
Thursday, 15 December 2011
For years now you have been my love,
The vertigo I feel when I lie waiting
That nothing can make old, make cold;
Even that which was expecting our death,
Or geadually knew how to combat us,
Even that which we are strangers to,
My eclipses also and also my returns.
Barred like a boxwood shutter,
An extreme and compact fortune
Is our mountain range,
Our compressing splendour.
I say fortune, o my wrought one;
Each of us can receive
Anther’s share of mystery
Without spilling its secret;
And the suffering that comes from elsewhere
Finds at last its separation
In the flesh of our untiy,
Finds at last its solar road
At the center of our dense cloud
Which it tears and recommences.
I say fortune the way I feel it.
You have raised the summit
That my waiting will have to cross
When tomorrow is no longer there
Monday, 12 December 2011
Faith is in you whenever you look
At a dewdrop or a floating leaf
And know that they are because they have to be.
Even if you close your eyes and dream up things
The world will remain as it has always been
And the leaf will be carried by the waters fo the river.
You have faith also when you hurt your foot
Against a sharp rock and you know
that rocks are here to hurt our feet.
See the long shadow that is cast by the tree?
We and the flowers throw shadows on the earth.
What has no shadow has no strength to live
trans by author
Friday, 9 December 2011
Early in the day it was whispered that we should sail in a boat,
only thou and I, and never a soul in the world would know of this our
pilgrimage to no country and to no end.
In that shoreless ocean,
at thy silently listening smile my songs would swell in melodies,
free as waves, free from all bondage of words.
Is the time not come yet?
Are there works still to do?
Lo, the evening has come down upon the shore
and in the fading light the seabirds come flying to their nests.
Who knows when the chains will be off,
and the boat, like the last glimmer of sunset,
vanish into the night?
trans by the author
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
I was four months gone -
my breasts already tender
against the bell-ropes;
we were ringing quarter-peals,
the sun flooding the bell-chamber,
the dust rippling between the joists
when the child quickened,
fluttered against the changes;
and suddenly through the clerestory
I saw that colder quickening -
random - reciprocal -
and the flaxfield
like water under the wind.
Monday, 5 December 2011
Sunday, 4 December 2011
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.