Wednesday, 31 December 2008

to the elect few

you who seek to create your utopia
look to the eaten flesh in long lost graves
across the bitter landmass of the north and south

you who seek to purify humanity
look deep within the bleakness of your rotten soul
to see the murderous hatred you nurture there

you who seek to save us from our sins
look to the rack, the thumbscrew offerings
your putrid heart gave to the children of the world

next time you have a great idea
plunge it into the deepest sea

next time you have a vision of Truth
bury it and you with it into the molten centre of this precious bleeding Earth

next time you open your mouth to show us the Way
take out your knife and slit your throat
before you let it loose on all around you

Friday, 19 December 2008

you say you're silent

you say you're silent
but you talk a lot
you spills the beans
about the affairs you've had
and nothing much about you seems quite sacred

i've heard you on the radio
watched your shows on the video
and all i hear is loss and sadness from you

so what you say, you never said
you promised much just spoke the truth
and in a way i guess i do believe you

but looking at your wizened face
your wizened heart, your aging grace
i guess I'd better show pity to you

the politicians lie for power
you bow your head and beg more peace
but they will never grant you silence you know

their lives are shallower than the gulags' graves
their collaborators heads are shaved
and no one gets out of this hell hole do they

keep your silence old man
keep your anger inside
let me walk with you in the Hamilton rain
and the two of us can talk without words
till the rooks melt with the sun
and the magpies return their ill gotten goods

Friday, 14 November 2008

the dark isn't dark of course

the dark isn't dark of course
just absence of light
as death isn't death
just the absence of life
and in that distinction lies a world of difference

there is nothing to fear in nothing
nothing to shrink from in mere absence

there is no dark
there is no death

breathe in the magic of darkness
the wonder of death

Saturday, 8 November 2008

clouds float on the moon


within rampaging fire

within rampaging fire
nothing real
falling leaves

dewy grass
sleeping slumbers
hears only the cuckoo

open up winter
i wish to breathe my last
though i do not die

clouds float on the moon
cherry trees bloom
one leaf takes the wind

the power that splits mountains
will take my body to the earth
shrouded by a sudden frost

rain clouds disappear
i don't want eternity
come for me when you will

no free will
only delusion of choice
i accept this charming charade

make your interventions now
turn the wheels around
if they care for turning
and if they don't?
it was programmed to be so

my father like the fresh spring wind

my father, like the fresh spring wind
blew the cobwebs from our lives
and heralded an end to winter's dead hand

but like the strongest of storms
eventually he too will blow out
leaving a hollow calm
and a memory of what had come before

seven melodies

the tightening flood
thanks to you
our hearts impure

accept the change
keep in the air
bounded by books

approaching the coast
insubstantial
as a ghost

stupendous powers
need pay no lip service
save callous and cowardly words

dust must prevail
said MacDermid
nonsensical trash!

i have exhausted
the rainbow
sweet, sour, wild it was

cease to be
the wise society
protect living material

i landed on a grain of sand

i found myself on a grain of sand
and set off exploring it in the dark
with my torch

it had such deep craters, zapping meteors
volcanic eruptions, strange creatures
unlike anything i'd ever seen on Earth

i spent many decades investigating
the flora and fauna
instincts and cultures
climate patterns
and spiritual mythologies

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

is there tomorrow?

is there tomorrow she said
i don't know for sure i said
but i hope
if it comes
i'll see you

is tomorrow she said
i'm not sure i said
but i wish
if it comes
it comes for you too

tomorrow she said
tomorrow i said

Sunday, 2 November 2008

loss

on the bbc news today
was the story of Henry Allingham
the last British survivor of World War 1
Age 112 he was born in 1896
and still attends the Armistice Memorial
each November

i watched him with sadness
how strange to be alive at 112
My grandfather Wladyslaw, had he survived
would have been 115
a bit too much to ask of any man

But had he not died at fifty
but say at ninety
not in 1943 in Zakopane
but in 1983 in Hamilton
brought over by my father
during one of Poland's periods
of liberalisation
I'd have known him until I was 24

He could have told me a few things
how he got captured by the Tsarist Russians
how he tried to turn the locals against their emperor
how he met Janina and what the in-laws were really like
how he cheated death - instead of dying -
and how he found his wife and children again
alive after 1945 and war's end

And what of my grandmother Janina?
Imagine if she had survived the starving months on 1941-42
Got well in Teheran like my dad did
She's younger than Henry Allingham
Born in 1902
why she's practically a kid compared to him
at only 106.
She could have told me how she felt
having to be cared for by her teenage children
who helped her when and how
what it was like to be in the new reborn Poland of 1918

and maybe I'd have found out what my Polish grandparents
were really like
for myself
instead of through aged memories
of my father and my aunts
or through old letters, photos.

I envy Henry Allingham's family
i hope they make the most of the old man's longevity
but i am happy for them
as i am unhappy for myself
and my dad and my aunt danka and zofia

that Wladyslaw and Janina
did not live to 112
or even just 100.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Before Katie was born July or August 1994

These are the last thoughts
normally lost thoughts
after a rough day
when we waited for news
bad or good
but at least the waiting would be over

no news came
except that we'd have to wait
another week
to find if our unborn baby

and I'm sure it's as beautiful as life

is fine or fatally flawed
by extra chromosomes

how cruel can biology be?

but i think fine and sparkling
and hope my beautiful wife
does not destroy herself with the pain
which i cannot prevent
and which draws the very goodness of life
from her, and me, and all the lovely day

i hope our baby's well. Good night.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

the buds on the rowan

(for and after Larry Butler and Gael Turner)

the buds on the rowan waken
ask for sunlight
receive it, even in Scotland
winter-dormant branches stretch upwards
in a long stiff yawn
feeling, searching for rebirth
birds, returning
land on familiar perches
the rain reminds them of reality
still the buds long to open

Sunday, 26 October 2008

rick danko

"and the dawn don't rescue me no more"
a voice that split the sunlight
and broke hearts

"and the sun don't shine any more"
when i hear the plaintive yearning
i just want to cry

it makes a difference
it makes a difference

may the sun shine, the dawn rescue you
thank you for your brutally gentle
aching offering

the last leaf falls




the last leaf falls
and gives way to winter
death precedes birth

the first bud appears
kisses the dawn of spring
birth welcomes death

Saturday, 25 October 2008

continuity

there is continuity
there is only continuity
there is continuity after death
there is continuity before birth

there is consciousness
use it well
it does not last
the time comes when
there is no consciousness
to be part of the continuity

consciousness is temporary awareness
of some of continuity

Thursday, 23 October 2008

long day

a long day lasts as long
as a short day
and no more

a long life
- may you have one -
lasts as long as a short life
and no more

a long day is a long life
a long life, just a long day

a short day is a long life
a long day is a short life

today was a long day

Thursday, 16 October 2008

the tv is on in the background

the tv is on in the background
star trek, the next generation
picard is considerate but firm

the air is warm for autumn
sunshine has poured through my window today

the research suggests
we can manipulate our minds
my diary shows a busy week next week

but i have plenty of time right now
to salvage the universe
and heal humankind
for the moment

rootless

rootless
footloose
stable and still

rooted in rootlessness
surefooted footlooseness

stable in an unstable world
still in the noise of the crowd

rooted in stillness
surefooted stability

no roots, no feet
no stability
no stillness

rock solid
and free

Monday, 13 October 2008

train to Hamilton 15 August 2008

Pre-recorded announcement
i've heard a thousand times before
i wait for the train

Eastbound is Hamilton Carluke Lanark
Edinburgh Moscow Tokyo
myriad galaxies, even multiverses

shining yellow panels
gleaming red benches
it's a metallic world

because of this journey
because of this grating noise
i lost sight of my feelings

the metal screeches
assault in waves
the world's order

neon tickertape sign
"the next stop is Rutherglen"
on & on it goes

pink flowers so defiant
rebel against
the rusty rail tracks

an egg carton
two small blocks of wood
casually tossed onto the rail track

no peaks, no troughs
only illusions of peaks and troughs

i slay dragons
imaginary creatures

orange rowan berries
surrounded by a wire fence
perfectly free

nature encircles the housing estate
even as humanity encircles
the living Earth

the sky
a majestic layer
of abstract beauty

on the train to Glasgow 15th August 2008

ipod music
the man is plugged in
and the noise leaks out

the woman reads a horror story
looking glum
she turns the page

the man stares aimlessly
as we approach Rutherglen
arms folded defensively

an ugly staircase
dirty windows
tarmac platform

tinny guitar solos
followed by silence
the music irritates my mind

the back of Tesco Entra
dead flowers as we cross the Clyde
the clouds darken

five out of six in this carriage
are wearing glasses
we are a short-sighted species

Dalmarnock Station is red brick
on both sides
like prison walls

in the dim lit station
there's always the danger
of being cut off

The Metro features Sir Alex Ferguson
and a £40,000 prize game
i get up - this is my station

lonely and sad

she's lonely & sad
tries to cover it up
talks about friends, sex, trips
to exotic locations
where adventures occur
and names are dropped
opinions shared
critiques delivered

articulate attractive smiling
sad lonely woman
growing old
covering it up
with a desolate coating
of activity and pizazz

egotists in control of our country

the ego rules his roost
his name in giant letters
on the factory wall

suits rule this fertile land
a deafening conservatism
a diseased lack of depth

surface sheen, shining shoes
the free market's gift to Earth

drinking at the river

we got to the river to drink
we cup our hands and quench
the dirty brown water down
our shrunken throats

the water may be disease ridden
we may die tomorrow
but today we are thirsty

Friday, 10 October 2008

a perfect day

the sun pours its morning light
onto the West Lothian fields
Yesterday's rainfall left a giant pool
by the railway track
and ducks, seizing the opportunity
swim and bask in autumn beauty
as i head for an economics forum

Sunday, 5 October 2008

being Polish

for the Kresy Siberian Virtual Museum team

being Polish is like having the wind
rush past your face
on a busy road
taken by surprise
always unsure whether it was a one-off
or perhaps it might strike again
blow you off guard
still you like the wind
it keeps your cheeks alive
and it's always better to be outdoors
in nature, with nature
even in the noisy city
with its drink dens and bustling students
we can wait, there's always time to wait
things will settle eventually
we have always waited
even when the wind behaves like a dervish
at a party
causing all the paper serviettes to fly
like pesky angels
all through the room
and the glasses get blown over
and the people begin to panic
it's not what it seems
it's just a little wind
and we can face the wind
and eventually we know the wind
dies
and we can get on with our conversation again
outside
in nature
with our nature
for our own Polish nature

perfect sunshine october

on this day of blue serenity
i emerge from broken sleep
to sunlit curtains in my slumbering home

lifted by sunraylight
i let a soft sadness float from my mind.
everywhere i tingle with unexpected smiles
and somewhere a mother's grateful throat
hoarsely spills "much love, thank you...thank you"

bleak october

after a meal of tepid pizza
i go out to regain fresh cool air
along the curve of Meikle Crescent

ill at ease as the day dies
i feel an unexpected sharp wind slap my face
everywhere winter is preparing its battering march
with its solid shades of grey
its long black night

the minister in black

the minister in black
he said

i am as constant as the christ on his cross
i am the way, the truth and the light

i know how to save these communities
bow down before me
worship at my successful, politically cleansed feet

in the darker shadows
warped angels writhed
they knew his power
his sting, his sardonic tone

the minister of god
in his prime
lording over the minions

braying to the media
of his own sanctimonious wonder

Saturday, 4 October 2008

walkin in the public park

walkin in the public park
watchin the kids play on the swings
feelin the damp grass
try to soak through my cheap trainers

we biked here forty years ago
from my mum and dad's house
walked along the wall edgin the paddlin pool
it had water in it in those days

i never used to stop at the war memorial
now i look beyond the victorian bandstand
to where are remembered young friends
and the places they were cut down

serbia
belgium
mesopotamia
france
egypt

the war dead of Hamilton
not quite forgotten in the quiet corner of the park
young men, some still boys
the kids shouts of joy
from the see-saw and the mums and dads
loud gentle voices chippin in
simple lovin time together

in some corner of a public park
that is forever young
beside the busy, graceful
Bothwell Road
with its sweep of trees and history
i lay a wreath with my imagination
a gift to the memory of all
whose lives are honoured in this sandstone art

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

the night light

the night light
casts long shadows
at my desk

pen, mobile phone, diary
a few business cards
at the edge of my vision

working for what
for whom

aware of my ageing fingers
typing on a mortal laptop
the lamp light reminding me
it's bedtime

today is ending
what was it?
i don't remember a single detail
did i live it
did i caress the moments
i don't know

tomorrow may choose
to grace me with its presence
after the perfect bliss of sweet sleep
when tomorrow ends
in the night light's soft grey shades
will i have used my day

it doesn't matter if i remember my day or not
it only matters that i touched the presence
felt the beautiful mystery
majestic morning turn to day to afternoon
to evening to night
to sweet sleep
touched every gentle fold of the air that envelops me
in its smooth blanket

i am an infant on this earth
swaddled in its blessed embrace

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

shallow times

we live in shallow times
so shallow we lack dimension
except for length and breadth
we stretch out forever in those two directions
but never rise above the paper-thin surface
nor search the depths we have forgotten exist

we live in times so shallow
we seem fit only to exist
not to live

against the laws of physics
it seems we are capable of becoming
even more shallow
to be less than two dimensional
to be, ultimately
no dimensional

was it always like this?
was there never a time
when ordinary men and women
rose in the morning sunlight
radiant with the prospect of living
moved to make a world anew
ready to work in concert
to ease the burdens of their fellow
men women and children?

shallow times
shallow lives
so shallow
as to cast no shadows
so shallow
as to leave no trace except rubbish tips
and graceless buildings
so shallow
as to consume their children's planet

so deeply, terribly, unfathomably
shallow

Friday, 19 September 2008

beyond my back garden

beyond my back garden
is a waste area
where long sandy blonde grasses
half camouflage crushed empty beer cans
and cheap wine bottles

but just over the gentle curve, past the half-fallen fence
there's a steep, slippery slope
down, down where bluebells grow
spread like confetti amongst the trees
and broken branches
in the miracle, Spring

and hiding, but if you're careful you'll see
myriad wild flowers whose names I never remember
but tick them off each year
in our wee wild flower book
yellow, white, blue and white, golden

and we step carefully so as
not to disturb their beauty
down, down again
to the edge of the Cadzow Burn
which runs from my home
to my mother and father's home

shallow deep

it's hard to discern shallow from deep
when you're standing by the shore
ready to wade in

easy to think deep is shallow
when you wallow in muddy waters

when you walk in shadow
everything's shallow

when you walk in light
there's neither depth nor height

as cool as purity

Friday, 12 September 2008

hold still your sad refrain


filled

filled with emptiness
overflowing with joy
a rainbow alights for me
and I for it

I am with the friends I love
and they don't even exist

drunk on water
I loll from side to
perfect side
caressing the air

Thursday, 11 September 2008

simple lives then

let's live simple lives then
leave no ripples on the pond
no footsteps on the snow

let's live with the lightness of air
the freshness of the wind
the warmth of the sun

and the calm of the night

myriad reflections on holiday

the sun
too hot
burns my heart

sunburn
overheated
within

the world ebbs
no-one notices

purgatory
the period between
two pleasures

hard faces
hard looks
hard children

the moon shines orange
large and brilliant
people walk by unimpressed

suddenly
a celebrity
the world stops
and stares

spice
the subtlety
not the meal

tourism creates
uniformity
out of diversity

two sparrows
fly low over the pool
invisible

the hills in haze
dissolve from view
i see but don't believe

the father shouts
the mother shouts
the child learns

water slips
through my fingers
and my mind

obesity remains
the privilege
of humans

conscious of everything
i cease to exist

we live
we die
there is no difference

the alpha
is the omega
and vice versa

the butterfly
really does
flutter by

the day you die
your realise
you only ever had
one day to live
our life is shorter
than a butterfly's

sexual desire
hungrier
than hunger

liposuction
excess meat
in transport

when half the West
achieves obesity
every one of the poor
will starve

sex is a drug
followed by cold turkey

Monday, 8 September 2008

i don't exist


i create


write they said


paint they said


the path is smooth


reality tv



on tv tonight
they showed twelve prisoners
and the viewers had to vote
for their favourite

eleven would be freed; one excuted

the votes were as follows, most popular
to the least, in this order:

Hitler
Stalin
Mao
Pol Pot
Genghis Khan
Caligula
then four others whose names I didn't catch
leaving only two.

"the last prisoner to be freed"
said the voice
hesitating to give the name
to build up the crowd's excitement
"is...

as the crowd chanted his name...

BARABAS!"

"And what shall we do with Jesus?"
said the compere to the crowd.

"Crucify him!"
they shouted
"Crucify him"

the open sea



the open sea
the closed mind
drowns in it


the open sea
carries me to another shore
though there is no shore
no sea
no me

everyone on the phone




everyone on the phone
everyone on the move
nothing getting said
no-one getting anywhere

Sunday, 7 September 2008

thoughts scribbled in the supermarket




to be alone
is to be in love

with silence

with the air

with light

with darkness

with mystery

with awe

to be alone
is to be in love

Friday, 22 August 2008

clutter




clutter
no fear

empty shell

empty mind
contains all

empty your shelves
wardrobes
cupboards

still full

over mountains



over mountains
down ravines
flat world
monsoons
tidal waves
dry world
ice forms
deserts burn
temperate world
flow is
let it

holocaust waves

Holocaust waves
weans cry
old, too weak
lie down, die
Assisi priest
soothes sick
nurtures, heals
waves, ebbs
do no harm
do good
accept flow

all flux

all flux
flow
wild shifts
in mood
in looks

mad &
mundane
come & go

let come
let go
pay no heed

inner chaos
outer confusion
nothing special
precious moment

feed the monster

feed the monster
monster devours you

starve the monster
monster claws you

no solution
devoured or clawed

accept the cycle
devoured
clawed

no cycle
no devouring
no clawing
no monster
no you
No!

do - don't engage

do
don't engage

talk
say nothing

noise
hear silence

clutter
welcome the void

mad mind
acknowledge & withdraw

take no steps
and thus move forward

heaven's shores
are at hand

indulgence creates repulsion
ennui follows desire

tossed in the ocean's fury
be still in the melee

withdraw
and all makes sense

don't engage
and accomplish

accomplish much
little of value

accomplish little
precious treasures

rainy walk in Hamilton

This poem is based on a poem, Spring Walk to the Pavilion of Good Crops and Peace, by Ou Yang Hsiu (1007 - 1072), translation by Kenneth Rexroth

The trees on Bothwell Road are brilliant with red leaves
and the Campsies are brown.
The sun, hidden, is about to set.
Over the whole of Hamilton
a multi-grey carpet of cloud
rains to infinity.
I, the lone passer-by, don't care
That this is supposed to be summer sunshine.
Carefree, I walk towards the Mausoleum
dripping in my home town
rooted and nurtured by these familiar streets.

From my study window

This poem is loosely based on "Overlooking the desert" by Tu Fu, the great Chinese poet who lived in the 8th century AD, as translated by Kenneth Rexroth


Drenched summer. I look out onto
dark green spaces. The rooftops
blurred in bands of rain. Far off
Quarter's farms flood the washed sky.
My Hamilton is streaked with water.
The downpour forces living leaves to droop.
The hills invisible, the sun blocked grey.
A lone magpie flies for shelter.
The near-dusk trees are silent of birdsong.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

without knowing it

without knowing it
you picked up an axe
and smashed it into me
blow upon blow
till i was strewn into hundreds of shards
blood awash on the floor, on the bits of guts and bones
that were once me

without knowing it
your berserk assault
left me dead
in pieces

without knowing it
you created the catalyst
for rebirth
some part of me, still conscious of existence
a mind amongst the carnage
started to piece together all the fragments of my body
till i was whole again

without knowing it
naked, bloodless, bereft of thoughts and feeling
this body mind
started to produce blood
generate electrical impulses
feel senses, first touch then smell then taste then hearing
finally sight

without knowing it
i stood up, staggered but stayed upright
felt the blood and electricity course through my heart and brain
and i felt a rush of pure clear light fill my consciousness

and i smiled and forgave you

song for peace

for Aung San Suu Kyi

Peace is not a Holy Grail
peace is just a step together
in the right direction

peace is not the absence of war
but the presence of love

peace lives inside us
it only asks for quiet
a stillness clear and open
to cause the blind to see

to win in war is to lose
to win peace
we must offer ourselves to all

peace needs faith in our species
peace needs nurtured like a newborn baby
peace needs acceptance of pain

may peace prevail over hate

Sunday, 17 August 2008

day dawns

day dawns
i am crying inside with joy
at the wonder of life

day dawns
i am laughing inside with happiness
at the majesty of existence

Thursday, 14 August 2008

the faithful flock

they get up and go
to the teachers talk
the faithful flock
happy to accept the path he gives

i sit on a wall
watch a ladybird
climb a blade of grass
wondering what it feels

they queue to hear the guru
to receive wisdom and blessings
the sun shines
a chaffinch sings
and the grass is soft

the queue disappears
and im with
the sun, the bird's song, and the grass

we long for peace

we long for peace
but fail
because longing is not peaceful
in the mist of darkness
is perfect light

no reception

theres no reception
my phone gives up
i hope shes well
but wont know
until this darkness fades

tunnel

tunnel time
to dark to talk
too late anyway

the clyde at rutherglen

the clyde at rutherglen
broad brown
speckle green leaved
trees at both banks

the urban river
flows steel and sweat
into an I.T. future
at the IBM firth

girl on the train

the girls on the train
strawberry blonde
pale
a freckled life ahead

in place of love

in place of love
grow bluebells
soft and pretty
to celebrate spring

no way forward

no way forward
no way back
only here

mind is a jail

mind is a jail
hatred a lock
forgiveness a key

in jail

in jail
only the dead
the wise are free

seeking

seeking nothing
i found it

seeking solace
i found it
alone

seeking immortality
i found it
in death

seeking wisdom
i found it
in idiots

seeking peace
i found it
in hate

seeking healing
i found it
in wounds

seeking love
i found it
in silence

seeking life
i found it
in renunication

seeeking everything
i found it
empty

seeking hope
i found it
in no hope

seeking words
i found them
in the void

seeking strength
it found it
in despair

seeking god
i found her
non existent

seeking purpose
i found
there is no need

seeking goals
i found them
in stillness

seeking ends
i found them
in means

seeking means
i found them
in not doing

seeking death
i found it
in everything
everywhere
in each moment

ballad of a quite thin man

something is happening
but you don't know what it is
do you mr stepek?

a guy smoking hookah
mohican hair
marley i shot the sheriff

smell of spices
not ill at ease
just bemused

demon

a demon lives here
in its dark cave it plots
constant raids on my home

demon devil
lurking in the black recesses

cancerous monster
lurches at me
when i am off guard

one day i'll be waiting
hiding, with a sword
and when it comes
i'll cut its head off

plastic lives in plastic coats

plastic lives in plastic coats
waiting for the rain to stop
noah meanwhile builds his ark
drowning is harsh

when henriette the mariner

when henriette the mariner
called me an old salt
i cried all the way
to davy jones locker

sink or swim

sink or swim
no thank you

creation

peas in a pod
no god in heaven
a job well done

pig in a poke

pig in a poke
fly pig fly!
theyre looking for bacon

she smokes a cigarette

she smokes a cigarette
she goes up in smoke

she isnt here

she isnt here
neither am i
where are we?

she is late

she is late
who is early?
what is 'late'?

waiting

waiting
a chance
to be patient

they kill what is vibrant

they kill what is vibrant
dull what shines
their job? to bring to life

spiritual marvels

spiritual marvels
mindless oafs
wasted lives

satellite dishes

satellite dishes
on grey walls
fiction in fiction
all one soap opera

everything

everything is visible
that isnt really there

tired of fighting

tired of fighting
the fight must go on
use its strength to overthrow it

the enemy

the enemy always resurfaces
unwanted unannounced
i am your friend it says
instantly i feel sick

create

create
it doesnt matter
moments only
see

silver birches

silver birches
no leaves
concrete blocks for railway guards
ugliness covets beauty

the sun shines on the campsies

the sun shines on the campsies
snow streaked
harsh and bare

Monday, 11 August 2008

you are but don't have to be sterile

you are but don't have to be sterile
you smile but with a frown in your heart
you are full of caution and conformity
you are stifled but you could be free fresh renewed

is this true?
is it you or me i'm complaining about?
is it me or Scotland i'm criticising here?
is it Scotland or the world that's so frustrating?
is it the world or just life that's making me feel this way?

we project onto others the strains we feel in ourselves
we externalise a sick internal world
and seek evidence to confirm our delusion

patience

patience explaining what a kiss is
to a woman with mental health problems
with a weary smile
patience the man walking home from work
the ticket woman on the train
in the face of fatigue

quiet she sat on the threshold

quiet she sat on the threshold
gone like a river which flows east
from the earth.
water fell and the sky sang

the beauty of the week

the beauty of the week
those gnashing their teeth
the sad cries of wild geese

pull the rug

pull the rug
believe in nothing
don't create crutches
everything's a crutch
and nothing's a crutch
just be awake

what am i doing here

what am i doing here
waiting in a bar
to discuss raising funds for the Greens?
is this any way to treat precious time?
is this the best way to enlightenment?
no other way :-)
nothing else to do
empty meeting full of meaning
the music is bland and the lights dim
but i write by the daylight coming in from
the big windows

do what's to be done

do what's to be done
do nothing else
don't do.

do what the heart says
don't do anything foolish
ignore that stupid heart

lie down
get some rest
make sure you achieve nothing important

In The Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh

In the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh
early for a meeting three doors along
i picked up Everyman's Zen Poems and started to read
there's nothing in it
poems with no words, no titles
and there was no cover.

i sat at no table on no chair
even the building wasn't there
let alone the shelves of no books

there was no i there either
and no meeting at no place
three doors down.

i got up after a while
and went to the meeting place.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

guernica april 26 1937




Guernica by Pablo Picasso

Guernica awakes to a world of black and white
a lamp offering hopeless light in the bleakness
someone is drowning in fire
while newspapers devour the town in inky bloodstains

everyone grieves for the horse
feels the bull's pain
their shadowy, broken legs
distorting the clarity, the sepia daylight

legs and hands stretch in every direction
pulled apart as they yearn for shelter
broken sword, hilt in dismebodied hand
begging the ultimate question
was it worth it?

the child cradled in its mother's
wretched arms
madonna bereft
her eyes asking the same question
of the numbed bull
almost kissing it in imploration
a dead child, one more

the artist gropes blindly far beyond himself
not knowing what the brush holds for him
he paints reality in monochrome anguish
and brings our abject horrors to full colour
and immortal remorse

Saturday, 2 August 2008

the silent type

the silent type
compelled to speak
the hermit
dragged into the spotlight

passing hamilton

chopped stems
flaked painted railings
red brick bridge
and my parents' home in the distance

the train, the lawyer, the pin stripe

the train, the lawyer, the pin stripe
black and white the pin stripe
black and white the lawyer
purple and grey the carriage

yellow the rape seed
green the grass
and grey the heavy sky

where sea meets sky

where sea meets sky
in a grey white haze
my wounds open to harsh healing
found in the foggy distance
found while lost at sea
where no horizon draws a line

statues at the shore

statues at the shore
stacks of broken boulders
fossilised men and women who drowned
in a salty indifferent sea

the fields rise

the fields rise in soft curves
like spiritual sensuality
barely perceived undulations

a field

a field
human impact
straight lines in a rounded world

trees have been chopped down

trees have been chopped down
lest they get in the way of the train track
shouldn't that be the other way round?

a wire fence

a wire fence
separates me
from the fleeting river

she does the crossword

she does the crossword
prefers not to be alive
for a while

to write is to be misunderstood

to write is to be misunderstood
to have your intuitive wisdom misconstrued
to have your life probed by others

to write is to miscommunicate truths

to write is to miscommunicate truths
to lie is a presentation of deep truth
truth has no depth

she reaches in her hand bag

she reaches in her hand bag
takes out two mobile phones
how many persons is she?

Sunday, 27 July 2008

i have been told

i have been told
by persons unknown
in places unseen
at times not specified

that the sun doesn't rise
that the moon doesn't wane
that the earth doesn't spin
that the soil doesn't engender
that the soul doesn't stir
that the air doesn't smile
that the ghost doesn't bow
that the death doesn't last

that the life doesn't die

Friday, 25 July 2008

The Train Says Larkhall

The train says Larkhall
and I, trusting, go inside.
it could be going anywhere
Auschwitz even, first class ticket
and I'm a poet, businessman, political doodler
artist, social entrepreneur, meditation guide
(and philosopher I'd say)

Shut up Jew the ticket inspector would reply.

But I'm not a Jew I'd respond in panic
and the cock would crow three times
i'm a Catholic, well was.
do you know what a scientific secular buddhist is?

Shut up Jew he repeated and I swallowed hard.

I had just bought Szymborska's and Milosz's
Collected Poems
but showing them to the guard,
i mean ticket collector
would only increase his suspicion

in desperation i fiddled about with my wallet.
damn. not even a business card.
then i remember i had bought a return ticket.

i showed it to the guard.
Glasgow Central / Queen Street to Hamilton Central.

That's fine then Sir he said.
it's three stops time.

The old man opposite me looks sad
bewildered even.
i feel guilty about my good fortune.

Finally I get off at Hamilton Central.
i look back at the train
it has turned into cattle trucks
in the distance beyond the shopping centre
car park
are the gates of Birkenau
the place where the Enlightenment fell apart
and science gasped at its own wickedness.

24 September 2007

fixing an old gate

to fix an old gate
start by getting to know it
that usually takes about twenty years or so
then tighten up the screws that are still in it
holding the hinge to the gate and to the gate post
screw fine new screws in where any have been lost over time

don't disturb any cobwebs
you're fixing a gate
not decimating a community

it's worth considering whether to repaint
or brush protectorate onto the wood
wood likes to breathe
and feel natural
but it also enjoys a fresh coat
like we do after many years in rags
so think about it

make sure the bolt still fits into the bolt hole
as you refix the screws
making assumptions without checking
can lead to a skewed conclusion to your work

finally thank the old gate for its patience
and years of consistent service
may it live long and see your grandchildren
walk in and out of its domain
and may they in turn
come to fix the old gate with reverence.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

i have a problem with time

I have a problem with time.
a lifetime's too short
but a day drags on forever

i have a problem with everything.
things don't turn out the way I want
everything's a mess and i'm confused in the clutter

i have a problem with problems.
nothing is simple
everything's just too damned hard

but it's no problem these problems
problems aren't problems
just meanders through time
but of course i have this problem with time.

time is the problem
time the solution
it's time i dealt with time
if i ever find the time

i have no time for problems.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

the conforming mind

the conforming mind
genes and culture
the non-conforming mind
a different delusion
legacy

something rotten

something rotten
the machine
my personality
general malaise
the machine
how to combat it
the self-captive mind
politics is inherently destructive
so is writing
to live outside the law...

art as commodity
one world
homogenous choice
aesthetic suffocation
by the retail world

new stoicism

new stoicism
simple living
unlearning
non harming
mindfulness
neuroplasticity
spiritual sustenance
purpose meaning
relationship to life
cultural sustenance
eco housing
pure water

you have to find your own way home

you have to find your own way home
there is no map, only clues
there is no guide, only friendship and kindness
there is nowhere to go but still you must travel
no destination to reach but still you must search
yet in searching you will not find

as i watch the peach trees

as i watch the peach trees
everyone is at home
along the road to the West
i ask the pond where i can find rest
and it sparkles in response

river the material

river the material
nightfall, i return
to shine on their transluscent beauty

the simplest of lives

without music
without luxury food
without computers
without tv
without news
without companionship
without books
without writing

just being,
working
resting

chatelherault country park hamilton

based on Yang Hsiu's "When the moon is in the river of heaven"

the gruff branches of the scots oak
shelter the old folk from the gusts of modernity
enveloped in the shade of green perfume
filled with drops of smirr.
why are their linked arms so poignant?
is it only to provoke the fragile
fears, loss of love, loss of youth?
my mind, swollen with uncertainty,
i wander in this sacred park.
and then my doubt and confusion disappear
my mood brightens and my smile returns.
the moon, lovely enough to wake the dead
sinks to the horizon, and suddenly
i am happy to grow old.

quit in anger

quit in anger
sweet to be father
in lonely monastery he returned

swoop & seize birds

swoop & seize birds
man whose heads controlled
familiar in all kinds of distress

inflated sense of entitlement

inflated sense of entitlement
darkness led to light
vultures begin to hover

autumn stars rise

autumn stars rise
have no friends with evil souls
parent's dream intensifies conflict

how test theory?

how test theory?

guard yourself well
withered cotton blows in wind

lucky break

lucky break
break nonetheless.
everything fatal

injury

injury
painful, not fatal
could say lucky

nothing to do

nothing to do
much done
achieve the great end

many things to do

many things to do
nothing needs done
achievement.
to what end?

much business dull trash

much business dull trash
spent too long in company
of pompous arse

smug arrogant condescending

unconnected to any reality
except snobbish banking elite

meeting cancelled

meeting cancelled
feel uplifted
gain precious time

wind whistles low

wind whistles low
springtime leaves brown
something not right

lazy & indifferent

lazy & indifferent he insulted me, he hurt me

relatively few have emotional advisors but all have financial gurus

it is not to be said
this thought in my head
because it's against the State

it is not to be thought
what cannot be bought
and so all I can do is wait

zen rendition of effigy by creedence clearwater revival

Last night fire burnin'
palace lawn. humble subjects,
mixed emotions

last night fire spread
palace door. silent majority
not silent anymore

last night fire spread
countrywide. few left
ashes die

why
why
effigy

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Future Philosophy

the miracle is not walking on water...

the sublime is mundane
the mundane is sublime

death is ok

always getting somewhere
always arriving
always already arrived
always home

no self to fulfil
only here and now
space-time to use

express, create, share

listen, learn, see

no attachment
just flow

no concepts, no goals
nothing to do
just do it
effortless effort

build it and it doesn't matter
if they come or not
indifferent to failure

part of something awesome
enjoy it
do no harm
help if you can

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Not everything is black and white

the fanatic in his cupboard
boxed in at every side
in the pitch black he rants
at the awfulness outside

oppressed in his confinement
blind through lack of light
only comes out to check his views
in the middle of the night

he's never know the daylight
what sustains him is his rage
the world's a multi-speckled jewel
but he prefers his cage

Mutilation

In every abattoir
a saviour is born

on the killing fields
babies appear

as I walked to the scaffold in the rain
I saw my soul enter an old woman
and she became young, full of life

so it is that in the torture cells
the hollow recesses
the slabbed morgues

where atrocities are landscaped
out of flesh blood and bone

the golden age of rebirth
seeds itself anew

Sometimes There's a Need

Sometimes there’s a need
Intangible but strong
To know something deeper
Than what you see around you

It comes from nowhere
Arises in a bleak heart
Asks What? Why? Who?
And no answers appear

And then of its own accord
The darkness passes
Like a black cloud that threatened rain
But the day somehow stayed dry

The sun emerges again
Intangible but strong
And you know the unspoken answers
To questions that don’t even arise.

19/10/07

Friday, 13 June 2008

a million market messiahs

A million market messiahs
Plague like locusts the self-help bookshelves
Fill up the lecture halls and conference rooms
Flesh-coloured Christs

Seeking to save
They drown their disciples

13/06/08

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Shelley Cut 'n' Pastes No. 1

I got Shelley's collected works out of Hamilton Library and decided to take parts of single lines in his poems, essays or letters, and join them to others from different Shelley pieces, putting them in three line poems like a haiku.

Your ambiguous course
Time-destroying infiniteness
Shall bear the sins of the world

In the world’s youth
Truth’s clear well
A mourning mind

Sleep, sleep, sleep on
Render up your dead
Proud impenetrable grief

An orphan’s affection
Delight makes lovers glad
And take sweet joy

Heaven with obscene imagery
Complicity with lust and hate
He speaks too frankly

Weave the mystic measure
Shaken by the wind
Damned since our parents fell

Then the sly serpent
Given yourself no unnecessary pain
Plumed with strong desire

The breath of the moist earth
Like snow on herbless peaks
I thank you

Crimson dew
This lovely child
A rainbow’s arch

Liberty, smitten to death
Behold with sleepless eyes
Heavy with love’s sweet rain

More hideous than your loathed selves
That terrible shadow floats
Heaven’s palace gates

Buried with my brothers
Stoop to any other law
Joy to the spirit came

What may be conceived
Divine and strange
Two glittering lights

Mighty stream, dark, calm
Frozen and inconstant moon
Small at first, weak and frail

Show their subtle delights
All the oppressions under the sun
Diffused and motionless

As the ghost of Homer clings
All the failing melodies
Sound of joy and love and wonder

Men of learning science, wit
The end of all
Memorise their flight with death

Like its glory long ago
Whose echoes they are
Scatter, ashes and sparks

30/01/08

The Machine's Not Working

The machine’s not working
That’s all right
Even when it works it’s faulty
Isn’t that always the way?

Yet I pass through those choppy seas
Like a piece of driftwood
Bobbing, soaked and worn smooth
Still floating, with a frazzled beauty

4/11/07

Sonnet: Political Fireworks

Sometimes I write a poem taking single lines or phrases at random from books, usually political, spiritual or poetic, then pulling them together in ways that appeal to me, sometimes changing the words to better fit, sometimes leaving different lines to clash. I like creating in this way and I often like the results; whether it works for other readers I can't judge.

Not the market place
It degenerated into a squabble
Developed the libertarian message
Of social ecology

Wall posters went up around town
All abstract entities such as the State
Drawing on anthropology

The verdicts are imposed by private prosecutors
Promises do not carry moral weight
A very low opinion of politics
Permeates the air we breathe

Sentenced to fifteen years hard labour
Unlike the Suffragettes
They wish to eliminate all sensual pleasure

6/4/8

It's Not a Problem Ray

It’s not a problem Ray
That the old shops have closed
That the folk on the line say the computers are down
It’s not a problem

It’s not a problem
That the children still starve
That wars still flare up
It’s not a problem

Better by far than worrying
Is to appreciate that you’ve got everything
You ever need to be content

Just be content
Don’t worry about the normal human maelstrom

Once you are content
Then you’ll see clearly what you can and can’t do

About all the world’s problems

22/10/07

For Ingrid Betancourt

I think of you sometimes
Not often enough

And I feel only utter sadness

I cannot imagine your heart
Yet still I hope it beats

I cannot imagine your mind
Yet still I hope it holds together

I see your face
Desolate and worn

And only pray for the day…

I think of you free
I think of you healed
I think of you with your family again

And pray for the day

And I feel only sadness

I pray that your heart beats
I pray that your mind holds together

I hope one day to see your face
On the news
Smiling
Coming down some government plane steps

Not knowing what maelstrom
Of media attention you will endure

Not knowing what struggles
You will face
Reunited with your loved ones again

Not knowing what effort you must make
And with what chances of success
To resurrect your life,
This miracle of life

So brutalised by these years
These deluded, sick captors

I pray for the day you are free
I pray that one day
You can emerge from the jungles
In your memory bank
And find a clearing
A space that is cool and fresh and normal

I do think of you sometimes
Not enough
And wish that I could hold you
And take you to your family

Hold on cherie
Please hold on

6/06/08

In the Bar the Bore Talked About Brecht's Poems

In the bar the bore talked about Brecht’s poems
How they were filled with socialist realism
How Marx inspired the words he wrote
And how he lauded the working man

But I remember the other Brecht
The guy who wrote what he felt
Unencumbered by political theory
And Marxist trash

He wrote of how he loved his women
In the forests near his home
How dodgy characters mucked around in his early life

He described the pain of exile
The horror of Stalin’s crushing of his friends and literary peers

But I didn’t say any of this to the bar bore
He had his fiction to attend to
Not so much a captive mind
As a lost soul, seeing hell
And thinking, this is paradise.

16/5/8

Gie me water

Gie me water
Cleans ma spirit
Clears ma head
Cleans my body

Everbody wants reasons
Pleasures
Fun
No-one wants redemption
So they fall into hell

Hell is a state of mind
The body accomplishes
By default

Built into the genes
Naked anguish
Comes in cycles
To those who don’t master
The mind

25/5/8

Bird in its cage

This is based on Leonard Cohen’s Bird on the Wire, using the same metre and rhyming. I did it just to see what would emerge.

Like a bird in its cage
Like a lab rat in a rage
I have tried in my way to be free
Like a poem in a book
Like a pawn threatened by a rook
I have saved all my crying for thee

If I, if I have been cruel to you
I hope that you can forgive my mistakes
If I, if I have been stupid too
You know it was never meant to harm you

Like a baby, stillborn
Like a mother whose heart is torn
I have witnessed your pain in my soul
But I swear by this song
By each moment this life is long
I will try once again to make you whole

I saw Christ hanging from his wooden cross
He said to me “I’m so sorry for your loss”
And his mother Mary, crying at his side
She cried to me “My son died for your pride”

But like this bird in its cage
Like the lab rat all in a rage
I did try in my way to be free

Like God in his hall
Like the devil at the Fall
I have tried in my way to be free

Like a butcher with his knife
Like the serial killer’s wife
I have tried in my way to be free

Like the rabbit in the light
Trying to gain control of his fright
I have tried in my way to be free

And like a man at his death
Sucking the beauty of his last breath
I did try all the time to be free

Saturday, 31 May 2008

It Begins to Be

The following is a rewording / reworking of a poem with the same name by Fernando Pessoa, the great Portuguese poet of the first half of the twentieth century. I sometimes like to take the theme and original structure of another work and allow its culture and form to shape something new.

It begins to be going to be day -
the red sky is pregnant
in a still black night
greying with delight
to feel its chill twist
there, where fear and hate is thinning

A void that is crimson-hoping
expansive, somehow, gliding
from where zen masters sleep
their selfless sleep, free of form
and a wireless mantra watches,
poised, barely conceived

And yet, I who have hardly
sung, don't feel space or time
or, though it's giving birth, dawn's now
from the empty silence.
The indefinite of the moment,
It's stillness, all I feel.

In vain the day is yawning
to one who can't breathe, always
was made to rise up straight
here in the non-heart;
who, without living, is not dying
and, when he loves, does not know it.

In vain? No, no, ask the sky
lip red kissing through to scarlet lust
darkening. What
is it this soul sky feels? Not
me, nor you, not even life,
in this dying night, soon to be unseen.

31/05/08

I bow before the God I don't believe in

I bow before the God I don't believe in
I say my prayers faithfully
knowing there's no one to hear them
I prostrate in front of empty statues of the Buddha
and I meditate on the lack of self in what's called me

I smile and sing though this world suffers

Friday, 30 May 2008

I love the wind and the rain

I love the wind and the rain
When they come blasting in together
In the Scottish late autumn
That threatens to batter straight into winter

But to watch it from the warm indoors
That’s the way to sense its rampant power
Its soaking weight
And its irreverent priestly status amongst all
Our varied forms of weather

It‘s this combination of hurtling wind and thick rain
Which more than any other source
Has scoured and carved our precious landscape.

15/11/07

When they're tired people watch tv

When they’re tired people watch tv
I watch my mind and let it slow down, stop

When they’re tired people take a bath
I take a bath in my flow of thoughts
And let the choppy waves fall still

When they’re tired people get grumpy
I watch my grumpy mind
And let the grumpiness dissolve

People try to squeeze everything into their lives
And in doing so wear themselves out
I stop awhile when I feel frenzy arising
And I repair the damage done

People try to achieve, win, leave a legacy
And in doing so throw away the moments of their lives
I keep stopping, seek nothing, want anonymity
And this fills my life with meaning and fulfilment

The gentle hero

The gentle hero sits in the shadows
Behind the lights of the candles
And the hard nose office furniture
His eyes are drawn modestly
And his face is at peace, a little shy
Yet he dominates the scene
Like the air that dominates our life

31/10/07

The Captive Mind

There’s something sticky on the floor
Maybe it’s me
My slipper’s reluctant to lift
Makes me wonder who’s in charge

Forgotten what I’d gone to get
Head’s not so reliable these days
Something sticky in my brain
Maybe it’s me

The lack of serious programmes on tv
Concerns me
Admit it in your poems
Admit it, you’re all poets for god’s sake

Stop clinging to the rocks
You’ll perish there
Let go and experience the panic
Of being swept away

There’s a blindfolded man
With a book tied to the side of his face
It isn’t me, I’m not the worried
Maybe it’s you, yes you, the reader

The disinterred search for truth
Disinterested, can truth ever be?
One of history’s ironic jokes
Truth, disinterred, Katyn, grandma and grandpa

The lack of serious tv, the sweep of the gnawing dead
The price you’ll pay is the past you’ve lived

Introduce strangeness to your life
You’ll find it is your future, and endurable too

10/5/8

Don't misunderstand me

Don’t misunderstand me
I dance to the tunes you know
But seek a different waltz altogether
A dance propelled by spirit not music

Don’t get me wrong
Although I engage in your activities and pleasures
I reject the lot even as I assist
I live in a space where few have ventured

Don’t think I’m with you on this journey
I dip in like a flicker of light
But my wave flows in invisible planes
And I am not of this world
And wish not to be part of it

8/12/07

She said she'd phone back

She said she’d phone back
But will she?

Before I got through to her
I was dealing with an automated call service

Such service.

Who was the automaton
Me or it?
I did as I was told
Waited when told to wait
Punched in the buttons
On request

Waited

And waited

Finally got through
To someone real

Hard voice
But practical enough

Couldn’t find the info she needed
To progress my query

I’ll need to call you back
She said
But will she?

It’s been nearly twenty years now.

Infringements Welcome

Infringements welcome
A bird’s voice late in the night
A blue cage to hold the restless

Beastlike under the moon
Rings in space, startling
Skirting sea-bleached timber

Small angels, snug, by the fire

25/1/08

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Karen Carpenter singing

Karen Carpenter singing ‘loneliness
is such a sad affair’
in that pure magical voice

on the radio
after I drop my son off at his mate’s house
in Larkhall

we were listening to Horace Andy
sing on a Massive Attack CD
so cool
so pure
with all the dub and r‘n’b tracking
behind him

but back home
typing this on my laptop
it’s karen’s sweet tone
that rings inside me
and I feel so sad
that she died young

‘and I can hardly wait to be with you again’

The Carpenters
so innocent an image
they had to change the word ‘sleep’ to ‘be’
and yet I wouldn’t have wanted her
to sing of sleeping with her lover

only wanting to be loved

of course it’s unreal, imagery
but all the more truthful for that
and I will remember Karen Carpenter
all my life
aware of the grief her brother lives with
all his life

Business cards lie like trophies

Business cards lie like trophies on my desk
But what’s the legacy
Very little as I scan the names
Minor officials in the court of Scottish business life
Or government bureaucracy

And for this I have spent my precious days
Years, life

To hob nob with the mediocracy
To get some tiny agreement
On a matter of irrelevance to existence

And thus we wither on blether
And decline on mundane chat
Pretending all the while it matters

When really it’s just using up the working day
To prove that we deserve our pay

So many talented – or maybe not so talented –
But high up positioned people
In academia, government, banking
Business support and journalism

Spending eons plugging leaks in the system
Adding minute additions to the colossal work-in-progress
Called society, the system.
Why only yesterday I was so pointedly reminded it is
The system under which we all march
And bowing our heads, adore and obey

20/03/08

When you have loved well

When you have loved well
And trusted, as an innocent must,
And love gets broken
Whether through betrayal,
Fate,
Or the sweeping waves of history’s random evil

It is impossible to regain
That full trust
Required to find love again

Instead we build armour
To protect our vulnerable flesh
And round the heart especially
We create layer upon layer of steel

Thus we live weighed down
By barriers
Unable to rise to see the sun shine at dawn
But rather stay hunkered in the bunkers
Protected from pain
Avoiding dangerous beauty

8/4/8

The Funeral

I take off my hat and gloves
As I come in from the pouring January rain
Hands still red with the cold
And the church seems to have no heating.

I give my tiny hand gestures of recognition
To the many folk I know
Find a seat near enough the back
Not to feel I’m imposing on the grieving family members
In the front rows

But far enough forward
To give the signal
“I’m meant to be here
Not just a member of the local congregation
In to pray for a stranger’s soul
Out of the goodness of my Christian heart”

And then I see the coffin.
Bigger than I would have imagined
Had I tried to do so.
He never seemed tall
But I guess old men are commonly stooped
Their once grand stature
Buckled by the might of gravity.

My mind turns to dad, and mum
And hope they have years with me yet
And then, as always now, to Janina
And Wladyslaw
And their pointless, awful early deaths.
I pray, in the Catholic style –
I’d use Polish if I had the tongue –
Out of ingrained habit.

“Hail Mary, full of grace…”
Full of grace
What a majestic image
And wish I was like that,
But I’m not, I’m sullied
By life’s forty eight years reality
My once grand stature of childhood innocence
Buckled by the might of emotional gravity

To know grace before I die
No God, no Heaven, but yes to grace.
That old man, my dear friend’s father
Lying in a wooden box, he didn’t have grace
He had a kind of grumpy non-acceptance
Of life’s bumps and friction
Though he was pleasant enough
But pleasant enough is not enough to do justice to being alive.

The priest gives the cotton wool
Version of his life, with all the hollow humour
Only men of the cloth can deliver.
Then my friend gets up to say some words
Face drawn, like a drained caricature, or a ghoul
He recites a poem I don’t get
And finishes with “goodbye dad”
And I dread the day when I have to say that.

Out in the rain, after the funeral
My hat and gloves protect me from the elements
Though something in me wants to be soaked and chilled to the bones.
I give my accustomed wave to my friend
And he smiles, wanly, as if his face would crack if he stretched it any further.
I decide to go to the burial
If only to feel the sleet whip my face red
And the wind shake my mortal body back to life.

25/01/08

I try to read her books

I try to read her books
But like walking on water
I find it’s not possible for me

She is great no doubt
Profound, so many say
But for me the greatest block is there
Preventing me from knowing her dreamland

And yet she is the one
I’d ask to share my most poignant history with
To soak up my universal pain
And turn it into words
That others – not me tho – others would read
And gasp at
For she can be profound
And what I want to share
Is so deep it has no end

What it is that stops me turning her pure pages
I don’t know
Perhaps my path is only to deliver
To unleash
To provide
Not to receive, to accept
I don’t know

22/11/07

His vioice took the sword out of my hands

His voice took the sword out of my hands
Took the fever from my heart
And the agony from my bones

Peace came over me
Like the sun rising after the dead of night

His words took away my pain
And replaced it with unending acceptance

24/3/8

a cloud goes by so sweetly

A cloud goes by so sweetly, slowly
With a holograph brand image
Of the world’s best selling soft drink
Emblazoned by futuristic technology
Over it’s entire length

22/4/08

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Interrupted by a freak storm

Interrupted by a freak storm
Concentration blown
Mind adrift again

I find it easy to be distracted
Hard to flow in a single path
Like atoms lined up by magnets

I yearn for…
No, not yearn
That was before, long time ago
The mind’s primitive programme
Still says the word ‘yearn’
But I see the programme and I sense the rise of the yearn
And in seeing and sensing
I debug the pointless urge to yearn

So I still get interrupted
And the mind goes off course
But I accept my delicate compass
Even as I seek to strengthen its resolve

So no yearning for me
Just a clear understanding of the problem
And awareness of the benefits of a perfect mind in tune
With all existence

16/11/07

Five Haiku - Spring, summer, yellow

5 Haiku

Spring spoke to my hopes
Summer led me to believe
Autumn leaves yellow

I sought you in spring
But summer passed without you
Now yellowed leaves fall

Spring followed winter
Summer. Still I did not write.
The moon shines yellow.

Spring into life now.
The summer moon is shining
Yellow and sensual.

“Where has spring gone?”
Asked the summer lovers when
Yellow corn grew ripe.

daytime tv

daytime tv
an epitaph for our times
murder she wrote
seventies hairstyles
wide lapelled jackets
checked in autumn colours

gardening programmes
cookery shows
abuse of abusive maladroits
in riotous chats
hourly news griefs
reciting youth murders
and house prices

in honour of our profound times

for those whose lives require not living
and those too infirm to struggle any more

soma for the home bound
lsd halucinations
for the cautious generation

alternative life
plastic substitutes
for the already mourning

Monday, 26 May 2008

unfinished business

there's unfinished business
cats in the crematorium
little fingers stretching weakly for grain
time for a soothing bath
no-one at home

there's unfinished business
fresh air on a Monday morning
memories of crossing the burn in summer
hope for redemption
Marley's early death and no swan song

there's unfinished business
final i love yous
an end to dredged up pain
bitter grudges kept on top shelves
and the tidying of old mementoes

there's unfinished business
the stroke of a young face
kittens squealing on your lap for milk
the insufferable itch
the lasting calm
an end to all business

Sunday, 25 May 2008

A sizeable sadness

There’s a sizeable sadness in the corridor
Long as the hallway
Dark as the lift shaft

Lasting as long as the time
It takes for the big bang
To reach the death of this universe

Which of course is the start of the next.

There’s a pattern of distress that sits in the psyche
Doesn’t need to be swallowed
Inhaled, digested

Lasting as long as the milky way
It can still be star distant
Bright and brilliant
Only a ray from long ago

Which of course is the magic of the next moment

Friday, 16 May 2008

everyone is reading

everyone is reading texting sleeping
because they cannot face raw being
it's why i'm writing this too
life without distractions asks too hard a question
poses an unbearable silence

16/04/08

nobody here

nobody here. all alone. where has everyone gone?
so many seats, no occupants. only me and solitude
the empty train driverless journeys on

16/04/08

spring green leaves

spring green leaves emerge from a dark tunnel
the clouds untainted reveal the blue sky
i am in the place of my birth

16/04/08

Monday, 12 May 2008

train time stirling time

train time stirling time
announcements in a sweet scots accent
the coolness of fresh air as the doors open

stirling time towards aberdeen
the hills will meet the coast
there is no time, no space between these two places

towards aberdeen a day of service
the woman beside me has beautiful lips
i watch the sky through silhouetted spring trees

a day of service, the man asks for a coffee
puts his laptop on the shelf
her bottom lip is so sensual

she orders a coffee
i drink infinity
glug water from a plastic bottle

27/03/07

thank you milosz

my generation is lost too czeslaw
our cities grand, nations united
still lost. right now. profoundly.
but the swallow performs its instant ritual
loving life its only duty
the boy, lost, craves for the beauty
he knows is elsewhere.
lost, the delusion of elsewhere.
the cities grand, lost, Europe too.
my generation, lost, Czeslaw
the swallow perfoms its blind duty
and we are lost to its ritual play.
the ultimate moment, its fragrant fragment
your world perfect at last
sweet milosz thank you

01/03/07

on the radio

on the radio the Who's 'My Generation'
drawn into the power, passion
good to feel that strength
but better to know it's just a song
here today, gone already, that's fine.
like an emotion, like a lover, like a mountain
impermanent and subject to skewed interpretation
like my work, my words, these words
they arise like myriad songs on the radio
and fade out, disappear, replaced by the new
till the body dies and the radio is switched off

17/02/07