The Serpent

November 17, 2014

Listing the good deeds of Hitler
To an audience of Jews!
It seems fair to say my sister,
Vicky, was somewhat confused.

We always found her in some temple,
Just like Christ at twelve years old –
Her certainty was just as simple,
Though her father was no god.

“He loved Blondie till he killed her,
And he could be nice to kids
(Those he didn’t send to war,
Those he didn’t class as Yids).”

He would stagger up the steps,
Left or right, my room or hers…
Can’t say that it mattered which –
Hearing’s bad as being heard.

“We just need some understanding.”
“There must be some clear defense.”
“I know we can still absolve him.”
“Maybe his love can make sense.”

I tried to tell her that a victim
Doesn’t need to wait for that,
But she got stuck inside the garden
Trying to put the apple back.


October 30, 2014

already again the vice awakening
dims my vision
dances tighter tighter
in my blood my bones
contorting consciousness until
thought is all action the
indecency of blindness
quieting all else ceasing
now to begin later again already


October 14, 2014

When you were seven you wrote your first poem,
A child given to word and image
By the necessity of your parents’ work, alone
In the world of nature from a young age,
But without the coldness of the abandoned,
For you felt yourself beloved of every creature,
Of the woods and of the snow, and your absent
Parents loved you too, and your poems procured
The services of the mountain and the river
As foster parents, the protective shadow
Of Urey as your father, and the gentle song of the Etto, giver-
Of-life, as your mother. The will to borrow
Such parents was a blessing, and you knew a bliss
In early years, although your poems could sing a common sadness:

“The snow falls ponderously in the valley
Around the fruitless evergreens
In the great shadowcoat of the Urey
Where the soft Etto is first seen
To rise magically out of rock,
Ages before the oar and dock;
It wonders “What can they mean,
These unfalling things that strive any way
But down?”, and drifts with snowslow wings
Upon their movements and their tracks,
Whitening the land, papering cracks,
And having no more knowledge than a day.”

You spent your youth in that wild neighbourhood,
Observing the tragedy of insect life
And the romance of snow falling on the woods
In the Etto Valley. The blunt knife
Of the sun above the Urey never showed
Itself a force of heat, only of light,
And it helped the frozen blank blanket of snow
To pervade your natural wanderings with the sight
Only of eternal waste and coldness.
But the Etto and its woodlands would break
The influence of the sky and brush the wilderness
With moving colour – “a water-snake
On ice will writhe and hiss
Until it melts the whiteness with its kiss.”

Song without Words

August 5, 2014

Before the end, the music’s pitch unpeaking, pianoing from forte,
I’d like to claim a moment for your face, curve of your chin,
The mole on pink sunset-sunned snow, reactionary cheeks, exploding lips,
Outward from heaven your eyes Luciferous descension,
Pulsing energetic visage of a god, fallen, into glory, godheaded angel,
Outward all beckoning inward, stellar attraction, spherical tones
Chiming within your skin, soft, soft now, soft

Pianoing from forte, down the sound and down and down
Your eyes and lips and cheeks and down and down
Your visage, night, night no longer star-full, only night
Come down upon you and darkening darkness to a pitch
Unseen, unheard, unseeable, unhearable, and bearable only because unbearable,
The loss of you


July 29, 2014

Wind! Oh! The wind hurts the window – the storm has arrived!
Rain! Coat! The rain coats the raincoats of all those outside!
Foot! Steps! Each foot steps its footsteps in a muddy path!
Clean! Up! The storm lifts clay clean up to clean up the tracks!

Panthera’s Watch

July 16, 2014

A mess of enemy light this cold Judean sky,
Illuminating goats and the shit of goats.
Why not just darkness when there’s nothing to see?
Can I not lay down my spear and self and sleep
And dream of that girl I took last night?
She smelled of shit, some peasant’s whelp,
And bleated like a goat, but by Mars
I’d favour her again with Roman love.


June 24, 2014

Sing, muse…
Come on, seriously. Sing.
Ok, just hum something…


May 27, 2014

Digging holes to put people
in is a hard line of business,
Hard as the earth when the
frost sets in, & harder when
youve no interest in the lies
People tell to make a grave
less cold. The spade gets to
the truth of it: earth is hard.


May 13, 2014

After all this time I dreamed of you tonight.
We walked and talked through alleys of my mind.
And now that I’m awake again I find
The love I had still burning just as bright.
Oh, if only this old world were kind
And love and one stray dream could set things right.

We were together again at long last –
Intoxicating wine after a fast –
Walking the streets of Galway and Belfast…
Ah, my first love, if only dreams could last.
Alas, more years are gone than are to come,
Our once bright future lies in mist behind.
And oh, the things I would have done
If I had not been blind.

How many years, how many miles between us?
And yet you are as close as a dream, so close
You are inside me, my Alcestis, my Hermione –
Except you won’t come back.
I can only dream you into my life.
You live, but time and distance make
You as good as dead to me.
You haunt me, living ghost,
Rattling your chains across my soul.

Two Poems

May 6, 2014

Nameless, that is what I must be.

But even “I” is a name, and even “be”.

Anything which only is,

I must be as anything which only is.


  first thought: “which is like this”


  second thought: “which is in this way”


  third thought: “which only is”,

  might be called the final thought

  because it was the chosen one,

  but that too is a name.


  A poem to be called “Final”



Nameless, really,

Slip your name,

the heavy breath of others on your birth,

the heaviness of your own thoughts, of “your” and “own”.

There will always be thoughts,

But let them rise like bubbles from the deep

And free themselves in empty air, leaving the surface calm,

    the water more fully water.

The Heavenly Body

April 22, 2014

Little wonder my words fail
Being but the comet’s tail

Deep Breath

April 15, 2014

Fearing winter like an old man now,
Fall’s chill settling in, the evenings dark,
I worry my mind’s furrows with the plow
Of thought, each pale idea dropping like a spark
Whose fire’s burned out. I brood like ashes
In an arctic hearth, clinging to my days
With cold-cracked hands, feeling no more the flashes
Which in youth promised the world — and then delivered this.
But what’s “this”? Just what I think it, nothing else;
All its brute nature’s but my frown or grin.
And now, so late as now, can’t I replace
All raw reactions with deep breath? Can’t I at last begin
To give no heed to prize or peril
And live like old Diogenes in his barrel?


April 1, 2014

When the moribund rebound,
Return upon the merry-go-round;
When the ash is flame again
And flies again on phoenix wing;
When the slumb’ring heads start up,
Eyes arising like to bulbs;
It’s then we say a spring has sprung,
When some ending’s rebegun.

meditation on peace

March 18, 2014

meditation on peace


March 11, 2014

Silent clay now is my father
Silence deeper than deaf ears
Clay laying unbodily asunder
A timeless now unknown in years
His is a being of emptiness
Mine less than the dark is mine
A father but of thoughts

Charlotte Smith

February 28, 2014

Charlotte thought her life would be too long
And now she has been dead two-hundred years.
I linger on her words, like still-wet tears
Remaining though the eyes are dry, are gone
Into a place sans sight and sense,
A not-place that her longing never knew,
For though that longed-for peace she linked thereto,
There’s not a piece of it in nothingness,
No way to ease your head when it grows tense
Only with worms, stringing the skull from crack to crack
Where once electric currents ran amok –
And all to make you long for rest, no less.
Ah! if for peace and rest you have a thought,
A void should be avoided and not sought.

paean to pain

February 25, 2014

in praise of pain I raise my pen
(and quickly put it down again)

The Lovesong of Samuel Lear

February 17, 2014

People in love are horrific.
They mince and they prance and they preen.
If you asked them they’d say it’s terrific.
But it’s (rationally speaking) obscene.
And what’s worse is it happens so often.
(Though it never will happen to me).
You see them, from cradle to coffin.
Congregating so damn cheerily.
Whether natured or nurtured this illness.
Has no cure and they’ll love all their lives.
They’ll love all their colouring pencils.
Then they’ll grow up and love all their wives.
Oh I never will love, I swear it.
I’ll avoid it, creep by like a crab.
For whenever I am disappointed.
I point it and stab stab stab stab.

Sad occasion dear

February 4, 2014

We sociopathic poets! Of all of us,
Who would not kill for “Lycidas”?
Milton himself, although a friend to King,
For its dear sake would have him drown again.

(But I don’t ask that tragedy inspire –
It is enough if it lets me retire
Into the peace misfortune brings
When it befalls my family and friends.)


January 28, 2014

Fall, lofty verse! Great Aeschylus is dead!
(An eagle dropped a tortoise on his head.)


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