Genesis Gone Wrong (1985-1991)
Philip Rogers, Lucan, Dublin
|1||Before the dawn||19||Faith and fever|
|2||Cro-Magnon||20||On the rack (+ Aug 1988)|
|3||Sculptures in plasticine||21||Priest|
|4||Sculptures in stone||22||Polishing the brass|
|5||Sunflowers||23||Ecumenism: Two worlds|
|6||Sculptures in miniature||24||Countdown|
|7||I am who am||25||Revolt and government|
|8||Two hounds||26||The last laugh|
|10||Hourglass||28||Apartheid: Catch 22|
|11||At one||29||River scene|
|12||Thoughts on Good Friday 1990||30||Bells|
|14||Cold star||32||Before my Dark (+ Sept 1992)|
|15||Grass talks to God||33||Peace of the shining stars to you (+ 1986)|
|16||Let it be||34||Howl|
|17||Chalice||35||El Condor Passa|
|18||Before their time|
* 1. BEFORE THE DAWN
We were alone,
my Spirit and I alone.
We were the primal void,
Our creativity lording over
nothingness, darkness, coldness.
My bored-stiff Spirit thought for Me:
"It's awful lonely here!" From that thought
creation sprang: Our Son was. Now We were three.
eyeless, into the void,
a void of amorphous energy.
We ranged its limits and beyond
but there was nothing to see anywhere,
nothing but We Three and a great dream,
the screaming will to create, to love creating.
It was dull as hell in the dark and in that thought
Hell was. We saw Hell desert Us, slink away,
away to an awful place which We would
abandon. And it was as empty as We
but We cried out in rebuffed love
knowing it would shriek
with those who would
choose to walk
the other way,
the way of dark.
And in that painful instant of treasonous abandonment,
We knew the sacred role for a tree and Our Son murmured:
"Yes Father, Amen if it has to be!".
And it was then only the first hour
of the first day of bored infinity
and there was still much to do.
Before there was anything,
before apes, the Cro-Magnon,
We knew that Albert Einstein
would attempt to define Us
in mathematical beauty:
at the man's simplicity,
the genius, of Our Law,
or "Einstein's Law" to be.
He, unthought of until now,
would teach humanity to see
matter, beauty and divinity
encoded in that Law- energy
and matter interchangeable.
From a nowhere
to the outer rim
It roared and rolled uncontrollably through
the dark and silent universe, startling nothing.
We saw the joke and Our joint guffaw exploded
into a great big bang, a cosmic fireworks display.
Our Son became calm and pointed out a fragment
a glowing star.
"There is where
We must begin
Let Us go to
and see how We
can shape amoeba,
woman, man, camels,
asses, palm trees, Judas,
granite rock for a tomb.
I will walk in that sad place
in human form when it cools down
and they are ready for Me". And My Spirit
and I wished that We had gentle, human hands
to pat the tousled hair which He would have.
* 2. CRO-MAGNON
What a weary wait
until the earth cooled.
Warm seas brewed algae.
Slimy swamps grew lizards
and greenery. Mastodons,
In dry caves,
My first attempt at god-like hominids gibbered,
scratched with flint their mark upon dark walls,
broke branches for clubs,
battered prey to gory death,
wolfed meat with bloody hands,
meat much sweeter when from
another tribe. They bayed
when the moon was full,
cringed at the new.
They walked erect
and some of them
from the sky
busy picking nits,
never even grunted
or looked up. Why?
I knew that some
would share their holy stars,
as others would ensnare their souls
in fleshly wars.
I knew and cared
and let them play.
I coined the misquoted phrase:
each God will have his day.
* 3. SCULPTURES IN PLASTICINE
eons more, until
the earth was overgrown
with trees, full with life.
But something was missing-
the Cro-Magnon was not
just what I wanted.
In My mind,
the likes of which will never be again
and I stooped down and scooped up
a fist of grey daub,
mixed spittle in it
and began to roll
I gave him
strong limbs, ears
as sharp as a bat's,
eyes as keen as an eagle's
and a penis as proud as a stallion's.
On second thoughts, I nipped that off
in favour of a humbler tumbler,
thinking wryly to Myself
that he would have
with that. And in
a burst of love,
I gave him life
and part of My soul.
As he slept, I fashioned for him an earthly mate
and whispered into her ear the harsh facts of life.
In sleep she smiled
and frowned and struggled,
dreaming the death of her dreams,
seeing Adam's toothless impotence,
Cain's hands stained with Abel's blood.
There was some plasticine left over,
so I made an immortal Snake
to test their love and constancy.
Now, go to it! Begin the play!
But if the play does not develop to My taste,
I can roll the errant cast into another ball
of plasticine, or another fireball and start My work
from scratch again, or Cro-Magnon.
* 4. SCULPTURES IN STONE
pyramids, Nazca's straight lines,
Easter Island resurrections,
Aran, ammonites, periwinkles,
Moses and Ten Tablets,
warriors and horses in Ming tombs,
Mellifont and Chartres,
Navajo calenders on canyon walls,
cut diamonds, Rodin's Thinker,
shapes blasted onto Nagasaki stone,
the Black Pig of Iniscrone.
O carvers of My images,
My chisel is in your hands.
Use it well and you will be My artisans.
Use it wrongly and it may slip in your hands,
fracture the sculptures
you value most,
send jagged splinters
into your eyes,
The choice is yours.
* 5. SUNFLOWERS
Bent-headed goster of sunflowers,
whispering sea of golden corn,
mocked your stormy soul.
I tried to comfort you, My son
but you were deaf to consolation
long before they bandaged
your one-eared bloody head.
To mirror for Me the beauty of My world
you went crazy at full moon,
slashed blood reds
amidst riotous yellows,
blacks and blues,
crashed your high-tide waves of paint
in frantic, tortured daubs
on the canvas of your borrowed time.
Your wild imagination,
your truth of mankind
enslaved in chains,
bled you to death for Me
in gunshot gouts,
palletted in oils,
soaked in charcoal.
You never realised
how much I love you.
My mad, mad Vincent.
My unordained priest,
and in a special way
My tortured son,
self-crucified for Me,
in you I am well pleased.
* 6. SCULPTURES IN MINIATURE
in etching circuitry
on synthetic microboards
is the play of children
with Lego blocks.
You brag about
the bible on a postage stamp,
Encyclopedia Britannica on floppy discs.
Tomorrow, you say, all the knowledge of the world-
on science, music, art, the cures for every ill,
the wisdom of the sages,
the database of human endeavour
will be encoded and attainable
on submolecular computers.
But will that knowledge
help you to love, to laugh, to share,
or will it be a commodity like gold or oil?
So you are a seer, a saint,
or a satanist! So what?
Can you prevent
the slowing down
of the earth's spin,
its falling back
into a dying sun?
The seven wonders of your world
are crumbling bit by bit.
I will not underwrite them
but I will store the thought.
What use to you will be
your vaporised computers
as you hurtle through the universe
from Alpha Centauri
to the farthest Black Hole
and out the other side?
My word will outlast an infinity of Armageddons.
Your playthings will not but your will and your dream
to go beyond yourself, I guarantee.
* 7. I AM WHO AM
of all that is.
I delight in My creation.
Formless, I shape in limestone
the shell of whelk and nautilus.
I chill the air to laciness,
weaving ice crystal delight.
I melt the glaciers
water the deserts.
I warm the Dead Sea,
leaving My fingerprints
in crystal salt.
I guide the spider's legs
in his net-making
and lure the lucky flies
to feed elsewhere.
Through the hen's cluck
I call the chick
to pierce the shell.
I am your father's strength
when he desires your mother,
and your mother's
when she gives you life.
I am the vine, you are the leaves.
I am the life-sap in your veins.
* 8. TWO HOUNDS
Thought and Word are straining
Once unleashed, they track and course
the distance of the universe.
They nurture life or rip fierce wounds.
By day they turn their master's chosen game.
At night fall, they return
(often matted in dried mud, torn,
bloody, thorned, panting, lame)
home to their lair. They paw and gnaw
on parboiled heads and other gory chow.
They gorge as hungry hounds know how,
then circle down to rest in the tangled straw
synapses of their slipper's demon mind
or wag their tails and nose his godly hand.
* 9. TIME
What is time but decay of nuclei,
orbits of the moon around the earth,
earth around the sun,
sun in its onward path in a cold
of change and no change?
We live in the killing-pen of time.
What is our orbit?
Is it only house and office,
shops and bank, pub and race-track,
christenings and funerals,
parties and wakes?
What thoughts will leap
across the gasping synapses
in the lonely moment
before the final darkness?
How do writing,
the programming of stupid instruments,
making a living,
staring at the dark,
talking to dead friends and parents
measure up to love and friendship
with the living? Even when I talk
with living quarry silver on its river bed,
I'm getting no answers
but those of my mind.
And my imagination is not yours
and time is passing, passing.
How will all the lonely acts
compare with acts with friends?
I must be talking more
to you, doomed ones,
who know no better
than to love life and me.
Let us have earnest discussions
over the last glass taken
on top of a feed of pints,
when reason and muscles
scream for sleep.
Let us share music, hugs, joys and sighs.
Let us give each other the sun and moon.
And, with my dark friend of the hunter's soul,
I will share the killing of the sea-liced leaper
and argue its most likely curse,
mouthed when the silver hook sinks home.
Sand-clock time seeps down,
down, always down. We are born
into the top bulb of an hourglass
and trickle, grittily as sand,
through the narrow neck
into the bottom bulb.
life is the flowing -
the top sand what is to come,
the bottom but stale memories.
When the last grain has dropped,
what hand can invert the glass
so that we can flow again?
* 11. AT ONE
Electrons busy in their spins;
bright stars whose light deceives;
great mangroves and small mustard seeds;
the sobbing child who grieves
the quenching of her sunbeam
and its dancing silver motes;
composer straining to combine
undreamed of themes and notes:
at one with the Universe.
Brown bodies on soft tiger-skin
in brothel for the rich;
soft dusk-light stroking pearls of sweat,
sweet mounting tickle-itch.
Entangled limbs, pink darting tongues
and heaving hips unite
beyond the point of no return,
releasing pulsed delight:
at one with the Universe.
Foetus dozing in warm fluid,
unknowing of life's pains;
ten perfect fingers, tiny nails,
thick; throbbing; vital veins;
soft rhythmic thump
of swollen mother's heartbeat in its ears;
the unborn certainty of death,
yet primal need to be:
at one with the Universe.
Blind imbecile with vacant smile;
dull mournful booming bell;
dark nomad in a sandblown tent;
pale hermit in stone cell;
old Daisy cudding dreamily
as skilled hands draw her teats;
black queen in heat; red setter set;
plump pheasant in the wheat;
at one with the Universe.
Fat salmon in the crystal stream
focus of torch and spear;
sly poacher, hidden but observed
by gamekeeper and deer;
slate mussels in their rocky beds;
harsh caw of homing crow;
weary surgeon in a blood-stained gown;
wise shepherd and sick ewe:
at one with the Universe.
Encased in steel and plastic,
hurtling down N-four,
with needle at the ninety-mark,
his right foot hit the floor.
He failed to see the stallion
clear the fence around the turn
to flee the hungry horse-flies
and their piercing, stinging burn:
at one with the Universe.
Creator's mind, Creator's power
allows the game to grow.
The Yang, the Yin, the hot, the cold,
the love and hate below
gets meaning from its opposite
without which there is nought
but the knowledge that it all is real
and fitting with what ought:
at one with the Universe.
Way out among the distant stars,
or hidden in a quark,
or in the pure song of the lark, or in the deeds of dark,
or in the thunder and the rain, or in the desert dry,
or in the fission of the bomb, or in the human cry,
or in the slowly rotting leaf that births a giant tree,
or in the Intel micro-chip, or in the depths of me,
mc squared equals E!
I kneel and adore THE E: at one with the Universe!
(Mass times the square of the speed of light = energy. Einstein's equation proposes that energy and substance are interchangeable and that energy is neither created nor destroyed, thus infinite, one of the attributes of God. Some see God as Energy.)
* 12. THOUGHTS ON GOOD FRIDAY 1990
As the faithful kneel in
Churches, I jump bog-drains, scale ditches,
in April-starved Mayo marshes, in the place of jaundiced whins,
a heathen in obsessive search of Fionn's bradawn feasa, the river god,
and the God within.
As my first springer of the year
silvers the butt of the net
I breathe my doubting Passion prayer lest I forget:
Thank you God for Wood and Fire,
Sea and Air, Earth and Space.
Thank you God for food and lyre, Thee and heirs, hearth and race.
Thank you God for death and life, pain and joy, sleep and memory.
Thank you God for breath and wife, brain and Moy, sloth and victory.
Thank you Christ for taking my
denial, my nails in your wrists,
my vinegar, my gall, my spear in your side, my fated shroud.
Rise up in me. Rise up and shine Your paschal dawn
through the dark of my tomb.
* 13. IF
God, if You are near me,
why do I feel like a child
playing blind man's buff?
Knowing that my eyes are open,
why do I see darkness more than light?
Would water from Siloe or Knock
cure that blindness?
God, if You are near me,
I have no fear of Your wrath.
But I do fear
that You may be a Disneyland creation
of plastic and paint and hype
and nothingness, ashes in the mouth,
a hopeless hope.
God, if You are near me,
I kneel before You. With the joy
of a child, whose distant father
returns home, I hug myself inside
and I hug You in terror
that You may disappear again
and not come back.
* 14. COLD STAR
Lord, that I may flicker
briefly in the dark for You,
as a firefly in dance,
or a lighthouse beam,
powered by your light,
before the dark curtains me again.
But photons of Your Light
will pass through the universe,
out beyond the stars,
so that lightyears hence
Your weary Eye may see
that brief flare,
that distress call and carnival
and You may smile
on another sun gone cold.
* 15. GRASS TALKS TO GOD
* a. SEED
It's cold and dark. I can not
A blackhead worm has swallowed me.
I feel propelled in rhythmic gush,
yet so alone in Nature's hush.
Be with me.
Upwards through dark soil I'm
basic laws of physics proving.
The spade has bared the writhing tail
and deftly thrown us in a pail.
Now I'm in a jar of glass
together with a wriggling mass.
The jar is wet with drizzle.
Drink with me.
A limestone trout-stream rilling
a sleek-skinned otter skites his joy,
one sharp eye on the fisher boy
with bamboo pole. His soul is free.
I'm flying now!
The rock is grey, the rock is great.
The jam-jar must disintegrate...
I'm free again on silty soil.
A rubber boot has buried me.
* b. GRASS
My white tail grows away from
and my head is sore, as it pushes
up through darkness, neck bent,
towards You. I know not why
but I need to see your sky.
I feel the rain, I see the sky,
the broody rainbow, pheasant's eye.
The push is strong.
My waist is long;
my green arms wide are dancing.
Dance with me.
The corn-bird croaks her raucous
beside the lapping wind-stroked lake.
Drinking the air, eating the dew,
soaking the sun, a part of You,
my centre swells with seed,
bursting, straining for release.
I'll find no peace
unless you are around me, in me.
Take me, now.
Head bent with grain, the wind
move me again. Your might
in thunderstorm is plain.
This time, there is no stopping.
A flash, a crash... My seed
is raining to the ground,
free for You.
* c. SEED
It's cold and dark. Can You see
I see Thee.
* 16. LET IT BE
A coal black priestess holds
a snow white Host
to a congregation of olive skins.
Men and women bow
as she intones the words of savage faith:
"This is My Body. Take and eat!".
Yellow faces, eyes and all,
smile through the Hamburg smog.
Close-cropped, blue-eyed Teutons
smile back without the bow
and heel-click. A brown back sweats
over a white and the white gasps
in aboriginal pleasure.
Their beige children eat the Bread of Life,
Fathers work at cluttered sinks,
hold intellectual coffee mornings,
compare notes on children's school reports.
Mothers come home tired from the office,
throw pregnant briefcases in the hall,
ask "what's for tea" and whoosh
fathers out to fashion shows
admonishing them gently
to drive carefully.
and generals in khaki skirts
dismantle missile arsenals,
turn the cores to light and heat
to brighten a world on the edge of dark;
melt down the casings
to needles and thimbles
and blades for combine harvesters.
They play with great skill
the original game of Star Wars
on Commodore 64's.
They exchange joy-sticks
and the game begins in earnest.
The losers bump and grind in a languid strip
and croon the Anthem of the winners
and the winners kiss the losers
in ways that would stiffen a corpse.
But I awoke to the 7.30 news
and a man's voice wailing:
Nothing was agreed at Reykjavik...
But there'll be other Reykjaviks.
* 17. CHALICE
Hairy hippies sang from deep
despair the flower song:
"There must be an answer; let it be! Let it be!
Speaking words of comfort, let it be".
Well, there was I at fifty-three,
doing eighty on the motorway,
speaking softly to myself
words of comfort like-
God must exist for man,
else why go on, or
people truly care,
or my new song
Mind, now racing
faster than the engine,
laughed back at me: "Amen!
If that's the way you want it, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
There must be an answer, let it be".
* 18. BEFORE THEIR TIME
Before the riotous blooming,
swollen pollen-sacs, the seed-fall,
do budding flowers
wilt before their time?
Alas! some do, some do -
the ones whose callous windfall
carried their seed to poisoned soil
or spent it in Darkness,
out of sight of the Son.
Ah, pity the lost beauties!
But rejoice and sing
for flowers and minds who bloom,
then die in ordained time.
* 19. FAITH AND FEVER
"The boy's left eye is
The specialist took his fee.
Mother prayed the Memorare,
countless rosaries, novenas
but my left eye saw darkness
until the day she took me
to Knock in east Mayo.
Wheelchairs, crutches, vacant faces
circled the basilica. The lame
hobbled barefoot in the rain.
Prayers and pleas ascended.
Few were cured but, that night,
when the dallog was transferred
to my good eye, I snatched
the hidden pins from the floor,
or so my mother said.
She had great faith.
Out near Belmullet, another
shaking Mayo bog,
black with people, echoed ragged hymns, Hail Marys.
No turf was cut as the people waited.
The day dragged on to sandwiches and tea.
A shout went up, a roar as people
pointed to the sun. Mother of God!
it cart-wheeled, pulsing madly
and out of the sun, the Virgin came.
The boy's left eye saw nothing
but Thermos flasks, cracked cups,
earnest faces searching the sky
and the sun shining.
He heard nothing but moans,
gasps, fearful whispers
and a lark singing
high out of sight.
He had no faith.
At the end of our bed,
the television walked
along the dressing table,
climbed to its burrow
high in the bedroom wall and disappeared.
Groans, explosions, shots, terror from the burrow
found echo in the shivering, screaming boy
rigid between us. We heard
only the ticking clock
and our son's wild screams.
My left eye saw the television
asleep in its usual place.
We had no fever.
* 20. ON THE RACK
(Publ. Scandinavian Journal of Acupuncture and Electrotherapy 3 (Aug) 1988)
Man stands between heaven and
taught the Yellow Emperor.
Seeing Man with feet of clay,
belly and heart hungry for earth and star,
arms and head stretched heavenward,
student Chi Po, knowing nothing yet
of Michael Angelo's circle,
sensed Mans's plight
and nodded sadly, nodding for me.
Chained by a leathery navel cord
to sweet-and-sour earth
and pulled towards the celestial
by fierce magnetic force,
must our soft centres
rip apart on that cosmic rack?
For us, the driving force to
is greater than the four horse-power
said to tear apart the virgin girl
who would not bed the lustful Earl.
But the force to keep us one
is the boundless Power of the Son.
A spare pair of jump leads
may come in handy someday.
* 21. PRIEST
Eyes on elevated Wheat,
memories from carefree youth
replay the words of fools' belief:
Dominus meus et Deus meus.
Eyes on the golden cup:
"... Do this in memory of Me."
The hand-bell jangles. Doubts
flap in the cave of my skull.
What if the Magi went astray
or dallied with Magdalene's dam
or the Star was lost in haze
or the donkey lame?
What if the Tomb was smelly
that first Easter dawn
and its broken Body
decayed like our own?
What if out beyond the stars
other beings think and sing?
Do they read an astral bible;
do they crucify their King?
What if Adam was an ape
or Eve not so cute
or Eden unshaped
or the serpent mute?
What if demons and ghosts
live in the heads of fools;
if the only durable souls
are soles of unworn shoes?
Are we but children
who need a bedtime story
to mask the hell and heaven
of nature's savagery and glory?
Or is mystery a part of human need?
* 22. POLISHING THE BRASS
Around us howl the wolves, the
purr the missiles primed for mass destruction,
hiss the demons of despair,
snarl the pushers, slave the whores,
the users and the used,
stretch out the empty hands
of countless unemployed
and cramp the slack flanks
of the starving.
When priests in deep compassion
the married state of brother priests
who must with hope and faith
kill their lie as celibates,
the shepherd bishops crook their renegades
to a sheep-sick fold.
Pope and bishops wield
outdated Canon Law
unyielding to the real needs
of people struggling to preserve
their sanity, their humanness.
The Law enjoins the misery of bad mistakes.
"Accept your pain", they say.
"Live the vows you made in innocence
of changing circumstance.
Learn to love again the spouse you've grown to hate
or lie alone. Shun the peace of comfort from like wounded.
Mortify the flesh and guard the eyes.
Beware to love yourself
for this, the vale of tears,
is your way home
and if you dare to di-diddle-dee
you will indeed die lost.
Copulate to procreate!
My yoke is sweet and my burden light"
... except in the lonely, needful night.
We plead for bread, encouragement,
but tight lips mutter
legalities for now
and hope of life hereafter.
These heartless officers of Christ
stand isolated on Polaris' bridge.
They buff their captain's stars of gold,
dust his hearty image,
polish the brass compass,
as the main-deck dives.
Polaris and the officers survive
while crew and people
struggle to stay afloat.
* 23. ECUMENISM: TWO WORLDS
The sheep fold has no fence
in space or time,
no guarantee of wholesome feeding
save that of the wheat,
no guarantee of unpolluted water
save that in the wine.
Some sheep graze in clover,
some in gorse and heather,
some chew marram grass and cactus,
some pick lichens from bare rock
and some chew rock, suck flint and iron,
and some, like Shakespeare's salamanders,
eat but the air,
the air of poverty and self-respect.
All are sheep of the One Flock.
All have their birthright
to range the endless fold
but selfish rams and rigs decide
which groups can graze which areas in peace.
THE FIRST WORLD
Our Shepherd is The Christ,
always with us to assist,
and not the transient enthroned
in Salt Lake City, Canterbury, Rome.
His Flock is not a mass of mindless clowns
of identical well clipped clones
but a motley group of heterogues
some tame, some wild, some wily rogues.
Their types are many, some common, some rare:
native Galway, Borris and Belclare,
lowland Suffolk, mountain Blackface,
breeds from every continent and race,
strangers fat and thin
from distant Islands: Aran,
Texel, Ronaldsay, Soay.
There are milking mules and Charolais,
Merino, shaggy Jacobs and Angora,
blood from Athens and Andorra
to Zealand and Zaire.
To live and breed is their desire.
From sun-parched deserts, flood
from grass-green ditches, bog drains
they hail, young rams and old,
twisted horneys and polled,
sheep with orf and sheep with gid
castrates and bad-tempered rigs,
timid hoggets, bleating ewes from every land,
smooth fleeced, dagged and scraggy lambs,
some mangy, fly-blown and struck,
some at peace, some running amok.
Their mating is random and bold
and their crosses marvels to behold.
And in His Flock stray hairy stinking goats,
tails up, and man-made sterile shoats.
His Flock has pygmy sheep
and giant sheep in body and in mind,
another Mary, with her little lamb
and her dancing bear behind.
And the Shepherd, loyally awake,
tends His Flock with a blinding headache.
THE THIRD WORLD
Wherever massed flocks
of hungry sheep stray,
rams stamp their hooves,
butt and fight for their harems
and itchy hides shed twisted hanks
of wool and matted blood
on scratching posts and fences
and the sheepsick fold
reeks with endless heaps
of noxious excrement.
Well picked bones and skulls
whiten in the sun,
ignored by carrion
who circle around
the struggle of the weak.
Alas, for them,
there is no resurrection
in this life- they fall exhausted,
thrash on their sides,
arc the living sward
with vain-splayed claws.
Pop-eyed in terror,
necks extended, jugulars engorged,
they bang their heads
in frothed frenzy
as the carrion close in.
And so it will go on.
Their earthly shepherds seek to save
the orphaned and the lost
and deftly crook the fatted
for the butcher's knife,
the hopeless for the quicklime grave.
26 February 1991
* 24. COUNTDOWN
Pump it into mine-shafts,
dump it in the Irish sea.
Test it on some distant island.
Pull the lever on the smokestack
in the dead hours of doomsday.
We just gotta keep the show on the road.
Send them in to clean up -
they're only migrant workers
and they'll be monitored
and they'll be sent home soon
and they don't know about cancer
and we're paying them over the rate.
Send in the saws and dozers -
to hell with academic theories
on leaf and oxygen sources,
on rain-forests and climate.
And what use are stupid Indians
or endangered species?
Send out beautiful skins of croc,
tiger, mink, snow-leopard.
Sell ivory, musk, monkey-brains.
Who cares but the child,
the simpleton, the poor,
Send them our surplus wheat,
our mountains of beef and butter.
Topple their corrupt rulers,
throttle their supply of arms,
then sell them ours. But teach them
to feed themselves? Hell, no!
Automate the factories, the offices.
Bring in early retirement schemes.
Pay off redundant workers.
We need more work efficiency.
Was that the last knell
of the midnight bell?
* 25. REVOLT AND GOVERNMENT
* a. THE CIRCLE (YIN-YANG)
Two fish fill the circle.
Lovers circle and clinch
and fall into the circle.
A tireless snake
swallows its tail.
Where is the rattle, the venom?
Hidden away as potential energy
to please the child or put
the demented out of misery?
Atoms and universes show
the power of revolution
and Einstein proclaimed
ex cathedra the dogma
of the unity of matter and energy.
So to infinity are the Word, the
and the Light interchangeable.
Nothing is lost, nothing gained
in the endless cosmic dance.
Hexagrams from ancient yarrow
or from random number generators
point the ultimate reality:
change is the source and end of all.
Change is revolution!
Wheels roll on; all is change
and nothing changes anyway.
* b. THE STAR (THE FIVE PHASES)
The inner calm, the balance
between atoms and the universe,
the hidden seabed and the clouded peak,
the human states, the blues, the joys,
lie in the circle around the star.
The tips of the Five Point Star
sow seeds of revolt and government.
As fire begets the ash of earth,
Earth-mother births her shining
and so around the clockwise wheel
the change brings life and
and death. The wheel and pentagram roll on,
Government and revolution live in harmony.
As water controls fire,
fear controls desire
but if water boils, fire rebels,
attacks, turning it to steam
and desire flares, then flickers out.
So are the elemental attributes
in flux. Creation and destruction
vie as equals in the turning wheel.
Nuclei disintegrate. Nuclei fuse.
Seal-pups clubbed to death, a V of swans in flight.
Did Einstein get his calculations right?
* c. OUTSIDERS
a wizened, crazed five score,
dreams the visions of a child,
beams in beatific lunacy.
From many counterfeits
a child of four, with ancient eyes,
identifies a long-dead Lama's prayer-beads
A new Lama is recognised.
Unless ye become as little
the Master said, The Kingdom will remain
invisible. But the wide-eyed child
was the only one to shout aloud
the invisibility of the king's
Adult? I am merely a rebellious child,
playing an adult role, joining in
a game of other children,
a game not of my making.
If I am a spoilsport, refuse
to use their rules, revolt too much,
my angry playmates
become my demons, my torturers.
As I know the art of torture very well,
I fear their skills.
* d. FROM THE TUMBREL
Citizens! Let me explain the
for which I am to die:
I am convicted of revolt against the state of life!
Revolt - the egg and sperm of change!
Change - the law of life and death!
I embraced them with all the
of a hardened harlot,
repelled them with the strength
of a lover ten strokes from ecstasy!
By God, I did revolt, but not
In blind revolt, in anger and despair,
a hopeless punk, I tinted my spiky hair.
But when the mortgage fell due,
I was a solid, true-blue
citizen. I apologise to myself
for not accepting
myself as I was, as I am.
I revolt against pain and death
but I am dead already.
But I am dead already
to pleasure, love, money,
to pain, hate, poverty
but I live yet. I live
like a god in human form,
yet touching everything
with eyes and tongue, with fingers and nose.
I see pigeons splat from
I feel the sun on my face.
I taste salt sweat.
I smell the bloody basket.
I see the waiting blade.
A twisted cripple in the middle
of a bog,
I stretch my back against a cankered tree
and listen to the sea
pound rocks in my head,
hiss from the moistened shingle
between two deaf ears.
Revolution! the only lawful
of the wheel of life, of mystery,
the movement of spokes and rim,
so simple that a child can read
its poetry, its perfect symmetry.
The wheel turns clockwise
and, clockwise, time marches away from me
unless I look at time
from the other side of the grave.
Executioner, you have a job to
Do it well! Trip your lever!
Long live life ...
* 26. THE LAST LAUGH
Bride and groom sign the
hand in hand survey the empty house,
sign joint insurances, break their vows
with extra partners. Fate is magister.
Scrub bull jumps the fence just
breeder straws his champion
cows with top Canadian Holstein
semen. Fate roars laughter.
Climber (fitted out with ropes,
pick, crampons, all the gear),
bests the final ledge of fear
and dies of heart-attack. Fate hoots.
I would spend my last tuppence,
walk into the night in Greenland snow -
the last gift of the toothless Eskimo -
to know Fate got a permanent come-uppance
but Fate is fated to exist,
unchecked by man or Hades
until the last star fades
and the last soul drifts the Styx.
Eons after the next Big Bangs
Fate will still have jaws, claws, fangs.
* 27. MUNDANE ARCANE
Long and slender
needles of fine steel
are symbols of another way.
One Master inserts two tips
through the eye of a third...
voila, a Chinese dowsing-rod
to find the leaking point.
Another reads the pulses,
with sorcerer's intent,
or reads the tongue
to find the locus
of the block.
A third simply feels
above the horse's hooves
for watery holes. He nods
when his finger drowns
In her sanctum
an adept gazes
at crystal fire.
The prayer-dream grows,
water-cries and claws for birth.
In the next village,
behind the scowling mountain,
the child is liveborn,
from the fruitful brain,
cries lustily, then loves:
the cripple, laughing madly,
the dummy, running wildly,
and the sodomite
then sods away, but happily.
* 28. APARTHEID: CATCH 22
First-time observers of stock
may get a great shock
to see stallions or rams,
tethered apart from their harems,
crouch their backs.
stagger in their tracks,
ready their weaponry
and shoot at phantoms of the underbelly;
or if they raise young bulls
out of sight of bulling heifers
and watch the torment and the seeking
of the mob's submissive weaklings,
watch the white-stuff jetting
for relief, not for begetting,
on any part but where it might be -
on bullish rump, flank, neck, eye,
whichever is handiest
to the strongest and randiest.
But fences down or tethers cut,
males find females and rut
as if the springs of life
welling from between the thighs
could never run dry.
So what then of Onan,
that unfortunate man?
Was he just some selfish squirt
who spent himself on sunbaked dirt,
when his widowed sister-in-law
craved the content of his paw?
Maybe he never got to know her
as well as he might
in the time before his brother died.
Or maybe he knew her
far too well to screw her
and that's why he hid
and he did what he did.
Did he cry out for love and life
before he di-diddledee-died too?
* 29. RIVER SCENE (SIDDHARTHA)
The ferryman spent his days
poling people to and fro.
Monks and merchants, poor and rich
passed their hurried way,
missing the ferryman's wink
and the banyan tree.
Content in the banyan shade,
sat a hardened Buddhist monk
remembering his debauched youth,
a youth of silk and softness,
perfumes, musk and wine.
All his urgent needs were met.
Nothing needed now
but the river's confidence
and its womb-like murmuring.
River, your questions?
Q: What sought you of the burning eyes, excited face?
|A: To know the unknown.|
Q: What sought you of the burnt-out eyes and ashen face?
|A: To unknow the known.|
Q: What is the time between your coming and your going?
|A: A wasted lifetime.|
Return to the watery peace from whence you came!
The monk caught the ferryman's
they knew the river's age and of its wisdom.
What is the answer, river?
Monk and ferryman, hear me well!
You must choose your heaven and hell.
Now is the time to live or die.
Now is the time to laugh or cry,
fast or eat, wake or sleep.
Now is the time of knowing.
Virgin to the bed of shame,
foetus on the draining-board,
soldier in the sights,
death of a loved child -
there is no going back.
Unknowing is the dark finality.
Be, my friends! Just be!
Choose and be done with questions.
* 30. BELLS
Pushed from warm, fluid silence,
our welcome to the world
is inversion by the ankles,
a slap on the butt, a suction tube;
our first hello is a frightened cry.
The silky, yielding breast
becomes a plastic bottle, latex-nippled.
Mother's fears compound our own,
burrowing deep. And father's distance
makes cold stars touchable.
Bells stampede us, pushing,
into dull, reluctant lines
and bells dismiss us. In between,
children playing games,
learning to obey and suffocating
to the squeak of chalk.
Bells peal the licence
of the bride and groom
and wake them from the honey sleep
to a loveless dawn. Foxglove
and honeysuckle flowers,
bell-shaped look the same
but only the purple petals
still the trembling heart.
Crowds mill around.
Faces tense or smiling,
scurry in and out of the city,
antlike to the hill.
But ants work together.
Their antennae touch
Bells kung, clang, bong,
ring out alarms and warnings,
knell the change of status quo,
echo from the fangs of impending doom.
While bells peal on, we age,
seeing our dreams evaporate.
Bells signal us into the world
and bells dismiss us.
Hell is a clatter of tongues on
and heaven stillness.
* 31. DUST
Big Bang! Momentous energy
hurtling incandescent matter, luminescent dust,
centrifugal through the universe.
In space-time, our world cooled down.
Water-life and plants evolved. Then dust
was moulded by th' Eternal Hand
to form an erect Adam, from whose spare rib,
Eve was stripped,
receptive to his primitive drives,
his apple juice.
Adams and Eves in hominid days
groomed and grunted happily,
sat, shat, begat and birthed in the solar dust,
if they were lucky enough
to live in a dry cave.
They do it still today
but the dust is camouflaged
in concrete slabs, bricks, tiles, videos, paint.
The cave is a dusted semi-D.
Live dust we are. Dead ash we'll be
or biodegradable matter,
composting to earth.
Earth to earth. Ashes to ashes.
Our universe crumbles quietly
back to the cosmic dust.
* 32. BEFORE MY DARK
Published Irish Club News 1992 (London), 2, 11
we needed candles
to dispel our demons
or we longed to hear
familiar kitchen noises
or murmuring downstairs.
Growing up and loved,
we got used to the dark,
yes, even welcomed it,
as long as we believed
in dawn. But now
a darkness comes
which will not yield
to nightlights or wishes,
loving or moans. Its blackness
broods in the depths of hidden silos.
And if humanity should all be sainted,
solve the koans of pain and poverty and hate,
be paragons of love, destroy the bombs,
feed the poor, heal the sick,
the darkest dark of all
must still befall
a cooling universe
when it recoils
like the oohaah bird
into its beginnings.
Before my dark
I hope to see
one glorious ray of light.
Then I will gladly shut
my blinded eyes forever,
sink back into the void.
* 33. PEACE OF THE SHINING STARS TO YOU
For Shelia White
(Publ. D. Spark, Anthology of Veterinary Poetry, 1986)
Birch, spruce and pine against
the night sky,
clouds smoking moon over dense Toija forest,
sighing of wind in the autumn branches,
coughing of elk, barking of fox,
sparkle from the lake.
In the stillness she stands, tormented, frustrated.
Her Black Dog, companion now, sits at her feet.
It is there! Earth force! Life force!
She touches a tree, points finger to lake,
ankles in leaves, face to the sky.
Peace of the shining stars to you!
Power of the forest to you!
Feel it flow: pins and needles tingling,
Scalp, neck, back,
arms, trunk, loins, legs electric...
Feel the Power and hold it within.
(Toija (toy'ya) is a Finnish village set in a beautiful forest)
* 34. HOWL
The voice in me said
"Howl out the pain". It meant the pain
of not being able to control
the way words confuse,
the way life confuses
the sense of good,
of being positive to people
and to the gaping holes
in their cores.
These voids cannot be filled
with the concrete of money,
or be satisfied with power,
or the verbiage of selfish peers,
who disappear with "See ya sometime ...".
My weary eyes open to the dawn
of further emptiness.
Wound we ourselves,
deliberately, seek to carry
the useless guilt of ancestors
who knew no better than to vomit back
the guilt of theirs, embrace the emptiness
which embraces humankind? But me, not so.
My void is not congenital. It is the old hole
of saints and sinners in search for meaning
in a world where meaning has no sense
but to balance books in Thatcher's mode,
to settle old scores in the old way.
That view is not enough for me
and, hence my inner plea:
"Howl out the pain." I wail and scream and howl in vain.
* 17. EL CONDOR PASSA
* a. THE EXPERIMENT
They kidnapped us at dawn
and took us to a place called Plunderland
in armour-plated buses,
fitted out like top Beirut hotels.
Where the others came from I don't know
but we were hostages together-
poets, scientists, philosophers, priests,
men, women and children,
a chow-mein of colour, creed and mind,
the nucleus of their experiment.
We did not see drivers or guards
but their presence was real.
The campus had everything-
acres and acres of grass and leaf,
laboratories, lecture halls, libraries,
speech input computers.
All we had to do was ask
and any facility would be put at our disposal.
I was in no hurry to divine the purpose-
I knew for certain we had a purpose
which would be realised.
Yet fear squeaked, mouse-like,
in the walls of my head.
Why was the campus centred
in a city of technical perfection,
whose walls towered sheer to the sky,
whose windows were tinted
so that their inhabitants
could see us but we were blind to them?
* b. THE OPENING OF MY EYES
Sensual, animated but unsure,
a visitor caught my eye.
She discussed the sweeter faces of reality
with a hunchback whose own face
radiated energy enough to fuel Ariane.
Hauling a tea-chest of books,
she came to me. She tried to teach me more
of the majesty of mind but her body distracted me.
Each time I tried to penetrate her mind,
I saw dark eyes, silk hair, the swell of milky breasts
and in her eyes, a smiling reprimand
and a wistful: "Will men ever understand?".
My mind exploded. "Yes, I'm doing my best
but give me time to shed the ball and chain
which keep me shackled to a buried post".
I rambled on, came to a school
for mentally handicapped,
snatched from our world
as part of the experiment.
The class was bedlam.
Fifty or sixty human beings,
grunted, screeched, twitched, pointed,
stared, groaned or did nothing at all
but rock and roll
their eyes. One, a Mongoloid
with a slobbering mouth,
leered at me and put a huge arm
'round my shoulder. "Come!".
He led me to a spastic dwarf,
whose only means of colloquy
was a high-pitched cry.
Was it a gull or an eagle's cry?
I put my ear to his lips.
"Welcome friend!" he screeched on the wind.
Jesus Christ! I understood him:
we had a great chat.
He was an ornithologist,
probably the best in the world.
He had never been allowed
out to the nesting sites
but he knew them all.
He had never seen a bird or read a book
but birds flew all the time
in and out of his head.
He took me by the hand
and pointed out a peregrine, a kingfisher.
He showed me curlews in their lonely haunts,
bleating snipe impersonating love-sick goats,
corncrakes camouflaged near hand-stooked oats,
a stonechat's antics in a gravelled stream.
He led me up a narrow path
to the top of the Andes.
The air was cold and clean.
Stretching his neck,
unfurling fantastic pinions,
he became a condor for me.
Christ! I wept and wept on his back
at the beauty of his soaring.
He flew me down to talk
with autistic children,
the insane, the dumb, the blind.
Their visions numbed me with awe.
Though their bodies lived in hell,
heaven glimmered in their heads.
"We must tell the others", I said.
They guffawed and howled in glee.
* c. THE SEMINAR
A seminar was held that
Four of the handicapped were the panel.
I was the interpreter.
Our unseen captors had festooned the hall
with cameras and microphones.
Questions on life's absurdities,
the whys of war and peace,
the inner forces of the atom and the mind,
the quantum of the quantum
were fired from the floor.
My panel grinned and gurgled,
scratched and twitched,
huddled together in scrums
or ran with the mental ball
at the speed of light.
Their answers astounded. I passed them on
to the listeners. Tape recorders rolled.
Cameras snooped. Tension grew and grew.
The listeners' mouths fell open.
Their eyes bulged. You must tell us
how to learn their language!
The clamouring crowd pressed in.
You must teach us, help us communicate!
What could I do but tell them
to put their stone deaf ears
close to the lips of the dumb
and to listen for the eagle or the wind
whispering in their souls.
The unseen captors listened hard.
Then, to clapping and roars,
they gave the panel a standing ovation.
Again silence. All closed their eyes and ears
and exulted in the freedom of the mind.
Breaking the utter silence,
the hunchback farted the opening bar
of "It's a long way to Tipperary"
and the whole panel piped up gaily
and the smell was as familiar as my own
but, as farting was deemed a mortal sin,
the captors came
and herded the happy panel
away to the ovens. They fought to get in.
Me they let walk free, back to
The ovens belched sweet smoke all night:
in Plunderland, that's perfectly all right.
|Tuesday 30th, same place, same time.|
|Telekinesis- Applications in Riot Control.|
|To be decided later.|
* d. ESCAPE FROM PLUNDERLAND
Next morning, I stripped off my
strolled to the campus gate unhurried,
nothing with me but a lure,
a leather thong, a glove and a flying mind.
I passed the flint-eyed guards unseen,
walked out the gate, through the streets
of the space-age city, heading home.
I sang all the way, uncaring now.
Even if they haul me back,
throw me in their cells,
anchor my feet in their lecture halls,
I am free. They will tape my voice no more,
except the words: "Let me be myself!
You can not imprison my mind
for I have flown from you already.
The condor nests in my brain
and my wolf howls free".
Then an anaesthetic dart sank
and I came to under glaring surgical lights.
I felt blood trickle down my scalp and groin.
Saurian eyes stared from masked faces
and green gowns were streaked with red.
They had cut my condor from his nest,
severed his wings and hamstrings.
They had cut my wolf from his lair,
cut his vocal chords, cut off his paws.
My wolf was tamed, irrevocably maimed.
Now, I can not walk, fly, howl or growl.
I wait in apathetic silence for my pension,
a public servant with a begging bowl.
I wish I could not give a damn
for anything or anyone,
for the hopeless human dream.
But the dream lives on,
the dream Christ-born:
absolution for the sins of man,
and of love's assassination.