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Happy birthday sweety!!!!!
suppose you are surrounded by only a sincere and true friends!!
let your life always hears the voices of joy and songs sound amazing!!
and of course lots of love and emotions!!
you are the best writer and you’re the most talented person I’ve ever met
and you are just getting started!!!!
kiss you

Альбина


It is not every lifetime that one writes an epic poem… let alone two, & it is with a certain sense of excitement, laced with a barrel’s worth of personal achievement, that I present my double epics to the world. When accepting my role as an epic poet, I ruminated on my predecessors & the models they supplied to posterity. In this I realised that while Virgil created one epic out of Homer’s two – the Odyssean voyages of Aeneas to Rome, follow’d by the Iliadic warfare – I would rather compose an Odyssey & an Iliad as individual poems. As for the length of my epics, Dante’s 100 cantos seem’d both a simple & harmonious number.

As a poet waking to consciousness at the end of the twentieth century, my Iliad would of course have to concern the dramatic double world wars in which some of those who participated I could still converse. The poem also branched out both into deep history – to achieve some kind of understanding of how the World Wars came to pass – & into my own age, where I witness’d at first hand events such as 9-11 & the terrorist attack on Mumbai. Meanwhile, my personal Odyssey is a journey thro’ England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Gozo & the entire subcontinent of India, at the end of which I return to my own veritable Penelope, Sally Cinnamon.

The Silver Rose is a poem that works on three levels. It begins with a single sequanto, my name for a 14-strong sequence of sonnets which form part a larger opus, or sonnegalaxy. There then follows seven cantos each of 20 sonnets, reaching a total of 154 sonnets. This magicaal number is also that of Shakespeare’s sonnet collection, a model to which all those interested in the architecture of sonnetry, should emulate at some point in their career. The next phase of the Silver Rose is the main epic itself, containing 99 sequantos to add to the L’Amfiiparnasso, & a total of 1400 sonnets. After this come the Odes & other poesm, a number of set-pieces composed by the Silver Rose on his journey, but in forms other than the Sonnet.

The first sonnets of the Sylver Rose were composed in the Autumn of 1998, when I was 22, & the last in January 2021, only yesterday. The latter sequanto saw the recreation of the Samothracian Mysteries of that island’s Sanctuary of the Gods. This was the same site where I composed my penultimate poem of Axis & Allies in August 2020. Then, on the next morning, I would complete my Iliadic epic at the waterfall source of the Gria Vathra, towering high over the Aegean Sea.

Sonnets & epics go together. Both Dante & Shakespeare were avid sonneteers before creating their epic poems – I would include the Dramatic oeuvre of Shakespeare as an epic poem of sorts, especially the historical plays. What makes my work different is that I turn’d my sonnets into an epic poem, as well as writing a non-sonnet epic. For this I would invent an even larger line-count than the 14 offer’d by the sonnet – the trytptych, with the first lines of my other epic, Axis & Allies, composed composed in Brighton in October 1999, when I was a twenty-three year-old hedonistic poet with a thirst for travel & fun.

Between first & last I lived & breathed my epics, sometimes symbiotic, sometimes from afar. Those years match the twenty designated to a potential epic by the English romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote; ‘I should not think of devoting less than 20 years to an Epic Poem. Ten to collect materials and warm my mind with universal science. I would be a tolerable Mathematician, I would thoroughly know Mechanics, Hydrostatics, Optics, and Astronomy, Botany, Metallurgy, Fossilism, Chemistry, Geology, Anatomy, Medicine — then the mind of man — then the minds of men — in all Travels, Voyages and Histories. So I would spend ten years — the next five to the composition of the poem — and the five last to the correction of it.’ Having completed two epics in that time is simply down to having modern access to the internet coupl’d with swifter modes of travel. I was also struck by Coleridge’s definition of my beloved Romantic Age being, “a happy [one] … for tossing off an Epic or two.”

The thing about epic poetry these days is that hardly anyone reads the stuff. Yet, I have known for some time now that I am an epic poet, for just as the world needs its plumbers its painters & its pimps, it also happens to need its epics. I’m not exactly sure why we pop up from time-to-time, but we most definitely do; it is like a relay race where the baton is dropped for a few hundred years then gets picked up again by the next lucky fellow compelled to spend the better years of their life on a single poem (or two). As I picked up the baton & began my leg, I appear’d more of a misnomer to the modern poet – but to me it seemed as if a devastating plague had ripped through my species like some needle blights through the forest of Parnassus. Poetic offerings from the later 20th century & early 21st were slender to see the least – like skinny foals grazing in a field barren. At the same time I roamed in the open expanses of countryside beyond those farm fences, fattening myself on the verdure of life amidst the solemn mountains of an echoing tradition. I found a nobleness of action accompanied me as I composed, for the epic is the phoenix of poetry. They live gloriously then die… but when they rise again, they do upon pinions of golden fire.

The Epic species is the pinnacle of poetic achievement & the supreme measure of a poet. It reflects & displays the granduer of man & within its multi-lined confines can be found every other species of poetry. It is a grand summation of the art, if you will. If one wer to put all the world’s epics on a bookcase… & they would only need small shelves… you would find so much human existence in so little a space. To throw my own hat into this small but viscioulsy proud arena, I really had no choice… it was the only poetic sphere I felt truly comfortable working within. Before I began, I examined the epic poems of the English, to measure my work against & from which to draw the correct materials. In the English language there have only been a few attempts at an epic, proper. Chaucer had all the trappings with his Canterbury Tayles, though his point of focus reneged on the epic theme. Spenser gave us his sprawling Faerie Queene & Milton his great English poem, Paradise Lost. Since then we have Byron’s Don Juan & the prelude of Wordsworth, but both can be counted as not of the true vein. Chapman & Pope both presented poeslation of the Iliad, but these are but mere imitations of another poem. Keats’ came close with his Hyperion, but his untimely death left it unfinished. In more modern times, Tennysson’s Morte D’Arthur is too staid to be considered epic, while Pound’s Cantos are an incomprehensible personal voyage, far from the true ideal.

So where did that leave the epic muse. A handful of ultra-modern poets have tried to write epic – but have fallen far short of connecting with the planet, or even the nation, whose efforts should be placed in the epyllian baskets. The general sentiment my times is that epic is impossible, that poetry had become too personal. Yet, as long as there is human life there shall be, tho all of a scarcity, the capability within the human mind for epic poetry. If let us say that in the human brain there is one percent attuned to poetry, then within this one per cent there is again a very small percentage capable of epic poetry. Because of the dispropensity of human nature to carry on with the very difficult nature of composing epic, then this percentage is again divided. So the lot fell to me & by going backwards, back to the classical epic, I believe I am going forwards. With this in mind I began to reflect the poetry out into the world, into the lives of my dramatis personae, & mirror the world in which they lived then & so we live now. In one of his excellent essays of the early 1980’s, William Oxley shed light upon the true nature & mechanics of my task;

The concept of the modern epic cannot be properly understood without an accurate grasping of the true nature of tradition. For without such understanding of the full implications and accretions attaching to the word “epic,” it cannot in its turn be understood. Once, however, tradition is properly understood, and the word “epic” placed within that context, it is possible to begin to think of a modern epic. And I think it fair enough to jump in at the deep end – assuming all that has been said hitherto has been grasped and is now firmly borne in mind by the reader – and say that for an epic to be modern it must first and foremost, in Daniel Pearlman’s expression, “nucleate” the information and experience of contemporaneity. Which means, remembering the earlier idea of a poem of epic proportions integrated in a continuing tradition, that while the poet’s art will nucleate the contemporary data, it will at the same time draw in this information to an already existing centre composed of past accretions. Which further means that the successful modern epic (as any successful modern poem of whatsoever proportions) will be an engrafting of new branches on an already existing tree.

I am now 44 years old & have given 22 years & the last of my youth to the creation of my two very traditional, yet very modern epics. Not with any sense of regret, however, for these two decades gone have sent me travelling the world composing the purest of poetries. Of this corpus, 1400 sonnets & 900 tryptychs have made the final cut, resulting in 37,600 lines of poetry. 22 years (1822-44), is also how long the Thai poet Sunthorn Phu – the Bard of Rattanakosin – spent over his own epic poem, the 48,700-line Phra Aphai Mani. As he did then & as I do now, it is time to pass the baton on to whenever & whomever finds it next.

Damian Beeson Bullen
12/01/2021

THIRUVALLUVAR

I met the ascetic mystic Thiruvalluvar one morning in the Indian province of Tamil Nadu. I was resting on a fine, empty beach, watching the white waves sweep sublimely across the Bay of Bengal. In a soft second of existence I was alerted to a flutter of birds & saw a mile or so along the coast a distant figure approaching. I couldn’t help but watch him come steadily nearer, a middle aged man with a thick, black beard, swathed in white robes, his bare feet leaving footsteps in the sand. I expected him to pass me by, but as he came to within a few metres he suddenly veered off in my direction & tho’ he was walking slowly was at my side in a flash.
“What is your profession?” he curtly asked, his voice gravelly with wisdom, his gaze penetrating my soul.
“I am a traveller from a distant land.”
“Rider,” he replied, “Saraswathi, I see, has smil’d on you, then welcome to India. Are you wise, traveller?”
“I have studied a little, sir.”
“Ah! as the city-dwellers know most animals only from photographs, your wisdom seems second-hand. You shall be my guest, for there appears much you are yet to learn in this life.”
He invited me to dine at his home, an offer which I quickly accepted. As we walked along the sands he engaged me in conversation & I could already see I was speaking to no ordinary soul.
“Are you creative?” he asked.
“I write sonnets, sir.”
He suddenly froze on the spot & gazed with those magnificent eyes, burrowing into the heartlands of my mind.
“By any chance, are you carrying a silver rose?”
My startled hand suddenly went to finger the small piece of flower I had hung around my neck.
“May I see?”
“Of course,” I replied handing him the necklace. After a moments curious examination the mystic said, in esoteric tones, “I have been expecting you.”
“You have?”
“I once had a dream – in it I saw a young man who looked very much like yourself plucking a silver rose.” I was stunned a little by his words & prescience, then the mystic went on, “Could you describe where you found the rose.”
“It was in Italy,” I replied, “Twenty-one years of age & taking my first steps into the poetic art. I had been inspired to write a poem on the death of the English, poet Shelly, & my journeys had brought me to the Gulf of Le Spezia, where he spent his last days. At one end of the bay lies the charming idyll of Portovenere, the port of Venus. There was a castle & an old Norman church on a rocky outcrop jutting into the azure sea, & behind me the giant cliffs of the Cinque Terra strectched away into the distance. Before setting out to Italy, I too had had a dream. In it I saw myself climbing a cliff, a wonderful panorama all around, & in my dream, as the light of the sun cascaded upon the world below, I was filled with both peace & exultation of the heart. I did not know what my dream meant, but I grew determined then to climb cliffs until it came true. Indeed, by the time I reached Italy I had climbed many along the coast of my native land.”
“Go on,” said the mystic.
“As I began my ascent of the cliffs above Portovenere the still air was suddenly filled with an elemental wind. Up her stony slopes I huff’d, puff’d & scrambl’d, all a fluster in the blustery gale that was growing all the time. As I climb’d further my clothes were torn by the claws of thorny bramble as an angry Zephyrus summon’d yet more of his strength. My head told me to turn back, but my young heart had call’d upon the soul of our being, for being conquers all. As I reach’d the clifftop, glorious realm of diety, the winds suddenly settled & I began to write a poem. It was there, as the sun was setting, that my eyes were drawn to a flash of colour, reflecting the golden light of the sun as it slipped neath the clouds on the horizon. Investigating further I found a wee silver rose, & I wonder’d how such sweet tenderment grew, like a heavenly star. I spent what seemed like an eternity gazing at its lovely shape & immersed in its fragrance & every sinew of my body, & every fibre of my mind, was at peace. During this flush of pure nature I suddenly thought perhaps my dream had come true? I wasn’t sure, but if it had, & wishing for a memonto of the occasion, I pluck’d that gorgeous flower.”
“Yes, these events you recant I saw in my dream,” said the wiseman, “& you are very welcome as my guest, & your timing is impeccable, for there shall be a gathering tomorrow.”
I looked at the mystic with a puzzled expression, taken aback by his words.
“Let me elaborate,” he said, noticing my expression, “I have invited many thinkers to my house to talk about life & they shall arrive in my village on the morrow. They are to spend a night here in the village & you are very welcome to stay & listen, & even join in as you so desire. Imagine if you will all the great minds of history gathered under my roof, exchanging pearls of wisdom with one another upon the condition of humanity. I shall then unify all these separate strands of thought into one work, free from sectarian restraint & approached with the appropriate poetics.”
“It would be an honour,” I replied.
As we carried on he pleasantly enquired as to the nature & customs of my native land. After listening intently to my stories he began to elaborate more on the coming events.
“All human knowledge has a source within the creative psyche of the mind. These ‘ideas’ are sent out as brightly winged birds to every corner of the world, spreading their lively messages. This part of the psyche is also tapped by the poets, who have the ability to recall the birds, assimilate their message & gave them new, painted wings before releasing them to the world once again. It is in this capacity that I have summoned the loveliest birds, the brightest ideas, of humanity. I hope that they shall share their wisdom with one another, which I hope to transcribe for the benefit of mankind. Do you understand now?”
“I do, mystic.”
“Then come, my village is still a good way yet. So, you play guitar,” he had noticed the the old acoustic guitar which was slung over my back.
“Yes, a little.”
“And you sing?”
“I write my own songs.”
“Good, then perhaps you can sing for us on the morrow.”
“If it would please my gracious host, then certainly sir.”

On the way to this hospitality asked me if I had any examples of my work. On answering in the positive I handed him a notebook containing my scribbled notes & polished pieces, the detritus of several years of sonnets & song. He picked up the book & skimm’d thro them at speed, seemingly absorbing each into his psyche.
“I notice you have master’d the fourteen feelings.”
“The feelings?” I asked.
“Yes, the fourteen impulses that drive poetic thought.”
“I did not realise I had.”
“Yes, this is the work of the silver rose, my friend, for he that plucks it will be enchanted – you are, in fact, a soneteer & the rose is its emblem.”
“Well, I do enjoy the sonnet, it is a very venerable form. Do you know much of the sonnet,” I asked the sage.
“Indeed, traveller, for within its scanty plot of ground, as Wordsworth noted, many forms of poetry may be contain’d. It can be seen as the great compositive form, which draws components from all the others. It can use the monoverse of blank verse & vers libre, polyphonics, the couplet, the triplets, quatrains, cinquains, sestets, septets & octets – even Spenser has weaved his novtet into a sonnet.
“There are many forms of poetry,” I added, “Indeed, I have identified thirteen different forms of the sonnet itself, from the Terza Rima of Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind to the cleverness & intricacy of the Acrostic genre. Indeed, I have utilised most of these thirteen in the creation of my own sonnets. The number thirteen also corresponds to the golden ratio, that mystical formula that rules the beauty of nature, from the seeds of a sunflower head to the spirals on a snail’s shell, from the constuction of the pyramids to the harmonies of a musical scale.”
“But poet, perhaps there is another form. After all, there are fourteen lines in a sonnet & there are fourteen feelings.”
“I have travelled both West & East & traversed the vast annals of literature, O wise master, but never have I come across a fourteenth form.”
The mystic held me a moment in his velvet eye, & then said, “A revered ancestor of mine also met a poet, very much like you, a troubador from Provence & composed entirely in a thirteen line form.”
“The Rondel,” I replied, the long hours of erudite study crystaliazing in my minds eye.
“That is right. But hen the young French man added another line to his form & created a Rondel Prime.”
“The French sonnet!” I replied in astonishment.
“If that is what it is called, yes. But as you can see, as the Rondel found another line & as there are fourteen feelings, then there may also be a fourteenth sonnet.”
“That is possible.”
No, not possible, but true. Tomorrow I shall introduce you to an aquaintance of mine, he may be able to help you in your quest.”
“My quest?” I asked, “I did not know I had undertaken a quest.”
“But of course you have, for from the moment a poet plucks the silver rose, they can never rest until she is satisfied.”
Our discourse was all of a sudden dispersed by the spreading of a smile across the mystic’s face.
“At last,” he said, “Welcome to my village.”

The first house in the village was an unassuming cottage, but inside was all a-bluster with activity. Of those present in that room one was an old woman, racked with disease, led in her bed & very ill indeed. Nearby a young woman was in the final agonising throes of labour, about to give birth to her first child. Others were watching on attentively as before them two cycles of life were fusing as one. The old woman was desperately drawing her last mortal breaths to the sound of a far younger woman gasping through childbirth, for as one soul was leaving this world another was entering. The old woman’s health had been failing her for several years, & now, surrounded by her family, she was ready to depart from her mortal coil. Her family were very distraught, slowly soaking the silken sheets with their tears. But the old woman was smiling. She said she knew it was time for her to leave this life, but she had had a good life. It was beautiful to be surrounded by her loved ones & they should not be sad, but happy they had the chance to dwell together. Then in a blaze of epiphany at the same instantaneous moment the old woman passed away & a new life was brought into the light of the world. It was a baby boy, red & raw with the onset of life. A fine babe, whose eyes stared back at his mother full of innocence. All around him grew & rushed the world & his gurgle was laced with a hint of expectancy. I smiled at the babe as the mystic turned to me.
“In this room today you saw a birth & a death – so life begins & life ends, thus is the circle of life. But there is also an inbetween. If you stay with me I hope you shall learn of this. I was born here too, in a hut just like this one. Before too long I was was running around the village, bringing delight to the wise old elders with my youthful affection for everything about me. I had a very inquisitive mind & was always asking what everything was, from the trees & the rocks, to the lizards & the birds. I would then ask why the birds lived in the trees & why the lizards crawled under the rocks. One day my father placed me upon his cart & I left the village for the very first time. We were travelling to a nearby town to buy some food, & we passed by many new places. I saw the rivers & the mountains, & saw other villages where the houses were different from those in my own. At length we came to a town where I was amazed at the many people busying about. My father held my hand tightly as we walked through the market. My eyes lit up at the new fruits father bought, & the shiny new coat he put on my back.”
I watched the mystic as he told his story, seeming both close to me & very far off in another place.
“On the walk back home I asked father many questions. I found out our village was just one of many that surrounded the town, & that town in turn was one of many that surrounded the city, & that city was not even the capital of the country where we lived. Then father told me that the world was made up of many contrees & the universe of many worlds. It was only then that I realized I wasn’t the universe, but only a part, & a very small part indeed! Then father took me to a hill that overlooked the village, where we could see the businees of every villager. We sat beside a gully that by some quirk of nature carried the conversations of the villagers up the hillside. I sat by my father listening attentively to all we heard & how the villages interacted with each other. At every turn he would try & explain the good & the bad in every situation & how best to be true to oneself. Once the sun had set he led me back down to the village & I had my first epiphany as to the nature of the world. I decided at that moment to help the people of the world to understand themselves.”
Then the mystic sunk into silence & we continued on our way.

We arrived at his home a little later, a simple two-storey building of white washed stone stood within a luscious jungle of tall toddies. He was greeted by a young woman, fresh as unstirred snow.
“Gita, you shall make a bed for our guest, he shall be staying with us.”
The woman went away & the mystic led me onto the roof of his home.
“Tonight the moon is completely dark, as it will be again in a month’s time. Between now & the morrow I hope you will become wise, illumed by the light of the moon & the minds of your fellow guests.”
“Thank you for this opportunity,” I humbly said.
“You are very welcome, traveller, now if you don’t mind, I must meditate. You will be looked after. But while I am gone, you must search for the moon.”
After he left with a gracious bow I began to scan the entire span of the starry skies, until I found the dark outline of the dark side of the moon, nestled between the plough & the bear. As I gazed upon that black sphere I found myself urging on it’s silvery light.
“Patience,” said the sage, who had silently re-appeared on the roof with Gita, “The light shall come!”
“Tis a vast universe,” I said, “so many stars.”
“Yes, so many stars… & so many worlds. In the far distant corners of reality there exists a planet,” said the sage, “This world, our world, is called Earth & is peopled by the human beings. Every action on that planet is governed by a mysterious, invisible force called ‘Divinity,’ existing everywhere at once & gives life, form & substance to all things in its sway.”
I pondered what he had said in silence.
“Would you care to sleep on the roof, Gita has brought the necessary bedding… & the night is warm.”
“I would love to!”
“Very well, sleep well,” & again he left. Gita made me a pleasant bed, bowed & left, & soon I was led upon a soft canvas, staring at the stars & making pictures of them, until I fell into a sound sleep.

I slept soundly that night & my dreams were full of joy. The next day dawned brightly & I awoke with a strange & enormous sense of well-being. The sounds of the jungle floated in & out of my consciousness as I made my way downstairs. In the main room there were several tables being set for a meal, the smells of cooking drifting into the room. I took a seat & watched the mysic attend to the arrangements for the feast. Eventually the sun began to fade & it was just as dusk was falling when the first guest arrived. She was a dancer, dressed in ermine silk, followed closely by a monk, then by a prophet, a general & a philospher. One-by-one the seats at the table were filled by people of high thought, each from a different portion of society. A simple meal was served, washed down with the cleanest water from the nearby mountains, in order to invigorate the mind for the expected great innovations of thought.

As the main meal was drawing to a close, the mystic sage quietly approached me.
“Perhaps you could play for us now?” he enquired. His eyes were so soft & welcoming I could hardly refuse, so took out my guitar, tuned it to a crisp harmony & began to sing my songs. As I did so Gita brought in a large cake, with a warm, inviting smell. This was distributed among the guests & as I finished my third & final song, I too eagerly feasted on a delicous slice.
“Welcome,” said the mystic once the last portion of cake had been consumed, “Thro the night I would like to entertain discussions on the universal aspects of society, begginning with the themes of the soul.”
The audience sat silently & respectfully.
“Guests, this is an age where religion & poetry are in a state of decay, the great advances in human thought that came with the enlightenment are long-time passed & the great twentieth century pursuit of psychology is complete. Time itself has moved on from these outbreaks of spontaneous intellectual epiphany & their original wisdom diluted by the conjecture of ages. Then it is our task to disseminate these wide trachts of knowledge & to make them anew, or as a Western poet once said, to reduce all knowledges into harmony.”
A general concensus of agreement murmored around the room.
He went on, “Thoughts & ideas are pure & simple, the nearest thing to god we can get on this Earth, it is only when they are organised into words that they lose their mystery. As you meditate tonight I shall be turning your thoughts to poetry, pouring the sentiment into Kural to capture a little of this divinity for the benefit of mankind. For as one candle burns, they only light a portion of the room. But when many burn together, the room is cast in a blaze of light. My friends, the world is a room, & we are its candles.
“Mystic,” said the general, “What is a kural?”
“I see from thy sword you are well versed in the warring arts, but by your question, not the poetic. A kural is a form of arranging words in simple combination. It consists of seven words divided into two breaths, each forming a line. With the first breath four words are spoken & with the second, three. It is the orator’s purpose to condense as much depth, meaning & subtleties into a kural as possible. A kural could be in the most simple words, or pregnant with complicated scientific terms, but at all times shouls they be perfumed with poetica, for thro the music, rhythm & rhyme of speech the ideas are easily absorbed by the memory. These kural shall contain the best ideas using the best of words in their best order.”
At that moment a scribe entered the room carrying a gold-tinted scroll, a bowl of sparkling ink & a mighty swans quill, which was placed upon the head table where the mystic was sat. Upon examining his writing tools he whispered in the servants ear, who left the room & soon returned with another scroll, ink bowl & quill. To my astonishment they were placed in front of me.
“Traveller,” he called across the room, “Can you make kural?”
“I have never tried, sir!”
“Are you willing?”
“Aye!”
“Then you are to meditate upon what you hear in this room. For all our words are nothing without understanding. Will you make kural?”
“I shall try.”
“Good, then let us begin. Who goes first?”
“Indeed it must be myself,” said the holy man, “For I speak for god & it is with god that everything begins. God is everywhere at once, from the begginning of time to the end. He is without bounds & infinite, & beyond the range of mortal comprehension. All we know is that he is here & this force pulses thro all it has created, uniting we humans with its energy, giving them life. The greatest manifestation of divinity being that of the rain that falls from the skies. This is the vital life juice of creation, without which everything would wither away & only a lifeless desert would remain.”
“Life, said the biologist, life is a precious gift, created by the natural laws of the universe & improved upon by the movement of the aeons. The planet, our planet, is home to millions of different organisms of which we are only a small, yet significant number. Every one of these organisms is bound together intrinsically by the natural laws defined by the entity of creation.”
“Why does our planet teem with such a multitudinous variety of species?” asked the mystic.
“This is evolution, said the biologist, all life began the same, but environmenet & chance allied together to alter the offspring of the original organisms, & upon their offspring in turn, until over billions of years we have reached the state we are in today. Indeed, give another billion years the organisms of our world will be very different again.”
“Then what are we?” asked the sage.
The thinker-philosopher rose from his seat & spoke with a ghostly air, “Like the years are divided by four seasons & the world divided into four elements, each person in this room exists upon four planes. Everyone of us posseses a soul, a heart to feel the passion of the world, a mind to think thoughts & a body in which to live.”
And so they talked til the setting of the sun.

The day growing tired our sage thanked each guest personally & with a bow wished them safe journey & good morrow. Once the guests had departed I was left alone with the mystic.
“Traveller, how did you find today?”
“It was inspirational sir.”
“Excellent, & have you made any kural?”
“A small amount, sir.”
“Well, I shall leave you in tranquility to finish… Gita!” he shouted, his call soon answered by her soft smile, “Get some candles for our guest, & a little wine I think.”
She returned a few moments later with several candles, which she placed around the room & lit. A charaff of wine & a golden goblet were placed before me & with a smile & a bow she left.
“Happy voyaging, said Sage & with a bow he also left, leaving me alone in that room. As my mind could still hear the profound statements spoken thro the night, I became heady with ideas, their words fueling my imagination until I was pregnant with creation & I began to write.

At the end of the night, when the last pearls of wisdom had been written down & the dawn was casting ethereal shadows across the wax-warped candles, the sage return’d. With him was a man I recognised from the gathering. He was a poet & had said many wise things concerning the art.
“So traveller, have you made your kural?”
“I have tried sir!”
“Good, may we read them?”
I was a little tentative as I passed over the scrolls & held my breath as he began to read them.

Rain’s continuance preserves existence
Speaketh celestial ambrosia

Stances, glances, chances, dances
Epitomise youthful romances

As ant-holes collapse embankments
Civilians topple governments

Exquisite fortresses become rubble
Without excellent inmates

Her chrysoberyls perplex me –
Celestial? Peahen? Woman?

Promises, poetry, flowers, flattery
Produce sensuous pleasure-rooms

Hatred, sin, fear, disgrace –
Stain bedswervers imeperishably

Candles of knowledgable beings
Light many millions

Ancyent civilisations indecipherable pages
Futurity’s erudite manna

Splashing thro Parnassian streams
Mankind’s glorious attainment

They read in silence, a silence broken only by the sporadic ‘hmmm,’ laced with an occasional, ‘interesting!’ Outside, commanding the morning sky, there was the thin sliver of a new moon, shining silvery against the cyan canvas. As he finish’d a page he would pass it to the poet, who looked at them with an eually inquisitive eye.
At last they had finished reading thro my meagre lines & I waited tentatively for their reaction. It was a moment of awesome proportion as I felt & saw everything around me.
Looking up from the pages the sage neatly said, “Good, you have the thread.”
“Thank-you, but what shall I do with these, kural?” Taking a step back I admired my host, his handsome beard & endless eyes, his gleaming robes & noble stance & smile, twinkling in the sun.
“I believe I can help,” said the poet. His voice was sweet, like the warbling of birds greeting the sun after a storm, “You are now ready to receive the fourteenth sonnet, that is the placing of seven connecting kural together in one poem. Seven sets of couplets comes to fourteen lines, & that is how many lines are in a sonnet, yes?”
“That is right,” I replied.
“Indeed, there are seven words in a kural,” said the mystic, “Thus making a kural sonnet a grand kural in itself – do you understand?”
As he said those words a moment of epiphany lit up my soul as the fourteen forms flashed thro my mind, & they were arranged like this;

1 Italian
2 English
3 Scottish
4 Lancashire
5 Terza
6 Couplet
7 French
8 Oriental
9 Open
10 Heroic
11 Artisan
12 Modern
13 Acrostic
14 Kural

The Italian is the original form, consisting of an octave, usually rhyming abbaabba, then, following a change in direction from the poet known as the turn, a sestet usually rhyming ccdccd. The English consists of three quatrains, rhyming ababcdcdefef & a final couplet summing up the poem of gg. The Scottish is simialr to the English, but its rhyme is enveloping, going ababbcbccdcdee. The Lancaster is an intricate form, consisiting of two stanzas of seven lines, rhyming aba(c)(b)dd & efe(c)(f)gg, the rhymes in brackets only being half-lines. Terza is based on the form of Dante’s Divinnia Comeddia, four three-lined stanzas rhyming aba bcb cdc ded, & a summary couplet of ee. The French sonnet developed from the Italian by the troubadours of France, is an octet of abababab, where the last two lines are a refrain of the first two. Following the turn, there is a sestet of aabccb, where the last line must echo the first line in a kind of half-refrain. The Couplet is seven connected couplets rhyming aabbccddeeffgg. The Open sonnet may be a simple list, or more often a piece that is almost prose, with each unmeasured & varying line being more of a sentence, a single lyrical breath if you will. Its cousin is the Heroic, the blank verse of sonnetry, being fourteen unrhyming lines of iambic pentameter. The Artisan is the Leonardo Da Vinci of the sonnets, where the emphasis is on visual representation, a picture on the page using words, whose only rule is its depth may be only of the sacred fourteen lines. The Modern is based on the free verse of the twentieth century, the only rule being it must only be fourteen lines long, tho a certain modern aesthetic is desired. The Acrostic is an unusual & delicate form – it’s body may consist of any of the other forms of sonnetry, but the first letter of each line must spell out a word, phrase or personage.

“Do you understand?” repeated the poet.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Then you are ready,” said the mystic.
“Ready for what?” I asked inquisitively.
“The next stages of your quest,” said the poet, “I undertook it myself many years ago.” to my astonishment he opened a shirt & reveled a wee silver rose hung round his neck on a chain. “I am a barer of the rose & a master of the sonnet. Many moons ago I plucked my own flower & she led me on a literary quest. I see, tho you have not realised, you have also set your feet upon the path. My friend here says you have master’d the fourteen feelings.”
“He says that is the case, but I am not sure. I do not really know what he means.”
“Then let me explain. A feeling is a genera, & thro them all poetic utterance is directed. Let me give you something.” He rustled in his pockets for a few moments, then pulled out a piece of paper, folded several times. “Please take this & keep it safe. I was given it in turn by a poet when I was a young man, just like you. On it are the fourteen feelings.”

He handed me the paper & I opened it up. On its yellow surface, faded with age, I found a block of text which read;

1 POETIC
2 ZEITGEIST
3 PHILOSOPHICAL
4 BIOGRAPHY
5 ODE
6 DIDACTIC
7 DEDICATION
8 LOCATION
9 JOURNEY
10 HISTORY
11 VISTA
12 PASTORAL
13 DRAMATIC
14 AMORETTI

“Those genre,” said the poet, “Are the life-blood of the art & dictate the poem’s subject matter, shape, mood & choice of words. Several of them are descriptive in nature & describe a scene; The Vista is a poetic photograph, where the poet describes a panorama, usually from a high point. The Location describes a particular place from the poet’s point of view, while the Journey is a sequence of locations & vistas connected by travel. The Pastoral is one of the oldest feelings that originated with the shepherds, those keepers of the flocks who sung for the sheer love of their rustic surroundings. It is marked by a simplicity of style, a brevity of tone, a delicacy of feeling & a delight in nature. Of the econmia, the Ode is a poem praising a non-human object or event while a Dedication praises a person or personages, living or dead, usually addressed to by the poet. The History is the retelling of a story from the past, when gorgeous memories of days far distant in the past flower afresh beneath the poet’s touch. The Biography is a history of a person & their deeds, whether the poet or some other figure, either a grand life-story or some small snippet of that life. Poetic poetry concerns all aspects of the art itself, from the poetic schools to individual expression. Philosophical poetry stems from the poet’s mind, & reflects their musings on a certain topic. Amoretti are a poet’s expression of love, either as an attempt to woo the object of desire, or to explain the feelings the object has generated, where the ephemeral essence is collected & crystallized, clad in a lush, lyrical flora & placed in adoration upon the immortal plinth. Zeitgeist is the journalism of poetry, capturing the poet’s life & times. With the Didactic the poem becomes something of an educational lecture. Dramatic poetry brings to life a scene by giving the carachters within it a voice, either purely spoken like a Shakesperian play, or mixed with description & action.”
With that the poet had finished his monologue & I gasped a moment as the full ambit of the poetic art spread through my psyche.
“So now you see,” said the sage, “the sonnets you have been writing all correspond to these fourteen feelings.”
“It appears they do,” I replied.
“Then you have conquer’d feeling & completed the first stage of your quest,” said the poet, “This should have taken you seven years, am I correct?”
After a little mental calculation I acknowledge the truth in his assumption.
“Then you are half way through the life of the rose. Notice my own rose – she is metallic, not soft to the touch as is yours. The reason being is that once plucked a silver rose will only remain fresh for fourteen years, but as most flowers fade with age, she will grow brighter & stronger, until at the end of the fourteenth year she will become true silver.”
“But only if you give yourself up to her power,’ said the sage.
“May I touch it?” I asked the poet.
“Of course,” he replied, & I held out my fingers. Indeed, the rose was now metallic, warmed by the blood coursing thro the poet, who resumed his speech.
“Now, traveller, I see you have already been placing your sonnets in sets of fourteen. Can you tell me why?”
“I wish I could. I do not know really, only that it seem’d right & proper to do this.”
“That is the will of the rose,” saigh’d the mystic woosily, “for she guides your thought thro the more creative moments of thought.”
“He is right, said the poet, “& now you are ready to embark on the second half of your quest – that is the search for the Perfect Sequenza.”
“What are they,” I asked.
“These Sequenza are fourteen connecting sonnets, a sonnet of sonnets if you will. You have already unwittingly written three, I see. To write them you must continue a dedicated spirit, like those of the East who engage in the martial arts. After this come the Sequantos, which is a series of sequanza interconnected by theme & spirit. These higher echelons of sonnetry are marked by discipline, focus of thought & dedication to the craft. Do you possess these mental properties in no small measure?”
“In a small degree. I hope they will be sufficient, for after hearing your words I wish to embark on this quest.”
“To attain the title of master sonneteer you must attain two more levels of proficiency, each marked by the composition of a polished sequenza. The Major Sequanza is a series of sonnets relating to a period in the poets life, usually composed during a tour of a country or county.
“Like my North & South sonnets.”
“Exactly,” said the poet, ‘”you are young & youth is marked by impetuousness & restlessness. This restlessness is the mystical energy which will drive you to the mastery of the sonnet.”
“How?” I asked.
“Your restlessness has brought you here, yes. Well only through travel can the sonnetteer generate enough poesis to fill a Major Sequenza.”
“What is poesis,” I asked.

“Poesis is the true source of poetic inspiration. The world exists in an eternal state of flux, constantly generating this electric charge that drives poetry. As clouds diffuse sunlight over the world, so does a poet spread poesis through a poem… a little in each line. Poesis blankets poetic sites & scenes, such as bluebell woods & wide open plains in the early morning mist. It can be gained from society, that interaction of people, such as deep friendships & intimacies, company & conversation. Poesis bubbles forth from the fermentingemotions; Passion, Grief, Lust, Dejection, Love, Anger & Joy can all move a poet to write. Immersion in the arts, such as ballet, music & theatre leaves a lingering hint of poesis in the poet’s soul. From a more intense course of study… history, philosophy, religion, politics, etc… comes a wealth of ideas, each one succulent with the images & feelings that mark poesis. Of these, the richest source are the old poems themselves, still containing a portion of that poesis once channelled by the poet of origin. One of the most important, & perhaps essential, sources of poesis available stems from solitude. These moments of tranquil communion tap the poesis latent in their psychic store rooms as the poet converses with their soul & art, whereby through deep thoughtful musing they gains fresh insight & projects. With all this poesis swimming about the psyche the poets have always been treated as ‘mad’ & this may be true – but it is a finer sort of madness.”
“A finer sort of madness,” I repeated his words, which tho whsiper’d, seem’d to echo for an age.

The poet continued; “before attempting the higher levels, I suggest you record your voyages here in India; the emotions invoked, scenery, the history, the very essence of my country, in the same way you poeticized your own. The sonnets may be of any form or feeling, even of an experimental nature, but the essence of this sequenza is exploration. In it you will be learning how to turn your experiences into sonnets, so when you reach the next stages of the art, when your thought will be focused upon increasing discipline, you may summon the poesis of your experiences at will. Then you will be ready to attempt the Prime Sequenza. In this you must write in each of the fourteen forms, to show you have conquer’d form. Then comes the Perfect Sequenza. There are an incredible & practically inexhaustable number of variations of this sequenza, the true expression of a master-sonneteer. Only by writing one will the rose be satisfied & she will commence her transformation into priceless silver. On completing this apprenticeship, as the acolyte will one day become a wise old sensei able to defend himself from attack, so shall the master sonneteer be able to produce exquisite sequanzas & sequantos when they themselves are attack’d – not by an enemy but by the desire to compose poetry!”
“& you shall also be able to speak the Language of the Flowers,” whispered the mystic.
“The Language of Flowers?” I asked.
“Yes, as the language of birds is discovered upon drinking dragonsblood, the language of flowers is discovered upon plucking a silver rose. Look deep in your heart when you imagine them, & speak of the emotion they unveil. To we humans it is mostly a lost art, but it has been preserved among many species of creatures upon the earth. For although like we humans animals speak in different tongues, they have always been able to communicate through flowers.”
“But where do I begin,” I asked nervously, “Where shall I go to complete my apprenticeship? What must I do to learn to speak this mysterious Language. of Flowers”
“I suggest you travel to Italy,” said the mystic, “for that is where they both originated, the sonnet & the rose, for as nature is a constant wheel & all things once commenced will come full circle, then you should return them both to their places of birth.”
“Yes,” said the poet, “The sonnet was born in Sicily, out of the Canzone, those sweet & moving songs the shepherds sang as they tended their flocks on the pastures of that wonderful island. I see you are very are much like them, wandering the earth & singing your songs. I thought one of those you play’d earlier rather to my taste.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
The poet went on, “Even when her powers fade, the rose remains a part of you, including the occasional flight of psychic fancy. You should expect many moments like these when you are treading the bloom d’argent”
“You were telling him of the canzone,” said the mystic, slightly bemused by the poet’s verbal wanderings.
“Ah yes, the ancyent songs of the Sicilian shepherds. Over the course of many centuries these songs evolved into a fourteen-lined piece, with a turn, or volta – to a modern mind this would be where the chorus begins after the verse of a song.”
“Like the turn in an italian sonnet,” I enquired.
“Precisely, for indeed it was from the spirit of these canzone that the first sonnets found expression at the Magnia Curia, the court of the Sicilian King eight hundred years ago. Shortly afterwards it was brought to an early perfection by Dante & the school of Tuscan poets blessed with their “Sweet New Style.”
“I have read of this,” I said.
“Good. The Italian sonnet is the first of the fourteen forms, & indeed there are as many variants of this particular form as all the others put together. It is only natural you should travel to that country, where nature, weather, culture, history, architecture & society combine to such a pleasant degree that she has no comparison on earth. I reccommend that you first travel to Tuscany along the lush, historic valley of the Arno, & there master the fourteen forms.”
“That is where he found the rose,” commented the sage.
“Perfect,” said the poet, “On completion you will be ready to attain the final level. Simply journey to Sicily & bring your sonnets home. From that point on the rose shall lead the way.”
“Thank you my poet, & thanks to you o mystic sage. The time in your immaculate house has enriched me like the mountains of Parnassus.”
A silence passed between us & the wind made noises I had never heard before. They sounded like the voice of a familar song, summoning me to its native land. From the warmth of the melody & strength in the words I knew it to be that of the Tuscan sun & the song of the Arno.
“Then I am for Italy,” I told them, “The music of the sea-breeze bids me there return.”
“Then Saraswathi go with you,” chaunted Thiruvalluvar , & bowing my head I left his house & set both foot for Chennai.

L’Amfiparnasso


We will either find a way or make one
Hannibal


GENESIS

……. & then there was light

Out of nothing comes substance
A universe is born out of something unknown

A galaxy of galaxies & more matter beyond

Boundless,

Never-ending,

Could you possibly imagine the physical map of infinity?
When aeons live & die in the blink of an eye

& somewhere in a peripheral arm
Of an insignificant spiral galaxy
Thro’ a great cloud of interstellar gas & dust

Cocooning a cluster of effervescent spheres

A new star is born, like a trillion before,

So what makes this one special?


INITIATA

This is a poem for the Facebook Age,
Catching its Zeitgeist Butterfly in nets,
Ultimate ‘selfie’ swept across the page,
A blog gone viral… want to read..? then lets!

For Homer it was proud Achilles’ wrath,
For Virgil it was Aeneas exil’d,
These lead brave Dante down th’infernal path,
While Milton Gods & Mortals reconcil’d.

For Wordsworth it was Poesy’s growth within,
For Byron how the Poets moved thro’ men,
Sithen, no proper epic ‘as there bin,
Until the day I pluck’d & preen’d my pen;

Encourag’d by that manna-blasted gang
I cast myself among & strongly sang…


BENEVENUTO

…I am the Silver Rose & in these words confide;
Tis better to have lived than to have died,
& in these lives of highlights that we lead,
Preserve them in plush pots where poets store their mead.

These are occasions twyx two kindred minds,
Whose love of poesia absolute
Brings those to raptures that in numbers finds
A marching drummer & a lilting lute.

To thee I leave my sonnetries in trust,
Dear reader, as in these I am alive,
Tho’ most of them may join me in the dust,
I hope, perhaps, a handful will survive,

For tho’ my soul in this no longer grows,
While we share this still lives the Silver Rose.


WELCOMING

There is a setting of the Summer sun
& in that setting Summer’s glory gone,
Progressing slowly through my younger years
A fresh Pendragon Poetry appears,
A project on whose ridge I’ll stake my name,
My future reputation, & my fame,
Clear words conforming in authentic song,
Some metaphysic symphony among
The epic sagas of the largest kind,
When poetry shall eternize the mind;
Forms terse bouquets of ambisonic verse,
All closeted within the airy purse
That is this book, this box of words ye hold,
To gaze on when we’re young, gush praise on when we’re old!


EPIPHANIES

Flush with the sensations of youth’s constant striving,
Pushing back the bound’ries of the corners of my mind,
Cultivating ways of the artistic essences,
Even kinda dabbled in a little wyrd occult,
Absorb’d the esoteric life of Aleister Crowley –
Smack-addl’d mystic of Sumerian lore –
& began to write – all energies within me,
Focused on the page… creation… literature
& my pale breath, O frail spark, chang’d forever!

An intellectual girlfriend at the time saw my glow,
Gave me her edition of the complete WB Yeats,
Acolyte of the Order of the Golden Dawn,
With eagles rising from fermenting imagination,
Led by the light of a true Gaelic bardsman,
I found I was a poet after all!


THE SONNEVERSE

Every stanza is a planet,
Every sonnet is a star,
Fourteen sonnets constellations make,
But brighter skies by far
Are galaxies of constellations,
Fourteen in each one,
Stretching epic metaverses,
& when one’s works are done,
A host of sonnets should ye choose,
Full seven score & fourteen gems,
Most lucious whisp’rings of thy muse
Set in those precious diadems,
Crowning the sonnetteer who sings
To Ceasars & the petty kings.


MILLENNIUM LIFE

At this stage of Mankind’s devolution,
We live in an age of air pollution,
Fat-cats & taxes, taxi fares, faxes,
Serial killers, silky leg waxes,
Condoms, modems, gimmicks, gadgets, gizmos,
Two rubber ducks & comic book heroes,
Football… rock & roll… catwalk… movie stars,
Recession, depression & wonder bras,
Four packs & prozac, pylon countryside,
Anarchist daughter, schoolboy suicide,
Just-add-water, slaughter of Mother Earth,
Demise of religion, pagan rebirth,
Not one inch left of this globe to explore,
The whole world itchin’ for its third World War!


ME

Most joyful let the poet be;
It is through him that all men see

William Ellery Channing

I love the smell of garlic on mi fingers
& The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe,
Can’t stand a night of karaoke singers,
Or the pain after stubbin’ mi big toe.

I’m angry when the chippies charge for ketchup
& Burnley losing to a stupid goal,
I’m noble when defusing a punch-up,
Or savin’ spiders from a water-hole.

It’s silly watchin’ synchronised swimmers
& daft to have a shave & leave a tash,
It’s mellow trimmin’ lawns wi’ mi strimmers
& buzzin’ when mi settee coughs-up cash.

‘Cos when I’m not writin’ mi poetry
The little things in life are what make me!


POETICUS

Mine art asleep, yet she dreams in beauty,
Paints tangible scenes to adorn the page,
Illuminous thoughts to milk a mild age
Of mellowing souls, sing a song freely,
Triumphant notes draped in resplendency,
Rhoot lucid stars cross an opaque stage,
Rare spirits released from a mortal cage,
I have a new song for thee, poetry!

In raptures receiving the sacred states
Of an enlighten’d mind, virtuous heart
& resurgent soul, I’ll follow the fates,
& tis a fine thing to play at an art,
To champion Renaissance, join the brave
Who sought the greatest glory of the grave.


EMBARKATIONS

Time has swung swift to this un-noticed hour,
Here is a shift in her most dearest care,
Now at the dawn of age I am aware
Little of life is truly in our power;
O for a lizard & a wizard tower!
To launch a Pegasus on swooning air
Far from parades of this, the daily wear,
When little lives, in an instant, grow sour.

To give so much, to give & give some more,
To strive in flux, to strive with writhing soul,
To banish from the mind the thoughts that gnaw,
To keep the faith when others may lose theirs
& heed an inner call, however small,
Shall set a person right in life’s affairs.

When, knowing that this life is no rehearsal,
I’ll do my best to make them universal!


EXHORTATIONS

If the world that you live for is noble
& to do yer damn best is yer dream,
You must train through the pain & the rain, son,
Then you might just get in the team.

When its time to alight on the beaches
For your captain, your country & all,
When yer passion turns into yer duty,
& yer name might just hang off a wall.

Aye, c’mon son, you know yer can do it,
Digging deeper than e’er dug before,
With the grace of the Gods in thy favour,
You’ll might just win one, no matter how sore;

Yes, you might be a true bloody hero,
           What the hell are yer waiting for?


ROSY DAWN

Provencal buglers spill through morning sky
With tones of man & all his myriads,
Stood tip-toe on a nobler watch am I,
The period of these epylliads,
Planted within the soil of sonnetry,
Lore-nurtured, glazed in gloried eaglesong,
Has rais’d her stakes, chord-scented poetry
Must play the river card for right or wrong.

Not for prosaic titles do we write,
Nor flitting fame shall guide our appetite,
But poets take a bow toward their souls,
With me, as topics turn to speckl’d scrolls
About my neck they’ll hang a Silver Rose
As in my mind what great adventure grows.


THE SONG OF MAN

We are here
This is our song
This is the Song of Man
Who am I to sing it
Who are you to hear it
Moments of tingling remembrance
From this life to the last

You can hear it in the dog-days of summer
The giggling flutes of children’s voices
Pianos smashing angrily down the stairs

No wonder ancient pagans
Depicted Paradise a place of Angel Song
For their song is our song
Better halt so we can hear it


ANTHEM FOR BLOOMING YOUTH

Son, come let me tell you something
          Of life & her mysteries,
You have to be drunk in a dustbin
          To see the planet as it is.

Listen, let me tell you something,
               For life always comes with a twist,
You have to make time for your women,
              Because our women are why we exist.

& to see the man that you are, son,
             Go wander alone with the fells,
Help sail a fine ship cross the ocean,
             Or sing to your soul in the cells.

What the hell are you waiting for, my son?
             Get up off yer arse & explore!

Canto 1: Down South


Meum est propositum in taberna mori,
ut sint vina proxima morientis ori;
tunc cantabunt letius angelorum chori:
“Sit Deus propitius huic potatori.”

***

It seems to me life is very complicated & we must all get through it the best we can. Virtue is preferable to vice, but we can’t always choose, can we?
Fanny Hill


NOW THAT I AM TWENTY FIVE

Now the landlords shouted, “Sup up!” at some jam night down Camden,
Time has come for me to sum up some cool shit which have done;
I have had mi share o’ ladies, & some of ’em together,
Played football round the counties proudly for mi Lancashire,
I have caught the Venice ferry, composed poesy midst Pompeii,
Trudged through muddy Glastonbury off my nut to see Brown play,
I have master’d Fare Evasion, troubadour’d thro’ all my crimes
(Excepting one ‘boitelle du vin’ they reported in the Times), *
I have watched my team at Wembley, been a champion at chess,
Dodg’d the workplace prison mis’ry, many years now, free from stress,
I have writ a wicked album, formed a company of kings,
Chased romantic ghosts through Belgium… these, & many other things,
For I’m flush with understanding what it means to be alive –
With a spirit so demanding now that I am Twenty-Five!

September 15th, 2000


COMMUTER LOVE

She shivers in vain under the old clock tower;
Drizzle spate, lover late, fizzling date.

“The 17.17 from Dover Priory
Has been diverted via Bat & Ball…”

She morbidly walks into Unwins,
Buys a bottle of cheap red Chianti
To take home to its depressing glass;

Tonight she’ll romance Albert Square
& a fisherman’s pie from Tescos –
Laced with white-hot jalapenos.

The EUREKA knock at the door
Terrence stands there, slick-soaking hair,

Saying, “Sorry, Daphne, I’ve had a total nightmare!”
“Drive next time,
” she says, kissing him prodigously.


LONDON

In London …

… every person, £vri person,
everí person, ever the person, evri person,
Beverly Beeson, £very person, (every person),
everí person, every per$on, iga inimene,
every person, ogni personne, Ava’s prison,
evrí Persian, evil curses, weather is worsening,
heavenly verses, devlish curses? chaque personne,
everí person, e^ery person, Eva’s aspersian,
£very person, <very person, ev{ry per$on,
everí mason, clever wee person, every person,

… is a passing thought!


DAYTRIPPER

I pause in my stroll, roll up a smoke,
Settle these dewstone eyes across the Lea,
A Thai-grass joint, & drawing the last toke,
Its time, I think, to drop that LSD.

On cellophane’s unwrap I take great care
Not to touch the blotting with my fingers,
Deftling the edges teeth tear off my ‘dare,’
Remembering nonsense this bite must bring us;

Spinning, staring into abyssal eyes
Of my fellow Man, together we are
Unity; to see Universal skies
O’er Astral ocean, ‘neath gyring Lodestar!

As the acid dissolves upon my tongue
I smile miles wide, for real this stuff feels strong!


RAILRIDER

I hop on a train
little fuss
few passengers
watch me sit
a black woman
a young punk
old man twiddles his tash
& in a flash
the train sets off
planes wing over London
& as we reach Brixton
my brain
pretends to be elsewhere
dreaming of mysterious fancies


ARTISTRY OF LUST

A girl I gave a line to caught me up
Fancy a smoke… that’s what I call karma
She’s an artist… Poets & painters
Boets & Bainters!’ said King George the First
We catch taxis to Clapham, she cooks up chi
Post-gig glow, smoking skunk in my kitchen
She’s fit-as-fuck in an unkempt kinda way
We chat about life & poetry & music
Then she asks me did I wanna do some art
& strips naked, I guess she meant life drawing
Elegant & energetic she was my kinda lady
I start to sketch her tits… thought what the hell
Am I drawin’ em for & pleasantly suggested
A congress of the Tiger, the Cat or the Deer…


WESTENDERS

Twas a quintessential English evening
All about town & the capital’s core,
On my arm a wonderful flutterling,
Perfectly amenable to the tour.

We met in a wine-bar off Trafalgar,
To delve within a cosy eaterie,
Then took our places at the theatre
For the Mousetrap’s befuddling mystery.

O! The night brimm’d a goblet romantic
& our spirits, yes, they sparkl’d as the stars,
Rosie was a gentle alcoholic,
Floating, flirting, thro’ her favourite bars;

When to the chimes of Big Ben’s booming bells
We jump’d the last train down to Tunbridge Wells


ROSIE’S SCHOOL RUN

OH MY GOD! I’m having a nightmare,
Fuck, look at the fucking time!
“SHUUTTT UUUPPP!!!”
The kids are doin’ my head in
With their school-stuff everywhere,
“Here’s yer shoes, here’s yer socks,
Heres yer fuckin’ sandwich box!”
“MUMMY… don’t swear!”
OH MY GOD! Its ten to nine now,
& my car-keys JUST AREN’T THERE!

Will it rain, will mum call,
Will I end up on the dole
O MY GOD! Its five to nine now
& the traffics hits a WALL!


THE BOYFRIEND’S ALPHABET
 
One should always give one’s woman;
Art, Adoration, Art, Bravery, Bliss
Caress, Conversation, Destiny, Desire,
Equality, Everything, Fidelity, Faith
Gratitude, Goodness, Happiness, Honesty
Illumination, Impeccability, Jewelry, Jaunts,
Kisses, Kindredship, Loyalty, Lust
Money, Magic, Novelty, Nobilty,
Orgasms, Obmutescence, Playfulness, Poetry
Quality, Quiescence, Reassurance, Romance
Security, Sensuality, Tenderness, Trust
Unity, Understanding, Variety, Voice
Wonderment, Wisdom, Xysti, Xanadu
Yearning, Yourself, Zygosis & Zest!


A CURIOUS TOUR OF FRANCE

The triumphant train jump from dreary Calais
Our spacious rooms & balcony above Albert
Took a minute to traverse the grave-peppered land
Endur’d three brutal months of murder once to take,
Playing marbles with little rusting, shrapnel balls
Glorious weather paints the plains of Northern France
The old city of Amiens & golden Boulogne
Ice creams on the beach & laughing at locals…

At last! Our final train jump back to Calais
Pincer attack approaches, but the toilet is locked,
So Rosie crouch’d inluggage space, covered by her coat,
At one point thought we’d blown it, using schoolboy French
Nous & -ons (for we) rather then Je & -e (for I)
Luckily the lady assumed I was your typical Englishman
Sold me a single ticket, & when the coast was clear
We giggled all the way back to Blighty.


THIS IS MY COUNTRY

Good Morning Great Britain
Still great, still Britain
The sun is shining, 10:45 AM
£296.26 pence in my pocket
Time to bet it all on black & hit the road again

If time is a mere scratch & life is nothing
& nothing that occurs is of the slightest importance

From Aberdeen to Birmingham, Arundel & Deal
From Dullis Hill to Rotherham, Bristol & Peel
From Inverness to Liverpool, Leeds & Palmer’s Green
From Lewisham to Padiham & all the pubs between
From Badminton to Twickenham & Barton-in-the-Beans

‘Til my bardic breath expires

This is my Time,
This is my Rhyme,
This is my Country!


IN THE ZONE

When you’re in the zone
Every second turns to poesy
Those tramps sat in the park
Were they discussing Plato?

What is it about life?
She seems to twist & turn
Under shadow & sun
Without a pause, relentless…

There are those who live & those who plain exist
When realizing our natures
It is the lone individual which moves the age
Within the solitude of his page

For, as stones hold the sun’s heat long after it is gone,
My poesis here forever shall remain…


THIS IS A TIME

This is a time in which I hope a star
May fall upon my verse as if a Muse
Did take my soul’s expectant avatar
Punting along an Avon river cruise.

An actor on an upturn’d apple cart,
A singer chaunting in the Cheddar Gorge,
I cling to poesy with an epic heart,
Which every beat a syllable doth forge.

God knows, I’ve seen a hundred thousand things
& kept them in my thought-stream ‘til the day
Imagination’s eagles spread their wings
& pluck them from the pools, like molten clay,

Empattering Exochian balloons,
In terracottan zither-rows of tunes.


50P BOOKSHOP

In the heart of the Maritime City,
On Albert Road, still trades the treasure store
Where first found I those gems of poetry,
Little jewels of literary lore.

As I disturb the silence of that room
Bookseller barely glances from the page,
The musty smell of leather-bound volume
After volume…
…shelf-stack’d, floor-piled…
…the sage
Deems sweeter than perfume of a lover.

I find, buried, a long-forgotten tome,
Off the dust blows in clouds from its cover,
To chance upon a book on sonnet form!

‘Tis such monumental moments as these
Which sets my craft drifting Petrarchan seas.


SOUTHSEA

It’s the last ever gig of the funk-ass Mambo Juice,
Thirty-strong multi-national drumming collective,
When the last deafening bass-line comes to a close
They pull out their ear-plugs & hug like old amigos,
As a black-lipp’d, mosh-pit blonde calls ‘house party’
I’m suddenly off raving with twenty cosmic Goths,
All grooving on pills; so I play a set of classics
Got off with a red-headed vampyre in the bath
But when she went home to get her stash of weed
I got off with her mate – it was a terrible faux pas
Apparently I’d broken some sacred code or something,
& my tunes were actually “fuckin shite man!
What do you mean you don’t like Betty Boo!
I demanded as they toss’d me out to morning!


TRAINING IN THE ART OF FARE EVASION: The Fader Code

1 Remain alert
2 Always keep your cool
3 Trust your instincts
4 Never show your money
5 Know your stations
6 Another five minutes won’t hurt in the loo
7 Know your enemy
8 Know your postcodes
9 The train’s going there anyway
10 When in doubt, clout
11 Trains always comes when ya skinnin’ up
12 It is every Fader’s duty to baffle & confuse
13 Always remember your free cup of tea
14 No need to rush unless you’re being chas’d


CAMBRIA

I’d enter’d Wales along its southern shore,
Pass’d many breezy towns of prime bereft;
Like Newport, Port Talbert, Haverfordwest,
Then, as I saw Saint David’s ancient spires,
The Irish Ocean met me with a smile,
Whose coast curl’d north; ghostly Aberystwyth,
Aberdovey’s dream, Harlech’s stoic stones,
Dolgellau’s mellow stream, fair Machynlleth,
Portmerions bejewell’d masonry,
Delayed my days, for this is wondrous Wales,
A David to the Saxon Goliath,
But prouder than each English heart I know,
Where, as I stood upon Glendower’s keep,
Cymru’s grey passes bash’d the flashing skies!


OVER GWYNEDD

I tackl’d Snowdon from the low Rhyd Ddu,
Infinite furlongs from her summit view;
The little cluster that is Liverpool
& mountain masses rustic minds enjewel,
The twinkle of the distant River Dee,
The rising lion of Aran Fawwdwy,
The quaint domain of old Dolgellau grey,
The epic sweep which keep Cardigan Bay,
Dinas Emrys & her sleeping dragon,
The castles; Flint, Harlech & Caernarvon,
The isle adjacent to th’adjacent isle
& yonder, Wicklow’s shadowy defile –
The British Isles have wrapt me all around,
Tho’ in the heavens I still touch her ground.


BURNLEY BOUND

Poised almost home we hiked up Kinder Scout
In early April when the branches bare,
Or glittering with leaves just starting out
Upon their quest to fumigate the air;
Away, below all mysterious moors,
Manchester rises from a distant plain,
With all its red brick misery & laws,
Its vehicles, its vapours, & its vain,
Whose city craziness I here dismiss,
For Burnley’s beddiness a day awaits,
Where first my spirit felt its mother’s kiss
Entangled in the fibres of the fates;
But now… a moment settled on a stone
A breath of wind, the heather… & alone!


DEERPLAY MOOR

Foxglove & thistle empurpling the trail
That modern man in motion wide discards,
It was time to return to Lancashire
Across the heights that shadow Calderdale,
& I, their poetical passenger,
Orpheus pressing hard against my sail,
& yes! It seem’d his song had form’d a gale,
Why else allude to mythic Thracian bards!

Across the fields I find the Burnley way,
Lit by those little yellow birds & bees
That lead me onto Thievely Pike, among
Such scenes of rugged beauty greening grey,
Broad Pennines sweeping distance by degrees
& fading far as bards conclude their song.


Canto 2: Sally Cinnamon

Aliquando facio versus mille cito
et tunc nulli cederem versuum perito,
sed post tempus modicum cerebro sopito
versus a me fugiunt carminis oblito


BURNLEY

You must know Burnley to see it’s beauty,
Twixt Hambledon & Pendle where she lies,
Thou fertile region of the North contree,
Of Bingo halls & market stalls & pies,
Of cobblestones & Bovis Homes & lanes,
Of working men & the working men’s pride
Of balmy days & snowy greys & rains
& blatantly the world’s best football side.

You must know Burnley to see it’s beauty,
The arches & the chimneys & Turf Moor,
The stately halls of Gawthorpe & Towneley,
The station & the bus-stop & mi door –
You can keep yer New Yorks, Delhis & Rome
At the end of the day there’s no place like home!


MI’ DAD

Yes, I’m really glad yer mi dad, Dad,
Yer the best that a young lad could have, Dad,
Far better than the king o’ Baghdad,
Yer mi dad, Dad!

Aye, I’m really glad I’m yer lad, Dad
Cos I get to crash in yer pad, Dad
& chat to yer when I’m all sad, Dad
Yer mi dad, Dad!

Yer always so bloody well clad, Dad
& make the best eggs that I’ve had, Dad
But yer brews, bloody ‘ell, they’re so bad, Dad
Yer mi dad, Dad!

& better still, yer mi mate, mate
& I love yer, an that’s fuckin’ great!


FIRST KISS

I was a six-year-child when first I felt
My soul entwining with the fairer sex,
Em’rald-eyed neighbor, who, one starry night
Said, “Have you ever kiss’d a lass before?”
“Of course!” 
I yelp’d, but grandmas do not count
& as we kiss’d she giggled at my lips
Closed shut & clamp’d by frigid innocence,
& said, “No, not like that, ya kiss like this!”
& show’d me how my mouth should act a fish.

Soon sprinting home, embarrass’d at the deed,
That never was repeated I believe,
For looking back, I was, in tender days
Contented with the kisses of grandmas
& nee-owwwwing with little Corgi Cars.


BINGO LINGO

…Eyes down fer yer full house!” the camp caller croons,

“Kelly’s Eye, on its own, the number one,
& its thee & me, two & three, twenty three,
Heinz varieties, five & seven, fifty-seven…”

Mary glances nervously at Eileen Pointer’s sheet

& its Sherwood Forest, all the threes, thirty three,
You’ve been & gone at eight & one, eighty one!”

Tension, frustration, tutting & twitching,

A fumph & a duck, five & two, fifty two,
& its those legs, eleven!”

The room fills with wolf-whistles

“Now who didn’t flush the toilet, it’s a dirty loo, thirty two,
Ooo! It’s the top of the shop, blind ninety…

EEE-YAAAAA!” screams Mary Pie, spilling her drink.

Buggar,” puffs Eileen, “I only needed seventeen.”


RIKKI DEE’S TABLE

Dick needs a table
Over the tops at Clitheroe
& its car boot country sale

Prams * jigsaws * suitcases * mothball suits
Settees * lawnmowers * crap coats * comics
& finally, a three pound table

On a wood to coinage ratio the real deal
‘Made in Czechoslovakia’ stamped underneath
Looks a bit like a bench

We bus it home, the smash & grab complete
Walk up to Healy Wood, steep from the station
Chillin’out frequently, perched upon our ‘bench’

Gazin’ on Burnley, & Townley & Pendle
Then finally home to a perfect fit!


AMSTERDAMINNIT

We trawl the long-haul of the motorway
& pick up more pot-heads past Birmingham,
Jelly wobbles on the waves to Calais,
Mojo pukes in the lowlands near the ‘Dam.

We rush to relax in the smoky cafes;
Try Purple Haze & buy Sensemelia,
Each stella & space-cake skanks up the daze
Of a mushroom gilded psychedelia.

We tram through ‘Dam to the sleezy district,
Pluck up Dutch courage for ‘Sucky Fucky,’
Crack-ed whores slink at doors, wink’d to be pick’d-
It’s a shame when you pay to get lucky…

Skunk’d-up, smasha fuck, zombie bus, bongtubes,
Grass stash’d up Nicky’s ass, Richie’s itchy pubes.


CLUBBBINIT

Reyt, where next ?”
“West Bams on at the Orbit…”
“…Nah man, too late…”
“…The Hac’…”
“…Nah, the beers shit…”
“…Sankeys…”“…Nah man, it’s closed down…”
“…Wigan Pier…”
“…Nah, everyone in Wigan is a queer…”

…Lets hit Blackpool, find a shit B & B,
& pick up fit chicks from some Hen Party…”

“…Nah, bin there, worn the crap hat, c’mon team,
Let’s unleash these libidos down at Cream!”

Razzin’ the freeway, babblin ‘bout the Dam,
With Techno Bangin

BAM-BAM-BAAM-BAAM-BLAM

“Mint mix, Funkster,” “Yeah, Angels ninety-six!”
”…Ee-yar Damo” “…Ta Mojo, Oos next”…Nicks!”

We park by Sefton Park,
“Owdo lasses!”
Beauties cruise by,
“Hey cuties, nice asses!”


CREME DE LA CREME

Swagger’d like a one man northern band,
I slip to the front of the hard-smokin’ queue…
…“I’m an extra in River City mate!” slink thro’.

Bass boom, big beats, laser lights, neural surge,
A wigglin’ cutie… satyrian urge
Sails me thro a sea of juicy bootie.

“If I said you had a sexy body would you hold it against me?”

Fate plays a Soul Mate, she turns round, ship runs aground…

Giveaway movement at the corner of her mouth,
We wait for the moment I’ll be forced to fuck it up…

First impressions fly by – if they did we never noticed,

Forced to find each other in a flurrying of love.

No words spoken, we head for a corner,
Soon steamin’ hotter than Swedish sauna.


LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Being virgin to Eros & his sighs
Spectral seconds attend the growing soul
Hearing a lute-string’d, aether-breathing call
I look into her lustful, starry eyes…

….Like songbirds witnessing the world’s first dawn
Or proud parents cooing the babe’s first yawn
Like virgins witness to the breast exposed
Or an exploring of the always closed…

…Like mountain men & archipelagos
Or young sweethearts sniffing a first red rose
Like money men glimpsing a glint of gold
Or distant kin returning to the fold…

…Like Muslims when they first met Mahomet
My soul this moment never must forget.


ON COMING TOGETHER

I’ll never pass another night
As sweet as ours was yesterday,
When all the world was set aright
& Angels play.

Tingling, romancing, dancing tongues,
Went tender twisting, while your eyes
Contentment shone, we heard the songs
The Seraphim devise.

When like the running of a race
We reach’d the rope, there souls unpent;
& stroking trembling thighs, your face
Show’d passion spent!

Aye, lass, we set the world aright
While Angels play’d.


THITHER THE ABOVE

O knightly lights of heaven, star on star,
You never shone so beauteous, we are
The work, perhaps, of some astral being,
Or am I him now I am the all-seeing
Acolyte of the lost art of the skies,
Painting Orion & the Geminis,
Musing upon those long, eternal days
Soar shooting stars, trailblazing my amaze,
Mix’d with the phantom-llumin’d Milky Way
I saw, I swear, the Seraphim at play,
Dancing between the planetary kings;
Lord Jupiter & Saturn’s eerie rings,
Venus is beaming streaming dreams of love
Sweetheart come hither, thither the above.


LOVE’S DAWN

My love, as our love is spreading wider than the morning
Together, with waking day, in the wake of night
Let us settle in silent ecstasy
Observers of cities below                            Watching
From this high advantage                          Developing
On heath, up hill,                                Enveloping moments
As one                                          For like a flight of swallows lift
On ocean winds, above the isles                                      We touch
Soft spirits sail higher                                      Eyes comitting
Pleasure beckons                                        Mercurial kisses
We smile                     As kitten paws a mellow mouse
The lion roars inside these feral souls
& we are born again, the music of the morn
Accompanies these energies love’s mysteries supply


WHEN DESTINIES ENTWINE
 
There are as many fates as living beings
Kinetic watchwardens of the human soul
Karmic particles swerving atomic plains
But sometimes flux is ruptured
Have you ever witnessed destinies colliding
Or better still been privy to the deed
Although we all must one day learn our fate
Very few have secret destinies
& when, by accident or conincidence,
They meet head on in a transient place
It seems as if a Pathe News reporter
Would film the moment onto grainy cinereel
& the rest of us sit rooted to our seats
Pondering on the news & its inevitable effects.


SALLY CINNAMON

you are
poetic clever
sensual-amusing
sweet-sassy-sharing
warmhearted-caring
adorable-decadent
funny-joyloving
inspirational
kittencute
o baby
I love
you
so
!


WOMANHOOD

There was an age of gold before the floods,
When women claim’d a right & proper share;
Let us restore those feminine ideals,
Such a state of existence is at hand!
Rejoice! Emancipation is at hand!
Breaking the patriarchy stage-by-stage
Let womb become God’s garden once again –
The first wave, votes, the second, equal pay,
The third, release from domestic shackles,
The liberation of an underclass,
By men constructed, perpetuated,
Crude demarginalisation of half
Of all humanity, into boxes
Of VHS fling… Femininity!


SKYE

As Kestrels surf the mountain-fringed spaces
Road twists between saturnine gargants,
Romantic mounds of monstrous magma,
Marvelous munroes of aulden minstrel-song,
Lost in the moment, eyes keen to the skies,
Hard traveling unravels, sailing above us
Silver-fire mists of the sylvan alpine rise,
& beyond, entering the stunning scope
Of another planet, another Jupiter,
Sodden expanse of treeless waste,
But beautiful land, stupendous Cuillin hills,
Seats of Titans, where thrusting solar shafts
Induce startling notions of timelessness –
Here there is no time, only milky flowing waterfalls.


 TWO WOLVES

Let us scamper under Munroes
As the rivers thro’ them move,
There all this love for you girl
‘Midst the mountains I shall prove.

Lets us skip along the loch banks
Where the coupling salmons leap,
In the heat of highest summer
Lie two lovers sound asleep.

Let us waken with the moondrift
As she shingles thro’ the glen,
Energizin’ haelan’ songsmiths
For a fireside tale or ten,

Aye, lass, lets wander onwards,
Under Munroes, once again.


WEE SALLY

Wee Sally came to school one day, a bandage on her eye,
What happened?” said her teacher, “Miss, a monster made me cry!”
“Don’t be silly, Sally
!” said the teacher with a smile,
(The Universe grew heavy for that brooding juvenile),
“Monsters do not exist my child,” her teacher brusquely said,
& went on with the Spelling Bee, then History instead.

Wee Sally’s not at school today, her teacher won’t ask why,
For Sally would not say a word, too fearing, & too shy,
She felt a silly Sally saying Monsters do exist,
When condescending laughter all her honesty dismiss’d,
Monsters do not exist my child,” that teacher brusquely said –
Last night her daddy, mad & drunk, had batter’d mummy dead.

For little Sally Cinnamon head-wept she on my knee
“Dont worry babe, just let it out, now I’m your family.”


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF LOVE

We talk’d last night
& after we made love
I read to you the Lao-Tse Tung;
In my voice rose ancyent chimes,
Funell’d thro’ the Jiayuguan Pass
In elegant simplicity –
Lass, after we made love, I cherish’d thee!

Night comes again,
The drift of day deserts us,
The dusk is all that matters now, my love,
The light is dimming, but thine eyes are bright,
As cradl’d in these arms
You smile to me once more,
Love, let us talk again.


WHAT BLEEDS FOR FIVE DAYS & DOES NOT DIE?

She moans about her hormones every second week in four
Goes clattering the cutlery & slamming every door
Like when we yearn’d tranquiltiy, then found a paradise
But she was full of PMT & said, “it’s not THAT nice,”
Yet women are man’s reason, so when swings the pendulum
Put on your safety helmet for the fireworks to come –
She sulks & yells, her belly swells, her paranoia grows,
Now fear the snarling werewolf where you once could smell a rose,
Cos’ women synch up to the moon, thats just the way things are,
So never say “irrational,” or let her drive the car,
& if you feel frustrated in a very vocal war
Letting your lady win will just infuriate her more
But when the fun is over, son, there’s one thing you should

Canto 3: Up North

Brevem vero sermonem facio,
nevos gravet longa narracio,
ne dormitet lector pre tedio
et ‘Tu autem’ dicat in medio


HOME

This land so very different from the map,
Whose shades of green & grey fail to divulge
The beauty of this place I now call home
I now call home, these words unreal to hear,
How many times I sing them to my mind,
If this is so, I must now be prepared
For all eventualities life keeps,
But balanced in my years let fear subside,
My body following its shining soul,
For she has led me safely here thus far,
Where now I feel a Caledonian,
Sent here by love, by love deposited,
Sensing a while yet I have to remain,
For in this place & time three things converge –
An art, an artist & his heart’s ain surge.


NORTHERN SUNSET

As times have swung again to strike the road
My eldritch muses glean a glint of gold
Perhaps a mile away, perhaps abroad,
Shall I be searching still when I am old?

How gorgeous is the red sun as she sits
Upon the haunch of Hoy, the Pentland Firth
As glass tonight, no epic pitch of wits
Twyx oceans girdling all this happy earth

A bannock moon hangs over John O Groats
& Dunnet Head summons us to a path
That leads down from this pinnacle of sorts
Along the sea-bashed coast to wylde Cape Wrath

Where I shall seek out rosaries once more
Tomorrow, yon the dreich Duncansby bore


THIS IS MY EPOCH

I was sat by my tent
Half-dreaming, playing with my hair
Staring at the air
& there, legs crossed
I found Homer
Or rather he found me
Close your eyes, he said, & see…

We surveyed a range of great mountains
As each was en era
Each era had a summit
& there the greatest poems peered out
On fellow eras & local slopes below
& I, striding this boiling lava flow
Thou uncool’d volcano of my times


FINDING FOCUS

We were strolling thro’ Thurso hunting for food
When I had one of those mad moments,
This black dude brushes past me talking Japanese
On his phone, & I’m like what the hell,
That’s incongruousness incarnate, innit?
Then, from behind, this guys’s peddling his bike,
Wobbling about like a right proper nob-head,
& every five seconds his bike went <CLICK>
& I’m like, fer fucks sake, what was I thinkin’ again?

There is no such thing as matters of abject slightness,
The smallest drop of rain can feed a bush,
Bushes feed a shrew, shrews make falconfeast…
…and so on, ’til man begs at the conference of angels,
Squatting under tables for scraps.


DRUID

Stood upright on black rocks
Land & loch all-surrounding;

“I AM THE SILVER ROSE
YOUR SERVANT & YOUR FRIEND
YOU HAVE BIDED ME WELL
THESE YEARS OF POESY PAST
AT ALL TIMES HAVE LOVED YOU DEEPLY
LET US COME TOGETHER HERE
FLESH, EARTH, SKY & OCEAN
HARMONIOUS, ETERNALLY, NOW!”

I finish with a bow
& carry on my circuit
Strong, rested, re-energized
Ready & raring for tomorrow’s early roads.


BEAUTIFUL LIVES

Where are you now with your beautiful lives
& your beautiful wives, & your horses?
Where are you now with your beautiful knives
As you dine on your beautiful courses?
Leap up & reach for the world open road
Where the antlers of stags are still living,
Face up to liberty, free up your load
For the chill of the night unforgiving.
On waking & feeling the splendour of morn
We aspire to the days new adventure,
Our feet are stll soggy, your clothes are more torn,
With a vision of God in each vista.
With beautiful music in curses youve sworn
As you pace off your beautiful blister!


REAFFIRMATIONS

Poetry gives me spirit
Modus operandi, vivandi vis animi

She brings me to places like this
Far from labour’s insipid dullness

I am misunderstood
People think I write for fame, success
This is not true
I am poet, nothing else, nothing more,
Success, to me, is being here

Not winning slams or publishing chap books
But watching this slip of land, pen in hand,
Admiring the curvature of twin beaches
In the same way literary critics admire new slants
On worn-out themes


SIMPLE COMMON SENSE

They say there is only one certainty in life
& that’s death – but, man, that’s bullshit
For life only counts when you leave the downy nest
& face the big, bad world upon yer own –

Where ya win friends & ya lose friends
You gain trust, you use trust, you abuse trust,
Ya make money, ya take money or ya fake money
You laugh & cry & piss & shit & all that shit.

Where are you now as you read these leaping lines
Faces lit up, watching fireworks dance & crackle,
I bet the sky still stretches endlessly above you,
While below a great gravity pins you to the floor

So life is for the living & death is for the dead
Live it while yer living – make love, make war, make bread!


SHANGRI-LA

Eurasia, Eurasia, from tip to toe
Men may wander thee forever in vain
From the sensuous sierras of Spain
To the towers of spangling Tokyo
Men have stumbl’d thro’ Siberian snow
To the jungles where Ganges parts plain
Enough to send a troubadour insane
For Shangri-La a myth most never know.

Yet here lie the shores of Arabia
& the fjords of the Skull-helms of old
Here an angel-throne’d high Himalaya
& a castle of Prince Leopold
For here be defining Eurasia,
Reminding us with weathers manifold.


A VISTA FOR SALLY

If you should ever drive up from the south
To see the northern portions of these isles
If weather clear, see mountain & a sign
Reading,’“Loch Laxford shell fish limited!’
Then round a bend shall eyes feast on a scene
Fairer than all the views of Cumberland
Yes, even those from Keswick’s druid stones
& even if you stood on Anglesey
Gazing upon Glendower’s legend peaks
Or walk’d among the steeps round Rannoch Moor
Peering into Glencoe’s most gorgeous heart
There’s few scenes in Britain aught to compare
With fair Foinhaven & her silver brood.


YESTERDAYS

Do you remember the good old days?” asks Sally,

“The good old days were SHITE!” I reply,

Just four television channels
The pubs shut at eleven
TV over by midnight
ZX spectrum games taking ages to load
& all that poverty & austerity
‘We were happy,’ people said
But we weren’t really,
Just ignorant & oblivious to progress!”

“I meant me & you,” says Sally,
& I think I see a tear in her eye.

“I do,” I say, “I do very much!”
& hugg’d her as a lover would a friend.


MOODY BLUES

The spirit of romance is with us,
A man a woman & a dog,
Listening to sea-girt, violin concertos.

Weather turns unsettl’d on waters
Globs of gallivanting gulls, dancing waves
& this single black eagle…

Senses shatter’d by a drunken Seattleite,
I mean… Sally + PMT + alcohol
Equals hell-sent banshee hell-bent on fury.

Relationship psychobabble pierces nirvana
“We could have stay’d at home to have a row!” say I,
But she keeps on scowling.

I slink to the tent, leave her staring out to sea,
A fisher-widow searching for her long-drown’d love.


MEALL AN FHEADAIIN

Folk musicans from other villages, other regions, pass’d through Coigach frequently. Some came searching for the roots of older songs & airs, some eagerly bringing new ones; all were welcome
Jack Maloney

The feather-flux of life is strange in change
Blown zephyr-lite on random, breezy gusts
Or are they more than sheer coincidence
For on the birthday of the lass I loved
The first of hers I’d miss’d in seven years
My friend & I arrived at Altan Dhu
That treeless heap of heather, sheep & shore
With views to navigate the weary soul
Down wee mad roads to better harbours found
Where, squatting on the spot where last I felt
Communion with my lost, consumptive bride;
I slipp’d a spot of silver perspective
Into my ain life’s ale, with rapid gusts
Some Scotia-foaming sloka I must make!


RABBIE BURNS

He used to sit in a very small room with one or two friends only; but many were the visitors who called in to gaze upon what they called the ‘coffin of the bard’
J Stewart Smith

There is a certain knack to becoming an immortal;
As Orpheus’ heartbeat passes thro’ Pluto’s portal
& Burns arriv’d at Baxter‘s Close, by Lady Stair’s fine house,
Singing of reeking haggises & a wee tim’rous mouse,
When, even on that first mad day, he copp’d a‘gardy-loo,’
Went shit-caked, wand’ring city streets, without a bloody clue,
He knew if he could sing his songs the world wassure to hear,
So, as oor sweet Sordello fell on Johnnie Dowie’sbeer,
With enough space for a fiddle, him just like theArgo’s cox,
He beats enchaunting rhythm thro’ his native tides &rocks,
Eftsoons, at Mrs Carfrae’s door, his destiny wouldstand,
“Your little book of poetry the gossip of the land!”
That night the muse came calling as oor bardie’s pen address’d
Verses to fluff his new edition, both Edina-bless’d.


MENAGERIE: EDINBURGH ZOO

There’s always something new in the zoo
Max Richmond

When Noah’s Ark left two-by-two,
They’d hurry back in if they’d knew
They’d one day end up in a zoo
For all the fucking world to view;
The Wolverine, the Kangaroo,
The Lesser Spiral-Horn’d Kudu,
The Chimpanzees in pirate crew,
The Turacoo of violet hue,
The coarse-quill’d, stiff-claw’d, casque’d Emu,
Flies flocking to the Rhino poo,
The Pygmy Hippo, & what’s new
The Ocellated Turkey too!

I climb the walls, midst human herds,
An Alcatraz of Beasts & Birds!


MESOLITHIC CRAMMOND

The latest research on genes show that nearly all persons of British lineage are descended from these Mesolithic peoples.
Matthew White

Twelve thousand years ago Crammond was swept by a higher sea
Where on the beach our ancestors eked out a winning existence
Living embodiments of the migration of intelligence
“The proof is in the pits of nut-shells!” mutters archaeology
Paleolithic, Neolithic, whatever they may be
Flint tools were used, stone arrowheads flew, so they must have had some sense
More for practical eventualities, not to please futurity

Mankind is older than the dust of lost forgotten cities
& the monkeys & the dogs & the lizards we all once were
There is a wondrous common-ness to which all creation must answer
A pond of ancient memories, you can hear them in the ditties
Sung by blind bards, & in the Spring when deep down we remember
Being those plants gasping for life across thirsty, frozen tundra
Like a baby turning towards the milky breast of his mother!


BRITISH GAS

Hey Damo – Your latest email (I’m guessing your latest sonnets) have crashed my company firewall for reasons of ‘profanity’. Naughty, naughty!!!!
Carol Aitken

A few years ago as I went bumbling all around Europa
I realiz’d my bumbag made me look a bit of a bum-boy
& the books shov’d down mi backside in the sun gave me a chafin’
So I got this guy in Delhi to make me a slick, little man-bag
With enough room for mi books, mi weed, mi passport & mi money
& a little extra space, today I carried a DVD
I’d borrow’d it from Yarrow, where the rainbow shone sweetly
The fabulous Il Postino, where the poet Pablo Neruda
Settl’d upon Salina, I’d almost gone there before Egadi
& promis’d to return it soon, with her office on my circuit
She left her wide-view’d office at the very top of British Gas
To meet me in the car-park, & said “I thought that you would like it!”

Above, that vast leviathan, Xerxes gorging on the grid
Profits from half of Scotland’s insatiable lust for power!


PORT O’ LEITH

We do get folk dancing on the bar, but they don’t get paid for it
Mary Moriarty

Swamp’d in a sea of impedimenta,
Scuzzily creative,
All classes of late-night characters converge
For what can only be call’d an UBER-RAVE,
All watch’d over by the diligent eye
Of the indisputable Queen O’ Leith.

What magic myst’ries in her mistress eyes,
Puzzlingly elated,
Still sumptuous in style, Scotch Lady Ga-Ga,
Like a mixture of the new Leith & the Old,
Better than Bet Lynch & Betty Moss put together
& a lady to be serv’d by;

Pamplona to Napoli, Galway & Colne,
It’s definitely the maddest pub I’ve supp’d in.


ANN STREET

The best thing is the peace and the fact we have these small gardens. We have foxes and birds, but apart from that it’s very silent. It’s a lovely community.
Dilly Emslie

O wealth Karlsefinian,    O pride Carthaginian
That vision of Raeburn,    his mission to make home
Midst fellow high-fliers    with rich-filling coffers
Dona Jimena Diaz,    the lodger De Quincey
A quality street    by Queen Mother acclaim’d;
Exclusive, expensive,    elusive advantages
Two gardens to tend to,    a postcode of gold
But built before parking    & permits & penpushers
The mad, modern nightmare    the New Town now knows!

As bright lunar lamps     light the gates day & nightly
Contented, this classical     address widely crav’d
With wings like a mansion    well over a million
Or more for the glory    of lordlier life
All named after Raeburn’s     amazing young wife


CALTON HILL

A thousand years of history
Are here crystallized
Within the circuit of a single glance
William Winter

I am the Silver Rose,
& with these streets shall fuse,
To etch my gift in rhyme;
For as my starbreeze blows,
This still provokes the muse
To join us, for a time!

She, for a time, shall serve
My lines twyx every wynd,
Thou heart-pulse of the realm,
Swan flight of Scotia’s verve,
By Eldritch dream design’d,
Some hell-witch at the helm,

In dragon’s furnace born,
By faerie fingers worn!

Canto 4: Italy


Cum sit enim proprium viro sapienti
supra petram ponere sedem fundamenti,
stultus ego comparor fluvio labenti
sub eodem tramite numquam permanenti

***

Open my heart and you will see, engraved inside of it, Italy
Robert Browning


ODE TO SCOTLAND

Well I’ve been here for years, but its time to do one
I’ve sank a load of beers & I thank ye for the fun
Spinnin’ thro hootenannies with a bonnie halean howl
Purrin’ with pretty pussies on an m-cat prowl
I’ve driven round Loch Lomond, walk’d five hundred miles yon Tain
Gone roamin’ in the gloamin’ wrapped in midge-proof cellophane
I’ve organis’d four Jock Stocks with a need to make ye dance
& scampered up yer Cuillin rocks as mountain mists advance
I’ve mused thro’ an Ediniad of sonnets Reekie round
The best nights that I’ve ever have with best friends that I’ve found
But something in a poet’s soul must sail his craft abroad
& leave behind the rock n roll, when lightening the load
They’ll furrow forth down foreign streams, forgetting never they
Those places full of god-sent dreams, like Garvald ‘neath the hay.


DEPARTURES

As planets in their stolen orbits sway
Enraptured by the sun’s eternal day
So too must move the motions of the heart
& lovers from each other cleave apart
& so I go, some Rama far from Seeta
Or then again, maybe I’m yet to meet her…

As Autumn’s vegetation makes decay
Down Goldenacre-Warriston’s pathway
I see the sun rise up on Arthur’s Seat
& silhouette the city’s spinal street
This is, I think, a hint of things to come
Like Sufi’s singing Sindhi to a drum

Thus poet-prospects loading up with ore
These feet shift forth to wherefore art what shore?


IN AEREO

Tis a succulent day to be soaring
Over Sussex & her summer-bronz’d fields,
Her towns & cities shaped like knitted shields,
Then… over the Channel’s kitchen flooring.

Old Antwerp passes under in a ring,
With Amsterdam a pleasure to behold,
Huge cumuli glide under glinting gold,
As Europe’s plains bytrundle under wing.

From cloudy masses rank & file emerge
In polka dot procession to the Alps,
Stones tumble upwards ‘til their snowy scalps
Upstrain to touch us with a granite surge,

When… all at once… our spirits flurry free
Above the orange rooves of Italy!


LA SCALA

There is a way to make a poor man rich,
Bedazzle him with beauties, to distill
Life’s quintessential essence, without which
Drouth drains the inkwell, uncouth cracks the quill!
Yes, set him free, some large & open hall,
Where from the soft & guileless rise of strings
Both passing urchins & the wealth-set stall
Rais’d on adagionic angels’ wings;
Then let him listen synasthesean,
Turning to worderie those mimesi,
Which bubble from the orb’d empyrean,
Wall’d-workshop of a makar’s primal eye;
Where listening to some lush-string’d Quartet,
The Mousai bless him with ae fond bousette!


REQUIEM @ CASSINO

My child, how did you come her under the western Gloom, you that are stil alive
Oddyssey Book XI

On the day my mother died I went up to Cassino,
O! Tis a place of death if ever there was one my friend,
For six hard months the Gustav Line murder’d thro’ an empire,
& the Poles who fought for Warsaw in a country far away;
In the day’s fading lights the abbey gleam’d ethereal,
Into a dark cathedral driving on my stumbling steps,
I found two shawl’d believers praying at an altar,
Backs to a tumbling organ by goblins hewn I’m sure),
Kneeling before a painting of a young Mother Mary,
Who posed uncanny likeness to my mother when she young,
Syrupy emotions flooded thro’ me, wailing for an outlet,
& as the ladies left I knelt & pray’d for that sweet darling
Who brought me up into this world, & gladsome I am for it
Writing this sonnet ‘neath the moon, in this still mountain air.


VAGABONDO

Solo, sono stato viaggio,
Dalle complessite senza vita,
Di villagio a villagio,
Panarami di vista a vista –
Oh! sospiri del Viarregio,
Oh! scheletro catta di Calcata,
Solo, sono stato viaggio,
Dalle complessite senza vita.

Stelle quando sono campaggio,
Pensiero sulla passagio,
Oh! isola balerno di Ponza,
Oh! piazza confortolvelmente,
Oh! bellaza di Portovenere,
Oh! Non complicato mezza-vita!

Alone, I went wandering, from complexities without life, from village to village, panoramas from view to view – O! sighs of Viareggio, O! skeletal cats of Calcata, Alone, I went wandering, from complexities without life. Stars when I am camping, thoughts upon the path, O! whale-island of Ponza, O! comfortable city-squares, O! beauty of Portovenere, O! uncomplicated half-life!


SALENTO

I surf’d a bicicletta thro’ Supersano’s north sierra,
Cycling olive groves via lizards, snakes & a sacred peace,
To pause beside two colonies; one Cacti, one red grapes thriving
Beyond their cultivations, wildening in bauble hosts.
It was a holy moment spent, of solitude & scenery,
Of tipsiness on local wine ducking flailing branches,
When an otherworldy wisdom penetrated ancyent senses
Like artefacts of golden guilds drilling deep for fortunes.

I pass a shepherd tending goats, a gatta guarding the strada,
To gust Scoranno’s empty streets into her spacious piazza,
VITTORIO EMANUELE – sipping icy, lemonade soda,
Explaining to curious locals my international heritage
“Sono mescalato – Algerino e Inglese,
Pero, nel mio cuore io senso sono Italiano!”


—————–

MEMOIRS

I was an eight-year-old Burnley boy when I wrote my first lines,
& the next lot would not come until Carlisle College ten years later;
So, full of song, I went to Barnsley, to leave a budding poetaster,
From perusing Byron under pines in the parks of Portsmouth,
To find a Silver Rose one glorious sunset over Portovenere,
Returning a spirit dedicated to the ancyent art of poetry.
Explorations follo’d swiftly, all corners of England’s garden,
Directed by the driving lights of twin-sister’d Calliope & Clio,
Who’d open’d up the sonneverse of grand sequanza galaxies,
Fourteen clusters of sequanzas each made up of fourteen stars,
Every stanza is a planet, every line a musical terraforma –
Twas strange to sense the harmonies between poetry & physics,
Epiphanies paving the way for exhibitions of epic sonnetry,
Before tripping off to Tuscany to crown these youthful years.


GRANNY’S ASHES

As Dante found himself in some dark wood
My soul has been tormented since ye died,
But holding back time’s tears, my weary flood!
I waited for your light to be my guide.

As Virgil took step with the Tuscan bard
Thro’ Hell’s inferno, to the face Divine,
I travel’d far, & tho the way was charr’d,
I climb’d a peak & waited for a sign.

About, the bells of church & cattle sound,
& I’ll pursue the dry bed of a stream;
My sad heart breaks! An ickle trickle found,
Lit by the leafy sunbeam-dappl’d gleam.

These highest headwaters of the Arno,
Scattering her ashes in the flash & flow.


CAMPALDINO

Across the sheer Consuma Pass the Papal Guelfs did steer
To permeate the Poppi plain, the Ghibellines appear,
Noble Swabian lineage with rival war ensigns,
Amplified by Catenaian Alps & spangling Apennines;
The sun had risen muggy on Saint Barnabas’s day,
Where over Verna, Francis of Assisi’s hands did pray,
Dante Alighieri, far beyond his metaphors,
Stood in the first line of the Guelfs, the fearless Feditors,
Facing the dancing enemy, & yes he was afraid
Protected by Apollo many mortal parries made
As now the Pavesari wrap around the fading foe
Who drop their shields & fled the field, splashing thro’ the Arno,
The Guelfs did claim a victory & furthermore the pride
Come Dante,’ said Boccacio, ‘Let us to Florence ride!’


CASALINO

More tranquil than the murmour of a rose,
The piazzas of Pratovecchia,
Bethlehem-twinned, harbour a sweet repose,
Calm cluster shepherds call Casalino –
Here Dante mused upon his fifth canto,
For Paulo & Francesca tears did pour,
Mixing with the streamlings of the Arno,
Flowing to ev’ry Italian shore –
A place to set poesia in store,
Where sacred sisters break the ancyent bread,
There, summoned by the grunting of wild boar
Into a place where feet have seldom tread,
Not life nor history shall help mine art,
Just fragrant music of the valley-heart.

Pui tranquilo del mormorio della rosa, la piazza di Pratovecchia, Betlemme-gemellare, rifugio una villagio dolce, amosso calmo il pastori chiamato Casalino – Ecco Dante meditato il suo cante cinque, Lacrime versate per Paulo & Francesco, Mescolato con il fiumicello giovane del’Arno, Scorando a tutta la riva d’Italia – Un posto per consevara la poesia, Dove les suore sacreto spezzanno il pane antico, La, convoco presso il gruniri dei chingialo selvaggi, Dentro un bosco dove un piede ha calpestato raramente, Non vita ne storia auiteranno la mia arte, Solo musica fragrante del cuore delal valle.


THE ART OF LOVE
(from Ovid)

Children of cupid note down thy name;
Best you believe all women may be won,
Promise her presents to charm her armour,
Wear rose-fashion’d clothes like men of milieu,
Be aware of your hair & trim thy chin,
Say her face is fair, her eyes are like skies,
Blood warm’d by wine fair spirits flame & flow,
Lust multiplies with each draught that we drink,
Choose not for certain if thy day is drunk
For wine gilds women with looks & laughter,
Speak & with speed, for Venus loves the brave,
& females forced e’en to their true desires,
Then comes the kiss & when passion express’d
There leaves but little rusing for the rest…


9 AD

Thro’ the Teutoburger Wald went the arms of Varius
Arminius of the Cherusci made his excuses
& soon a ghoulish baritas surrounds the sons of Mars
Chaunting for Lord Tuisto & Odin amidst the stars
The chiefs fighting for victory, companions for their chief
They set out all for slaughter, no quarter & no relief
A black storm rages all around the javelins & spears
The fallen Goths are carried off to dry the widow tears
Three days of carnage rampant in the dark & marshy wood
The roman gen’ral cuts his throat & gurgles on the blood
Some men cast off their armour & await the lethal blow
Only a lucky few would safely reach the Rhine’s wide flow
The news reaches Augustus, flying thro grieving regions;
“O Quintillius Varius, give me back my legions!”


THE NAZARENE

Gethsemene
Judas rope
Archmagus
Sadly maintain the scandalised Sanhedrim
Leaning their wills upon the Roman whim
The Pilate’s orders murder the son of Him
To Calvary
A Crucifix
Sanguinus
Human sin
Son of god
Devils day
Pious fires
Epiphanies


MEMORIUM TO THE PASSAGE OF TIME

Shelley has somehow made my library
& instantly I muse back to that time,
Far from these heady days in Sicily,
When Tuscany enthubulised my rhyme,

Remembering that perfect Pisan clime
When Kapitano drank thro our brief fling
By Arno side, & as I sang sublime
He pluck’d our lira like a beggar-king,

Time passes sweet siestas, composing
Pretences of dining with Byron’s crew,
Now summer rises from the finest spring
& nine years on those dreams I had seem true,

Wintering in Sicily’s hinterland,
A palace & a pen in either hand.


BELOW SCOPELLO

To become, to belong, bohemian,
So many miles my smitten songsmith sent,
Striving for prospects paradesean
In an immortal moment’s monument –

Time carves us this vista Tyrennean,
Tranquilo corner of a continent,
To become, to belong, bohemian,
So many miles my smitten songsmith sent.

This rocky cove, this tower, this mountain,
Blend in an often prophesied fusion,
Sweet Sicily! Sat silent & content,
Recently have my dreams increasing seen
Visions of places I had never been,
Where I should sit a songsmith & invent.


ERICE – Mattina

Italia d’oro
Paradiso di pensiero esiliato
Regina di poesia

Sicilia sublime
Cuore di oceano antico
Cucina di cultura

Animato Trapani
Smeraldo del Mediterraneo
Delizia di pescatori

Magnifico Egadi;
Farfalla Favignana
Pigro Levanzo

L’onde riflettono il sole
Marettimo splendida estensione

Golden Italy, paradise of exiled thought, queen of poetry
Sublime Sicily, heart of ancient ocean, cauldron of culture
Busy Trapani, emerald of the Mediterranean, Fishermen’s delight
Magnificent Egadi, butterfly Favignana, lazy Levanzo
Waves reflect the sun, Marettimo spread splendid


MARETTIMO – Pommerregio

Scalo la Spalmatore
Sopra – un’altro pianeta,
O quando nostro mondo era giovane?

Signore di Marettimo
Piramide di sassi muscoloso
Mare su tutti lati

Suono spacca il silenzio
Aviogetto Italiano
Curva attraversa le scene

Da Tunisia lontana
Pantelleria nebbiosa
A Sicilia chiara

Questo momento purifica,
Canta per poesia

I climb the Spalmatore, above – another planet, or when our world was young
Lord of Marettimo, Pyramid of brawny stones, sea on every side
Sound spilts the silence, Italian jetplane curves across the scene
From distant Tunisia, cloudy Pantelleria, to clear Sicily
This perfect moment sings for poetry


MARETTIMO -nSera

Discendando con il giorno
Da questa cresta d’edera
Faccio valanghe miniscule

Orrizonte rosa
Mare inghiotte il sole rosso
Stelle di sera scintillio

Stelle cominciano il loro regno
Capre fuggono al mio passaggio
Scorto la barci alle paese

Uomini, donne e bambini
Gettano le loro canne per calamari
Gloria in chili

Nel bar della piazza animato
Ho finito mio giro di un’isola bella

I descend with the day, from this crest of ivy, I make a small avalanche
Pink horizon, sea swallows the red sun, evening star twinkles
Stars commence their reign, goats flee my path, I escort the boats to the village
Men, women & children, cast their rods for calamari, glory in kilos
In the bar of the busy square, I have finished my tour of a beautiful island.

Canto 5: Malta & Greece


Que semel emittitur nescit vox reverti;
scripta sua corrigunt eciam diserti,
versus volunt corrigi denuoque verti,
ne risum segnicies pariat inerti

***

I have considered it better to let the poems appear as they were originally conceived & written rather than risk sacrificing their sincerity to later experience
Salvatore Gauci


MARZEMI SUNRISE

As all the sky grew lighter at the change,
With pastel arms, from rich & vivid heart
Emboldening & merging with god’s art,
The peach of dawn reach’d round the ‘risons’ range,
As sea, milk-white, caressess waves to shore,
Which kissing rock, bow gracefully, takes leave,
Uprising from the lands of make-believe,
This red, all-seeing eye that I adore.

Tho’ you are far away in outer space,
All other visions crumble intodust,
Filling with feelings more than love or lust,
My humble soul enters that special place
Of two spirits conjoind by nature’s hand,
One omnipresent, one a grain of sand.


ENTERING VALETTA

This was no sombre coast of Morocco,
But bastion stone erupting steeply,
Ereside – still lakes of tongues & capes & sails
Could settle all of England’s navies safe,
‘Tis like Carthargo seen by Aeneas’
Thought Coleridge ‘neath bulky battlements,
Where pricklepears, piercing interstices,
Pepper’d Valletta’s palacey enchaunt –
All height & depth, whispers of suicide
Like laudanum dripp’d ; ashore now safely
Sudden violence of crying vendors
Assail’d his senses, as pretty lasses,
Heads tilted under heavy faldettoes,
Vanquish his soul’s languishing on lashes.


OLD MAN RUMINATES ON A STOOL

Where fresh fish rafflers shouted once “see the prize its still alive!”
Old Man ruminates, sat on a stool in the Strada San Guzeppe,
“Before technology picking tomatoes was damn’d hard work,
& still is for the immigrants, while the young bucks of Malta
Go strutting round in well-cut suits chasing senorinas dripping gold
Carrying no longer the only pair of shoes they’ll ever own
To & from Valletta, only worn where walk the Princes…
So many changes have amass’d in time’s short span of passage –
Buildomania, flyovers – ah! the pensions have increas’d somewhat
But what to spend it on?” he remembers saving threppence
& lending it to mother so she could grumble thro’ tombola,
“FATTA!” under the statue by Karena’s white hair blowing,
Checking thro’ the winning numbers, mixing whiskey with ruġġata.


QUARANTINE

Byron, visiting Valletta today,
Would have stay’d at the starr’d Excelsior
Not in the Lazzeretto’s humid spore,
Quarantining quotidian malay,
The smok’d sheets of Childe Harolde on display
Like kippers hung a few foot from the floor
Four tortoises escap’d his portmanteaux
To gallavant in inches tray to tray
Of barely edible vegetables
While chattering teeth, linen soak’d in sweat,
Vesuvian fevers screeching, “YOU LIVE YET!”
Pulp the blood of malarial nobles
Whose viper bite the very veinflow burns
That even a starving mosquito spurns!


DIVINE INTERVENTION

As under the Rotunda black, pastoral flock upsang
“Ave Safja, Ave Dia, Ave Helwa, O Mimlija”
Like an armswidth iron teardrop dripping into carnage
Luftwaffe bomb breaks thro’ the dome, bounces off a wall
To fall upon the marble floor, to roll into holy stillness
Four hundred Mosti held their breaths, but none of them could see
Isaias & Zacharis leap down from famous murals,
As Saint Demetrus did when he heard Zgugina’s prayers,
Defusing mechanisms in the esoteric void
Between subconscious & divinity, only to diffuse
Their Godsent spirits back among those still & sacred images
Enstation’d til the fall of time oer feast & congregation,
Who stir to life, who rush outside singing Alleluja
For the Miracle of Mosta, loved & feted evermore!


THE ANGEL BUTCHER OF SLIEMA

In Sliema, high on Birkirkara Hill,
Carmello Dalli’s local bellies fills
With marinated meat, sausages, steak;
Where, like a Lhaso Apso, half awake
Outside his temple, Payx on bedding lies,
Just look at this contentment in his eyes!
Of one ejected once by icy hearts
Into the streets to dodge the petrol carts,
Who one day was attracted by the scent
Of well-cut meats, etcetera, Fate meant
Him find a home; tho’ Carmello had three
Cats at home already, family
This stray was made, for seven years abed
Outside his angel butchers, & well fed!

THE WHITE LADY

The nearest land for Gozo’s not Mgarr
But Hondoq Bay, hidin’ yon Comino,
& you will find it not so very far
To Qala, as up snaking slopes we’ll go.

Wanting a sacred chapel of their own
A square of prickly pears the locals clear’d,
Each day they pil’d up blocks of coastal stone,
Each dawn they found those blocks had dissapear’d.

One night, waiting to witness this strange crime,
They saw a lady clad in holy white;
Into the air behind her robes did climb
Those blocks who follow’d on in flight all featherlite,

Joining the others where the village ends,
We’ll build our Chapel here as God intends!”


LINES COMPOSED ON THE ROAD TO NADUR

The Maltese don’t pronounce their G’s & Qs
& aitches sometimes too
Stuck to my thoughts like tar as I departed
Qala (there’s no Q remember)
Soon wonderful undersun sceneries diffuse
Blowing life’s cleansing breezes thro’ the mind
Like Wordsworth by Hellyvellyn’s steep, or Tintern,
Rusting oildrum walls, penn’d in hens & donkeys…
Hardly that line of poesy – then Nadur!
But was that poesy? Seems just like a list
Of things, perhaps, but poetry to me !

I mean, just being here is beautiful,
Must be chronicl’d as poets feel the need,
Sketching mists of meteors by leading muses trail’d….


HATS OFF TO EDWARD LEAR

I saw on Gozo one of nature’s shows;
Charge waves wind-heaving, exploding on rocks,
Leaving weeping waterfalls, til re-rose
Wide swirls of foam on pulsing aftershocks.

I sit in silence as in yesteryear
An English painter rais’d his spectacles,
With trusted monocle on scenes did peer,
Studying, slowly, colour’d opticals.

This is his pomskizillious coastline,
Raw beauties took to heart in ‘sixty-five,
For him the canvas &, for me, the line!
Composing moments magical, alive!

Our English arts belong like this abroad,
Gales watching strike Mgarr’s ix-Xihi fjord.


FAREWELL TO MALTA

Before the burdensome bonanza of my life
Heads griffin east to shake pagoda trees,
If I put my hand to the floor of Malta
I can feel the heartbeat of the World!
Farewell to the one little shop in Manikata!
Farewell ye fabulous fescoes of Hal Millieri!
Auf Weidersehen Tunna Micheli, Adio Axiaq Cutajar!
Goodbye you cool Gianpulan groove gardens!
Fare thee well the smell of pine upon Bajda’s lofty ridge!
Saħħa, at last, ye pedestrian priority strips!
Goodbye to the stray gatti of the golden Argotti gardens,
Adieu thou godly facade of the Auberge de Castille!
Au Revoir to the marble-mute saints in the niches of Rabat!
Goodbye Malta! My Goddess! My Gozo! My Muse!


GRECIA

During the long course of my poethood
My song I have prepared for this moment
At last! to Grecia by my Muses sent
& in my heart I knew they always would!

Upon Italic plateauxs I have stood
Hoping to glimpse her shores through mountains bent
Between the mists, that shuffle innocent
From peak to peak, as only phantoms could!

My poet sails into a classic sea,
Some laurel wreath to fix upon a brow,
Where oranges hang every second tree,
Antiquity seems almost here & now

As Greece, in rustic beauty, like a bay,
Before us spreads as breaks the cloudless day.


IONIA

The sun is setting gold on Zacynthus,
The breeze is blowing freedom thro’ my hair
The waves at the beck & call of Phorcys,
Have dragg’d us ever closer to his lair.

O Cephalonia, Byronic isle!
Such promise holds mine animated mind
Beneath thy peaks I’ll spend some happy while,
Sensing, already, sights to stir my kind.

Am I some Telemachos coming home?
Or Eumea drifting in from Elis?
Or Phaecian vessel spurting thro foam,
Where in the hold slumbers Odysseus?

I am these things, & many more beside,
Immortal until poetry has died!


TERCA HELLAS

Where Autumn-tinted peaks rise glorious
I hitch’d a lift, a lorry-load of bales
Whose little houses sing their hearth-side tales
Old stories of this hoary, mountainous
Region, of most hardy handsome hunters
Fed by their ever-fattening females
Where taxidermy, of the arts, prevails
& portraits hang with pride for ancestors!

The Mornou Dam sits like a precious stone
Heart of a highland chain that god-like rings
This world where only poets dare to chance
& each of them, I sense, was once a throne
For spirits older than Olympic kings,
Where Cronos dined & Titans loved to dance.


TO DELPHI

As careful steps & aiming for the post
Must bring us ever closer to our goal,
Thro’ sharp-barb’d thorny burnett hack’d my feet,
Urg’d on by robins perch’d on pungent spurge,
Along an ancyent path of broken stones,
Which Idomenus trod before the truce’
I mountain-goated past four snarling hounds,
Stone-showers scatter, man’s best friend or nay!

The bravest follows at a wise distance,
A fine black bitch, til gladly I arrive
By Delphi’s walls, the troubadour no more,
Strange tortoise, with a home flat on my back,
Ready to rest, & write, & relish life
Upon same rocks where Orpheus once roam’d!


CASTALIAN SPRING

So, this is the heartbeat of poetry,
From holy Parnassus, uprising sheer,
These magi-waters of empyrean,
Pulse down from such a theatre of stone,
Them pouring thro’ the depths of my studies,
Where in a sketch I see gargoyle faces –
Perhaps by Hobhouse in Lord Byron’s ‘Life’ –
Who came up, too, to taste this ancient spring
Upon his very famous ‘Pilgrimage,’
While mine is ended here… I sup the mead,
Faint hint of minerals, revitalised,
I swear to all my Muses I shall be
A poet still, & if they ride with me
To Scotland, I shall build them temples there!


BELOW OLYMPUS

Zeusian eagles hover’d oer the folds
Where I collected firewood, meanwhile
Immersed in poesy’s pristeen reverie
Of lofty pitch & classical alludes
The constitutions of a younger vow
Lay fully realized – Olympus rose
Oer tree-green gorge where chaunt I to the gods
Pulses initial to a final form,
An hour of velvet wonder in my life,
Inspirational, talismanical,
Idyllic launchpad of a lofty muse,
Far from the heavings of society,
I cook wild stew in Castallian mead,
Flavour’d by mountain herbs, & cared for naught.


TO SALLY FROM THESSALY

As every maid Odysseus posess’d
Pinn’d Telemachus, home, hard to their breast,:
I want to wake beside you every day,
Tell you I love you, ask if you’re OK,
Give you a kiss if you’re going to work,
Or hide if you’re menstrual & going bezerk,
For ye are the one thing I crave here the most,
Ycamped on the crest of Aegean coast,
Where under me sea-nymphs whisper your name
& above the stars glitter swith your eyes’ flame –
An eagle glides by me as deft as you do,
All these & this singing reminds me of you,
For you are the music that livens my drumming
Be patient, my love, I am coming…


SITHONIAN BEAUTIES

I found myself in Paradise a few miles shy of Sarti,
I’d headed there solely beacuse it rhymes with ‘Wild Love Party,’
A wee secluded nudist beach with pyres of burnish’d driftwood,
& thought I’d stay as gracious while as Thracian poets should.

Across the soft Singitic Gulf Mount Athos rose redeeming
All souls who gazed upon its shark immortally updreaming,
There Monkish men swam out to heaven seven times a day,
Libating skinsalt to exalted Thetis in the spray.

So I gazed on Aphrodite & I swoon’d before Athena
& then I saw Cassandra – I’ll die happy cos I seen her
The infinite projections of her body sent me blushing
Into a catacoomb of lust, libido wolves enrushing.

Deep in a rockshade’s softening I drank my surfcool wine,
Watching Cassandra frolicking voluptuous, divine!


THE INVENTION OF THE LYRE

I am a Celtic bard, turn’d Druid, on the island where adolescent Orpheus
Follow’d two wise Cabeiroi on long walks over rocks, thro’ woods, to waterfalls,
The first fall shaped like an Egyptian short-bow or Nile canoe flipp’d standingly The second resode in a fabulous canyon, enportion’d into four stunning quarters
“These parts,” said dwarfish Eurymedon, “transfer flowing waters pool-to-pool –
As such, the natural rhythm of Human music distill’d thro’ four sieves must be.”
“Penetrate,” said Alkon, “the everliving sounds of Nature’s ageless realm,
Then transfer them to a wooden shaft, bewebb’d by varying strings of goatwire.”

The tuning came to Taleisin via Hyksos & Herulian savants,
In whose own turn traditional taught me its secrets as I was dreaming
That night I dozed under Cadair Idris, when half-winds in the early morning
Disturb’d my sleep, compelling rais’d arms to offer my guitar to the chorus
Of morning birds; to tweak the pegs – a note here, half a note there, just a smidge
Of a twist on that string… with a soft strumm’d chord I stunn’d the forest to stillness!


VENUS SAMOTHRAKI

Cerebral sunset
Gazing deep on Evening Star
She loves ME tonight!

Venus kisses earth
Samothrakean shoreline
Four in the morning`

Venus beaming bliss
Voluptuous woman light
Reflected in waves

Venus melts away
Within a rainbow sunset
Ripening in pink

“We’ll always have this island…”
She vibrated thro’ the waves

Canto 6: South India


Obmutescant humana somnia;
nil occultum, iam patent omnia;
revelavit fata latentia
non sapiens, sed Sapientia

***

In all your endeavours strive to position yourself in the centre of the whirlpool
Kazuo Inamori


37,000 ft

He who tells or hears this tale shall reach the same place
Bhishma

Across Europa we have both progress’d,
By foot, by boat, by tram, by bus, by train,
But this hour, from a cool & pleasant plane,
Sees me sailing air on a grander quest,
The scenes by cyan skies & soft cloud blest,
How seldom seen & varied the terrain
Of ashen peak, urban sprawl, verdant plain,
Gleaming sea, wastes of sand & wylde forest.

As soon as we abandon Europa,
I could already taste the eastern scent,
The sun was setting west of Syria,
The starry heavens singing its lament,
As somewhere yon the grey Arabia
My pilot was beginning his descent.


MUMBAI

More dreams are realised and extinguished in Bombay
than any other place in India.
Gregory David Roberts

Our plane approaches as the ghostly wraith,
Thro’ nights black regions steadily she falls
Into this lab’rinth of a billion souls,
Vast myriad of language, race & faith.

So, I am come, come to this sultry shore,
First diamond of the crown Victorian,
Earth’s epicenter, an empyrean
Melting pot of empires to explore.

By eastern flair was western thought inspired,
I am recently led to understand,
With me I have fetch’d a mind of England
& all my love for beauty there acquired.

When, swooning ‘neath an infant urchin’s, “Please!”
How many times would I see sights like these?


THE EAR CLEANER

After reaching India I spent some time on
going about the country
Ghandi

Stepping out one golden Goan morning,
Drowsy with the sunken sun’s adorning,
Content was I to be in nature’s hand,
Soul-freshen’d as bare feet sunk into sand,

From out of nowhere stept a wizen’d man,
“Sahib! cleaning your hearing well I can!”
Shows Western praises in his little book,
Black blocks of wax from both my ears he took

I shook the hand that scrubb’d my hearing clear
Said fond farewells & watch’d him disappear
Round red & rugged hill flank’d by the view
Of Konkan coast careering into blue,

When first found I the profits of his fee
I’d never known how sweetly sounds the sea!


KERI BEACH

If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India
Max Mueller

I watch’d the reaching out of Dawn’s arms red,
Both wrapp’d about the beach on which I led,
Saw little twitters skip the zenith crest
Of waves flung shorewards, falling foam abreast;
Ahead, the full moon gave the waves good gold,
Behind, deep-banded amber branding bold,
When starry rays made way for planets three,
They, too, into the blue illume did flee.

As round the moon rose-fingers floating meet,
Morn’s cyan-curtain’d opening complete,
As fishermen & dogs began day’s dance
Still on the sands I lay, a man entranc’d,
For as full moon thro’ blinking cloud distills,
What flaming sun-chink winks out from the hills!


TO ALL THE GIRLS I’VE EVER NAILED

My body remembers without benefit of words, that men who do not welcome girl-babies will not treasure me as I grow to woman – though he call me princess just because the Guru told him to
Chetan Bhagat

To all the girls I’ve ever nailed
There’s only one time I kinda failed
I had just been degirlin’ in Goa
When a few fumbles after getting it together
She’s agate ‘STOP!’ but, y’know, I weren’t that bothered
Trust me, mi mojo promptly recovered
& I found that the girls were all digging mi chat
I mean… a poet from Burnley in a right dapper hat!

So… deep down I know some were better in bed,
But I’ve loved every minute, girls, pathways we tread
All glittering gold thro your slipped off bikinis
To trust’s lamburghinis, up lust’s kundalinis
We surf’d the exotic… frantic… tantric… calm
All aboard mine art’s duties, thy beauties to charm.


THE INCREDIBLE INDIA CODE

We both disliked rude rickshwalas, shepu bhaji in any form, group photographs at weddings, lizards, tea that has gone cold
Sachin Kundalkar

1 Book your tickets in advance
2 Separate your money sources
3 Never trust a tout
4 Keep tabs on yer tabs
5 If they say they’re a masseuse – they’re not
6 Murder all mosquitoes before bed
7 Never trust a fart
8 Anything is possible in India
9 Check your room thoroughly before leaving
10 Picking up stones scares off dogs & monkeys
11 Eat with your non-wiping hand
12 “I was an Indian in another life!”
13 Plenty of change for journeys
14 Ask five different people for directions


SARASWATHI

The idea of Plato that philosophers must be the rulers and directors of society is practiced in India
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Before first footfall in this India
I’d convers’d with a Winchester hippy
Who said, “Son when you reach that rat-rich realm
Beware of nothing but your lack of soul
& choose a god, although the gods choose you.”

So with that wise advice I took the field
Where in a moment of the truth sublime
I found a goddess, or did she find me
Chief escort & courtesan of the Raj
Vedic apolless, lyre & art entwined
With us in all we muse, her temple found
Innocuous in Vijiyanagar

Where she was shining as a silver star,
Singing ‘Jaya Saraswathi Matha…’


GODDESS MINE

In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire
Mark Twain

I fixt mine inner eye upon a star,
In darshan stood disturbing deity,
Lull’d by the tantric strains of her sitar,
This purest drop of goddess flew to me

Upon a swan of hue ambrosial,
Her fertile smile still’d time, her luted look
Consorts my heart – sublimely cordial,
She read from the Pustaka’s sacred book;

Wand’rer, thou art welcom’d to India,
This sari I have sewn know as thy guide,
Where e’er she willows there stay close behind!

She closed the page, sail’d high skies to Brahma,
Performing blissful duties of the bride,
Rare have I seen such beauties in my mind.


FORT COCHIN

Apart he stalked in joyless reverie,
And from his native land resolved to go,
And visit scorching climes beyond the sea
Lord Byron

Come share a second with serenity
Up in this lake of European rooves,
This crescent lamp’d oer th’Arabian sea
Lulls me thither, I hear the sound of hooves…

At once a sacred chime grows on the breeze,
Some teller of a thousand ancyent tayles,
Some from the world’s crop-fellers overseas,
Some cross the Karakoram’s lofty trails,
Some were seekers of immortal glory,
Some content to be husbands, to be wives…

Tho’ the vision all clutter’d & hoary,
With me a single memory survives,
Being extras in the global story
We are stars in the movies of our lives.


KARANCI

Scratch a rock
& a legend springs
Arun Kolatkar

I took a breath or two of night time air,
My heart not knowing why, my legs not where,
The starry skies obscured by gremlin cloud,
I headed for the hilltop temple loud,
Where rattled such a throng of Saivite,
Songs echoing thro ‘Niligrisian night,
Seeming another Tuscany to me,
For India oft felt like Italy,
& all was silver as a Silver Oak,
For searing thro the deep & astral smoke,
I found there was a full moon pulling clear,
These are the moments poets hold so dear,
Thro’ selene scenes setting dream-trails in store,
When ´morrow morns may pass these ways once more.


INDIAN RAILWAYS

Such heaps of despatch boxes, such mounds of record boxes,
Such vast fabrics of pigeon holes, such abandon of red tape
William Howard Russell

I found myself waiting at this train station,
Not for a train, it was just to buy a ticket,
Not even for that day, but eleven in the future,
The next one available from Cochin to Calicut;

& I´m waiting & I’m waiting & I´m waiting nit-pick longer,
& the guy behind the desk´s on his third guy in an hour
& I was fourth, but the seventh guy´s hand starts waving
His reservation form as the third guy was about to finish;

So, I warned fifth, sixth, & seventh they´d be foolish for linecuttin,’
After all, I’d bin in the sun all day like a mad English dog
& my legs felt like lead & I was definitely, definitely, goin’ next…

So, the third guy finishes, & just as I thrust my form thro’ the window
The fella behind the desk decides he needs the fuckin’ toilet…
Then, when he’d finish’d, the scoundrel closes the window fer lunch!


KANYAKAMARI

Everybody knows that the great reversed triangle of land, with its base in the north and its apex in the south, which is called India, embraces fourteen hundred thousand square miles
Jules Verne

I stepp’d onto Vivikenanda’s rock,
There paus’d, of situation took full stock,
Before me India, some vast fan spread,
Behind, lay endless ocean, grey as lead,
Above, & to the side, a statue rose,
Some noble poet in his noblest pose,
As I gaz’d up I swear he wink’d at me

Into my mind th’Orphean frequency
Sang, “Boy, wherever in the world ye be
Remember me!”

“Tis Thiruvalluvar!”

Says saddhu, startl’d by me, who had seen
Or sens’d a dream twyx poets, inbetween
A butterfly thro’ silver sea-spray flew…

…The boat-bell rang, I sprang to join the queue.


NALATIYAR

The Tamil font resembles those optical illusion puzzles that give you a headache if you stare at them long enough
Chetan Bhagat

Her :
O lord of fertile land & everflowing waterfalls
O lord of cool sunshine warming ocean´s running waves
O lord of good country with beautiful ebony mountains
O lord of flowery hills with lush & sparkling waterfalls
O lord of honey-bearing woods in the good country
O lord of long seashore with fine, unfailing salt-pans
O lord of the hills with lovely sandal groves on
O lord of cool lagoons & bays brimming with water
O lord of prosperous vineyards & huge gem-studded caverns

Him :
O beautiful lady with breasts like budding flowers
O lady of beautiful hair with fragrance of musk
O lady of long-eyed spears & bow-like eyebrows

Him & Her
O lord of bewitching victories bring these beauties to me


MEDITATIONS

A single spirit in a multitude
Sri Aurobindo

The world is changing mate
In the face of fact & feat
Colour-obsession regressing day-by-day

Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton – fastest men on the planet
Vishy Anand – chessmaster extraordinairre
& thro’ sheer will, skill & luck
Obama comes to fend off world oblivion

& all as black as crows

Like a Rosa Parks sit-in or a Martin Luther march
Far from the Dravidian stigma of varna
When Brahmins could slap him for caste & colour
A youthful Dalit doctor suddenly stands & declares

‘Milega Muqaddar! One fine day
I shall be the Prime Minister of India!’


BASIC TAMIL

My Tamil is very bad, & the sign painter I work’d with didn’t know any English. We mostly communicated through sign language. But we discussed everything from atheism to the nature of art
Ryan Germick

1 Woner = Wanacum (hello)
2 Render = Nan-dray (thanks)
3 Mooner = Yevolovum (how much)
4 Nar-lee =Rumba Soo-aye (very tasty)
5 An-jer = Time Enna (what time is it)
6 Ah-roo = Poy-too-varen (see you later)
7 Air-lee = Oon Pair Enna (what is your name)
8 Eh-ta = Nar England (I am from England)
9 Umbodoo = Nalla –kay (tomorrow)
10 Pa-too = Ama (yes)
11 Padi-nooner = Ill-ai (no)
12 Panander = Nunbar Nan-dray (grazi raggazi)
13 Padi-mooner = Nalamar (how are you)
14 Padi-nar-lee = po-dum (full/enough)


TSU-NA-MI

Hamlet & village saw the fate-van pass
Homes of a life bent to the soil it ploughs
For sustenance of its short & passing days
Sri Aurobindo

Remember the host of the ghostly battalion
Imagine them drown’d in a growling sea
Beach-huts for driftwood, corpses for carrion
O sing a sad song for the TSU-NA-MI

Remember them fleeing the huge walls of water
That snapped them & tossed them & made bloody piles
The aftermath pale, she search’d for her daughter
A sad scene repeated some three thousand miles

Remember the mood in the days after Christmas
When so many strangers shall shun the new year
A new, doleful sound when the river grows restless
As so many tears crystallize a new fear

From Asia to Africa surged the wild sea
O sing a sad song for the TSU-NA-MI


DEPARTING FOR ANDAMAN

Everyone has his own idea of India
JM Haynes

Gazing across exotic ocean stream
Shamrock musing drifts to distant Burnley,
Where for as long as breathing there shall be
My family, my friends, my football team –

So far away, for following my dream
I am a stranger in a strange contree,
Though slowly hook’d upon its cup of tea,
Darjeeling serv’d up with a Devon cream.

The sun has fallen & the ship has sail’d,
The last lamps of the mainland shrink & fade,
A momentary notion has prevail’d,
As Vagu & Varuna soft notes play’d,

Next time by solid ground my feet regaled
Into youth’s fleeting heart I shall have stray’d.


CASTAWAY

Like Sterme’s starling, prisoners there may cry, “I can’t get out,’ forever. But there is no food on these savage-haunted isles, & I think I remember the water is scarce
William Howard Russell

Down southern Andaman lies Jolly Bouy,
Of rainbow coral, full of snorkling joy,
I spent an hour lagooning in a laze,
& fell astoned, then woke, to my amaze
The boat had left me, deserted, alone,
No rizlas, samosas, water, nor phone!

A mile or so across the sharky foam,
A trail of smoke show’d someone was at home,
I built a brushweed raft, but that soon sank,
So off I swam, my goddess I should thank
For showing me this was a wild riptide,
Young muscles haul’d me back, I’d nearly died!

Then, waving to distant boats, at sunset,
I’d be the strangest fish they’ve ever net.


AVATARAS

Just as Ahalya was changed back to the human form by a touch of the dust of Sr Rama’s feet, the elephant too is probably trying to find the sacred dust which will give it salvation
Rahim

At the back of the ship, at the height of the trip,
Drawn by the harmonies of Lord Vishnu’s call,
Navel-rooted lotus soft floats over waters
Absorbing the beauteous Bay of Bengal,
Transcending to milk, pearly seaway of silk,
Thou lavender cushion of infinite white,
Surrounding the foetal spirit centripetal
Sucking upon toenails painted starry bright.

Rider, thou art return’d to India,
Saraswathi, I see, has smil’d on you,
Thy mortal aura bless’d in her prayer,
Thine energies hued in a rainstorm blue,
Come drape thyself in the Himalaya,
For there, thy Rose of Sylver shall renew.”


TRIVIKRAMA

Fear not tomorrow, the Almighty is already there
Swami Sukhabodhananda

I sup sweet Soma-juice Vishnu to praise
O steed-bourne lord who stands on lofty hills
Let us witness these three Earth-measur’d steps
Three widely-striding paces thro the spheres
& laud him like some wild, steep-scouring beast
For midst those steps all creatures must abide.

Give vigour unto Vishnu, many-hymn’d,
Who sets himself apart & carves three worlds
Three sweet & imperishable places
& holds aloft, alone, all elements
His mansion to attain midst happy gods
Let us up to his highest footstep strive.

Where down on humblest oxen in the home
His bull-light showers joyous benefits!

Canto 7: North India

 


Tuus in perpetuum servus et poeta
ibo, si preceperis, eciam trans freta
et quodcumque iusseris scribam mente leta,
sed angusti temporis me coartat meta

***

Though smile and sigh alike are vain,
When severed hearts repine
My spirit flies o’er Mount and Main
And mourns in search of thine

Lord Byron


KADLIPALI

The old & the young alike have turned couch potatoes – glued to the idiot box – overnight
Riyan Ramanath

There is a village in the world not yet connected to the grid
Where life is led at the pace of the plodding Water Buffalo
& puppies freely play & all the children collect wild berries
& paddy dries in the searing sun, peck’d at by Sonepur’s chickens,
Where dogs spend all day dozing & the pigs get into everything

The cute shack of a shop tends to its community’s needs, sonehow
From herbs for the turakarree to the village alcoholic
There’s eggs & rice, there’s flour & spice, there’s onions & plastic toys
& boys divide their leisure between the volleyball & cricket
& a wee minority possess power bars on their phones

Where the old men chatter drinking chi & smoking perfumed beedies
By squatting women sporting nose-bling, arms full of glimm’ring bracelets

Discussing another happy bride’s matrimonial TV
That gathers dust, unwatch’d – you can hear it in the serenity


THE TURNING OF ASHOKA

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas eight years after his coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died…Now Beloved-of-the-Gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas.
Asoka

The year is 261 BC/ Following the bloody battle of Kalinga at Dhauli,
King Asokha is riding beside the River Nadi

Ashoka
O blessed day! What glory gain’d, the battle still pounds my senses
& in mine ears still echoes the cries of battle & death-yells loud
Those leonine roars, those clam’rous shouts, the din of drums & cymbals
& what sights – great elephants renting each other with bloody tusks
& great chariots exploding in shorn limbs & wooden splinters
But what is this? a worn woman weeps by the river running crimson
My goodly lady why shed thy tears on this auspicious of days
When I am flush with the victory & feeling very generous
Whatever on this Earth ye need my attendants shall see to

Woman
I hear you, Chakravartin, in thine armour as white as clouds
& yet, ye are a hypocrite for thy palms bestain’d with blood
& yes… there is one thing I crave upon this Earth above all others
To feel my husband’s loving warmth, but his body as cold as snows,
Some broken corpse – if ye lack power to make men, sire, why kill them?


CONVERSATIONAL ORIYA

Kind words can be short & easy to speak
But their echoes are endless
Mother Teresa

Night fell on the many, many tranquilities of Chandipur
As I embark’d a stroll, astride its epic, crab-fluttering beaches
I heard a distant disco boom as if I near’d new Glastonbury
So thro’ the trees I darted into the dark village of Mizapur
Quite power-cut mysterious, & came upon a cavalcade
Of young endancing Indians, surrounded by prancing fireflies
A perfect place to practice phrases I had pick’d up on the road;
Tomorrow nar kono – they ask’d my name – mor Damo – I replied
Sundoro millano – I said – Apono komiti achanti
Mor bholochi – he answer’d & then offer’d me some turkurry
“Bhollo swado,” my compliments (for the sauce was very tasty)
I ask’d them – ke ta tonka – but they did not want one rupee
Ho donyobad – I thank’d him & then off like a prajapati
I moved on, musing to myself – mu Orissa Kuhalapay


KATIHAR

Precious is a little place on this earth
Precious is the life that has least worth
Tagore

There is a certain sadness in this land,
The handicapp’d are heap’d upon my heart,
The twisted feet of those too low to stand,
& me, all in their midst, yet set apart.

I wait all night to catch the midnight train
So many shudras spread about the floor,
A spell of blessed respite to obtain,
From drudgeries of being born so poor.

As grunting swine from meal-to-meal subsists,
Therein lies the archaic chaff of wheat
On which this young democracy insist,
“Caste is caste & never the twain shall meet!”

Here, even dreams, which all should equal share,
Combusted by some tannoy’s constant blare.


WHILE PLAY’D THE CANNONADE

Whether it be the heat or the curry, or the state of one’s liver, it seems that the disposition of Englishmen alters in India, & they become very argumentative & theoretical
William Howard Russell

General – My how hot a day this is

Reverend – I cannot agree with you sir
There was a lovely breeze this morning
The hour was three I think
& if you ever had visited Stuffcote
You wouldn’t dream of calling this hot

General – Stuffcote! Why, I have been there sir
Was there, in fact, for three years sir
It is one of the coolest stations in India

Reverend – Poppycock – in august – what nonsense

General – Yes, sir, especially & most particularly In August
I have felt positively chilly all thro the month

Reverend – Chilly? In stuffcote? In August…

Servant – More champagne, Sahib?


NANDA DEVI

In the sanctuary of the Blessed Goddess we had found the lasting peace which is the reward of those who seek to know high mountain places
Eric Shipton

Up to the world’s rooftop I slowly rose;
Checking upon the progress of the soul
Appears a mountain prospect a la snows
Of Austria, New Zealand & Nepal.

I left Almora for the Kashyap Hill,
High commune of fairest tranquility,
Fresh dawntint drew me to the lofty chill
Of this monolithic Axis Mundi.

It seems for me the lips of Laksmi smile,
No sweeter place on earth to greet the sun,
Here summon’d by the lyrical lifestyle,
I whisper a gentle dedication;

“Until my feet have circuited the globe
My thought & life with poesy I shall robe.”


C.I.B.S.

There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind
Buddha

Zanskar carves gorges
Mahayana buddhism
Claret-cloak’d young monks

Pupils carve serenely
Large statues of the Buddha
Out in open-air

Choglamsar chai shop
Constellations of sleeping flies
Flecking white-washed walls

‘Leh, Leh, Leh, Leh, Leh’
Taxis fill up seat-by-seat
Nineteen rupee fair

Back in Ladakh’s main bazaar
Tann’d faces, knife-etch’d, smiling


INDIA

Everyone has his own idea of India
JM Haynes

Nation of nations, hot & happy land!
With spicy dishes morsell’d by the hand,
Being a valourous & graceful race,
Thy universal mullet firm in place,
Despite taking three men to stamp a form
& creative corruption Laksmi’s norm,
A fanatacism for the rupee
Cements this secular society
Of power-cuts & cripples & bazaars
Neath a pristine panapoly of stars,
Of swastikas & cricket in the streets,
Bounteous crops & oversugar’d sweets,
Ashrams soothing riot-torn religion
Where always blaze the rays of Asia’s sun.


OVERTAKING LANES

I had a definite sense of somehow being a passenger in an evil vehicle crusing through Paradise
Sam Shepard

Two saddus stood by the side of the road
Staring at a truck that had spill’d it’s load;
By that, an old wreck that just would not start,
Laugh’d at by a man in an ox-drawn cart,
& faster still; first a cycle rickshaw,
A dirt-green tractor from the days of yore,
Auto-rickshaw belching smoggy black smoke,
Mud-red moped missing many-a-spoke,
This lorry’s weird siren psychedelics,
Busses driven by mad alcoholics,
These, by breezy motorcycles bypass’d,
Then… an Ambassador of Rajput caste!

While gangs of robbers lawless highways stalk,
Y’know, it’s a nice day, I think I’ll walk.


POVERTY & WEALTH

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of
Confucius

Two goddesses bicker about beauty,
Content to start a second Trojan war,
Srinava’s wisdom thunders crore on crore,
My Jyesthadevi, my Laksmidevi,
There is a young carpenter of Bundi
Who is so very honest to his core,”
Supreme goddesses stand soon at his door,
“Who is the most beautiful, she or me?”

Most humble cobbler thought a mortal while,
Then says, “Laksmi most lovely on arriving,
Yet Jyestha gorgeous more when she departs;”
This answer made each goddess equal smile,
& he – celestial wrath surviving –
Learns flattery woos e’en immortal hearts.


JAIT SAGAR

The Rajput welcomes his guest with the munawwar piyala, or ‘cup of request,’ in which they drown ancient enmities
Lt.Col. James Tod

If India can make a man a man,
More than the veshyalay of Amsterdam,
If thro the chaos he can make a plan,
Respecting Hinduism & Islam,

If he can give the beggar his rupee
& tip the tout that charges o’er the odds,
If he can read his Rajput history
& choose a god but still bless other gods,

If he can sleep upon the railway run,
Find fresh, clean waterfalls amid the dirt,
If he can wonder how the Raj was won,
Then pause upon the horrors & the hurt,

If he can haggle down & know his daal,
Then does he need to see the Taj Mahal?


CREATION

Since early in my life I’ve been fascinated by India, and I have spent a great deal of time traveling in that country
Bianca Jagger

As thro’ Mumbai I took the rickshaw home,
A great prostrate cow seem’d to be dying,
Guts on the pavement where she was lying,
But no… close by, lay her hour-old daughter.

I watch’d the wee one make her falt’ring first
Steps in the world, like an ambitious teen,
Thro’ her mother’s dung, slippery & green,
Then in the hot noon felt an earthly thirst;

Went looking for something, nuzzling half-blind,
She suckles on her mother’s rough larynx,
Who stands up, motionless as sandy sphinx,
& with a lick acknowledges her kind;

Who creeps now forwards to the golden teat
& clamps down hard as angels swoop the street.


DEPARTING INDIA

I know it’s more five-star now than it was then,
but it’s still a difficult tour
Ritchie Benaud

Many days have pass’d since that piazza
Where first I flirted with the myrtle muse,
Now knoweth I a new peninsula
Whose galaxy of monuments enthuse
The spiritus, where all Earthly aspects
Have form’d a microcosm of the sphere,
A foundation for when I travel next,
Days of endeavour drawing ever near.

I spend a moment musing on the wing,
As oer the leagues of China east we sail’d;
Around the Raj was flung a faerie ring
& all it’s channel’d poesis regaled,
I have succeeded in my soldiering
Where Ghengiz Khan & Alexander fail’d


MADE IT !

At last my gaze is cast oer English skies,
The thrills of one’s homecoming multiply,
Bursting through cloud we claim a poet’s prize;
Big Ben…Tower Bridge… & the London Eye.

I’m back at last, back from my epic tour,
Ten rupees all that furnishes my purse;
Scraggly & tann’d I call upon the door
Of compassion & an NHS nurse.

“It weren’t easy… I gush´d out dysentry,
Wee mozzy bites became massive bags of puss,
Salmonella, concussion, entwisted knee,
Neuropraxia… love, just look at us!”

“It’s lucky you survived”… I smil’d a smile,
“Dying,” said I, “It’s never been my style.”


KARMA SUTRA

The city streets were alive with neon,
I knock’d… Rosie answer’d there delighted,
My favourite more-than-friend down London,
Her stairs were excitedly alighted.

I cook’d up a couple of samosas,
Chappathis, biriyani & paneer,
Making out to the Stars & the Roses
Over charas & charlie & cold beer.

I show’d her a book bought in Madurai,
The Karma Sutra’s esoteric scene,
“So babe, do you wanna give it a try?”
We did & at a later hour serene

My lover sleeping on my naked chest
I felt that special bliss when East meets West.


HUMANOLOGY DAWN

Meandering along the canal tow
To Gannow Tunnel, where the path departs,
Pontificating what the world should know
Of love, of health, of wealth, of war, of arts,
These come to me – confetti fits & starts –
Like stars, & in the fibres of each glow,
I see the unity of human hearts
Imploring us uprising from below.

Aye! Let us fetch a goblet from the vaults
& empty in a quart of ancyent lore
With all life’s learn’d us since – both wise & good –
Devising paths to mend & fend off faults,
A heart-beat’s tumbling happiness, the shore
Of watchfulness against the tainted flood.


MY PENELOPE

Every proper poet needs a princess,
& mine, a lass call’d Sally, I presume,
Who sprinkles perfumed petals of noblesse
Whene’er they deign to dignify a room!

“Come sit with me a while at the window,
Watch flowerbulbs burst from a frozen earth,
& like those pretty colours in the snow
Let kisses flow to launch our love’s rebirth!”

“I miss’d you so, a vacant shade did haunt
Each moment of my motion, & asleep
I dreamt of nothing, vapid, fail’d to vaunt
For anything, my heart a crumpl’d heap

Of sorrows.. Sally, I am sorry so,”
& hugg’d her like a Rose of Jericho.


DENOUMENT

As now I make that tender step in time
Back to my heather’d hearth of happiness,
She stands, the essence of this will to rhyme
Aloof, alone, in all her loveliness.

“My love,” I said, “back then I buck’d so blind,
But now I see you, Sally, soft & pure,
You are the only star that moves my mind,
For heart’s dull sickness are it’s only cure!”

Onto the airy, pinnacle of pride
I stepp’d, there Sally ask’d to be my bride
She with a searing smile bright-answer’d yes
& felt I then England’s Odysseus

When with this won proposal I’ll propose,
To press the petals of my Sylver Rose!

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