The Indiad

THIRTY-SEVEN THOUSAND FEET

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

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?


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KERI BEACH

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!


 

THE EAR CLEANER

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!


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THE INCREDIBLE INDIA CODE

1 Book your tickets in advance
2 Expect the unexpected
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


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FORT COCHIN

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.


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KARANCI

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
Are these the moments poets hold so dear
Thro selene scenes setting dream-trails in store
When ´morrow morns may pass these ways once more.


 

INDIA

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 fanaticism for the rupee
Cements this secular society
Of power-cuts & cripples & bazaars
Beneath a pristine panoply 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.


 

KINDERGARTEN HINDI

1 eak – namaste (hello)
2 do – ya happa hey – (where is the)
3 teen – kitana whoa (how much)
4 char – bo d’achah (very tasty)
5 paanch – kitana baja (what time is it)
6 chay – jana (see you later)
7 saath – apa nam (what is your name)
8 aath – no me england kahun (I am from England)
9 xxx – kaha ja rahay ho (where are you going)
10 dus – teek (yes)
11 giara – nahee – (no)
12 bara – dandabad (grazi raggazi)
13 tehra – ap kesayhen (how are you)
14 chowdah – pulpit (full/enough)


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INDIAN RAILWAYS

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!


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KANYAKAMARI

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

Into my mind th’Orphean frequency
Sang, ‘Boy, wherever in the world ye be
Remember me!’….
‘TisThiruvalluvar!’
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


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BASIC TAMIL

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)


 

THIRUVALLUVAR

As I rested on a fine, empty beach, by the Bay of Bengal,
In a soft second of existence I was alerted to a flutter of birds,
A mile or so along the coast I kenn’d a distant figure approaching,
An old man swathed in white robes, sporting a thick, black beard,
I expected him to pass, but as he came to within a few metres
He veer’d slowly towards me, leaving nor footsteps in the sand,
“What is your profession?” he curtly asked, “I am a sonneteer, sir!”
His magnificent eyes burrowed into the heartlands of my soul,
“By any chance, are you carrying a silver rose?”
Astonish’d, I shew’d him the bloom around my neck…

…After humming an Upanishad he said, “I’ve been expecting you,
As seven words a kural make, seven kural form a sonnet!”
This was for me high epiphany to the hidden depths of sonnetry!


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TRANSLATIONS FROM THIRUKURAL

As ‘A’s announce alphabets
Divinity initiates existence (1;1)

Rain’s continuance preserves existance
Speaketh, then, ambrosia (2:1)

Falsehood conferring faultless fruitfulness
Nature’s truth contains (30:2)

Kingly fame fades forgotten
Without righteous government (56:6)

When soldiers fear bloodshed
Kings cry destitute (77:1)

In miserable poverty’s train
Many more miseries (105:5)

Her jewels perplex me
Celestial? Peahen? Women? (109:1)


Indian Butterfly
Indian butterfly & wylde flowers

NALATIYAR

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


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DEPARTING FOR ANDAMAN

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

Down southern Andaman lies Jolly Bouy,
Thick with bright coral & 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.

When, waving to distant boats, at sunset,
I was the strangest fish they’ve ever net.

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Kalavu Iyal

On

the

KALAVU
IYAL

of the

TAMIL
POETS

of the

SANGAM AGE


Wisdom hath builded her house,
She hath hewn out her seven pillars :
She hath killed her beasts ;
She hath mingled her wine :
She hath also furnished her table ;
She hath sent forth her maidens :
She crieth upon the highest places of the city,
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.
The Book of Proverbs

Strophe

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth:
For thy love is better than wine
The Song of Solomon

Let me recompose the most esteemed treatise
Of our ancient Tamil poets,
Into which is pour’d a thousand worthy love-opines.

Let us sing upon the sacred love-meeting,
The marriage-system of the celestials
Who find copious delights in the melodies of the lyre.

The Lover & his Lady-Love meet in equal status,
Excelling in individual talents,
Enhancing each other’s virtuous qualities.

When the look glimmers reciprocal,
Signs of love-making soon shall take place;
So say the Poets…

As modesty & simplicity in the act of love
Belong to the female nature : her amorousness
Shown only thro’ gestures developed by the Code of Love

In the course of their amorous advancement
Lovers express the greater passions known,
Fate-exclaiming, affirming their bond’s assurances


 

Antistrophe

With our lessons as a pretext we abandoned ourselves entirely to love… My hands strayed oftener to her bosom than to the pages… our desires left no stage of lovemaking untried, & if love could devise something new, we welcomed it
Peter Aberlard

Excepting three days of menses
There will be no day without a love-meeting :
Even during this time the tryst is not forbidden

The act of fixing the meeting-place
Can be night’s argyrodite or the glint of day;
…So say the Poets of the Sangam…

The day-meeting-place will be outside the house,
For even in storms leaf-flowing tree-bowers caress us
The way to which woods must be known by the Lady-Love

Although she may ignore him on arrival,
In the Lady-Love’s eyes there trills no look
Which cannot reveal her emphatic love

Moving closely with one another & the physical touch,
Connecting to love’s enjoyment, wailing upon separation;
This is adoration’s’ ranunculus meeting

When the Lover leaves his Lady-Love:
Bemoaning his departure she will sigh after him,
Being grieved at the loss of her mind’s serenity


 

Epode

If this is Odysseus in truth, then we shall soon know each other better than well by certain private signs between us two, hidden from the rest of the world.
Homer

From the act of love-making springs ardent desire,
Brooding & pining: from pining springs
Suspicion of knowing the love affairs of others

During the period of secret love,
No play or festival the lover will enjoy
Without his lady-love

When the lady-love prattles her dreams of love-excess
To her medicean maid-friend, their once secret love
Becomes the hot gossip-topic, soon, among the public.

When the great secret is revealed to a foster-mother,
She is said to be the mother
…So say the Poets of the Sangam Summer!

Thinking she has not the wisdom to reckon her partner,
The mother & foster-mother may approach the wise-people
To clear millstone doubts hung about the love-choice

The way of marriage is of two kinds:
The marriage after the secret love is known
& the marriage before it is known.

The Raj & the Rose

AVATARAS

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 ‘cross the 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

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!


 

THE TURNING OF ASHOKA

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

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


 

HYBRIDABAD

Give me Saint Andrews with sea-views & putter
Or take me to Ascot to big-shot & flutter
Give me a hot-pot with good bread & butter
Or if not, just give me Calcutta

Give me the morning’s stroll ‘long the Maidan
Give me the games grand Garden of Eden
Give me the Hoogley’s green glide Thamesian
Whenever I yearn for my London

For as she was once the pulse of an Empire
& Edinburgh the mind that built the Raj
Then surely this great city was its soul

Where men would recreate their distant shire
Carving an architectural mirage
From native rocks, where hungry coolies crawl.


 

KATIHAR

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 insists,
‘Caste is caste & never the twain shall meet!’

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


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KANGCHENZONGA

I came on Pemagangtse in the night
A leopard passing slowly in the snow
Awaiting precious pinch of silver light
Announcing phoenix day in foetal glow

I gazed across the Kabrus unaware
That to these climes had Calliope come
Slopes glooming greys, as sunbeams fill the air
They turn the burnish’d burgondy of rum

Savitri’s spell impells the Sun to strength
Red turns to orange, orange burns to gold
& as all shadows shorten in their length
What summit sparkles white, where, very cold,

My muse sits, singing, wisest of the nine
“On Nanda Devi waits my sister’s sign!”


 

GOD

I march on different minds in different ways,
A force beyond all knowledges combined,
But let it now be known to each on Earth
I have a single name & that be God,
Tho’ splintered by the tangl’d knot of tongues,
When, as a man in Orchaa callas me Ram,
In Qadian as Allah am I praised.

Now reconciling all these diff’rences,
To every race a prophet have I sent
& filled them with the milk of mine intent,
A source of common good, a common source
From which this well-font of my message springs,
A clear soul-song for all who wish to hear,
Thro’ U find Heaven & in Heaven, Love!


 

LUCKNOW (1857)

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?


 

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NANDA DEVI

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.”


 

PHONE CALL FROM AGRA

I was staring at the back of this rickshaw driver’s neck
As I dragged my bags thro’ Agra, the Taj now just a speck
Of love dust immemorial, my mind’s eye to recall
Whene’er long life yearns deeply for some sheer uplift of soul;

In that place grew pure poetry, man-made & yet divine,
A funerary megalith whose Mughal marble wine,
Endrenches human spiritus with splendour thro’ its form,
All races & all nations round its majesty must swarm.

As I depart for Gwalior I think of absent touch,
For she was like a queen to me, I loved her love so much,
& haunted by her happy smile I’ve wandered far, alone,
Til mental peace has found me all my fuck-ups to atone.

So I shall get my mobile out & make that magic call –
Her voice was soft & happy – back in Sally’s love I fall.


 

RAI PRAVEEN

Beside the bonnie banks of Betwa’s stream
A beauty dwelt, beholding her a dream,
Whose reputation to great Akbar flew
By regal claws she to his throne-room drew,
But noble are Bundellas & their Queens
& so played out the wondrous of scenes
As with a poem she made devlish dig;
‘Hello King! You are King, not dog, nor pig,
& I am nothing but a plate well-used…’
Lord Akbar gasped, & gazed on her, confused,
While shell-shock’d audience grew hushly sure,
Such grave insult His Highness shan’t endure;
But no! Life’s nobler motions to protect,
He sent her home, alive & with respect.


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OVERTAKING LANES

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

Two goddesses bickered about beauty,
Prepared 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,’
Soon goddesses were standing at his door,
“Who is the most beautiful, she or me?”

Our humble cobbler thought a mortal while,
& 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

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?


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CREATION

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

A decade 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 sea of Araby 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.
HOMECOMING

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.”


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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 mistress asleep on my missile chest,
I felt that fragile bliss when East meets West.


 

SOUL KISS

What is a soulmate but a bud of love
Which flourishes & blossoms every Spring,
Ordain’d to weather, when Fall’s leather glove
Pale petals plucks & flings them in a string.

If these were lesser flowers then the frost
Would crush fair colours flush’d off by the melt,
But beauty’s higher darlings never lost
When destinies by deites are dealt.

Let us adore, once more, the white lily,
Those rows of dark-eyed poppies in the corn,
Let’s climb the long Lammermuirs all hilly,
‘Gan hand-in-hand with clemency reborn,

For when two souls from fluid form do gel,
They’ve rooted truth wherever they do dwell.


 

MY PENELOPE

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 propose,
To press the petals of this Silver Rose!

The Honeymoon

THE PROPOSAL

Underneath this purple blossom,
The day on which we met was the greatest of my life,
Since then the better man I am,
So, too, one of those rare & lucky souls
Who realise the nature of true love.

Our lovemakings are symphonies,
Our conversations art,
Therefore, my only darling,
It would become my immortal honour
If you could consent to be my wife.

We are two white swans, you & I,
‘Gan gliding in the skyways,
Above this mortal lullaby,
‘Til Heaven ends our days.


 

1
“With elixirs of love’s resurrection
Dear Sally, let us live our love anew,
To dally in a clearer direction
Where deer-paths glisten in the crystal dew;
Deliver’d from the Halls of Correction
I sink my fallen destiny in you,
For thee my vassalage shall never err,
For thou art she who brings my life its myrrh.”

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2
Her form is as the morning’s blithesome sun,
Capp’d by a lustrous canopy of beams,
Her face a summer cloud the heat has won,
Round which the sweetness of the starlight gleams,
Her smile the cloud that drifts a little on
& bares the breadth of beauty by the streams,
Where whispers, still, this ceaseless love for she
Who reels my heart from solace, royally.

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3
“Song is existence!” Rilke said, & so
Upon these anvil verses I shall pour
Undertaken life-treks to the Arno
Via the Salish Sea, to hear the roar
Of heaving Pacific; beyond the Po
To Paris, also, perfumed pompadour –
A city fit to finally repose
The astral spindlings of this Silver Rose.

4
Thro’ all the Lothians by night we drive,
Parking at Cammo Hill; sparkling below,
In glittering Newyorkiness, alive,
An airport hums, as with an orange glow
The moon ascends, queen of the starry hive,
Distilling beams of silver, see them flow
Like warm mist over loch-face, as we slept
Dawn’s early glow-worms into spaces crept.

5
By sunrise we were up & soaring west,
When Sally goes off a little psycho,
Grabbing my palms she press’d them to her breast
& moist love-mound, whispering, ‘it’s my go!’
A minute later, rush’d, & half-undress’d,
We made the ‘Mile High Club’ over Sligo,
Then settl’d down, post-coital, with a beer,
In snoozy, huggy snugland, all cohere.

6
How fast our modern aircraft navigate
Sea-rivers where square-riggers heaving break
Oer intense ocean, as an old Ship’s Mate
Shanties sang, while the Captains pass round cake;
From Hudson Bay we hurtle state-on-state,
Below us, deep, the Angikuni Lake,
Excitement builds, with Sally on my lap,
We trace storm-speeds across th’electric map.

7
To travel foreign scenes, & there to write!
Truest exhilaration of the heart
Which drags its cavern-paws towards the light
& from the lizards sets its life apart;
Raineir rises to surprising height,
Lord of this fresh frontier post of mine art,
Like Ginsburg touring ‘Howl!’ in ‘fifty-five,
Our lives unhalted in these words survive.

8
Red sun sets in the navel of the sky
America, feet touch thy soil at last
Where Sally’s father waits with his wise eye
Intentions penetrating, holds me fast,
Him brought up upon whiskey, beefsteak, rye,
Me on John Smiths & Hotpot unsurpass’d,
Our hands interlock’d like docks take a ship,
‘Your daughter is my soul-mate,’ in the grip

9
Ye Cinnamons of tranquil Snoqualmie,
Thy lineage with famous blood entwines,
From Kirkcaldy’s Reverend Gillespie
To Colonel Daniel on the Rebel lines,
Whose daughter – Thankful – married happily
John William, then Cinnamon combines –
Unbroken branch of father’s sons, whose fate
In Sally’s father, here, dost culminate.

10
O Puget Sound! Our long haul’s patient prize
A Stillaguamish paradise, where on
Its silver strands, under changeable skies,
Warp-logs drift thro’ water-boiling salmon
& birds by the bazillion share cries
In evergreen communion; blue heron
Like pterodactyls, patter into place
Upon those pastel waters’ perfect lace.

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11
As mostly modern marriages divide
Sally’s mother is now a Waddington,
Into Snoqualmie’s river-vale we ride,
To read awhile in Duvall, Washington,
Thro’ North-West poets; Snyder by my side,
With Stafford, Markham, Kirzer & Skelton;
Then breaking, stroll the Valley of the Moon,
Where Sally’s folks once ruled the Silver Spoon.

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12
Three decades since, but still that beatnik den
Of laid-back men, with their better women,
Drive up to Lake Margaret’s Cherry Garden
For food & fun, & after for some jammin’
I join’d ‘em on bass for Robert Johnson,
With Sally & her ma’ in the cabin,
& by them, like a ghost, leant on a wall
Duvall’s most man beloved, Michael Ball.

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13
Out to Seattle, Sally, at first light,
Drove us thro’ wild, high woods where birds rehearse
Songs for the noon, whose captain’s launch a flight
Of plovers oer Si’ahl’s herbiverse
To land on stunn’d & stolid skyscrape kite
Which swoops & soars oer steep streets of commerce;
Beside them sea & mountains blend in sense,
One vision, unrestricted & immense.

14
As working hours with dayfade must sour dim
& drouthy tongues urge us paint the city
Deep Redhawk red… we call on Sal’s pal, Tim,
Who dwells in the house where Edo Valli
Adored his Queen Anne’s Hill, whose bedroom’s brim
Was once the main bar of some speakeasy;
Where, as we danced, among Seattleites,
My tipsy Sally trips & splits her tights!

15
That flash of thigh, her smile & she supine,
Made lust-pool boil, twas time to find the bed
I’d book’d back home… old Highway Ninety-Nine,
Deception Pass prohibitive ahead…
On checking in we hit the Gallic wine,
As somewhere west of Holmes Harbour we led
Enmesh’d in love, flesh-lock’d ‘til breaking day
Threshes stars high across Honeymoon Bay.

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16
‘Goodbye, my family, goodbye new friends,
Domani we two shall be in Roma,’
The first leg of our wed-adventure ends,
Sally & I sitting in Tacoma,
Watching the boys in Doyle’s Bar, as suspends
Our chronic distance, yon Oklahoma,
New York, Atlantic, Ireland & that sea
Where Ribble empties west of Bur-ne-lee!

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17
A meteoric bolt in me instils
A city’s jazz, its booze, its free-from-care,
Soaring above Seattle’s seven hills,
A ptarmigant unleaden in the air;
As little portals of an airplane fills
With blue-sky brilliance, Rainier rare,
Below us fronds of maidenhead uncoil,
Planting our stalk of love in native soil.

18
Fanning the clouds, fresh from our visiting,
I felt as trav’lers do between the ports,
With past & future days inspiriting,
From molten rock we eke a living quartz,
When just to breathe air in feels riveting,
& every soul but ours seems out of sorts,
O what thing it is to sing in rhymes
& be a poet in such vital times.

19
‘We chose to live, dear Sally, you & I,
From fateful choice did meet, & forg’d a tribe!’
She smil’d, across her glass-reflected eyes
Cloud-visions in the Heavens would enscribe
Deep memories of Venice, & a sigh,
By clinking glasses slowly she’d imbibe
Her glass of wine, & as it down-throat swirl’d,
She knew right then she’d have to tour the world!

20
A thundercrack when poets meet their Muse,
When art & heartscape held in protection
By those fair willing never to confuse
Dreamy abstraction for disconnection;
To share a bed, to vivisect the news,
To lead life truly, without objection,
Are sacred to poets, as they settle
Like butterflies, on the cherry petal.

21
Adventurous, voluptuous, my heart
Beats with excitement, a delightful burn,
Affections pulmonary of mine art
Exploding at Italia’s return,
Too long my vision from thee set apart,
For thee & all thy fruits I still yet yearn,
In darker days when in the northern climes
Pale mists & mood do ruminate my rhymes.

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22
We meet again, dear Roma, let us flow
Thro’ fair, imperfect streets, this time a gown
Of glories treading lightly in my tow;
I lead us to a pleasant part of town
Under the Piramide, place I know,
Temple of ancient death, there gaze us down
Upon the sod which bones & ash enclose
Of Keats & Shelley, in a sweet repose.

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23
We spend an hour in Rome among the vaults
Of Papal saints & secrets never told,
Said Sally, ‘let’s avoid this crypt of faults
& fallacies, when faith is made from gold;’
Together, as the evening star exalts,
We trip into the Termini, we hold
Each other’s hands, we step onto the train,
We find our seats, we tender-touch again.

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24
Tipsy from our happy grappa tipples,
Sliding up the rail-glide to Grosetto,
All at-a-once rain-drops burst in ripples,
Jagged arrow-storm; blazing inferno;
Chinks of blue; raincease; dear Sally’s nipples
Appear distinct, hair slick as water flow
Down canyon tract when crags drink deep the flood,
Enough to rouse the wild dogs in my blood!

25
Dawdling moments in that sphere of stradas
We sense Andrea’s ghost, whose consonance
Constructed linguistic apparatus,
Translating, with his Tuscan desinence
Moral treatises of Albertanus,
Inspiring Dante with his native sense,
Who gladly pluck’d that baton catalyst
To forge a tongue, a lyric alchemist.

26
Castellammare della Pescaia
Was where we saw our first Italic night
From the penthouse of the Casa Rosa,
Our veritable temple of delight,
Slicing salami sulla terrazza,
Watching the lip-gloss sun washing with light
The western skies, when under these the waves
A perfect path to paradise impaves.

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27
As pleasure is a pleasurable thing
& love between two lovers yon reproach,
As into evening crickets sit & sing,
Our lips are warm, two moths about the torch,
With passions flashing on a febrile wing,
Her blushes fiery flushes in the scorch,
She yields that look, tho’ words were never said,
‘My Love, let us get naked, & abed!’

28
From wondrous lust to slumbers would we ease,
Woke with the sun up-thrilling from the hill;
On hitting twenty-seven sweet degrees
We pedal townwards on fine bicycles,
Thick cappuccinos quaff by yachtsman’s breeze
While shuffling thro’ our daily facebook stills,
Then looking up these eyes of ours did meet
As joyous as when Zeus roam’d loose on Crete.

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29
The beach at last! When all my spuming thought
Besooth’d along paths old pilgrims send us,
Amazing scenes where swimmers beam afloat,
Unhassl’d by Rajasthani vendors,
We lay all day in luxury, & bought
Our wedding rings, like two young Eastenders
Shopping down Bow market for the marriage,
For cake kit-kats & taxis for a carriage.

30
Sundrunk & tipsy, sky beryl with lace,
Waves mulberry porcelain, with a twirl
Emerges Sally; body, legs & face
Dripping with sea-droplets, each a pearl;
Love forges as one, elsewhere from this place,
A breathless moment as I seize my girl
& squeeze her tight, & with one kiss demand,
We swap our silken bedsheets for this sand.

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31
Sally, fashionista of the Bon Ton,
Undresses like a Duchess by the sedge
Of some brook’s forest bank; ‘Until Heaven
Finds a better sky,’ say I, ‘my love’s pledge
Is yours,’ with sultanas’ wept devotion
She smiles, sits down upon the quilted edge,
Patting down level space for us to be
Flesh unified in breathless ecstasy.

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32
From morning bag-packings, very frantic,
We dash to catch the train up to Pisa,
Sitting in sweet relief while romantic
Scenes flash’d either side, spear-point chiasa
Thrust from hill-towns, sounds of Sally’s fan-click
Expanding conscious thought… O, how these are
Days of dreams, copses on a barren plain,
Full flourishing with fruit in summer rain.

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33
With married life one wins a daily fix
Of love’s drugrush; a fish in Sally’s net
Of rarefied deportment, what a mix
Of sex & sophistication, & yet
An alluring & lascivious threat
To restful mind; but when I get my kicks
No vision of a saint, nor angel’s wing,
Could out-shine Sally as she wore our ring.

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34
My Pisan streets, how I return to thee,
This time a wife fix’d sweetly by my side,
That like a muse comes merrily to me,
Or is she you, who gaylie deified
My youthful verse, turning to poetry,
Ye urged me on the world to wander wide,
From Tuscan marriage; Muse I sense ye still
About my mind, my woman & my will.

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35
As step-by-step thro’ memories we trace,
I talk a tour thro’ all these youthful scenes,
My lover round my neck like fresh-cut lace
We sent a train thro’ hills of Tuscan green,
Passing thro’ Lucca at a carriage pace,
Then into Pistoia drew serene,
Molding new memories from molten gold
To remind us, to recite, when we’ve grown old.

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36
Within a rolling ring of rising green
A city stands upright in sunlit plain,
Where once the conspirator Cataline
Did shake his spear at Rome’s eternal reign;
Into a weekend’s evening, with my queen,
I walk’d with gentle footsteps to obtain
Ambience, as Pushkin did thro’ Moscow,
Warm moments wash’d down with Casalbosco.

37
Thro’ shabby-chic, electric hub-hub wheel
Our feet to some fallen Contessa’s suite,
A casa with an antiquated feel,
With books & art & beds above the street;
This is the shrine where all past heartaches heal,
In all this blissful happiness & heat,
Where dressing well we hand-in-hand go out –
Pure love has bless’d us Sally, there’s no doubt.

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38
We dine in narrow streets where market cart
Goes clunking thro’ still tables’ laziness,
With tender hand-strokes rarely far apart
We savour flavours with a shared finesse,
‘Thou votary of Venus that thou art,’
Sing I, ‘let us commence our coziness…’
Sally’s eyes, with candour unremitting,
Agreed to leave the seats where we were sitting.

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39
With ribbons pink I hook’d her to the mesh
Of iron at the bedcrown; scarlet silk
Sheets aswathe naked skin, a Marakesh
Of tingling tongue-tips, spirits springing milk,
Her arching back, her tightenings of flesh,
The breeze of freedom; I, strong-antler’d elk
Above the glen her smooth, moist body made,
Where glisten sweatdrops in a faerie glade.

40
We slept tight-lock’d like gorse bush, limbs in limbs,
Then awoke in that contented glory
Which true love breeds; like cucumber with pimms,
‘We just work, dear Sally, mia amore;
Here in this land of artistry & hymns,
Where love & heart rhyme – heart is cuore –
& poet’s minds must focus on one thing…
His Muse who taught the Moon Goddess to sing!’

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41
With vocab well-rehearsed I testify
‘Mia moglie e imbarazzato,’
I noticed Giovanni’s narrowed eye,
‘L’ultima notte ha commenciato
Sua mestruazione,’ paused I
For effect, a timely ‘Inatesso,’
&, ‘Adesso c’e sonno macchia
Sulla lenzuale,’ all said without fear.

42
Love blessing our romantic banishment,
Thought putting into motion, hitching trains
Without a ticket, no admonishment
Upon us pour’d, Bologna in the rains,
A flash of time, to our astonishment
We saw fair Paris sprawling oer the plains:
But overshot to Beauvais, quite aware
That’s what one gets for flying Ryanair.

43
Footfall in France, its foreign legion flag
Did hover high & over as we queued,
‘That guy’s got style!’ ‘How classy is her bag!’
We whisper’d, so as not to come off rude;
The coach set off along the concrete drag
Twyx high-rise environs, with joy we view’d
The city; as it swallow’d us entire
Our pulses thump’d with thunderous desire.

44
Paris, we love you, we do already,
More kudos than any earthly city,
Intoxicating wafts, ever heady,
Of melted, ethnic electricity,
Creating a certain soft & steady
Rapture for living life’s felicity
Sense I, but not think nor feel, as we march
Under the Arc de Triumph’s varnish’d arch.

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45
Along the Champs-Elysees & then down
To a vibrant Tuileries, where strolls
Ms Baker, with a cheetah, into town
& Cath’rine de Medici look’d at scrolls
In which De L’Orme would consecrate her crown
Via this palace beautiful which sprawls
Beside the Seine, here Bouqinistes trade
Their antique trinkets tinkily array’d.

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46
This busted land of sweet Lutetian airs,
Of charming boulevards & barges trim,
Of cinemas & parks, where in green chairs,
Parisians thro’ poet’s pages skim,
Thy searing beauty caught us unawares,
Like infants hearing first a holy hymn,
When most of all we loved the way plann’d we
To spend a future holiday with thee.

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47
Somewhere in the Fifth Arrondissement
Our hotel stands, with one of Longchamps’ maps
Guiding our steps, we found the logement –
Hotel le Clos de Notre Dame – whose taps
Shone like seraphs; ‘neath timber beams, sat on
The windowsill we peer’d between the gaps
Of blinds & curtains – faces, fabric, feet –
Some champagne chandelier above the street.

48
That night, the best that I had ever had,
Turn’d operatic, but without a plot,
Wandering voyeuristic, golden, glad,
With Sally looking O! so fucking hot,
Where poet Antoine Houdart de la Motte
Once cast in French the early Iliad,
& Scotland’s Bonnie Prince did love to stroll,
In exile, with a mistress, in the Fall.

49
‘This is a place where people give a shit
About how looks their home, a fine antique
Which reeks of stories,’ ‘Sally let us sit
Awhile by Notre Dame,’ there cheek-to-cheek
We cuddl’d & kiss’d in a perfect fit,
Souls sensing, ‘c’est fluide et c’est complique,’
When every single second comes too soon,
The joys & sadness of one’s honeymoon.

50
Back in our chamber, touching skin, I find
Sally’s panties’ paradise, with a slant
I slip my hands between, a gentle grind,
‘Til thrusting finger pays the gold bezant
& lust delays no longer, in a bind
Of bodies, breaking silence with a pant,
Or she a squeak, or I the sunken gasp
Of climax, when we tight-as-magnets clasp.

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51
I woke head-trembling, from better to worse,
With Sally slightly snoring, unaware,
With glass of wine & euros from her purse,
I waltz’d thro’ a city of love affairs,
Whose streets were sluggish as the Bolton Hearse
That trundles from Grants Braes thro’ silent stares,
& I the ghost of brother Burns, it seems,
A poet lost in Paris & his dreams.

52
I am the Silver Rose this purple morn
That clambers over roofpeaks with set poise,
This Seine, this celebration, seems reborn
In me, a poet feeling first her joys,
But amplified to grandeur by the horn
Of mankind’s pearl’d advancement, what a noise!
Shaking tremendous force thro’ vaults below –
No! that clatter was in fact the metro.

53
I took a seat upon the Pont Neuf Bridge
& paus’d there like a panting cicerone –
Sat in a semi-circle hermitage,
Laying my Silver Rose upon the stone,
Hard summit of Parnassan pilgrimage,
Thro’ which profound philosophies have grown
Into this verbose effigy of me;
This whimsical, immortal nominee!

54
For future bards & artists who have felt,
Their passions with my poetry entwine,
Then find themselves in Paris; as I’ve knelt
By Shelley’s tomb, with music & with wine;
Into this seated moment let them melt
& place a pair of roses as a sign
To passing people, centuries apart –
A poet’s quill still feeds the hushless heart!

55
I lived before, but now I live real life,
She waits for me beyond this easy stroll,
She’s destiny, she’s perfect, she’s my wife,
The one thing that I can & can’t control,
Who seems, sometimes, sharp as a shark-tooth knife,
Sometimes as tender as a suckling foal,
With she, the need to roam the world withstood,
Her heart my home, her happiness my blood.

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To An Englishman With Liberty

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I
Why do you place us on monstrous pedestals?
We have all feet of clay, women as well as men…
Oscar Wilde

Sir, did you please your skin ‘neath Nunraw’s sylvan falls,
Or ease your boat within Old Dunbar’s harbor walls,
& have you ever gazed on Whittinghame’s great yew
As morning chorus lazed, drunk on a fresh haar’s dew?

Sir, did you stroll the swerve serving Port Seton’s sands
Invested with the verve East Lothian demands,
Like pluckin’ young fungi from Saltoun’s lofty wood
Or gladly ambling by wylde Bara’s handsome flood?

Sir, did you ever take the views from Deuchrie Dod,
& in that moment make a pact with Man & God,
To wander to & fro, record all seen & felt,
’til all thy senses slow, when mental trances melt.

To an Englishman with Liberty
Dost thou ken thy’s a bard?
‘I do, sir, in my dreams!’

You do?
By land & sea
Ascend art’ s boulevard
Upbending via beams
Thro’ heavens thickly starr’d!


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II
Everything you can imagine is real…
Pablo Picasso

Sir, did you ever take these bright isles in a tour,
The pride of Scotland slake on Hampden’s awesome roar
& did you ever stun the herd of Wicklow deer
Or strike a mountain run on Snowdon sloping sheer?

Sir, have you spent a night with Haggis Burns & song
Or watch’d a ravensflight from battle cairns at Kong
& have you seen the sun oer Glencoe’s savagery
Or seen Portmeirion in total privacy

Sir, did you break your fast upon old Boney’s nose
Then gaze down on Belfast & all those terraced rows
& have you ever stood atop the Isle of Man
With weather fine & good, & Britain like a fan

To an Englishman with Liberty
Ye love thy Celtic fringe?
‘I do so, & am proud!’

You are?
Then set life free
& let your soul impinge
Into thy native crowd
Streaking a silver tinge


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III
The country is looking much more beautiful
than when I came through it three weeks ago
Edith Holden

Sir, have you ever seen Cumbria clad in snow
Or Brighton’s beaches been in summer’s easy glow
& have you ever heard the Cambridge matin bells
Or felt your senses stirr’d when England’s anthem swells?

Sir, did you drink the ale brewed for the northernmills
Or watch seafarers sail from Whitby’s salty sills
& did you ever feed your thirst in Cornish Springs
Or take the time to read thro’ histories of kings?

Sir, have you ever pass’d an afternoon at Lords
Or watch’d a happy cast a-tread Adelphi’s boards
& have you ever cheer’d the horses at Aintree
Or as a bargeman steer’d the waters of the Lea

To an Englishman with liberty
What of these coy demands?
“These things, sir, I have known!”

You have?
Then let us fly
Beyond these fabled lands
The English call their own
Set sail for Calais sands


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IV
The sea is calm to-night.The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone;
Matthew Arnold

Sir, did you ever ride the high-speed Gallic trains
Or climb a mountainside kept by Croatian swains
& did you ever try the tramways of Zurich
Or skiing full hilt fly upon an Alpine peak?

Sir, did you ever tour the fields of Waterloo
Or urge Rooney to score amidst a foreign crew
& did you lap the flow of Castalian Spring
Or seek a fireside glow from Finland’s wintry sting?

Sir, did you take a dance with maidens of Seville
Or breathe the elegance of the Avantine Hill
& walk the wylde contree barefoot upon the Basque
Or taste the brevity of the Venetian masque?

To an Englishman with Liberty
Italy has it all,
“It does, sir, & does well!”

Bene!
No finer place to visit
& forge a poet’s soul!
Tis here the muses dwell
& welcome one & all


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V
Paradise of Exiles
PB Shelley

Sir, did your pallet taste sepia’s sable sheen
Or spread green pesto paste on bread like margerine
& steep Collodi climb to read Pinnochio
Or see day set sublime oer Pontevecchio

Sir, did you Lord Byron raise through old Venetianlanes
Or find yourself amazed by Pompeii’s strange remains
& did you ever take the waters of Trieste
Or swim Averno’s lake without a moment’s rest

Sir, did you cheer the riffs as Ligabue rocks
Walk Cinque Terran cliffs, or bought Le Scale box
& did you deck the sails round Ponza’s pirate isle
Or study Tuscan tayles in Dante’s sweet new style

To an Englishman with Liberty
Art thou adventurous?
“I am sir, life is good!”

It is?
Then reach this sea
The gods named glorious,
Let freedom clasp thy hood
& cross the Bosphorous


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VI
In Hellespont, guilty of true love’s blood,
In view and opposite two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoin’d by Neptune’s might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
Christopher Marlowe

 Sir, did you feel the heat of searing Rajhastan
Or clad Kimono greet fair geishas of Japan
& did you ever wear th’Atlantic’s mistral miles
Or dreams of Zion share amidst Pacific isles?

Sir, did you ever ride the Vladivostok rail,
Or watch the proud Roos hide from harsh Van Diemen hail
& did you ever climb the Islandwhanan rock
Or hear the lilting chime of the diannual clock?

Sir, did you note the chill of the Saharan night
Or felt your senses thrill with Rio neath yourflight
& did you ever smell the waifs of Singapore
Or share a living hell when nations go to war?

To an Englishman with Liberty
With spirit cavalier,
For you the world grows dull?

“It does!”
Then come with me
A fresher course to steer,
Launch from Canaveral
To chase the stratosphere


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VII
Whenever mankind has sought to conquer new frontiers,
there have been those who have given
their lives for the cause.
Mission of the Astronauts Memorial

Sir, did you foot the floor of dusty lunar seas
Or spread your mind & soar upon the solar breeze
& did you ever sail betwixt the Saturn rings
Or catch a comets tail & tie it to your wings?

Sir, did you abseil down craters of Mercury
Or wander rusting towns of Martian history
& did you pierce the clouds twixt Ceres & Trojan
Or hide beneath the clouds of rain Venusian?

Sir, did you feel winds form on Neptune’s azure reed
Or watch the great red storm from twinkling Ganymede
& did you once observe the green Urasian glow
& with Colombus verve pass fringes of Pluto?

To an Englishman with Liberty
Have you these pleasures sought?
“I have sir, & have felt!”

God bless astronomy!
Relax, come let us float
Beyond the Kuiper belt
Upon our blazing boat


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VIII
Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.
Sigmund Freud

Sir, have you ever gone beyond the icy Quaoar
Or paused at Ixion, core of an ancyent star,
& did you scan the skies from lovely Varuna
Or set your naked eyes on sanguinous Sedna?

Sir, come with us & spin upon this scarlet sphere,
Through head of tiny pin watch our vast sun appear,
Here ye shall find no guide, nor shall ye hear asound,
From Sedna’s swirling side a rocky moon slips round…

Sir, watch the goddess sit, voluptuous & fair,
Beloved Enuit, with starfish-dappl’d hair,
Whom by her husband cruel purg’d of her vanities,
Now sits she as the jewel of the infinities…

To an Englishman with Liberty
What brings ye to this place?
“She called me from her stone!”

She did?
Then cross this sea
She calls the stretch of space,
Continue, sir, alone
A vapour without trace


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IX
Perhaps, long hence, when I have passed away,
Some other feature, accent, thought like mine,
Will carry you back to what I used to say
Thomas Hardy

Sir, feel each sphere that forms as if life’s hallow’d birth,
Faint, incandescent storms enough to swallow Earth,
& we shall delve among distances none conceive,
Some durable among extremes none dare believe.

So many rocks like ours, some more Peg Fifty-One,
Whom in a hundred hours hurtles around her sun,
Stars flicker firefly by supernovae gongs,
While choirs of nebulae court angels with sad songs;

Sir, witness Icarus, a single stable star,
Whose supergiant dress our furthest light by far,
Here nature helter-skelts, her cosmos skirls askew,
Here conscious motion melts in pools of pearly blue;

To an Englishman with Liberty
Freed fell thee from this cage?
“I do, Sir, like a bird!”

You are?
Then let us flee,
Forever on this page,
Untether’d from the herd,
A jester on the stage.

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