civilisation: a diary


the dark rustles;
kitten at the fireside,
black paw crumbles
to slivers.
a game of bite.
coarse tongue fermenting.
chewn fingers
spit sheen, a cat's carcass.
threads clawed
by the flame, little one.
we'll doctor you.
there's a world of it.


always the night;
walking the seashore,
jeans calf deep.
here is firewater
tangs of light;
thrive organism,
shallows alive with cultures.
to a satellite:
globular insect, spinner;
only one roof for our heads.
that's shaken!
back and we'll drink.

before dawn

deepest midnight;
just arsing about with poetry
the books are written,
love spent.
my question:

at Burford

out of silence, poetry.
the morning is dead
in its anthem of leaves.
a still,
unpenetrate by birdvoice,
grey mist hangs to embers,
of trees that saluted nighttime.
this morning is dead.
from bivouac to bivouac
the Red Emperor strolls.

the book

tall trees and forest glades,
spated Rhone.
another life: Petrarch!
we were building Rome,
that raggle of statues.
I have seen your notebooks;
known your love for the city.
we, arrogantly
making of these women, monuments:
speaking a language
that will live amongst the stars;
and earth.


I'll be so happy when I'm dead.
to be young in the world...
the white sails seaward.
the black flag flying.
la lutte continue...Kropotkin.
to be young in the world...
I'll be so happy when I'm dead.


the broken history of our race:
we, renouncing structure,
the craftsman's lament,
memoirs of innocence.
green the vales of morning,
arid earth our passage;
in the beginning,
our sadness thus:
we are alone.

'with silence and tears'

there is no more silence,
the record player incessant,
Brahms, Beethoven, Shostakovich;
John Wesley Harding.
old and chipped the cameo of youth;
I have a straight face.
scared to put the receiver down.
an elaborate surface of composition;
a startpoint;
there will be no more tears.


working back to poetry,
cryptic words, the magical.
an inventory.
welcome! sounds.
here in the factory
my computer hums,
the teletypes clatter;
distilled manipulation,
tape loaded, ALGOL.
tension'd my pallid cheek;
the program compiles.


we impose our own pattern!
taking words as nectar,
eking out our mortal share;
for remembrance.
city, village, farmstead;
edited by a poet's heart.
scrupulous the immortal,
tone of voice, the agony.
do we not have existence?
autumn's a windy time of year.

'...born to follow'

the geese are scattered,
Cominterm a myth.
'...the slums of Moscow'.
drunken hooligan,
with a flappy shirt, flamboyant.
I stand at my desk
consoling myself with thoughts of one
who stood with Lannes.
you always were a rowdy.

the Morden tower

of old Europe;
before the nonsense.
in a circular room;
storm lanterns, the cold.
the Northlands,
where distant voices merge from winter,
candle weakens.
along the wall, a hush.


the words are old
manufactured by ancients;
acrid to the mouth,
they speak of love, death;
uncelibate, unafraid.
such little visions.
we know better.
we have been instructed.
in your name we commend these glories to the fire
Lord Jesus!

'being adult male...'

precisioned this interrupt,
solitary rider down the trail,
this is the homeland.
Apocalypse born in the slums of Houston.
there are many stars and I want them.
let generations starve
for our Godhead.
have pity.

a promise

darkness was in the trees,
periphery of stars, moonglow.
at the field's centre;
gaiety of midnights
( last of the year )
'Auld Lang Syne' in throaty voice,
the party, wild jollity at the hall.
John Keats: church bells ring warm acclaim,
carried afield by that wind of silence,
gripped in poet's tongue.
a promise.
we will shake hands this coming year.


an expectation:
your voice to trill the Maytime;
memoir medieval.
awoke to the hearing of cat purr.
knew again your eye at cream;
whispers welcomed.
trapped in my own cage;
even hair line receding,
I welcome you.
perhaps in ten years
forget you, marry.
but not while the echo stumbles.


the coffin wends through Charleville,
it is a rich day for rags;
we thought you painted our rosary.
little is left but the weeping of children,
spawned was your growth;
perhaps, we believe you.
that the sun is good,
the snow black as a charnel house.
no epithets.
there will be other gods.

The Halt

one weekend and six dozen cans.
four of us;
beds unnecessary,
I would sleep in my chair,
till five say.
have drunk my life,
a conclusion;
must drink more.

'...and yet none more wonderful than man'

in homage,
in homage.
yours was the solstice,
the Attic sun.
Diotima: you could not survive her;
for poets there is only one giving,
one bittersweet.
now wait the drunken intruder
to wake the Christian night.


they are mentioned,
the makars; the inheritors.
always with us.
you see gaps?
I choose those to be loved.
the silvertongued,
lost in the maze the dark wood;
progeny of Daedalus, magician.
a year's work, twenty poems.
bury my love with them,
now the work can start.



asked for a fairy story of Camelot
not the poem I constructed later
    but the real thing
Bradbury's story of Picasso
she always smiled and watched
but her legs swung to a monotone
    then after she said     'why don't you write'

I told Helen
    'she was a fool to turn him down'

'you climb trees' I said
'how did you know that?'
    'Oh     I'm psychic'
she settled back on the bed
    at peace for a moment

she hid from him at the gate
got off the bus
wouldn't walk with him
sometimes I thought she was good at hiding from herself

'yeah' I said
'a President of the United States on both sides of the family'
    he wasn't much impressed

he went up to this girl
worked in a record store
asked her out
thought they might converse

at his German class invited
a girl for coffee
unsurprisingly rejected
might have been back in Boston

one night on red wine
woke up on the floor
South Boston
'who're you' said he to the girl
'yours I guess'
later he went home

we'd always finish up talking about her:
conversation --- begun by my interruption
of Gordon's study --- would finanagle round
then I could listen to them talk about her
    just listen

back to myself again
watching dogs exhibit circuits
there's good times when you mix the booze
walked into this house with the carryout
up the stairs
into the front room
an old couple were sitting there
we left

one glance from her eye
a prize well fought for
    seatings at table important
Gentry told me she surveyed the tables
with a sweep of her head and chose her mark
where she sat was the centre
I would eat huge meals with my back to her,

ever been to hell and back
I made the trip many times
you don't get frightened
it's just like holding hands

sitting opposite this young couple
his head fell on her shoulder
no one bothered
I was happy
    one morning
at dawn
I saw them walking hand in hand

the Gododdin rode South

when she went for Philip and lied
it was finished
in eighteen hours over as never been

took on about six Norwegians
wanted a fist on my chin
no one obliged

for some reason wore yellow jeans
    didn't suit her
I nearly laughed at her arse as
    it went out the door

I remember the subsidence in the road
    as we came in the gate
caused by some pipeline being constructed
I would look at the compact hall
    there was much in it

asked her if she wanted to borrow my record
'yes' she said
clasping it to her bosom as if she owned it
    face shining
I knew I'd done something

always wore green at night
    when inviting
I only answered her once
    she came, sat down in the chair,
I looked, marvelling, at her hair
for it was shampooed, red curls at the tip
she smiled as though expected

Gentry told me she came and stood as he was expostulating
stared at him with those red fringed eyes
    it was done

the animals in the adjacent fields were from the Vet farm
stuffed with plastic utensils --- guinea pigs
    we never compared notes

'that first term     she was so frustrated --- it ate you'

'she was so sad when she first came to the hall'

he never said
    'I'm the best there is'
it was too obvious
besides I was

his books were thick, voluminous
way above my head
he'd read them all
brought them a long way
he never seemed to read them much

'and the ritual dance is at an end?'
    'yes' she said

thought I'd better try and make her
if no one else did it'd be a shame
    the fists extended
I held her muscles
'should take you now
    that would finish it'
she looked venom
maybe she wanted me to try
she went and sat down

small thin vaginas
    'I hate broadening out cunts'

with the panzermen
through the gap at Sedan
Von Manstein, Guderian, Paderborn
children have visions
    Brando on the steps of Sacré Coeur

'I have broad shoulders'
she sat on the edge of the bed
I thought it was true
mine were thin and skinny
the bodies locked and twined a moment before were forgotten
    something had gone from the world

that last month Gentry seemed to give her up
wait for me to move
no contact
it was the pressure drove me to it

turbans     slits of their eyes
black baggy clothes
and the horses the horses
the beach at Valencia
there we would ride as waves of the sea
break the tides of Islam
the Northern Marches
    'seen it in some movie I guess' he said

always asked her to see 'Breakfast at Tiffanys'
he wanted a new ending
for me Capote knew it all

Graham had tried her
    or rather she'd made him
later his comment
'what was the good of it if you don't screw'

listened to Dylan for hours
that nurses' party
occupied the bog for ages
told them to use the sink
all about it
finished up going to Deirdre
    'Douglas      she's no good for you'

that tongue, there never was a tongue like Penny's
    like the penis she wanted

he used to send her postcards
asking her to come to 'Breakfast at Tiffanys'
she always said no
he'd quite a crush on Audrey Hepburn

she'd fix a date
then vanish for the weekend
or even stay there
ignoring the miscreant
Rick got it worst

chucking it all chucking it all
they know where they can put their bloody Fulbright
he'd told them straight in London
I want to go home
I knew why

stood before her
    a whisky glass in hand
Raeder and Gordon behind
laughed joked watched her answers
I saw no answers
she was wearing her sailor outfit

'do you remember any poems' she said
'yes, Lawrence about a snake'
    'and I in pyjamas for the heat'

I came for her in the car
she dashing for the door
in her green cape, flowing
with the green pants and green sweater
    leather boots
that perfume so wood acrid
her hair a fringe of curls
    red and red
I opened the door
she jumped in
it was on
I drove with the passenger door open
smashing against trees bushes
the scraping stilled me
I shut the door
then I headed for town

George spent an hour talking
he knew her well     one of hers
'she's no good'
at length I agreed and went to Raeder's

'see that TV play
about the girl thought she was a princess'
    'no, besides, I'm not a princess'
'but that's the point of it --- neither was she
    she just thought she was'
our eyes met
I want to remember that moment as I die

Helen told me she would speak to no one for weeks
'what sort of a girl is that' she said
'but when we're together' I said

talking about Philip
I told her I'd put a lot of myself into him
    next day they were out picking flowers

Gentry had decided he was taking her to the Hall Ball
she prevaricated for weeks
on the night her hair was coiled as Medea
she wore a blue gown
I'm told he tried her even there

a private word had to be sent round
about the sewage system getting blocked with FL's

when painting she wore this curious garment
    a smock
fastened at the back
I noticed she wore no bra

he wrote letters to her over Christmas
they communicated
the decision was no go
later he said she was great to talk to
but you had to fuck

one night     early hours
dressed in her sailor suit
all over the place
Raeder trying
she turned 'Douglas --- is there any answer'
I thought she beat her head like a rat against a trap

an American face
   a Gaelic face
smoothed sculptured
    all curves
the teeth crooked
and that nose
I'll love them till I die

Penny and I, we'd talk till the dawn birds came up,
me in my battered old Ford
she had a way of sliding between the seats
her path was gravel
    I told her I'd never been christened
'neither have I' she said, laughing

'that's one thing' Deirdre said
'Douglas always accelerates towards a pub'

Raeder desperate would drive me on
'Ah yes' he said 'next year I'll be here'
    'you'll be gone'

the footsteps in the snow
when she came to his window at evening
    they did not depart     not at dawn

every boy there was she went at
I know for I was there too, later
    both looking
I think we found it

these hours between living and dying
they are always with us now

these MIT students
turned out
untutored into the world
young for their age
they must see the trees and the green
look at the provincial cities they finish up in
why can't we all be Chomskys?

the argument     analysis
dissection of neurosis
'Eros and Thanatos' she said resignedly
I said I'd fight it all my life
the words the logic wore
but it was the outstretched hand that won

the quick tightening of muscles behind the penis
a rousing of the scrotum
must have happened often those April days

sitting at the canteen table
the potential firsts
Graham on the pills
worry about him breaking
I knew about me

the laughter came four rooms away
she and Helen were being interrogated before the exam
    she knew nothing
but the laughter split my seams

the plan came to me at the Buchanan Arms
tell her to fuck off
finish it
then I'd love her forever

that afternoon I was lying with her
late, it was getting dark
Raeder came round to my window
see if there was any light
he'd given up the door
'I know you were there' he said
he'd been wearing his blue blazer

his twenty first
took him down to the Ram's Head
filled him a glass of everything
drank it in a oner
took him back to his room
stripped him
left him
    he hated her

walks in cobbled lanes
they talked of Wittgenstein and Emily Brontë
this and more

a knife struck my soul from neck to gut
I lay sweating between life and death
many hours later I got up

that night she wrapped her head in my scarf
Edinburgh Royal High, nicked at the International
I retched my guts in the bog
    she made me that way
when I returned the words were gone

that last term
leaving my brothers at school
I thought I'd never see them again in my life
    they stood and watched the car go

my heart
the pain grew steadily
I knew it was alright when the kid ran across the road
pain went away     only nerves

'you could have any boy you wanted' I said
    'I know' she said 'but I only want one'

first time I saw him he was on his feet haranguing
some knowledge he could unravel
impress himself as the one
I had no compunction in believing him

Christmas was examining books on heart disease
in me and her
Raeder said hers was for real

    I have two friends
Love and Death
some day they will join me

we were driving in the car
'I've only taken a girl there once before'
then I thought again
I'd loved that girl that place
we drove back to hall
into the trees
then talked

Odin --- I kept Loki in my room
once she reached for him
asked his name
I told her
but not of my allegiance

how do you remember it     Taillefer
    but I was there

they used to walk down that stony path together
whether they held hands I don't know
it was their walk
no one else went it
between them all was words

    eyes to her
'yes' I said 'born in the wrong time at the wrong place' 

my head on her heart
    may it last forever

he'd lie flat on his back
on the couch in the lounge
listening to 'Fennario'
there were tears in his eyes
I told him I liked the ending

she was having trouble with her fly
said she couldn't dance with me
    'besides you're Penny's'
'Oh     that was a thousand years ago'

never called her her name
always she Macmillan
kept it to myself     secret
would whisper it

Gentry's stories were always the same
of policemen in Austin
used car salesmen
he told them all ten times to Rosalie
Rosalie had the best butt in hall

Philip's hardly in this book
he kept away that year
except at the end
always at the end

Rosalie poising herself
balanced on a table
bent on a foot
the other spread circling the room
she thought she was reading a magazine

she'd paint the dawns as they arose
what she did before I shudder to think
    'I don't know what I'd do without my candles'

the shapeless white coat
white jeans     no belt     sneakers
some shirt or other
he had very little
outside his books which came by crate from the States
he typed much

the night I battered on her door
    nobody bothered much
best poem I ever wrote

the exams were coming closer
I took a bottle of wine up to my room and drank it
my mind was clear as a bell
there could only be one end of it
there was

I had the feeling we were the oldest people in Europe

I told her to stay away from Philip or there'd be trouble
said that was one thing I could not stand
    later I told Helen he was closer than my brothers

when playing table tennis in my old jeans
my fly used to come down
with the girls at first I was shy
used to pull it up
later didn't bother

the important thing about virginity is the way you lose it

that night I'd talked in poetry
walking back down the corridor
her face was tight     set hard
I knew then there was no hope

he said to me
'is not one month of your life given to mathematics worth it'
I said

that teatime
stood at the door
she smiled straight at me
head hit the roof
made it
    she came in half an hour

so jealous of those walks
she'd kick at pebbles
he'd expound
the intellects
    I just hadn't a brain
born with a conjuring kit

the place itself
high cragged rocks      blue sky
the two of us looked at it
Our place
the horn     he'd never blow the bloody horn
he pressed my foot and pressed my foot
I continued talking

first time I saw her
buttocks broader than I'd expected
shrewish  'fine lady'

he recited Molloy eye for eye
the mathematical exactitude
I couldn't understand why such a memory should traverse deserts

the American raincoat     packmac
knew the population of every state capital
hair cut to its quarter inch     Texan     Austin
the mask
knew Proust Kafka
wrote one poem I'd treasure
I followed him up the slope to Roncesvalles

we sat in the pub
she'd seen us going --- casting a look --- we talked of Von Braun
I loved him
when we went to the carnival he could only drink half pints
complained about his piles
swimming champion     quarter back     you name it
'there were twenty thousand on UT' he said
'and all knew Gentry'

my drinking my drinking
smashing the car smashing the car
I met her later that night
    with two of them     hand in hand
soaked to the skin     the car in a ditch
she laughed laughed laughed
    Oh that beautiful Danish brandy

they took me to the pub so she could not scream at me
that was for Gordon
I remember the pint and the detachment and what I had done
Rick delivered the letter
now I would love her all of my life

I went to Gentry
his was the prize
packing from Europe
tried to make me though

Helen and I     we talked all night
of how it had begun     of Philip
I said phone her, had breakfast, went to bed
early evening --- please see the warden
he was behind his desk     I told the truth
she had run away     the decision     it was in his eyes
I packed the car
drove for four hours at seventy to the sedatives

                     'Emir, sire, yesterday
                      There was a battle fought at Roncevaux
                      Roland is dead, and dead Count Oliver

                      The Song of Roland

Summer 1972


the cloak and dagger dangles,
Madams light the candles.
in ceremonies of the horsemen,
even the pawn must hold a grudge.

... Bob Dylan

The glittering prize

this crystal night contains Armagnac
seeping thru pores with calumny.
a sting caused by sunburn --- or sunset ---
when afternoon deepens above Tummel.
chicken bones, bottle and broken bread
are witness to the blue loch, the frosted peaks.
yet in the pain there is peace.
beauty smooths a forehead with the friendly taste
of a mistress cracking her knees to the prick.
there is peace above Tummel as the sky darkens.
lie on one's back in the heather
and marvel, just marvel, at the stars.
nights are perfume gentle of flesh.
they are empty streets lit by yellow wands
with a white line designed purely for hopscotch.
they have silence...silence.
and some fools would call this love
and would be jealous of the rich.
it is love but a love that is one's own award.

A Sabbatical Year

Candlemas: The green hills of Earth

...for the mountains hold many secrets;
from them descend alluvial dust,
pebble-strained gold, the rich clay seaward.
deep by temples of Force and Cauldron
lurk sheltered pools where salmon spawn,
to guddle millenia before Norse took to dale.
skald settled where Roman, Brigand, Pict
had taken stance by drumlin, ford;
continuous the generation of earthwork, stone.
shielings carved from forest fells: snug havens.
the dales ridged by green bracken, brown heather.
Shepherds exist, survive; by name; by blood; sacrifice.
peatsmoke, root patch; choose the humblest hearth.
high pastures where keen clear atmosphere
satisfies wanderlust; assuage lost kinsfolk
who pursue Byzantium.
mountains hold many secrets; close septs
who know their own. to impose respect:
to be of the moor, the high places,
the oldest gods, the oldest values.
simplicity. music. poetry.
prelude of incursion?  history.
the North, not of city but hamlet,
has spawned many Lords: few return.

We have buried our living for ten thousand years.
It is a ritual; preserved; the litany.
They are buried that we may chant their praise in rhyme ---
our fathers and our mothers. Hereditary.
Lipservice to the mingled blood that flows our veins:
dust scattered on the stage we strut. Delphic the past.

We have wander'd the forests of Sologne, Alain;
peeking behind oaktree at sunlight's shaft
as the blue sky above stray'd its shadow
'midst tangled greenery's 'xpectant dream.

Stalking, we have walk'd the stone streets of grey cities, Alain;
to meet our loveblow: 'I feel I've known you all of my life!'
these childwomen who bury us.

We made love to many --- thrusting sad tears away, Alain;
for our souls so cut by the sickle.

Sound the horn; loose the hounds; we will hunt death today: Alain.

Speak with respect of our hundred generations.
Living before birth, alive long after death's touch ---
Caesar wept old as Alexander knelt young by Achilles' mound.
My ancestors gallop'd over the Rhine by ice!
My ancestors dangl'd the eagles as scalps!
Weep that no gods have lived since Alexander.

You: mighty one! who, with words, recover'd Diotima;
the mind and song that rang'd the Classic South
and beheld sheav'd the full ripe crop before
a nightingale orchestrated stubble.

Your singer: heir to a barbarous age, Diotima;
he was born, chosen, for the poets' journey home,
there are shrines none visit and return sane.

And you say you encourag'd him, Diotima;
to pursue the golden centuries of Hellas.

And your death broke his lyric to babble: Diotima.

And of the poets: the links between god and man.
Their race is dead. I alone left to sing of them.
Barren centuries ahead as the nightowl cries;
to write of blackberrying and the butcher Tiptoft.
Poets are born to phrase love; war; the tapestry;
earthroots; the family. Mine the last heritage.

A tremor lilts my still hand.
Words touch warmth as the voice speaks its silence.
Death is where I live,
your shorn hair at my fingertips.
I lie embalmed in your reflection;
your voice; that pursuit over half a lifetime:
the years of Patroclus are ended.

I comb my hair by the light of torches,
the sweet millenia welcome young our sacred dream;
golden lover: did we not give Dionysus his heir!
Forever and forever will old Oxhead master the plains.
Death is where I live.
A tremor lilts my still hand,
pray it be the kiss of Alexander.

By Blackwaterside --- there sleep the runes ---
(  not to be read; not to be said  )
But we who burnt Rome know well the tunes

To drag down their divine Augustus ---
(  cut off his head; show dead for dead  )
The patience of five hundred dark years.

So throw back your red barbaric hair ---
(  chant triumph's song; our hate deep, long  )
Laugh loud for now we just couldn't care

Break down their walls for Christ to repair ---
(  he's well and gone; not great, just wrong  )
From bedrock they climb higher --- higher!

Let sleep runes --- their New World is absurd ---
(  a drinking bout; the last, no doubt  )
The pleasantest gift we gave --- the sword ---

From antiquity was brought the word ---
(  the secret's out; flame is devout  )
We kiss the heather --- alone with God...

Beltane: Fresca a'Maying

girl of the winter table,
so impatient to commence the feast;
can you tell me where the bones are
that wrappt a cover round my chest?

silver cutlery, white cloth;
your empty glass filling with wine
as admirers watch the bubble grow
of a quick tongue's genteel rapine.

coffee sippt, a long liqueur;
now you listen at intellects
who but for their brains but for their balls
would suffice your evening's sex.

girl of the winter table,
with me you are silent deaf and warm;
in my dreams you bring that body
wearing love's poison beneath charm...

she has come for my heart;
to remove it.
salve of all the talents,
I kiss your smooth forehead;
the lilies of the valley bless you.
my scarlet rose she stole for her cheek:
my purple blood she drew for her cloak:
my white heat she fanned as her cover:
desolate the breeze grips the moor.
there are no tombs where our dead rest.
blow ashes in the wind;
without a heart I will haunt the moon:
never again will be that soft evening,
when sang the lay bareheaded in the ruined choir.

There was once a rumour that roses die;
many believed and sought to hack at stems.
They were wrong: life carries its own roots.
She is so secret that one can but whisper...

I raised her to the stirrup with her proud smile;
laughing she careless split my hot cheek.
They are right: those who choose Achilles.
She is so secret that her bed is unknown...

To redeem my heart I pledged my soul;
the price was asked and the broker paid.
They are safe: those who will outlive me.
She is so secret that no man may own her...

I have no secrets: my dead eyes are insane.
She is so secret I choose love as her name...

the chisel was of marble ---
for the soft warm face shines
with the clarity of the ancients ---
her sculpted bones shape my heart.

to stroke her amber felt
would be a snatch at Aphrodite's robe ---
high heads and white pillows
are rightly our select.

more to your tongue than talking --- girl,
let my fingers warm your spine.
it will be evening soon
and we'll play at sparrows on the marshes.

her warm body is lying in sleep's grip.
relaxation tinges her delicate smile.
her thighs shift as dream places her cheek
silently on a lover's chest.
she twists in old fashioned ways:
casting out a hand; opening her legs.
then she rolls back into a wound ball
wrappt with all the tensions of yesterday.
and the moonlight watches
as a tear breaks the beauty of her smile.
one damp tear strays to the outside
from her world.
all who love her watch and treasure.
she can give so little.
but so much.

Lammas: Durham

Is the processional headed by a black-robed cowl?
Green dapple and blue sky alternate above.
Jumbled we stumble along in the following crowd
Baked with dirt and the sweat of noontime sun.
The cobbled path up from the river is carved in mud.
Houses old and treacherous.
In our hands we carry the pike.
In our hearts we carry the fear.

    The lady walks the cloister;
    brown robed, high boned.
    She looks not from side to side.
    Her face stares at mystery.

A twenty mile march from Raby,
Our track stained by a blood-white rose.
Now the drums beat in the open square.
Ahead squats the cathedral block;
Toy stones collected for giant's play.
And ebullient we dash.
Thru love to consecrate our groins.
Thru love to consummate our lives.

    The girl stands impatiently;
    dark shirted, amber breeched.
    She does not wait the future.
    Her hand paws at her right hip.

Up the great nave we stride to the cross;
The hymn stills and the chantry empties.
The coolness of the stone breathes peace.
Before the altar we raise our knives
And stab and stab and stab and stab.
A sodden mop of fair hair.
A brown back oozing crimson.
Our joyful hearts will be worms' meat.

    The imp sits with her mischief;
    red sweater, red tongue.
    She has forgotten herself.
    Her nose twitches at answers.

Hallowmas: The Morrigan

torches fester the alleys of Mayo.
the orange glow of dusk has rhythm
as the pipes skirl and the staves are counted.
her face is gaunt.
the white linen of her shirt
pours pity on her cheeks ---
Aphrodite ghostly among shadows.
In the fond haze of Autumn,
when fresh rain pelts the downs,
the trek will be enamoured of a lover's tale;
there can be no end of it.
the sky glowers on the Western hills.

her hips are plumping with matronliness,
she wears a smock in anticipation.
she refuses to be neutered.

And her candle burns.
the rightmost candle,
with a red-bound bible as companion.

Her candlestick was lit the first,
its silver mate then illumed by the taper.
the cross had been removed;
the bishop's decree promulgated Brasso.

And yet the white horse stares North toward Catraeth
And yet the white horse stares North toward Sulis

beneath squat the Saxon villages and their cunning workers.
Mousemen carved their name at Kilburn.
Bratton is just another name.

but the white horses penned their England
so that freedom knew when to stop and stare.

she cannot bend the white horses.
the boundaries are fixed.
Only the Gael makes his mistake
as he loves water frothing in shallows.
It has proved the death of many a prince.

her candlestick was lit the first,
the flame was given her name.
the Bishop was not informed.

Two candles and two red-backed bibles:
with no cross.

'Let it be'...'Leave it be'
'Let it be'...'Leave it be'

Two candles and two red-backed bibles:
with no cross.

The bishop's decree promulgated Brasso

A white horse stares Northwards toward Catraeth
it was there the Gododdin died.
Oh the feasting was merry that summer at Dunedin
but come Autumn they rode South
and died.

A white horse stares Northward towards Sulis
it was there that the Lady bathed in the fountain.
Oh she was sought by all who were worthy of the search
but come Autumn a woman shies
and tires.

Mousemen scrabble at Kilburn.
the concrete mixer possesses Bratton.
their clock has been struck a thousand years.

but we rode South with candles
for there is a blessing in the woodlands of Autumn.

Only the English hack down their oaks.
I would not die in a country that needs a cross
let only birth be permitted.

horsemen ride the shallows
crushing the white froth of dawn,
black banners held high as the pennants stream.
white throats spout crimson blood;
sparrows chirp on lintels.
go die with Winter if you must ---
yet remember that I carry seed.
the brown earth has been broken and my messengers return,
Connacht can breathe my absence.
I stand high on the down as the eagles circle;
the hounds and the horsemen thunder home to roost.
White spray spits at my remorseless face.
my rock is Alexander's shield.
I summon the blue cloak of day.



Lay down your weary tune, lay down,
Lay down the song you strum,
And rest yourself 'neath the strength of strings
No voice can hope to hum.
... Bob Dylan

All summer I have been weeping,
smooth tears down the back of my throat,
like the separate buttocks of your rump.
I weep tears for you,
dry eyed with a twist in the cheek,
my hand flutters vaguely over your bottom.
The bones of your face should howl for me
The hair on your body should scrape me
Your thighs press me.
All summer I have been weeping.
What you don't know can't harm you.
All summer I have been weeping.
What you don't know...
I am possessed by infinity,
Infinity owns me.
It has everything and it has your name.
I have been weeping all summer.
I am possessed.

In springtime the lake was prime with ducks.
The buildings were drab, obscure.
But I smelt your scut,
And the fire shook me in the morning air.
I'll give you bodies,
The taunt of a tit grasped.
But in the morning air I plucked thistles.
So this is where you cut your heart out,
An autumn of clouds and serpents,
where you bled from every orifice
where you obeyed the rules.
I cut the daffodils from the city walls,
I paint them in your face,
I savage your breast.
This is springtime.

The rain broke over the cobbles.
Translucent verdant rain.
The hill was as steep as usual,
As I entered the body of my faithless youth.
She was gaily dressed for me,
The candles were not yet lit.
Blue and our bibles: the altarpiece.
On the first day of April I drank the rain,
I drank her blood.
And the children laughed and played.
Cleansed I drove South.

These are not my ruins;
My ruins have character,
They live in soft tissues
lined by age.
They rest on pillows,
on backs of chairs.
These ruins have mould on them,
they are unused.
People come and stare,
but they do not touch you.
I reject this monastery.

the widow walks on the mountains.
the hills drop through forests to the blue blue sea.
here is the monastery,
where the English speak Italian.
A Roman villa, baths and vineyards.
This is the start of the dream.
the widow walks on the goatpaths,
dripping her blood on the stones.
It is crimson and sticky to the touch.
My body builds as I climb the mountain.
My thighs burn and my body browns,
The stubbing of stones blackens my toes.
Empty cottages and tiny churches,
Here the proconsul came in from the sea.
I stare ten miles across at the mainland,
the widow sits in a tree.

In the sea I am a fish,
I cantillate my feet.
Christos passes with full revs,
A girl pirouettes face first off her skis.
It is our summer culture,
a playground of the Borzoi;
sip Coke and spit out the pips,
Hitler's children.
Stark naked bodies in the throbbing heat,
'Hold Out' on the transistor;
Even Archimedes built sandcastles.
here, I am free of the widow;
they will cut off my head.

She is standing on the point, hooded.
The boys lie watching me,
The American waits to see what will happen.
I finish my recitation.
And from the radio comes a voice,
singing anthems of my deeds.
They think I am homosexual and will kill me.
I receive my instructions.
They will shoot me like a dog,
I don't believe a word of it.
They will cut off my head.
It is time to start swimming.

There is a full moon and the water is warm,
I could swim forever.
They are escorting me out.
There are ships in front and to the side.
Lights flash green and red.
There are voices over the water.
It is daylight and the sun is not up,
A girl talks to me foretelling my future.
The ships have vanished
It is a marvellous swim.
I leave the widow on the island,
she cannot cross to Greece.
I could swim forever.

The old man fucks her,
The old man fucks her.
He drifts in her window in the morning light,
sidles in her ear.
His bony fingers twist her skin.
He stumbles as he mounts her.
All her life he has sidled in.
In the early morning light he fucks her.
There is no love in him.
He fucks her.
And she dreams and waves and basks in him.
He fucks her.

There is a narrow lane down from the bus stop,
At the bottom there is a school.
Two fences and a wooden table under a tree,
We sit on a bench and talk.
I have been to the cottage.
Green fronded bushes screen its windows;
Inside racks of old books and dark red drapings,
A kitchen with a round table.
It's the old man's place.
She comes here.
Servile obedient she does her duty.
There is no spirit in her,
She does not enthuse.
Her life is an agony of its own making
and this is her heartland.
She does not enthuse.

And the widow is come to Greece.
Dogs howl on the mountains,
Horses start in the shadows.
The old man lights a candle in the chapel,
Crosses himself and stutters.
On the point she was all in white,
her face hidden.
Here she follows me, nameless, shapeless.
I have woken her.
Dressed in black at the end of the path.
Now she is there I will write your name on her,
Give her identity.
what she means I do not know.
she came for my head.

She must be waiting for me in the hills,
Standing by some crossroads,
Above the great white horse;
Along the ancient track.
Whose face will she come with?
Has she already been and gone?
I cast flowers over the minarets,
Juggle beneath vaulted domes,
Wake at five every morning to analyse.
Your clavicles are so delicate.
The bone drifts down to space your breasts.
The bones shape your back around the warmth of your heart;
To your long fingers and to your long toes.
You are not nameless, shapeless.

The hot heat of your flesh,
You live within your bones.
Have juice in you and ripen.
You swell with the days
and your heart is happy.
You are penetrated.
And like a Maenad you castrate me.
You suck out my powers.
You enthuse.
The widow from Greece destroyed my sex
She deflowered me.
Took away my erections and my spasms,
Unmanned me.
She cut off my head.

And this springtime I caught fire.
I fester all summer over you.
I poke at your stomach, I pinch your thighs.
I crush you to me.
But I am frightened.
The widow has shown her hand
And I am frightened.
All those years she has been there, secretly.
Waiting for me; unknown.
It is her children who embitter her.
She seeks them in me.
For I am the stuff that life is made of.
And it is forbidden.
When love dies, I die.
And I see my children in you.

'She will always love what she can never have.'
'I feel I've known you all of my life.'
'I always figured I was going to meet somebody here.'
'Must be love.'

I will have her.
I will hunt her down the dark corridors of the world.
Seek her by streams and over the heather.
Find her shapes and learn her names.
She calls to me from stairways
Leans out of a window laughing
Sits bolt upright in her chair.
Stretches out invitingly on beaches,
Opens her legs.
I will have all of her
For she has me.
Entranced by her all of my life.
Meeting her in strange places.
Having her in strange ways.
Never losing her.
See, she is back.

I can swim in a woman for hours
The slow gentle rhythm
The ecstasy.
One woman is as all women,
It must be the woman.
I swim in words far beneath the surface,
I love.
I grasp your safe safe hips
Say...take me in
This separation crucifies me
I don't deserve it.
This wealth, This prodigy,
Take me in.

You are a fishwife
Your breasts sag and you hold your stomach in,
Your arse is no longer tight,
You are old.
I should have had you at eighteen
when you were splendid.
Now you are aged and used.
There is a thing in me to put life into you
To make you whoop and howl
To make you beautiful,
To rub your cheeks red with love
To fill your eyes with wonder.
I make promises to keep.
And so do you.
And so do you.
Let me in.

He dreams of mice.
Fat juicy field mice.
To tweek out of their holes
and torment them to death.
I do not dream.
How could I dream of the vast house,
the woods, the little children.
I visit it every month;
And the tankard is drunk on the lawn.
We are very close, my brother and me,
He is back where I came from.
I visit every month.
There are no illusions left,
Not even the widow.
She will have me yet.

It's not as simple as you think it is.
It takes character to be possessed,
You have to learn it.
It takes character to possess,
to accept responsibility.
Once it's done
not easy to undo it,
Tear out the roots.
Gotta learn to live with it,
or without it --- touching,
despite the tenuousness of life, feeling,
commitment etc. is so much more satisfying
than dreams.

In you for ever,
my prick in you forever,
fondle me as I fondle you.
you are wrong,
nothing in this world can change that.
I won't come out.
my widow my wife.

And the old man fucks you.
your old man fucks you.
It is obscene.
I summon palanquins and beggars,
black plumed horses, negroes,
bicycles, silver spoons, candelabra.
I summon walking sticks and spaniels,
crispen snow, satellites.
I summon infinity.
Numbed and disconsolate, intransigent.
Bruised, hurt, spiteful.
Angry and sad, very sad.
I can't love you.
I'd fuck you for children.

This city would adore you.
The bridges would lean for you,
the houses bend forwards.
I can think of no better place
to reflect your forehead,
smile at your eyes, brush your cheeks.
You would be so welcome here.
But I have lost you.
The streets are all summer dresses
and everybody seems so young.
I suck your lips.
Remember who you are and what you have done.
Stare at the mirror in wonder.
Look at yourself.
For you are marvellous.

It is the mountainside in high summer.
Islands float by on the lilypond below.
A man on a donkey asks me if I'm going up.
No, I say, I've already been there.
I'm on my way down now;
It was very beautiful,
A place fit to undress a princess.
There are horses there, and green sheltered valleys.
Little ruined cottages and families.
A woman hanging out her washing, a man digging his field.
The young people have all gone to the beach.
I descend to the olive trees,
My motorbike is awaiting me.
I am going for a swim.

And of course I love you,
It is my rock.
In the dark hours of the morning I want you.
In the open spaces and over the towns.
But I will not have you doing your duty with me.
I would have you raucous
On your own bed, in fire and sweat;
Wrapping yourself around me,
your mouth at my face, kissing.
To love me
You must want me in you forever one dear wife.

And Now it is time to sit back and laugh
And count your courage in grains of sand,
And Now it is time for love and love
And the ocean will roll upon my grave.

16-25 July 1982

Douglas Clark/ Roncesvalles/ Benjamin Press, 69 Hillcrest Drive, Bath BA2 1HD, UK/