Camelot: Poems 1982-83


The words that race from lips
So fast they can't be caught
The depths suddenly plumbed
When rhythm's lost in thought
The knowing all and being all
Of vine leaves worn by right
Wake the everyday futility
Of penetrating night
The searching for that reason
Through the pursuit of the heart
Before innocence is overthrown
As the goddess plays a part
The oneness of our love
When myself returns my sight
That experience so exquisite
Immortality's bite
The chasing down the years
Catch the magical in print
Before the age old suffering
Makes memory extinct
Bodies loved must minds unlove
Can kisses not unite
The meeting of us lovers
Cast in virgin light
The unknowing of what they do to you
The unfeeling of all that hurt
Humanity is a stranger race
Communication inert
Soft dance thru the midst of them
Side stepping from their fight
Intent on the life's pursuit
A dream born by right


Homecomings     heartcomings
Long winter night's roamings
White snow squelching on the great paved step
Bird tracks flecking the dog toed ground
Yellow light seeps from our window
Where a shaggy black nose squirms
Howls     for just one chance
to place those soft saucers
( in marvellous white snow )
and even chew a rabbit
And over all the gentle moon
gazing down     crispen true
through familiar branches climbed each one
and dappled now by white snow
And the white snow squelching down the path
as we set off for the town


When I may write of her
That made me that I am
My rhymes need no more run
Her self enough of flair
I paint her picture not
Scribbling another's face
The reason for this waste
Unknown lost but sought
I knew her in a moment
When our eyes met the first time
A trance yet twenty yards away
As met fate sprang my mind
To read there's something there
To sense that all's not words
As the need for finding breaks
The hunted with the hounds
Is not the same as meeting one
Was sprung by birth to stars
Yet I may not write of her
That taught me I was real
Could the beauty be all mine
A reflection of myself
But that's not true 'twas there
Your poetry in the night
As you laughed and spoke till dawn
And I worshipped at your sight
I hear your voice no more
Yet I seek it through my life


You in the dim morning light
Laughing and staring
Your hair fluffed and shoulders bare
As you listened in the morning
To a mind racing its patterns
With no understanding
Appeasing its gods
Mouthing its prayers
And you listened in the morning
As the cool hard floor
Touched at tense fingers
Beckoning in the dawn
And you spoke of a someone
Who perhaps loved a someone
But you were so young in the morning
Who taught you this game?
But was love in the morning
As talked of another
And the eyes told of wonder
And tongues trapped together
As we prayed to our own gods
To tell them we were there
And you in the morning
As it went away

A Retelling

Philomel     the most favoured of poets' songsters
Are your treacherous heights so impossible to scale
Do you mourn unceasing over the cruel rocks
As white horses eternal prance at your feet
Do you stalk the cliff tops solitary
Despairing your grey sister's presence
Or do you sing of the lost little children
Who thrill ecstatic to some fresh magic
On first mimicking your high call
And black savagery of blood on blood
As you help prepare strange vengeance
On a barbarous intruder     roused by Springtime
To dare taste toast by your fire
And the sad voice searching the woodlands
As you seek eternal
The white horses dashed on the foreshore
The blood seed cut by the knife

Yuri Gagarin

The wing clippers at work again
Oh Daedalus     Do they not torment you?
Flourishing youth overflowing the sky
Now plummets as a stone
And your golden craft revealed
As but a fragile dream
To the workshops and the nurseries!
Construct us another charioteer
A fresh young face
A bright eyed seeker
Let the mould be firm set
Strain your technique artificers!
We'll have no more of these fallen heroes
Magician!     Inform the crystal spheres
To mute their close knit harmonies
For here's a lusty child come
To shout your fame

27 March 1968

The rose

Die a little every day
The petalled heart plucked away
Erosion of being
The cult of foreseeing
Life spread out     a dissection table
The maker's manual
Read the label
At night in the warmth
Does the flower regrow
Scarlet blood against the snow
Or dying once
Is dead and gone
An artery cut upon the lawn
The morning wakes a little less
Fresh pursuit of happiness
All life runs down     we with it too
So very little left to do
But dying once
Is dead and gone
The heart shrinks slowly every morn


A garden of statues
Each wearing an imperious frown
Scowling staring faces
And the white bull came from the sea
Foaming through billows
To the quarry of marble
And the sightless statues staring
Worn by the wrath of centuries
All around is green
( The large house in the background )
And the walks the pleasant walks
Through the lawnswept garden
The bull from the sea at Carrara
Bloodily battering its way
Foaming through billows
As we walked the pathways
With the statues staring
Even a mould of green on the marble
The colour is green at Carrara
And the white bull from the sea
The bull slew us at Carrara
Sightless statues staring
As we walked the empty lawns
Silent at Carrara
Our blood mingled sand and grass
For the bull from the sea
Our blood bled darkly
The great house in the background
We should never have left the warm wooded fire
But we walked the green garden
Walked the empty lawns
With silent statues staring
The white bull came from the sea

For Baudelaire

To die in one's arms Maman
To die in one's arms
After near fifty years of loving Maman
We are finally home
And I grow younger every minute Maman
As I waiting the chilly end
I have waited all these years Maman
And now you come to bless my grave
See that flowers rest my head Maman
And look after yourself dear
It's chilly here this afternoon
But it's good to have you near
Now I'm the boy who played Maman
And took your heart and soul
The flowers budded sweetly then
And we were so alone
I tried my best to play my part
Straight from the morning's glitter
But only one fate was mine Maman
Had we loved each other better
You've known you've loved my soul Maman
Please please don't forget it


A landscape of unwanted sounds

Mark the serenity of old stones
No chiming on these shadowy rocks
They stand forever
And did a nation joyfully construct
Come from mud hovels
To erect the sanctuary
Here a people strove the immortal
Clocking planets moon and sun
Watching the watchers
Strange gods awoke the northern sky
Their voice a harmony upon the stations
And they speak no more these humming tops
Their messages unlooked for
A people from the mud
Listened as heaven spun
The cobweb silk of nightfall
They built it

Triad: The Magicians


We came from the beginning we
Striding hand in hand
Over the green friendly lands
Pausing in the silent vision of the night
To chart courses and name wonders
And question
Before yoking the stinking oxen to the wagons
Trudging onwards toward the distant hills
We made our way

Lying on our backs in the sand
Toes amusing themselves in the water's splash
The great heat of the Lifegiver
Swept through us
And we dared not look His face
But kept careful watch     secretly
Timing His movements and those of His minions
That we might know His power
To usurp Him
One day

And the Mother was angry and distrustful
At our ignorance of Her constancy
As we stripped Her of the lesser jewels
Returning Her temples to the black depths
And leaving Her only with that
Which could not be taken away
Her presence in the night
But we watched Her

And our magicians became learned in all ways
Pursuing secrets where they found them
And they played their toys
In our palaces our homes our hovels
In bringing forth the mysteries
And letting all taste and know
That we were not as inferior to these deities
As our prophets had instructed us
In their wisdom

And stealthily     most cunningly wrought
We constructed our god
Of equations and reactions and repulsions
We ordered all that was to be ordered
And balancing chance and clockwork
We made the mysteries
We created the perfections of numbers
The affirmation of the dualities
Our uniqueness in the substance
Although the edges perhaps disturbed us
For here the tempos

And for our God we built most marvellous works
Structure upon structure
As our society was bent to His image
And complexities and absurdities abounded
As from His simple tools
We aggrandised ourselves and strutted the air
Relishing our condition
And He watched playfully
Leading on our theoreticians

And we were so arrogant and assured
That we had no need of Him
And banished Him
We ourselves were the masters of all
For had We not constructed him in our image
And were not Our magicians unsurpassed
In their construction of fresh powers
As they pressed on furious
To the ultimate revelation
Of Our Godhood

And god fled from his temples fearfully
For his closest secrets were at risk
And We hounded him and hunted him
Deep into the psyche     Deep into the cosmos
For all was Order
And his greatest power shown
As the toss of a coin
So he returned to his dethroned Mother
For consolation

She was sitting beneath a bush
Scratching herself and drawing patterns in the earth
She looked up when she saw god coming
And made room for him
And they looked up at the sky and laughed
For the Moon and the Sun were both visible
And they looked at each other
Amused for they saw love again
He reached out for her
And took her

And they writhed and twisted
As the heat thrashed through them
Their naked bodies
Coarse against the earth and cold against the sky
Broke gushing warmth and oneness
And they were free
And their beings mingled
As they knew each other
And were each other

And he rose and held out his hand
And she shyly first came to him
Together they looked at the broad green country
As the warm sun blessed them
And the moon poised her wink
On the rim of the world     watching
Hand in hand they walked into the morning
Laughing carefree joined
And they had no time
For looking about them


Man was alone in His Universe
He had infiltrated and expelled all rivals
His was the future
He alone bore the responsibilities
And throughout His world
Order would rise     ignorance would crumble
The structure of the millenium was decreed
And His servants would do their bidding
Although functions may adjust
The underlying structure is eternal
He said

Each cadaver its place in society
Each intellect its chosen target
Great institutions     the great foundations
Insidious bureaucracy     the wealth of nations
All were appointed to their special niche
For the purposes of happiness
Unity democracy anarchistic variety
The artistic mentality
Fostered and underwritten
To assure life's cultivation

A sham     a facade     most delicately poised
That vast interlinkage     progressive mankind
For many secrets were left still unfound
We doubt His capacity
To solve in this Time
The roots of Sacred Laws
The consistency of Deductions
The veil of Reality
Knowing how     Yes
But where the daring Why

Perhaps He turned inwards     avoiding questions
Reconstructing the structured
Instructing the ill advised
For the perfection of Utopian bliss
Creating a plastic euphoric Paradise
Where each their own God
Circling through the strata
Of labelled regiments of thought
Snatching at ecstatic crumbs
From some unwary exposer

Decrying His birth right
His mortal nature     His questing
Bowed down by the backbreaker
The fat slug on His shoulder
He must choose His moments for breathing
And for manipulating
The creaking machinery
That gave Him mastery over the unknowable
And the solid rock base for pursuing
Some outward dream

Are You for the burning of books
The hewing down of pyramids
The unleashing of the sun's warmth?
Or to infiltrate these cold mechanics
Who have no purpose or existence
And to use their tools secretly
To distract them by homespun fables
Of the questions unanswered
And of Your rivals in the Cosmos
Do You want to be alone


The fading years of the Christ child
Close to Pluto
Ever the magician's Saviour
A silver fish hangs in the sky
Alive alert bristling with activity
Of men machines minds
Human and inhuman
Linked twined enraptured
For the Homecoming
The golden Mothership and her four black sons
Soon to float from the depths of Space
Into the warm welcoming grasp of the Sun
The return     the first homecoming
The release of our one bloodseed
Our time...

for Rilke


a lost little boy scrambling the sanddunes
his dog beside him
bounding pawmark to pawmark
then over the last ridge
and there
the sea
deep blue eternity
with an occasional white ripple
and the waves beating the foreshore
the empty arc of golden beach
curving into evening

and there on the sand
a small dot
it's a little old man
a baldheaded gnome
with goblin ears
dancing with his stick
round and round he goes
patterns in the sand
shapes grotesque fantastic
drawn in the sand
with his walking stick
the little boy follows
hopping in time
as the little man twirls
swirling his tale
as he spells his shapes
pictures in the sand
and the little boy learns
as the tide comes in
of a blonde goddess
who rode horses
and even now
was splashing in the foam
with tight blue jeans
and a gilded body
she eyed the horses
and did everything wrong

the little man etched
her beautiful spirals
the tears flowing
for she'd loved him so
and he'd only seen her
one dark wet evening
sitting at the local picture show

and black widows weeping
tears and tears
for a young man prancing
a tribune's path
and the black widows weeping
tears and tears
for a tribune of the people
who spoke his part

and the little boy followed
hopping in time
as the baldheaded gnome
jigged and danced
in the fading sun
furiously scratching
to finish his tale
as the water crept
slyly up the shore

the gold headed girl
and the whole world weeping
she wouldn't take love
for she needed it so

and the young man with a vision
dreaming and doing
a stranger in his country
for he loved it so
standing for his people
a wisp of glory
love thy neighbour
a long long way to go

and black widows weeping
tears and tears
for a tribune of the people
who spoke his part

and the little man weeping
for he had promised the moon
to pay her a visit
and sing a sad tune
for tight blue jeans
and white horses in the sand

a great man spitting blood
crushed by metal hooves
ripped by the cavalcade
shattered for his fame
and the black widows weeping
tears and tears
for a tribune of the people
who spoke his part

with his pointed ears
and his walking stick
the little man twirled
and spun upon the sand
as he etched his tale
while the waves beat in
and the little boy followed
hopping in time
with his dog beside him
and his head bent down

and the black widows weeping
tears and tears
for the great young man
who spoke his part
and made them a dream
for to act their part
but was ripped by the cavalcade
crushed by hooves
for loving his neighbour
a long way to go

and the little man cried
and wept his tears
for a blonde goddess
who even now
was splashing in the foam
with tight blue jeans
and a gilded body
who did everything wrong
and the little boy followed
hopping in time
and the black widows wept
tears and tears
for a young man prancing
a tribune's path
and the black widows wept
tears and tears
for a tribune of the people
who spoke his part
ripped by the cavalcade
crushed by hooves
for having a dream
which hadn't been thought

and all was silent
and the little man danced
furiously scratching
to finish his tale
as the little boy followed
hopping in time
with his dog beside him
and his head bent down

the little man wept
and the little man cried
for a gold headed girl
who wouldn't take love
for she knew herself
from where she came
that the black widows wept
tears and tears
for a great man's blood
shattered for his fame
for having a dream
which hadn't been thought
a tribune of the people
who spoke his part

and the little boy followed
hopping in time
with his dog beside him
and his head bent down
as the tide came in
and covered the shore
occasional white ripples
on the empty shore
as the little man cried
and sadly went home

the little boy watched
and patted his dog
then they looked at the sea
and trotted off ---

Love Sonnets

Envy the boy with his girl in the park
So young self assured arrogant intact
He floats in a dream secure that she's there
One twitch of her eye he's walking on air
Look after him girl say all the right lines
Dazzle and dazzle but remember he's blind
Stand straight there before him look in his eye
Give him your picture then you'll live till he dies
Be gentle be kind don't force his young sex
He'll come in good time it's his head that's erect
Tell stories tell magic create him your art
And always before him Oh warm his struck heart
You're so far beyond him but teach him in jest
There's jokes writ in Heaven he'll never regret

Oh boy you're so glaikit did you hear what I said
When I'm talking me for you It's clean innocent
I've never told anyone the loves I've told you
You've just seen a part of me Don't believe it's true
Oh I must look after you I wish I knew why
There's something inside of us It's just another lie
Must be love but do I want you --- let's off to the dance
I could spend half my life with you But you've no chance
It's all unbelievable I could do with a man
To feel out these worries in the palm of his hand
Let's off and I'll show you the worst dives in town
The hard men the negroes they know me around
I'll give you a lesson what matters in life
It's giving and giving and loving the rides

Suddenly you're pressing you're trying to break through
To gabble inanities that you're the same too
You're great as a companion but keep in your place
My god if I don't watch it he'll be pawing my face
And all of those stories and all I told true
Yet he's given me nothing not a word bloody fool
This is really embarrassing he's just not my type
It's gone please don't spoil it Nothing lasts twice
Remember the good times I think I'll go away
It's weather for the beaches the boys go there today
Nice to have known you but you see I'm so busy
I must help my cousin Oh she's ever so pretty
But it's funny there's something it hurts to remember
He's got something on me My look at that feller!

Talking talking talking the tongue of a snake
Darting rounded sharp practical Talking
Who ever had so much to tell --- confessional
All the fathers in the world listened those nights
And forgave everything for it was so beautiful
Look beauty live beauty but being beauty untouchable
The words meld crystal patterns
The warmth smothers envelopes surrounds the world
And the voice plays by instinct the purest notes
Making its peace meeting itself in absolution
As the unspoken response approves loving eyed
The innocent yearning so deeply buried --- And now
Permitted their hour to create truth on Earth
Love so simple so sweet an existence of self

Oh love love lost unattainable
And have I nothing to say to you
Just a black space inside with no words
Oh agony Nothing agony Nothing Nothing
And to look at you Yes and to listen
To touch No but no words Oh why no words
You made everything real and now you've taken it away
I don't exist anymore Just a great empty hole inside
But nothing to say to you and I don't want you near
It's good being sad feeling the hole chewing on it
That's what I really wanted anyway the nothingness
But was magic there I must forget your words
Your voice Yourself too close to me Sister
I'll make a temple for you But you're not in it

From civilisation a diary: 1971-72


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.


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!

from Caritatis Carmina: 1973-76

`A tremor...'

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.

`She is so secret...'

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...'

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.


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.

Gallus: Poems 1982-83

`All the veins of silver give out.'

                   ...Robert Lowell


The grey ships are pulling out on the dawn tide,
The grey ships are leaving.
You sit in your citadel by the sea
Watching the grey ships leaving.
The city is burning all around you
Buildings crashing down, men dying
And the fighters are leaving.
Grey ships slipping out to sea on the morning tide,
The fighters are leaving.
As you sit in your citadel by the sea
Grey ships leaving.
The barbarians are over the wall
There are men dying
And the city is burning.
You weave your patterns on the page
Recording details of grand events
Watching the fighters leaving.
The barbarians are in your citadel,
They took your heart long years ago
As you sat in your citadel weaving,
And the fighters are leaving.
Grey ships pull out on the dawn tide
Sliding swiftly over the sea
While you sit in your citadel
I climb on the last ship and wave goodbye,
Loving you,


I wanted to be a great poet
And look where I've got,
Playing the rhymes
On Susan's cunt.
So what I'll do next
Is describe her face,
It sits by itself
In a state of grace.
There are lines on her forehead
She works too hard,
Look at her energy
And not a bad word.
Sometimes she is surly
And deeply aggrieved,
But she keeps very quiet
And sniffs on her sleeve.

The elegy of G. Cornelius Gallus

It is the season of lambing.
The gasgun burps its rhythm through the night
echoing down far distant foxholes.
The ewes stand in the hills above Lanark
waiting to be brought down to the barn for labour.
Robin births his triplets and succours the weak,
stuffing them with warm milk and drugs.
The Daihatsu will deliver them to the flock
when they are well.
I lie in my bed and think of Empire.
The farmlands drifting across the world
to the distant lair of technocratic Europe.
The centre holds me in its tiny grip.
Lycoris climbs the steppe to High Germany
where the missile squadrons pout and glare,
Feeding off the incorruptible power that we made,
The dark reds and the dark blues of the Legions
swathed over brown forested countryside.
The plateglass city built on papiermache. Appointed
to administrate this outpost.
Once upon a time, at Durham,
The dark queen watched green ivy
crawl over the tomb of Cuthbert. Oh Antony,
She ran her fingers over the stone,
nodding at your candle.
She hid behind the altar.
As I looked in the door, merrily chatting,
Always one for words; and I had her. At Alexandria.
It's not the same when you have to carve out your own statues,
from Nile mud,
I always loved a good fighter.

The sheep have no fear of the gun.
The lambkins huddle around it for protection
As it thumps away,
That it frightens foxes must be an old wives' tale,
Like our city resplendent in marble.
That's what our clerks scurry for:
That the vision may proceed.
I always chose the right side, like Plancus.
Until there were no sides left to choose,
Only myself to make a monument,
They cannot burn it all.
In the North Country you cannot see the satellites
The eternal spinners that dip low over Egypt.
The horsemen parade before proud Lycoris.
Over the Heath is the sound of a drum.
Am I dreaming?
White horses. She walks beside a coffin.
Her heroes have no staying power.
Crossing the sea from Actium,
Holding all the pieces in my head
and playing the ropes of organisation,
Allowing a flourish here and a quiet spot there,
Invigorating the whole troop,
And never losing sight of the objective,
The great prize waiting at journey's end,
The conquering of the one dark queen.
Placing her white bones back in the foetal position.
Luring her to doom. Loving her.
And now I can celebrate.
My name is entered in the Annals, as Praefectus.
Did Lycoris back the right horse then?

I am in bed in a farm above Lanark.
Beyond Cuthbert's tomb is the sea and the city.
The rules girdle the globe that girdle men's lives.
Unspoken regulations, a diminishment of grandeur,
They even govern love.
The houses of New Lanark are a ruin to be restored.
An experiment in a better way of living
Fallen, as all are fallen, into disrepute.
A museum of antiquities. Folklore.
We have seen it all before.
In Little Egypt men must work and die.
I once believed in poetry.
It won me the love I had never had,
It paved the Angel's path,
But it was an illusion.
The world belongs to the city
and he has the power who pulls the strings.
At the centre is the committee. With Augustus.
They may despatch me as they despatched my Lycoris
but at least I am of them.
Tomorrow I will leave Cousin Robin and the farm
and journey South nearer to the heartland.
In this day and age you cannot afford
to be out of touch for long.

For I will go where the starships go
And follow the bleating wail of a child.


The moon haunts me,
Comes visiting in the small hours,
Hoist in the sky
Far above echo and recrimination.
She floats on her tidal wave,
white as the whitest white horse,
Peering down
Pickled with emotion.
Without my spectacles
Her face is not so sharp
As it used to be,
But I have memorised every pore of her skin
And still see her vigilant in my cause.
We have traded paths for forty years
And we will watch each other
As the sun goes down.
Beyond knowledge, beyond memory
She is the constant of my life;


I am the shape-maker
electing out of the murmuring voices
assonance and rhythm.
I weave from the singularity of love
triptychs of before and after.
The constant spell amazes me
as I fashion this glottal sympathy.
Never to look back and say it was.
Never to look forward and repeat the question.
It was there in the moonlight
as I brushed a tear from your cheek,
Your eyes lit by Paradise,
as you asked yourself where the rainbow lay.
The lost years of youth burn brightest
in the elation of your calm intelligence;
Absurd before and after.
Trapped together for eternity
by an absence of words,
The eyes, making a mockery of language
at the feast of the soul.
You, so pretty.


...I would have taken Rome...

The horsemen pick their way down thru the trees,
Red deer scatter, a wood-pigeon takes off.
The black-robed horsemen,
Dressed in mail with vizored faces,
Descend thru the trees.

The chapel is a ruined wreck,
Stone toppled from stone.
Green ivy and blackberry spines whorl,
Twirl, emmeshing the amphitheatre;
Bird droppings stain the altar.

In the beginning was the sunshine of morning,
The yellow cornfields and the blue sky,
The riders went out joyful;
Hymns were praised in the valley.
There was a song that floated thru the wind,
Carried by the air; heavenward.
It was to youth, the hunter, that we thrilled
In our progress toward the citadel.

...How many years have I hung on the oak?...

Bandit kings and aficionados,
Strawberries in their fertile cups.
The taste of knowledge, adventure,
Perused thru an empty glass;
The horsemen are coming thru the trees.

They come to these ruins
After a lifetime of endeavour,
They dismount and kneel on the ground;
They sniff the backside of the world.
For this were they born, triumphant.

They are my ruins. I built it.
I put stone upon stone. I mixed mortar.
I constructed arches. I stole wood.
Inserted stools and chairs,
Canopies and gorgeous banners,
Carved flutings and the harvest wreath.
I purchased the silver cross,
That all might worship.

Have you ever sat on the end of the rainbow?
Dangled fishing hooks into frogspawn?
Loved into a girl's eyes?
I have.
I went away and left my treasure for safe keeping;
I had business in the outskirts of the void, things to do.
But when I returned all was flattened,
They were bringing up the steamroller.

Men in white suits, crisp businessmen.
They sit behind desks answering phones,
Dictating memoranda, pince nosed.
The only beauty they have is when they fuck.
They crated my soul for oblivion
But I wriggled out of the box,
Stole their exercise books
And sat down in my armchair, grieving.

...I have watched the horsemen galloping down the ruins of time...

There are children playing in the valley,
Curly haired children with apple cheeks.
They have been alone for a long time.
They dug sandcastles and played in streams;
Dressed up in blankets and rode bicycles.
They read, in books, fables of princesses;
Learnt their tables by rote,
And prayed to look over the horizon.

They listened to the sad music played by fountains,
Elegies sponging up their open hearts.
Knocked on the witch's cottage asking for bread,
Stole sixpences from under the pillow;
Went for walks along country paths,
In the snowtime thought of cities.
They were born immortal,
Alone 'til the end of time.

There was no Eden,
No Babylon to bow down and worship.
Babyland was a feast of monsters.
The struggle is beginning to end.
No centre. No crutch.
A sowing of dragon's teeth.
To reject a mother's love 'cos it wasn't good enough,
Retreat into fantasyland.

The black-robed horsemen burnt the valley.
They stuck their fingers into the dirt
Wiped their noses and said nothing.
I hid.
The furies of the horsemen
Gripped on milk-white steeds,
Riding off into the sunset
Craving for attention. They raped me.

...I have no one to meet...

She is beautiful.
She is honey with the sweet glow of perfection.
She sizzles.
And she is all I have.

I howl thru the dark night of the world
`I want you' `I want your baby'
I howl thru the dark night of the world
`You are so beautiful'

The horsemen destroyed my ruin.
Took my pretty thing for their own.
I will destroy them as they destroyed me,
Bring down the roof about their heads.

You sit by your window
Staring blindly out to sea,
I wonder if you've even forgotten
You ever loved me.

I howl for my wife
She brushes back her hair,
I look at where you are
But you are not there.

You sit on your citadel
By the sea,
Fending off horsemen

...Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow...

I would make a great bonfire
And climb up to join you,
Renouncing all our conquests
Especially each other.
Holding your body in my arms
We would perish in the flames,
Secure in our innocence
Protected from these funeral games.

You won all of me with all of you
But you are so secret nobody knows,
And your vanity won't accept the price
Of laying yourself low before my eyes.
You howl for children and I for you
There really is no sense in it,
But we won't lift a little finger to compromise
There can be no end of it.

Marry me in my chapel beneath the harvest moon
Ignore the ruined surroundings and the horsemen who abuse,
Nurse your baby at your breast on top of the citadel dome
Realise at long last that you have family and home,
Feed each other the warm love not put there at the start
There's no heaven There's no hell Can keep we two apart.

...I would have taken Rome...

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