MID-SEPTEMBER SUN

Dry and ripening:
sea flat and shining
like burning glass.

Gulls floating
like ducks on a giant’s pond.

Small Coppers, Blues and Hairstreaks
playing
like blown leaves
in parched grass.

Victoria plums,
blackberries.

This is the turning
of the year
when all that is thought of as ‘there’
is found to be ‘here’,
when harvests are collected,
lifetimes are inspected,
(next time’s cosmic seeds selected)
and the traveller sees fear
in his handful of dust.
(In his handful of dust).

 

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WISDOM OF SOLOMON

Those who sow the wind
reap the whirlwind.

The politicians,
seeing nothing better to do,
sow the wind.

Encourage the people
to be dissatisfied
(so that they can promise to satisfy them).

Encourage the people to envy the rich;
(promise a fairer redistribution).

Tell the people:
they have a right to be angry,
they have a right to justice,
they have a right to free sex changes.

The people are like blotting paper.
Soak it up eagerly.

Dissatisfaction, envy, anger,
demands for justice (and sex changes)
become a whirlwind,
which hunts down
the politicians.

 

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MIDSUMMER DREAM

I dreamed of Paradise Garden;
sunlight sliding down
from an infinite sky
through cedar trees to emerald lawns;
oriental poppies six feet high,
Indian butterflies gliding by
through multilayered shades of blue.
Olympian Apollo’s statue
holds a fountain in his hands,
which swirls and mists, sparkles and cools,
cascading down to deep green pools,
where red carp flash on silver sands.

Gazing round I find,
beyond the mirror of my mind,
past flowering trees and shrubberies,
how all around
this fertile ground
the garden is confined
within a fence of iron bars,
which stretches high
to arch across and make a canopy
between me and the sky.
The falcons, hawks and eagles
which circle round are kept at bay
and cannot swoop to seize as prey
the song birds that sing here all day.

Beyond the bars, a crawling multitude
swarms to and fro insatiably
but cannot find its way
into my garden solitude.

Heavens! I thought, the truth is clear to me!
That restless swarming world
is a prison shut in by iron bars.
Only I, in my garden, am completely free!

 

(Poem from BAMBOO LEAVES)

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HEDGEROW FLOWERS

The more I label
the less I am able
to see.
The more I see
the less I am able
to label.

 

(Poem from GNOMONIC VERSES)

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MAGDALEN

In the Fellows’ Gardens,
past the Deer Park,
a willow twists and stretches
out of a brown pool
like a giant Naga
trailing garlands of green lace.

Along the avenues of Addison’s Walk,
among birch and beech,
chestnuts stretch out their branches
like semaphores,
and hang their leaves like flags;
green and gold and brown and red,
signalling the turn of the year.
Underfoot,
chestnuts crunch
into yellow loam and gravel.

A Painted Lady,
blood cooled by October,
flutters by laboriously
in the thin air.

Michaelmas Term begins
In high spirits and confusion.
Crowds spill into the roads
among bicycles and car horns
and a sudden shower of thin rain.

Oxford gets its annual infusion
of fresh blood and celebration.
Academics, who sit on high,
lick dry
lips in anticipation.

Just like the empty shells of the Dead
who followed Prince Teiresias
to meet Odysseus
at the World’s End,
by the River of Pain;
to drink the red blood
and recognise
the Living once again.

 

(Poem from OXFORD BLUES)

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ASTRAL TRAVEL

You can’t go through
the ceiling?
You are holding
onto the settee.

You can’t go through
the Eye of the Needle?
You are a fully loaded camel.

You come
to a fork in the road
and cannot decide
whether to go left or right?
Don’t.

You pull
the cork
out of a really shy young man?
You get a raving
egomaniac.

“I once had an aunt
who said she had chosen to can’t.
In the face of such logic
I became melancholic.”

Punching someone on the jaw
is a hostile act
to the whole person.

Not just to an individual bone.

 

(Poem from GNOMONIC VERSES)

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SQUARING THE CIRCLE

How glad I am
that I am here
and not somewhere else.

(If I were
somewhere else,
I’d be here.)

No escape, then!

 

(Poem from GNOMONIC VERSES)

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