HICKORY DICKORY DOCK

A girl pedals.
A boy with the dream of her shirt in his eye
rides the metal carrier behind,
pressing her feet down with his.

An individualist stays within call.

My shoe cushions a small Chinese forehead
pressing down her eyes
for money.

Another kneels her black passin
into the sand
fingering a tin,
shells she has collected to sell.
Her child rubs dirt
into the bright stripes of his shirt.

Bird-song-bird
thing-word-thing
sand-me-sea.

One between two
so that nothing’s seen
without involving all the rest:
she, pressing eyelids,
he, with prosperous vest,
leading all the world in
as their relatives.

This remembered and puzzled in sala-shade
where I had come
to meet and be alone with my friends
one between two
(involving infinity) –

when the sun burst into rubbery fire
through the smoked glass of waving branches
at the wind-open western side,
negating aloneness
(or any other kind of activity),
taking the form out of things
and giving glorious light,
swelling the colours on the bananas
until they stained the plate.

(Destroying a world of physics
with one splash.)

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THE PAINTED VEIL

Millions of bubbles; bubbles, bubbles. Bubbles.
Who could have thought
so small
would be curse of all,
and source of all
our troubles?

Microscopic seeds
encasing nuclei of fire.

Each germinates and breeds
subtle filaments of desire.

Desire slides in and overpowers,
making our best intentions fail.
It weaves the painted veil
which shrouds this world,
this world, which is not ours.

Lift it?
It proliferates with every minute.

See it?
Our eyes are trapped within it.

The world?
The world’s a vast and empty machine.
Thunders on.
Blunders on.
Silent and unseen.

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PYRAMIDS AND SARCOPHAGI

Why did they spend so much time there
in the anteroom of death?
What could they prepare?
Paper possessions as light as breath
were too heavy for their dead to bear
away from the fire.

Why did they keep their eyes
on pyramid, tomb and funeral pyre?
Even the wise.

Why did they go
into the shadow
and stare
at the nothing there?

Monumental keepsakes
built with all the patience of eternity.

Can we not wake
from all these dreams of our identity?

You’ll not find
time between breath and breath
to hold them safe
within your mind
at death.

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SUDDENLY SEPARATE SPIDER SENTRY

STILLNESS is
the space between movements
the crack in the universe
the gloved hand
with the art
to pull apart
two thin life stitches
and let a stab of nothing in.
An eye
with sky behind
for mind,
a face blind,
a sunflower petal falling
stamen to earth;
or bird-song-bird calling
either side of the path.
No eye to meet your eye.

FACES are petals falling
(bird-song-bird),
tongue shapes are
spaces to be heard.
Behind lip and fall
nothing at all.
Only this petal or that
to choose
to lose
to stare at.

FORGIVE a pronoun’s entry
along a spine,
a suddenly separate spider sentry
wanting to define
his continent of cells,
wanting another
a more than mother brother.
Like whispering shells
sharing a spark
the sun let fall into their dark.

NOTHING will keep nothing warm,
Form alone contents with Form.
And so put out the need
for the note scrawled on the music page,
the cricket in the icicle.

THE FRUIT is in the stone
already grown.
The cells
group to fill already forming shells
to keep out out.
This is where lion lies down with lamb:
in dried skin
dried blood
powdered edges
broken flame
particles on particles the same,
and again
in the bone clutch of the brain,
groupings, twitchings, pullings, tame.
Slippings and slidings on a wet palette.

LEAVE the child to his darkness.

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TWO TREES

Khun’s house stands impermanently
by a large and ancient Bodhi tree.
This has lent him its shade
since the house was first made
and has spread its branches comfortably.
Under such a tree was Buddha enlightened.
Hundreds of birds come here
to nest,
to rest,
to watch the night fade
and the dark sun appear.
Khun has heard of chicken flu.
Seeing all those birds, he fears
that he might catch it too.
He drew the Council’s attention to it.
He wanted the tree cut down
and the Council to do it.
The Council refused,
said no, declined, demurred.
But Khun was not so easily deterred
and hired a local man to do it for him.
But first he knelt down on the ground
(Suchit saw him).
He put his hands together
in a gesture of submission
and asked the Bodhi tree’s permission.

I do not know
what the tree had to say
but I do know
it was chopped the very same day.
Opposite Wat Krathum,
a large and ancient banyan tree
has been blown down by the wind.
A Medium says the deva
has been complaining it is homeless.
On Sunday the old Headmaster (eighty three)
announced in the Temple
that local people had collected
seven thousand baht
for a large Spirit House to be erected
next to the stump.

(from BAMBOO LEAVES – poetry in Thailand)

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THE SUN SHINES

The sun shines
on the path
silent and still.

Either side
shadows
twist and turn
calling on the mind
to lose itself in a dance
with its own reflections.

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IN PRAISE OF WORDSWORTH'S DAFFODILS

I wandered lonely with the crowd
to dine by moonlight where the mermaid goes
when, looking up, I saw a cloud
of jostling dancing mosquitoes:
above my head, above my seat
spinning down hungrily for something to eat.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle brightly overhead,
they stretched, an endless vertical line,
upwards from just above my head.
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
sniffing my blood in sprightly dance.

The waves beside us danced; but these
out-did the sparkling waves in glee.
A poet’s blood could not but freeze
in such voracious company.
I gazed—and gazed—but knew full well
what use they’d make of my blood’s smell.

And oft when on my bed at night,
in vacant or in pensive mood,
I feel the itching from their bite,
which is the bane of solitude;
and then my heart with outrage fills
and I wish that they’d been daffodils.

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