MAKE AN EFFORT

Matter is always inert;
dense shadowy stuff
that resists the shining.

Leave the puppet
to its own devices
and how will it ever
get out of its box?

Who then is there
to make an effort?
And with what force
from where obtained?

The child, the kitten, the puppy
have no idea
that there are efforts
to be made.

Simmering with energy,
breathing through the joints and strings,
they almost make the puppet fly
with pure enthusiasm.
By what deity
are they then possessed?

Growing older,
fires colder,
energy wanes,
puppet pains,
lies down
in its box.
Shadowy
and inert.

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BABIES

Babies do not cry
through choice.
It’s just their suffering giving voice;
wishing to share it
with someone like you who can bear it.

In Latin this someone is called mater.

Nowaday’s-English comes much later,
and I cannot find a word to translate her.

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NO EXIT

Oh Lord, I have terrified
my soul at your graveyards
where the spirits of your people
thought to rest
for an over-flowering morning
to recall the world in,
regale themselves with memories in,
tremble in the glory of their souls
at what they please to call your throne.
And all these yearning spirits
who have tumbled half-asleep
into their deaths, or taken them
with eyes blighted,
or been numbed into their graves
with violence and fear,
or wanted death
and still been unprepared:
all these have framed
a way of outward thinking
and even something to look at, Lord.

And it has served a purpose,
kept both eyes in focus
from their separating ways
past your infinite divinity
to an infinite blur
in infinite space.
And this they called your grace,
lest it should seem a little strange
that any God would take such pains
to stand well in their sight,
seeking approbation,
adulation,
in exchange for dubious delight;
almost cap-in-hand
to woo the happy band
to a fitting consummation
with all creation in reverse
absorbed in Him.

A whim which only an invented God
could think
and not also think it odd.

But it has served a purpose
this deterrent
for our eyes,
and would do still
were we not now content
to fix our sight
still closer
along the street
that’s in the mind
on the first thing that we find,
still closer,
almost at our own feet.

Or lost in contemplation
of a footprint,
sacrificing sense
to sensation,
retreating further from the older dispensation,
Lord.

Footprint and foot,
past and present too,
equal mind rests
to consent to.
If only to avoid the tiny terror
of where foot touches ground,
the small silence where a
thing in finding becomes found.

Were we better bound
with your cord, Lord?

Our knot.

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DUSIT ZOO

Part of the Royal Dusit Garden Palace,
where Chulalongkorn built himself
a great golden teak palace
with the cutting edge technology of 1900,
was a private botanical garden,
full of rare plants and lakes.

In 1938 the Revolutionary Government
metamorphosed it
into Municipal Zoological Gardens
with animals and paddleboats.
In an enclosure of rock and grass
and paddling pools,
the two tigers can circumambulate
their world in forty five seconds.
They are fat.
They walk to get an appetite.
They eat only to sleep.
We look into their tiny freedom
through the bars of our great cage,
feel brave and shout encouragement in Thai
(they are Bengal Tigers)
and try to stare them in the eye.
They refuse to stare back at us
(they cannot reach us with claws and teeth)
nor do they stare at each other
(they have acquired the virtue
of mutual toleration in their tiny freedom
which we have not yet found in our vast cage).
To please the cameras,
one strolls down
from its ten foot high mountain
to the twelve foot long lake near our bars.
Turning its back on us,
it reverses to the edge of the lake
and tests the water
first with one foot, then the other.
Satisfied, it backs into the lake
until only its lower half is immersed
and reclines, head-high and proud,
staring away from us into the vastness
of its primeval inner jungle.

Tyger, tyger, burning bright,
in your forest of your night.

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ASHRAM MELODY

The best way of enough is all gone,
for that there is no argument upon.

While there is still something in the dish
there is, in Mind, propensity to wish.

Wishing is a film that spreads itself like jam
and turns the dullest pebble to a fragment of “I AM”.

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GAOLER’S KEYS

A poem
opens a window
in the prison wall.

If it’s not a poem,
it’s just a picture
on the wall.

Who paints pictures
on the prison wall
is surely in the gaoler’s pay.

May all beings be happy!
May they be free from ill will!
May they be free from enmity!
May they be well and happy all the time!

When friendliness puts in an appearance,
its starting place is non-interference.
Let the uncaged linnet sing.
Leave the butterfly on its wing.

When friendliness puts in an appearance,
Māra grasps its outward form
and wears it as his own disguise
with which he can his tricks perform.

He chooses it to make him friends.
He uses it to blind their eyes
and so accomplishes his ends.

He puts out bait for fish to find.
He leaves a snare to catch him birds,
sows seeds of craving in the mind
and mixes poison with his words
and all the whiles,
he threats and smiles.

Beware the Smyler with his Knife *
who wants your money and your life!

** Chaucer: The smyler with the knife under his cloke.

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PYRAMID REFLECTED ON THE NILE

Earth >
body > mind > spirit >
god.

God >
spirit > mind > body >
earth.

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THE HAPPIEST OLD

The happiest old
have nothing and don’t mind.
The happiest young
are old before their time.
Few these.

The others are behind their years,
suffer thirteen-year-olds’ fears
into their twenties,
and in their forties
have appetite
for sins of twenty.

But not the bite.

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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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COMPUTER TEMPLES

The Faith Homes of the World,
Buddhist, Moslem, Christian,
have acquired spiritual bolt-ons
built by enterprising entrepreneurs
whose Collection Boxes
funnel the money into hands
that have slipped in between the sheets.

Thou shalt not kill
(but needst not strive
officiously to keep alive.)

Thou shalt not eat animals
which have warm blood.

(But it’s OK to drain the blood out first
and then go on and eat
until you’re fit to burst!)

Give all you have to the poor and follow me.
(But don’t take the risk
it might fall into the wrong hands
and be wasted.
Give it to priest or mullah.)

There was a time when
the treasures in the Vatican
would have cancelled the Third World Debt.

(But they’re worth much more than that now;
and we keep them safe with tight security,
not for the benefit of the Just,
but for the Future’s Moth and Rust.)

Cometh the Apocalypse
which will revert to Default Settings
and truly “he” shall have his just reward.

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