AND ASHES TO ASHES

Mingled dust of privet and rose petals
swept by the wind
gathered into cracks and empty spaces
along the bottom of the wall.

Mingled dust of hopes and memories
swept by the mind
gathered into cracks and empty spaces
along the bottom of us all.

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NEW DEBTS TO PAY

Wandering on through a waste
of perils we have so often faced,
blown by hot winds of desire,
pursued by our own shadows,
touched by the invisible fire,
surrounded by supravisible foes.

From waste to waste.
From oasis to oasis.
And every place is
populated by its demons and its deities,
its hermits and those who say
Life is only a matter of just getting by
and waiting for the lottery in the sky
to rain down its fools’ gold.

Bought and sold.

New debts to pay,
an eternally unbalanced ledger,
Totting up, clocking up, clocking out.
Day after day after day.

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DIAMOND MOUNTAIN

Wind blows.
Rattles an invocation
two thousand years old
from bronze temple bells.

Brushes a susurrus
from ten thousand oak leaves.

Draws from their branches
the moaning
of two hundred year old wood,
the dry sound
of a long-forgotten oboe.

Causes a seventy year old man
on a slatted bench
to tug the scarf across his chest.

Wind drops,
slips back
into eternal silence
of measured decay.
Wind undefiled
speaking in many voices.

Diamond Mountain is
one hour high,
one hour wide,
one hour deep.
Every hundred years
a small bird comes
and rubs its beak.
When the whole mountain
is quite worn away,
the first second of Eternity
has passed.

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GUIDE BOOK

“In Chiangmai
there are many shapeful chedis
in which nowhere can be seen.”

Is stillness something
or is it merely
what’s left over
when things
disappear?

How can things
which are ever-moving,
ever-changing,
not be?

Stillness is complete and perfect
when boundaries disappear.

Cattle do not feel
the farmyard gate
pressing against
their outward-going faces.

The goat
does not feel the rope
tugging like the endless past
at its throat.

The bird does not break
its wing
against the window pane.

The butterfly does not
struggle into immobility
in the tangles of the spider’s web.

The ear ceases to vibrate,
the skin to be the terminus
of an electric field.
The eye is not stabbed
by arrows of fire.

When the sea is
a millpond,
a mirror to the sky above,
a darkened window
to hazy depths below,
and the air is palpable
in its stillness,
where have the waves gone?

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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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NOW

Now.
Sit down.
Let go.
Tomorrow’s now will be no more than this
another was.

Nothing is enough
to distract
your present thought.

And your present thought
is only movement between two points,
a wave that leaves the water behind,
plotted by an electrical mind.

So take your nothing.
Now.

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POEMS

Poems are diamonds,
everywhere
embedded in living rock.

You see them
you dig them out
you polish them.

(Sometimes you don’t see them.)

Polish them too much,
they break into fragments,
blow away,
a handful of dust.

(Each mote of which is a diamond.)

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DYING RACES OF MANKIND

When the rich see the very poor
they know it is time
to buy their valuables.
Cheaply.

This ancient people
were driven out of Tibet
by the Tibetans,
out of China by the Chinese
and out of Burma
by the Burmese.

Ah Kah people are very poor
and cannot offer much resistance
to economic assistance.
They make exquisite silver jewellery
and headdresses.
Treasure hunters
have been buying them.
Cheaply.

Ah Kah people have bright shining souls.
Christian missionaries
have been buying them.
Cheaply.

Although the missionaries,
have been taught
that moth and rust doth corrupt
and thieves break in and steal,
they courageously bite the moral bullet
and seek treasures on earth as well.

Ah Kah are animists
and see all around them spirits
and the ghosts of their ancestors.
Their villages are small,
their houses bamboo
and on stilts.
They are accustomed
to having to abandon them
and move on.

Outside each village
is a ceremonial swing
on three poles.
Smaller than the Giant Brahmin Swing,
it serves the same purpose;
to gently dislodge the jiva
from the physical manipura
and reawaken the old self-knowledge.

The Headman reawakens
the old tribal-knowledge.
He can recite the names of the ancestors
back to the Beginning.

Carefully carrying
this self-knowledge
and this tribal-knowledge,
carefully preserving
this family identity,
they have wandered on
like Bronze Age tribes.
Like the Israelites,
who recited their ancestral names
in the Generation of Adam;
And Adam begat Seth
and Seth begat Enos
and Enos begat Cainan
and Cainan begat Mahalaleel
and Cainan lived eight hundred and forty years
after he begat Mahalaleel…

Like the Ashokhs in Transcaucasia,
reciting the story of Gilgamesh.

All these are Inheritors.

The missionaries are bookworms
and teach the Ah Kah
not to believe in spirits
but to become Christians
and go to heaven after they are dead
(which the missionaries
do not seriously believe in
and to which they are unlikely
to be going after they are dead).
The missionaries have already bought
twenty five percent of the Ah Kah souls
in these rolling green hills.
The Spiritual Inheritance of Ah Kah
is bought with running water,
fertilizers and televisions,
radios and motorbikes,
pharmaceutical drugs and jobs
and education for the next generation.
In this village there are two brick buildings,
the priest’s house and a Church.
Despite this, the recitations still go on,
as does haruspication
from the entrails of black pigs.

Further down the valley to the east,
that large white building
is where the children eat and sleep;
and are schooled in the virtues
of the neverland
of western industrial society
and its sanitized philosophies.

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LISTEN

What is that sound?
Like the trailing of a fan
through a silent anteroom?

It is the murmur of air
ruffling leaves.

It is the herald of the whirlwind
which will strip those leaves from their trees
and wrench the trees from the hillside
and blast the soil from the rocks beneath,
leaving the skeleton of the earth
to bleach and crumble.

And what is that sound?
Like a cascade of pearls
on a silver salver?

It is the rushing of the waterfall
in the Italian garden.
It presages the tempest and the raging ocean
which smashes earth’s boundaries
and drives the rivers back up to their sources,
drowning and destroying everything that lives on air.

And what is that sound?
Like the crackle of dry twigs
under the heavy boots of soldiers?
It is the fire in the hearth,
logs spitting, blue and yellow flame dancing
under the granite lintel.

It is the messenger of the Sun
which will rage and burn the planet
to a cloud of incandescent interstellar dust
for the winds of space to disperse forever.

And what is that sound?

High and plaintive
behind the polished nursery door?

It is the crying of a two-day-old baby.
It tells of the heavy tramp of armies
across the continents of the world
marching to the rhythms
of dark gods
bringing the destruction of cities
and the extinguishing of civilisations.

It is the sound of an empty skull
there in the desert,
abandoned by dog and raven,
dry and bleached and splitting along its seams,
home to gusts of wind
and the occasional locust.

These are the sounds of the end of human endeavour,
the end pages of books,
the silence which silences the symphony.

When the gums shrivel and decay,
the teeth are cracked and broken
and there is to be found no place where the smile
or its shadow has ever been;
no echo of long ago laughter.

This is the sound of eternity.

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HOPE AND DESPAIR

In the Present
everything gets done
here.

From the window of the mind,
the Future is there
where the consequences wait.

The mind invents this Future
in order to see consequences
there, not here,
and move towards them.

If these consequences
are seen as essential
and realisable,
the mind is Hope.

If they are seen as essential
but unrealisable,
the mind is Despair.

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