POLITICIANS PAST AND PRESENT

THEN
Dear God,
Please help me
To help them
To help us!

NOW
Dear God,
Please help me
To help them
To help ME!

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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 Nāga
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 fine 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.

(from OXFORD BLUES)

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A SHELL

A SHELL
a big shell
on a warm sand shelf
building long and strong
out at last kept out.

TIME to decide
what’s inside
for inside meditation
for contemplation.
Any answers?

A SKULL
a big skull
with a warm snug self
building long and strong
to keep out out.

EYE, ear and brain
drag it all in again,
sense saturation.

NEVER alone.
No time to take advantage
of the bone.

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WHAT IS WHAT?

A boat
afloat
on the stream
of time.

On either bank
the dream;
a banquet for the senses.
A blaze
of colour and livingness
of music and messages
to tempt and amaze;
enticements and instant memories;
the enchanting voice
of the serpent.

Afloat
on the stream
from nowhere
to nothing.

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PURITY

In the dark tabernacle,
a shaft of sunlight
illumines the heart
and shines through
a million years of dust.

Clouds and clouds of swirling
dust
spiralling
through the light
which spills in a golden pool
on damp, grey stone and iron rust.

When the light moves
it does not take the dust there to it.
When the dust slides into darkness,
the light does not pursue it.

Why then does the heart invent
heart bruising burdens to shoulder?
(Why does the heart consent
to the illusion of growing older?)

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LINNET IN A CAGE

Take away the brain
and the mind has nowhere
to shape itself in.
It needs to find another somewhere.

Take away the mind
and the brain
is a runaway train
without a driver to apply the brakes.

The brainless mind
fades back
into the fading of
its own devices.

The mindless brain
is left in the scrap yard
of merely mechanical resources.

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THE SEASON

The season slides
to wind and showers
and sharp hot sun
(for rare half-hours)
and all the world
lays waste its powers
pursuing what it cannot own.

Then mists and fogs and hazy sunrise
ships’ dull horns and lazy gull cries.

Now blazing heat
(bone dry pails)
sandy feet
single sails.

And thoughts slip in and out of being
just on the edge of almost-seeing.

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THE LIGHT

Consciousness is Life
is the Light that lighteth Everyman
that cometh into the world.

Everyman is not that Light
but can become a witness of that light;
that, seeing it, others
may believe
may become
children of that Light,
may dispel
the Darkness
of the Children of this World.

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POSSESSION

There is the fire that consumes
and the fire that illumines.

There is Desire
and there is Love.

Those motivated by Desire
see things they wish to possess,
things they do not wish to possess,
and other things –
of no interest whatsoever.

Those motivated by Love
see Fellow Travellers
in a thousand different forms;
mirrors
of one Fire.
They feel compassion
and sympathetic joy
and friendly interest.

Others again
see transmutation
everywhere;
and pain.

Only a fool
thinks to possess
the moon
reflected in a pool,
or a sandcastle
or an articulated puppet.

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UP TO DATE AND READY TO GO

It may not be the bearded man
who smiles at you and explodes.
It may not be the errant tyre
that slides on the icy roads.
It may not be the scaffolding plank
that bounces on your head.
It may not be pneumonia
that smothers you in bed.
It may not be the fever
that creeps through blood and vein.
Or the quiet worm in the sole of your foot
that climbs up to your brain.

It may be that the breath leaks out
in a mist of expiring pain
and nothing can make it turn about
and slide back in again.

Ready?

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