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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TRENINOW LANE

Treninnow Lane is tangled
dark and overgrown
with angled
beech and arching sycamore.
No cars drive down
and fern and nettle,
dandelion and dock slumber
in this extraordinary summer’s heat.

Spiders’ webs are spun tight
and Speckled Woods and Tortoiseshells meet,
lifting and drifting,
in and out of pools of sunlight
(on the very edge of seeing
in and out of being).

This is an old track;
ancient scents and birdsong;
old ghosts who cannot find their way back
and have no courage to move on
hover round the puzzle of some past event
with an extraordinary gracefulness,
caught within a fragment
half-insight, half-forgetfulness.

You
walk here too,
an exile
with your smile and your eyes
most innocently wise
(in and out of being,
on the very edge of seeing).

 

(Poem from BLONDIN & other Poems)

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GETTYSBURG REVISITED

Abraham Lincoln,
may his name be blessed,
has risen from his place of rest
fearing that America is sinking
beneath the weight of Third World Debt
and the moral obligation
to prevent the precious sacrificial oil
falling into the hands of the Ungodly.

“Fellow Americans!
Hear the Word of the Lord!
Eleven score and seventeen years ago,
our fathers brought forth
upon this continent a new nation:
conceived in liberty, and dedicated
to the proposition
that all men are created equal.

Do not allow the world
to interfere with your electoral campaigns
when you come to elect a new President.

But be fair!

Do not allow yourselves
to interfere with their electoral campaigns
when they come to elect their new Leaders
in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Respect cultural differences.

If you would have yours respected,
then you must show respect.

Lead by example.
They should respect your casting of votes
and your ballot box.

You must respect their casting of bombs.

Remember!
Of the people
by the people
for the people!

Ours not to reason why!
Ours but to Live
(and let Die).”

 

(Poem from GNOMONIC VERSES)

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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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