Evening prayer

I am a sandpit in the park
Where children shout and dig
To please their little selves.

"Which we ought to have done"

I am a flashing neon sign
Which only does proclaim
An ersatz happiness.

"There is no health in us"

I am a bale or so of cloth
Which seamstresses do cut
For clothing those in need.

"Thy will be done on earth"

I am a piece of sculptor's clay
On which my fellow men
Impress their images.

"That trespass against us"

I am a man of all choices
Who by these my choosings
Has hidden other selves.

"Amen."

1982

 

Pax in terra

This couple dig their garden.
She watches as he wields the fork,
Presses in the new bought roots,
So pleased to be admired.
She claims a kiss as he's done:
Freely given. Both glance at the pram
Standing, with it's burden
Peacefully asleep.

These simple actions,
Full of blessed harmony,
Wisdom of practical humility,
Speak eloquently against
All vilely forced ambition:
The nastiness of taking.
Oh, give me always peaceful folk,
They should the earth inherit.

1983

 

Choosing audio equipment

This shop, that, show off their wares with noise.
Enveloped so, we jostle with
A host of ernest audio buffs,
Questing for perfect sound production.

Audio, stereo, quad and solid state:—
An offertory to the greater good,
The comfort brought by high technology:
"I'll feel better with a music centre."

You rubbing multitudes, fill the air,
Blot out with pulsing trivia the sounds
Of blood imperfect in the veins,
And thoughts of oh-so-human frailty.

At least if personal reproduction
Fails to give the sought completion,
A more expensive record deck
Compensates with dead perfection.

1983

 

Do not feed the werewolf

Do not feed the werewolf
For he does not know
The hand of human kindness.

When you do not know him
He'll charm you with his tongue,
Delight you with his wit.

He'll not show you blood lust,
Anger at the world
Which fails to be like him.

If he says he loves you
School your feelings well:
That word is not what he means.

Know him what he is,
Wearing human clothing,
Aping human customs,

Sating feral lusts
When his careful cunning
Estimates escape.

Know him and he'll show you
Crocodile contrition,
Simulated sorrow,

After his last fury
For being what you're not,
From which you just escaped.

Do not feed the werewolf,
Or next time he's in passion
He'll savage you again.

1983

 

Lonely lightyears voyaging

I weary of lonely lightyears voyaging
To the far edge of imagination
In search of reality in truths
Which did not touch me.

In payment is the price
Of re-entry to the human race;
For all the loss of shared experience,
And the ways of touching 'strangers'—all our kin.

Ask then shall we, from these unlooked for crossings
Of  our  orbits  in  this,  life's  galaxy
(Each high parabola overcharged)
Careen away, decay?

Or, greatly fearing,
Suffer the sliding turning moment,
The  terrible  slingshot  seizing  us  fast
Which hurls us to ourselves, and to each other?

1990

 

Avebury, autumn, late afternoon

Standing on this rough mound,
The greensward mossing in the turning sun,
The hills beyond diffusing in the light,
I overtop this bounded coomb:
Certain, settled, mandalic place.
Who dared to build a village at the cross?

Below, small figures stand, and turn:
Equivocal acolytes; timepassers; children.

Here one stands before a stone 
Uncertain of the courtesies
Owed to such antiquity:
There another, dumb and pensive
Amid the gew-gaw chatter of his party,
Spewed from a coach.

Behind me, outside this wall,
A tractor, ant-like, cuts
The boundary between two browns.
So there did oxen, yoked to oaken plough;
Before them, folk with hand tools, rough clad.

In this still evening light
The trees reverence with immobility
Their ancient massy elders.
Even the children, unashamed,
Leaping in the ditch,
Have ceased their joyful cries.

Moving round the circuit,
The stones gyrate for me, or I for them:
My slow circumambulation
A distanced, secular courtesy.

I suggest to this photographer
He moves downslope, hides in trees,
A secret, shadowed, hidden view,
Where perhaps our forebears watched in fear.

Salute to you, antique men,
You watched a celebration:
Do we build large patterns in the land
To shelter cows?
This is a grove of saints.

1992

 

Three Hokku on time

Enfolded time is
At the moment of embrace:
So ageless both be.

Unending time is
At the facing of yourself:
So agéd all be.

Unheeded time is
At the last calm acceptance:
Enough just to be.

1993: these CJ set to music in 2007. A sample can be heard from this page.

 

Invocation

May this garden*
Again, and again
Soften to the presence of children,
Who may lie under these trees,
Gazing up at the intricate lacy patterns
Against the sky,
And dream slow dreams.

1995  *substitute 'woodland' if preferred.

 

The Night Sea crossing

Plunged with the Sun-god, beneath the western sea;
Stretched by the Sky-god, illimitably far;
Frighted by the Fecund Hag, fooled by the Pooka.
    Drowning  -  O ache of loss!
    Wafting  -  O forgetting!
    Drifting  -  stardust, scatterings, flotsam.
O remember me
Re-member me
Re-member me
Who  now  I  am.

1999.  Written for inclusion in CJs multi-author extended song cycle The Night Sea: fragments of an ordinary life. See 'dissertation' in this website for a full discussion of the composition.

 

Sparkbrook in the spring

'Sick, tired I am by this God-awful rain'
Said Irish, face by life's failed struggle etched,
Buying smokes in the Asian general store.
'In my country, the rain, it does not come'
Responds Proprietor, gently, un-protesting.

Homeward: traffic noise and smell; broken roads;
Last night's hurled glass; dark sky but lifting damp;
And the blessed ordinariness of folk—
Asians, Blacks, Whites: private griefs, public hurts
Constrained in daily, saintly, keeping on.

Through the park, fresh greened trees gleam startlingly,
New cleansed against the grey but opening sky.
Wet new-cut grass glistens in spreading light;
Spectral drops shimmer; birds begin to sing.
Such beauty! New born, piercing to the heart.

O God, send this to those dry, hot places
Where cattle die while folk despair of rain.

2000

 

Invocations to archangels

Uriel, Uriel, Uriel, Fire of God,
Aid us at our waking and at our rising up:
Fill us with your fire that we may face our day
And live our lives, Uriel.

Gabriel, O messenger, O man of God,
Flow through us at the noontide
That we may feel, and hope.

Ah, Gabriel,
As you protect all sleeping babes
Nurture with your loving care
Our unawakened selves, O Gabriel, Gabriel.

Angel of the spirit of Man, namèd 'God heals',
Mediate at our eventides (Raphael, Raphael)
Resting from our journey.

Raphael, help us as we strive
To weigh up day and night,
To balance all our lives.

O Raphael, breathe into us,
O Raphael, the healing breath of God.

Míchäel, Míchäel,
Leader of the Heavenly hosts,
Guardian of the faithful,
Be with us at our sleeping.

Míchäel, in this your era, grant us dreams
That we may wake to use our thoughts
With wisdom and with care,
In harmony with all humanity.

Archangels, Archangels,
With all your angel hosts,
Your healing work through us
That we may dedicate our lives in this sad world,
To healing hates and fears.

Archangels.

2002. Written specifically for the composition of the same name. A sample can be heard from this page.