poems

This poem won First Prize in the Bridport International Poetry Competition for 1986 (a prize which was second only to the National among annual competitions in the UK at that time).

 

                                        ALBION’S CHILD IN ENGLAND

                                                              (for Joseph Bruchac, a poet of the

                                                                      N. American Native Peoples)



like a man whose foot has been amputated

so that he can not stand correctly on the earth

i have been severed from my roots


i wander in this world                      looking for my people


searching in strangers’ eyes for a glimpse

of heaven               or of humanity


singing deathsongs

to mourn my own life and that of the human dream


                                                          singing


casting my seed into the curving

fields of the world’s various energy


                                                                                  singing


giving thanks for the chance

in the hope that others may have some more of that

feeling

                     fertile and kind


i have climbed slow trees to sway with the wind

silent                       sitting high up

sitting high up like a prayer in the mind of the tree



                                                    deathsongs and lifesittings



in these ways i have felt

my roots after all

still there like the amputated foot

if not still there

those delicate many branches

sending messages as if by weather


intangible playing

among those delicate many

broken generations

potted and transported

drawn from the earth like ghosts from the flesh


                                              my amputated foot still there in

                                                  a tingle of leaves


           my roots

still there in this bush              its leaves

nervous under the slick glance of the rain


                                        my heart alive

                        like a prayer among the branches of this

                                                 bush       drinking

                                            skittish in the rain



Zen Haiku




These just happened one day. I had been reading a wonderful little book called Zen Questions by Robert Allen (2005), and I had bought a couple of copies for gifts, so my wife and I were both reading this book at the same time one day, and I spontaneously composed these “haiku” in my head (they are all the correct number of syllables, but there’s more to a haiku than simply that, so I realise these are not “proper haiku”). I sat working them out in my head, one following on from the other. There were six originally, but when I tried writing them down I couldn’t remember one of them. I think the last one here was the last one I composed...... tantalising!










                  1      two copies of one

                          zen book. we look at the same

                          page, each in our own.






                  2      if you’re reading a

                          zen book you can’t be doing

                          zen. you can’t, my arse!






                  3      you give it meaning.

                          zen book, chop water, carry

                          wood. experience.






                  4      stop thinking about

                          zen book. zazen or no za

                          zen, go on dancing.






                  5      sometimes come back to

                          zen book. it makes me smile to

                          share the author’s mind.
















 

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here’s one last poem for now: there are quite a few included in Phat Beat Freek Scenes.

this introduction is taken from the book:


Yet another occasion when I lost some of my work.... someone borrowed my notebook to read my poems, and when we hitched from the south of France together to Amsterdam, it wasn’t until after the first lift that I found out she’d forgot to bring it.  It was at a sort of squat in a derelict building, so I wasn’t really sure I’d find it if I went back, which I might have done.... but never did in the end. This was written some time later as I reminisced over some of the lost work in the notebook, and it got tangled with another ill-fated trip to France to see another girl....



Plea For the Return of a Lost Notebook




     i had two notebooks

     one i’ve still got curled like a sick old rat in the bottom of my rucksack

     under the bed

     the other was left in france


     it was a happy time

     nevertheless

     thinking about those notebooks and that time

     i remember that my ditties on a pretty girl’s eyes and my love

     for her because i’ve seen you glowing in the nighttime

     and i’ve seen you shining in the daytime too was more of a fiction

     to me then than

     speaking of particle physics and quantum maths recently in

     a long jazz poem that kept me high for 3 weeks

     and more


     she left my book behind

     now those poems are missing inaction


     there was a poem about smoking

     on the beach in goa

     which began

     and ended

     with the realisation that

     this moment is not the rest of your life


     another poem where i said the true purpose of intelligence

     is to feel another which began waiting in eternity at the bus stop in the night

     in the eternal timeless condition of night

     another about being like small animals crawling into bed after the disco

     in the same poem as later i say our culture is as resilient as

     an opium habit

     and wind up saying to this woman you could be the mother of my baby

     bring me up right this time


     i hitchhiked over 1000 kilometers to see her

     a journey that ended in

     some pleasure and some tears a definite parting

     and hardening of the heart and then



     the desolate southern highway’s evening

     in france

     alone

     so long and waiting into the sunset

     thumbing for a lift up north

     to another country



     the long ride through the night with

     a gay lorry driver talking

     to me

     trying

     to seduce me

     all night

     in french

     all night in the murmuring rock’n’roll radio’s

     saving grace night

     hush

     along the sodium highway


                                                                                            

                                                                                              
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