Coffee at the café
I am forever being pulled out of the world by Beauty.
How funny-because forever I seem to be pulled back into the world by Beauty too.
What a criss-crossing of the waters of the soul this is.
Form and formlessness are the names
Of the ferry and the ferryman.
The Beauty of God has no form
And yet the beauty of God that is form
is here All around me.
God is in the granite blue minarets-
they are fingers that point to the moon
They say-‘I know the moon, though I am not the moon’
And the pink roses and the blood red roses-
they know the moon too.
An Immam cries out studiously to God
and God listens and is pleased
As pleased as Turkish coffee with sugar,
gentle blues, sun and sparkling water
And the dark faced Spanish woman with hair and eyes as black as ravens
Who laughs with head-back freedom in the street below
With a glance
That is a dance
For hips and moonless nights.
Who can say that God is not here too?
God is here too and all about and he plays and plays and plays
It is play that lies closest to god;
the breeze tells me so, the swift tells me so
They speak to me all day and night and say,
I am here,
I am here,
I am here.
Seeing the rose
Meister Eckhart says- your life is like a door
Always swinging open and shut.
Your soul is the hinge-which is always still.
There is an eye at the centre of a hurricane.
The storms ceaseless spinning and the still point-
Where nothing moves.
You could hear a pin drop.
The dervish spins always to the left.
His Right hand is open to God
His Left hand turned down for the love of man
And the head is perfectly still but always inclined
We spin out of our centre only to find the darkness
That will allow us to return home again
What a dance is this!
In the whirling I am myriad; the ten thousand things scatter
In the centre-unmoved and absolute
Untouched by a thousand wars
There is only a perfect rose
From which the dervishes eyes
Light and shadow
Catching your shape in light and shadow
I see how your presence here
Leaves a perfect absence there
How elsewhere children are prepared for school
With urgent words and kisses
As a morning plane arcs across the day
Between there and here, far and near,
And we, strangers,
Companied by grief and longing
For the life before us and the other world
Where we are sorely missed
I see in your great distance how life
Is always longing for home
How our quiet work is to know where home is
And name the fact in such simple
Acts of prayer
With little more to say I turn to poetry
To mark with a few words
The miracle of what passes for my life
How the small things are defining
Like the soft movement of my heart
On leaving home again
How the leeks hold themselves in a particular way
How the grass gleams after rain
The small hesitation at the garden gate
Or the feeling for my daughter
After a good call and too long apart
Here in the busy world
In the anonymity of breakfast
Someone somewhere is missing
The faces I am seeing,
Another day marked by separations.
In face of this small recognition,
Of the necessary solitudes
And loneliness of life
We could see one another and smile
A small offering,
a human consolation
Casting thin threads
Across simple existences
Our clumsy lives,
Not lived entirely alone
Always the Cross
Always the cross, Always the cross
Always the thorn, the bloody crown,
The final spear that drowned the sky
In empty thunder without revelation
And me with bloody hands asleep.
Awake at once or in a dream
With only the long road ahead
The howling desert, the dry stream bed,
Always the cross for me
Luke and Cleopas walking on;
Futureless and without imagination-
Alive only in name, in the time
Before faith and symbols
Sandals filled with sand and stones
Mouths numb or speaking
Only hollow words that knock about
Like empty drums.
What can heal those two?
Could I not be there?
With them when He came
Along the Eastern road?
Why am I left with the one image only?
Which all my life I mistook for peace
The dead tree
With the dead man dying there.
At the tavern in the dark
With gritted eyes we waited vacantly
With wounded eyes that could not see.
Sitting dumb, and speechless
The stranger took upon himself
The bread and broke it.
I, looking up too late was sore amazed
Emmaus was in astonishment that night
As solemn words were whispered on the wind:
Weep not deare friends since I for you have wept
When all my tears were blood the while you slept.
Standing in the river
The sky blackened by the
Scudding remnants of a
You asked a simple question
Where the bubbles all come from?
They are bridegrooms to the rain
That met the pain
we felt that morning
Which fell like shards
Pouring through the canopy of trees
Making rain-fish leap
As the bubbles
frothed and eddied
Burst and giggled
At our feet
And you my sweet love
Beneath the hood of your
Old blue coat
Watched transfixed as a child
The bubbles sweet procession
Of the river and the rain
Making patterns for a
That will never
I am scared, I am scared
Cried the first bird
Mad I made myself last night
I do not like this darkness,
Do not like this darkness
Or the pending light
Too much the medicine tonight
Yet God is dead
And this godless torment
Cannot heal my soul.
That which is not sacred is profane
Burning in the withering dark, sulphur black
At the sharp and guilty turning of the world
Before the dawn
The best part of me lies Stilly sleeping
And the washer women sleeping still……
Before the Work’s begun
I do not like the darkness
Do not like the darkness
Where the worst part of me lies awake
And filled with animal foreboding
In a dangerous dream
The white hart can’t escape
Slain by the hound with red ears
The women will not clean the stain
Left by any Lord or history
The Old King; drowned with a dull eye
And the young Man
Still lost in the sea of dreams beyond
His age or time
In a storm too rough to swim in
Might drown beneath the thunders dreadful roar
But here the flash of lightning
Is only passing cars in the pre-dawn
Etching out the endless routes to oblivion
Each to their own and I to mine
God I am wracked upon the shore.
God how I cling to her more
For dear life in the dawn
Merlin and Ninniane sleep.
The Great King himself sleeps,
Two lie tangled in the wild wood,
Another in the cave
Beneath the granite stone
Cleaved open to the moments fate
I follow the string and like Caravaggio
Trading habit for sublime
Sword and Horn gather dust in time
I -in my dreams in the cave
Would always choose the sword
It was always the same dream-
The sword falling slowly to the floor
Waking us both with a dull ringing
With sounds of lamentation,
Sighs of wounded grief,
And a hundred years
Descend upon the land
Upon my head
Again and every night he cried-the King,
‘Not yet, not yet and maybe never ‘
‘Next time choose the horn first-
Remember the time for swords is done’
That is what the water sang on the high moor
Where I, once wild, as a boy- would walk.
Even as a child
Beside the charcoal hut –
Half real, I recognise it now, the same song
‘Not yet not yet and maybe never’-
That is what the waters sang
Beneath the ancient bridge
A single slab of rock toppled
By impossible hands
From amongst its folded flock
Half- hidden in the grass
The bubbles in the stream
Make endless commerce
Between the worlds
Out of nothing, into nothing
Soundless burstings, silent poppings,
The sacrifice unfolds with the five words
Rung out before dawn
At the old church in the holy season
At the end of the broken lane
Leading nowhere beside the farm,
Where cattle shift in pre-dawn stillness
In the quiet barn
And in the church
Apsis of the Judging Christ
Where stand Andrew, Luke,
The latter pointing downwards to his own tomb….
Yes-you with the crown, you with the thorn
Not the white thorn of the easy hidden wood
But the carved thorn that bleeds eternally-
You who bled for my eternity
Spoke for our eternity
Was ever grief like mine?
The white thorn blossoms too
Eternal but in a different way
A flush of stars-lux perpetua
Not simply the twice blossoming flower
But timeless in a forest in Wales
Where Merlin sleeps I once was
And thought I heard the wind speak
Whispering quietly in a song
Only lies can break the vessel-only lies.
We build our work on the fragments of dead men
Drowned in the ooze
For witches or poets
Caught up in simple acts
Of madness or reconciliation
To things the ordinary folk cannot see
Take from me the suffering Lord
Take from me the suffering
Take from me the guilt and
The tarnished sword half hidden in a mire
Or in the river where
You nearly drowned
Washing away the hart’s blood
The sin which would not clean itself in time
Is constant repetition of our failures
Something more than simple humiliation?
A way of emphasis perhaps-
A way of emphasising frailty or futility
More than our stupidity?
Is our punishment more fit with repetitions?
The worst is not that you don’t respond or answer
Or react or play dumb even
The worst is that you are not, nor might not- be at all
That the boy by the bridge is not, nor might not- be at all
That the man in the study
With the golden light is not nor might not -be at all
If ambition wracked you
Then temptation is my curse.
Is there no one who can listen?
Is there no-one there to listen child
By the bridge
To the bubbles burst?