Thursday, 16 July 2020

For Andrew: Dark Star: Beat Sysiphus


Me & Andrew on chalumeau & shruti box in the woods.


In memory of my good friend Andrew Fox I present:
  • A poem dedicated to his memory
  • A piece of music by the Grateful Dead which we both liked & which inspired the poem
  • A recording of my poem Beat Sisyphus featuring Andrew playing shruti box in the backing track & myself on chalumeau as in the photo


For Andrew

After Dark Star by the Grateful Dead.
July 2020

At the end of the movie
The Dark Star crashes
Those guys were crazy
Pouring its light into ashes
Picking at the paint
On the picture frame.
Reason tatters forces
Torn loose from the axis
Mere enlightenment
Is set loose upon the world.
Mirror shattered
Matter a formless reflection
Revolving in the night
Of goodbye
To speed the plough
Through the transitive
Nightfall crazy diamond.
Morning, evening
A pub lunch, a circle dance
My friend was waiting
In the station, in his cap
We were laughing
At the absurdity of it all.
Hand dissolving,
The pint glass stands empty.





Dark Star is a classic Grateful Dead song. The band had an interesting take on piracy (in those days the making of tapes.) They asked that fans not make copies of albums but gave permission for folks to make as many copies of their live performances as they wished. Because of this there is a huge archive of Dead gigs spanning decades. The version above is just over two minutes long but the band, being famous for holding together a show while seriously tripping sometimes took 30 minutes or more over it. This is, I must point out, not to everyone's taste (eg our wives) but we thought it was rather wonderful. At one point we trawled through the archives to see who could find the longest one. Andrew did, it was about 45 mintues long. Nowadays to have this elevating experience all you have to do is type "Dark Star Grateful Dead live" into Youtube or Google & you can find loads of them. I think that some of the longer ones are better than this single version.




Opening with a sound bite of Allen Ginsberg reading from his poem The Sunflower Sutra & featuring Andrew on shruti box in the backing track, this poem contemplates the task of the writer as well as male friendship.




Andrew dancing with Elephant up a Pole Morris on Earlsdon Street, Coventry

Thank you.

Om A Hum






Tuesday, 9 June 2020

The Island Boat has Crossed the Waters


 


Where are our kin?
What deep is that?
Who is that boy at the oar?
Where are the great old ones?
Who dreamed of this?
Where can she be found?
Whose voice called out?
What journey was undertaken?


We had launched ourselves onto the shearwater’s road
Of winds’ lives, the kittiwakes’ way
The towering fortress of the ever shouting birds
We mariners had left behind us,
Our hopes & prayers knotted in cords & stays
Chords of songs & masts of sails
As delicate as the gull’s white wing feathers,
Singing as we pulled on oars
With the sun of glory scooting out over our heads
& the old dark, loathings of the storm left far behind us.

Left to rage; felt sensed but not seen
We could not look back, nor return to Laurentia
So the boat of the brothers & sisters of the child-king
Fulfilled the prophecy of banded Pre-Cambrianity
Sweet granite song-lines of inspiration
Can now call to darker birds, where secret waters
Rise to the surface & we stand upon the curving shore
Almost disbelieving that this tiny island-boat
Could have crossed the millions of years of storm waves.

A reunion of ancient lands.
Another bird on the wing.
A scented strand.
A woman waiting.
A timeless tomb.
An awakening hero.
Starlight upon the wave of the deep.
That is our kin.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Newton’s Rock



Newton, your rock, alive with living forms, is much more interesting than you are
Your baroque pornography of power; biceps, triceps, trapezius & your brass dividers upstaged
By bright, wild polyps that sway upon the stone like the gorgon’s futile magic in reverse
Not a Midas’ touch this; the engineer inspired by agnostic equations cannot measure the unseen
Nor hear Elisha in his cube; laboratory acids don’t reveal things like Blake’s do, they eat them,
They oxidise them back into salt to shiver the dark ocean all around to numbers & formulae
Your lenses cannot reveal the brain’s inward astronomy of Heaven, Hell & the road to Fairyland
Nor the riotous coloured filaments of these anemones, but predict a dead & poisoned sea;
Bomb explosions like evil flowers growing where they should never be, like ragged horsemen,
Red clouds, viral pandemics, plagues of locusts & first-borns, with weeping & wailing & grinding metal teeth
Whilst all along, Soul Herself sways, sighs & pulsates; sings & flings her arms
Out into the current of the gentle moonlight waters that play about your giant feet.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Throw a Penny in the Hollow of the Stone


for Wroth Silver 2019 by Barry Patterson


We don’t really know where it all began
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Some protection racket in Saxon times
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

But we honour all those who came before
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

When life was hard for the people of the land
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Now Knightlow Cross is long long gone
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& how many feet have been turned this way
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

In a thousand years of gathering
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

A thousand breakfasts on a Winter’s day
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

A thousand pipes clenched in our teeth
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

As back to the pub we make our way
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone.

In the 21st century we still pay our due
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

To those we bless & those we curse
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

While the great & the good in their folly are maligned
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

To the burden of their will we are still consigned
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Not much has changed on this island of ours
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

Its the rich what gets the pleasure & the poor what gets to pay
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& we become the forebears of the world that will be
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

The unwitting progenitors of future ceremonies
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

For someone will come to count our cows
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& we’ll pull on our boots & pull up our hoods
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

We’ll be out on the road before the sun comes up
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

To stand before dawn on Martinmas Eve
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

& when the name of our town is called
Throw a penny in the hollow of the stone

We’ll clamber up the mound to pay Wroth Silver
WITH a penny in the hollow of the stone!



To read my previous Wroth Silver poems & find out more about this unique & ancient event follow these links:
2014: Martinmas
2015: The Road of Time
2016: Wheel of the Year, Wheel of the Land
2017: Eight Decades
2018: Ghosts