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.