Wednesday 16 December 2020

Vanishing Point

Yes, there is a vanishing point
Like that glimpse distant where the sky meets the sea
In a photograph of a long lost day
That we can barely see
For haze or curvature of space,
Held by the earth’s almost impossible size
Neither dark nor light &
All the more obscure for that
But fear not.

Fear not such questions
On the basis of size
Ungraspability or our inability
To see through clearly;
The world & life have no end or edge
We are merely limited in our vision
& so we concern ourselves with
More substantial things,
We think.

We think we know
Or imagine that we can see where they have gone
Or tell a story about the world elsewhere
But there is no world elsewhere
Just changes of perspective
Like memories & dreams &
We’re yet to fully appreciate
The rich depths of this world,
Mostly unseen.

Mostly unseen, like our own substance
Tissues, long chain molecules
Sparkles of light, wheels within wheels of cells
The bright, wordless songs
From which our life uncurls;
The past & future are visions they show us
& are not real;
Neither is the horizon, that vanishing place
Which we cannot touch.

I took a photo of My Dad & my sister Kay on some long lost summer holiday day in the '70s. Love & mystery surround us! I have spoken.

Sunday 6 December 2020

The Golden Wood


Listen to the sounds of the Golden Wood in winter
As the sun is setting beyond the tree line:
The calls & minor key songs of birds,
Small movements of water,
The rush of the breathing, seething roads.
Beyond the ice, dead leaves;
Beneath the leaves, the Bronze Age of your departing year
& all its stories, spoken or unspoken.

Journeys: arrivals & departures
On little wings to & from the continent
Of time, across the sea of sleeping & waking
& this news is not false news
Nor is it irrelevant, for life goes on
Despite the erudite commentary
With which they try to display their knowledge
Of things that are beyond you
& the strange motivations of the others.

If all you hear is sound
You are deaf to the language of birds
If all you see is an oncoming darkness
You are blind to earth-depth
If you look at the sun
& you can’t imagine her smile
Or the moon, & you forget
How ancient his scarred old face really is
Then you are lost in time.
If all you think is in words
Then your heart has been frozen
In the winter night
& you need to sit by someone’s fire for a while.

Listen to the sounds of the Golden Wood in winter
As the sun is setting out beyond the ash trees;
Our breath makes clouds
& the gulls make lines
& the robin shouts
& the river makes a flash of dim light;
Out here among the wind chastened trees
We are singing. 

Saturday 14 November 2020

My Dad: Trevor Patterson 1934-2020

A hard working man
A funny storyteller
A real Jarrow lad.

How can you thank or say goodbye to
Someone who gave so much to you
& was always there, for all your life
& now has passed?
Ah Dad, Ah Trev!
You were a fine, praiseworthy man
Who bent your hand faithfully
To the many tasks of life;
Family & wife;
Much more to that than all those weekends of overtime
& all those many duties you fulfilled
To support our family!

You met Mam at the youth hostel
& then, aged five, you took me there
& again & again!
So I owe to you my love of nature & the coast
Fossils! Birds! The hills & mountains
Of our land & those glimpses of the ancient world
We shared in places of power on our journeys;
This made me the man that I am
& set me off on the life less ordinary.

So when I remember that you are gone
I think of Charlton Mires;
That bus stop on the A1 by the road ends
& I see, in the evening light
A man & boy walking down the road
With their rucksacks & their boots on
Past the little grey stone house
& down that lonnen through the woods
To Rock, in search of adventures.

Lastly I call to mind great mystery,
The Odeon Newcastle, 1968
2001: a Space Odyssey
The wild ride through the star gate at the end:
We couldn’t make head nor tail of it!
You leant over & whispered in my ear:
“ Some things just can’t be understood,
That’s the Great Unknown.”
& that is where you have now gone:
Beyond our sight,
Returned to the mystery of life!

Thanks Dad, I love you & am proud to be your son.

Dad passed away peacefully on Sunday 1st November with my mam & his sister Deidre at his side. We would like to thank everyone who has held us in their hearts at this time & sent us messages & tokens of love & support. His funeral was on Wednesday 11th & family or friends will be able to watch a recording of the service, which was live streamed, for another month or so. If anyone has any photos of Dad that they would like me to add to the slideshow please send them! I'm not in many of these because I took a lot of them! Barry.

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.