Saturday, 27 September 2014

Months: October

The poems for March, April, May, June, July, August and September in this sequence were posted on 24 February 2014, 21 March, 20 April, 24 May, 20 June, 29 July and 29 August.


The spiked limes of chestnut plummet and burst,
Gaping like fledglings’ mouths, disgorging nuts
Glossy as foals. The sunspot dahlia, cursed
By rust, sags, and the mauve aster abuts

The ground. Apples, pears, blush ripe and are gathered;
Plums are downy like cheeks, though whitepox mould              
Rots the fallen. Leafage, jaundiced and weathered
Like skin, dangles dolefully, rueing the cold.

Night darkness deepens and sunrise is damp;
Mist like a low tide sluices the coppice.
Birds are silent; and, bodies in a hump,
Folk rush to work, their faces like pumice.

The angry wasp dies. Unmindful, the sheep
In the fields await slaughter. Autumn’s effacement
Looms, and like children feverish in sleep
Folk fidget, resisting the abatement

Of blood and flesh. Post-equinox, the rains
At last begin – a drenching, drumming fall
From cloud like a taut sheet, engulfing drains,
Stained with the city’s lights like yellow gall.

A gale follows. Mountainous gun-metal cloud
Invests the horizon. Battle-primed wind
Assaults the sopping ash trees, barrels loud
In subways. Later, the assault declined,

Sunlight cracks the siege towers’ plinths and domes,
Searing them gold and white with lacquers, chromes.

© October 2012

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Anthropological Turn

A fist of lightning sunders the packed cloud
On Sinai’s peak; thunder engulfs the slopes;
Moses, exultant with the Tables, browed
With light, descends to mould men’s fears and hopes:
Moral truth is given and hence endowed
Is beauty – golden cherubim and tropes
Adorn the Ark. A proud propitiating
People is created, lacking but one thing.

The Nazarene, transfixed with the Divine,
On Shabbat day completes the Torah’s lack:
“Stretch forth thy hand” – a flesh-transcending sign                   
Is given, pity more flagrant than God’s back
Seen by Moses in the cloud. Like sweet-scent wine
Compassion infuses dogs-in-a-pack                                         
Humanity, and though men riot like fools                                   
Their wounds are bound by hospitallers and schools.

Later, the harmonic circle is smashed:
Vaunting men, in love with experiment,
Scrub Revelation’s face until it’s washed
Raw. Diderot’s book swells to a testament,
Newton by the sea of knowledge is splashed,
Paine’s pot of rights boils to a sacrament;
Hume demands freedom to die in his sins;
In France the clash of guillotines begins.

The wheel turns. A Sixties scientist re-presents
The fruit; Eve swallows and fecundity
Is balked. Man centres self and the ornaments      
Of being are smashed in a futility
Of drugged desires. Harsh New Age hierophants          
Propose fault-free fulfilment and absurdity                          
Is raised a god. Two thousand years of symbols                                
Are overthrown by dancers beating timbrels.

Destruction triumphs. Pornography swamps
The internet; man’s primal itch inflamed,
Aggression surges and motel room romps                                 
Turn rapes. Enthused, unnatural rights are named –
Gay marriage, gender choice – what tawdry pomps!               
Careerist women have the boardroom tamed;               
Children are objects, abortion’s in demand:
Moloch counts dollars with a blood-stained hand.                     

Saint Damien sweats in Hawaii’s heat,
Dressing ulcers, digging graves. The leper priest,
In the eternal wrapt, with bandaged feet,
Scarred face and dragging legs, dies for the least
Of his charges. There’s no despair, nor bleat
Of woe, instead a pure-eyed grasp of the feast
Of being. Fulfilment’s not in drugs or vice
But in hands gone leprous in sacrifice.

© April 2013. Revised June 2016