Outside, An Ocean

Outside,
An ocean
Of constant motions,
Lush tropical abundance,
Yet all I cradle are ashes
Charred from bark
And burnt rubber plants,
Unusable coconut
And a poisoned palm –
The bark itself carved from
A mythical phoenix-tree
They discovered
Accidentally
And nonetheless marked
And later diseased –
This would have been
My self-sufficiency.

If no man is an island
Mr John Donne
And Mr John Dryden,
Then why does my lonely abode
Align with the limits of
My aspirations so comfortably?
I have seen in deep reposes
Those ghosts who come and go
For whom there’s no repelling;
Sometimes they stayed a while
Perhaps from curiosity,
Or perhaps their own
Uncertain form of loneliness,
Yet never so long
As to find me compelling –
This writer without hands,
This tongueless orator.
They always stole something
Out of nothing, or would
Confiscate our materiality
In the end –
Glass from oriels,
Tiles from steeples
And church-roof lead.
This is why, to hold the pen,
I maintain my right to an island
With hopes and invocations
For better times ahead.

A Peatland Fire

Fire on the heath!
Flames are fanning heat
Inside a famished tiger’s teeth;

His cinder-lolling tongue
Tastes borders of grass parched
On the levee-surrounded

Island retreat, home to
Nightjars also known
On southern moors

As Goatsuckers, bizarrely,
Crespuscular-loving Roe Deers,
Adders in the reeds

And hawking Hobby Birds
Through longer summers sleep.
Bog Moss grows here too,

Bitter Berries for calming nerves
And promulgating peace
Across the prairie-reserve

Of my mind,
Where passions conspire
And ego confined.

Impunities of fire,
Merciless tiger-like intent,
So he contemplated dharma

In a higher monastery,
And mementoes from markets
Still selling today in Tibet;

Untrodden Himalayan
Glaciers will repent
And retreat from his breath,

Untouched by well-worn piolets
And crampons, where violets
Cling to the crags

Like old thoughts,
Geranium perfumes
And bright patchouli,

By the prayer-side sight
Of my Lama,
I caught a momentary odour,

And then the fire subsided,
A tiger’s stripes defeated
If not forever the tiger.

Haiku #191 – #195

191.

July begins,
But not suffering.
A fat magpie fluffs its wings.

192.

Verbena boxed
By canes and string.
Nature knows parameters.

193.

A bystander, limted
by their word,
Will not disrupt or intervene.

194.

I saw flames in the carpet.
Summer sends its messages
To my subconscious, anon.

195.

These messages thrust
Upwardly the threat
Of my own complacency.