Neil Young’s Archives

His entire recorded output available online in high res audio, free (for a while):
the good, the bad and the absolutely essential 🙂

https://www.neilyoungarchives.com

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weight

There has always been a weight.
Suspended by its cord, it cut through sensitivity
to drive us home
until the weight became the cord, which became the weight:
scythes of productivity,
cutting in their being, preventing equilibrium
without knowing why

It shifts…

Now weight accumulates around my waist
obscuring former forms,
bowing slender limbs already weaker from the fight
against inertia’s burden;
I must bring patience to my scrabble for a hold –
to steady up, to get a grip –
to escape the anxious maw, the slipping precipice of doubt

the plain

Under a low sky, scraping the bounds of the earth
a stillness mists around us that makes the world opaque
and shuttered to the light,
in a landscape framed through glass I had neglected,
blaming eyes I’d bruised by facing the absurdities of life…
eyes blinking, shocked at what a scan now shows
of our society, of smallholders from a broken hilly country
who’d decanted on a corner of the plain, who’d encamped
and learned to specialise in arcane fields
in order to survive.

We were unencumbered – so we thought – by overweening majesty
but circumscribed within our island habits and sunk in careless sleep:
locked inside our skulls, choking down our lack of words,
we kept quiet to eschew the curse or taint of heresy,
like lambs among the emptiness of cynics standing by / detached;

We were still small people absent leadership, or faith or hope or vision,
who gave precedence to scoundrels and took nonsense for an answer,
cowed by jackals, led by donkeys, following false prophets –
their tenets brightly burnished against sense –
who pretended to console us at the funeral of logic.

Now many have decided to make the best of it they can
and seek to save themselves,
as we shake our fragments into line, of sorts,
to stumble (sheep to slaughter) off a cliff,
so ending our experience by freely choosing chains
of private personal catastrophes;
craving purpose, as we go blind into the night –
beyond our daily bread –
but not unhappy, in our imbalanced way:
lost if not mistaken.

Coal Mining, 1929

The machine man clocked in for his shift and went down
in the rattling lattice cage, swallowed whole.
He took his pride beside his fate to go down:
Down in darkness on a thin September day
below the gear at Woodhall’s Virtuewell;
Down through the narrow stooping ways of dust
chiselled deep beyond pretence and arrogance;
Down into the shafted maze of galleries
and lamps and damp and fearful gas;
Down to face his fall below a breaking prop.

Part of him resurfaced in the ambulance waggon
that shook a broken pelvis (and shoulder, ribs and legs)
along twelve dreary morphined miles towards the mercy
of the grey and gaunt infirmary… where he went down again:
Down to meet the surgeons in their antiseptic halls;
Down to months of care, preparing for the knife
which clinically killed him by infection.
Down, he left a pregnant widow with ten children
to manage in the hungry years;
Down and gone. But unforgotten in our genes.

river

We settled our agreement,
to release the ties of energy that had bound us in the crowd
and looked around our littoral for purpose;

We were castaways – at home along the riverside, watching for the tide to rise
and ease a passage through the shallow channels of our lives –
who’d reached a low landscape, north-lit by clear light,
a spare light, with beauty in its bleakness,
swept by squalls which brought a thin corrosive rain in from the sea…

So we filtered grains of meaning from the water as we drank
where sediment settled slowly, fouling our drinking water,
thickening against the bank which formerly defined the flow,
its silt erasing every corner ounce by ounce and ton by ton;
rebuilding our eroded land…

While we whiled away our hours considering the exotic:
the intriguing possibilities of amber buried in the flats
that brought to mind and polished memories of memories,
of sunlight trapped in resin, with an insect
or small fragments and some bubbles that had-not-quite-escaped…

Until we found, although the waters rose
and filled inertia’s drowned embrace around us,
that we had made a pilgrimage of sorts, in mud.

HM

I once knew her quite well: she was lively, bright and smart
and a kindred spirit, when we were new and keen and learning every day –
in good times, ten years past – then we were friends
But in time our paths diverged, then somehow reconverged
before a pirouette or three, in the rolling tumbling motion of the waves under our feet
slid them apart again;
Now she is 32 or three, living with a husband and her infant son
and cares that edged around her open face
when I saw her earlier today, by chance.
I’d seen her grow up, she once had said;
yet I was surprised and found I could not speak –
old fractures jarred my mind and stole my words away.

to notice

On a close and cloudy morning, the bees still come:
The stems of lavender fall one way, cascading to the left.
The yellow fir spreads otherwise around, low-set but prominent;
That small red rosebush still survives, reaching for the light…
The flagstone slabs are wet from rain and water overflows the butt;
Those terracotta pots are healthy – your strawberries bear a second crop.
To be aware is little yet it touches everything; this is a good morning.

The Village, Thursday 9am

At first
She turns the corner running, a teenager sporting hurry
He stands entranced, pushing at his screen (one finger at a time)
They walk behind my back, while I am cautious at the ATM

In the pharmacy
I eschew a basket, and still fumble at the shelves
beside him who’s wanting the same space;
I ask for what I want and it turns out better than ok
(as the young assistant shirks her duty
laying stresses on her colleague,
with whom I frankly empathise)

Outside
He loiters for the trucks to come / and he waits for a car
They read or watch beside their coffee-centred tables
(sat apart on seats which may be barely dry)
She speaks to me in passing, sharing thoughts about the weather
And they head on together, conversing about their job

In the verge
Mushrooms have grown saucer-wide, after last night’s rain
near someone’s, no-one’s, absurdly disposable cup;
He is roadside brambling, slightly stooped, alone
Three women wander, gabbling, looking for Macbeth

Down the road
A second runner passes: she is properly athletic, head-up shoulders-back
A red-haired woman walks smartly, with three children –
the younger ones skipping their delight,
the older girl clasping her mother’s hand –
He goes ready towards his tennis lesson
Her backpack is slung up tight (I can only speculate…)
He locks the gate, leaving the allotments
She carries shopping bags with purpose

Crossing over
Another looks at me askance:
we are both older than we seem at first, and hurrying;
I have been longer than I thought
so I continue home, to grind my coffee beans