the Bear

They caged and held a bear,
a great mocking shambling bear
with blunted claws / and blackened appetite,
kept so long in order to provide a service

When he was provoked at intervals to dance
for entertainment, selfies and reward;
until one day he turned / to bite the hand
that fed him / and so devoured his future.

A loss for bears.  But not this bear.

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The Empress (III)

Encountered in her elemental majesty, charged
with power as keeper of her undisputed realm,
she is aware, wide hazel-eyed and shapely
with – and to – a patient unaverted gaze,
a singular white rose who quickens health
or else confronts a tangled bush of thorns;

Her empathy disguises rapier probes
against my layers of weathered home-made armour
to turn its open flanks and fixed defences –
past its alloys hammered flat and worn with age
but still of service in a world which had borne
witness to the final denials of good faith –

She sees within that weakness opportunities
for strength, to be leveraged in turn
by those who have the will to change
or join with her in purpose at the water’s edge,
the crystal-clear caldera lake revealed
when she enacts the piper’s changeling role

In which she sings those siren songs most naturally:
her anthems of acceptance found inside the heart,
her ballads of anxiety imagined beyond safety,
her canticles conceiving hope and change and
our chorales of alchemy that build resilience / out of fear,
their practised choruses cadenced in repeat:

“Dive in, dive in!
Do not avoid the danger:
Perception plays you false”

Now having taken arms beneath her badge –
“gules, an eagle spread argent, crowned or” –
captivated and unguarded / I wonder, lese-majesty:
What chords does she still cherish / when she sleeps?

Encounter with a Lady

When I turned to fight the worms
that eat away the kindest hours –
and having long been liberal with alms
in times of plenty – I sought out help
from an almsgiver of good health,
a professional of mysteries who finds
in weakness opportunities for strength
to be regained with honeyed discipline….

In whose eyes I seemed the image of a mercenary,
skilled but mendicant and out of luck,
while I perceived in her an image / of the lady of good hope
who cannot intercede but may empower
those of us who join with her in psalms
of augury, enlightenment and doctrine,
inspiring us to escalade the ravelin again,
the redoubt that guards the gate of reinvention:

“Go on, go on, go to!
Do not avoid the danger:
Perception plays you false”

Bush baby

He is an athlete built for distance –
sharp as splinter, deep as chasm –
quietly conceived beside another before
both were born into the shadow of a third;

A liminal, sensitive to order not control,
pragmatic, but a borderline savant
braced by irony and a logical machine
disguised / behind bush baby eyes;

Who treads the world too lightly and
whose path does not disturb the air
while he traces patterns in the data
until the matrix quickens, signals: strike!