time

I have felt the flighting spirit close,
brought to bay and strapped onto your turning cross
to be filtered clean;
while my simple sequences collapsed
to pass their fitting through your gauge,
flickering expunged…

Although I had been sentenced when times changed,
to official mercy, then also to redemption,
I could still draw breath –
with no direction and no home, only the moment, only measures,
turning notch by notch and prong and hidden tooth by gear – 
but degree upon degree, we spent our seconds chasing minutes
heedless of your basalt face that lowers, hidden
over all our heads…

Meantime: the glass drains empty, batteries fall flat
while inner pressure will increase, inexorably – until
all my dreams are fled
(and hopes and fantasies and otherness)
just as your final persevering chase must find me,
naked and alone

Pebbles

Steps on a journey, creating points of pressure passing through
sediment and silt or vulcan fire and shifting plates; events
condensed to pebbles in a flow – not drops caught in the air,
nor crystals in a bed; labelled with identity, pocketed
or panniered as dumb reminders, random scraps,
collected fragments of dry fallout from life’s accidents;
weights to ballast, or to slow progress, or to cast aside:
to trail behind, spill randomly, or pile and heap,
or lay in patterns (circles / spirals / chequered squares);

They had been glaciered mountains, then tumbled
boulders and frost-hammered rocks, now small-ground
mill-grist smothering in settling flakes of drifting chaff:

Water-polished smooth stones, oval-round
and ragged flints, sharp and freshly scraped
and sandstone lumps, crumbling down to dust
and slate sliced thin in quarrying, mournful grey
and darker than the shining speckled granite cores
and mixed-in dull lead musket shot, long spent
and shards of coloured glass, sanded rubbed and worn
and broken seashells, once shelter for forgotten
fluid bi-valve lives, lived in salt along a littoral;

All solid objects linked to hazy memories,
lightly touched, felt heavily and of uncertain worth –
singly, or assembled, or amassed in grams and pounds.

To a young person, on their 27th year

(A life in thirds, thresholding its second stage)

Sand and water, water and sand:
grain by grain, drop by drop the timer falls
and fills the scale, the balance of our lives,
the weight, by which we measure;

The clarity of beauty fades, its charity withdrawn
from skin so many cigarettes have slowly withered;
the tide of innocence recedes, exposing all
our compromise, bare and awkward, unadorned;

So the travelers lament: time misspent, time spent lamenting,
and bewail, beware, our implacable condition,
a one-way journey, its comfort realised in little things
that headstrong haste had cast aside, dispersed, ignored,
in wilful preconception, blind as folly, overwhelmed
by fierce precocious rush of days;

Our wholeness cleaved by dissonance
from disappointed expectation,
the springs of youth lie dry behind, left to dissipate,
we reach, we pass, a watershed of hope, if we still search….

…. search for bargains, in a market we can’t understand?
A marketplace of purity – uncertain – to barter dreams
for calculation, trade exuberance for knowledge,
and exchange our scarce and potent energy – for what? Experience?

Our lives crystallise beneath us, all around,
as possibility’s chimeras, taking shape, highlight
our finite paths, set in fine new iron discipline….
which we navigate, or else despair.

Moments

You only see what strikes you, only say what suits you,
in the moment.
Consciousness is there – compressed or stretched,
distracted or encoded –
a dimension of perception, to make us human or at least
alive, to something more than just a moment’s impact,
in subtle nuances of light and shade and chemical imbalance:
a gift we can’t explain, but may reciprocate,
managing our time that’s more and longer than a moment
but consists of nothing else.

As time flows past and through and changes us,
it may slide sinuously by, without a touch against the sides,
or feed and nourish us with fortune’s blessings,
but some, unlucky or at random, are stricken by events:
foul rocks submerged, dense vortices of force,
or trailing catching thickets, casting hooks and barbs
to capture those and leave them helpless, flayed and pinned,
unable to rejoin the flow, trapped repeating in a loop
of impenetrable circumstance and pain:
denied a future, excluded from a share of life.

While the endless river cycle, never twice the same,
reflects eternal verities, recurring,
in which no detail is unchanged; when
we live our lives in timeless moments, in depths and ripples,
in perceived progression, transformation, variation, changes –
some are fresh, some rotten, some are sound, some twisted –
but we still go on,
making footprints in the sand, footsteps in the river flow,
until we’re swept away;
leaving each our nameless contribution, a detail
accreting to the main.

Time has stopped

No planning, no research, no thoughts
Of future time,
Only echoes of the past:
Ripples, eddies in the pool;

And the only thing that is remembered
Was the need for it to stop,
And some rocks below the surface,
Shielded, hidden, from the flow.

But motion and action have not ceased
Acting separately from consciousness:
Not only does the tree fall in the forest,
Cross-currents everywhere surge

And spring, agitate and swing and veer,
Cross-cuts drive across the grain,
Wanderers fight against position,
All against (over, under) all;

And random losses suffered here
Accumulate elsewhere without design,
Reaching up and unto powers
With no responsibility.