Another pull on the oars

The evening breeze
and then
the reeds rustle.

The snake swims 
in the skin
of the water

It vanishes into the reeds.

I face away
from the place

That is always before me.

New Year at Rodmell

The sponge behind my forehead
Is pale and dry and rather dim
Like a bloody sun in a fog
Exasperated unhappy struggling
Worked over with heat and yaps of dogs
Unlike the parson astride his saddle
Or the cold dishonest footman
With clear hard picture of human life
Where the whole world falls into shape.

Poem for Jean Cocteau

"It started at Stravinsky's Le Sacre
With five she-devils of terrible aspect;
I determined then I should come to the arts
As a monk goes to monastic orders.

"It was then I believe
I became possessed
By some ferocious inner thing;
A thing that has remained unknown to me.

"Was that fierce thing an inner being
Or an unknown form of memory?
What was that thing? Ideas came
And I hurried myself to write them down.

"The mathematical calculation
The language
The content
The apparent simplicity -

"All were there to serve that thing
Which was a thing
With a subtle and secret mechanism.

"How came those words
To send those poems
Into the sky?

"That inner thing,
What is it?"

Tomorrow's News

shooting sprees
and bitter tribal fighting

the disappeared held captive
in underground jails

yesterday with modest splendour
they killed another man they didn't know

and only one voice
that of the eldest there
was raised in protest

on the mudflats of an estuary
in a blinding rainstorm
a ragged man in shackles
was tried and shot in secret
by the moral guardians of a state
in failing health
and dying of complications
its land reduced to smoking ruins

firemen played their hoses on the people
the spin of the story was ringing in their ears

another shot dead
in the back of a car
the remote village
in the mountains

an old man hanging from a tree

when dusk fell
the scene took on an air of beauty
of spiritual renewal
an occasion touched with magic

tomorrow's news

the official statistics
the death toll of bigotry

The Nomadic Traveller

journeys on with his son
and objects found on the road
are making the journey too

an album of drawings
a portable ancestral altar
a tree without roots

Old Fox

Old fox,
hard as nails,
septic eruptions
on cold feet,
watery nose,
and sorry bag of effluvium
and entrails,
up for the erectile,
and somewhere to go.

Lakeside path,
an early bee,
an ermine's fur
turning brown,
an effusive gushing
of butterflies, gold-
finches, flycatchers,
two seasons
in equilibrium.

The rest is fusion.