Walking in the Rain
High up on the misty ridge
I lean into the punch of wind,
the cut of horizontal rain.
Over grey-green, restless waves
eiderdowns of sodden cloud unroll,
sagging with the weight of rain.
A wet September Sunday.
The cool, sweet juice of blackberries
picked and eaten in the rain.
On leaf and thorn and fruit
trembling globes of light suspended.
Shiny, fragile pearls of rain.
Such words as these condense
as droplets falling out of cloud
to the rhythm of the rain.
To the rhythm of my steps
through long, wet grass, over hard stone,
these words, falling down like rain.
Pictures at an Exhibition
Don’t be shy, step in,
cross the threshold, leave this world.
These unlocked doorways,
these open windows,
to another place.
Do you know this sky
with its looping skein of birds,
its upswept cloudscape?
This woman dancing
barefoot on a rocky shore
beneath a round moon?
This twisted pathway
under dark, unfriendly trees,
eyes in the shadows?
This couple, naked
on the edge of winter, sad,
leaving the garden?
Having once stepped in,
will you return unaltered,
having seen such things?
Having crossed over,
will you recognise your world?
Will you be the same?
DJR Aug 17
Each day, we eat our dinner and we watch
the hungry, the bullied and the scarred, and all
those sad migrations of the dispossessed.
From comfortable armchairs we watch
the bombs bloom red as sudden flowers
in broken cities with their shredded lives.
Drinking our wine we watch the thirsty.
Here are the drownings, and here the cries,
behind the anaesthetic of the screen.
And day by day the soul fills up with cinders.
How should we measure this slow corrosion,
this acid rust that scars and clots the heart?
Look through the lens. Such anonymity
absolves us. Call it objectivity,
for these are not our neighbours or our friends.
Through the nave of the wood
into the sanctuary; our steps
hushed by leaf-litter, slow as supplicants.
Curtains of silence, hemmed with birdsong, hang
from fan vaulting branches, bare
against a clerestory of sky.
Pale columns rise, beech trunk spires,
polished, cool and smooth as stone.
A stillness here, more profound than prayer,
a waiting deeper still than patience.
The forest, held in balance, holds its breath,
balancing on this one moment
that any moment will dissolve.
Then, the breath exhaled, the prayer spoken,
as each coming breath confirms
the breathless psalm of spring.
I am in an arid season
where nothing germinates,
and nothing will grow.
Is this a hibernation or a drought?
Nothing will connect,
and nothing cleaves to nothing.
I sit in this armchair, one third awake,
and follow old day-dreams down blind alleys
beside the fire, beneath the cat's warm weight.
Outside the house, in the uncertain light,
wind frets and fidgets in the wet gutters.
Rain clatters, cold, against the window glass.
Three October Pieces
Clouds erase the moor,
beech trees stand and wait, resigned,
trembling with each gust.
Showers of crisp leaves,
dancing with the wind, spinning,
but always falling.
Still pool beneath trees.
Grey heron rises through rain.
Water drips. Leaves float.
One afternoon, upon the wide savannah,
The expansive, rolling plain,
A solitary, lone thesaurus grazes.
The heedless, inattentive beast
Of impending peril unaware.
Danger, meanwhile, approaches fast.
With lethal assegais and deadly spears,
Equipped with nets and gins and traps and snares,
A tribe of natives, aboriginal.
Through trickery and stealth and guile
Our naïve quadruped is double-crossed,
Bamboozled, cozened and enmeshed. Alas!
Later, languishing at the zoo
(Vile vivarium! Mean menagerie!)
Our thesaurus, in custody confined,
Is melancholy, depressed, downcast,
Lamenting, pining for the open steppe.
Here he stoops, a prisoner, dejected.
Laughed at by humourless hyenas,
Beset and basely belittled by bees,
Lied to by dissembling lyre birds,
By reproving reptiles reprimanded,
Terrorised by tyrannical terrapins,
Ignored by ignoble iguanas,
And ostracised by ostriches.
And Oh, the shame! Humiliation!
He finds himself stared at, observed,
Incessantly and without relent.
And witnessed, watched, beheld, by such a crowd,
A press, a throng, a numerosity,
A multitudinous myriad
Of spectators, gawpers, rubber-neckers.
The public, the great unwashed.
The hoi polloi.
"The Book of Paper Dreams"
(A collection of poems and photographs)
In the Kingdom of the Blind
In the kingdom of the blind, they say,
the one-eyed men will reign.
Then nothing will the cost defray
as our best dreams we soon betray
to tedium and pain.
In the kingdom of the blind, they say,
when desire blindly eats away
a hollow in the brain,
then nothing will the cost defray.
Those parasite regrets will lay
their virus in the vein,
in the kingdom of the blind, they say,
and hatch out disappointment grey,
a cold and septic stain.
Then nothing will the cost defray,
and no-one will the curse unsay
that binds us to this chain
in the kingdom of the blind, they say.
And nothing will that cost defray.