and ‘naerrgh’ a mention of a seagull’s call

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                and naerrgh a mention of a seagull’s call

                prologue

                the fetch of uneventful league to
                mingle with pier piles nonchalant;

                the borderline lightbulbs strung for
                decades between promenade lamp

                and stack of height and white façade
                of black-wrought balcony for where to stay

                setting

                frontage shows the way-to-look-
                ing blind to what is seen amid

                all the detail of hierarchy, eye
                turned to what it hopes, while

                rear windows, set central in
                the shapèd drop, look inward

                to find the fit to be; in time
                the rear extension of amenity

                cut fresh cross-sections of life
                turned 90° deep with windows

                unadorned; but then
                were added storey, creating alley

                to hidden access whenever
                contemplating the corners

                that encourage right angle
                where you can serve your

                down and truncating down-
                pipe blind to abutted wall

                perambulation

                                but, I’m in luck

                eye caught by extractor flaps
                in the foreground venting downwards

                venting upwards, sun neatly off
                the downpipes to the right

                on the left long-painted white pipes
                rusting, and between, a leafing tree

                undecided which way to lean
                the background, the monolith back

                of the seafront hotel, conditioning
                air; later, passing the backs of

                houses-become-their-own-entrance,
                seagulls perched at rest

                on the chimneys, I caught
                the tail of a reg-D Cortina with

                burgundy-deep fins and round
                tripartite lights, smaller

                than I remember

                epilogue

                oh, yes and a Persian-blue
                chimney stack with off-white pots

                under sky-blue sky
                and wisps of cloud

 

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

20th century wormhole: looking ahead
being wormhole: green and / luminant / to behold
black & blue & Have & living & passing & society & walking wormhole: Sheffield Park Gardens
burgundy wormhole: pine // gladioli // [&] wisteria
clouds wormhole: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J Redford – Working
compromise wormhole: after all
Eastbourne wormhole: city streets
eyes & life & seeing & time wormhole: 1964
history wormhole: looking / ridiculous
hotel wormhole: and // do your ears burn red?
promenade & sea wormhole: Bexhill 140215
seagull wormhole: do I
sky & white wormhole: travelling // arrival
sound & sun & windows wormhole: Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – reaping
streetlight wormhole: ‘charcoal grey-slate sky …’
Victorian houses wormhole: red / lacquer / door
walls wormhole: certainly a Captain, / but not America
waves wormhole: place

 

Advertisements

1964

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                1964

                I found that
                there were circles
                in life turning

                wide and oiled
                around invisible axes above
                darkening city-lines

                the faces of ages
                at the circumference, caverns
                in their mouth

                and vision
                in their eyes that is lost
                in their own story

                which I cannot
                fathom; Saturday afternoons
                fashion

                an apricot balm
                that wingèd horses
                can scarce be seen

                and humankind
                is blinded in its
                multiplying culture:

                the tied piles
                at the docks are creaking
                the eyes, turn,

                down;
                in all the starry cosmos of time
                there is no floor

 

Journey Into Mystery #104, May 1964; Stan Lee, Jack Kirby; I submitted this to a local poetry competition – not even an honorary mention

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

afternoon wormhole: low afternoon
apricot wormhole: Pilot 125 … // … being excursion in the interludes
breeze wormhole: sweet chestnut
childhood wormhole: Plumstead – Woolwich – Plumstead 220211
city wormhole: the silent night of the Batman
comics wormhole: Batgirl –
eyes & faces & mouth wormhole: I am not yet ready
groundlessness wormhole: travelling // arrival
life & seeing wormhole: Sheffield Park Gardens
Saturday wormhole: in the Java ‘n’ Jazz
skyline wormhole: two profiles
Thor wormhole: pen and ruler
time wormhole: certainly a Captain, / but not America

 

Sheffield Park Gardens

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                Sheffield Park Gardens

                we walked
                upright
                across wide fields

                in scattered groups,
                family and tribe,
                private longing

                under shaded
                brim for a land
                of silk and money

                8th May 2016, with

                only childrens’ voices
                we walked into
                the garden

                dispersing to
                our hides to make our own
                discoveries

                by happenstance
                and peripheral glance
                held cold and fresh

                before name:
                that stone-chat
                that makes the

                copper beech
                transluscent;
                the cool stretch of branch

                yet to bud
                before the haze
                of dusty pollen;

                what to make
                of the solitary dandelion –
                butter yellow life –

                amid
                fain clusters of primrose; and
                there in the shade,

                mauve-bells and
                daffodil stalks make in-
                visible a steely blue;

                bluebells
                like raised eyebrows, relaxèd
                to see a future;

adult voices pass, now, talking ways of life; young girls practise handstands and routines in the fields;                

                let’s sit by the lake awhile:
                where a duck’s
                head

                sits
                just out the shade of exotic plants
                (let’s say, from India)

                the water lapping
                anywhere (let’s say, oh,
                 two thousand

                 five hundred
                 years ago), tucked
                immaculate

                black
                letting nothing out
                but the feint

                of blue
                or green that will form a gem
                in kalpas

                of contemplation;
                across the water a willow rests
                like a flag

                (girl’s hair
                 recovers from each upswing from each
                 hand-stand);

                turning home
                Carol stooped
                to smell the rhododendron flower

                “oh, …”

                pushed her face
                into the petals with lust
                was it

                because I’d
                said the branches
                were an orgy of slippy limbs

                or was it just me
                making things up
                as we walked along?

 

I know, I know, it’s mid February, and the poem was written and set in a May; it’s not seasonally right, but this was the next in line to be printed: them’s the chops …

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

air wormhole: Batgirl –
black & blue & Carol & passing wormhole: travelling // arrival
branches & voices wormhole: Plumstead – Woolwich – Plumstead 220211
Buddha wormhole: om muni muni maha muniye soha
family wormhole: out
garden wormhole: slightly / uphill
green wormhole: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J Redford – Working
hair wormhole: two profiles
Have wormhole: Coleton Fishacre
life wormhole: sweet chestnut
living wormhole: ‘still …’
mauve wormhole: snapshots about Totnes
seeing wormhole: glide
sitting wormhole: amid
society wormhole: green and / luminant / to behold
talking to myself wormhole: ‘God, who am I …?’
walking wormhole: loss
water wormhole: without any buffet at all
yellow wormhole: greedy

 

Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra – Introduction; update

You might be aware that I have an ongoing project involving the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra by Śāntideva.   I am studying the text through and through, like combing tangled hair.   I am collecting together translations of the root text and am at the point where they are tidy-enough to present in this blog.   I have created the pages already (see menu at the top of this page), but they are mostly blank.   I have, today, filled in the Introduction, which comprises the sources for the whole work, a prayer for blessings for study of the text and four accounts of the life of Śāntideva.   If you are interested you can jump straight to it here:

 

Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra – Introduction; the Life Stories of Śāntideva

certainly a Captain, / but not America

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                the body galvanised
                and plastic-strong hung

                for decades, walls of
                ice about his every

                frame, no space to gather
                movement no light to

                raise his eye, worshipped
                by the free who loved

                stature indifferent to
                wanton ministrations,

                thawed, at length, by
                paisley questioning,

                stoic non-authoritarian
                diminution, was released,

                certainly a Captain,
                but not America

 

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

light wormhole: river
time wormhole: Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – reaping
walls wormhole: Batgirl –

 

Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – reaping

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                Dear Pat and John,
                and then the rain came

                for weeks, now, making
                havoc over fields of

                trampled trees and
                drowned sheep; rain

                against the windows
                as I write, rain carried

                on the gale that
                bounds up the valley

                gust over gust up and
                over the leaden hills;

                the window rattles
                a log slips, sparks

                disperse and resettle
                like time; the view

                has changed outside:
                metal beasts across fields

                nodding idiotically, no
                further need of pitchforks

                under the sun, now just
                production, churning

                moral thought to mud,
                no distribution

                where fields of ignorance
                lay; last night

                the engines switched off
                one by one across

                the fields and
                Pegasus shimmered

                gazing long on the
                southern elms

                standing about
                with hands in their pockets

                reaping their own
                and individual harvest

 

read the collected work as it is published: here
this is an appliquiary to: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J Redford – Working; “Pat and John” were friends of Mick from his London days, I think; he wrote occasional letters to them talking about the ‘countryside’

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

change wormhole: Plumstead – Woolwich – Plumstead 220211
hills & sun & thought & time & trees & valley & windows & writing wormhole: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J Redford – Working
night & rain wormhole: river
sound wormhole: Batgirl –
stars wormhole: the silent night of the Batman

 

loss

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                “I

                stumble in to town …” on
                endless streets of paviour

                I didn’t notice a kerb and fell
                like an army unit from the

                23rd century, self-contained
                but waiting to rise

                once a cognitive-scan is completed,
                yet it revolves without completion,

                `cannot get a lock, so I stand
                without co-ordinate, beguiled

                by logo-lettering of all regard
                and stagger around with naked physique

                dressed for none to see
                to cover my loss

 

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

awareness wormhole: ‘still …’
Bowie wormhole: south horizon
identity wormhole: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J Redford – Working
streets wormhole: snapshots about Totnes
walking wormhole: out

 

The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J Redford – Working

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Chapter 4

Working

A Letter of Two Parts

Dear Pat and John

I thought it high time I dropped another letter from the country into the post.   Looking back over the past summer months seems more like looking back over a bleak and stormy winter.   The weather has of course played havoc with the haymaking and harvesting.   I hear that at one time, medium quality hay was fetching nearly £20 per ton, and taking into account the wide-spread flooding that has occurred, it seems there’ll not be enough oat straw to feed in place of it.   With this drastic shortage of hay and straw, the outlook is black indeed.

Even as I write, the rain is beating alarmingly against the window panes, borne upon a gale that roars like an express up the valley, each gust falling over the next in its haste to wreak havoc on the exposed hills.   As I gaze through the window pane distorted with rivulets and splashes, I perceive a hazy image of grey hills shouldering leaden clouds, and every few minutes the wind rattles the frame and comes sighing down the chimney.   The whole house shudders a little and a log in the hearth slips, sending up a shower of sparks to meet the confusion above.   The fields are in a sorry state.   Most of the corn has been lodged as if trampled by some strident giant, fences have been breached by falling trees and many sheep throughout the country have been drowned in the spreading waters.

There was a period two weeks ago when the tempest eased a little and allowed a little watery sun into our eyes, but this lasted for only seven days, after which the rain set in again and eased up only occasionally for an odd day here and there.   We have managed to stack about half the oats, but the remainder will probably have to be written off.   The wheat would have encountered a similar fate had it not been for the three hired combines.

Now here once again are the winds and the rains.   A dead leaf, too sodden to absorb any more water is whipped across the window and trembles for a brief second on the sill before joining the hosts that cling to the chicken coop wire.   Incidentally, I’d better put this letter to one side for a moment in order to collect the eggs before the half light fades completely.

                                * * * * * * * *

Dear Pat and John,

I’ve had to restart this letter.   Owing to this sudden bright spell we’ve been working like mad trying to catch up on the backlog of harvesting and general repairs.   I started this letter well over two weeks ago but I’m afraid I’ve not had time to finish it until now.   It is remarkable how the view has changed outside my window.   The country scene these past few days has been one of violent human and mechanical activity.

Implements of all shapes, sizes and colours have erupted from their unusual passiveness and are droning, roaring and rattling over the soil.   A combine harvester, like a metal monster from a Wells novel, trundles ponderously across the field, digesting the grain and vomiting the residue in its wake.   Tractors career madly through the lanes, heave with throbbing effort towering loads of sheaves and haul balers which follow on, nodding idiotically like inane sheep.   Men race fervently against time commanding machines, pitching sheaves, building stacks, their pitchforks leaping and flashing under the sun.   Farmers and farm workers alike are conscious of the urgency of the hour, but no clock watching for them, they are eager to see the culmination of a years’ hard work.   To these men, their work is not merely a means of earning a living, it is something far more than this, something far more personal and important to them as individuals.   These men work not so much for their employers but with them, and it is through this combined effort that the tempestuous vagaries of the past year have been overcome.

If a machine breaks down, there is a curse and several pairs of hands are immediately locating the trouble.   They may not be expert mechanics but farm workers are masters of improvisation and no machine is standing idle for long.   It is this knack of ‘making do’ that is the seed of many weird and wonderful machines that have appeared on the agricultural scene, and it would indeed be difficult to find any industry which has produced in such a short period of time a greater range of impossible machines to tackle such improbable tasks.   No doubt to the layman it would appear that with all these modern innovations, the life of the farm worker today is almost as idyllic as the sentimentalised conception of the pseudo-bucolic poets of the seventeenth century:-

                “O happy life, if that their good
                The husbandman but understood.
                Who all the day themselves do please …”

Whenever a new acquaintance asks the nature of my work they are, on being told, shocked into silent disbelief.   Apparently I neither look like a farm labourer nor do I sound like one (how does such a person look and sound), and henceforth I am re-introduced either as a farmer or, by those who are more sensitive towards the truth, as being ‘in farming’, thereby implying that I own vast acres and hunt every Tuesday and Saturday.   A wistful ‘back to the land’ look then enters the eye.   “I’ve always wanted to work on a farm” they sigh.   No doubt there have been insuperable obstacles in ambition’s path for many people, but surely not all, and I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t bemoan his lot in town and gaze longingly at the green hills.   And just as a point of interest, I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t have an uncle somewhere who owns a farm.

Their conception of farming today seems even more idyllic than that of their fathers’.   Machines, they say, have taken the hard work out of farming, all we have to do is sit on a tractor all day and press buttons.   Perhaps they would like to spend a day stacking bales of hay under a sizzling hot roof of a Dutch barn, or perhaps after a sixteen hour day during harvest, [perhaps] they would like to sit up all night with a cow who is having a difficult time calving and work another sixteen hours the following day, and the day after that.   Unless a farmer specialises in a line for which a particular machine or implement has been designed, then it is not economical to purchase that machine.   For example, a man with just one house cow would find it uneconomical to install a completely automatic milking unit, but even where this is justified, as in the case of larger herds, the farmer or herdsman still has to rise at five o’clock on a bitterly cold winter’s morning seven days a week.   The advent of the machine has not necessarily lessened the amount of hard work to be done, it has merely allowed us to do more work in a given amount of time.   In fact, it is because of the machine that the herdsman’s lot today is becoming an increasingly intolerable one.

An old friend of mine once milked twenty five cows night and morning with two machines.   He know his cows and his cows knew him.   Although he did not rush things, he was efficient.   He would stand aside as the cows came into the shed and cast his eye over each one, and as he milked, he ran his hand over their coats and looked at their droppings.   Old Charlie could tell immediately if one of the animals was off colour.   Then his employer retired and a young, progressive farmer moved in.   Fortunately he ask Charlie to stay on as cowman.   Now, Charlie milks sixty cows night and morning with four machines in a well-parlour.   On being asked how he liked the new system, the old cowman sighed.

“Well I dunno.   We gets the milk, that’s fer sure, but ‘tis like working in a factory.   There’s pipes, tubes, valves, taps an’ switches everywhere.   The animals go through the parlour like a dose o’ salts – you’ve ‘ardly got time to wash their bags.   All you can see of ‘em is one side, their guts might be ‘anging out the other fer all I know.”   His addendum, I think, summed up his real grievance.

                “Trouble is – I ‘ent got enough time to get to know me animals.”

What could once be classified as a pleasurable occupation was now, through the advent of the machine, become a tiresome chore, and as mechanisation infiltrates more and more, so true herdsmanship is disappearing.   The reticent paragon of tolerance, that slow, amiable patient being that was once the cowmen, is now being pushed aside to make way for the impatient, ulcer-ridden milker of high speed conveyer-type milk production of today, so much so in fact, that on some larger farms, milkers are already working a shift system to break the seven day a week monotony.

I can foresee in the not so distant future, a herd of a thousand or more cows, zero grazed, moving almost continuously through a system of yards and parlours twice every twenty four hours.   In the parlours, shift work will be in progress with round the clock milking.   The milk will be pumped through to the distribution.   The organisation will manufacture its own concentrates, will employ its own veterinary surgeon, accountant and secretary and will have a resident Ministry Inspector equipped with his own laboratory.   And of course the whole concern will be owned by the big industrialists of the day.   This is not such an improbability as may at first appear for this has already happened to a great degree to some of our poultry farms.   There are now vast empires where eggs are fed into one end of a building and emerge twelve weeks later at the other as pre-packed chickens with their giblets frozen into little polythene bags inside them.   Then there is the abomination of the sweat box and battery systems of meat production.   Agricultural evolution has reached a point where farming, as we know it, is slowly but surely plunging into self-annihilation and dragging down with it the responsibility of moral thought into a morass of turpitude.   We are entering an age of hydroponic systems where an agricultural technocracy permits controlled environment and mass production of living creatures to an extent unparalleled in human history.   It is as if we have forgotten that we are dealing with life itself and not inanimate lumps of putty waiting to be moulded into any shape by the current market.   Yet if the farmers of today do not keep abreast of [the] latest scientific developments, they would find it almost impossible to feed themselves let alone provide food for others.   Even so, despite the fact that agricultural efficiency and production have increased beyond the wildest dreams of great pioneers such as John Lawes and Sir Humphry Davy, people are still dying in their thousands for want of food.   Despite the fact that there is enough food produced throughout the world in any one year to supply mankind with the essentials of life for the next twenty, the bloated belly of the beggar is still a common sight in the greater part of the world.   It is not, therefore, research into agricultural production methods which is urgently needed, but research into the distribution of those products.   It is in this sphere that the great fields of ignorance lay.

But let me rein back awhile for I have digressed too far.   This letter to you was intended to be a portrait of the countryside as I have seen it during the last two months, so now let me gaze upon the pastoral scene beyond my window.   The cows have finished grazing and are lying in the meadow cudding methodically.   The sun falls upon their backs like a warm blanket and a faint breeze fans their faces.

It was nine o’clock last night that the last load was brought home.   Engines were switched off one by one across the fields and, as the evening star faded, Pegasus shimmered the in the warmth of dusk and gazed upon the southern elms.   As the last sheaf was laid upon the stack, the year ended, our year, that is.   George stood, hands on hips.   Harry leaned upon his pitchfork.   Alf and Arthur sat upon the trailer and Jim stood with one foot upon the wheel hub.   In silence they gazed at the stack, each man with his own thoughts, each man reaping his own spiritual harvest.

 

read the collected work as it is published: here

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

chimney wormhole: the missing chord // the now-silent seagull
clouds & identity & time & wind wormhole: travelling // arrival
green wormhole: green and / luminant / to behold
grey wormhole: for / the first time
hills & valley wormhole: volcanic rock
morning wormhole: forgotten anything
poetry wormhole: Pilot 125 … // … being excursion in the interludes
rain wormhole: when the rain has settled / the dust
silence wormhole: without any buffet at all
sun wormhole: is this it // all the time
thought & writing wormhole: Christmas 2015
trees wormhole: Plumstead – Woolwich – Plumstead 220211
windows wormhole: river
work wormhole: I am not yet ready

 

travelling // arrival

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                travellingno theme

                when the wind blows
                leaves turn and follow like
                dislocated jazz-hands

                everything is parting
                and passing all around
                … me (is that the theme?)

                I can’t find what to
                think or notice; in the
                corner of my eye a

                small black creature
                keeps pace, stretched in
                leap over field, through

                hedge, unspite, imhindered,
                depossibly, gathering
                everything in disregard;

                bit between molars (for
                weeks, for days?
) wedging
                teeth slightly awkward

                has just worked loose;
                there are skies, there,
                certainly, high, silky

                and whipped, and then
                blue-coagulated drifting
                like a fleet, like calves

                crossing fields ears
                waving, as wind blades
                heave beyond hill horizon

                I conjeal            myself
                in notice, relieved with a
                thread and co-ordinate

                where for to breathe
                again but having lost
                so much more that I

                never had; Carol shuts
                the Kindle and leans; I
                smell her warm head

                for milesarrival

 

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

attention wormhole: before any writing
black & blue wormhole: the silent night of the Batman
breathing & groundlessness wormhole: is this it // all the time
Carol & clouds & sky wormhole: Christmas 2015
hedge wormhole: free
horizon & white wormhole: looking ahead
identity wormhole: without any buffet at all
leaves wormhole: Batgirl –
letting go wormhole: “I need help”
passing wormhole: I am not yet ready
smell wormhole: St. Edmund’s / Parish Church / Castleton
time wormhole: looking / ridiculous
travelling wormhole: Tara mantras
wind wormhole: after all

 

I am not yet ready

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                in the university reception
                I cannot Take Refuge while
                fractured from those around

                and those who pass, their
                faces about their work and
                identity, already persed

                beside their mouth my eyes
                trying to make the devastating
                confession for which I suspect

                I am not yet ready

 

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

career wormhole: after all
eyes & people & work wormhole: green and / luminant / to behold
faces wormhole: ‘God, who am I …?’
identity wormhole: lack of center
mouth & passing wormhole: two profiles
university wormhole: reading // unstirred