A House with Windows (Complete)

 

 

To my Father

June – October 2014

 

 

 

1.

 

I tried so hard to listen to their cries,

knowing that to hear would help my heart

to comprehend. We watch the empty sky

for rain. First glimmers – distant clouds – the start

of something more. We cannot see our end.

Our inability to see beyond

is no surprise. But if perhaps we listened.

Can you hear the sounds of children’s songs?

Their mothers calling them, the bustle of

so many homes? Can you hear the cries

of sadness – life, a river, steady, often

wild? We barely see the upward flight

of birds as they leave earth behind. I strain –

their voices are as distant as the rain.

 

 

 

2.

 

What earth is this that beckons us? Well known,

but somehow strange. Its forms the habitation

of our bodies and our minds, the zone

of each awakening, the single gate

through which we touch what is sublime. To care

for it – who all our lives has cared for us –

is somehow strange. A child who blankly stares

when told that one day they will be a mother.

That we should be custodians whose hands

could hold the world with tenderness – this is

a truth both ancient and sublime. A grandeur

beckons. Tending it – a holy business.

Those who once were cause of many tears,

are now a source of joy for future years.

 

 

 

3.

 

When time continues sometimes we do not.

The train has passed, the person on the platform

stands. Immune to us it does not rot

like apples in a bowl. There is no latter

hour when clocks will cease to chime, no anchor

for the clouds. A photo only holds

a face. Beholding motion is an answer –

a film recording new becoming old,

the images like genii in a bottle

released to wander every time its shown –

but these are spectres, only an apostle

sees the living travelling far from home.

Time passes, watching from the rear guard carriage.

Without regret, it leaves a failed marriage.

 

 

 

4.

 

The stars remain in their oblivion,

although they visit us in later times,

the light their delegation. Here upon

our houses and our fields they come to shine.

These emissaries, long remaining at

their posts, awakening – prepared themselves

for distant lands. So great is this, a matter

that requires our hearts – to cross the worlds

to find our birthplace in the night. We pause.

What of the great oblivion from which

they all emerge? Has life a hidden cause?

The night has swallowed all that it enriched.

The kingdoms of the stars will pass, each crown

will fall, like ripened fruit upon the ground.

 

 

 

5.

 

The birds approach the evening carefully.

They know the sun will fade – they’ve seen

it happen many times before. The trees

begin to shine, their wicks are lit, their green

a host of aural fire. Prudently

the birds prepare a torch to help them through.

They understand it is a luxury –

the time of light. There’s little they can do

to compensate for loss. Except this thing –

to sing about the beauty of the day

and lose themselves in this as night begins,

and from within release another ray

of their serenity, that holds them fast

till stars appear, replacing light that’s past.

 

 

6.

 

The beauty of the sky is singleness,

a blank canvas of blue. Simplicity.

A surface without depth, and yet a depth

like that of eyes. An elasticity

is needed, language suitable is hard

to find. Equations formulated to

describe the world reflect, as in a shard

an element or two of one great truth.

Some have such elegance, in those brief

strokes upon a page a beauty is

laid bare and great profundity achieved.

The sky is both of these. A boundless gift

that in one symbol is described. A dye

that artists use to plumb incarnate eyes.

 

 

 

7.

 

Once or twice should be enough, for when

we see the truth what more is there to see?

A flash of sunlight blinds as we descend

a bush path lined with trees, a canopy

of summer growth outlines the distant cloud.

Again the sunlight blinds. So unforeseen,

reflections relayed from the leaves allowing

us the briefest glimpse. Amongst the green

the flash of recognition – here, the place

of habitation, only here. The earth

is where you come to be, the house

of your infinity. An item’s worth

depends upon its rarity. Espoused,

the King has crafted a pure golden ring,

at times we see it flash in everything.

 

 

 

8.

 

A gleaming sphere of beauty, born of pain.

How many years have past since you, a jewel

of life, began? I think you have remained

to give us hope. The hand of time that rules

is without mercy. All that’s beautiful,

like glowing autumn, fades. But you increase.

Like landscapes after snow, all that is cruel,

though it’s felt, becomes a deeper peace.

This you teach us, patiently enduring

while the sun returns day after day.

Perfection comes. The night the dawn endues.

Transfigured sorrow shines its healing rays.

The oyster’s suffering creates a pearl,

a lustrous jewel – our living turquoise world.

 

 

 

9.

 

You seemed to be the one I thought you were,

as often on a winter day the sun

appears. What is, is not what we infer

from past eventualities. The sum

is less than what experience unfolds.

Pale and powerless – the yellow disk

that hovers, little help from bitter cold.

The things we know are tempered by this risk –

that all that’s certain is uncertainty.

The sun has risen in the winter sky,

reminding us of our mortality.

We are and are not as we meet the eye.

But still, each is as changeless as the sun,

as every figure multiplied by one.

 

 

 

10.

 

It’s right, I think, the placement of the sky.

The pebbles on the forest floor reflect

the winter sun. A thousand shadows lie

beneath the silent trees where light dissects

the canopy. A tiny stream is shot

with hints of blue. The world terrestrial

is held fast like a sail, a thread of cotton

light enough to keep it there. A shell

contains a living being, the sea surrounds.

Is it the presence of the atmosphere

that makes the world alive? Its frailty sounds

in rustling leaves. Above, the sky is clear.

As oceans move according to the moon,

we’re drawn to open windows in our room.

 

 

 

11.

 

Across the water was your nascency.

We shared the passing clouds. When we began

to love no sign was there but gentle company

of minds. And soon enough the evening sang.

As train tracks, always parallel, extend

towards the distant sky, converging as

they near, so is the life we share. The end

is nearer now, where two is one, and last

is first. The water flows beneath the bridge

that on a winter day was strewn with flowers.

A little chapel made of wood was privilege

to our vows, and aided us with power

supernatural to live as one,

as sunshine emanating from the sun.

 

 

 

12.

 

I am the one I was. And you, you are

the same. The sun that sets today is shining

in another land. And here the stars

skim over what remains. In over times

we dreamed of other times. And now they are,

and we are what we were. The earth sinks deeper.

It’s difficult to hold it all – the far-off

and the near, the weight of sky so steep.

The constellations’ paths – predictable,

inscrutable, returning origins

to origins, while they, immutable,

continue on their way – we can’t begin

to understand. What was is now I am,

the world eternally as it began.

 

 

 

13.

 

A welcome visitor – the sun on winter

afternoons. When clouds demand attention

we congregate within. A lonely listener

to the wind – a bird in flight – unmentioned

passes by. The sky is always. Light

and darkness alternate upon the ground.

And now, it left behind, awaiting night,

I settle in a chair. The soothing sound

of footsteps on a wooden floor, and soon

the fellowship of friends. The sky outside

retreats behind the cloud. The quarter moon,

dissolving in the air, remains, denied

recession into origin, a sail,

a pure note in an Ionian scale.

 

 

 

 

14.

 

I am and am not who I think I am.

The sun that sets today will rise again.

We all continue, though the years like sand,

windswept, obscure the image that remains.

I am and am not who I think I am.

The setting sun is nearer now than then.

We cease, and like the froth left on the sand,

the wave retreats and does not come again.

I am not who I think I am. The sun

obscures the features of the land, the dawn

impoverished sky has only room for one,

each eye, a witness to the coming morning.

You are and were and will be – nothing is

apart from your most solitary bliss.

 

 

 

 

15.

 

Who are they speaking to – the magpies before dawn?

My silence has no hint of such. The nameless

is – declared in subtle song, its law

in fluid reasoning. Is prayer as changeless

as the dawn itself? Creation’s echo?

The silent stars observe another age.

A wave approaches. Evening’s Lectio

Divina births the time of living praise.

And I? A lonely tree, immovable

in the incoming tide? A heart of stone?

Just give it time. Among the scattered pebbles

lizards wait for day. They’re not alone.

The sun ascends. Look, there upon the rock

a lizard bathes. Warmth leaves a door unlocked.

 

 

 

16.

 

As time departs from us we feel no breeze.

Its destiny is other lives, and in

its haste a person incomplete it leaves

behind. We’d think we’d notice – here within

we feel the march of days, the sunsets set

within our souls, the rainy afternoons

that flow like rivers. These without regret

are lost from consciousness. It must be soon –

the time when every sun will set, and waves

that reach the shore will rest upon the sand.

But unbeknown to us a grassy grave

awaits our time. As shadows cannot stand,

each borne by unseen winds across the fields,

existence leaves all that we thought was real.

 

 

 

 

17.

 

Tomorrow comes. Somehow we are prepared.

Trees grow towards the light. Above the formless

deep the Spirit broods. At least we’re spared

anxiety – to think this way. At dawn

the blackbird sings. But often we can barely

see the line of waiting trees, nor sense

the hidden sun. What hope – when life unfairly

shifts? Our frailty is our one defense.

A feather is as light as air, and yet

it lifts a bird. The grip of winter fails

before the bud. A destiny is set.

A fleet of ships approaches in full sail.

The face I cannot see is like the one

beyond the trees, where day has just begun.

 

 

 

18.

 

Black Mountain

 

His meaning – this we came to understand.

The dew topped branches shivered in the wind.

The hills returned, the contours of the land

were marked by dawn. When what is good begins

all is not good. Not far away the ground

is torn, a cloud of dust ascends, a thunder

rips the air. Man’s price assigned. The sound

of plunder. Eden lies east of the sun,

beyond our reach. And yet I see its image

here among the rolling hills, the wheat

tipped fields, the faces of the cows. To pillage

this – a monumental crime. His feet

have wandered on this earth, and once, pinned to

a tree, drew pain until the sky was blue.

 

The name of the hill on the property of Cliff Wallace, where the Maules Creek protest camp was situated.

 

 

 

19.

 

At first I thought it was the wind, approaching

in the trees. Within a darkened room

the mysteries of the world converge, encroaching

on our dreams – an aural wave, abloom.

Alive within the texture of the word,

a man ascends the summit near the sea.

He bows, believing that his voice is heard.

What was withheld is given. Eternity

is grasped by minds attentive to its sound.

Outside my room I recognized the imprint

of the sea. A darkened sky had found

me there, and like a wave that breaks within

a line of sand, the sound of heavy rain

reminded me that meaning comes untamed.

 

 

 

20.

 

This afternoon a bird most beautiful

is singing in the springtime trees. The sounds

of turtledoves nearby disperse until

its notes remain like ringing bells. The ground

from which the trees emerge is bountiful,

the sky is clear, the sun has graced the air

with hope. The music is immeasurable

that sweetly flourishes above us there.

From spring to spring it sounds, alighting in

our time. A ray of sun at rest upon

the leaves is silently serene, and brings

us joy. But this serenity of song,

that bubbles up like water from a spring,

is token of a joy in everything.

 

 

 

21.

 

Are these the marks of our humanity?

Rooted here, the sky our canopy.

Pathetic and profound, a destiny

inscribed in sand. Our true identity

is undefined. Our brother animals

are nearer to their origins, at ease

in less contested space. Untamable,

our consciousness, its wild rivers cease

only in death. Is inhumanity

the definition of our race? Our eyes

opaque? The thawing ice sets water free,

the buds appear, the earth echoes the sky.

To be the one clothed in humility

is our uniqueness and our destiny.

 

 

 

 

22.

 

I am a servant of the King. He called

me once and still I follow. Like the swiftest

stream life carries us. The Western World,

so used to drought, at times has manifest

the inner surge. And this I know and gladly,

when his providence arranged it thus,

my stream combined with others here that madly

coursed towards the sea. But now I must

acknowledge life’s strange destiny. An ancient

vine that shares a common root will sometimes

spread beyond the fence into adjacent

fields. What sends it there? The radiant sun,

the steady rain, the hands that cultivate

are wise, and wildest grafts domesticate.

 

 

 

23.

 

Within there’s room for silence, light and air.

An open space where everything and nothing

dwell, where the material can share

the immaterial, a space where something

emptying lets hidden things be seen.

Its windows are the face of different worlds

that picture what our history might have been

if we had listened to the voice that called

forth this from nothingness. But high above

the painted walls the light of afternoon

is streaming, lighting on us like a dove.

The wind outside can never reach this room.

In silent spaces radiance unseen

can resurrect a world that might have been.

 

 

A Franciscan church in Waverly, Sydney

 

 

 

24.

 

I woke aware. I lay that morning in

another land. The summer sun had yet

to breach the window of the room. My fingers

felt the coolness of the dawn. The setting

stars delayed. Within I felt I was

a person other than I am – the noble

trunk of my identity, its lost

meridian displayed. Remarkable –

the person who inhabits I. A poise,

a serious intent, a strength unflinching –

this is what we are beyond the noise.

The spirit glides, wings folded like a finch.

A new ascendancy – as stars at night

replace the frail certainties of light.

 

 

 

25.

 

I hesitate to speak of what is near,

an emptiness where meaning should be found,

within the veil the face has disappeared.

Above the distant hills a line of cloud,

transfigured in the light of afternoon,

appears suspended in the flow of time.

Inhabitants of distance seem to bloom

while imminence to winter has inclined.

St Patrick prayed for meaning all around –

before, behind, beneath, within – the Christ

enfolding everything. On holy ground

a prophet hides his face. The soul enticed

by desert finds Him there – in solitude

a flame, the ordinary things endued.

 

 

 

26.

 

A desert has its own ecology.

As delicate as lace, its cycles of

renewal. Claps of thunder, rain so free,

and then the years of silence. Soon what was

is nothing but a memory. Life endures

in paths of ants, the subtleties of nature

written small. A lonely hawk pursues

a flicker in the scrub. It has a stature,

this inalienable life, the stark

perfection of a flower and the sky.

Each mirror images – a sunlit spark

imagines all. The lonely bird shall die.

The landscape, dotted here and there by stones,

an echo here of our eternal home.

 

 

 

27.

 

The photo shows you trying to shake his hand

while he, with eyes elsewhere, has placed his hand

upon your head. You’re just a child, adorned

with markings of your tribe, while he, adorned

in suit and tie, is ruler of the land.

The privilege to which a man is born

determines much in this great southern land.

The scene was set before the child was born.

But privilege is more than suit and tie.

The colours of the earth upon his skin

remind us of the place to which we’re tied

and that assize through which new worlds begin –

when you are seen in every human face

and dignity shines forth from every place.

 

A photo of the Prime Minister, Tony Abbot, with his hand on the head of an indigenous boy from Arnhem Land, as the boy, unnoticed, holds out his hand.

 

 

 

28.

 

Is it the truth we seek or something less?

The roots that search the soil – necessity

is all no matter how profound the quest.

The branches that embrace the sky – a tree’s

divinity or destiny hid in

a seed? What is our freedom? See – the course

of bees through summer air is mapped within

the hive. The memory of life set forth

in rivers long ago – enough to send

a salmon on the journey to its home.

Is any power strong enough to bend

the human heart? Our future is unknown.

Why does the grass arise, or flowers in

the spring? A love is beckoning each thing.

 

 

 

29.

 

In darkness I can see divinity.

The star maps of the heart describe its rays.

Why close my eyes, when all around I see

the sparks of holy fire? The inner gaze

is insufficient – majesty is high.

In daylight’s visual poverty the soul

slowly expires. The universe is shy.

It is not wise to try to grasp it whole.

An advent in the shadows brings us simpler

times. Reality fragmented, every

seed alive. The cosmos has its wrinkles,

rippling through the sky. Peripheries

are where the truth must lie. My heart expands

to take in life, lying scattered here like sand.

 

 

 

30.

 

A house with windows – nothing unexpected –

yet a metaphor for poetry.

We need a site to dwell. A man selects

a quarter acre by a stream. The sea

is close enough to visit in his sleep.

Like spring, the house begins to bloom. Its windows

look out on the hills laden with sheep.

At night they host the stars. Sometimes the wind,

whipped up by the eternity of sea,

beats on their brittle panes, and curtains drawn,

they sleep at peace within. An age-old tree

resides nearby, its shadows mark the lawn,

and sometimes, in the deepest afternoon,

it filters light – and radiance fills the room.

 

 

 

31.

 

The river swiftly flows into the past.

The waters, once in flood, appear to drop.

It’s rumoured that a drought has come at last

to lands upstream, and there the flow has stopped.

We all must face our end – the days when hope

is finally outweighed by memory.

But this – our world’s collective fate – unspoken,

hanging in the air, a destiny

that none foresaw, except in latter times.

Each day the river flows. So powerless,

humanity, observing their incline

towards oblivion. A game of chess

where every move is known. We lift our hand

to place the piece that destiny demands.

 

 

 

32.

 

Before the dawn – a long melodious song.

All music circles time – the origins

return, contingent things find they belong.

Completion comes to us as day begins.

I think I am a private man. My thoughts

turn into song in the long silences.

The mortal shifts its gaze to the immortal.

Hearing this, as consciousness emerges,

lifts our souls from sleep. Each spring the blackbird

comes and builds its nest in nearby trees.

Before the universe – the word. The tracks

of stars expand in their complexity,

the world revolves, the music of the spheres

is echoed in this song that disappears.

 

 

 

33.

 

We’ve crossed into apocalyptic times.

What can we do? Our politics is charmed

by corporate wealth, the media in line,

the church is blind, unfit to sound alarm.

The planet lurches into chaos. People

of good will observe the prophesies

fulfilled, and search their hearts with urgency.

The multitudes that walked through parted seas –

was it a leader with an outstretched hand?

All night the people waited by the shore,

afraid. God answered, giving a command –

why do you cry to me, he said, move forward,

conquer with your feet. The task begun –

the Lord appears, arising like the sun.

 

 

 

34.

 

I feel for you, who’s watched your children age.

New generations rise, the old remain

unseen. Their task to measure passing days

and value what has been. The empty plains

of bleak infinity encroach upon

your door, at night the boundless stars. You know

the silences of lifetimes that are gone,

the gathered wheat, safe-kept before the snow.

And now, in clarity of early winter

days, the distances all congregate

within. Beneath a bank of cloud, aglint

with afternoon, so much remains unstated.

Your privacy expects our loving gaze

respect the mysteries that come with age.

 

 

 

35.

 

In music the invisible is seen.

Emotion is abstracted, yet in that

more finely drawn. The place a heart has been,

remembered in a ritual, a fact

becoming form. Greek tragedy distilled

the human soul into a potency –

cathartic pain that makes the waters still.

In truth perceived we find serenity.

Beneath the earth a sapphire’s beauty dawns.

But music’s nearer air. Like clouds suspended,

human life appears in it reborn,

its sorrows in a lighter key. Attending

it, we grasp a greater harmony,

that links all life to what it is to be.

 

 

 

36.

 

The earth is not despite its gentle beauty

all that it should be. A discontent

is needed. Quietude – neglect of duty.

Those who love it find their hearts are rent.

Among all that is precious and profound

injustice is concealed. Confronting it

is measure of our zeal. Where sin abounds,

grace flourishes the more. Our call is written

in these texts – the Holy One approaching

bolted doors. Yet he described a world

at peace, where lilies grow arrayed like kings.

A righteous man, who knew the snake that curled,

malicious, in the tree. Tikkun Olam –

the healing of the world – his deeper plan.

 

 

 

37.

 

I woke to sound of rain. It’s Rosh Hashanah.

Trumpets are supposed to pierce the air.

The welcome of the year is never calm.

Today it’s birdsong through the rain and prayer.

Each year builds upon the last. What was

is carried in what is. But life is fresh,

and undetermined things have their own laws.

The world is burdened by its past, the less

we grasp, the more that it remains unchanged.

I meditate on what the future brings.

To entertain despair denies the rain

accompanying this dawn, or birds that sing

despite a world unchanged. I turn to prayer,

acknowledging a hope, as pure as rare.

 

 

 

 

38.

 

In time we come to choose. A long maturing,

then the moment when the paths divide.

We hope for clarity. In this, enduring

through the dark night of the soul, deciding

in the pale advance of dawn. The wind

outside is tossing all the trees. I shiver

in my room. I cannot now rescind

decisions made. The current of the river

flows one way. A providence is ruling

in the darkness, calling us to follow

in its paths. He rode upon a mule

into his destiny. He wouldn’t swallow

numbing wine. I watch him in his frailty,

radiating love, despite the nails.

 

 

 

 

39.

 

It’s therapeutic to embrace a starlit

sky, and contemplate our place beneath. A mystery

that our mind cannot describe, a task

befitting more our heart. The truth resists

our calculation, beauty often hides.

It’s lonely here beneath the southern sky.

Transplanted culture leaves so much implied,

it lacks the words, summation is denied.

Two hundred years, enough to learn to feel.

The shifting seasons penetrate, a slow

familiarity, a love that’s real,

the knowledge we belong, gently bestowed.

Behold, the mark of true humility,

to see what is, rejoice, and let it be.

 

 

 

40.

 

It’s there again, among the flowering trees.

Like spray from the resounding sea, we feel

it’s radiance. A song that none can see,

that like first love bears marks of the ideal.

It’s luminous and strong, affirming and

denying our brittle personality.

Through it we learn, as consciousness expands

in those brief moments, what it is to be.

It only comes this time of year, and though

the day is resonant, it disappears –

the silence, its true song. In ebb and flow,

the rhythm that identifies the years

is undulating in our souls. No words,

yet so much mystery in songs of birds.

 

 

 

41.

 

I thought it would be black outside, but found

the clouds were luminous – they wore the city’s

light. And here and there between, the shroud

of deeper night. A cricket chirped, unpittied

dogs complained, the steady ocean of

the streets was all around. No sacredness,

no rest. The darkness colonized. What was

before no longer is. A wilderness,

where hidden things once grew. Where is the depth

from which things are? The womb? The silence that

proceeds the stars? Among the riches left

I feel the coolness of the breeze. A bat

flies past, its spectral form – a silhouette

against the clouds – unmoved by my regret.

 

 

 

42.

 

I asked him, what am I to do, and added,

Lord. The answer, written on a wall

had come before my voice was heard. It’s sad

I didn’t see. What do I do, now all

that was familiar is no more, and times

unchanging change to be another? Am I

not the person that I was? No crime

has been committed. But for this – the dam

has broken. Thoughts that gather through the years

become a force of nature. Pressure builds,

the structure fails. My friends give way to fear.

I find myself forsaken by the guild.

The Lord who entered humbly on a mule,

will not forsake the one they call a fool.

 

 

 

43.

 

While we slept the dawn had come and gone.

The overflow was all. I woke amazed

by an abundance. Vivid dreams had shone –

I gathered up the manna. Will the muse

enlighten me? Its river flows inside.

I hear the echo of the majesty

of waterfalls – a god is not denied.

What is the evidence that we are free?

The deep desire to understand, to shape

a narrative, to find our bearings in

an unfamiliar world. We can’t escape

determinacy. But gentle hands begin

the gathering of threads, and slowly weave

the clothing of a life we can believe.

 

 

 

 

44.

 

Today I set off, travelling north. The journey

is unplanned, but memory holds a trace

of it like markings in the sand. I turn

from the familiar to the open space,

from comprehension to a future I

embrace. No matter, that I cannot see,

an eagle that’s enclosed has views of sky.

And we, who contemplate eternity,

are liberated here from what confines.

The world we’re in is sick. I’ll go. It needs

more than our sympathy. There’s little time.

Like Lazarus, a death cannot impede

your living flow of love. I follow. I

will see the miracles that death denies.

 

 

 

45.

 

What links the future to the past? The breath

of human beings. Our great capacity

to image the unseen, to sense in depth,

to gather scattered time in unities.

What measurement has butterflies? The hours

of the day are their eternity.

And resting all the night upon a flower

accustoms them to nothingness. And we,

although we share their destiny, are not

confined – a problematic grace. The birds

above the sea are not assigned the lot

of fish beneath. Theirs is a different world.

We view the earth according to our place,

and sensing light from heaven, turn our face.

 

 

 

46.

 

On weekends, in the afternoon, the air

was filled with gentle music. Coming home

from war, my father had renounced despair

and chosen this sweet joy. The sounds intoned

by clarinet and strings awakened me

to things I did not know. The subtle sweep

of music’s holy time. Affirming, free,

an ordering of things that makes us weep.

Its task is an internal education,

helping us to know the river’s course,

teaching us the way of sublimation,

surrendering to life without remorse.

In gratitude for memory endued,

I offer this in memory of you.

 

 

 

47.

 

Within the grass a thousand dandelions

had raised their graceful heads. Each one would bob

whenever breezes passed. It was not time

for their farewells. A blackbird sung a noble

tune. The sunlight, settled everywhere,

was in no hurry to depart. The shadows

marked the slow advance of time. A careless

wind toys with our destiny, we grow

aware. Like galaxies, whose stars are birthed

in spheres of burning light, the dandelions

appear as icons of the universe.

Each beautiful, according to their time.

The wind will blow, and each will disappear –

and each return again in the new year.

 

 

 

48.

 

Believing that the violence and despair

that plagues humanity is not its all,

I seek a world that seems as thin as air.

For much we see makes hope appear so small,

but life is beautiful, and gentle things

remain. A heart can break so easily.

Our strength can fail, we have no set of wings

to soar above our sadness. We are free

at least to feel. This morning, I awoke

to sounds of rage – a man outside my room

was shouting in despair. The air was soaked

in sunshine. From a nearby tree in bloom

the spring, incarnate, told him he belonged,

and prophesied redemption in a song.

 

 

 

49.

 

My silence, underneath this tree, is prayer.

You hear it. High above, two crows traverse

the limitless blue sky. This earth we share,

one biosphere in which we are immersed.

Where is heaven? What possessed you when

you prayed so long ago? Surely, knowledge

that the kingdom had come near. It bends

the world like wind. Its shoots appear. The solid

things melt in its heat. What did you say

on mountain tops surrounded by the stars?

Great silences inhabit us today.

The dream has passed. The crow calls from afar.

But this is home. Before the sun appears

the sound of singing fills our waking ears.

 

 

 

50.

 

Beneath the continents the great artesian

seas are suffering. Replenishment

is overtaken by the works of human

hands. Anthropocene – no precedent

in time. A metaphor – these aquifers

transformed to deserts. Once the numinous

was near – essential things possessed our words,

and life was drawn without incurring loss.

Through common use, the holiness of things

descends much deeper in the ground beneath

our knees. To pray is difficult. Our wings

are clipped. Our soul is forfeit to the thief.

A thunderstorm? The sky above is clear.

A downpour in unseasonable years?

 

 

51.

 

And now, at the renewal of all things,

it’s joy that is their substance and expression

of their form. It is as life begins

in spontaneity and innocence.

The lamb, however, bears its wounds – the marks

of former things miraculously enduring

in the dawn. It is as if the spark

of life initiates again – mature,

complete this time, the fruit instead of seed.

The bones that you have crushed, restored, awake

to shouts of joy, amazed at their reprieve.

A broken heart is never a mistake,

the cities walls are fashioned from such stones,

the residence of joy, and joy alone.

 

 

 

52.

 

The incarnation – purest bloom amidst

a field of flowers. Somehow God inhabits

us. Unique among all that exists –

humanity. A template so elaborate,

sculptured by the infinite in time.

Eternity unto eternity –

you see with heaven’s eye. We only mime –

a clown’s impressions of your majesty,

a shadow that will die. The day’s horizon

features both the sunset and the dawn.

Our soul has intimations of the sky,

and discontent, until it is reborn,

looks out into the evening stretching far.

At night it blooms – the bright and morning star.

 

 

 

53.

 

It seems to fly – the humbled intellect,

an undulating line of hills where earth

connects with sky. The path is not direct

that links our minds. Our hubris is a curse.

Ascending mountain peaks alone is risky

at the best of times. But in a storm,

it’s foolishness to try. The grace that lifts

is not the kind of thing a man can learn.

The rock art of millenniums ago

depicts the world in contours of pure line.

Immersed in life, our species seems to flow

among the creatures hovering in time.

I shall not try to reach the distant stars –

the satisfied remain just where they are.

 

 

 

54.

 

I feel the spirit rising up within

that stirred in Samuel, Samson and our King

who long ago turned water into wine,

and tenderly made weeping faces shine.

It’s crossed the water, flown in wind and fire,

reaching us before we could enquire

why it lingered. Supernatural things,

obeying a different law, swiftly begin.

I’m unprepared for such onslaughts of power,

I have a human frame. You made the sun,

whose radiance outpoured, hour after hour,

demonstrates that work you have begun –

our flesh becoming sites of holy fire,

offered on the altar place, entire.

 

 

 

 

55.

 

I wept, and then I walked towards the tomb.

I was not angry, nor afraid. I felt

compassion, here beneath a waning moon.

Aware of all humanity is dealt,

and incapacity to hope, aware

that darkness swiftly forms despite the light,

I crossed the field, unmoved by many staring

eyes. I knew a man has little might

before the terrors of the earth. He brakes

as easily as a jar. I sensed the dark

ascendancy of night, the barren lake

of fire. Like Moses in his tiny ark,

I saw death neutered of its sting. I spoke,

and deep within the tomb the dead awoke.

 

 

 

56.

 

And God said, let the waters swarm with life,

and let the birds ascend above the earth,

and let the land bring forth things without price –

each living creature, infinite in worth,

created by decree, their life a gift.

And this, in forty years, our kind, without

temerity, has found it right to sift.

God often speaks in whispers, now he shouts –

for over half the mammals, reptiles, birds,

amphibians and fish, his image here

has recently erased. Do we have words

to bring before him? Silence, this I fear

is all that he will hear – the emptiness

of earth itself turned into wilderness.

 

 

57.

 

I’ve too much freedom, too much time to think.

My culture and my education, life

that’s unencumbered, lots to eat and drink.

I am a man immersed in privilege, rife

with circumstantial weed – for many bear

the cross of my redemption from their need.

My paths are undergirded by despair.

The intellectual’s duty – to impede

the flow of suffering, to staunch the wound.

Reflection should our fellow man empower.

For now, among the wheat, a crop of weeds

is flourishing with verdant tips in flower.

Yet everywhere the river flows the leaves

of healing grow. Some properties are theirs

alone, attenuating human cares.

 

 

58.

 

A seed that shoots, tomorrow, from the soil.

Some things we hope, and patiently believe.

Some things emerge for which we have not toiled.

Who planted it – the gift that we receive

when time has run its course? We wait. Our lives

depart into their destiny. The words

we spoke – like autumn leaves beneath the sky,

attentive to the wind. Who can have heard

them anyway? The dew, the soil, the sun-tipped

breeze, the angels of an unseen world

that nourishes our dreams. What has begun

beneath the surface gradually uncurls,

like shoots, forerunners of a better earth –

where treasure is accorded its true worth.

 

 

59.

 

I am not asking to convert you, nor

to underwrite my views. A church can walk

in step with heaven, though diverse its store

of truth. What we believe is more than talk,

it nourishes our bones, and who he is

is manifest in who we are. The doctrine

of the word needs bend before the wisdom

of the Son, he is the key, unlocking

hidden mysteries. My views are not

cancer slowly spreading. Scholarship

is not the wolf’s disguise. A heart that’s hot –

this is the sickness that we need, the grip

of holy fire. The word borne by the wind,

this is the place where everything begins.

 

 

 

60.

 

I’ve followed you far east of Eden, dwelling

under stars. The earth is fragile there.

What we have done to nature passes telling.

Innocence has vanished, lives so rare.

The mornings are depleted, ancient songs

unheard. More tenuous, more marginal,

the life beyond the trees, where stars belong.

Out there our love becomes impersonal,

familial bonds dissolve. Uprooted, at

the mercy of the breeze, the withering

begins. When life is full there is no gap

for the enduring things. I follow him

into the wilderness. He gathers crumbs,

abandoned by the people we’ve become.

 

 

 

61.

 

A life appears to circle – from beginning

to the end. A boomerang returning.

Promise and fulfilment. Something lingers

like a feather in the air or burning

after rain. An odyssey meanders.

Subtle destinies control a ship.

Fate’s slow solemnity is seldom grand.

I’ve passed the halfway mark, the sun has dipped

towards the west. Eternity is pulling

year to year. Is nothingness the place

to which I must return? A glass that’s full

can only overflow. A stream replaces

all that streams away. The circle blends,

mysteriously, beginning into end.

 

 

 

62.

 

The setting sun – the birth of Yom Kippur.

The birds accompany us from day to night.

They sing on, ceaselessly. I shut the door

and sit within. A time to find delight

in hidden things. The coming of the stars –

a mystery foundational to Jewish

time, the evening and the morning are

the order, picturing perhaps that newness

only comes from the divine. I write

these words as darkness falls. My faithfulness

to Torah, being a Gentile, is unclear.

I follow partially, with gratefulness.

A cricket calls, the traffic barely slows –

a deeper silence settles like the snow.

 

 

 

63.

 

The earth’s in pain, besieged by Capital.

A slow attrition. Like a noose its power

grips the neck. All is expendable.

Relentlessly – a weed without a flower –

expanding into virgin territory.

Exploiting wealth indigenous – of people

and of place. Expropriated free.

Who can resist?  Its influence the steeple

and the bank defend, the mighty set

against the suffering of the poor. Five hundred

years, its character unchanged. The best

of men subsumed. A crime. A fearful wonder.

For those who break its spell, a world repaired,

in time, the wealth of earth and nations shared.

 

 

 

 

64.

 

An earth that slowly burns. Apocalypse

in present tense. The rich add wood to their

own funeral pier. Who hears the silent lips?

Who speaks for those we cannot hear? A tear

in human history, ripping future from

the past. Jehoiakim, while listening to

the prophet’s words – the fire burning long –

attacked them with his callous blade, and threw

the severed scroll in portions to the flames.

Assembled riders, horses white and fiery,

black and pale as death, await their names.

Whose voice will call them to invade? The sky

is blue. They answer to a voice below,

a generation here, commanding – Go.

 

 

 

 

65.

 

When Mary waited at your feet – you

commended her. Are acts subservient

to this – the life of contemplation? Few

agree. The world would slowly cease. The gentry

fending for themselves? The wealth of nations

left unharvested, unmined? The workers

may not mind. They’d send a delegation

asking for more time – they would not shirk

their duty to be free. And soon, the spirit

too would gradually increase. Surmising

it’s illusory – for who will give

permission for the underclass to thrive –

I contemplate perhaps what Mary saw –

a door, a place to leave what was before.

 

 

 

 

66.

 

The earth is singing endlessly, on land,

in sky and sea. Above, the silent spheres

have their own harmony. The songs expand

through life’s long history. New ones appear.

I’m silent now, excepting these few words.

The stream of my humanity is pure.

Unique in part, attune to what’s occurred,

innumerable tributaries ensure

vitality. The river flows. At times

to listen is to know. Another carries

the responsibility that’s mine,

and sings without constraint. I should not worry.

Every song is part of only one,

beginning long before ours had begun.

 

 

 

 

67.

 

When I was young I visited a lake.

Situated in the midst of desert,

blue that mirrored blue. By mistake

perhaps, more likely negligence, this treasure

was defiled. Algal blooms and waste,

its inflow compromised by farms. Today

the Aral Sea has vanished. With such haste

a tragedy. The cotton farmers, paying

their workers nothing – surely slavery –

have wasting nature’s bounty at a reckless

speed. For what? The fashion industry.

The scale is so much greater. I detect

a criminal, that will not stop until

the planet is subjected to his will.

 

 

 

 

 

68.

 

With equanimity the sun approaches

death. Beginnings are a mirror of

an end. It arcs towards the place it chose,

the archer and the arrow one in love.

A cloud of witnesses beholds the scene.

The morning’s joy takes on a deeper hue.

Our living arcs across the great between.

Impossible it seems, yet it is true,

this flight across the emptiness. A point

that’s fixed – our origin and end. The placement

on the bow, the guiding hand appointing

destinies. And far away, the face

whose beauty is our goal – the arrow’s mark,

the terminus of life’s elliptic arc.

 

 

 

 

69.

 

Today I am a prisoner in the dock

because of thoughts. The meditations of

the heart are God’s domain. They are unlocked

in speech – it’s overflow. I am your brother,

searching honestly for truth. Why am

I penalized for following his word –

to seek and find? Desire to understand

is not a crime. So much that we have heard

is held unchallenged. Is it reverence

to fight for this, a structure built in time,

when truth’s eternal? In our experience

who has not had to change? The light would shine

on what we thought was so. I cannot turn

unless I see the bush begin to burn.

 

 

 

 

70.

 

I do not dwell at length on this, my thoughts

have seasons, things that flourish in their time.

Creation, how we came to be, reports

of ancient memories, a text designed

to comfort and inspire. These questions stand.

More often other things engage my mind.

Why are our hearts so hard? Where is his hand?

What of the future – we have little time

to act to circumvent our doom? The gospel –

have we grasped its core? Does beauty shine?

Without it generations may be lost.

How would we act if all our hearts inclined

towards his tenderness? These questions raised –

enough to occupy us many days.

 

 

 

 

71.

 

I’m silenced. This I feared. A moon that wanes.

Unwanted prophets – lost before they’re found.

Irrational – the rational by name.

I’m sorrowful to leave this sacred ground –

yet Eden turned into a wilderness.

The tree of life appeared unique – a dozen

grow where waters heal our bitterness.

This evening the moon is high, a frozen

disk of light. Our days are numbered, swiftly

they advance towards another age.

We fade away, as if we don’t exist.

What value then, an attitude of rage?

A prophet’s voice is nourished by the sun,

his words take root wherever they are shunned.

 

 

 

 

72.

 

The moon adrift among the clouds – the homeless

have the sky. The stars in multitudes

advancing on their way. I am alone

on earth. Humanity – an interlude.

A deeper history beyond the marker

buoys. I am adrift. I do not know

the way to navigate. My heart is dark.

The sun has set. I’m blanketed with snow.

Alive in time, Creator of the sky

and moon, to you I cry. I disappear,

you will remain. The circumstance of my

existence falls before your eyes. I fear.

I cannot see you. When will you arise?

I shall not die – the homeless have the sky.

 

 

 

 

73.

 

I’m silent as the sky. My speechless words

are spilt. Eternity has shrunk to fill

a grain of wheat. The pioneering birds

begin to sing beyond my windowsill.

But I remain as silent as the dawn.

A thousand generations lived before

I came to be. I feel as if I’m torn.

What memories remain? Another law

is singing now amidst the wind. The moon

drenched gums are dancing. Distant sounds of traffic,

barely heard, are bending too. A bloom

of something ancient and profound. It swiftly

speaks before the light appears, an ocean

without sound of memory unbroken.

 

 

 

74.

 

Let justice roll on like a river, never

ending may it stream. In broad headwaters

may its current swiftly save, deliver,

all the wrong sweep clean. In bricks and mortar

principalities and powers build

a cruel society – the face of God

on earth progressively laid waste. The guild

who privilege their own shall ride roughshod

the rest. Eternity will set things right.

But who can wait eternally – the pain

is now, injustice rules, no end in sight.

I hear the waters’ steady roar, a reign

of righteousness, a river none can cross,

arising where we thought all things were lost.

 

 

 

 

75.

 

Uncertainty – a frozen river none

will cross for fear it breaks. A view of sky

through open windows, glimpses of the sun –

each thing that humans have begun, the shy

advance of years. Sometimes it’s hard to face

what is and might have been. The past forewarns.

A foot misplaced, the spectre of disgrace,

the limitation of our present form.

I’m glad that you were born. You lifted eyes

within a darkened room. A secret shared,

the one unseen rewarded you. Arising,

shining, lit by dawn, beyond despair,

a man in tune with heaven, unadorned,

except for beauty gentleness has formed.

 

 

 

76.

 

I lay down in the dust. Beginning there

so long ago, how far the stone was thrown.

I celebrate the stars in tangled hair,

prehistory recorded in our bones.

The dust has claims – our origin and end.

I feel the breath that animates my mind,

my heart, my soul, and like a reed I bend –

the wind that set eternity in time.

My face down-turned, I taste the earth, and let

its claim on me be once again renewed.

From dust we came, to dust, without regret,

we must return. Among the wheat that grew –

a single stalk, abundantly in seed,

victorious, though bending as a reed.

 

 

 

 

77.

 

You have a father too. We all do. Living

in a place that’s very near. Some people

say that this is false. That we are given

life alone. That it’s unreasonable

to contemplate the sea could reach the sand.

Some say that he is far away, and so

can barely hear. In this I understand,

for often I have sensed the afterglow,

the sun already set behind the hills.

A father who has given us his ear,

who lives with us – he does and always will –

is like a day’s beginning, sky so clear,

the touch of summer in the air, like love,

a unity with beauty far above.

 

 

 

 

78.

 

The spring has room for many birds. Today

another one appeared. I recognized

its song. Each is in flower. The singing stays

as long as blossoms. Many darting eyes.

A rich community. The avian.

The vegetation. Spring surprises me.

A multitude. A start. A year begun.

I feel the weightlessness of heavy trees.

The turtledoves. A wing that darts. The is.

The gentleness that is a mystery.

The hours that pass. The sun that is and with

us stays. The tabernacle housing me

in festival antipodean, with sky

its ceiling – wide enough for every why.