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Beneath its angry peering orange light,
The sprawling noisome city in the night
Reflects upon a setting quarter moon
Her shrouded secret-veiling wisps of spume.

There plays out on this otherworldy stage
A fable tale plain made for any age:
There are two planes of interpassing cloud
The dark, the light thereon presented proud.

The dark at most obscure the moon complete,
Less dense are dancers’ masks, deception sweet;
The mackerel bank at verge a clear seen bound,
No smirch upon her face its line beyond.

The light alone’s thin veil hides not her face
Aglow with stolen yellow of Sun’s grace,
But when the dark appear even and sparse
Its lining silver shines in filigree bars.

For us below, moons set and rise again;
Towards the set of our long day of pain
No ache without remembering joyful love,
The dark and light together ever thought of.
Four friends set out, all young and free,
Faith, Hope, Selfless Love and me.
Coasts, river banks we found by stream
To first set foot on country green,
Through the meadows’ flowery plain,
Downs, fragrant woodlands soon we gained,
Till in a dark and wretched time
Foul smirched us with night-black grime
The stinking noisy city of towers,
Stretched over us its binding powers.
Our friend Faith with her smile so sweet
Took a bullet in the street.
Where wealth’s gold temples over steeple
Men with guns who aim at people,
Our constant Faith lay cold and dead
Who friends us three had always led:
The thorns of life had ragged our flesh,
She lifted us each time afresh
To chase our aims so dearly sworn
Before her gaze, so clear up borne.
Shame to the creature, not saying man,
For hate or for money who laid her down.

From the city to a lair
Hid remote mid mountains bare
Selfless Love and Hope and me
Crept, far from that press to be,
In a crack a mile down
Close controlling her domain
Reigned absolute a gross old girl
The wicked witch of all the world.
Hope and Selfless Love and me
Abject subjects we took her fee.
Our mothers’ love, our fathers’ guidance
Wasted on our evil living.
Slaves of her cruel strict enforcing
But Selfless Love himself abhorring
Loved her, and upon the altar
Stripped and bare he wore her halter,
Tight restrained his naked chest
Awaited the blade her claim must test.
As she took him, Hope and me
Had our chance away to flee;

A blessed isle lies still afloat,
There we went in one small boat.
In the morning may both be
My strong companion Hope and me.
Who us three friends had always held,
Despair with tireless arms dispelled.
If the waters of the isle
Take him from me as we sail
If the little boat shall knock
On the island’s jutting rock
And we swim and he should drown
Let us both to death go down,
Not upon a beach set me
From the danger of the sea,
Paradise is Erebon
With Faith, Hope, Love gone; all alone.
Father and Mother Noah both
Sailed away when in wide rushed
Tides to tower over the land,
To cover the mountains high at hand,
Axe-cut planks whereon they plod
Made to float on the waters’ top.

Song of the Aardvarks

In the very heart of us
The most essential part of us
Is our total love of life
To dig in the termite mound alive,
Lie in our burrow with bellies full,
Scratch and breed at the season’s pull.

Front limbs arms like ape or bear
Eight little shovels drive deep in there
Small mouth only needs to take
Termites, with its tubule teeth
Distant elephant our nearest kin
Freaks of evolution.

Song of Mother Noah

In this Ark I cradle safe
My suckling babies free from scathe
Silky kids velvet eared
Little woolly moggies dear
All shall live. None shall die
As the waters rise on high.

Song of the Hawks

She stoops upon them in her sudden flight
The wild mice fleeing at the killing sight,
Her talons long and razor sharp
Drive in with force to pick them up
Meat got, while the sessile male
Scarce a third of a bird is of a look pale.

Song of the Dove

White as a church
Or sepulchre
Blue sea and sky
I rise among
To fly abroad
If land should lie
Where love and peace
May flourish free
In life thereby.

Song of Father Noah on First Releasing the Dove

Because of the evil hearts of men
Out of the sky God sent the rain
The money changers pimps and thieves
Wasted in the oceans’ leave,
Here I put upon the seas
A bird who much more planet sees
With tale to tell of land again.
Go or come just as you please,
Sheltered from the hot Sun’s ray
Safe in the Ark the rest shall stay.

Song of the Sloth

Slow up from lying-down I get
To take my weight on idle foot,
From a heavy, a deep repose
I only stir when to toilet I goes.

Song of Father Noah on Next Releasing the Dove

My clever bird, far off you fared,
The four horizons close compared
Returned to us with bitter word
Dry land had not yet occurred

Song of the ******

All my tendons strong and thin
Stretch to drive a lockpiece in
Hard labour long to make the lodge
Into which to deftly dodge
If danger or else winter threats
The brook closed off as if with gates.

Song of Father Noah on Last Releasing the Dove

Olive tree like ancient man
Ever twisting with your sister
You give us oil for light and pan
And meat; Shade, fruit and timber useful
– Sage bird, a branch to me you bore,
Fly, little god, and come no more.

Song of All the Animals on Being Returned to Dry Land

Ants to hills, cattle to pasture
Birds to trees whatever comes after,
The cleaned land populates anew

Song of the Whales

If a whale come on the land
Put it back if ever you can
Else think it a death parental
Grave, give it respectful funeral.

The rain is falling on the neighbourhood,
Our garden takes its share, and my good hat;
Out of the border shelter of its brood
A snail creeps in the wet across the path
Leaving the soaking flowerbed for the grass
Seeking continuation of its good,
Slow through the time a timeless quest for food
Elaborates the beating of its heart.

The creep is me, a wierdo what I am.
What am I doing here? I don’t belong here,
Enchained upon the dirt, constrained responder
Bellyfoot, headfoot mollusc, unmoving clam
I try to stir from where I first began,
Make in the gulf’s depths one thing new appear.


A drought within my throat, an aching head,
Stoically for this world’s shock wave I brace.
The life which thus far has my spirit fed
Despairs, yet faithfully girds itself to face
The waste and rapine of this nightmare place
Where theft under coercion’s always bred
Mass victims all unjustly ***** and fled,
Violated to their utmost inner space.

What is the soul to do with this its life?
Awakened from the nothing of a sleep
One time? To local manners keep?
Or for some travel, hard to purpose drive
By that for longer to at least survive?
It’s wet again. The snails are on the creep.
And on he goes like one who rose
To walk a sea of spiders’ lace
Along the fields, and seems to sense
The breath of heaven on his face

And now can see a lovely thing
To charm his blinking eye:
An opening, a sky of blue
With cloudlets coasting by!

The fragrance of the morning!
His sense unto him shows
The Earth, and springing from its dew,
The grass with sweet winds sighing through,
Bushes and trees as yet wet through
Borne with the happy air into
Both channels of his nose.

And to his ears now comes the tale
In which all this is said,
The treetop finches descant high
While on some low spray growing nigh
Blackbird both murmurs lowly by
And frames the melody’s reply.
Eager to bring this to his eye
The good man gladly runs,
The tunnel opens to the sky,
He issues forth at once.

All in a woodland clearing
The small, unresting bee
Visits each offered flower,
The breeze each offered tree,
The dandelion thrusts forth his head
With yellow fire upon it,
The trim, demure anemone
Her neat, white, modest bonnet,
The little winking violet
By light unvisited
And tiny-fingered stitchworts
Their dainty napkins spread,
Within the wood the bluebells
Their peals of colour ring,
He knows the place – Old England.
Also the season – Spring.

His long, perplexing journey seems
No more to vex his head,
Like one condemned and now reprieved
He leaps for joy instead,

And shouting runs and waves his arms
With unrestricted mirth,
And throws his face down in the grass
To kiss the reeking earth.

We come from utter darkness
And soon return again,
Why is it, in this fleeting life
Of grief, of loss and pain,
The fit of bitter sorrow
Outdures the weary Moon
While joy and with it comfort
Dissolve away so soon?
Just as the pecking sparrow
At Winter’s scanty scraps
May not enjoy his morsel,
The short day’s last perhaps
For fear the shadow of the hawk
His business overlaps.

No sooner goes the good man
Upon that meadow blest,
No sooner is his outstretched back
Upon the rich earth pressed
Than all his limbs go tense again,
His brain can have no rest.

Once more into the tunnel
He has to make his way…
Sir Piers is a long poem (of around 1000 lines) available at:
A knight (of old) feels deserted by God after he finds himself (Connecticut Yankee-style [only backwards?]) in modern England...
My Lady dances. Angel bands
From Heaven’s balconies looking in
Admire legs, feet, neck, head, arms, hands
With torso slim.

My Lady sings; the doors of Heaven
Now unbolted, gaping wide
Permit escape the song celestial
Of inside.
Wretched Catulle, stop the stupid folly
And learn lost what you see is gone,
Aflame were once for you white suns
When you used to go where the girl invited
– Beloved by me as shall again be none -
Herself, with whom were many joys embodied
Which you did lust for, nor did she refuse,

Aflame for sure for you white suns!

Now she says no; what else but follow suit?
Nor chase what runs from you, nor live a wretch,
But make your mind be stubborn, strong, and stick it out!

Goodbye the girl! Catullus still shall stick it out!
Nor will he ask for you nor say your name unasked,
You will be sorry when no-one says your name.
Go, ****! What life have you got left?
Who now will come to you? Who see your beauty?
Who will you now love? Whose will you be?
Your kiss of passion whose? The bitten lip?

But you, Catulle, your future’s coming! Stick it out!
For Roberta Day
Hi Roberta. Thrilled to bits that a singer as consummate as you put out her hand to like my go at Catullus XXXII. Here's another one! When I compared you to him it wasn't just because of the open honest words about physical love. It was "Odi et amo":

I hate and I love!
Why do I do that,
Perhaps you'll ask -
I don't know;
But I am it and I feel it
And am crucified. (Mine)

and here's a really imaginative one from "Frank Bidart"

"What I hate I love. Ask the crucified hand that holds
the nail that now is driven into itself, why."
(from LXXXV)
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