"To be, or not to be ..."

HIGH-RISE SONNET

A ghetto blaster mocks the human heart
As monotonous as a workless day.
A woman screams and makes the yelling start
Where home is up a urine-smelling way;
A flat up on the twenty-second floor
With no views of “those blue remembered hills”,
But stark memories of a smashed front door
And cries of fear the aching heart distils
Beat by beat into hatred’s prejudice.
A crying baby sucks a soured brest
Nourishing a resigned resentfulness
While Telly’s adverts slyly show what’s best.
Manic music breaks like bravado sweat
As evening shadows cast a threat.


I HAVE BEEN HERE SOME TIME

I have been here some time,
Living along, day to day,
Year to year, feeling and thinking,
Accepting and rejecting, loving and hating,
Positive and negative, completing the circuit
To let the power flow into glory.
Generally getting the hang of it all
While keeping my balance on the often
Thin edge of a moving metaphysic.

I have been here some time,
And am fully aware
Of the four elements of existence
And something of their subtle composition.
Though mostly it is
Of a rough experience
I have knowledge:
Of the earth, my lusts;
Of the fire, my passions;
Of the waters, my dreams:
And of the air, my visions.

I have been here sometime,
And will repeat, I have knowledge;
Knowledge derived from a meditative stance
Effected to take the blows
Of a punch drunk world.
I have been here sometime,
And would repeat the years again
Each second of time’s assassination,
So to be closer than I am
To how it really is
To each hurt, each kiss
To know better the living dimension.

I have been here sometime,
And have no wish to leave
Now I’m getting used to the place
And have taken some measure of its ways.
And, of course, I have earned my years.
The reward all strive for
With every day of living.
The skeleton in the cupboard
The young deny or shy from
Before they grow up to accept its heritage.

I have been here some time,
And long enough to know
However you escape
You are called back to the dark courts of life
Where justice and injustice are administered
By the magistracy of the self.

I repeat, I have knowledge.
The world my continent,
A country of belonging
I must conserve and cherish,
Hold balanced in the hand of my making,
Beautiful and healthy, to bear its fruit and its pleasure.

I walked the fields and meadows
Kicking my heels amongst daisies,
Blowing my time on a blow clock,
Then followed my nose like a mongrel,
Untrained except for his senses,
After a distant, whining bitch on heat;
On the sweating beast of my terrors
I climbed to run blindly through brambles,
When clear I licked the blood of my scratches
To taste the hunger of the earth again.

And over and over, ineducable in schoolmaster’s language,
Not learning my lessons they would say.
But I learned, the moral is unimportant,
Is like pain, a coward’s deterrent;
The poetry is over and over until the climax,
The coming, the orgasm, the contact with,
The knowledge that a happening is you.

I repeat I have knowledge.
In the earth my flesh, in my flesh the earth,
Fused together and breaking apart.
Animal and plant, elemental dust to dust,
Ashes to ashes. Nothing is lost
Only repeated, over and over, indestructible.

Here in my fifty first year
I ask the sun about rainbows,
Delight with the hills over valleys,
Listen to the gossip of grass,
Hear a fox bark, see a hawk swoop
And a tree shiver in the sun
As though I walk in the world from the cradle:
For I have knowledge of wonder
To hold me here still and renew me
Over and over with its eternal revelations.


THIS STREET

Outside this street I knew I’d be
As free within my world as free
Birds that in secret sanctuaries
Wing wild, or stilled in deep nests lie
Contemplating from towered trees
New flights into the boundless sky.

Beyond this street was every dream
That as a youth I could esteem,
And mine if I had passed and ceased
To know what here holds every sound
Of bitter weeping unreleased
For joy discovered but not found.

So I remained, and listening heard
Deep in the silence of that word
Another dream that sang of love.
And in this street I learned to be
A willing prisoner knowing that
The loveless and the lost are free.