Sipping Rhone wine under the flounces
of the massive Lime-flower tree
aroma and tree-breeze trouble me.
The wine is at its best, the flowers at their peak,
and yet my habitual absorption in
the sensory is being tugged at,
overstretched like used muslin.
The perfection of sky balanced on primeval forests
almost eludes me at this time,
but more shockingly, your once-hallowed words are already
lost in the lime flower piles at my feet.
For I hear someone calling me from the white marble of Montpellier.
A dream in our shuttered salon,
witnessed by red alpine logs in the stove,
compels me to descend our mountain hairpins
on the weekly bus, alive with grape-pickers.
My suitcase is slotted between their stained baskets,
our destination the white marble of Montpellier.
You demand why and who and how I must go down from
this ultimate haven of Cathars, Catholics, shepherds.
But the gist of your question once so-revered descends
in the evening sizzle of biftek,
buried in an armful of bay leaves and vine twigs.
For I hear someone calling me from
the vivid painted timbers of Montpellier.
The fierce row on the boards at bedtime,
your coarse tears extinguishing the candles
and unbalancing the stable slab of incense,
propels me away from your faithless fleshy cloisters.
You hurl bells, burn sutras in your ashtray
demand and denounce my path to this ‘borrowed’ deity
making last-ditch interrogations under a strong light.
But the gist of your spite is sucked
into the Lama’s Himalayan eyes, and his butter lamps,
dredged over the ample of his saffron robes,
as he welcomes me to the wooden temple in an orchard in Montpellier.
‘‘You heard my calling. I knew you would come soon.’’
I can get closer with the words
you give which touch my heart
not human words of sinew or teeth
but words from the invisible world
effortless and coursing through the air
I can use my hands to catch the words
with my mudra on open pipe in my lap
They are not only words for ears
but for eyes of my heart, for my line.
Essential words, no waste, not one excess
The words are a sign from the Buddha.
They say the way to polish my original nature
which has become tarnished with excess
and distorted by the devilish ego
my shortcomings, my blindnesses.
There is a bell which rings my tune
rings my connection to the spiritual current.
It sounds easily making me smile.
But my mission, you spell out for me,
is to enable it to ring not just for pleasure
but to execute a continual shine.
I am indeed close with your words.
I vow to keep the bell of my mind
vibrating with my grace and
unceasing attention to the divine.
Even though it may be broken or tilted,
the beater having rolled out of sight,
I must forever vibrate with my heart of goodness.
Humans first stood up tall to reach different fruit,
to survive in the style of giraffe.
They stretched their necks and eyes
and took up new territory on wide plains
to watch for prey and conquistadors,
whilst nibbling delights from under the sky.
They reached and stretched until a speck
of pride like gravel in the gizzard
grew into a gleaming pearl
lodged deep in the corner of a sinew,
and people tore themselves out
of contentment and creaturedom,
striving to be god,
eating only the fruit nearest the sun.
‘The best,’ ‘the most,’ ‘the most beautiful’
became the stuff of a happy life,
and gratitude and respect were
lavished only on the pearly self.
To lower the gaze was to settle for less,
to bend the neck a submission,
to incline the body towards the earth,
But you best-know that bowing is
the truly beautiful moment
in which to sincerely cast away
those pearls of the deluded mind,
and that true happiness is to bring
the pick of the fruits nearest heaven to others.
From where I am now, songs of love and war and longing seem extravagant,
perhaps viewed as a rehearsal for the actual event.
I am certain that the mind limbers the valves of the voice,
checks the air flow to make volume and tone,
flexes the aperture of the space between the lips,
and makes certain of the skill of the tongue.
We might say that the song distils visible drops
of the aspirations of human flesh,
but that the chant instils the invisible drops
of the absoluteness of all energies of all universes,
whether known or unknown,
and that this itself is the actual event – the heart’s big aria.
No checks are necessary. There is nothing to be done.
The exquisitenesses of love and war and longing
uncoil into the fast white stream of mountain sincerity.
Namu: deep thanks to the guides and guardians.
Namu: deep thanks to the ancestors and faith makers.
Namu: deep thanks to the hearts and words of the enlightened.
Namu: deep thanks to you, and to me through you.
We chant with the sun and moon,
running our hoses of sound into the sky and sea.
We chant with the vocalists of candle and incense.
We chant to convert our thoughty flesh to sonic light
which mingles with the imperceptible multitude.
It’s not all about kings bodies or delicate young queens
the mitred archbishop or the bulbous basilica,
the streets lined with flag-wavers
waiting for their dream royal carriage to pass their spot.
It’s not even about slowly unveiled plaques
or ribbon cutting in a unison of dress suits.
It’s not something outside of your jurisdiction
rarefied by the rubbing of history or a mighty celestial power.
It’s simply about your heart. The rest is icing.
It’s exactly about the minute mosaics on the
inside of the basilica of your very heart,
the fragments of your own personal truth
mixed in with those of the great truth.
It’s particularly about how far you can kid yourself
with a home-grown species of sincerity,
a holiness, a being seen to be good doer-ness,
this viscous covering of the learned and feigned.
It’s not about caring for others from a precipice of fear.
Listen. It’s you who rides in the dream carriage
smiling at the millions of gibbering flags,
you who arrives at the great double doors
to the cathedral of your true nature,
you who accepts the crown of responsibility
to the greater truth of the universe and your part in it.
For, if your breadth can cover the bed of your honesty with self,
you will, in contemplation, be well-able
to consecrate your own heart and soul
for the sake of others and of your real nature.
My hands, once infatuated with ivory keyboards of concert pianos,
made a million finger patterns.
My hands, once besotted with rose-wood fingerboards of violoncellos,
strenuously slid and stretched.
I formerly thought my anatomy was designed to decipher
the cryptics of great composers, wriggling in their homes of sound.
If though, the hands reflect the heart, as the wise and wistful advise,
then this heart has retired from such athletics,
removed from such aerial deliveries of human passions.
My hands now make only one pattern,
their highly-trained muscles toned down,
their edges content to abut in the vertical,
palms to lie soundless on palms ‘in gassho.’
Messages are no longer resonant events on sound boards,
or the exotic wares of the quivering of gut.
Instead, they coalesce into a silent clasping in palms,
in tall and tingling fingers matched
in adjacent and content thumbs.
A manual consecration of the heart of the only truth.
Now concert keyboards are locked,
tuned strings are snapped and coiled.
There is no more the squeak and strive of the mental way.
My hands ‘in gassho’ have finally come home
to absolute devotion and gratitude entire.
He sits on a expertly-crafted teak throne,
each intricacy letting through the light
to enhance the polished finish
the makers having bowed deftly three times
for each tap of their hammers
a throne performance of light and wood.
The Master is polished too and devotional
His left hand darkened by prayer beads
His right wide across his skirted lap
He speaks silence and light which
Harmonise with polished wood and bowings
To create a state where all details are amalgam
Deep ochre robes part with the the polish of a shoulder
which is unexpected on a throne of filigree
His stillness a fine tree, leaf-green eyes promising plump spring buds
Lives pass through a grand marble square
clutching the bright packages of their desires.
The significance of their costumes, ways of walking,
their companions, eludes time and space,
wheelchairs and other perceptions of their world.
Tricked into self-grasping they fail to sweep the
dark corners of their lives clean,
but anger and ignorance combat the dark,
doubt and delusion are good bed mates,
and they busy themselves building and demolishing concepts.
But there are some lives, which dawdle in small coloured
temples unblinking before candles and incense,
suffused with light and beyond belief.
They are alone, empty-handed and motionless.
The meal was filling, delicious, diversionary.
You ‘watched us eat’ and ‘it got later,’
both baubles of the child Time, and his playmate Space,
and I was not sure you wanted such a ceremony,
was never certain that you were there in my mind,
though always certain in my heart,
until the moment with the fire in the water.
Now I am certain of both!
My pre-occupation that the others believed
was turned out of me by a sort of self-effacement,
which you and I are both capable of.
You know, a ‘who’s interested in me anyway?’
which can engender self-containment of an almost religious stature.
But I had secretly placed you in the Asia of my mind,
where every attention was paid to your death tower,
its building and festoonment.
Yes, I know now that the urge to unceasingly travel
the great overgrown pansy pot of Asia on and on,
despite such fear of the realness of living drama
in every street gutter and beneath each tin roof,
was bound up with how I could help you to die, and me to live.
So, I took you there often in my mind while you were so ill,
And I wanted to be the one,
though daughters are not sufficiently revered,
to stand with your Ganges body,
and to break open your sternum with a
heavy metal bar to let out your heart.
I took you to Bali and walked behind
your elegant toppling tower,
carried by bare-backs to the cremation site.
It was tall with masks and flowers,
your swathed body peeping out of the very top,
an orchid in your mouth.
Later, before incineration of this fecund stilt of festivities
grazing the feverish island sky,
I would win the race to the top,
beating siblings and cousins,
and so win the flower you sucked,
along with your enlightenment,
plucking them both and shinning down to earth.
For you, my Silk Road father,
needed no master, unlike me.
But when the time came in a English drawing room,
I hand-built the tower on my own,
close ones passing me what I needed-
stiff hollow struts and cross-pieces,
red carnations, candles, a pomander stuck with favourite cloves
string, selotape, another charge of thick red wine in my goblet.
The heaps of newspapers surrounding me indicated a modern tower,
perhaps a five-minute one, pre-fabricated,
plasticated, welded together overnight.
But it was none of these.
I took newspaper sheets and rolled them in tight tubes like thin rods,
Sticking their seams swiftly to avoid unravelling
sitting on the Turkish rug of carnation red and mountain blue.
Mine were the tightest, the others hesitant.
Perhaps they were nervous of being accomplices
to my taking the laws of death into my own hands.
Then, the full-performance of the rogue cremation
down in a babbling brook which kept my orchard
from appropriation by the fields and fells.
The sky was black, wind and rain propelling me
toppling down the slippery dark bank
to carefully float the paper tower on its board
and grip its moorings for your death and my life.
Its ignition showed your route, a blaze of memory.
Then you pulled me churning through smallish waves,
flames and smoke somehow an incongruence on water.
This little English brook would reach the great Ocean
with some fragment of your photograph,
placed like a figure-head on the tower’s bow.
A snippet of your naval hero’s hat with its RN band.
A splinter of your slim devoted lips.
A glob of the pulp of your dark blue eyes of faith.
And me, waist-high in torrents, a soft wet page of you.
‘You must wear white garments from now on.
Kick away shoes and know earth with your feet’
gift words sprinkled lightly through this very life
on the lips of drunkards
in a sharp hand slap on my cheek
on the sanctum of the master’s tongue
a stranger speaking destiny
on seemingly un-kissed lips
the kiss sought out in
the silent smooth flap of
mouths of truth against each other.
you see, words have ever and all been uttered
the gabbling carousel turning without cease,
the entire supply deposited with the Big Bang.
But are we ready to hear them
over tea, secreted among platitudes
and the incongruousness of thought and speech
cups and saucers which do not match.
The higher self does not take tea
with the sugar of insincerity,
and its positive ears are able to catch
the words on the muzzle of every species of wooden horse.
‘I must wear white garments from now on.
I will kick away shoes and know the earth with my feet.’