Archangels

Archangels
fall from the sky as autumn tiptoes in:
they defend the faithful
from invisible foes,
holding back the bitter rain
and the onslaught of dragons

All this has happened before,
when the stars changed colour,
shifted to red and back
made a whirlpool out of the sky

And galaxies continue to collide:
one day there will be no more sea
but the archangels remain
and yes, you can see them
if you use the right telescope,
look carefully
and shield your eyes

Back at the start of it all
a song echoed through the cosmos

Tune in and you can hear it still:
I will not say who sings it

Proof of heaven

As in a soup, spoon-hot,
I float with noodles – 
the yellow tubes hold me up
and I defy gravity,
my organs mystified at the lack of pressure
from above or below

All is calm: I drift,
waiting for God to speak

Like Julian, I look for showings
of what is real – the deal
that defies description

I feel love push me
in different directions, and
my firm convictions sink:
they are too heavy

All right, I am clinging on,
but the bright white flowers
and the sun behind
make me forget all that

Grace is pouring in and out:
its currents propel me gently
from side to side

Sometimes I kick,
but I do not escape

For a while, this
is proof of heaven:
paper bark falls from birch trees
and lies on the grass, unread

Limit of navigation

Pulled by the pain of wind and tide
and racked by rain
your body moves from side to side

You toss and touch the shallows 
gather in the sheets
tumble face down, indiscreet

Naked to sand and stone, so close
to land: pillow fair head
stranded on some quite unexpected bed

Hours tumble past
the fast hours of the fairy moon
that drew you in

Your damp skin sinks in sightless sleep
no rise and fall outside the deep

Curtains

Here I am again
thinking about sleeping
never quite letting go
never quite coming back

In this bed-strewn fantasy world
where curtains are drawn and redrawn
never quite taking shape
I look for an anchor and find sinking sands
pieces of scaffolding
half-buried

scenery almost remembered
shifting across time

I pick my way through
looking for open doors
then shuffle back again
feeling for a hole in the sheets

No time passes:
the sky is out of sight,
the bay is starless

I reach out for whoever may be passing
but I am invisible
except to you

Brancaster

This is a poem I wrote 12 years ago after an earlier spell in hospital, for an operation to remove my prostate and its accompanying cancer. Not long afterwards my wife and I headed for the North Norfolk coast...

Knowing all of the night –
the dry, dry paths and piercing pain,
where the spirit is mysteriously absent
and strange breath is forced into sleeping mouths –
I find your big blue sky hard, like horses galloping

Yes, darkness fades, but fear remains
however bright the sun:
shafts of love splatter randomly
across artificial rocks
while kites run across the scorching sky
cutting the future into slices
too hot to hold

On the beach, stumps of ancient trees
criss-crossed with nails
carved by the soldier sea

And now the spirit spins down unexpected channels
surrounding me:
I am staked out, exposed
up to my neck and out of my depth

The tide slithers in: send no boat
or helicopter

This is where I belong:
the sweet salt waves washing bitter black desert away

I close my eyes,
but fail to dream

Out in the wild

Out in the wild
where there is blood
I find traces of dragons
and gates to false gods

I should not be here
but the way was open
I came too far

I know the towers will fall
stones will crash to earth
heaven will fall apart

I fight the dragons
and sometimes I win
but I forget to shut the gates

I clean up the blood
and no-one notices:
the sky is dark

The brain’s a balloon

The brain’s a balloon
filled with gas:
it’s on a mission
swinging through the atmosphere

The telescope is broken
and people have been killed,
but still they know everything

They know everything
because it is the thing everyone knows,
and 50 million people
cannot be wrong

The brain’s a balloon:
it has an inflated sense
of its own importance

It is getting warmer:
it has almost found
the answer

White wolf

Do you hear the white wolf?
We hear him howling.

Do you see the snow fall?
We see it tumble.

Do you see the night approaching?
We feel the touch of the stars.

Do you see smoke in the distance?
We smell a fire crying.

Do you see the mountain nearby?
We can taste the wilderness.

Do you see the wolf in the snow,
through the smoke at night, below the mountain?
We know the wolf is there.

Will you reach for him?
He is in our hearts.

Garlic

Today I am mostly garlic:
yesterday I was toast, and
tomorrow I shall be honey

This is a journey I have made before
from breakfast to bed and back:
the sting and the sweetness
on your unsuspecting tongue

Today I am classic Greek:
yesterday I was Scottish, and
tomorrow I shall be mostly French

Please do not be confused:
my soul carries scars
you need never see

Today I am thunder:
yesterday I was mostly rain, and
tomorrow it will be too late

Can you hold
all of my hands
all night long?

Enemy

I am away
from the hurl and burly of life:
I lurk in my house, 
watching the enemy go by

The street is empty:
my enemy is invisible –
he may kill me
or he may not

I cannot hold your hand
or comfort you
in case the enemy leaps 
from your back to mine 

He may leap 
or he may not

He is not in my house
as far as I know

 He may be 
or he may not:
he may have been 
and gone

There is no way
of knowing

The sun is shining
but I cannot leave my house: 
I am probably too old –

I may be 
or I may not

There is no hurl and burly of life anywhere:
everyone is in their houses

They cannot go out:
they have forgotten the password

They may retrieve it
or they may not

God has the key:
He may throw it to us –
we may catch it,
or we may not