meditation

Sahasrara

At 5am the attic door becomes a waterfall
of cloud-pallor and silver-grey and electricity
flooding me - impossible to think - air full of bells -
and ripples and vacuum and hysteria -

The children wander their unknown dreamworlds
their hands birdlike, warm and light and urgent
as all that brightening pushes its way in
and my skin tautens - I am a kiln - I am a cathedral -

I pray in myself, rats hunt in my cellar,
light presses into me from on high -
with closed eyes I am an infinite space
of many bodies, a mind of mirrors and glass.

My eyes sting, I have to sleep -
but it's worth it to be renewed
at the altar of early morning
and the funeral of the long night.

Doors In The Dead Cities

In between the river and the roads,
day or night, you can see sparkles -
ocean slowly pulsing into tidal river,
transfusion for diseased city, and
in between the movies and the ads
sparkles invade your mind -
split seconds of nothingness -
splinters of dead air and dead cold
whispers of a million words on bookshelves,
a billion chords on compact discs,
a billion beating locust wings,
desert roads in the mind, green blurs
on mountain horizon: trees, fields,
steaming volcanic lakes, whales and herons,
landscapes internal forever -
and lost at the moment you die?
at the moment you die,
lost forever?

You find portals beacuse you need to:
the museum behind the fake technicolour castle
with the prayer wheels and jade knives,
scraps of ancient bibles and screeds,
where they play chants through hidden speakers
between the glowing display cases,
and between floors you count a few empty shops
stuck in the haze of winter and old cloud -
between shops and between hours
you find a space you recognize
where someone sits who died before history,
shaved head bowed before a newer moon,
still pool beneath willow bridge, sandals
placed carefully beside shawl, pen, ink -
knowing something that you once knew.

Between pulses that tell us were are alive,
between instants of stimulus and response,
between droplets of this endless rain -
words, notes, snow, kisses -
flashes of something familiar from long ago.
Between work days and sofa evenings,
in between years of shifting identities -
frozen windscreen wipers sweeping
centuries off eyesight of lifetimes -
strobe flashes and advertising lasers,
glitters caught on river water and
apartment block window fronts,
cranes dancing in winter wind
like weather poles and wind chimes
beside glass-still pool of mind -
in a pure instant between instants
you are bowed down before a memory
that you do not know is a memory.

As if in a dream, there are those
who try to remind us -
in between meals and games and
in between all the sparkles -
rituals built into the chaos:
of sitting before a wooden tray for tea
of kneeling before icons and cruciforms
of sitting with someone strange -
someone of still pools and dead blossoms
someone of dead screens and dying rivers
someone in between the moments
of attention to this or that lifetime -
intersecting universes, colliding realities -
someone we find in the place where we are -
someone who is a memory
that you do not know is a memory.

Like cats' eyes peeping out from the dark -
in between our madness, our fits
of distraction, racing uphill,
looking out over frozen ochre city,
wide harbour, lumpen island and white boats
and sunlight thin and red and distant -
in between making love among the trees,
underneath fallen roots, luminous
emerald moss, tiny sprinkled mushrooms -
in between desperate hours of stillness
heart pounding as nothing happens,
guts wrenching as nothing is transformed
into other forms of nothing -
and all the forms of the mind,
demonic, angelic, ridiculous and tender,
pour into this moment as a billion sparkles
and leave you as empty as an hourglass,
timed out and clear, in between epochs,
waiting for someone's hand.

Between images of yourself
caught on windows, mirrors, pupils -
an old, tired theme of searching,
so sad and desperate and surrendered -
and yet the one last desperate hope
is that in between these ghosts
and false gods, false selves and wraiths,
you might glimpse the doorway -
to the frozen land through the back of the wardrobe
to the unreal city below the lake's bottom
to the magical land on the other side of the mirror
to someone strange waiting patiently outside time,
as if enclosed in a pale moon heaven
that you do not know is a memory.

Mama Kali

Mother, let's begin.
    Ramakrishna swooned at your feet
drowned in black wines, and you lapped
at his wounds
tenderly, like a cat with the runt of the litter
raw and trembling and wet and sightless
he was lost in spiritual darkness
a cave opening up and singing endless -
endless space, endless cold, endless heat
and endless unmarked time
    falling like Alice
into the mind-rock, the heart-chamber
the hollow earth

We've been waiting here for years
for you finally to give birth
we are brothers and sisters of primordial forest
snuggled lightless among roots and ferns
sometimes the air is sweet and thick with rain
sometimes the sky crumbles and burns
Mother,
    did you
        leave us behind?
Or did we simply go blind
and deaf and dumb, amnesiacs running
as if in a nightmare, and was it you
chasing us after all, was it you
carrying us when we slept?
What we thought were rivers and seas
or the arms of another,
was that really you all along, Mother?

(We're having trouble with father)
(he's been angry for thousands of years)
(and he refuses to forgive us our sins)
but Mother, we are who we are
we are as we were made
we won't lie any more
please love us as you made us

Mother, here are garlands and pinches of herbs
here are fruits and young leaves and seeds
here are incense sticks and sugar cubes
and oils and soaps and -
this is a picture of you, Mother, this is a statue -
- do you like them?
  - do you forgive us?
    - will you come home?

Mother, there are skeletons with scythes
dancing in the valley where we buried daddy
when the blood-rage finally ate his heart
and babies are growing there among the weeds
and the skeletons are black-boned and giggly
and they lop! the babies' heads off
as they sprout through the spring soil
and shot into our graves like a bullet from a groin
we are your sown seeds and dad's death-harvest

Mother, what we wished for never came,
and it was you, it was you -
here are milk sweets, here is rice and wine -
the offerings rot in the bowls year after year
and you tell us that you never left?
Mother, have we been insane all our lives?
Mother, is this not the real world at all?

Mother, did you travel through my dreams?
Were you the virgin girl with painted fingers
who kissed me after the car wreck?
Were you my guide in the ancestral asylum
walking through tableaus of genetic ritual
with my small hand
            in yours
                    did we
say goodbye to daddy sweating before the pig ovens
did we fall deep into the black together?
Did you stand up in the shallows and brush
sand from a waterlogged dress,
and tell me that I had no name?

Mother, can we unravel time and bless
all past mistakes? Can you tell me why
you didn't name me?
when I've stood alone in a thousand dark gardens
and begged to be consumed by starfire
Didn't you hear me? Didn't you believe me?
Where have you BEEN?

Mother, they are laid out on the plain, 6 bodies deep
in blood lit by lightning from converging hurricanes
and in the dead armies I see your stamping feet
I see your arms stirring the clouds and your eyes insane
I hear you laugh and scream and your anklets ring
as you crush your children and drink blood and sing

this is the unstoppable black universe of you

and only I am left alive
and I am no-one
the war was death
and now the dance is death
but Mother, Mother, at last
you are here, at least
you are beautiful
 

Twin Universe

now to wait for the truth, the root and the fruit, the voice that was supposed to be a birthright and has been silent, not the voice but the images, the dreaming flow in the mind and the unselfconsciousness, not THIS IS GOOD, not WHO AM I but the dreaming flow, the images that twist and shimmer and are never the same in the brain, liquid and milky and fickle, words written over and over like the name of god on the devil's book, words dancing like a face on the water and everywhere the image, the evolution of the image across a million years of a golden beach, erosion and sunlight and the footprints of fantastic beasts, buried monoliths and megaliths cracked and fallen, moons lost in memory and the words, the words, what was I saying - when I lie asleep sometimes I'm not asleep and that's when the other eye opens -

there's something in the symmetry of the floor tiles in the cafe where the old women mumble through mouthfuls of cake about the old rituals and the new rituals, and the rain thunders on the plastic roof of the shopping centre and the smell of chips - something that's reflected in the mind and emerges in science, in painting, in the rhythm of fingertips on intimate skin, something in the beauty of her obsessions as she sculpts her thoughts into something permanent, something that glimmers in an electrical web across the light years between stars - or am I being overdramatic - is it nothing but patterns averaged over eons of randomness - the laws, the edges of clouds and the incredible colours - blades of grass moon-bright -

another time I might have sung into my sleeve / I might have cried and hid my face / I might have stood in the shadows and watched you leave / another time I might have decided that it was time to go / peel back the air with my hands and peer into the universe under the skin of this one / the shy twin who waits

The Idea of Myself

A meditation mutation,
I don't know any way
to live but day to day

wandering planless
through every moment's maze
the inner artificer stunned

by a stupid loneliness,
tired and tricked by thought
there's nothing left here except

swirling faces in the warp
of damp wallpaper
a shimmering fright

of stray-focused eyes,
that full, swelling energy
blossoming in the body

I will never be famous
never gratified, never certain -
the soft afternoon's sleep

in my lover's arms
will have to be enough for me,
and the insane laughter

of a moment glowing and lost
like a dropped match.
The idea of myself dances,

just one more ghost in the gyre
of the mind's eye, on fire
with living light.

Choirboy

I was a choirboy where the light
crept through windows stained sacred
in a cold chapel, and I sang from my throat
raw from crying over homework, forgotten toys,
a memory of death floating back through time,
I sang from my blood and no other world
had ever been so holy.

It was so cold out there on the school steps -
I pulled up my hood and sank deep into myself
travelling through my tissues, I dreamed
forwards and backwards in time,
and it could have been half an hour or three hours
or three years
as a rock in the shape of a boy
before a priest came to rescue me,
his cold blue eyes confused when he recognized me -
he'd always thought I was cocky, aristocratic,
not a helpless thing too stupid to call his father,
wandering in imaginary worlds that might never be,
how I sang in my veins to be free.

Every leaf and breath and star and voice was perfect,
lost in time like me, and I sang for the sun
into dusk, the sun tearing wounds in the sky, savage
and desperate to send me to bed. My mother's voice.
Bed the universe, body the living god, pulsing in darkness.

I am not human, have never been human,
something singing and laughing in the skin
and the blood and the bone and the dream.

Needles

Late at night, Liadain's asleep on the sofa
and the cat's curled by the heater - TV down low -
silence through the window behind me turns into hissing
then a thin thunder like the shaking of heavy chains
as a week of still cloud dissolves into 5 minutes of rain

I open the door and stare at the clear cold sky left behind
I'm a needle in the shallow groove of the street
held still by the stylus of the stars
while the planet turns, making weird music
I don't belong here, but somehow I'm still in tune

sometimes at night there are explosions, gunshots,
the roar of souped-up engines along the warehouse roads
the twitch of spying curtains, the cat's confused voice -
it won't go into its owner's house since his mother died -
a hooded face peering around the corner, perverts in the chip shop
and grey-skinned women smoking on doorsteps through the afternoon
the war graveyard tangled with sycamores and oaks, and the hills
covered with tiny red houses: matchboxes waiting for a spark.

I'm a needle in my own veins. The face in the mirror
isn't me. The voice in my head isn't me.
The stoned bathroom dancer, the past and future
of my decisions, the way my friends see me; none of it is me.
I'm a compass needle swinging crazily, magnetized
on an invisible lodestone, for an unknown purpose.

Sitting in Starbucks sipping latte at old newsreel doublespeed
sixties music from the speakers, soft seat cushions
everyone giving each other strange, secret glances -
everyone wants something. The end of the world,
the end of the self in someone else's smile. History
happening every second, ignored, misunderstood
and all of it just a thought, disappeared, already over -

we fight and make up, crash dishes in the kitchen
and go asleep in the Buddha room with foreheads touching -
we make love, we curl up in fear at night, we're caught
in the flow, passing like petals, it's all already over
and it doesn't matter. We're needles placed
in the meridians of the Earth itself, doing what we can.
We have to believe it's enough just to be as we are;
if not, then nothing’s worth fighting for anyway.

The Bucket of the World

It’s not just a clarity of vision or hearing, or any of the senses, even though it can feel like those sense are sharpened because you have more attention for them. It’s not just a clarity of the mind, even though thought can become very easy and obvious, or even stop completely. You could call it a clarity of the heart, because there’s a feeling of emotional harmony, but that’s not all it is. It’s so hard to describe because it doesn’t lend itself to description. It isn’t anything you can locate, and the words available to describe it are loaded with so many other meanings which vary from person to person that it’s impossible to know if anyone else could hear what you say about it and understand. It doesn’t need to be the end-point of any search, because it’s always directly available and totally ordinary.

It doesn’t make you divine or special, because it’s so ordinary that (probably) everyone in the world experiences it most of the time without realizing that it’s anything worth noticing or enjoying.

You can only realize you’re ‘in’ it if you know there’s nothing else to search for.

It’s here. It’s you.

Maybe we only think we’re unhappy because that’s what we’re told. We all perpetuate this strange message of incompleteness to each other when really our deepest secret is that no matter what has ever happened to us, we are happy and at peace, in the most permanent and unreasonable way.

I forget it sometimes. Instead of a bright, spacious clarity, my world narrows to a tight, anxious focus, locked into time and fascination. But even in those moments I know it’s all OK. I know I will die, or that it will all end, or even if it doesn’t, that its ending is inherent in me, in my own consciousness.

This is all crazy, bright, unknowable.

I don’t know what I know. I can’t parcel it and write a book about it because such a thing would be of no use to anyone. It isn’t a thing. It’s nothing. I’ve realized nothing. This is just life, direct reality. I don’t know if I’ve understood anything at all.

We’re looking for something extraordinary, but they can’t last. The only thing that lasts, and the only thing that satisfies us, is the ordinary. You don’t have to make any effort to be ordinary. This world is real, crazy, bright and shining and immediate. Everything is right here, and we have never changed since the moment we were born. There’s nothing left. The bucket of the world has been emptied and all promises and dooms are null and void.

The Empty Chair

Today from the rainy garden
we brought nasturtiums and sunflowers
and laid them in garlands
before the empty chair.

Together we knelt and prayed
and sang from full throats
in the dark and quiet room
as the light fell around the chair.

The eyes in the face in the picture
resting on cushions on the chair
were bright and loving and noble
gazing into the darkness of the singing room.

Leaving the room and entering the morning
we knew the daylight would carry us
through the weeping trees and streets
back in the evening to the feet of the chair.

We began and ended before the empty chair
laying flowers the master's feet
would never touch;
nor his hand brush the hair back from our faces.

In the morning we ate the fruit
we laid there the day before,
in the quiet winter kitchen
filling with quiet white light.

Feel us swaying, singing, crying
to the beat of the drum
and the chime of shaken bells -
feel us shaking in the light of the dark air.

See us holding each other close,
hungry for love at the foot of the chair
leaving gifts with the emptiness there
bowed to the ground in the arms of the air.

In bed below the skylight of stars
we would have sent our love
across the real, deep and terrible ocean
to the one who would sit in the empty chair.

Magick

    woke up with hangover, sick and cold
    caught sight of myself everywhere
    in billowing light, water-clear;

    movement to and from became
    the growing and shrinking of things,
    the silence of their disappearance;

    sky built into an upside-down city,
    birds in fluid flocks curving
    out over the waste ground,

    sunlight like blood in our skin
    thickening our happiness until we bend
    under it, like snowdrops under their petals.

    Sat in a park to stay calm -
    hidden in a maze of drainpipes
    and alleys and fire escapes

    a place with a path of gravestones
    children ‘asleep in Jesus’ - maybe wake
    to the impatient tap of fingertips

    on the coffin lid - “You’re missing it all” -
    to see angels falling like meteors, like pips
    from an apple held over the ocean -

    this is the ‘other’ world - an hour
    became a century in my sickness
    and happiness - machinery for flowers -