The broken worlds she showed me

they were dragging the swamp that day // was I alive or dead? the representation of a life // motionless in an important dimension // so she wakened in my mind a figure of power // the cold white man who walks alone in the killing fields // corpse with fangs // and from that moment on // from the last sunrise to the first stars // I was divided eternally / and night was my day // desiring salvation, my addiction was disintegration // blazing torches and abomination in the faces of the simple folk // an old house on fire, windows bleeding light into the night // the spirit rages to be free of the flesh and the flesh solidifies to a prison for what it doesn't understand // the cold man becomes two men // one desires redemption and creates hell around himself // the other thirsts for damnation and unknowingly walks the paths of heaven // he preys on them and plays with them // their blood on white lace and pale skin // whose hero could he be // and what way into the heartwoods could he show // and yet we follow him // hypnotized by his dance and his cancer // mistaking the disintegration of his tissues for transfiguration // i thought he would come for me at night when my family was asleep and I walked barefoot in the garden, my soul singing for release // surely, if he existed, he would hear me // and if he does not exist, another will come // surely, i thought in my pain, there must be someone who hears me // someone who sees me // someone who knows me // someone who will remember me // surely //

in my mind       the cold man       the dead man       breaking the lake ice       reaching beneath the water       we are anglers in the lake of darkness       as Nero was       such dark treasures we discover       returning to the world with dark gifts       the cold man only takes and cannot give       he drains and does not replenish       he destroys but cannot create       Shiva Nataraja unable to wake       old one-eye head first over the abyss       he met the girl who could have saved him and he hurt her       because she allows herself to be hurt       the dark dead girl who creates       the one who sleeps and dreams       whose death is as merciful and the dead man's is final       the corpse who stirs in her slumber       her hair writhing like eels and weeds on the lake bottom       a perfect animated doll       burnished hair glowing from ash to gold to copper to blood

// the dead man destroys
// the dead woman creates

you quickly realize that he cannot be killed       the more you fight him the stronger he becomes       the longer he walks the colder he grows       he is always there on the far shore       clad in ragged finery       wearing a savage smile       teeth stained red       patient as a priest       till the journey be ended       and memory drowned in night-time water       and you submit in exhaustion to his embrace //

no //

// that is not how the dead man is to be overcome.

his theatre is a world based on rules
-> the rules of dreams <-
he closes doors, never imagining that the can be reopened
living alone at the heart of your labyrinth
unchallenged and feared
he will consume all your loved-ones
and save you for last,
telling you as he drains your life
that you alone are his beloved.
he grants you the mercy of an end only
when all your life is in ruins
and you have betrayed every single thing you tried to love.

no //

// that is not how the dead man is to be overcome.

moonlight through a distant circle
at the bottom of a waterless well
on a mosaic of shining tiles
waiting as the clouds pass over
until the great lord sun shall come
and bless us to become ash
waiting for the disintegrating wind

who is it that you call your family
do they live near you on these streets
confined in boxes of their own
or in silent gardens and stone tombs
the sepulchres of the southern suburbs
temples of the dead man and his brides
where they lie waiting for the master
to take them across the river
and over to that voiceless, bitter shore

welcome the dead man's arrival
and prepare the hallways with gifts
ready a chair and candles
for the installation of his image
tell your friends to visit today
and bring incense and flowers
for the dead man's head and feet
because where he walks shall be blessed
and where his gaze falls
shall come the beloved emptiness

let your mothers and fathers hear
that their time has come to an end
that at last there shall be a new order
as the dead man calls to his own
and his lovers cross over with him -
he is the ferryman of the final river
and their memories shall be his payment

the dead man leads the dance of the dead -
his hands forming mudras, his face distorted -
glaring and grinning and yearning -
his eyes like glass beads in the sun -
the dance brings the dead rain that does not nourish
but scours the earth of its iniquities.
though he shall be named the giver, he will only take -
he takes away what is not God -
until there is nothing left but God -
and God is the dead man -
and so he takes until nothing else remains -
and he dances alone -
lonely -

the god of the vampires
the priest of the corpse ritual
the king of the city of bones
the golem of christ
anti-chaos, anti-order
the only dead thing
in a universe alive
with doubt and joy

Shiva Yantra

we travel downwards; see us spiral down the spangled tunnels and chutes, the planes of inner kaleidoscopes, down the endless well - found in an old field, birch-grove-surrounded, half-light-bathed, moss-covered-stone, sounds issuing from darkness, folk-tales-say-bottomless - we fall through alien geometries, phosphene aurorae, until finally we realize that we do not fall, but rise - the supposed underworld is far above us, and the well opens into the uttermost source of it - the hundred triangles of the Shiva Yantra, the fire from the Tantric dragon's mouth, silent and crystalline - the endless future pouring through our eyes into the endless past

so, we rise - and then we pause - we hug in the dark, we wake to a frost on the ancient woods, a silver light on magpie wings and new leaves - to cups of coffee and an old room full of books and pictures and the ashes of relatives - how they wait patiently in the past for us to reverse time and greet them again - we rise to meet schedules and deadlines and a movement of hours faster than branch-shadows across doorways - caught reflected on lakewater and camera, caught like fabric on thorns and twigs, caught in time preparing for the time beyond time - we bring gifts, we lay ourselves at its feet - the giant who lives in the rock ridge above the forest, the geometric dragon behind our mind who belches out the past faster than we can remember it - he who calls us to turn around, turn around, his arms and jaws open, tears and flames in his eyes, waiting in the future, always in the future, our backs to him - turn around, he begs, only turn around -

and still we rise, held in a feeling of the heart - a kind of trust -
that the sunlit world we left
at the lip of the old enchanted well
will still exist a hundred years hence
when, aged only a day, we return
with fantastic tales and fairy kisses
and the unknown consequences
of touching the earth once more

we rise with our child growing in his mother's womb - a voice we heard in the future, calling to be brought into being. turn around, he said, and as best we could, we did. what world do we leave him - and what world were we left - by parents whose world was little wider than their house and their street and their workplace and the houses of their parents - how small and how infinite we were in the soft years when we grew in the sunshine of safe gardens - hiding places in hedges and willows - and how small and still we are now that we know the size of the world - the stars still a mystery, though we buy books in which they are named and photographed and captured as we primitive peoples might capture a soul - nebulae in digitally-enhanced colour - rainbow explosions in alien and unreachable regions of space - soft spring flowers that we don't understand. why do they grow? what do they mean? how do we know that they are real?

the flood of the future seems uncontrollable. the heavy tide of purpose. images swarming out of us into manifestation. words heard at a great distance suddenly appearing in our mouths. our thoughts are not our own but the thoughts of the dragon, and who He is we cannot say for sure.

some say Nemesis.
the ego-mirror, the great beast.
the dark destroying star.
the spoiled child of the cosmos.
sometimes we are his puppets.
sometimes we fight him.
he is the source of these words -
the mover of those who serve him
and those who fight him alike.
in his breath is your end, one day,
one unexpected day
that you had set aside, perhaps,
for a walk along a cold blue coast,
a dinner with friends, maybe even
a realization of who you really are.

Tomorrow I will realize who I am. Today I will drink coffee and sit in the sun by the canal where the trees make that beautiful shape I can't describe. Where houses do not stand smoking and black after being shelled. where one day I will grow vegetables and flowers and show my children how vegetables and flowers can be made to grow. My children of technology and velocity. My hypersonic children who will be beyond my understanding and my influence. My children of the dragon, the great exultant predator on fire with the glory of the sun.

That which I thought defined me has been broken to pieces and shuffled around into a different pattern. The hands of Diti, impotent and delicate beside a Yoga mat and a cheap stereo. Buddha hidden behind white blinds. Shiva forgotten in the entryway to a dead stone balcony overlooking a dead tidal river. With the gunboats and the seagulls what drifts upstream is a ghost of desolation and loss. underneath the streets rivers run free and blind in the sewers that once flowed overland past Viking settlements and rubbish pits. running so fast away from old ideas of ourselves. the sad old Irish songs, the unfashionable poor clothes and the long nights with wind rattling the beaten windowframes and the smell of seawater in the rain rolling, rolling in from the ocean. Sad songs that left us happy. Having nothing, we faced the dragon with only the gift of ourselves. we faced the future and turned our backs on the past's unfolding. on the pain and the loss and the love. the villages built and starved and abandoned and overgrown and recovered and rebuilt and sold and demolished and forgotten. the old woods hewn down and replanted. old cottages reoccupied and filled with flatscreen TVs and double glazed windows and brushed steel furnishings and new people, beautiful people, complex and hopeful people who see the same valley that one day we saw in despair and simplicity. smoke from new chimneys and satellite dishes beside old connemara slate and birds nests. and in the dragon's city, a labyrinth of apartments full of strangers. we have no rules and do not share our dreams. we have no religion except for the subliminal chanting of the machine dragon. we justify ourselves to no one. we continue to grow, like crystals in saturation. we bring into being voices from the future, as we were brought into being by voices fading into the past.

If you do not speak through me, Lord, I have no voice. If you do not move me, I must remain still. If you do not see me, I am hidden. If you do not inhabit my world, it is a doll's house inhabited by phantoms. I have nothing that is not full of you and no future that does not spill from your mind into my soul.

I am breathless steam lifting light.
I am the light on the outside,
travelling unknown distances to the eye.
I am the light on the inside,
where the eye sparks thoughts of light.
I am the eye and the interface,
the fog of the bright room, union-bringer.
Where I am there is light.

Silent crowded night bedroom full of objects in their space. Lost in the labyrinth of the present. Lost in the distracted mind. Reality accelerates while I remain behind in the slow-drifting illuminations. streetlamps moving upriver with incoming tide. warships glowing under windows of featureless apartment blocks.

I sit hunched over a writing pad, crosslegged, breath almost held, eyes stinging, desperately fighting daybreak. the reality of daylight, the ticking clock of my own life. the requirements of the dead city, animated by a clockwork of wraiths and golems under a necromancer's spell. I need hope for myself and my child. now that I'm here, why can't I be awake, why can't I be happy in the everyday strangeness?

cars roll over metal bridges. cranes whirr on sleepless construction sites. air conditioning hum that never silences. fans and sewers and generators. boat engines, taxi engines, pacing footsteps and soft crying from neighbouring apartments. I want to be where no one can find me. in a forest, in a cave, in an island cove. surreal fish nibbling at my toes, sunlit leaves of kind ancient trees. my family and I in another, older world, alone and free.


Like the dust in the corners of the bedroom,
I need to suck out enough of my dreams,
write them down, that what remains
won't choke me in my sleep. I am a cord
that binds spirits, feelings, handfasted
until they recognise each other, and dissolve.

The girl who lives under the bed, huddled
over her only book, unable to talk. My grandfather
crying, telling my invisible mother how sorry he was.
He never wanted to hurt her. That time
is like a dream to him now, distant and psychic.
How the setting sun shone on the cold grass.

The real and the unreal melt together softly.
A nervous little ghost, hovering uncertainly
at the door. A gravastar: raining light, matter,
energy on the darkness of an unknowable surface.
My sandwich in the park, shared with pigeons,
while the alcoholic woman ate old lettuce, slowly.

Buddha and Shiva struggling from the corners of my room
to enlighten each other, deep navy against pale brown,
while the lovers wander near the blue waveshore. The pagoda
lost in a rain of bamboo and willow. Our kaleidoscopic photos
of family and friends, our coffeeshop conversations, these words:
a meaning that no single thing can hold.