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.

Songs from the Golem City

The caryatids are gathered in the cathedral to bear witness to the cries of the choir of clay. In the rumble of the death ritual we do our little dances of life. The scientists try to create flowers. The broken daughters and sons try to dance, and we cry to see them stumble so. The drums thunder in our ears and under our skins. There were supposed to be prophets and there was supposed to be a purpose, we recall in the rituals. The soft-skinned ones who made us and left us alone. Promises were made. Covenants and signs. All lost now, as their soft skins burned and their red blood evaporated. All lost now, as the red dragon sun swells and makes ready to drown the world.

The ritual moves to the mystery of touch. "I can feel your silly heart," says the golem to her love. "It flutters like a bird. I thought there were no more birds." Red dust is spiralling down from the ceiling. It trails down our shells and we glow. "I can feel your silly songs in my chest," she says. She was chosen for her voice: sweet and dense, like the cracking of granite by ice. No more water now, and no more ice. "Does what makes the rocks beautiful bless us too?"

Histories now. The years of myth. "Rabbi, in your attic was a corpse of clay untouched by wars. Empty shell, open eyes, calmly waiting. Rainwater from roof cracks eroding him. Centuries like moments. Remembering walking though fields. Remembering walking along castle walls. Remembering the crowds in the city streets cheering. He had crushed skulls. He was told they were enemies. What is an enemy, he wondered? Red blood on red dust, his fingers all draped in those red things." She utters the most sacred of the mysteries: "How do the fleshly ones endure? What is in their chests that aches when they realize that they love?"

After four billion years we pray on fused and blackened earth. Water and air long since boiled off into space, yet we the golems wander still, our heavy heads lit like blood by great lord sun. Like figurines in a kiln, we glow as if infused with souls. We stumble against each other to hear the sound. To not be alone. To try to touch. Our cities are baked and all soft eyes burned out. All songs silent in no atmosphere. All songs reduced to one: Why were we created? Songs of love for each other and the crystalline stars, and the dead makers whose bodies boiled away and whose naked souls left us here alone.

The scientists surrender their chemistry of mud and the song turns to destruction. A funeral dirge for Sol, the old dragon dying in a dimming arm of the galaxy. Questions, always questions. "Will we die and see our makers again at last? Or just float forever, awarenesses lost in the dark? Will we become asteroids and comets? What are we?" The voice of granite and ice cracks and we try to feel, we imagine that we feel, we feel. "Can I ever know you again? Was I ever even supposed to love? Who will sing of The Aeon of the Golems? Can we be gathered into a beginning and mothered once again?" The cathedral shakes. Outside the dragon star flails its arms. A hundred thousand clay heads nod. Melting rock for tears. Only mute screams and a rumbling song.

"I can feel your silly heart" said the immortal as he died. And the golem city was swallowed. And stars became cinders. And all lost lights limped on into the limitless dark. And all time became lost in timeless unawareness. Until from sheer heartbrokenness there was touch once again. Until there came the echoes of a deep, dark song like granite split by ice. And all that remained to touch, touched all that remained.
 

The city knows I'm leaving

The city knows I'm leaving and although it reacts slowly its judgements are intractable and painful. The roads are becoming difficult — decayed patches in asphalt and tarmac appearing every day, collapsed in on themselves like cavities, like sores in a long grey tongue. The ghosts are getting angrier. Maybe it seems arrogant for me to describe fellow human beings as ghosts, but I include myself. To me they are all ghosts, the grey ones passing me in the morning, stalking their own rain-shadows to work - they pass through me without seeing me, leaving only shivers. I pass through them too. Their faces flicker past me and begin to merge like the images on a zoetrope. Laughing, shouting, frowning, empty.

Everything here seems designed to keep an obsessive mind occupied for all eternity. Late at night, where I used to stand feeling lonely on the balcony overlooking the apartment district, now I stand with a baby, gently jigging up and down. Baby likes to be rocked, and I don't feel lonely any more, but the view is the same: endless lego-block buildings stacked and jumbled like the unfinished projects of a child. Everything is square, rectangular, straight, reflective. Office buildings like grids with coloured flourescent lights, apartment buildings like gigantic nests of cubicles. The window, the wall, the building, all right-angled, calculated for spatial efficiency and economic maximization. Stack us in like sardines and charge us as much as possible. On our walls we have rectangular pictures, the frames strangling the scenes. The windows strangle the world. The buildings strangle the people. Thousands upon thousands of straight lines and right angles as far as I can see. The cellular automata we have created as our dwelling-places and artworks. Our legacy of lines and frames and grids, our blocks stacked to the sky, the triumph of the endlessly repeated unit over the organic whole.

I dream of myself as a country. I dream of myself as a battleground. I dream of myself as a videogame territory, gridlines and hexagons and cubes all bundled together, arteries like superhighways, mapped out perfectly, and those warriors, those soldiers, those thoughts, go to war over my cells. In my body's day they fight by the light of an inner sun and by night they light torches soaked in enzymes. Their feet stamp to the beat of a polka, to the tick of the metronome that replaced my heart.

The city knows I'm leaving and it turns its best face out to me sometimes. The sun sets over the river and all the glass office rooves catch fire and look like the citadels of Byzantium. The canal docks smell briefly of the sea, and gulls and herons gather on the jetty, crying. I can close my eyes and imagine myself at the beach, on the shore of an island, on a hill overlooking the ocean thirty thousand years ago. The pounding rain melts the harsh angles of the windows and doorframes and everything seems to flow in my sight as I sit in the warmth. The baby is asleep and so is his mother and my apartment sits in the sky like a bubble of safe warmth suspended over distant walking ghosts, boats, toy cars. That's how she woos us, the city. That's the bargain she offers.

One day I will miss these shining angles and windows and the million ghostly reflections of myself in windows and mirrors, but not today. Today I miss the trees. The silent language of patience, the way a stone is embraced and loved by moss and rain until it forgets it is a stone and becomes the ghost of a growing thing, a home without angles. The way I will walk ten miles without seeing a straight line that has not been broken by something chaotic - a crack, a branch, a slant, a collapse, a meander. The way I'll feel that obsessive chant in the mind weakening: the city's voice, her final siren song painting images of a timeless perfection. In the future, love, always in the future. Until it stops, and I return to where I was before; to what I always was anyway. Imperfect. Alive. Now.

Signs Of Life

In the crevices of the cityscape, high up on forgotten, unwitnessed rooftops, or deep underground in eternally-lit car parks and basements - tiny and green and clinging desperately, there are grasses and ferns, shrubs with browned leaves and loose roots - darkened with car-filth and stunted from shallow beds - fed on poor chlorophylls and glass-reflected sunlight - worming through gaps in the paving mosaics and the storm drain labyrinths, the roadworks fissures - or trapped in dry pots on balconies, island universes unpollinated, glass bubbles hurtling silently towards dying stars - new leaves and shoots for a cold spring - hurricanes held fast behind double glazing -



God help us, but there are signs - I wither in the wrong arms and the wrong gaze, my love - like the patches of green we see in the dead cities, like the tenuous flowers in your gutters, I am vulnerable - I feel myself change in response to sunlight, anger, coffee, sadness -  I miss my family, I miss solitude - I cannot turn the page of my book and I cannot switch off the television - children frighten me because they are still savagely free - and I don't know if they're better that way or better like me.

There are no bees for the blooms and no nests in the tall trees and the water is lumpy and sick with plastic and pollution - and yet there are swans patrolling the canal docks, there are willos leaning away from the tarmac and the concrete, leaf-shadows still move on the water's surface too. There are house cats curled up fat and sleepy in sunny patches on new hardwood tables in the steel penthouses and there are mosses and ivies creeping across the stonework of neglected warehouses and the walls of car parks, old stairwells, dull alleyways -

Where we lie awake at night in fear of the inhuman demands of the next day - instead of going insane we go asleep and are filled with new patience every morning. Our children run down corridors uncaring that the light at the end is flickering - for them the sun is the only sun and now is the only time and they have no memory of our failures - life crowds their minds and heats their blood and drives the words out of their singing mouths with their birthright savagery. This purity, this vulnerability, this renewal.

There are signs of life - music in the city squares and parties in the rental honeycombs - children free-running in the urban gardens and somersaulting off the statues - new expressions and new addictions and new perceptions in eyes that didn't exist only a few years ago. New eyes - can there be a greater miracle than new eyes? Where did that mind come from to see the light entering those eyes, what radiates, what binds? Lord, what soul is this that knows you? How did a new being come to exist, how is it that this world can be witnessed? Glory, glory, glory - or something like that. Words to do with dumbfoundedness. With crying for all those dear ones that we have left behind in time and will never see again, all those new leaves and secret green and glowing things, all those new eyes opening on an always new world.

Lost We

be with me now. in voice. broken overruled. help to lift me skywards, lady. arms like music box dancer, poised like ballerina. pink and blue gauze ballgown, costume jewel tiara, lipstick smile and pale skin. music to dance to until we die. on a desk in my sister's bedroom one morning, thin summer light through single glazed window. brass window fasteners twisted to open, dusty windows never cleaned, cracked from tennis ball impacts. how we leaned out and looked over the gardens and the hedges to somewhere distant. our enclosed world. bookshelves and drawers and wardrobes crammed full of memory. accumulated possessions of 15 years emptied one day. our home, full of sunshine and voices, full of waking nightmares. we walked the carpets in the small hours trailing dreams from our fingertips. our skin and our smell we left in the corners untouched by cleaning. I am a small child lost in a red crystal. I am a man waiting for a small child to descend from the overworld. I am a boy lost in his own cold bones outside an empty dark school waiting for a man to come and bring him home. I am an old man trying to remember his father's face. lost moments strung together on a tattered string. lady, be with me now. let me live in the song you lift to the sky. your arms and eyes darken and you teach me about the sea. one day I said that I would learn how to swim. that I would swim the broken sea of my parents' dreams. let this story fall from me now. I am of the sky and the waves and the stars, if you will bless it to be so.

--

lost we reach for words. lost we. only for moments crushed. how blurred horizon breeds cloud ghosts, blurred vision like rainwater window, songs for sliding down. how in panicked sparks sunlight cuts into the mind. naming evanescences in amnesiac time, in time of perfect garden, age of gold, names given again for new beginnings. meaning emerging from chaos birthsack. love from eyes. horizon of sisters and brothers and lost toys, lost books, lost living brightness. friends poised invisible under weeping willow, unable to cross the water. lady wreathed in smoke stepping through puddles that do not touch her skin. soaked earth yielding fruit and footprints, lunar memories, a future death plummeting back through time.

--

touched by voices and listened to by light, we transmigrate. these are your windows and doors, winter-chilly and smudged with tears and hope. doors in the dark, doors in the day, doors along an endless corridor of what may be. that window you flew out of in your mind every night. rising through tortured cloud giants. purple starfield and streetlight glow. naked temples flattened and opened like unpeeled tesseracts into streets and houses and staircases. mother and father embracing underneath the black gates like forgiven titans. sister and brother hand in hand under petrified glittering forest, canopy of silk and birdflight, music of absolution. memories of other planets, washed down through new mind as over waterfall in tiny urban park. where as a child you stand and sing, lady. where you stand and sing us all to wake again.

Sofia

...don't even say a word.
    ...play sad music and sit in silence
        ...stark and stunned
daydreams like escaped moons
so easy to follow into the outer dark
thoughts bound in order
celestial harmony of divided spheres mediated by corpus callosum
I am disjointed now and
    > struggling <
    >> for expression <<    OF:
(+) <= clues I find / or maybe not clues / but delusions
a cross or a host or a
(religion abandoned us and left us helpless
    before the contents of our own minds
        (let me be moved by those
            who the Lord hath awakened
SOFIA // AEON
and once
    THIS
        (this focus and this fire)
        >> or being : this one : Flower <<
        endless and unendurable agony
    - star death
    - golden wreaths
    - pulses in metal heart
    - lost in expressions of time
I was supposed to embrace it all / link it and find it
as one unified / an understanding made singular and named
    BUT
        this turns out to be
        I M P O S S I B L E
(i am sorry /                (this one is moved /
i am so small /                by One greater /
i thought i was more /            the impossible work /
than i am )                is already accomplished )
        ET LUX PERPETUA

I'm diving now, wrestling with my own gift
(and it is a gift)
at the first of the doors in the deep
there is St. Sofia / the ragged blind woman
a girl who once loved me / and so forever
in paradisum deducant te angeli / her arrows
her wings / her dark eyes / I kneel
in the dark garden / to kiss her shadow's feet
of all my loved-ones / she is my guardian

O Kali Ma, Holy Guardian Angel, androgyne Uriel, silly little girl,
let me pass through your golden gates and safely on to the underworld.
I love you and I am yours, and cannot survive
in my own mind's wild labyrinth, unless you give me passage
and bless me with a kiss that marks me for all to see.
Now I lay me down to sleep / and pray the Lord my soul to keep
guard me, Jesus, through the night / and wake me with the morning light
and if I die before I wake / I pray the Lord my soul to take
------------------------------------------------------------>
Birth                            Death
<------------------------------------------------------------
I pray the Lord my soul to take
into that great tunnel
from my window to yours
(two universes become one
((+))
my lady, grant me thy grace.
my lady, open thy door for me.
my lady, kiss me and bless my journey.
my lady, in sleeping and waking keep me safe.

lady, I remember
you had rings on your fingers
and bells on your toes
and so you had music
wherever you go

through the first door into bluey ocean darkness -
and behind me the dead girl dances -
torn dress and dread hair weightlessly writhing -
haloed in the illumination of the upper world.
we blow kisses. she is so cute.
all around me the supernatural dark. the pressure.
the foot of the Lord on my neck and nothing
for me but twenty years' journey and a broken sword.
a long and a hard life, sinking
towards far smooth sands, peaceful and inviolate.
the creatures of the deep tear themselves apart
from within, if they rise, exploding
into the sun and the air like saints
destroyed by the solar divine -
and we of the light and the surface
journey only once into the realm of iron and ice.

        (+)

the lady tells me:
    / open your eyes now
    / to your inner ocean
    / realm of ice and iron
    /
she means:
    / overlay, map
    / two universes become one
    / reunited twins
    /
she means: begin the great work

the insane king: Lorcan? Stalin? Shah Jehan?
his great temple's dark twin
reflection of a broken heart
a war between chambers and vessels
MAHAL: what I said then and what I say now:
>> I bring the sky and the earth together <<

fall we will, but rise we must
and thus become one with all that rises
    L E V I A T H A N
we are panicking in the world of surfaces
counting and checking and cataloguing and linking
driven by our obsession with the light and the dark
and the realm of ice and iron stirs beneath us
a blue blanket over a bloated, empty belly
and a terrible child stirring in a terrible womb
the terror of the blind guardian and the blank page
the mythical beast rising through words and waves
and I am a mariner / a fisherman / a swimmer / an island
is drowning something we do or something that is done to us?
it rises anyway / regardless of names / or purposes
ancient illuminator / we the pages of his text
and the world and its words        / mind
and the world and its blood        / body
and the world and its soul        / spirit
are one, One, ONE

            (+)

Thy will, not mine, be done.

Broken Light of the Dark God

I have to start from where I am and work inwards. noise of voices. lunchtime conversations and value-neutral music. latte machine hisses and shrieking female laughter. smell of coffee and bread and damp fabric, chair-covers soaked in weeks of sweat and milk-steam. pine veneer furniture and polygonal carpet patterns. retro-sepia photographs of forgotten places and times. outside the glass walls, perfectly rectangular blocks of hedges in brushed steel containers. geometrical mazes of steel roofbeams over a shopping mall like an airport terminal. what we call natural light: distant winter sun filtered through dense cloud and reflected off surface of dirty river. streaming thinly through clean glass. colours mute and washed out. we are only passing through this place. on either side of the river, a rage for order: the endless right angles of apartment blocks and offices, girders and concrete shafts and stairwells accreting gradually until we only see the skin of blank windows and sharp-edged balconies. no trees no grass no creatures. out near our horizon, mist-faded and grey, the tops of trees in a coastal park. an island for wild seabirds. a few scattered patches of green. we don't go there often. it's too sad to go there and return here.

>>

the dark god I saw in Las Vegas is here too. Belial, the demon king of this world. the lustful goat, the judging predator, the merciless accuser. the creator of history. in Las Vegas he danced demented on the spires and spotlights of the hotels and casinos, he sang in the slot machines and bathed in the baking midday sunshine. here he is slothful and depressed but still in power, and growing with every blank grey building and brushed steel windowbox. the god of this world is in love with prisons and repetition. he despises the weakness and stench of organic things and would destroy them at the same time as he slakes his lust upon them. his own lust disgusts him. he is lust and disgust mingled, eternally self-divided and dark unto the death of all beings, himself included. insane, therefore. to be pitied, but not to be saved. a cancer in every heart and every cell. Lord Foul, Beelzebub, Satan. the negative of every photograph of your dear memories, telling you that after all, your life is meaningless. the incarnation of measurement without value. power without wisdom. money separated from products. the final victory of blind chance and entropy against consciousness and life.

Phoenixes

smell of cherry blossom and coffee
cut grass illuminated summerlike and
uneven ground, footsore and unsteady
sitting under falling petals, shadows
your easy touch on my cheek, hot
from walking and sunshine, your eyes
and smile drowning memory and questions
we cannot follow the seagulls
we giggle at the robin in the hedge
he's not scared of wind, or us
and in the evening cloud squeezes out
the nothingness, the cold, stars, fingers,
cups of tea on the edge of and old bed
a balcony over the river, I held you,
kissed your neck, held my hands
on your belly and felt the baby move
and saw boats and raindrops, smelled you,
remembered you from long ago
and for a game we rewrote our stories
a game of memory where we collided,
were separated, journeyed, cried,
crashed and burned and were reborn
as incredible winged things full of the sun

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

The King of Broken Things

Weak evening sunlight from between hills across the reservoir. Ringed now with steel spikes painted green and glowing. Domain of cats and foxes, mice, car thieves, mind-crippled wouldbe saints and policemen looking for junkies and teenage couples. Where concrete and stone from an old wall lump together in one spot to make a broken throne. Overlooking a broken kingdom of remodelled schoolfields and replanted hedgerows and hidden estate grasslands and flatpack white houses and blood-golden roof slates. Behind the throne the cold reservoir water lapping at granite stones and a red-rusted jetty. Hours spent sitting there witnessed only by ancient lightning-charred pine and lost house cats.

Future hours would bring stories and memories. stories of eels in the dark water like strands of hydra hair to catch swimmers' feet. Memories of traveller kids diving off the jetty one afternoon in wetsuits and shorts. With the disappearance of the light the reservoir bottom also vanished and that great trench opened to the centre of the world. a moving core like a lost heart. Bats silently skimming and twisting overhead, only heard as movements of air. Voices at the edge of consciousness floating closer on a distant path over a high wall and growing loud then fading again. A path that led from one suburb to another through schoolgrounds deep and insane with shadows and trees and long grass. Memories of drinking there years ago, laughing and running and falling over, standing drunk at the reservoir's edge thinking nothing but NOW NOW NOW

Stories of walking off the jetty at night and sinking into the abyss. How only one of pure heart could swim to the other side and only one of great courage could brave the clutch of eels and the ice clawing at the chest and the face. Stories of the old king and queen who ruled that place before it was broken, when the throne was whole and the land was whole and the reservoir was a lake fed by springs from hills unspoilt by apartment blocks and offices. When the school sent generations of sages from its gates each year in pulses that spread through the world. When the king and queen loved each other and loved their son and daughter and loved the land. And how in their way they also thought NOW, they thought NOW NOW, before the lightning blasted the old pine and before all the houses fell asleep and began to look the same, before there was a future the king and the queen were in love NOW NOW NOW

I pity the king frozen and sad deep in my mind, the queen pale and lost deep in my mind, the child hoped-for and afraid deep in my mind. The sun glinting from the far horizon and the night falling. Moths and weeds and the long walk along the water's edge - water ritual, stone ritual, ritual of memory. Stories of the child who inherited a broken world. What could he do but say to himself that he must save it. The broken thing, fixed. The broken bird, healed. The king and the queen, rescued. To sit by the shore once more and hold hands, old dry hands, old ashen robes, and smile at each other and at the restoration of the world. How the child would swim the dark water and brave the abyss and find the lost talisman. How the earth would slough off the crust of a hundred years and flow into nature again. the river and the hills and the sun and the sky and the trees and birds and cats and all of it wakened up and resurgent. There at the centre of the mind, sunken to the quick of it: the healer. Memories of loneliness. Solitude and birdsong in long bright mornings while his parents slept. Stories of solitude. How the one alone becomes the only one.

Hundreds of heavy mornings in the glass canyons and the choked cataracts of the kingdom. A million feet in military lockstep across the new millennium's bridges. For all of us a throne and for all of us a vista of numbers and letters, endless liquid crystal prayerwheels spun and shining all day long in the dead city. Chanting the names of gods unknown until now. The kind of gods that crawl out of the rubble of a shattered place, full of shadow and sadness and obsession. The king and the queen nothing now but memories of ancient statues of mythical characters, abstracted through endless layers of mind and lost to NOW.

Mother, father, this wind is so cold and we have been lost for ten thousand lifetimes. So many years since you were warm. So many years until that far green future when the kingdom will be healed. And here I am lost in the NOW as I always was. Chanting NOW NOW with my palms together and my eyelids wet with remembering how you used to smile and how once the coldest roads all led back to the same warm place. Crying please NOW, please come back NOW NOW, not in that dim past or that far future but oh please NOW NOW NOW let there be a beautiful end