Not a Lot of Glottal Stops

Red squirrels, a tired grey possum, and a werewolf.
The possum and the squirrels are not totally here.
Primarily, they are in another universe.
The werewolf is all here and totally hungry.

‘I am half hungry,’ says the possum, voice projected
from a heatsink and a distant frozen planet.
‘We are not half hungry,’ say the famished squirrels.
Our thin vicar, for the werewolf, was a snack

and our buttery Bishop wears full body armour.
’Buttery,’ moans as the werewolf, ‘and full-bodied.
I can’t afford such metaphors. I’m starving.’
‘They’re not,’ the possum answers, ‘metaphors.’

This dream dissolves in glop and glottal stops.

From SEMI-SENSED DREAMS, a series so far as I know of one.

A Dilly of a Pesadilla

The squirrels in this bird nest are marginalising the snakes.
We measure the nest. It must have been a very big bird.
We fashion a podium determined to do what it takes.
We clamour for silence in a fey futile wish to be heard.

The snakes glisten. They listen, we think, with their darting forked tongues.
The squirrels chatter on, scatter off, commandeer the dry places.
The water wraiths rise and make light of our ladder’s low rungs.
The serpentine similes formed by our moistening boot laces

give signals we sapiens and serpents and squirrels are in deep
in this nocturnal nonsense disturbing what should be our sleep.

Old Dreams

What dreams survive the dustiness of age?
Why, all of them! In ageing they go prime.
While teenage angst is best at muffled rage
and young adults excel at hustling time,
it’s old decrepitude that’s fit to climb
beyond the cage of flesh and sniff the stars.
Dim-eyed beholders best see what is wild,
anticipate where wheelchairs outpace cars.
It takes the wear of years to free the child.

Reveille

I lie in a tent on a sandbank in the river
and wonder would I hear the water rise.
The otter’s snoring serves as metronome
for the heartbeat pace of words the moonlight limns.

I wake and all realities retreat,
except the one that’s standing watch today.

In the south of France Lucindas lean on trees,
or dance. For me. For joy. Up here the rain
leaches colour from the just-turned falling leaves.
I shall never see MacArthur Park again.

I see a shimmering line, a lifeline or a serpent,
undulating in the inshore moonlit current,
so close by I could touch it if I woke …

Downstream, or up, a church bell counts the hours.
Four chimes. Clouds mass. It is so sudden dark.

A priest of gentle parentage gets shriven,
or knotted, now for naught his pack of genes
that travelled aeons to arrive in him,
cold on his perch, before the furnace door.

Cold breezes stir the tent. Up high: the jet stream.
Clouds thin. They go. The smuttily full moon
invades the damp sand, wakes the snoring otter.

It caught a fish for each of us last evening.
I called mine sushi. The otter ate both heads.
We spoke the way that mammals do cross-species,
before it slept, of whether there’d be weather.

I need deep sleep, a day of dry, a boat,
the fun of congregations without creeds.
The otter wakes. It watches where that snake,
or pliant water plant, hangs in the current.
We fantasise together it’s a god,
our refuge for describing what’s unknown.

We wish for more fish. I wish for a fire,
and the otter for a thing I do not know.
I shall never see MacArthur Park again
or the reality that has the watch tomorrow.

Vision After Life on Earth

(Note: I wrote this vision after ‘seeing’ it while in Switzerland. It was published in THE ARMCHAIR AESTHETE, New York, Issue #7, summer 1998)

I am not here with them, but I can see them — a group of people in every imaginable form of appearance. Their many forms of appearance make all the more impression on me because they are not imagined — they are real! Small babies, some only a day old, and many younger than that. Handsome children, ugly children. Young adults. People of greying years. Grey, old people. Some, in each of the ages, have faces haunted by pain. Some have bodies wasted by sickness or by hard usage. Some are horribly mutilated and dismembered by violent forces. Others merely look surprised, or less than that. They are all of them, just this very instant, newly dead.

‘Hello,’ says a voice. ‘You are here. Four things will happen here, one of which is this Arrival Lecture. In this lecture, I will tell you about the other events. I will tell you now, because when they happen, you will be less likely to listen.’ All of the group of people remain as they were; those who can, standing; those who can, facing the source of the voice. I see them, but I cannot see the speaker. A dense fog or mist is all around.

The voice says, ‘You have just died. All of you died at exactly the same instant. None of you were conscious of birth. Some of you learned more than others in the Soul School, that time between birth and death. All of you are conscious now, and will remember everything that happens from now on, as well as everything you have experienced when you were conscious before death.’

‘You are here, somewhere outside the Gates of Heaven. You will, in a moment, be bathed in the light of God. You will be further equipped. You will be free to go.’

A brilliant white golden light covered the People. Wounds closed, sores healed, backs straightened.

‘You will feel better than on that day, if you ever had a healthy day, when you felt the very best in your life before.’

The People changed in the white golden light. They all became slim and straight, all light and strong. They all changed to one height (I think about 1.5 metres). They all looked marvellous! Their bodies were covered with fine colours — each of the People was only one colour, but not all were the same colour. Did they have fine fur, like cats? Were these soft flight suits? Their faces were not at all identical.

‘Just as you are conscious, so do you keep your faces — healthy, vibrant, and You,’ said the voice.

How their eyes shown! I felt tears in my own eyes at seeing how excited, how excited they were!

The voice continued, ‘In the palm of your left hand there will be a mark — it is the stamp of your arrival here — so it is, for all of you, the same.’

As the voice continued, I could see the marks in some of the People’s palms. It was as if I could zoom in with a telephoto lens, although I could in no way approach them.

‘In your right palms you will see two pictures. One, the one on the left, is how you looked on Arrival. The other, on the right, is how you look now. The bar between the pictures you can refer to whenever you want to recall this Arrival Lecture.’

‘The picture of how you look now shows you correctly — you do have wings. Yes, you can fly.’

The white golden light disappeared. The mist was also gone. The People, standing in rows ranged above and below each other, stood on ledges on the sheer face of an enormously high mountain. The voice said, ‘Remember, this is fun. I am sure I do not need to thank you for your attention. You can go now.’

Some of the People flew away almost immediately. Some were terrified. Some of them fell. Of those who fell, some began to fly and others fell, and fell, and fell. Just before they hit the bottom, their wings worked quickly (a reflex?) so that they landed softly and safely. I couldn’t see any of them, any more.

The Waking Dream

The waking dream supposes it is dreamed
by everyone in moments of their lives.
Some dream the waking dream as they are born;
others, in the hour that they die.
For some, a blessed few, the waking dream
illuminates each minute that they live.

‘What is the waking dream?’ you say. Don’t ask.
Or, better, ask away. I cannot answer.
I am not awake enough to know I dream.

Take away redundant, lazy words.
Take away. Words. Remove emotion.
Take it all away. Receive the dream.

Woolgathering Perils

The waking dream supposes it is dreamed
by the tourist in the truck bed watching lions
who regard her, themselves wakened when she screamed.
She wrecked the truck attempting to read signs
in Chinese symbols warning, ‘Do not stop.’
The no-doors truck’s a nightmare; it won’t start.
With lions approaching, she climbs the truck’s top
which is not half as high as how her heart
is trying to ascend, with her left here
to face lionhearted felines down alone.
The waiting dream assists her: Paul Revere
provides a silver lining to dethrone
the kings of beasts. It’s catnip. Lions cheer
as Paul and Pauline gallop out of here.

(29th poem for 2014 November Poem A Day challenge)