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The End of Everything






for Jeremy Reed

On this night
the demons are out
I hear them howl
here where I stand
at 2 a.m.
in a parking lot
in front of a wall
longing to walk
straight ahead
into the night
into the sky
to join the choir
of the spirits of the air

It is my intention
quiet as I am
to paint the town
to open the walls
so that this material
that crushes me
is made to be
What better gift can the night
give to the sunlight?
My night to the daylight
of that
alien thing?

So I sit here quietly
as the vision slowly
unfolds in front of me.
This belongs to me
it enfolds me
I become something through something
other than me.
I am quietly, slowly,
building myself
building something new
under the sky.

This is what I do
because I cannot move
because I cannot fly
because I am stopped
in front of a wall
listening to the office blocks
howling in the night.




'Verily I say unto you, they have their reward'
Matt 6.2

The gratification of being well regarded
is my reward.
My reward is a stone
that pulls me down.
I must get rid
of my reward.

The eyes of men
are so many knives
cutting me up; under their gaze
I become
Legion. I pass like a whore
from one to the other
like so many pieces
of a smashed mirror.

Lusting after praise,
avaricious of praise,
proud of praise,
gluttonous for praise,
envious of praise,
angry at being disregarded and soon
falling into apathy.

That is how the days
pass; to flee
from the snare, I must be
like Lazarus
lying at the rich man's gate.

I must climb under
my reward, then, free
of other men's eyes
I can see
I can see the angels
outside the brothels
and round the walls
of the churches the devils
and in the depths
of winter, dressed
only in rags, lying
in the gutter I can taste
the fruits of Paradise.




There is an absence of generosity
in living in the country
and proclaining it to be
more 'spiritual' than the city

For the city is full,
surely, of a multitude
of spirits or are these
somehow less spiritual
than rocks and birds and trees?

No, but they are obstacles
to the enormity
of spirit, hence the solitary
seeking God
seeks solitude.
It is the rock's very
absence of spirituality
that sets the spirit free.




I work in order to reach
something that is not work
and that I do not find very interesting
whether it is eating
or sleeping
or chatting
or sitting in front of the television
or praying, which is (or ought to be)
the end of everything.



for Benedict XVI

Is the Word
in the beginning
the Logos, the Reason, just
a process of reasoning?

Is it through a long
process of reasoning
the Word, the Reason
gets to be known?

Is all that tortuous
rationalising anything
to do with the Reason?
the Person?
Second Person of the Trinity, existing
from the beginning?

No, Pope Benedict,
clean-shaven patriarch, the Rationale
isn't rationality, yet
all that struggling
of the fly in the jamjar yielded
surely something?

Tension of enormous longing
cut off by a misunderstanding
in the head of the Church has given us
all those marvellous substitutes.

We will call it the Renaissance.
It will overcome the world.




Little snail,
passing in front of me,
bearing your
unbearably pretty
but embarrassing because
protective shell,
in all her glory,
did not sail so proudly
under the clumsy
feet of the gods,
stepping out early
for a morning stroll.





From lying in bed horizontal to standing up and walking
What a distance!
From the free wandering of the mind in its own space
to the hard contours of the perceived world
or, even more demanding, the perceiving world
- 'ten thousands of people that set themselves against me round about'.
From weightlessness to gravity,
from carelessness to duty,
every day,
365 days in the year,
we assume this burden.
The rich, the powerful, the merciful, the poor,
all sleep and are made vulnerable,
passing from the single, overwhelming
world to the multiple
worlds that are specially
created for us
in a mysterious laboratory
in the darkness of the heart.



I dream - but what does that mean, 'I dream'?
Who are these people that people my dreams?
Where do they come from?
They seem to surge up for a particular
purpose, but whose is the purpose?
Who directs the show?
Sometimes I dream that it is I,
pushing myself to the edge
of what is bearable, but who
is this I? Is it a deeper I?
or perhaps, stripped of all the means
deployed in the daylight,
more superficial? a reduced
vision that imagines itself to be
greater, like a drunk, like someone on cocaine?
like the people who people my dreams,
who resemble my friends
and leave me wondering:
What will I meet
when I meet my friends in Heaven?
What will I meet
When I meet my friends in Hell?



Or else in Hades - Sheol.
What did Saul see when he called up
the ghost of Samuel?
Where did it come from? What is this place
that is not Heaven or Hell but is
a temporary arrangement
where there is neither light nor fire,
Bardo perhaps, and perhaps there
the mind really is its own place,
the house of sleep, of dreams,
and perhaps it is
where we want to be, where we fall
naturally, like a child curled up
under the blankets with a hot water bottle, feeling
totally immoveable, totally free.



(for Satya)

Every time I walk out of the house, the heart high with love for the neighbour I encounter
The brick wall.
Every time I want to sorrow for my own
Sins and the sins of the world, I encounter
The brick wall.
Every time I rage against the great
Machine that is bearing down on us, eating up
Everything that is precious and delicate, I encounter
The brick wall -
A wall that is hard as brick, yet smoothe and polished,
The wall that serves as a mirror, the wall that says,
softly, insidiously:
"You can do better than this."




Yeats had the notion
of sailing to Byzantium
the great Orthodox Kingdom
The 'sages standing in God's holy fire' ...

But when push came to shove
he stuck like glue
to 'the young in one another's arms',
the uninhibited love
he never knew.

Which only goes to prove
the accuracy
of the Church's view
that the holy fire
burns brighter in chastity.




The poet who is taken with the mystery of Form is taken
with something beyond anything
anyone can imagine.
is the coach we travel in
and not the destination.
As the repetition of a simple prayer
produces a new world of feeling that slowly
comes over us and wraps us like a cloak,
or like a mist, the poet,
digging through a swamp, uncovers
something that is magical and enormous -
an empty space that speaks to us
that is the very stuff
of the silence
after the concert.
There are not many poets
who attain to this.
It functions as
(to quote one who understood
better than any of us)
the valley of unrest,
the haunted palace.




This roaring wind does not proclaim
Your coming but the coming of
a dead calm, a sun too tired
to hoist itself up into the sky.
There is no life in all this
agitation, not so much
as in the yapping of a little dog.
Can we, shivering and bowing before
that manifestation of unbridled violence still
view it with contempt?
It is immense, and of less
worth than a fingernail.
So, as our human affairs
go from bad to worse
we have to go hiding
from the irresistible force
of something that is nothing.




Khlebnikov wanted to be
a magic prince, but he
was of the same stuff
as you and me,
but you and me,
we are of the stuff
of a magic prince
so Khlebnikov
was more like you and me
than you and me.




For Brent and Rennie Sparks

This perfectly calibrated world, whose perfection
lies in the accumulation of an unseen
horror and madness, a disequilibrium that proclaims
not the dull reality but the fantastic dream
of equilibrium. This world, perfectly arranged
to play upon our senses, fascinating and repellent,
to establish discontent in ways
that I cannot express (but others can)
in images that would be
dark images of the mystery of trees,
white in the night and spectral and surrounded by
howling animals. This is the perfect place
both to evoke the desperate need and to create the image
of Somewhere Else, somewhere that is heavenly and
(what almost amounts to the same thing) un-
contradictory. This is indeed
with all our dead crimes lying and accumulating
waiting to rise up again, the best
of all possible worlds.