Ephemera

Here are some recent journeyman verses (ten of them) – some suitable for pub sing-songs round the old Joanna, or for guitar and fiddle perhaps…

 

JULY DREAM TIME

Honey-suckle, dog-rose and bramble entwine

then there’s meadow-sweet, hare-bell, marjoram

evoking deep, ancient Summers to combine

sensual moments of the great I am!

 

Once, Stitch-wort and wild strawberry

Wood-sorrel and anemone, shone through colours

Of campion, cranes’ bill, bluebell – deep memory

of man-made lanes and long human hours

 

Now, I brush past fox-glove and cow-parsley

As Bronze Age drovers did on this same lane

And as people should as far as time can see

And I, in husbandry of crops I can sustain

 

Edwin Muir says, we are this side of the Fall

Not Eden, but agriculture – town and farm

but now grown cancerous and just too tall

Silhouette of pale hubris bent on self-harm

 

Let’s step back in concert. Uncover lost homes

In extensive woods and well-farmed fields

Where seasons pass in their metronome

and we follow, dependant on tribute and yield

 

Town and village will make and trade

By steps pragmatic as this verse’s feet

In sequence with heart beats as man-made

and natural forces resolve and meet

 

Where gravity brings water to ingenious hands

Where wind propels sails over dividing seas

Wresting economies for people in durable lands

From dead hands of ecocide, mal-fire, monopolies…

 

I sing of Cloud Cuckoo land, or so it’s said

While truth is abstract – status and spending

But I prefer real things – living and dead

Love, pulse and breath with no cruel ending

***

 

HYMN TO A LOST CYNEFIN

I’ll meet you there in the sweet by and by

in that old camp ground in the sky

friends will gather by the old roof tree

leaning together yet free

 

Seems so far from my resting place

so long it was reft from me

we flew too fast for the Earthly pace

of soil and river and sea

 

We stood by the pires of fossilised years

far from our earthly home

grown rich in the trading of future tears

selling rights of those to come

 

I’ll meet you there in that old camp ground

where all that is lost is found

We’ll gather there in the sweet by and by

in the arms of earth and sky

***

 

SONG BORROWED FROM THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND

A glass for my old market town

and for her every trade

De-spend the stifling retail park

Re-spend what she has made

Let money flow through pub thresh-holds

to stalls on market days

Let church and mosque and temple ring

the old convivial ways

 

You know I believe its easy

Yes I believe its easy

Know I believe it’s easy my love

Don’t even have to try

 

Here’s health to every ingenious skill

which senses its terrain

A curse for limp dependency

on blind-fold corporate chains

Re-spend people into town

De-spend the motorway

to a distant wage for fruitless ends

where self-respect can’t stay

 

You know I believe its easy

Yes, I believe its easy

You know I believe its easy, my love

Don’t even have to try

 

A glass to fruits of woods and fields

in hands of those who’ll tell

what seasons bring from where and how

whose skills made what they sell

A glass to folk in concert halls

in theatre and cafe

May every season’s festival sing

the old convivial ways

 

You know I believe its easy

Yes, I believe its easy

You know I believe its easy, my love

Don’t even have to try

***

 

TO THE TUNE OF MY CREOLE BELLE

I love the hand – that was dealt to me

It holds far more – than I’ll ever be

Though I chose more wrong – than I chose right

It gave brightest days – for deepest night

 

When we unclasped, – that hand we held

to choose dead time – for power’s oil-geld

the allotted place – that was given to Man

was flushed away – as black gold ran

 

My dearest friends – all we were given

was cast aside – our hopes were driven

to empires made – by fossilised years

we chose blind power – and future tears

 

I love the hand – that was dealt to me

it gave me my part – of complexity

cultures are made – by common sense

that what we do – has consequence

 

Choose bright Earth – and walk away

from fires of Man – to that happy day

when species swell – in one Earth song

and we find the space – to at last belong

 

Home and hearth – is where it began

We love our fire – just because we can

We must out-law – that deepest right

to have bright new days – for darkest night

***

The Source

My muse, you are where all life lives

The future’s source

You are the gauge to test all knowledge

Font of experience

Long years we were alien to you

In narcissistic histories

Now, contrite I stoop to you

For all we do is by your light

 

My consequence is in your being

For better and for worse

From you alone the future springs

In lovely day or darkest night

 

You are heart-beat and sap-flow

Breath of the world

You are sunrise and sunset

Noon-sweet shade

You are fierce tides surging

Over rolling stones

You are lives evolving

As species cascade

You are the vanished calling

From sensual moments

When all life happens

And futures are made

***

 

Song caught by the grave of Christina Rossetti

Let’s join the caravan from here to there

From fantasy to earth my friend

Feel sun on your face and wind in your hair

Let sensual truth ascend

 

How far is the place we truly belong?

It touches our feet and sings

Were we here when communities first made their songs?

Summer, Winter and Spring?

 

You trod on this soil and broke its bread

And in forests not of your making

You stepped by the codes of the filial dead

Wood songs drew your singing

 

Does the road lead uphill? It seems so far

From law and wage and schooling?

There are no miles to where you are

Let them go. End your fooling

 

Greed of wealth made law and school

To supress how we’d respond

To soil and plant and water ruled

By other laws and bonds

 

There are no miles to our common home

But a foot-worn way of seeing

Where mile-full, fenced exclusions roam

And we trespass our own being

 

 

Where lives are ruled by nothingness

And the sensual world is lost

And deepest loves are meaningless

And life is hung with frost

 

Not of cold, but heat-frozen time

Fires of fossilised years

Man ascending a dead energy climb

To gas and ashes and tears

 

Relax into soils of home my friend

There is no journey there

It is where life begins and ends

Finite, true and fair

***

Folk Song

As I rode out to plough, one morning

Voices of Centuries chimed with my call

Summoned soil and ox and iron bringing

Culture to nature this side of the Fall

 

Property comes with disarray

“Wealth accumulates men decay”

 

As I walked out in the fields one morning

Grass webs caught dew and harvested light

And every sound was of small birds singing

And from every step rose holy delight

 

Landlords came ripping people from land

Money from wool sacks killed husbandry’s hand

 

Now property and usury stalk the field

Without touch, or scent, or sight, or sound

Lord is the market. Money the yield.

Ghosts of destruction shroud holy ground

 

Gaseous blankets from fires, each hour

Smother where people and nature can flower

 

Now millions of sequestered years will burn

And billions of living fields are dead

Enclosure is blind and deaf to the urn

Of the loved and lost and mistreated

 

Living Earth – living people – one and indivisible

Holy soil, holy crops, holy sensible, wholly visible

 

(then joyous fiddle and any other instrument for joy) 

***

Boogaloo Water

Standin’ by the water doin’ the boogaloo dance

Time came rolling in – we didn’t stand a chance

Water’s standin’ over – my heart and my place

Time came rollin’ in playin’ the boogaloo base.

 

Do the boogaloo yahoo yeha!

Fiddle, squeeze box, harmonica, mandolin, base (Doing the boogaloo)

 

Water washed over my beans and my corn

Boogaloo dancin’ where I was raised ‘n born

Boogaloo dancin’ where old folks are restin’

Time came rollin’ in playin’ wild mandolin

 

Do the boogaloo yahoo yeha!

Fiddle, squeeze box, harmonica, mandolin, base (Doing the boogaloo)

 

It’s broken all the sluices an’ is headed down below

Bruin’ wild boogaloos, reapin’ what we sow.

Scales of boogie justice put us all in the riddle

Time came rollin’ in playin’ harmonica and fiddle

 

Do the boogaloo yahoo yeha!

Fiddle, squeeze box, harmonica, mandolin, base (Doing the boogaloo)

 

Seems the best we folk can do is do boogaloo dancin’

‘N join the water flow. There ain’t no second chancin’

‘N join the water flow learnin’ river’s ol’ romance

Time came rollin’ in livin’ the boogaloo dance

 

Do the boogaloo yahoo yeha!

Fiddle, squeeze box, harmonica, mandolin, base (Doing the boogaloo)

***

A Carol (dancing song)

 

Sweet Mother Nature, give me room to stand

As people once looked back at lost Doggerland

 

Sweet Mother nature how much can I bring?

What size is the plot to let small birds sing?

 

Sweet Mother Nature, I’ve plucked Adam’s desires

I’ve rape you and pillaged as my status requires

 

Sweet Mother Nature, you are haemorrhaging

Rood tree! My slave-tree! I’ve sent no offering

 

Who am I?

Everyman

What do I?

The can-can

The two-step

The if I can then you can

The giant step

 

I’ve stepped in the rose-garden – the honey-suckle bower

Each species selected for a pleasurable hour

 

I’ve feasted on selections for the finest cuisine

And trashed all the rest by an oil-fed machine

 

Sweet Mother Nature

I’ve no space

No cure

No embrace

No daughter

No son

No laughter

My name is Man

Of the can-can

My name is oblivion.

 

***

Good Time Rock ‘n Roll with the Addition of Jamaican beach music

Nothin’ anybody can do

Nothin’ anybody can say

My doin’ don’t belong to you

Gonna do it anyway

(musicians – tambourine, tin drum, wash-board, mandolin, clarinet, trumpet…)

Y’ doin’ don’t belong to me

Nothin’ that I can say

I’ve gotta learn to see

Y’ gonna do it anyway

(musicians as above, but then quietening to Jamaican lilt)

Where I belong

The elders sing

Eternal songs

Of all belonging

 

Livin’ time

‘s mine to hand

By livin’ rhyme

Where children stand

 

Inhabit commons

Of good behaviour

Time summons

Digger and leveller.

 

Enclosures shade

The ingenious view

Cultures are made

By what people do

 

Please come away

To scents and sounds

Bird-song dawn

Sea-shore day

 

Fields and woods

Where life is found.

Common good

Is common ground

 

Nothin’ anybody can do – & etc… (Refrain and return of rock ‘n roll)

***

 

This from 1990 something – Anorak

Anorak 2

Romantic coastal landscape through a Claude-glass again….

And it seemed that all we`d worked for ebbed away

in the ebb and flow,

of Blair`s sublunary yet lunar sway.

We let it go,

though we never loved the violence of his tide,

we let it ride,

and lost all we`d valued in the undertow.

Well anyway,

these thoughts are branching veins in a roseate glow

and all we say

are leafless twigs in life`s liquid light.

An appetite

for conciliatory night pieces has flown away.

Abandon hope.

To survive, we stretch the truth and turning pay

out the rope

to Blair`s Bush-black wings in the dusking sky.

We`ll try.

Tonight, there`s no room to deny the Fall.

We`ve grown too tall.

Winter woods and fields cannot hold the Tide.

We`ll hide.

There`s no room for This Earth and the Cold Light of Day.

One must stay.

There`s no room for both Hope and the W.T.O..

One must go.

***

 

Old Song

In the valley of the restless mind,

as I stood musing on the moon

and serious faces left behind

and embarrassments both late and soon,

I heard one moan, “She`s such a dish

`s why you find me here. `s for love I languish.”

Ah yes, I said and share my drink

from eastern sloping terra-firma,

though feet slip gently off the brink,

wine`s soil and sun`ll infuse a humour

to float grief and loss and other rubbish

quietly at anchor, mellowing the wildest wish.

“Great – thanks. Why not? I`ll swig that bottle.

It`s so long since I`ve had my end away.

She says I should read more Aristotle,

(pragmatically) or float above it Plato`s way,

but because memory of it`s far from fresh,

I can`t draw my mind from her human flesh.”

And so we sat watching shooting stars,

as owls t`witted to their mate`s t`woos

and beetles droned their way and from far –

rams were grumbling among the ewes.

And we composed odes to oblivion and sang,

as modern blokes do, and all our echoes rang,

in all terrains from mountain or from mead.

Dear God, The very darkness seemed awake

wherever simple tunes had sown a seed.

All solitary things in nature howled their stake

in the indignity and lonely chaos of defeat,

wherever studious, moon-struck, disembodied voices meet.

***

Drinking Song

Here`s to Giant Steps on our lovely Moon,

early in the Last Century`s afternoon,

which remain, even now to hold the tune`s

intoxicant.

 

To Contemporary Concern I make my pledge.

Campion and stitchwort in the hedge

are so full  for Twenty-first Century knowledge,

they are vibrant.

 

Here`s rank water for those to whom new forms come,

to mutate Creation to the critic`s forum,

like an Ofsted child to a learning outcome.

I rant

 

and raise my glass to where Arcady stood.

“Rivive our seminary with curious blood:

fresh as the blue-bells in the wood,

and fragrant.”

 

For New Generation, New Art, but such dullness is strewn

on pavements to promising forms, that may soon…….

Oh form`s but technology to catch a bright tune.

I decant

 

my vain sorrow into this old instrument:

a re-cycled form that catches it`s content

on glad roads to Hell, with such indolent intent,

it`s pleasant.

 

Happiness is a large, though nebulous plant,

pushing horizontal, peculiar shaddows aslant,

as my base drone calls to it`s lunar descant.

***

 

 

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