Noch feiert Tod das Leben /
Death Still Celebrates Life
In the women’s ward
turned to stone,
still drips with melting memory
of what precedes all time.
A voice from far away
is locked within the amber light.
celebrates that long-
The others comb their hair
Outside, the ravens
spread their midnight wings.
Outside my window in the sand:
stones – moss – a strand or two of rotting greenery –
a rope that looks as if
some crazy songbird’s beak
has savaged it –
a broken mirror representing all our hopes betrayed –
How should one read this Orestes?
O all those fathers
all those mothers lost!
And all those blood-
So many refuse-
Let me confess:
the mindless handiwork of humankind en masse
gives me the creeps –
the conversation of two orphan minds
freed for a moment
from their normal lumpen individuality:
To wash and dress: our funerals begin this way.
A sudden breeze, a door that slams –
our myths are many-
the windfall of forgotten dreams.
Our destitute communion’s
born from thunder-
Yet even when, all homesick longing past,
the corpse is wrapped
and laid out limp upon the slab,
there’s still a deeper truth
which death in vain may seem to veil:
beyond the silence
of the very darkest night, our shared
reception in the promised land on high.
an operatic mime.
their anguish flames in vast nocturnal silence.
Sleep can only half dissolve it
as a magic tablet
on the tongue.
Wild arias expiring in their breath.
of blackened blood –
And yet – hosanna!
Hear the cock-
as late enlightenment
at last cuts through –
See this snow-
propped upon her old companionable stick
this homesick bloom
of near a hundred years
these lips still smacking
on the mother’s milk of night
these blue eyes blindly piercing to the depths
A flock of final fluttering farewells
now congregate around
and eager bride –
fugitive, into the air – unblinkered, see,
a stallion dragging at his chain of days, one fired
with obsession lifts up hands in prayer, alight,
to where – yes, even now – the borders of delirium
are open to a man of peace.
Here, in these high Himalayas of his anguish,
on the child’s-
of both sides
fills the sky, a proper blush
to ornament the mornings and the evenings to come.
All wreathed in oven-
and, as the moon’s propitious, conjures up,
from fallen acorns, coffee –
whilst the mountain opens for the saint,
who tucks his coat-
and, to combat the shadows, sticks a star or two upon his hat –
his aim to stoke the ghetto-
of scholar and of fool
into an ever-
The year is doubled up in labour.
to sizzle in the comet’s tail,
its flayed days trailing, drifting from
reality, and down, into the mass grave, sleep.
The landlord in his peasant boots,
who hears the panic-
one moment’s running up to heaven, and,
the next, is down again to serve his guests.
Whoever wants asylum looks to him, he makes himself
available – his soul expands, absorbs eternity.
And lo, it’s night – night laden
with explosive wakefulness and
shameful ticking fear – yet still
the Baal Shem can outface it, as
his steadfast gaze sews life and death
together with a thread of grace.
outdoes the dark
and, dancing now, the saint takes up the song
that spread and sprouted in their blood,
the solar incandescence of their pain.
To all with faith enough to look
beyond the standard astral measurements of time
he offers visionary moments,
twinklings of a practised eye,
truths captured in a place of tears.
She glides in melancholy orbit
crowned the queen of various Milky Ways –
so in the mouth
of one who’s blessed above the cross
the letters wage their murderous civil war –
or she descends upon a golden thread of sunlight
with her weeping smile a gift
to penetrate the shadows of this barred-
On the utmost tip of a spit of land:
life under curfew.
Here beneath our addict-
Saint Francis – and Baal Shem – transgressive hungerers
forever shining in the void –
The mount of Olives is a single cry
a prayer that wrenches rocks apart
that stains the very music of the spheres.
In every human dialect
the Holy Spirit bleeds –
We bystanders hang back
our feet are dry
we hear the prayers of the plungers-
go floating by upon the wind.
The weaver here is Oceana
goddess of the night:
she’s launched her racing shuttles on their way.
The waters rise
the vein of gold goes under.
Holiness has sunk beyond our sight.
How should one diagnose
Is this perhaps that regal theme:
‘How blest are they who’re minus everything’?
relic of the Andes:
has rendered you a sign of resurrection
to the complex inter-
of History –
an undissolved initiate
into the Father’s dark domain –
Here – yet also there –
you are –
remote as flesh can be –
evoking all that’s fathomless –
In your immunity
from all the ordinary ills of time
for the nightmare-
As emissary to this suicidal modern world
and twisted pyramids
a mute yet cogent victim-
Death still celebrates
the life in you:
its hapless sheer careering twistedness
blown ever further from your childhood world
of ticking clocks
and out beyond all thought of remedy –
A strange disquiet starts to spread
and chair and bed fall victim to an oceanic swell –
begins to jiggle in the lock
the door unbolts itself –
with great éclat
the starry sisterhood proclaims
that Holy One
who floods our veins with fresh-
and toils to irrigate our fevered dreams –
Betrothed before the world began
she wears her limpid silence as a ring –
a kiss of her beloved dwells in this blue sky.
Her veins a trawler’s net,
she sweeps the depths.
Her wordless love ascends the scale.
She is the jack-
One who when abandoned
loves enough for both –
a citizen of heaven come what may –
Her frayed wounds let the sawdust run
yet she remains unmoved.
She eats the Sabbath left-
she twirls the ring.
Its gemstone speaks of light-
in sparks of oceanic swell.
And in the swell so many souls
are swept up, sharing in her being-
even in the mirror-
still unfolding space
then, the grand detour through warring dogmas,
dust to dust –
to smash the shadows,
hold the nightmares back –
A child is playing in a meadow, there’s a box-
in the corner there, which somehow smells of death.
So creativity begins, right from the start,
Beyond the basic practicalities:
lurid alchemy of dreams –
O little sister –
me as I once was
remembering my childhood horrors
Punch and Judy and the scarlet Hangman,
now, as I draw near to actual death –
observe – my prayers sink into a dawning void –
Insanity: a cancelled
winds uprooting all that stands –
a crystal room of mirrored make-
in multiple refracted images –
no maps but such as serve astronomers
and no way out
unless the weeping cherubim descend –
A stroll around the park –
to leave behind the restless hospital routine,
its constellating numbers, names and arrows,
all its purgatorial ways,
negotiated settlements with death –
and out into the open air –
with something of a skipping motion almost –
miming my participation
in delirious spring:
the whispered stir – the scents – the show –
My feet have learnt the dreamy art of loitering
from nightmare memories of panic-
Thus David danced
in answer to the miracle
enshrined within the ark –
A stroll –
upon the secrets of the gathering tempest-
vast emptiness of endless possibility
before God spoke
now marvellously re-
in this bubbling-