down the islands

the shine of emerald from steady growth

hides from us the smiling face of hell

we have the sunshine and the shadow both

the odour of fresh roses and the smell

of  rot and dung and none is truly hid

from those who want to look but none will tell

any large truths although if any did

there’s none who’d care or have a thing to say

since honest folk have fallen from the grid

and cultivate their gardens for the day

that they have left before the storm appears

out of the sea and sweeps the waste away

making things clean for one or two brief years

until the forest can return to place

and under branches we see the old fears

laughing and dancing and seeking embrace

of their old kingdom and their ancient arts

while on the hill some old fool says disgrace

and others tell false stories of their parts

in different dramas on this very scene

and in the process corrupt many hearts

twisting and turning away from the mean

those who had come out of the chill of night

and taken joy in the clear morning green

knaves leave their streaks wherever there is light


calculated puzzle

so in the night we watch as hatred breeds
no one says what they want the most to say
or counts the number of the evil seeds

that will produce a flower in coming day
not much is thought of but the urgent shout
that calls on each to get out of the way

requires that we put aside every doubt
and leave behind all hope of swift return
since this is power we cannot dare to flout

and we do not have any chance to earn
the thanks of those we guard or those we keep
from seeing how the world must rage and burn

in all its ecstacy of empty sleep
there’s no place now for any to escape
we are sunk now and gone in far too deep

our minds and bodies too far out of shape
for any effort to redeem the past
we started human and are below ape

began the first and now are very last
driven by what we thought was divine fire
we could not be sustained against the blast

of just an ordinary mundane desire
to leave behind the painful human plight
where it belongs down in the muck and mire

and for a little while live in the light

out of the dark wood

what in the dark flies flutters and goes out
beyond those trees and so far beyond the river
there is a message left a sign a shout

your heart is what we send what you deliver
is something more that you desire we leave
beyond the simple shard and sharp small sliver

that pierces what we guard and makes us grieve
for what we could not hold and what we left
as blood and water flow out through the sieve

those are the ones who know they are bereft
before we see the flags dip and the pain
of those who fail in their part of the heft

so long have we been waiting for the rain
but no king comes and we cannot now heal
honour and pride both go against the grain

your only task is to adore and kneel
as all the dancers run away and hide
before the sight of all that shiny steel

there is no room for dignity or pride
so much we lost when we gave up our grip
around us now the vicious kindred ride

who do not care for any sound of lip
but want us simply swiftly to obey
their heavy and maleficent proud whip

we call that just another working day
and let the glass crack into many shards
these are the things that get into the way

there is a way but none that the god guards
that each one knows and no one hostile bars
each self considers what justice regards

and in the silence looks up at the stars

growing up

this is red earth we can’t remove the stain
no matter time spent on the washing board
our solemn purpose goes against the grain

of what we wanted remade or restored
by concrete action after rapid thought
since there’s so much that we cannot afford

unless by our own efforts it’s been wrought
before the coming of the hoped-for storm
that consummation which we have long sought

but to the tale the truth is there’s no form
in which we can present the honest case
that does not quickly move far from the norm

we seek the recognition in each face
to let us know that we have made it safe
into the country of our dwelling place

against so many bonds we have to chafe
to find ourselves at the start of the road
with better hope than has the homeless waif

who too soon finds she cannot read the code
although it’s written in an ink so black
that any who could reach a sure abode

would hope that none could see the path or track
nor be led onward by a clever nose
since it is never easy to turn back

once you have set upon the way of those
who give you hope that you can play a rôle
that sets you higher than your erstwhile foes

in early morning you won’t see a soul
who has no purpose just like yours to keep
and isn’t aiming at a similar goal

the ones who pose the greatest danger sleep
and only you are left to walk so far
and venture into oceans as deep

and into countries that are as bizarre
as any that are dreamt by those that smoke
from the green pipe or use the fat cigar

but that hard purpose serves as a mere cloak
over the shape of hopes that no undue
choices will lead to renewal of yoke

upon the one who merely seeks to view
the many realms that come from joyful art
old as mankind but each life will renew

the hope that’s proper to each human heart
and keeps it light and ready still to glow
when each of us will play our honest part

in doing more than putting on a show
that will reward most at the start of night
and thus ensure that each who plays may go

forward with certainty into the light