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Sunday, 13 October 2019

Gate (Without Chains)

I
I did not cross the bridge
For I remembered last year
When your mood overpowered me
You
You have not been with me so so often this time
Though when you do arrive
You do so with no less a force of magnitude

I had no choice
There were several hours
To be disturbed, distracted
Overcome, and somehow defeated
So I did cross that bridge
I walked up the cart track
To the five-bar gate
Where, last year

I had, on three occasions
Left my camera case behind
But today I keep my eyes
Firmly focussed
On the leaf
And nutshell-strewn ground
Only at the top of the hill do I wheeze
Wishing to share another cigarette with you


Saturday, 12 October 2019

Sat In The Sensory Garden (Without You)

Early afternoon
On the second day
Of this short personal retreat
Although I have retreated
From anything but my senses

Right now I hear the gulls
And the loud raucous laughter
Of the studious young Americans
Though to be honest
I am unsure what drew them here

Only one or two
Made it into the Abbey
Only one really, on a regular basis
But I did see a vacant-looking girl
Walking by the river

And in the cafeteria
I overheard two young men
Discussing the purpose of their lives
I tell you, they had a great deal
Of street-wise verbose

Even if occasionally
They stumbled
As I also, so so often stumble
To find the right words
To make the sense of which I am after



Friday, 11 October 2019

Simpler Chapel (Still Without High Church)

That one smile
On that one face
That one fine place
To cause such mischief

That one time
On that one clock
That one sharp shock
To cause such mischief

That one sound
On that one wall
That one late last call
To cause such mischief

That one scent
From that one flower
That one strong power
To cause such mischief

That one breath
On that one nape nerve
That one distinct verve
To cause such mischief


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Complex Chapel (Without High Church)

That one smile
On that one face
That one irreducible place
To cause such mischief

That one time
On that one clock
That one irredeemable shock
To cause such mischief

That one sound
On that one wall
That one irretrievable last call
To cause such mischief

That one scent
From that one flower
That one irresponsible power
To cause such mischief

That one breath
On that one nape nerve
That irreplaceable verve
To cause such mischief



Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Pictured (Without Being Framed)

I take photographs
To remind me of the light
To remind me of the season
To remind me of the vulnerability
To say to me
How good it would be if you were here
Sat, on this bench
As we sat on that bench, in Bilbao

Although today
At least here anyway
There are no flâneurs
There are no locals
Walking out to share a life
Dressed in their Sunday best
Deep in communal conversation
As though there really was no tomorrow

Of course, unlike some
We still have all, or at least most
Yes, for certain, some of our tomorrows
Which may well require a form of closer scrutiny
Perhaps a lazy, laconic, poetry video
Of the leaves, slowly drifting to the ground
At Buckfastleigh, or Buckfast Abbey
In the autumn of two-thousand-and-sixteen


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Breakout (Without Breakthrough)

Everywhere there is beauty
Then, from time to time
One steps into a quiet place
Where the light shines less brightly

Of course, by now
I choose not to, that is not on purpose
To visit the darkness too too often
But you know, love, love will have its way

Just as the moss grows
On the tarmacadam path
And the discarded leaves rot
Beside the forsaken branches

Could I just say, that there is room for two
On this fine, and sturdy bench
Constructed from concrete and oak
Fixed to the floor with galvanised brackets

You may sit here, to listen to the river
Also to absorb the aircraft noise from overhead
Which may once well have transported you
Back to the place of your birth



Monday, 7 October 2019

Rub Of The Green (Without Calling Time)

I rubbed the mint between my fingers
Then smelt the tangy aroma
I was transported
To the gardens at Sewerby
Which of course led me to thoughts
Of the cricket field
And our walks, also our sitting there
The purifying scent also reminded me
Of how I have neglected the herbs
In our own garden
For it is not enough
To simply buy the cuttings
And the contemporary containers

One, so I see now
Must gift love, and care
If one is ever to understand
How to nurture nature…
Then back into the Abbey
For Sunday's Conventual Mass
Which to my surprise, though not entirely
(For I know of the pretence for providence)
Is a full congregation, of over fifty people
All the pews populated as the monks enter
For their main event of the week

I get a twinge in my elbow, as I write that
Part of me wants not to stay
For I don't in truth really belong
Nor do I even feel entirely comfortable here
No, I am happier, in the early morning half-light
With the minimalist, escapologist crowd
So I do leave:
I am taking someone else's space
Is how I justify my absenteeism, wasn't it always thus


Sunday, 6 October 2019

Revitalise (Without Revision)

It is almost November
The fallen leaves
Are amusingly blown
Scattered across the cobbles
The unsettled skies clouds drift slowly
Before occasionally opening
To allow the warmth of the sun
To fall upon me

I am sat in the Lavender Garden
At Buckfast Abbey
Just now I have to squint
To shield my eyes from the bright sunlight

The long shadows, from the herbs
And the flowers, edge towards me
They edge
Towards disappearing altogether actually

Shortly I will move into the chapel
Or maybe I will go there
After Conventual Mass
Which today will take place a little later
Because for one thing it is a Sunday
Also because
Sometime during the night
Someone gifted me one extra hour for my sleep



Saturday, 5 October 2019

Rest (Without Rest)

And in this way I rested
By rising early
Taking tea, and biscuits
Sharing Vigils with the Benedictine Monks
Walking to the door
Beside the one, who twirled his rosary beads

Outside, in the new day's light
A short walk
To the Physic Garden
There to read the notes
And to rub the leaves of mint between my fingers
Then to retrace my path

To climb a few stone steps
Take a photograph
Of the Abbey, and the oak tree
From a slightly raised vantage point
Before returning inside
Taking my seat, then writing a few words

Of praise
Of scorn
Almost with a complete
Lack of reasoned understanding
Even with the book of Lauds
Opened and resting, in the palm of my hands


Friday, 4 October 2019

Later (Without Being Late)


Sunday morning Vigils
Also the clocks have moved
By one hour, into winter-time
So indeed, two extra hours sleep

And three people
On the front benches already
The calling bells have been rung
Also there is an owl, joyously hooting



Thursday, 3 October 2019

Yours (Without Hours)

A man, in a long raincoat
I guess he is here, with his wife
Here, more for the recital
Than for the Vespers

They look like a couple
Of well-to-do Europeans
(Did we used to say foreigners)
Yes, they appear to be reasoned, cultured tourists

The bells chime to signify
That there are three minutes to go
A little bit like the last call
At the Theatre Royal

Yet with only five patrons
Thus far in the congregation
I don't expect there to be much
Of a last minute rush


Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Towards Brabeny (Without End)

It feels good to be on higher ground
It feels good to think of you, loving me
For now I can take in the vast horizon
I can countenance the cold wind
Ruffling my hair, and my papers
I can believe that, yes
Those rainclouds may bring rain
But not until the shafts of sunlight
On that faraway, seaward, elliptical skyline
Have lit up our day
No, neither the dull of the decaying ferns
Nor the white-death of the bramble
Can hold back the excitement
Nor the energy
Of the future
For the man who has found love



Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Negative Potential (Without Power)

To put myself out there, alone
With the environmental waveforms
Circulating and vibrating, to the tune
Of the exponentially raw passion

Such that in the search for this apparent stillness
It is the search for the unseen which is seen
It is the search for the not felt which is felt
Felt mostly by oneself

It is the beat
Of the bouncing psycho-rhythms
Which cycle through my body
Then, as one ventures, into the lower reaches

Those deeper features
Of love, of loss, of leverage, and of latitude
Which criss-cross, and zig-zag their way
Over, and beyond, and before the gratitude

Such that to find a balance, in the stillness
To find a calm, in the seen, and in the unseen
To find love, felt or not felt is one job of a thing
One job of a thing, to be left all unto itself


Monday, 30 September 2019

Sat (Without Silence)

There is no bench to sit upon
To look directly at the back of the Abbey
Though I am able to tell you

That by turning slightly, and looking over my shoulder
I can see the substantial, gold-leaf, clock fingers
Which, even from this distance, I can make out

That they are saying that it is just after eleven-thirty
On this, fine, one might even say exquisite
Autumnal Saturday Morning

Of course there is noise, even the great Abbeys
Need the service of stand-by-generators
For those times of electricity power cuts

Once it might have been a water-driven turbine
Situated on the surging River Dart
Which flows alongside fairly briskly

But then, with such propensity
Of trees and fallen leaves
One might have thought

That a champion of biodiversity
Could have hatched a quieter form
Of extraction, extrapolation, and exploitation

Whatever, the birds still chirp and chatter
Enquiring children
Ask their parents all manner of questions

Some of which, the monks
Who will also have sat here
Would no doubt have been able to answer

With their very own
One hopes, well thought out
And ever more dignified, soulful responses



Sunday, 29 September 2019

Nothing (Without Anything)

It is oh so so difficult
To remember you
When you offer nothing whatsoever in return

Though, as if coming here
To sit beside falling water
Would do anything, but add
To the sorrow of separation

I once was a complicated soul
Yet, right now, I don't believe
That I ever did deny that
Although, yes, you might well say

That I have become
Even more deeply enamoured
With the after-effects of duplicity
In my attempts at creative writing

But, inside
I feel to be a somewhat gentler soul
You see, I am happy
To sit here beside the river

To know that somewhere behind me
The star-shaped leaves
Are drifting, like angels, to the ground below
To let everyone know

That once our love most definitely touched
What oh so so many modern dreamers
Today still dream of


Saturday, 28 September 2019

Gathering (Without Departing)

In that instant
Of hearing that sweet voice
Then I too
Wanted to sing

I too
Wanted to be able
To express
My joy with this life

A nun
With her iPad
She was the first person
Into Conventual Mass

I had watched her
Walk across the concourse
In the first light
Of the brand new day

The bells tolled
Close to the gathering time
And I remembered
My last time of leaving this place

I had heard then their welcoming sound
Though at quite some distance
For I loaded my car
And oh, I so so ignominiously departed

I did not know then that I might return
But I have
And I may do so again
And again



Friday, 27 September 2019

Two More (Without Two To Follow)

It is approaching five-forty in the morning
There are two Monks here already
As a short peel of bells sound
Two new visitors enter, they sit on the front row
One to either side of the walkway
Two young men; one white, one coloured
Together we waited, in stuttered silence
For the first act of the day to begin

Two latecomers joined the congregation
We were six men now
But only I, had entered from the inner quarters
Vigils proceeded, with meticulous precision
Each Monk seemingly knowing their part
Of the week-worn routines
And the seamless stepped-out sequences
Of suggestion, and response

And of further suggestions, and more responses
And of readings
Even one from the Book of Wisdom
Then one from where I know not, but which spoke
Of God having given love in his own image
And of having gifted us Jesus
To make up for the disobedience of Adam
And his indiscreet apple biting


Thursday, 26 September 2019

Woken (Without Painkillers)

It is 05:24 when the bells begin to call us for Vigils
I have not had the best of night's sleep
I dreamt, many times, of being confused
In the rearrangement of my poetry

And I do, quite literally, mean, seeing the text
On the page; trying to move it
From one place to another place
Mostly to no avail, because more often than not
The words decided that they did not wish to be moved

I woke early, at just after 04:30 British Summer Time
I spent quite some time massaging my arm
Feeling for the aching parts, stretching out the muscles
Manipulating the tissue
As if somehow to aid the circulation

I do hope that my elbow is going to get better
At least I do have the feeling; I am able to massage
And to write about my visit to the Abbey at Buckfast
Or at Buckfastleigh, as many of the words deign to say