On such a day
A million words
Would fall far short:
A world of tongues
Could never conjure
Enough to say it all.
So I’ll content myself
With this short, bitter shot
Slammed in one
Chased with salt and lemon;
Taste the acid sting
And let it burn deep down.
Storm gathers over Albion. The realm
Is riven and corrupted: reckless rogues
Have seized it for themselves, and sold it cheap
To unseen powers and shadows. We are lost.
Where now is Arthur, once and future king;
What of his pledge to rise again in days
Of dreadful need and peril, and return
With shining sword to save us from ourselves?
Let word go out to Avalon; a plea
For aid and comfort in these fractured times:
Shake off the sleep of centuries, and ride
To drive the rot and ruin from our land.
A land undone, of hope and truth bereft,
Where only myth and fantasy are left.
The myth of King Arthur’s messianic return to save England from dire distress first appeared in 1125AD (and it was an old tale even then) when it was set down by the Anglo-Norman historian William of Malmesbury. Despite there being no documentary, archaeological or other credible evidence that Arthur ever existed, the story and its prophecy remain potent; and if ever there was a moment when Rex quondam, rexque futurus was called for, it’s now. Plus, let’s face it: is the resurrection of a fictional 6th-Century monarch any more far-fetched, or less likely to happen, than the deluded fantasies our present so-called leaders are pursuing? N.
Build me a ship; bid it bear me away
Beneath a broad white sail, across the sea
To some far distant island with no name,
Then burn it on the strand, and let the wind
Swirl high the ashes, leave no trace behind.
No grief nor hesitation; I would leave
Soon as the tide allowed and not look back,
But will my vessel onward with all speed;
Or else condemn myself to live confined
By phantom walls weak, frightened men defined.
Can we call
What we feel
For this melange
Of odd-shaped tubes and angles
And spider’s webs spun in silver steel
An asymmetric passion:
But no shared laughter, tedium or pain;
Enduring the same wild weather
Yet it knows no cold or drop of sweat;
And passing through
Those freezing instants
When time slows and life shrinks
To fractured bits of inches
And scattered shards of seconds
It alone is left untouched
By fear, and all that follows.
This bloodless, wordless better half
Makes us greater than ourselves;
Transports us back to lighter, swifter days,
Revives old glories
Banishes our ghosts
And pries time’s grasping fingers
From our limbs and hearts.
And if to be as one
Wanting nothing more
Content and all complete
Then I have found a form of it
And will go with it
To the end.
Midnight Blue for the hours of sleepless melancholy; Black Permanent for days that dawn dark and stubbornly stay that way. Corn Poppy Red for fiery exchanges with the universe, and testy tirades at my own imperfections; Golden Yellow to summon the sunshine back. Oyster Grey for cool reflections and to shape the world in my own way; Irish Green for mystery and mischief. Sober Toffee Brown for study and chewing matters over; sumptuous Lavender Purple for grand, imperious prose. And sometimes I’ll fill up for days or months with my favourite Invisible. Just to keep them guessing.
The river is gorged on days of rain; consistency of soup, colour of coffee. Barely contained, boisterous and rowdy, it barrels through town, boiling in froth as it shoots the bridge, snatching up tangles of twigs and branches, bright-coloured plastic, bottles and beer-cans, odd bits of litter, any duck not quite paying attention, and hurling them down its own throat as it roars its wild way to its mouth. But I recall summer, when this noisy delinquent was a starveling shadow, thin as a wand, sticks and stones like ribs and bones staring through its pale, dirty skin. Oh yes, it’s big now, bold and rambunctious, and nothing dares stand in its way. But wait till the sun is back in full fire, the brown fields are gasping and the sky is a bowl of blue steel. It won’t be so full of itself then.
A too-brief day, and now the longest night
Has fallen. Turns the year, and so we stand
Out on the edge, as strangers to the light
That lately warmed our faces, hearts and land.
How carelessly we passed those long, bright days;
Beneficence we took for granted, thought
Would never end. We did not stop to gaze
In wonder on their beauty as we ought.
And now those days are all gone down. The wheel
Has slowly and inexorably rolled –
Implacable, stern, deaf to all appeal –
Down to this place of sunless, shadowed cold.
We must hold fast, though all hope seems forlorn.
The darkest hour descends before the dawn.