pontiflex maximus

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Pontiflex Maximus
bridge of worlds
from life to death
from death to life
what price pays my crossing
but that of innocent blood
beside the Tiber?
What coin for Charon
to turn the heavy craft away?
Greatest priest
make a way for me over the
furious tide that sweeps me
from my grave
make a way for me across the
sacred waters
and set this slave free.

sacred allegory

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You too within this dream
of a thousand allegories,
you too upon the shining
terrazzo stage,
sebastian standing,
elegantly pierced
by love or lust (or both)
and watching, your accuser,
your torturer, your lover,
demurely draped
in darkest shades of mourning.

You too upon the warm fabled earth,
the gold-ochred ground,
and how the light bleeds into everything!
siennese light compelling examination,
forensic exegesis of hidden moralities,
even the burnt bitter dark
umbrian shadows,
where mystics hide
and Judas
and the uncertain satyr
steal silently away.

Venetian red runs through
your veins, your artful heart,
and the lake beyond this stark-lit stage
is flat and calm and familiar
as the grand canal;
the golden hills
are palaces for Arcadian doges,
and gentle is the breeze that stirs
vanishing elms
upon elegiac hillsides.

Illumin’d by love,
wraiths of lovers embrace
upon the far-lit shore
beneath the city on the hill
half heaven, half earth;
and children shake the boughs
of the darkest tree
and play with the fallen,
golden fruit
without fear,
or consequence.

after the fall

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After the fall
the dawn came in
wreathed like a bride,
swan’s down on snow’s breath,
cloud’s crest on hoar hill,
white on white on white,
new shines the land-light,
and white the revelation
descended, new-drifted,
from clouds clear
and topazine.

How unfamiliar it seems,
the cataract sky,
the half-white trees
pointed in lightness
and pure crystal brightness.
The paths are gone,
the land as new as
where no foot trod,
only the sheer expanse
of oblivious whiteness
holds close the brilliant day;
and i draw on the blankness,
the newness,
the ethereal lightness,
and imagine a new soul
tabula rasa,
erased and re-erased.
God, to be remade
Like the day at dawning
When the quiet light comes
And steals the night away!
To be white as the new fallen,
heaven-light angel-drifted snow,
to be new and to
wonder at the wonder,
at the transforming,
to sleep and be changed
by the pale winter morning
and to dream, to hope,
to say, that the dream
would come and stay at last
this morning
after the fall.

The whiteness of a whale,
breaking new stars
in sheer waters,
the whiteness rising
and fair stars singing
in the broad tree of heaven,
blazing like Blake’s angels
out on Peckham rye,
singing from the firmament
of his fathomless,
prophetic eye.
This pure white vision
overthrows me,
lifts me and transports me
out beyond this ordinary,
extraordinary day,
snow-blind apparitions
move me,
as faith moves the
immovable foundations
of the world
in tectonic shifts of spirit,
falling like new snow
at midnight,
to be transformed
by dreams of love
that will not depart,
that will not
let us go.

au lapin agile

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after the ecstacy
au lapin agile,
the quiet walk home
in grey light;
after the gypsy guitars’
relentless joy,
after the chanteuses
and choruses of clowns,
after the poets and poseurs,
the painters and flaneurs,
(and who’s to say
who is who?)
pierrot;
dissolving like smoke
on the skyline
from brancusi chimneys
above the butte
de belle montmartre.

remembrance

Explorations of Beauty and Decay


‘in loving remembrance charles gawain raleigh hunter,
lieutenant 2nd battalion the kings own yorkshire regiment,
killed in action at ypres 25th april 1915 aged 21 years,
beloved son of capt and mrs w g hunter.

‘and the spirit shall return to god who made it’

so long the dream of youth
spun from the blood-red love
of the heart for the heart,
and the flesh for the flesh,
whispers to the coming night
elegies of a summer’s day.
beautiful boy,
charles gawain raleigh hunter,
fresh from the shires,
oak of oaks,
flower of flowers,
commissioned on your
seventeenth birthday;
for king and country, regiment,
and the burden of entitlement,
you threw yourself away
so bravely,
so gladly,
so defiantly
on that hell-mired field
of speechless slaughter
that april morn
after the inundations
of flame and thunder,
and the beautiful,
deathly
grass-green mists
that rolled in on
the mourning breeze.
how selflessly you fell,
defying them all
the invisible foe,
the hateful hun,
and never let the men see
that you too were
terrified
in your proud young heart,
and that with your passing
god,
king,
country,
and captain w hunter
should never
smile again.

the ivy head

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in the bare wood
the ivy-head shakes 
its shining
green-dark locks,
time from the boughs
and christmas’ 
timeless saturnalia
comes and goes,
the parties end,
the children grow,
the parents older,
the weight of memory
more burdensome,
while in the wood
the sacred bough
new-gathered,
cut, still undying,
taunts gawain
with its 
endless,
remorseless,
regeneration.

i saw you rise

i saw you rise
from the swollen ocean
teeming fishes
in your hair,
i saw you dance
from your darkest moment,
graceful in your measured air.
fly my angel
from these waters
where memory erased you
long ago,
and bound you deep
in hidden darkness
and blind hazard
crossed you cursed below.
rise my angel
from the calm unknowing,
from the quiet betrayal
of lost divinity,
fly blind icarus
ever dancing,
from these depths
and set us free.