A CASE OF FIRE
One day when I was working
Some smoke got up my nostril
I left my things and went outside
As fast as I was able.
When I got outside the door
A man in strange attire
Was pouring petrol on the floor
And setting it on fire.
"Oy oy ahoy hey hoy" I said
As matches scrape and rustle
"Don't burn my house, you'll burn my house."
He said "I've studied Husserl".
"You studied Husserl well so what?"
Said I with eyeballs gleaming.
He said "He says the house you got
With money, has no meaning".
Said I "Ah now I get your point,
You mean, to put it cleanly,
All meaning is invested in
The act of our perceiving".
"The act of seeing, yes that's
(with earnest knowledge teeming)
"The bricks and mortar catch alight
But not the houses meaning".
"But Neddy lad" I answered back
"The main point you're not grasping.
'twas Plato's ideals, not Husserl's
that were from everlasting".
"What do you mean?" he answered
(but I could see it blinched him)
"You understand, you must" I said
"that change is now the lynch pin.
"Yes, change that all things suffer
(I stamped it on his cortex)
"look at my house, you'll see it just
one great big flaming vortex.
"What once meant house right now
tomorrow will mean ashes
It's true that meaning can't be burnt
It's also true it changes".
"O gosh," he said, "I see it now,
I've been and burned it outright.
I must have misconstrued the text.
I really am most contrite".
"That's quite all right," I answered
"Experience is boxwood,
And I have just now come to learn
The usefulness of Oxford."
"Not Ayer's lot?" he said distraught
(for he could see my learning)
I say "Since Oxford comes to naught
It never comes to burning".
Supine, pinned down by
The magnet of this tiny,
Huge round world
Obsidian tipped with flame
Then deep, quiet
Fathomless ocean night
Then sky-black space
Scattered like grains of sand
Fixed into maps of
Stillness and change
A perfect geometry
Wheels of pure power
Traced on the night- black
Darkness of receptive minds
Pinned to the desert floor
By hungry earthforce
Drawing her own
Back to her self
Subject to work and weakness
Pain, pleasure and cessation
Within this tiny tactile home
A dazzling rock
Change in the stillness
Patterned by creatures, clouds,
Heads of hair.
Her transparent whiteness
Breathing a subtle icy light
Calling the world with sibilant
Breath, half light, half dark
Rolling in her eternal chase
To catch and kill the Sun
Star-taught to count and scribe
Those watchers were the ancestors of these
Who play the subtle energies
Catch and direct the whispered light
With structures complex as their minds
Reading the record of the stars
Reach out and back
Into the deepness
Back to the centre
And the birth of Time
Immensity compressed into
A point without extent
A giant star become a grain of sand
Spacetime collapsed into Existence
The origin of which they cannot
Except as unity of being
Without extent or changing
That endless power
Of which the stars
The disc of earth
Our fragile forms,
even the pulse within our ears,
Even our aching limbs, are part.
Those ancient watchers are the
Of these who take the inward path
Straight as a shooting star
Slow as the moon
Unmoved by work and weariness
In and towards the Centre
In through the darkness of the self
In through the screaming redness
of imagined dreads
Down past the dread reality of death
They spend their borrowed time
The circles they had seen within the sky
The seasons and the years
Turning and turning with the patterned stars.
Reached in, towards the centre
Aiming precisely, led by a single eye
To reach the centre and the origin
Whereof they cannot speak
Except to say a Unity of Being
Without extent or changing
A full, exultant consciousness
That reaches and sustains us all
The stars, the earth
This tiny pinned down self
Even the pulse within our ears
Is not the earth a globe,
So that two travelers,
One going east, the other west,
May meet again?
If we could reach that massive point in time
when we shall know for certain that
our journey here has made a final stop
and in some way reel in the flow of life
and from that soaring pinnacle
look back to now
when we can live and love
and walk and breathe and
sing and talk and act,
and then come back
remembering what we'd seen,
no longer lost inside the crashing now
and now of wave borne history,
caught in a fractured compound eye
a shattered image of a breaking time
then with that timeless sight
we'd live each precious heartbeat
out with fierce intensity
to drink the music of the sky
study the winding ivy on the branch
live the excitement of the water in the stream
dance to the rhythms of the wave
and learn to live in such a way
that joy is everywhere.
© Richard Lawson
I have just lost a poem
somewhere, in my thoughts.
it was short, but promising.
faint, like a dream.
poignant with a dash of acid
I lost it behind that faint mauve line of hills
my mind is like an odd sock drawer
this one will have to do
early 2000, Congresbury