Monday, October 8, 2012

Ecopoetry handout #2

Eco-poetry & Ecological Awareness: Raising ecological consciousness through eco-sensitive poetry

Sleep and Spiders

It is too strange to kill,
The symmetry of its eyes,

its eight paired legs askew
on the lintel, exoskeletal

and tiger-striped, all digestion.
It looks sudden but is still

for hours, eyes on stalks,
awaiting news from hair-triggers

that might be legs or fingers
(the whole thing a claw)

come to touch me in sleep—
hammock from which

black shadows seep.
Stars go milky, then go out.

I wake at five to what five is—
A cold blue glow and a self

Trussed, barely breathing,
Paralytic with dreams.

Dreaming Birds

The eyes and feathers intermesh.
Descartes said birds were small machines.
A startles starling clattered off
And flew away at that, it screeched
That birds are loops in modern minds,
Weird flights, a mode, a fatal curve,
Of values in the air. The thrush

Is proto-sculpture on the lawn,
The SS crow patrolling down
A motorway’s hard shoulder struts
At sentry duty. From a pole
A blackbird soloist transmits
Its live performance and the cool
Woods pay to hear him, dark guitars

Are slung there and electric cries
Flash down the alleyways of spruce,
Afforestaiton’s gentlest crop.
The dreamer Kant thought of a dove
That found air fretful and conveived
Apurer flight in empty space.
I dream of swifts that soar asleep.

The Drive

The trees attend to the high wind
Laying back their heads
Sweeping low again.

The wind shakes loose their leaves
Which float down through the air
Becoming days.
If the Owl Calls Again

at dusk
from the island in the river,
and it’s not too cold,

I’ll wait for the moon
To rise,
And then take wing and glide
To meet him.

We will not speak,
but hooded against the frost
soar above
the alder flats, searching
with tawny eyes.

And then we’ll sit
in the shadow spruce
and pick the bones
of careless mice,

while the long moon drifts
toward Asia
and the river mutters
in its icy bed.

And when the morning climbs
the limbs
we’ll part without a sound,

fulfilled, floating
homeward as
the cold world awakens.

Lighting the First Fire of Autumn

Here they are, the quartered logs in their wicker
Basket woven of what I take to be
Birch and split willow plaited together,
The copse offering itself for the burning
Indoors, twig against twig, tree within tree.

Rough-cut block capitals of an alphabet
Older than writing: poplar, beech, pine,
Chainsawed joints of the wood bled and dried out
For a year, lodged in the season’s calendar,
Their rituals subordinate, now, to mine

As I build the pyre of oak twigs and newsprint
In the middle of the year’s first cold morning.
The TV news shows tropical forests on fire,
Drought in east England, and the Midlands flooded,
A crude mosaic of weather that looks like a warning.

St Columcille said he fears death and hell—
But worse, the sound of an ace in a sacred grove.
Now every grove is sacred, and still we burn
Wood at times, for the fire also is scared
And a house without it like a heart without love

When the world heads into darkness. The heat’s core
Will show you again lost faces and glittering forests,
Mountain passes, caverns, an archetypal world
Recited in the twinkling of a dark pupil
The epic buried inside us never rests:

Fire is the dark secret of the forest.
The green crowns drink sunlight until their dumb
Hearts are glutted with fire. Then, decaying or burning, 
Give up whatever they have. A match flares
And the paper ignites. What, and the poems will come.

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