Corpse Pose

I let my legs and arms come off
and lay them in the dust
My long muscles melt

Fluid oozes
all over the boards
and out across the universe

The head comes off the neck
like a paddymelon from a dry vine
in late summer
between a fence and a highway,
rolls away and falls in a hollow,
earthing itself like the skull
of Yorick

The pelvis, heavy, unclicks
from the spine
and rests,
like the rusted truss
of a forgotten chair
unpurposed
by the side of the road

Ribs fall away and stripe
the ground
All that’s left:

the heart

To matter & thrum

When I looked in the book I found:
Time is the temple — Time itself and Space —
observed, marked out, to make the sacred place
on the four-quartered sky, the inwalled ground.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, “Contemplation at McCoy Creek”

If I’m good, Lord, if my karma serves,
will you bring me back as a bass guitar?

     Known by the fingers, slung from the shoulders
     of Adam Clayton, Esperanza Spalding,
     Robbie Shakespeare, some nextdoor kid,
     whichever altar you choose…

     If I’m good, Lord, if my karma serves,
     will you let me embody your sinous groove
     the one & one & two in one
     of your snake-limbed dance? Reassemble me
     from spruce & steel, pass me from hand
     to hand, give me one purpose only?

     To underpin. To intone, hum,
     to murmur, mutter, to matter & thrum
     the flow notes, womb notes, Lam, Ram,
     the low tones that ground the Om.
     Make me make the floor of the chord,
     the salt & ochre, the heavy water,

     the earth, the rock, the dub, the step,
     the harmonics, waves, weaving fields,
     the neutron, proton, quarks, gluon,
     the Higgs, the mystical boson.

Will you bring me, Lord?
If I’m good, Lord?

From A coat of ashes
“Contemplation at McCoy Creek” is on p. 17 of Late in the Day: Poems 2010–2014 by Ursula K. Le Guin, PM Press 2016.

Turning off time

I hid all the clocks.
Got up when I wanted,
went to bed when I wanted,
ate when I wanted.

My brain wailed for its numbers.

It’s hungry time, teatime, I said.
Restless. Walk time.
Tired. Bedtime.

In the middle of the dark
my brain demanded a number.

Let’s lie here
and see what
happens, I said.
It’s dark time.

 

When we awoke the sun
was almost above the treetops
and the house next door.
After a few days

my brain forgot
the numbers. We went
to a shop, but it was about
to close. We practised yoga

at sunset, just as the gurus
recommend. Before we slept
we went outside to the night

to contemplate the Pointers,
their movement
up the sky.

Pause Breathe Listen Act — poem and video of Jackson reading it

Pause Breathe Listen Act

13 February 2020

As Parliament sits in its hilltop house, we spread
our banners out on the steps: CLIMATE EMERGENCY.
PAUSE BREATHE LISTEN ACT. We meditate
there for two hours. Traffic noise like thick smoke
rises from the city below. I hear you say:

some day. Some day, when all these cars are electric,
the city will be so much quieter. We’ll hear the birds —
all the birds, and the small people creeping
in the bushes. Some day, when these vehicles use renewable
energy… No. Not only that! When fewer

vehicles run. When people share, and live
closer — closer to work, closer together,
closer to you — some day, we’ll be able to breathe.
Even at peak hour, the people by the main road,
in the cheap flats, will breathe clean silent air.

Some day, sitting on this hill, Parliament will be
a place of listening, as it is for us today.
An Act of Parliament will be an act of the people,
and the people — black, brown, white, furred,
feathered, scaled, barked — will collect, and pause

in gratitude. Your words seem ridiculous. I don’t know why
I’m writing them down — but in the noise of all these cars,
these petrol, diesel, LNG motors, charging
about emitting, it’s hard to say what’s possible.
So some day… some day… some day. And may it be soon.

First published in Letters To Our Home: Creative Reflections on the Climate Crisis, Follow That Cat Publications 2020
Published on YouTube by The Poetry Archive, 2020