Nowhere in the Northern world
Could let the dead roam in the Spring,
When new life bursts and blooms unfurled,
And nights are shortening.
No, the Fall’s where they belong,
In piles of leaves and frosty air,
With creeping dark and waning song,
And the world in need of a scare.
The laws of physics make it clear
That there can be no spirits here,
Without a source to power them –
Perhaps it is the sunken sun
That fires them up and makes them run ?,
And entropy must surely still devour them.
The peer review remains unmoved –
They’re theorised but never proved
The evidence just will not fit.
So if the afterlife should dwell
On ev’ry side, in parallel,
Then rest assured we cannot interact with it.
They cannot pass through solid matter
Less their waves and atoms clatter
With the particles they pass.
And if they do, they must be part
Of this same universe at heart,
With spectral spectra showing up their ghostly mass.
So wraiths and shades that shake our poise
Are phantom readings in the noise
And not some higher powers.
And if, with heightened fear and nerve,
We misreport what we observe –
The failing is not physics’ fault, but ours.
It may exist – it may at that – though we will never know, Unless it can exert itself – but then we must ask when and how – For if we ever see it come, or ever feel it go, Then that – whatever that is – is as much a part of here and now – For surely, supernature cannot ever be at war with nature, Never interact with any thing with which it shares its space – For even restless spirits must obey the laws of nature, And even ghost neutrinos sometimes leave the faintest trace.
In all of the places that dusters don’t get to,
On covings and pelmets, in cupboards and sheds –
With many a squeam and a shudder, I bet you,
We know what we’ll find on the dust-heavy threads –
The graveyards of spiders, with hook-leggèd carcasses,
Either their owners are dead, or they’re gone
And abandoned their earlier mobile fortresses,
Ditched by the web-side while they scamper on.
Tumbleweeds that tremble in our gasps,
As though they’re still alive –
With finger-legs that only clasp
The empty air that makes them jive,
But couldn’t cling to life, or cling to guts.
Or maybe shells of burry nuts,
Which lie in wait to hitch a ride,
With tiny eggs they plant inside
To spread their brood to distant nooks and huts.
They’re single-used, these chitin gowns –
Abandoned and outgrown,
Have they no life as hand-me downs,
Or overcoats of bone ?
I wonder, could a hermit-fly purloin one,
Use it as a neat disguise ?
It has, of course, too many legs, too many eyes.
But carpenter bees could join in,
To adapt the suit, adjust the fit,
And silkworms help to sew up any split.
Maybe for a little coin
An enterprising beetle may
Collect the lot, and set them on display.
Just the thing to look soigné –
The best-dressed bugs and social sets
Are spider-clad, from palps to spinnerets.
Why does nothing eat these ?
No nutrients, presumably.
They cannot flee, they cannot rust,
They simply scatter through the endless desert drifts of dust.
And so the dunes accrete these,
Until they’re swallowed down,
To sink and drown, or fossilise –
The only clue that they were empty are the missing eyes.
Now that the herd is in the barn,
And now that the flock is in the fold,
Then huddle close and I’ll spin you a yarn,
The one my father told.
And he was taught by his in turn,
And he by his, the self-same airs
That someday your own kids will learn
When you tell them, and they tell theirs.
Sometimes, late at night,
Out on the plains, or on the road,
When the bats are in full flight
To the singing of the toad,
There can be heard the gallop
Of a lonely charger wild,
Through the ups of York and Salop
And the downs of Kent and Fylde
There’s those who claim they’ve seen him,
And they claim he rides a grey,
A snow-white grey so gleaming
That the very stars give way.
A king, they say, with bow and crown,
And horseshoes of cold steel –
And ev’rywhere those hooves stomp down,
The people come to heel.
Though some say he’s not invading
Through our castles, towns and huts,
But rather the land he’s raiding
Is our throats and veins and guts –
Riding, riding, ever onwards,
There is no defence –
Though some may call him Conquest,
And others Pestilence.
But many will say No!, he rides a chestnut
When he roams abroad,
And he wears a shining breastplate,
And he holds a tempered sword –
And he is War, yet not invasion,
But a people one upon another,
Year-on-year, at any provocation,
Brother killing brother.
But fighting is fighting, and always near
To the likes of us who are called on to bleed,
And arrow or sword, it’s the same old fear
When facing down the next stampede.
Or maybe a few who see this horseman
Get to then escape to tell –
Yet whether Mongol, Moor or Norseman,
All those roads lead straight to Hell.
Still, I have also heard it told by folks
That the horse is jettest black,
And gaunt enough that each rib pokes,
With scarcely strength for saddle or pack –
But its passenger can’t weigh much, at least,
He’s spindly as his balancing scales –
Clearly the lord of the Famine, not the feast
As he measures out losses from frosts and gales.
Then others say his is the best-fed mount
In any town it passes,
Grossly glossy like the fur-coat of a count
Against their threadbare nags and asses.
And the dirt where its hoofprints have trodden is barren now,
The only thing growing is the drought –
The fields are always so shy of the plough
When Famine goes riding out.
Yet the final vision of our phantom knight
Is the strangest of all they claim to have seen,
When robed in black, or robed in white,
On a pale steed – maybe dun, yet maybe green.
Some say a skeleton, devoid of flesh,
And what does he carry ? An hourglass of time ?
A downturned torch, or a flail to thresh ?
Or a sickle to scythe the stalks in their prime ?
And they give him a name, they call him Death.
But surely all these versions are that –
So death by what ? Perhaps from a poisoned breath,
Or the slurry from the mines, or rancid fat ?
Maybe our souls aren’t chaff to the miller,
But smoke in the lung and acid on the stone –
Pollution, that’s the next big killer –
And surely worth a horseman all of its own.
So light all the candles and ring all the bells,
To ward off the Silent Divider,
And warn them in Wigan and Walsall and Wells
Of the grizzled new face of the Rider.
From Wetherby weavers to Tintagel Tin,
From the tar-pits of Derby to Sunderland soot,
So each time we breathe we invite the rogue in
And his fingers leave shadows wherever they’re put.
Then listen, my children, listen for his hoofbeat,
Listen as he slowly yet surely destroys
By dogging the trudging of your own two feet
In the choke and the grime and the constant noise.
His other visions are horrors of our past,
But it’s in our future that we all must die,
And the fourth of the horsemen will take us at the last
As he kicks up the dust as he’s riding by.
I suppose Pollution should cover the mass-deaths by human-caused tragedies, while Pestilence cover those from other living things while Famine has the natural disasters gig. This would mean that a plague of locusts is definitely one for Pestilence, while Famine would deal with meteor impacts. But don’t even get me started on green horses…
October is the month when all the dead Are brought to life again – In our imaginations spectres tread, And sceptics howl in vain. So why must we be common-sensers, Jaded cynics, sober sisters ?, When the world wants will-suspensors, Playful panics, logic-twisters.
What the Hell ! And if it’s Hell you want, Then take it – take it all ! Mine’s a holy water from the font With a twist of lime, served tall. At least it’s safe, when Satan is A dentist wearing plastic horns. It’s ketchup blood and dry-ice fizz, And no-one’s killing newly-borns.
October is the month when all the dead Are brought to life again – In our imaginations, streets run red With ev’ry guilty stain. We’ve all got demons locked within – Let’s keep them in until they’re slayed. For that is worth believing in – The luxury to be afraid.
What the Hell ! Take all the Hell you need – I mean, at least it’s warm. Mine’s a chilly wisdom, I concede, In the face of an eerie storm. So have the month, enjoy your frights, And call me killjoy all you like, It’s fine – we’ll all sleep sound at night, As once again the dead don’t strike.
Lis’ning to psychelic music, Joss stick sending up a stream, Lava shadows on the ceiling, Red wine drifting off to dream. Don’t need drugs to taste the acid, Just an over-yellow mind- It’s gonna be one of those fitful nights When the gears of my conscious grind.
Too much psychedelia, It’s not from the drugs, this trance, though – I swear, just wine, and a lack of coffee, So why do the colours dance so ?
I guess that I must be dreaming ? I really hope that I’m dreaming… Cos if this is really psychotrope Then I’m trapped inside a kaleidoscope.
I guess there are folks who deal with this ev’ry day – Does it make me a bad person to say That I never wanted to end up that way ? Like this way. Like slipping down the slope.
Lis’ning to psychelic noodling, Playing somewhere, distant, bleak – It’s gonna be one of those endless nights When the door of perception creak.
Too much recycled dioramaa, But if not drugs, then what have I taken ? If only I’d swallowed some bloody caffeine Cos I need to reawaken.
So why am I still here dreaming ? Or what am I not here dreaming ? It’s not any pills from off the shelf, But maybe my brain has brewed some itself ?
Maybe it’s cloning its own serotonin all day, Or morphing endorphins to help it to play. Or doped-up on dopamine, drooling away ? Who’s to say ? Is it madness by stealth ?
Lis’ning to psychedelic mumbling, Needle jumping, stuck on repeat – It’s gonna be one of those Mobius nights When Alice can’t find her feet.
Too much psyched-out sepia – I don’t even own a secret stash, But these uninvited thoughts wanna dance, Now this party’s about to crash.
Can I still hope I’m nothing but dreaming ? I gonna need help if I find I’m not dreaming Cos I just don’t know how I’m gonna survive If I’m right here awake and I’m streaming this live.
I don’t want to crash, but I don’t want to stay, So help me to crash to an overcast day – Cos there’s so many colours, I can’t find my way – Help me, pray, when the DTs arrive.
Lis’ning to spaced-out psychic music, Sometimes my mind is not my friend, Cos psychedelic may sound angelic, But it’s based on the blues in the end.
Ev’ry time we turn the music on And spin that single, dream that dream, We’re really lis’ning to the Man. For ev’ry time we place that needle, Fire that laser, hit that stream, We’re all just following the Plan.
Rock & roll ain’t noise pollution, But it sure is toxic waste To manufacture vinyl, drop by drop. And digital is nothing without phones, Upgraded in a haste – The beat goes on, the beat must never stop.
The constant chemicals that we abuse Ain’t pills and coke, They’re plastic pop and heavy metal ores. For all our music’s rock music in the end, To burn and smoke – We’re so unhip, we groove to dinosaurs.
And where is all this power from to fight the power ? Nukes and coal. Our phones get fat while the rainforest gets thinned. How can we let the sunshine in To let the records roll ? The answer, dudes, is blowing in the wind.
All the world is nemotodes By dozens by each cubic inch – The soil is crammed to overload, The oceans feel the pinch – These tiny, tiny vermiforms In crevice, desert, gut and tree Together make such mighty swarms More massive than humanity. From ocean trench to distant beach To icecap, there they burst – Wherever we have strived to reach, The threadworms got there first. Whatever we may think about them, Still these parasites abound – We cannot live without them, For the roundworms make the world go round.