One Magpie

a token
for John Riley


I was up to here in work
pointing and rewriting
when I heard

Death is not final
Poems you cannot revise


You call from your native city into silence
hearing the point of death
in the circulation of the waters
You break into a cold flush

Let us know where you hear us from


We shall bury you in Leeds
What other City
could you possibly have chosen?

The extent of the city you love
is grown transparent
The vale
A shadow of death


There were eyes
There was no moon at all
It was a warm and misty night
Up here
for the time of year

They took you at your word

The shape of your tongue
Your change of tone
Where the body
of metaphor collapsed
Kicked in

One late butterfly
a metamorphosis
a foolish speech


The spider weaves the most delicate works
Touching at streams of charge

Death animates the beauty of the predators
for me
           the arctic tern
                                 the swallow
Mackerel of the air

I claimed that I was one with them
I'm not
and can't appropriate their being otherness
on a wish for beauty


One magpie fans its wings against the clough
The form is printed

All this week
The magpie
and the sound it makes
I can't appropriate

One Magpie
One for Sorrow

Distinctly printed


Love exists
in rudiments or tokens
And the pastoral we love
is an electrical
field of danger
Watching my cat as he bristles
in encountering the magpie
Love goes back
through animal magnetics
spiral rings
the ever so blue air


You don't break the form
You are form being broken
broken in love
Tokens. Taken
with thanks do not play any further

Brother. Spirit. Father. No
Thanks do not play
so glibly in a field of danger


The words you rejected
"silence between galaxies
intergalactic night
first dream after death

when God...." I stare
in awful silent consternation
A report
of muffled violence

"the power to be clear and humble forsook me
this world of moods and voices around silence"


The city changes
Do not be alarmed
at the shapes of the city changing
The printed form
blows away
The sky falls in
"a fox when free is captive of the kingdom"
I seek the dome of air
The sky falls in

The paving stones are hidden
in a dying growth of nettles

woken in the morning
birds sing they
can't seem to help it

There was something being done
but it was hidden
Facing in the leaves


This verse is for myself. The fox
I once stared in the eyes of
One red fox on the moor
in bright blue daylight
he runs away with God

And I for one
have seen the glory of my kinsman
on the northern fells in morning light

I can't be one
with the quite dramatic otherness
of Him

I was trying to write something
about John
since summer ended

I cannot escape myself

"And I for one"
I wrote "have feathered spirit ancestors
and a slight impediment of personal folly"

One fox
One angel
One bird


I am ever so glad to tell
you of the truth of heaven
the fool in speech

but let me treat
you to a pint
of our refreshing golden mild
this autumn

One Magpie pinted
on the veil of beauty
grown transparent

Look John
One for Sorrow

               November 5th and 11th, 1978


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