I – XXX
R. J. Harris
Copyright 1980 R.J.Harris
Kelso, Roxburghshire, Scotland.
Now I am left
To rejoice with
only my hands,
To live only what I understand,
And to know the appraisal of longing.
At last the world slips from my threshold;
O vast, obscure lover,
Who now will bring me sleep?
Maybe it is only at moments
of deep indifference
that I find peace;
An appeasement where my anger, rhapsody, sorrow,
All separate me and transfigure
What I can feel when my eyes leave another’s.
But there are so, so many preparing the content
I find each thought occupied on my behalf;
And always it is the extremes that lay hidden.
the music opens me and watches;
truth pours in,
Intense and too rich;
And yet, yet I always remain.
Unreachable, the white break in the cloud
is swept by my hand,
A revelation discloses
And the strong, great silence returns.
I seem to need this tense fruition
Where risk pierces
And I am left always expiring
Always, like a fugitive, a little breathless.
Outside, the world gathers its betrayal,
And I watch how quickly the fruit drops.
Is it now,
only now, that danger is so ill-defined?
me there is much that would make of me
A satisfaction of constraint, almost
a miniature god.
But now I stand the arbiter,
And I too have tasted triumph.
In the dull wind the flower breaks and lies unwanted;
Alone, while it stood, it was the resurrection of love,
Now, as it lies, I inhale its language of supremacy.
I act my deception, there I am –
A seepage of disgust,
A man whose will can neither extradite nor cleanse.
And there, there in the great
beds of earth the colours
feed their sex,
So achieved, so free of themselves;
Yet when I draw down there is never this release, never.
like the continual act of winter and summer,
I elude and repossess my feelings;
They are little
worlds, little dark moralities of trust
That hesitate and acclaim only inexpression.
Then suddenly the soldier
flares in the open night;
He is seen, it is enough;
And I will not, dare not indulge in remission.
is only through defiance that I have become
this array of solitude,
This conceit of freedom
Which exhilarates in refusal
And knows there is sincerity only in utter disconnection.
O world, world, world,
From where is this break,
this affluence of hate, tell me?
And here, in my
wrists, does not the blood tread softly?
There is no counterpart for me other than retreat;
There is no retreat for me other than release;
there is no expanse able to sustain
of strength, other than myself.
But when, even through the night, the demands
span out and assimilate,
It is a moment when stringency
loses its shadow
and is complete,
And there is nothing anywhere but
the fat strain of laughter.
I have no hunger worth this austerity,
No deep complicity
No deepening humanity of love;
And yet, with its curse, there is always the
Outside, the swallows slip through the white rain,
Turning, screaming in the sudden wind;
And far within
the closeness, I feel the first
could only overcome or degrade this teeming
Take it and show it the unhealed
The ever mean, ever flamboyant constriction
Then would it, as usual, only further the
And look, as my eyes close the world becomes invisible,
But the rage, the repercussive hurt does not.
the wonder, the truth of extinction
comes only to the soul.
Being always near to gluttony, always the receiver of
I am become expectant, alert,
Like an animal or child waiting for a blow or reward;
And see now how perpetual, how endless it is.
And immersed in all this I almost don’t see
The spastic child at my window offering me
a piece of his cake,
Just because, like him, I am
me down, away into a helpless, negligent love,
something free of loyalty and free of indecision,
An urge vast, compelling, total,
That will open
this last aeon of perception.
But the river flows upon me emotionless and
At the edge a bird sips cautiously,
And I know, that confined, I am not alone.
Out-shining, out-reaching the
It is early morning, and at the white
of the road
I set down my heart beside the bird.
What have I to do with this
O god....everything is torn open.
And no one, no one hears the killing
that is returned.
held by no radiance,
I breathe and I persist without
Because, as an entity, I am merely
And cannot apply space or condition to
But in the field beyond my door
A horse suddenly
pounds the dry earth –
Yes he too! he too
senses it! the outward,
found where there is no duplicity or
Where there exists no longer a category for
Or has love become a search,
A respect for that breakage between the extremes
And as the inner lips part
And accept the first
moist depth of entry,
There is only the indrawn
breath for answer.
I meet those whom I would have become –
secure gestures of the mouth,
The comfortable movements
of the hand,
And the eyes, eyes animal deep, captive,
About me even the streets try to disperse them;
“Yes that’s right, I assess the product’s catchment
And on this nightmare heaven I
spit, and spit again.
can I now reshape the turmoil and emotive waste
With a new imaginative conceit,
When so much that
was strident and incisive and denying,
this little cluster of ruin?
Before me the recurrent winter moves like a vagrant,
Throwing its sleet and rain at my face;
is, I know, in this impact with myself,
the same unitary unknown.
distance itself was a passion
In which some vague
dimension of abeyance and
surrender kept always opening;
And though I try
I cannot even attain conciliatory feeling.
And this flowing water, and
this cold air,
It all betokens the same absence;
And there look! the white breath disappearing!
How quietly it vanishes.
as an outsider,
I see how each day awaits its visionary
Immense complicity, immense mood,
But what is now privately born will remain
Out here upon the open shore these marks denote
the intercourse of gods,
And see, there glistening
semen is left on the sand.
But like a tongue retrieving
an image, the surf tears
forward over my feet.
How easily have I been inured to this human repetition,
Where introspection gnaws the face,
is only a brief, orgiastic smear;
It is a resistance
so continual that each utterance
itself becomes implicit exile.
Up against the sky the plea of each animal is seldom
And in these lines of sunlight I see accusation;
You are alone, include no-one in this prophecy.
For how can I confide in each new articulate world,
When servitude is always thrown like something
Across the minds of the suffering?
It is almost as though some inept desolation
kept alive the human spirit.
And above me the sun quietly burns inward,
amidst rumour, internment amidst
And with applause the dragnet turns,
A door opens,
And quickly my ideas re-invade their formless
And I feel so remote, so deep in this theft,
That again I am unable to surpass or stem
Somebody lectures on rust, someone else
And a nuclear empire co-ordinates its heart;
And the flood, O the flood is unnameable.
At the kerb across the street a small child repeatedly
In the passing images of tyres between tyres;
About her feet there is shattered glass,
the old confetti of satan;
And yes, even here there is an urgent poetic, a slim,
I am narrowed by distaste,
And a negative hunger overwhelms and condemns
For well have I learnt this surrender to the colossus.
And so I appealed to the restrictive in myself
As a way to gain that which lies within
the festive dark –
A warmer, more discrete self-infinity,
A dissent that leaves intact the stillness and
But now the link: society, warfare, art,
Together with each new oppressive largess,
Beckons me to the unseen page.
Unnoticed, the wind has risen.
A naked hill, a standing figure,
And I can retain no image which does not
Precede this grey, patient fear.
And a choir sings, and a voice talks,
and a steak is cut;
And somewhere within me I feel the
And the wind, the burning shadow wind,
And yes, the reiteration of my centeredness,
It draws me in, away from the spite and unremitting
And offers instead intermission, renewal,
Maybe even a little playful obsession
Stranger, have you gone?
Or was that only the fall of my discontinued words?
And yet, yet this absence is so like the truth.
Down, down into it all it goes;
The ministers, the mystics, the recidivists,
They are all there under the hill,
Each masturbating into a hole in the ground.
It is only the enormity
And I keep telling myself to distinguish and
But then down it flows, the chattel, the wastage,
the pulp scripture.
Opulence, the ghost, the cyanide world;
O what treasures! what riches defoliate the heart!
And my beauteous, deliberate hand,
It stains the rockface like sorrow.
But once I almost did leap out,
The trust, the honours, everything ascending
And nowhere the guilt, the ethic that finally
Indeed, there is something shallow in every
But I am trying to dissuade language by means
To give to ambiguity a frightening, erotic coherence
That has only the single, uncompromising urge
cohere even more.
And so I draw upon both heights:
The sun uniting with my blood,
My blood uniting with the sun.