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The ties that bind

Caught in a trap we make for ourselves,

Fed by tradition and lies,

We’re quietly complicit in

A holocaust hidden from innocent eyes

Meat and milk and eggs and skin –

A corporate machine

That butchers without conscience –

Voracious and obscene

And so the rope ensnares the beast,

A life and death defined

By our dominant dependency

On these twisted ties that bind

A part of the Animal Rights collection

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The blood-filled heart

The complexity of breath

The miraculous biology

Of birth and life and death

Packaged up in pieces

Of mortal meat and bone

We take the lives of others’

Though we never take our own

The body with a beating heart

A living consciousness

Made of mind and muscle

All is lost in death

Leaving only morsels

Of meat upon the bone

Though we take the lives of others’

We never take our own

A part of the Animal Rights collection

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The Sleeping Skin

The slowly grinding heavy days
– With time that is not mine –
Etch silent sins on burning skin,
Regret in every line

The loving poison, darkest truth,
The ties that tease and bind,
With strangest threads of shame and dread;
Awake, and yet so blind

Ageless, timeless, floating free,
A soft quiet morning blessing
Clear and true – I never knew
Such gently pure caressing

It is no dream to cross the line,
Beneath the musical skies,
Believing in all the shimmering world

My sleeping skin
My opening eyes

A part of the Portraits collection

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Behind the wardrobe lies the portrait-picture framed in black
Dust has settled silently like snow upon its back
The seasons’ carousel has passed by those eyes unseen
The world outside grown weather-worn from brown to white to green
As painted personalities wait patiently alone
Whilst the owners of the faces travel very far from home
And imprinted on the paper – a mirror of the moment
(The sickness of society
The hope of its atonement )
Ten years ago these figures manifested under glass
And the east became the west and the concrete turned to grass…

And when I take this portrait out
Out into the light
The skin and bones we were is a re-assuring sight
As all that we were striving for in our naive confusion
Is no longer locked in artifice; laid out in crude illusion
But real and everyday, and understood with clarity
The path that we are on –
No faith
No hope
But charity

In the portrait I created we are naked, we are staring
Defiantly uncertain, unconventionally caring
And I shall soon return this portrait-picture framed in black
To lie behind the wardrobe with dust upon its back
This manifesto that we made may not be seen for years
But we’ll keep our painted promise, our achievements and our fears
And carry them with pride as we become our own creation
Along the rolling road to the unknown destination

Return to the Manifesto gallery

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Gertler and Ruby

They never met, except in paint,
Upon this canvas stage,
At either side of Life’s divide –
Two names upon one page.
Defined by Art and Nature
In love with Love and Death,
Embracing the passionate world
That finally took his breath.
Reaching through a tangled mess
Of darkness, doubt, disgrace –
His heart and eyes were true
In a world that had no place
For him or for his lovers,
His obsessions and his whims –
The Demons shook the leaves
From off his Wintry limbs.
How easy for a life to start,
How easy it can end –
If I could travel into dreams
Then you’d have been my friend.
But, you died in ’39
Your seasons work was done,
And 68 years later
A new life had begun.
So I put Mark and Ruby
Into my painted world,
There is no reason why
Except to see unfurled
The freshest leaves of Ruby red
Upon a flamebird’s wing –
Not special, and yet perfect –
A new flower in the Spring.

A part of the Portraits collection

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Map of the Human Heart

Look to your heart, up there on the stage,
Dissected and open, caught in a cage,
The World and its Dreams are reflected within –
All Mysteries and Moods live under the skin.

Take a walk in its mazes, compass in hand,
Study the skyline, the soil and the sand,
Flowers and knives will bloom where you tread
And the future looks light, though your feet are like lead.

Find your way to the centre, admire the view,
Take out your notebook, record what is true –

‘It’s joyful and pointless, forever and fleeting,
And all possibilities exist at this meeting
Of Mind and of Mercy
Of Passion and Pain,
And nothing is certain til the heart beats again.’

And happy you are, to grasp and to turn
This nonsense of Love into words you can learn,
But your beautiful Map of the Human Heart
Will not help you as everything falls apart.

As a million kisses, and a million tears,
Flood your eyes and deafen your ears,
Caress your lips and fill up your nose –
For no-one can live where the Darkness flows.
The current is strong and you are too weak,
While looking for answers you find that you seek
To live in a dream, up there on the stage
Dissected and open and caught in a cage…

So look to your heart, but do not look back,
For you are deep in it – and soon it will crack,
And the lovers and longings and lifetimes inside
Will leak into nothing and your heart will have died.

For the place that you seek can only be found
The moment you stop, and hear the true sound
Of blood in your veins, of stars in your hair
And the smile of a friend who has always been there.

Return to the Map of the Human Heart gallery

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The Green Man (2014)

The keeper of the forest
The guardian of the green
The spirit of the woodland world
The man who walks unseen
Through field and fell and leafy glade
Across the land of meadows-made
Breathing, blooming, ripe and red
From mountain top to riverbed
His crop of poison ivy hair
Curling in the springtime air
And in the thicket of his veins
Flows the sap of summer rain
With winter frost upon his skin
The seasons turn and twist within
The bramble-tangle of his mind
With eyes so calm, and cruel, and kind
He watches o’er the forest
And guards the growing green
The spirit of the woodland world
The man who walks unseen

A part of the Fable and Folklore collection

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The Three Fates

I dreamt upon a perfect world,
Three figures in a row –
Their silent faces full of care
Spoke of love and woe –
Their flowers spun the thread of life,
Brutal and divine,
Glinting in the ever-sun;
A crooked path, a twisted line;
And when, so swiftly, it is cut,
We leave no mark or sign,
Except a memory of life –
And when we live, we shine…

Laid within the churchyard walls
Five hundred years ago,
I dreamt upon a perfect world
And that is all I know

A part of the Distant Times collection