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Barry Van-Asten

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London, England, UK

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Aureae Rosae - The Heart's Sadness

by

Barry Van-Asten

Listen! For the heart no more sings with time
As the wind drums its hollow dreams in chain...
It is the heart that seeks its joy in pain;
Perfected in darkness, to fall in its prime!
And now, wasted between ourselves, I sigh
For time turned back and those things, now past;
Where a tedious curse in the heart was cast
Upon one who lingers in days gone by,
To mirror the wonder of all, and see
The sorrows of dreaming that I embrace...
And still those eyes leave their awful trace,
Where things unsaid, remain: I'll return, maybe...
But I cannot comprehend those cold eyes now
That kept me from the world I used to know.

And I knew nothing of love's ways, or its pain,
Pursuing by degrees where passions flow
Into the changed worn ways of long ago;
Into the eternal ache of emptiness again!
And the rose hath long wound its frail wanderings
Through the dark dimensions and the lonesome night;
Stronger than the stars and the charmed moonlight,
To fathom the beauty found in all things.
But those lips of unwritten time shall fade;
Fade strange, in the endless curve and strain
Of other lips, in other ways, to fall lifeless again!
But between the risen art and this slain shade
Are meanings to things in which I care:
I sought love in sadness and never found it there!

And I'll turn away from the songs of love, I said.
When innocence falls, my heart shall follow
The dread whisper of betrayal, and tread
The dawn of desire...this rosy globe of sorrow,
To rest among the weeping rushes, calling:
Who is passing? Who leaves the dark silence there?
Who steps between the scented blossoms falling?
But I'll find no voice returning on the air.
And with ribbons in the wind, I will sow her name
That the heart's sadness shall bud and bloom in beauty.
I shall wander far and wide, with this accursed shame
That dared to keep me from love's mystery.
And in turning from life's pure ways, an eternity
Of shadows and what could have been, eluding me!

O flower of inevitability, I now see beyond
The dark continents of your tender kiss,
Where more is lost between the light and this
Utter nothingness that I cannot understand.
But what blissful past returns again to weep
Like some cathedral ghost, outside time?
This triple-throated scribe of love's pantomime
Is time's honoured maid in the regions of sleep.
And the hollow tappings of a God, still shakes
At the memory of love, thrown into sorrow,
When I would to her sweet lips, softly go...
Yet what rage grinds against the soul, and wakes
The pitiful heart without her touch,
That given would have meant so much?


Troubled By Time

by

Barry Van-Asten

To the memory of A. E. Housman.

Born, in the year of Darwin's 'Origin',
Where secret worlds of unrest grow;
His inward lips were tenderly pressed
Over the lines of Juvenal.

His passion: silent - humanity's ache
Under the touch, lies far away...
And in the night, there is no sleep
To stamp over the angles of each day.

Words lived, yet he was dead,
Caught in a season's oblivion.
His sombre thoughts were all but lost
On boys to which the war had won!

Ballad-whistling, yet still no-one,
For he would not stay...
His spy-hole on the liturgy,
Kept like photos locked away!

Now, he is going into rooms
Where his heart lies with the dead;
His romance found in Latin graves, and
All that need be known - was said!

Not wanting to remain, no,
Our poet-scholar built a tomb -
A small wound bleeds his sex away,
To flow like wine in printing bloom.

But how could a passing flower give
Life to old bones and dust,
When sorrow thought it fit to stay
And cauterize his lust?

Birthlines

by

Barry Van-Asten

It is in my mind to be
Rested, in this dark urgency...

Gnarled god of infinite beauty,
With ancient tongue, the hills awake
To nature's call and the season's duty;
To the magic and menace that you make!

And in these things we love the most,
Great beasts of boughs are lost to us.
They wear the darkness like some ghost
That rattles around the rooms of a house.

With their bulged limbs of lump and grot
Deep-twisted through the roll of land;
Green-skirted in your rooted rot:
Horror and history, grooved and grand!

Gorged on darkness, this heart finds
A terrific sadness, deep, that clings...
Death strikes where the river winds
Through a changed landscape that sings

Of experience and gnosis, of hedgerows lost;
Of pathways and barrows and Saxon slain...
To wake the sleeping sylvan ghost
And thunder over mound and hill again!

Dracula's Cousin

by

Barry Van-Asten

Dracula's cousin
Lives in a suburb of Birmingham,
Lisping after the severity of flesh:
His only weakness and his sole outlet.

A bachelor of modest needs
With divination roots that thread
The immemorial sleep of day
Like dancing sea-shore feet,

As faces collapse like dropped buds
Between the sunrise and the dead.
His fingers black with printer's ink
Leaves yesterday's headlines on drained necks.

But no stranger to enchantment, no,
He courses as some satellite,
Steering his blue-shadowed skin that shakes
And sinks into beauty without regret.

And in his most brilliant of moments, one finds
No hesitation, no awkward talk, none,
Just spontaneous in thought and outspoken
On things he's not seen and not done.

But it matters to him, this world of nothing,
This 'creating symbolic magic' by hand.
Yet he was nothing but dead apologies
For a world he could not understand.

Lines Upon A Portrait Of Mr Edward Alexander Crowley

by

Barry Van-Asten

Lion, you fix your stare upon your prey
And sit, as some oyster-gorged demi-god;
With eyes like Death's nostrils, smoking hate,
And your fingers manicured like vampire stakes.
Dreamer of dischord and demons and darkness -
Confuser of hearts and sex: you sit
Like a bow-tied Osiris, adrift in the tomb,
With a brain full of chess nonsense...

And the menace of Choronzon's distant star
Penetrates beyond the confines of mind,
Bent with hunger, the soul assumes
A persistence of darkness that remains
As you stagger shaven-headed into the unknown -
Nosferatu bringing pestilence from afar...

And in old age - a portly Pan
Sipping Cognac at the Cafe Royal,
Manipulating forces around you
With simple gestures and words of power.

And his eyes through winding pipe smoke glare
As death flowers, amidst the stones,
Dark with pagan poetry... Flames
Toast his solemn heart... He comes
Like a huge bulk of Godhood, summoned
To the enchanted scent of flesh and song!

And in your defence, Monsieur Beast,
A sigh of surety and relief,
Handed down and placed in hearts -
A kiss from Kingdoms great and far:
A law unto our lovely star
And a dream of love for who we are!

Sat like Satan in your Trinity room -
Great Beast of your mother - Leamington man!
Lilith-scented, you huffed and you puffed
Through the galaxies of faith and waste;
Through the gardens of the damned
And every haunted place... But
What was said? What bombs of wit
Were delivered before the camera click?

With your sails full, you were unstoppable,
Crossing continents... a cocained collosus
Who had outgrown the human, and known
The habitation of the Gods, and what they are.
But the human lingered still, and sat
Heavy with its failures on your brow -
And now, what man of iron will shall come
To watch over the aeon, and sing
A lament for the World Ash, wonder sap?
A song of all time, to bring
A light from afar, to worship still -

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
Love is the law, love under will.

Natasha

by

Barry Van-Asten

I gazed through the half-open window
In the dimmed afternoon;
And sombre, my heart set me dreaming
As I paced from room to room.

I saw the sun-scorched lawn,
And thought: the rain will come soon.
The frogs lay screaming in a dry pond
And the cat was securing their doom!

But I'll soon send words to Natasha -
Ballads to a baleful moon...
But this house, still gripped by ghosts
Keeps my love from its first bloom!

Something Will Be Done

by

Barry Van-Asten

I live by the power of the amulet;
Of stones and consecrated objects.
Kept in an iron place, I no longer hear
The oracle of sickness: love's undoing.

Between elbows - signs of conjuration
Performed in my anatomy.
A talisman holds you in my sphere;
A goddess in flames: love's ruin.

Let me breathe in your existence
And define the perimeters of love;
To feel the workings of your skin
And the softness of it's touch.

But the plague of youthful adoration
Drifts like ribbons on the sea,
Fearful of the ocean guardian
Between the ceremonial waves again.

And I destroy myself by constellations
Where memory's a museum of my love.
We are guided by astronomical phantoms
To intermingle, blood with blood.

But my body is an almanac
Bruised by the morning sun,
And for all these crafted calculations
Something will be done.

The Occupiers

by

Barry Van-Asten

I

She keeps a warm place in her heart
Where the ghosts of children cry;
She has buried her principles in filled graves
And there she lets the secret lie.

The sordidness of life makes her sick
As she breathes the chemistry of the bed.
Lost in the preciousness of skin, she prays
For the resurrection of the dead.

In the evening's half-way light she sat,
Like an empty purse on the kitchen floor:
Useless, utterly useless, she cries
Between bashing her brains against the door.

There, in the dying of the old year,
Still directionless and dumb,
She cements the circles of her sex
In a broken line between thigh and thumb.

The love inside is dead, she said,
Let it's bug-eyed flame rest eternal.
And a crown of thorns between her legs
Still weeps for the Christ, maternal.

Seized in the white laughter of suspension,
A rhapsody of whispers calls her name,
And faces lie crumpled in the cushions
Where the experimental ape became

A carousel for Newton's physics;
A secret hid behind a door,
Committed in the name of science
And spread across the kitchen floor.

Her dry brain sips at cartomancy,
To turn the Lovers her heart yearned,
Yet in the extension of the grave,
Death was the only card she ever turned.

II

He says the need within him hammers
Obscene patterns on the pillows;
And in the folds of his cardigan - Niagara,
Wheezes through truncated bellows.

Why should he speak of the moonlight?
He knows its monster power sucks
Life from lemons and tobacco dust
And rips the bindings of his books.

He said his universe is upside down;
Pulled inside out about his home -
The minuscule smudge on the mantlepiece is
A little bit of Paris and a little bit of Rome.

With a broken heart and a broken throat,
Consonants and vowels were easily spread
Across the feared carpet inhabitants
And the old songs of the dead.

Like an ancient oak among the stones
His magpie sex was crucified.
With wicker bones and thorny thighs:
Here was Christ identified.

Smoking between secrets and astrology;
The long hours roar like pipes full of wind,
Where he is discharged by torchlight
Into the Manx-lipped wunderkind.

He is a bathroom grotesque
That stares through misty eyes of green
To see beyond the measure of skin
And the inch-thick waste that lies between.

He keeps a map of the world on his wall
Where he plots journeys near and far.
But he knows he'll never leave this cruel
Circumfrence that governs what we are.

To Foyers

by

Barry Van-Asten

By the Loch, the dead lie easy,
Masked by the veil of world's clay;
Eternally thrown to strange spaces
In the mists of hearts gushing away;

Away into a stone enclosure
For all time to stand and declare -
In the madness of the moon that outshines me,
An ogre of enchantment lies there.

And the great pagan gods of old
Shall tremble at the dark storm's force
That shakes through the woods and the hills,
To pulse with the waters course.

Yet what menace of years still haunts?
What elements of ritual press near?
The pilgrim journeys far, and strays
For something evoked and eternal lies here.

And those eyes peer from the shore
To thunder through ruins and roll
Onwards, into after-realms, and fall
Like a great beast at the brute of the soul.

And I will build you a garden
Out of ivory and stone,
By the meandering shores of Loch Ness,
For love and legend and time gone!

Wych Elms

by

Barry Van-Asten

Beneath the stones, shallow hearts press
The hours into their starry margins,
And the irregular tide of time turns
The years that are passing away.

The shadows in the swept gardens shake and cease,
Winding a heart in as it repeats.
And beyond the boughs, those remembered things,
Where childhood's ghost is interposing

It's secret world: bones of Roman loneliness
Root with slow life and remain;
Signposts in the green hush, where magnolia's
Lose their language and waste away

In dumb reserve... storm's electric menace,
Winding along the lanes again,
Under the cross-hum of pylons
As the steel-ribbed sun is setting.

Wrists of ancestors make a wilderness
Under the pale beam where we wander,
And in the dark woods something dreadful sleeps,
As love careers into view and slips away.

The Heather Garden

by

Barry Van-Asten

I dream of a garden I don't know,
It's mystery blossoms through the seasons.
And here, I wander where the unknown root grows;
Where pathways are words written over hills and streams.

I

Dark Journey

O dark witch of my heart, retreat
Into your fabled land of dreams,
Where I await your icy mythology
Galloping through this emptiness of skin.
Come out and speak of your Northern past
And the tales that have been handed down.
Come out and weave for me, my love,
For here in the heartland I don't want
To be folded away by the garden gate
And unable to see beyond the glass
Where a roomful of cat-magic lies within,
Undisturbed in a grey-powdered mist.

I know her and she will not wait;
She has promises that she cannot keep.
But I imagine her always close to me,
Thinking in secrets while she weeps.
Veiled Aurora - unfathomable,
And changeless where sorcery sleeps.
With hair as dark as the dreamless grave
And crystal orbs glowing from the seventh sphere
Show shades of an incredible past. I know
We will embrace in the fiery red planet's wake
For the first time and the last;
We will walk through the midnight garden,
Through it's silhouettes and shades
Till our voices no longer strain to utter
All the hurt that love no longer hides.

But unknowable in her lamplit gloom,
She desires the forceful sway of the sea:
Perhaps she was born of it's foamy spray
Somewhere in a Northern bay? But
Winter brings new ordeals and sadness
Like a visitor, flowerless and unwelcome,
With a fist pushed firm into your mouth.

And from her dark room she gazes out
To the broken railings round the pond;
To the black remains of the mill, and beyond,
To the sunlight on the silver stream
That reveals the mayflies breaking free:
How I envy their short lives, she said,
Dreams on Neptune's weary wave...
A trout twists and spins in the pools of shade,
Drawn to a dry-fly in the sun's haze;
Magnified by a ghostly fish eye,
Snatched from dimensions of black sanctuary, again.

Two figures stood gazing into the pond:
He loved her once...long ago, one said,
Like something beyond the living and the dead.
And now, she won't leave the house, she won't leave,
And death has become a recurring theme
Now that there is blood in words once again.

A white mist has descended upon the house
Like a blanket spread over it's awful hold,
And I can't see beyond the smoky glass.
But I imagine her cocooned inside, somehow,
Wrapt up tightly as a moth,
Awaiting the end of her labyrinth of sleep
And the end of her wordless universe.

Yet the garden remains to her tender touch;
Full of love, though dark as the night.
She is the whispered wind in the swaying boughs
And the autumn leaves upon my face.
She's there in the gentle air that soothes
And sweeps across this lonesome place.
But no memory of sleep nor it's release
Can give these pale bones what they need.
For I am lost because I cannot keep
The one that I desire inside, the most.

Come and embrace the darkling wound
That you have wrought upon my flesh.
It glows in the interminable shame of night,
In the brightness of these sufferings.
Yet who is it that walks in the garden
By night and remains unseen?
Who is it that hurts my endless heart
When each night I awake to find
That love has walked with nothing more to say?

Seen from the mill pond, nothing moves;
The old gate hangs on it's rusty hinge.
Yet the dark windows speak of lives
Falling away...forever away, inside.
And a presence lingers to be loved
Where the riddle of the garden soothes.
A tree grows across it's dim threshold,
And here will be an eternity, I thought,
Now that the spell is cast.

II

Conifer Dreaming

Black witch of all my days, afraid
To come out of the house again.
Trapped between the threshold and
The surface of the skin.
A darkness through which we cannot pass,
Closes around and over us;
An immense mass, pushing forwards,
Separating our frontiers into afterlife,
Where nameless, we shuffle closer to the grave.

Heel me into the disused summerhouse
Where I can become part of it's genealogy,
Living among the dry seeds that hang
From the wooden struts like rococo beams.
There, amongst the old papers and rusting tools
With the smell of sawdust, oil and wood preserver
Rushing like alchemy through my nostrils.
I shall see the house from this dwelling place;
See when lights go on in rooms:
Is that your spectre descending the stair
Like a mannequin in tears?

Behind the fence, I'll stretch and sigh
And straighten my crooked, mossy fingers
Upon the cracked glass of the window pane,
Warmed by the early morning sun.
But here, I won't grow beyond the glass,
I'll dissolve into new constellations
That are forever looking back.

Alone, I'll lie beside the lavender path
Where you will forget me in time, I know...
But still I'll listen for the sweep of your dress
Brushing past in the night like a great lunar wing.
In the long summer evenings, I will sigh
Because I will not hear you come,
Saddened by the drone of bees
Blundering through the undergrowth,
To map the last regions of heart and brain,
Soon honeycombed into a perfect chamber
that makes a snug home for a fat queen.

Hidden in my breast is a black root
That spears through my heart and shoots,
To spiral ever downwards, through
Spine and soil, where blood becomes clay.
Trapped in the watery wheelbarrow tracks:
My life flows in these rivers of rain,
Where the garden has held me, spellbound,
But there are things in this place I cannot say.

In the woods as the sun went down,
I came here to remember her:

A July day...
Walking through the dark rooms
Where other worlds come close and listen.
Inside, the atmosphere's electric,
It crackles under my inspection.
And so I slipped out, unable to turn
Those pages filled with thunder.
I thought: Am I an invisible intruder here?
Does no one see I have come to this place?
They sit so close, yet do not see.
They don't see me. There is no answer.
But I have come here often, yes,
Many times I have come here before death,
And so I almost think it a shrine for my pilgrimage.

Nearby the buried monks in the playing field ache
To hear the close woods call to them;
I know that call and I know that ache
And it's insufferable.

As the years pass
I am wrapt in the wild ways;
streams cut through my inside
And I become part of it's flow.
Nettle and laurel seed from my palms
Towards the sunlight I fear now.
The rain, with it's ancient anger, stirs
And hammers on my brow again.
For here, no one can know the ache of the grave
And the crime that lies so deep within.
I hear the wind whisper and I wake,
Thinking your soft lips are near;
I call out and suddenly I remember
Only sad things whisper here.

A winter night and in the wood
A fire is burning down below
The steep bank that meets the road.
Figures are flickering in the flames
And far-away voices, laugh and shout.
Smoke is rising up the bank,
Winding through the broken fence,
And the air is damp with woodland smells.

Do you look at me and think of the wild places?
I am as ancient as all the world and all it's sorceries.

Beneath the rolling acres - beyond,
Corpses have no time to command;
They listen to the crumbling hearts, like mine,
And laugh beneath the decaying woodland.
But your face looks out from the window pane
With it's ghostly mask, devoid of life.
Those eyes are afraid to look on the world again,
Or perhaps they just died too long ago.

In the green pools of the bog
Those corpses gasp and remember death,
As the sunlight shifts above their heads,
Skimming over the water's surface.
At night between the trunks, they walk,
Crisp, to the snapping of twigs;
Between the submerged mass of roots,
Caught in the striking yellow light
Upon the shallow water's shoots:
A story is unfolding of my youth.
I opened my heart's sadness, and thought:
Here I will wander for eternity.
There are no names, there are no stones,
But lives have fallen to the wayside woods.

III

Walking through the White Wire

Witch of all the world, awake,
The woods have rung, but it's too late
To rid me of this elegiacal imprint
That reduces me to the furniture of the grave.
There's a dance of death between the boughs
That calls her name and winds away...
You're here, and you're here now, to stay,
Not even my silence will turn your heart
From loving me for all eternity.
And I saw all the centuries and celebrations pass,
Marching before me, yet I turned away,
wanting only to see the one who leaves me
In the final moments of the year.

I did not summon you, yet you came,
And all those dreams...I let them go,
Like afterthoughts weaving through my veins
Only to glimpse - Ullysses, in female form.
I remember those long, sleepless nights
When through my tears I ached for you:
Nothing seemed impossible, I thought,
I'll weave my flame into your heart
And make a universe of your name.

Seen in the garden is spectacled Death,
Not quite whole, but sure to manifest
His loathsome shape in the nothingness.
In the space of his predatory motions
His vaporous step is incomplete.
Between thumb and forefinger, I measure his pace:
Four days to reach the end of the fence.
While in the woods a darkness grows
Around the limitations of my heart.

My intestines dropp from the trees in coils,
Bronzing in the morning sun.
And here I have widened the margin of love
To include the garden that's wrapt in death.
My insides are clay, and I am dumb;
My lungs are ballooning in my breast.
My eyes which once sparkled, are now dull
And lie at the bottom of a dry well,
Inside a half-buried porcelain pot:
It's cracked spout is my telescope
Where I'm blinded by the language of the stars.

Come to me, this dark evening,
Now that December's ghost is near;
I have fallen to pieces inside with thinking
Of your soft flesh and this divide,
In the garden's winter beauty, where
I weep in the place where love has died.
But love is a ghastly business,
It corrodes one's soul from the inside,
Depriving one's self of the entity within.

My body shall yield to spring blossoms,
To cover acres in it's wide search.
But my sick heart will always remain
Locked in the sentences of your dreams.
But your heart is darker than buried bones,
And I can do no more than pass through time
Singing of the name I love.

This is how I imagined the end:
You cannot cross and I cannot leave;
Between shadow and light, unable to release
Our hold upon the worlds we know.
Still, the wind tells me of all you used to be,
And the dark house hides what you are now.

Perhaps she won't stay, but the garden remains
True to her identity, and I can never leave
This place where we were parallel in our make-believe.
But how can she not say what's in her heart
When I am sick with thinking of love?
While passion's ghost is fleeting, I know,
To be near her now is all of my world.

Across the water, words pass
Down the silent waves of change,
But I am beyond reason, and less of man,
Drilled into the hillside once again -
I am nothing in nature's infinite way.
And Death has won his timeless reign,
But I turn to the dark secrets of the house
Where the whispered heart has turned to stone
And the love it held has turned to dust.

I hear the voices that I dread,
Speaking of the past again -
They are a bridge to worlds unknown.
And here, the white lines of death are near,
Constant and caged by the twilight oaks;
A storm is gathering with cathedral fear
As the intricacies of sleep unfolds
The stages of our lives, retold.

Embrace me in the confusion of white death;
I linger on in after-worlds,
Bound only by the starry perimeters
And it's soliloquy of dreams, that yields
A space for dying. I heave with seasons:
You are part of my world,
And I, yours, for always.

These Wretched Feelings

by

Barry Van-Asten

These wretched feelings I conjure
Only darkens the soul with regret;
This requiem; this Rubicon of rue -
These wretched feelings! I conjure
Sadness in eyes so blue,
Wanting more than this, to forget
These... wretched feelings I conjure
Only darkens the soul with regret!

These Wretched Feelings

by

Barry Van-Asten

These wretched feelings I conjure
Only darkens the soul with regret;
This requiem; this Rubicon of rue -
These wretched feelings! I conjure
Sadness in eyes so blue,
Wanting more than this, to forget
These... wretched feelings I conjure
Only darkens the soul with regret!

These Wretched Feelings

by

Barry Van-Asten

These wretched feelings I conjure
Only darkens the soul with regret;
This requiem; this Rubicon of rue -
These wretched feelings! I conjure
Sadness in eyes so blue,
Wanting more than this, to forget
These... wretched feelings I conjure
Only darkens the soul with regret!

Leander

by

Barry Van-Asten

Down below the waves that keep
My restless heart so incomplete;
Wet with kisses from the deep:
Swim with monster fuel, my sweet,
Through the blue energy of aqua-sleep -
Drawn by darkness and defeat!

Let the pearly chambers of your heart be still -
Caress the cool suspension of liquid blue,
Where the dead dance by a dim lit oracle...
A brain burst of baptism shall subdue
And kiss the dark reaches of worlds that chill
The soul that's cleansed and born anew!

And in submerged sensuality, she
Is leaving her dread decline;
Under the rolling, galleon-haunted sea,
By the light of an incandescent shrine;
Under the water's dorsil-finned beauty
Beneath the black bewitching brine!

On Seeing A Picture Of Hermia & Lysander By Julius Simmons. 1870.

by

Barry Van-Asten

In these nocturnal woods, my heart finds
The sacred light of a forgiving sun -
Her radiance through the wild boughs, winds
To the dark beauty of unending woman.
But what difference drives her delicate skin
Over life's complexities, to my arms again?

Her name repeats upon the wind
And I hear secrets in the leaves
That whisper on the branches, thinned
By summer's sedate way, that weaves
Collosal dreams from far away,
To echo over streams, and stray

In the dread fields of eternity...
But the heart's unearthly song will come
From its haunted arcadia by the sea,
Pausing in the heather, broken and dumb,
To magnify love's timeless art
Caught in the confines of her heart!

Blue Interlude

by

Barry Van-Asten

Frail, iridescent star
In the cosmic green of man:
She has fled our bournes and brooks now,
Too cruel to understand.

But imagine a time of not knowing;
Of seasons measured in fingernails,
Where a theatre of mistakes, unwinding,
Still dowses after death, and fails.

Where someone keeps the hours, someone
Still listens for womanhood's corrosive call,
Into a silence that leaves its listener cold,
Longing for birth tracks, and that is all.

But here, the glass tower's dreaming
Under time's hooded flow,
Where the innocense of love falls, is falling
Into a world we do not want to know.

And there, waiting at the gates of the lodge
According to her habit,
A woman wept to see us still
Defying time and not changed by it.

For my heart reflects your sadness,
And changeless - sings, but sees
No love of life, nor love for us,
Nor love of mortal things.

Yet something animal in it's nature;
Something cold and magical
Is born in us, and programmed to lure
The tide of man's sorrow to worship still.

But will time beat out this tragedy
Between our souls that sigh?
Two unshaken blossoms, that
Each side of a woodland lie.

Frail, iridescent star
In the cosmic green of man:
She has fled our bournes and brooks now,
Too cruel to understand.

Finding Orpheus

by

Barry Van-Asten

Under love's not sleeping,
We turned our backs upon the wind
And made a picture book of symbols
From dry leaves and feathers and things that
We'd found.

And we whispered softly into bird madness
Which gave less dread of volume.

Herded like cattle over ley lines;
All night we sang sorrow's tempest is done,
Spun of the fairest years, now flown;
Flung back to a braver and radient realm
To give the death's-head force of nature form.

But a memory of love persisted
Where meanings in broader mysteries cling,
Through this simplicity, drawn
Like a dark veil over everything:

A watery voice; an echo of time's arrows
That murmurs softly from afar,
Blowing it's visceral night ballads that roll
Through easeless age and what we are.

But now, a Macbeth in the heart
And a Caesar in the brain
Have given meanings to symbols, and thoughts
Are the beginnings of speech - silent again...

With the spirit's core, we erode our past
And find it's obscure language dead;
As dead as the Latin word that seems
A thumping Caliban of things once said.

Still with eyes closed, we feared to look
Upon the eve of another day
Where evolution leaves us sick again.

Blue Interlude

by

Barry Van-Asten

Frail, iridescent star
In the cosmic green of man:
She has fled our bournes and brooks now,
Too cruel to understand.

But imagine a time of not knowing;
Of seasons measured in fingernails,
Where a theatre of mistakes, unwinding,
Still dowses after death, and fails.

Where someone keeps the hours, someone
Still listens for womanhood's corrosive call,
Into a silence that leaves its listener cold,
Longing for birth tracks, and that is all.

But here, the glass tower's dreaming
Under time's hooded flow,
Where the innocense of love falls, is falling
Into a world we do not want to know.

And there, waiting at the gates of the lodge
According to her habit,
A woman wept to see us still
Defying time and not changed by it.

For my heart reflects your sadness,
And changeless - sings, but sees
No love of life, nor love for us,
Nor love of mortal things.

Yet something animal in it's nature;
Something cold and magical
Is born in us, and programmed to lure
The tide of man's sorrow to worship still.

But will time beat out this tragedy
Between our souls that sigh?
Two unshaken blossoms, that
Each side of a woodland lie.

Frail, iridescent star
In the cosmic green of man:
She has fled our bournes and brooks now,
Too cruel to understand.

Finding Orpheus

by

Barry Van-Asten

Under love's not sleeping,
We turned our backs upon the wind
And made a picture book of symbols
From dry leaves and feathers and things that
We'd found.

And we whispered softly into bird madness
Which gave less dread of volume.

Herded like cattle over ley lines;
All night we sang sorrow's tempest is done,
Spun of the fairest years, now flown;
Flung back to a braver and radient realm
To give the death's-head force of nature form.

But a memory of love persisted
Where meanings in broader mysteries cling,
Through this simplicity, drawn
Like a dark veil over everything:

A watery voice; an echo of time's arrows
That murmurs softly from afar,
Blowing it's visceral night ballads that roll
Through easeless age and what we are.

But now, a Macbeth in the heart
And a Caesar in the brain
Have given meanings to symbols, and thoughts
Are the beginnings of speech - silent again...

With the spirit's core, we erode our past
And find it's obscure language dead;
As dead as the Latin word that seems
A thumping Caliban of things once said.

Still with eyes closed, we feared to look
Upon the eve of another day
Where evolution leaves us sick again.

Against Us

by

Barry Van-Asten

What strange apostle of wisdom comes
From the hermitage, filled with fear?
He of old pagan enchantment, drawn,
To wear the wild ways beneath his skin;
With history hidden in fingertips:
A seasoned man, forever touching
Love's last seduction...brain-stepping...

And what appalling strength is this
Glut of desire upon us bringing?
The blood-air about us ringed: we kissed
To the cycle of ceremonial sighing!

Yet there was a time once, when song
Was glad in our souls...we listened;
We heard love's language linger long,
As we mouthed the words, not comprehending
The sorrow in the songs we sung.

And beneath the West wind, the end was falling;
We sipped at moon poison and passed into nothing.
My deeds, still dark with worshipping:
I knew, in those degrees of intimacy,
With my blood-lips on your scented skin;
The death-flowers of your craft, in me,
Shall remain, monstrous and stupidly human!

Capricornus

by

Barry Van-Asten

A model of pure reason,
He bounds to the glory of the day,
Awake, with a galaxy of imagination
That corrupts and conquers in his way.
Upon his noble brow - distinction,
Creases with time where horizons play;
Immortal in the dawn's expansion
That looks on the crimson waste, to pray

As he struts aflame through every nation -
Vile, the tongue that speaks his name.
It is but one to him: religion -
They are but mirrors of the same.
And in his abysmal trail of devotion
He can compel each heart to shame;
Extreme upon extreme abstraction,
Curled by the blasphemy of his frame.

His torso, a war-engine of destruction,
Monstrous in his will to pursue;
His brain: a trigger of perception
Sees the cosmos streaming through
To stride the elememts of perfection
And sing, as lover to lover, will do;
Where the wide excellerated passions
Lies weeping in the glistening dew.

Bored by the limits of cruel creation
He broods on a world, unable to forget
The grind of the axle to every motion;
The sacred scratchings of the prophet.
Thick and rounded, this dimension
Strains to express the course that's set
Through the lower regions of comprehension,
And the perfected beauty of woman. Yet,

His eyes are flames of satisfaction,
Bristling with strength and vibrant with lust,
To redeem the madness of evolution
And crush a universe into dust.

At Boleskine

by

Barry Van-Asten

Oh wizard, tend my body, do,
And plant kisses in the garden of time;
Conjure spells that thunder through
My soul's sweet sleep sublime.
And if in haste, this world should be
Torn from our hearts, and thrown
From century to idle century
In the garden, overgrown...

Wand of desire, this love shall be
A rose-lipped hell of our own making...
In the dull roar of his monster voice - the sea!
A rough sea over the rocks was breaking!
And time will twist as our hearts fade
To the ceaseless echo, and remain
Nameless, deciphering the horror that's made
As we dance between the Devil and the Divine, again!

Hail to thee, great rapture of my heart;
I have sought the glory of thy name.
Let Love crown our souls in this Royal Art;
Let Love linger long in the hour of our fame!
And dark is the water that we know,
And steep the hill that we climb.
Oh passion, oh prophet, I fearless, grow
Towards a new dawn, touched by your time!

Your Image

by

Barry Van-Asten

Your image, painful and unsteady,
Caught by the curve of dawn's light;
And not thinking, I whispered your name
As the fragrance of you fired my thoughts.

And your name, like a beautiful bird
Flew from my still and simple breast
Into the sad swirls and mournful hours
As I stood, like a silver cage, waiting...

But why does my tired heart sing so sweet
Like a slow waltz in everlasting dream?
These beating rhythms rise and fall, in vain,
Only to disappear at end of day...

Cornfields compressed and coppices bare;
Morning mist on water, curls,
Wheeling behind the blue hills, where
The moon is quietly sliding...

But your image, still vague and calm -
Yesterday's ghost in the mist again...
And you don't know what it costs for me
To live in the light with your image!

The Name Helen

by

Barry Van-Asten

The utter darkness, the hopeless pull,
Spun through brains and approaching dawns...
There I stood, like stone Saint John,
Devoured by the night's dark assumption.

And coming in from time, I awoke
To the white walls and half words
That shifted to and fro between us
In the tiled glow of the hospital wards:
This is all of it, I thought, and I have seen
The hollows of your language and the wickedness there.

But I believe in her, in this wilderness,
Though my soul could harbour no Gudrun:
My veins - streams of poison,
My heart - swims with passion,
My brain - the unknown god
That dwells without span or spoken reason.

We are towers that reach into the sky,
Each sinking into different hells.
And if you knew, that within my frame,
Packed away into little cells,
I am the hills and meadows that wander
Far away and touch no one.
Then my God, think of me and do not shout,
For it is something fearful that brings me here.

I am the years and I am alone,
Like an invisible phoenix in memorial glass -
I rise only to find your name and nothing else.

Her dual nature, fixed with the stars,
And timeless, I ache for the meaning of love,
But life is impossible and too cold to stay
In the vain hope of knowing its indifferent ways.

I heard the golden throng of woman
Give musical magic to her name, and then

She fell to the fear of the wretched blue silence
And shut away all hope of change:
My eyes won't open on this world, she said,
My sorrows grow great where shadows remain.
But it's no use my speaking from the heart,
I can never release the hurt inside that I feel.
And an angel stooped near to her and whispered:
We have drank our souls dry and come through,
Time now for you to live again.

But night of many wonders - birth,
Is revolved along the dim-worn waves;
Concealed by the fringed mystery that rages...
You're wasting your time in meaningless things,
(And frightening me) for I am dumb;
Locked away...rotting away...
Paled by the war-weary turn of the moon.

I heard the lonely song of man
Echo over the haunted lawns, now forgotten.

But we cannot return, no, nor look back
Upon the past and all that's been said before.
There is too much dark matter come between us
And afterall, I must name things, always name...
For evermore.

And these hopeless lips that will never kiss
Or speak another name but this,
Will forever be still, though inwardly uttering:
This despair within our hearts is drear,
Yet we said nothing, damned nothing!

For something ceased in her dimension
Like so many shapes in the frozen waste.
Her sweet tones, now dull beneath the boughs
Said nothing more than dreams could say
When I realised the adventure was too far away.

The Myth Of Masks And Origins

by

Barry Van-Asten

With half a mind for metering,
We all must wear the same mask here.
Where sorrows mapped upon our faces
Are lines written on our hands.
And here, I find, I will be wandering
Those dark and silent corridors,
Holding on to girlhood's pigtails
And touching her bronze limbs once more,
That quickly turn to powdered chalk
Beneath my wild and roving hands
That draws death nearer with each stroke
To smudge over our yesterdays and our origins.
Yet her lullaby lips would not say yes
To my chosen words - those foolish things.

And I look towards the mirrored doom
To see my own soul shown in selected time,
As the hawker in the cosmos climbs
Behind some womanly vision,
Like a gold and ever flowing stream -
A Xanadu of imperfection
Vanishing down the long gardens
Into the passage of time,
To scribble this mess of life away
And write the damned lot from my brain.

Years later,
The bitter ring of puzzled myth
Stopped me loving someone.
And through my own unnatural vigour
I thought: why can't I be free;
Free from one's own cellular making
Where we are preludes of invented
Evolution's mockery?
Free from this thick ether we breathe
And free from one's dreams, forever.

I

Under correct lighting, she is
Venus in trouble;
Thrusting herself into opposites
By the green light that glows.
Within her lips a universe:
A chapter-house of indecision.

Dimensions change and ghosts listen
To the jet boom and march of pensive time,
As crossed Demeter, by broad meadows,
Matchless in her unstoppable decline,
Turns over her cosmos and dreams once more
Of some Hercule's at the coal-face, again.

And there, by the rivers of sharp time,
A day of words, worlds away
Along the red rush of madness, where I find
I am under eternity's watchful eye
That cannot see past dawn's perfection,
Or this intrusion that cannot love or die.

Cathedrals groan with a sea-ward glance
Where words repeated softly chime.
I make this mask my own, and find
I juggle the sun and the moon through space
That whistles through my afterlife -
A delicate obsession in its prime.

Yet her rose hath bloomed in womanhood,
Cyclones away...so far away...
Sculpting herself under daydreams
Where through our eyes we are exchanged.
But the black woe of the tide has called me:
Movement of the Seine.

These hours locked in solitary ways;
Stung in animal death (come soon)
Have spared me. And by degrees
Nothing changes, or so it seems...
You're worlds to me -
You're worlds away.

II

In artificial light, he is
Adonis - adorable,
Flinging himself into opposites.
Upright in Arcady,
One sees oneself and retreats
Into a Northern vale, and poison.

Seducing under my skin, eels glisten
In this jet age where early mother's blooming.
Between the light, I fall away
Into a day of black suspension
Held by a devil with a slow hand.
And in my anguish I grasped passing time...

Like angels in swansong darkness, I find
The winter trees and I glow.
In the grandeur of our dreams, we are there,
Yet who sits with me but cannot know
That a machine has declared itself our god,
And we are dreams, dreaming there?

The life I lead bleeds me dry and fire
Beneath an altar warms a jar,
Changing my dimensions within;
Singeing nerve-endings and soft tissue:
You keep me always ruined, I said,
Wrapped inside this endless skin.

In his sterile, easy slumber -
He wants me: thief of beauty.
Dead inside, he has drowned me
In the wide orbits of his cobalt eyes.
He whispers and wants all of me:
Movement of the Thames.

My living tree - genealogy,
Holds secrets of statues and stones.
And to the changeless tide, I will go,
Because I cannot stay, I know,
In this mask always and look on you
Worlds and worlds away.

III

How I am damaged by the afternoon's light
Where larger worlds than this resist
To crease in the depths of love and death.
Yet, through the laws of alchemy,
I am a blue monkey and I glow
Like a torso full of gypsy rhythm.

And I am gold and I flow through the midsummer fires
That engulfs the head's accumulation of lifetimes.
And at the stroke of midnight - a vermilion swan
Is wrenched from purple veins that rot;
Concealed within a moated mausoleum -
I hear them signalling under my skin.

And in baroque splendour - Death,
Is snorting in corners and dunging,
Shuffling by sorrow's robe of regret.
While a eunuch in the monument is searching
The darker regions. Nothing sleeps -
A violet panther through the midnight creeps,

Shaping itself by the light of this room.
Here, Behemoth's squat frame dangles wax fingers,
Dripping like sodium candles aflame.
There, in macabre rutting, a red bristling pig,
It's eyes broken in the morning sun,
Performs staggering routines by outside force.

And in antique times - Babalon,
Is transfixed by the light of the moon,
Longing for the kiss of madrigal lips,
Only to look on Sodom's pink gaze again:
Am I dimensions dreaming in your skin,
Where this black owl's flight weaves its bygone days?

Watched Hector, cold, like Sunday morning death,
Hiding family secrets in every crease...
I must unravel time and go beyond this wilderness;
Beyond the governable by instruments and iron marionettes,
Where womanhood has tumbled to activate in me,
Response, as we hunger through the centuries.

The Mayfly Hatch

by

Barry Van-Asten

Indifferent to change - I'm electric,
You're electric too, I said,
Oscillating and reflecting.
And by these fruits we suffer,
Yet neither of us more than the other.

And I yearned for all this in my youth:
A space among divine flesh, and summers;
A device to calm the sorrowful breast
Gripped by the neutrality of woman and universe.

Still, I hoped for better things to come:
Things said and not said,
Things done and not done.
But behind the north wind - Avalon
Still draws the line of her descent
To clamber and fall with collosal fear again.

Dawn, swans and aeroplanes...
I awoke to your Saturday morning cough
And found it impossible to face myself.
I tried to recapture love in semi-solids,
But when the hour came, I was Golem,
And not some clean-shaven Adonis
I could never be. And so

Remembering the old ones in words and ways
I found myself in her circumfrence of skin.
Hooked like a lead ball about her heart:
A weight to weigh her emotions with.
To navigate the nucleus, and begin
Observing the cycles of motion and rest:
A universe in a chemical system
Turned by moon tactics over centuries.

But still I hoped for better things:
For this thing between us to unfold;
For this thing between us to evolve.
Yet we retreated into a world of old bones,
Into the cold, grey tombs of the minster,
Afraid of TV's and telephones -
Gripped by the intensity of man and world.

And I hide epileptic secrets, I said,
Like pathway gates locked shut.
But as past masters of the broken heart,
We will always be scum devouring scum.

The Birth Of Pan

by

Barry Van-Asten

This earth calamity;
This new-born man:
Short on form, long on reason...
At the coming of the Golden Dawn
Wood whisperings reveal: Great Pan is born!
Born into a world absorbed by war
Where darkness is thy maiden whore!
And at the fount of our man-god, take
This treacherous rot of globe and make
A Kingdom, wonderful with gold
And goat-god lust both brave and bold:
Awake! Masturbating man of old!

This root of life;
This earthward bowel:
This token charmed from midnight foul!
Here, vomit up your history
To see the scum of Sodom pouring forth,
From the night to light this mystery;
Where loathsome is the flesh within
The sanctity of salvation's throne,
To reveal a great god, shook from dust;
His thighs thick with honey lust:
Mad, for the passion-bashed clitoris of fire
Where his seed shall flow and never tire
In the endless gash of mortal desire!

Spoon Bending

by

Barry Van-Asten

The house is empty and seems so cold;
Rooms are dying, winding down, all through,
Where childhood thumbled long ago.

And in seclusion, I dummy death,
With fingers touching, still content
To draw stars and circles in the air.

Here, lion-crouching or war dancing;
Test-monkey sitting and laboratory squatting,
Waiting, expectantly, as if you would come in.

Round and round, without touching
Floors and walls or appliances:
These interiors have become your Himalaya's, you said.

And in my hunchbacked morality - I hypnotise...
Corners are head-shaped and I fit in.
Both as giant and insect, table-drowning,

Wanting to hear your voice, but then
Electric socket dreaming and spoon bending
Have taken you from me once again.

Something Supernatural

by

Barry Van-Asten

At twilight, I imagine her as before,
Assembled from posted fragments, gathered
Into an alphabet of her ways and more,
Until the female form is covered -

Girlhood's expanse, recurring somehow...
But her eyes only show the reach of dreams
Cutting through the hallway's glow,
Concealed by something more than she seems.

And yes, it's terrible, how she will never say
Those words I need to hear the most.
And when the feminine part inside falls away
To the flood of grim September's ghost,

I won't leave the room, instead I'll wait;
time won't tell but time will pass,
With my lens fixed to the iron gate
to see it's shadow fall across the grass.

For something supernatural keeps her near,
Where desire, dying under dream's wing
Is something sealed that our hearts' won't hear:
Too involved in ourselves to love, and ending.

Lost Hearts

by

Barry Van-Asten

But for a shared moment, long ago...
Your voice is painful to me now;
There has been too much said and done between us
And I have shrunk from the world I used to know.

And there are no simple words, just stupid
Things that we said in the past;
Now an impossible cosmos of hurt feelings
Where two hearts had won and lost.

But it's awful how we dream, somehow,
Of sorrow's wickedness in the heart,
For I made a Pompeii of my love
And buried the whole damn lot.

And you will pass as in some dream
Where echoes of those far off days
Shall murmur, winter-thick and constantly:
Love and us remain always.

But my mammoth love was cooled by Severn
Since long before your birth, I said.
Yet still the soft voice whispered near:
Give our unbroken love delight.

And I am obsessed with dead time
And other things shall follow soon.
I do not know of love or its ways
Because of unnatural reserve, nothing evolves.

But like ancient stones we'll stand,
Labouring under some misplaced spell
That will tick us to the end of time,
Into it's blue-lipped oblivion.

Death Of Mr Barry Philip Van-Asten. B.A. 1969-2009.

by

Barry Van-Asten

A biblical wind opened out
A trackway from the heart that passes
Through a mind mapped by science and doubt -
His life was all acids and gases,

And Dante and Chaucer and churches
And old books and nettles and thunder
And teapots and ghosts and strange forces:
Froebel fellow... laird something or other...

And numbers and hills and dark places
And rivers and Shakespeare and stone
And legs and eyelashes and faces
And death and bird-song and bone...

A man of great thought there's no doubt -
At sunset he peacocked with ease;
A mind switched by solids and salt;
A poet and painter of dreams.

But bored at the prospect of life -
He absorbed knowledge forbidden by time:
His love was a cascade of failed rites
Crucified in their prime.

And with a handful of secrets and songs,
Torment was damned to his knees;
He thumbed for the meaning of love
As he unstitched his heart at the seams.

Ham House

by

Barry Van-Asten

Death in Tunbridge Wells - 1682;
Its unbolted memory has never left these walls.
And its iron ghost climbs down the centuries, and walks,
To rattle, blundering through our thoughtless days now.

This is a house of dignity, a sombre war horse
Poised on the edge of its stately decline:
A mummified relic of the seventeenth century,
Swallowing modern age; force fed with our time.

Autumn has bludgeoned in, finding its way
Between the locked gates and the rusted rails;
Unfolding before me in this strange light,
Hidden from searching eyes, lost in the maze;
Unattended and overgrown behind the gateway,
Forgotten and spiralling out beyond control.

Yet in the moonlight, chambers grind
To their passion-filled decline.
And through panelled rooms, she'll walk tonight
And enter the Great Hall in her phantom glide;
Winding towards the Great Stair and the chapel door
That's thick with each season's remembrance that dies.

Misshapen trees slant from the house, listening
For the sledgehammer thud of Victorian whispers
Among the flower beds and spread boughs that
Still harbour the thumping crimes of yesteryear.

An aeroplane breaks the still and desperate air
And a seated girl springs to her feet again,
To push her lawn mower over the wide sweep
Of tree-shadowed expansive ruin before her.

The carved busts in the brick walls groan and grin
Over the East Front's low shrubs and hedgerows,
Listening to the barbarous hum of twentieth-century:
A whirring mower; a plane in the distance that fades,
Where perhaps once a strummed lute was the only
Sound heard to the faint crackle of fireplaces in rooms!

Clocks for ever ticking - guests talking...
While all around is the slow crumbling and
Shutting down and boarding up of interiors.
Here, some suicide has scratched his name
On the library window pane: John ...tun 1780,
(He jumped to his death at the age of seventeen).

A gentle breeze blows between the boughs;
A wheel barrow is pushed by a girl in overalls.
The sun behind a cloud, white and grey,
Looks towards the horror of the house again
Kept from its natural decay; clambering
And stuttering through present time
And sad for the sleep of eternity.

[South Front Terrace]

The Passion And The Prayer

by

Barry Van-Asten

What occupant beats beside a lover's brain?
Who hears the whispers of the past?
It is the old world that comes again
With dreams, softly as a ghost,

Creeping from the thresholds beckoning,
Breezing in and out of age...
As Death's ticking knuckle is hammering
Unseen shapes of fantastic rage.

And through the night the flesh did sing,
Touched by unseen hands in the dark
That showed only the nothingness in everything,
Like a dead candle lit by a spark!

A brief pause in the rail of change
That strays over time as some star,
Where we are but mannequins in the strange
Laws that govern what we are;

Drawn like some architect worm to the cell
Where the suspended pulses of our way,
Rot, inside the timeless shell
That carries our decay.

Through the passing of tiresome years,
The blue-veined curve of sleep's release
Is sickened by the sound of tears
Where the activities of the dead don't cease!

For love has stirred some unseen rite
Amongst the shadows of the lost;
Steered some wanderer from the night
That won't relinquish the world as host,

To flow from out the tomb and grin,
And break a body with deceit,
For science and atomic faith won't win
When the passion and the prayer's complete!

What ague has surfaced from the unknown
To blow like leaves through viewless space
From depths to mingle moan with moan,
Always returning to this place?

Where I mourn a prayer that won't be heard
For a love I cannot have,
That hungers for the passionate word
And all that transpires in the grave.

The Passion And The Prayer

by

Barry Van-Asten

What occupant beats beside a lover's brain?
Who hears the whispers of the past?
It is the old world that comes again
With dreams, softly as a ghost,

Creeping from the thresholds beckoning,
Breezing in and out of age...
As Death's ticking knuckle is hammering
Unseen shapes of fantastic rage.

And through the night the flesh did sing,
Touched by unseen hands in the dark
That showed only the nothingness in everything,
Like a dead candle lit by a spark!

A brief pause in the rail of change
That strays over time as some star,
Where we are but mannequins in the strange
Laws that govern what we are;

Drawn like some architect worm to the cell
Where the suspended pulses of our way,
Rot, inside the timeless shell
That carries our decay.

Through the passing of tiresome years,
The blue-veined curve of sleep's release
Is sickened by the sound of tears
Where the activities of the dead don't cease!

For love has stirred some unseen rite
Amongst the shadows of the lost;
Steered some wanderer from the night
That won't relinquish the world as host,

To flow from out the tomb and grin,
And break a body with deceit,
For science and atomic faith won't win
When the passion and the prayer's complete!

What ague has surfaced from the unknown
To blow like leaves through viewless space
From depths to mingle moan with moan,
Always returning to this place?

Where I mourn a prayer that won't be heard
For a love I cannot have,
That hungers for the passionate word
And all that transpires in the grave.

The Totem Elect

by

Barry Van-Asten

Under the steed breath and warlock eyes,
His granite stare lifts a Canterbury miracle
And a death... Lips like a drained lake, reveals
A winding path amidst the sunken graves...

The thump, thump of hideous thought
In gloomy gardens... violated remains
Castrated to the crack of horse hooves,
To jab like wax-work, and become
Insane at some vile ache of time.

And at the summit of imagination -
Black angry marks; a widow's tongue
Cuts like some cancer through the heart,
Snorting at pantry fever and kitchen dust.

While above the tree-tops, from a steeple
Swooped a raven, thrashing low
Over columns and pillars, to the waterside
Where it earthed with ineffable joy,
And placed itself upon a pendant.

Here it wove for a thousand years:
Dreams and domes and all things lost;
All things smothered in their prime
By twilights charging at dawns...

Some dead foetus tumbled down
From out of the summer lightning;
Performing staggering etudes
In its unsteady playing.

An idea came to me:
Why not show it life?
I'll take it to the idol room
And breathe into it, intellect!

Chalk Grasslands

by

Barry Van-Asten

The day wheel turns - the air is ringed
And teeth of dark assembly grow;
Her flesh lawned in sunned ecstasy,

Sipped and sweetened by geological rage.
The night holds the riddle of enchantment:
Marjoram, wild thyme, early gentian_ time rolls
The nerve system, jerked into existence
By the mode of the mind, sublime_
A moon-gulf of wisdom approaches
Like an engine of tears on the wane;

Eyebright - the ghost song’s arising
In the tor-grass, on the hills again_
And the dead they are here, they are cheering,
They come, as lights across a distant port;
Dull with death, and enthralling,
The embers of their thought, console me,

And retain a sense, a deviant call
Where the heart, vacated in heat
Is lifted to the contours of magical thought -
A voice - the brain’s delusion in regret!
The stars, they are laughing, above us
And seem to know, we’re here;

In the planes of new life, young seed
Where darkness holds the animated spirit_
Wild rabbits tunnel the chalk_
Speeds across the heath
And hides in the flowering undergrowth
From the ever-hungry beak!
Thoughts elevated in soft song,
Thistle-mown: the furrows shall remain;
Where stone curlew and Adonis blue
Sometimes measure and haunt the chalk hills, again.

In Wake Woods

by

Barry Van-Asten

Those seven ages of man, look upon
The star-bashed solemnity and give ease
As the sky trembles to a canopy
Of ancient trees - the shire-sturdy oak!
Where I in all my moods of change
Could not look upon those sad-haunted woods
Or feel the mild February rain
Fall with secrets, never mine.

Where a time echoes to the muse of life
That dwells where hearts hurt, and scare
The impassioned soul of girl-turning-woman
To remain at her shaped idyll, once more.
Shadows are pulled by the light and the dark -
Spring soothes in avenues, to red campion, flows
As the woods ache with old anger, to unfold
With light in the bee-drone, and valerian!

A mist is upon me... if lips had met -
Silvery-wet, and softly painted
To tortures of the heart's distress
And a love no longer there, nor true.
Innocence lost, now masked by shade
Where the ceremony of death, stains
And lingers dreadful beneath the moon
That the inmost eye too soon should sail!
Pale Will, with his myriad lines
Shows how little times have changed
In matters of the heart, for love
Is death, un-measured, destroyed by word!

Black cedar, where you stretch and twist -
The rhythm of the woods can never catch
That firing stem, that growing bud
That circles the aged wood... a glimpse
Of foxglove and betony twined - a link
Where the burnt mounds lie hushed in sleep;
A sleep of sun-dappled paths, that holds
Things in which we care to remember, no more.

And the brush and the birdsong, did give way
To the call of the beasts at eventide
That echoed like the twinkle of Iscariot's feet
With each step a betrayal... But night nears
And moonlit pools like phospher pits
Plop to the falling of decay and death;
The bulge and bloat of boughs creak
An unearthly music, cloaked by night!

The hunger and harmony of woods are shown;
Its bluebelled sanctuary - a mad things delight!
That thunderous mill pond, in the rain;
The crossing of footpaths like words that wind
Between blackened mounds and mud-filled hollows,
With the beat of roots, below each step!
Let the clouds gather, grow dark and brood
Over the mill water, turning the reeds!
Birds now fill the vacant space, where
The grinding of wheels and great sluices were heard:
A haven of a time when the wood was worked
And horses stamped the long days away.

But how I have left those tearful woods;
Left those trees and buds, to walk
With lips aflame and tormented heart -
Eyes like death's-heads in the dark,
And the fourteenth day of that dread month
Left me haunted in those hushed groves.

A wind in the musk mallow, shrieks,
The forked path, shrouded in mist,
Glides in veils over columbine
Like wisps of history that won't be lost.
The dark boughs beneath the shade
Twist towards the light - they move,
Beneath willow eaves, water tracks glisten
As something fearful and ancient,
Through the old wood crawls!

The witch-o'-the woods, still
Dark and autumnal as the mill;
A ring of reeds shadows the pond;
Rustle in the breeze, they sing
A language lost to us, and strange_
Roots, tugging at the river's roll
Where life flows throughout the wood!

Iris, violet and sorrel, sway
Beyond clumps and the bosky bole, towards
The scent-filled serenity of the daisy-glade,
Where dwindling red was overcome
By grey - they are long gone!

In Wake Woods

by

Barry Van-Asten

Those seven ages of man, look upon
The star-bashed solemnity and give ease
As the sky trembles to a canopy
Of ancient trees - the shire-sturdy oak!
Where I in all my moods of change
Could not look upon those sad-haunted woods
Or feel the mild February rain
Fall with secrets, never mine.

Where a time echoes to the muse of life
That dwells where hearts hurt, and scare
The impassioned soul of girl-turning-woman
To remain at her shaped idyll, once more.
Shadows are pulled by the light and the dark -
Spring soothes in avenues, to red campion, flows
As the woods ache with old anger, to unfold
With light in the bee-drone, and valerian!

A mist is upon me... if lips had met -
Silvery-wet, and softly painted
To tortures of the heart's distress
And a love no longer there, nor true.
Innocence lost, now masked by shade
Where the ceremony of death, stains
And lingers dreadful beneath the moon
That the inmost eye too soon should sail!
Pale Will, with his myriad lines
Shows how little times have changed
In matters of the heart, for love
Is death, un-measured, destroyed by word!

Black cedar, where you stretch and twist -
The rhythm of the woods can never catch
That firing stem, that growing bud
That circles the aged wood... a glimpse
Of foxglove and betony twined - a link
Where the burnt mounds lie hushed in sleep;
A sleep of sun-dappled paths, that holds
Things in which we care to remember, no more.

And the brush and the birdsong, did give way
To the call of the beasts at eventide
That echoed like the twinkle of Iscariot's feet
With each step a betrayal... But night nears
And moonlit pools like phospher pits
Plop to the falling of decay and death;
The bulge and bloat of boughs creak
An unearthly music, cloaked by night!

The hunger and harmony of woods are shown;
Its bluebelled sanctuary - a mad things delight!
That thunderous mill pond, in the rain;
The crossing of footpaths like words that wind
Between blackened mounds and mud-filled hollows,
With the beat of roots, below each step!
Let the clouds gather, grow dark and brood
Over the mill water, turning the reeds!
Birds now fill the vacant space, where
The grinding of wheels and great sluices were heard:
A haven of a time when the wood was worked
And horses stamped the long days away.

But how I have left those tearful woods;
Left those trees and buds, to walk
With lips aflame and tormented heart -
Eyes like death's-heads in the dark,
And the fourteenth day of that dread month
Left me haunted in those hushed groves.

A wind in the musk mallow, shrieks,
The forked path, shrouded in mist,
Glides in veils over columbine
Like wisps of history that won't be lost.
The dark boughs beneath the shade
Twist towards the light - they move,
Beneath willow eaves, water tracks glisten
As something fearful and ancient,
Through the old wood crawls!

The witch-o'-the woods, still
Dark and autumnal as the mill;
A ring of reeds shadows the pond;
Rustle in the breeze, they sing
A language lost to us, and strange_
Roots, tugging at the river's roll
Where life flows throughout the wood!

Iris, violet and sorrel, sway
Beyond clumps and the bosky bole, towards
The scent-filled serenity of the daisy-glade,
Where dwindling red was overcome
By grey - they are long gone!

In Wake Woods

by

Barry Van-Asten

Those seven ages of man, look upon
The star-bashed solemnity and give ease
As the sky trembles to a canopy
Of ancient trees - the shire-sturdy oak!
Where I in all my moods of change
Could not look upon those sad-haunted woods
Or feel the mild February rain
Fall with secrets, never mine.

Where a time echoes to the muse of life
That dwells where hearts hurt, and scare
The impassioned soul of girl-turning-woman
To remain at her shaped idyll, once more.
Shadows are pulled by the light and the dark -
Spring soothes in avenues, to red campion, flows
As the woods ache with old anger, to unfold
With light in the bee-drone, and valerian!

A mist is upon me... if lips had met -
Silvery-wet, and softly painted
To tortures of the heart's distress
And a love no longer there, nor true.
Innocence lost, now masked by shade
Where the ceremony of death, stains
And lingers dreadful beneath the moon
That the inmost eye too soon should sail!
Pale Will, with his myriad lines
Shows how little times have changed
In matters of the heart, for love
Is death, un-measured, destroyed by word!

Black cedar, where you stretch and twist -
The rhythm of the woods can never catch
That firing stem, that growing bud
That circles the aged wood... a glimpse
Of foxglove and betony twined - a link
Where the burnt mounds lie hushed in sleep;
A sleep of sun-dappled paths, that holds
Things in which we care to remember, no more.

And the brush and the birdsong, did give way
To the call of the beasts at eventide
That echoed like the twinkle of Iscariot's feet
With each step a betrayal... But night nears
And moonlit pools like phospher pits
Plop to the falling of decay and death;
The bulge and bloat of boughs creak
An unearthly music, cloaked by night!

The hunger and harmony of woods are shown;
Its bluebelled sanctuary - a mad things delight!
That thunderous mill pond, in the rain;
The crossing of footpaths like words that wind
Between blackened mounds and mud-filled hollows,
With the beat of roots, below each step!
Let the clouds gather, grow dark and brood
Over the mill water, turning the reeds!
Birds now fill the vacant space, where
The grinding of wheels and great sluices were heard:
A haven of a time when the wood was worked
And horses stamped the long days away.

But how I have left those tearful woods;
Left those trees and buds, to walk
With lips aflame and tormented heart -
Eyes like death's-heads in the dark,
And the fourteenth day of that dread month
Left me haunted in those hushed groves.

A wind in the musk mallow, shrieks,
The forked path, shrouded in mist,
Glides in veils over columbine
Like wisps of history that won't be lost.
The dark boughs beneath the shade
Twist towards the light - they move,
Beneath willow eaves, water tracks glisten
As something fearful and ancient,
Through the old wood crawls!

The witch-o'-the woods, still
Dark and autumnal as the mill;
A ring of reeds shadows the pond;
Rustle in the breeze, they sing
A language lost to us, and strange_
Roots, tugging at the river's roll
Where life flows throughout the wood!

Iris, violet and sorrel, sway
Beyond clumps and the bosky bole, towards
The scent-filled serenity of the daisy-glade,
Where dwindling red was overcome
By grey - they are long gone!