Things fall apart

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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

—from “The Second Coming,” by W. B. Yeats

Bridges. Airplanes. Political systems. Things fall apart.

Instructions for Making Compost

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From a certain perspective,

compost is all about death.

Decay.

Decomposition.

That final descent from beauty

into a chaos of crumbs.

 

On the other hand,

compost is all about life.

New life, forming at the ground level

of the vast, intricate, beautiful ecology that makes us possible.

Microbes, worms, insects, fungi

all perform miraculous transformations

to produce the soil in which

our life is rooted.

 

Compost can be poetic.

Not too much; not too little.

Not too wet; not too dry.

Not too hot, not too cold.

Not too slow, not too fast.

Balance.

Nothing overmuch.

The yin and the yang doing their eternal dance

in perfect counterpoise.

 

When the balance is lost, compost stinks.

Use your nose,

restore the balance,

turn the pile,

add what’s lacking,

remove that which offends.

The rest is patience.

Rebirth

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Everything is—not perfect, but cosy
When suddenly there’s a big lurch
That you can’t explain
Or control.

At first you think, no worries,
We’ll be back on course in a moment.
But we aren’t.

Then more lurches, some big
Some small
And long stretches in between.

Waiting.

Thinking, can’t we just go back
To where we were?
Trying to work out how this could happen
While that other voice is saying
Forget it pal; we’re done here.

And then more waiting.

Wondering where this is leading.
Somewhere new and different, of course,
But how, exactly?

No way to know.

—December 2006

Poem: The empire was attacked

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The empire

was attacked.

Babies cried, or lay lifeless

Mothers sprawled awkwardly

Young men, old men, old women, girls and boys

Body parts and fluids everywhere.

Only whimpers, or dazed silence as the sun shone indifferently.

 

It struck back.

Babies cried, or lay lifeless

Mothers sprawled awkwardly

Young men, old men, old women, girls and boys

Body parts and fluids everywhere.

Only whimpers, or dazed silence as the sun shone indifferently.

 

Somewhere, crowds cheered in triumph.

Somewhere, crowds screamed in rage.

 

The empire lumbered on.

—6 May 2011