Friday, October 30, 2009

Pack of Lies

0 The Fool
Do not despise me for what I lack,
the World's burden lies heavy on my back:
hare's foot in my pack and wooden spoon to
ward off the Devil on my journey to
the Moon. But, maybe I'll just return
to the Inn and sup another measure
of ale and wait my turn with greasy Joan.
Anyway, I think the fatted calf would
rather I delay the inevitable
reconciliation with the Father.

I The Magician
As first mountebank I appear as one,
ministering in the marketplace
to both the incredulous and the sly.
My legerdemain is swift and just:
bright coins soon disappear from dupes who stand
before my table; alderman or wife,
mesmerised by cup and pea beneath my hand.
Just a tap of my wand is all it takes
to take it all away, with one quick cut
of my accomplice's hidden knife.

II The High Priestess
If she has a face, it is never seen
in that impenetrable shadow where
above her gleam a circlet of stars, this
Queen of Heaven, seated with the book
of mysteries upon her knees, sees all
but reveals nothing to the common eye:
encompassing and bounding all things real
or imaginary, enthroned between
the pillars of chance and necessity,
one naked foot resting on the Moon.

III The Empress
Sired from the seeds of time and foaming sea,
she rules by love and sweet profligacy,
her pleasures she bestows in abundance
to allay the cruel pains of growth and life,
her gifts transcending the ennui
of dumb being and dull continuance.
Purple and yellow her flowers bloom, signs
of Earth's perpetual union with the sky.
Nothing lives but for her desiring breath
nor dies forever in Love's land of death.

IV  The Emperor
But from love's chaos order comes, bearing
the crown and sceptre of rightful command,
decreed by form and number physis speaks
in geometric and unyielding tongues.
How can rule be lawful without a ruler?
lawyers argue by their blinkered rules,
so man reasons that love and freedom
must give allegiance to an Emperor,
aquiline and sanctified by holy sword,
to guide or bind the hands of wayward fools.

V  The Hierophant
Temporal power does not rule alone where
the triple crown bows down before the hoar
and sacred mystery of winter's pall,
and Persephone's return from dark
Hades thrall weaves its way towards the light.
In caverns and catacombs militant
monks revere the child bound deep within
the circling zodiac and rocky tomb,
who springs  with tauromachian power
to sacrifice the beast of winter's night.

VI  The Lover
Now here I stand undecided, attired
in multicoloured coat, caught between love,
sacred and profane, and forced to choose
righteous duty or give in to beauty's
wayward boy. Overhead his deadly aim
will soon dispel those doubts and illusions
that I am free to choose between the
apple and the sacred tree. Why blame me
if I indulge my fancy, and taste joy
with She-Wolf or Chloe on life's stony way.

VII The Chariot
In princely robes, I grasp the reins of force
to draw the Sun along its stately course.
Wayward the dark horse but steadfast the white,
my path will be strewn with roses from dawn
to dusk or with my blood and broken husk.
In pursuit of power and glory I must
cast fear aside and trample opposition
underfoot in my celestial rush to write
my name in history; a meteoric
rise or falling star my destiny.

VIII Justice
Weighing which hearts are heavy and which light,
she sits sword in hand and contemplates
the Damocletian fate of gods and men.
Implacable and inevitable
are the laws that gape open the doors to Hell,
or to freedom and happiness as well.
Each seed of action contains within itself
the root and flower of its consequence.
Without choice, nature knows no sin or flaw:
expect no mercy where this rule is law.

IX  The Hermit
Still looking for the way, I'm aged now,
my lamp guttering as the oil runs low.
But with each faltering step my mind grows clear,
as I steer midway between pain and joy.
I hold in abeyance all choices or
decisions which disturb the karmic track.
Like the planets, I wander down strange paths
preordained by the footsteps behind me,
glancing back at my steps in time I see,
the doleful traces of my destiny.

X  The Wheel of Fortune
Lashed to the wheel we rise or fall by chance,
powerless to exercise the will or
win Fortune's favour or her baleful glance.
The paradox of will and destiny
resolved only in its contrate motion
or at the still centre of its endless
spin, where the wise take refuge from the world.
The will is but the motion of desire,
which drives the cycles of this awful gyre,
from which not even death provides relief.

XI  Force
When the lion of the will is overcome,
the green tincture of the golden sun is
seen. The body becomes inviolate
and strong, exuding power and sweetness from
each pore. The hero returns undefeated
to the city, still bound by his promise
to overcome the cycle of the sun.
Jealous of his sister's love, false Phoebus
schemes to take back the hero's godly power.
Love's arrow strikes him bathing in the sea.

XII  The hanged man
Powerless I hang inverted by
one foot from a tree, as others have done
before me and will again hereafter.
What does it mean? With eighteen signs I see
the world tree clearly with one eye closed, the
loving, fighting, healing and mastery
to be gained from thought and memory.
Now my sacrifice is over, I will
fly with ravens and see with eagle's eye,
riding through the branches of Yggdrasil.

XIII Death
Death's farmer does not sow but only reaps,
on high or low estate he levies tithes,
no one escapes the scythe of Thanatos.
All those who prosper now will lose their lives,
for beggars or kings he shows no regard
but mows them down and heaps them by the yard.
Harrowed land lies barren 'neath winter's gloom,
waiting the return of Eros' fertile doom;
love's joyful rains descending once again
herald the groaning passage of life's wain.

XIV  Temperance
Harsh absolutes are tempered in the fires
of reason, quenched by dialectic springs,
life and death opposition is folded
in the mercy of an angel's wings.
The eye of Anubis brings the desert flood,
 brief relief from Dog Days burning heat,
and greens the delta with the hope of food
and life immortal for the pious kings.
Pouring balm to heal all suffering physis,
Maria Prophetess reborn as Isis,

XV  The Devil
Typhon, last son of Gaia and ruler
of all material things, hermaphrodite
with scaly wings, creator of gender
and all disagreements among humankind,
also called Baphomet by Templar knights.
Beneath the sigil of the pentagram,
seated upon the sphere and cubic throne,
'solve Coagula' your baleful epigram.
None can free themselves from your awful chains
without abandoning all joys and pains.

XVI  The Tower of Destruction
The fall of Jericho or Babylon
is well known, but any false monument
to gods or men may be overthrown,
but mostly this refers to the hubris
of kings or men of power whose discontent
hurls down both high and low into the dust,
when nations fall or economies go bust.
All forms, manmade or not, are subject to
the sudden shock of change which can unglue
the mind or the fabric of world we know.

XVII The Star
Hope, that last antidote remained within
the box when evils filled the world with sin.
Ishta's star rises early and sets late:
descending, she passes through that dark gate
to gather abandoned souls like flowers
seeking the light in their darkest hours.
She, Queen of Heaven and fertility,
effulgent daughter of the Sun and Moon.
waters the Earth with tears of compassion,
promising suffering will be over soon.

XVIII  The Moon
In the city, the dogs begin to bark
at the strange light that banishes the dark.
The Moon attracts, with mysterious force,
all the waters of the Earth and makes them
dance in rhythmic harmony, and rejoice
in a symphony of abundant life.
Strange monsters come floating up from the deep,
and out of mind hidden illusions creep
into the light of new-born consciousness
to weep upon the shores of moonlit lakes.

XIX  The Sun
The Sun shines equally on every home
with radiance and magnanimity.
Dawn's twin horsemen too shone down equally
in many skies before they founded Rome.
Staring at the Sun in the midday hour
we see the yods flow from the sacred horn.
The Sun is fount of energy and life,
parching the grass or ripening the corn,
but in Ragnorak the wolves will devour
Sol and Mani before Sunna is reborn.

XX  The Judgment
"Judge not lest ye be judged" is not written
in the Angel's book: the strident horn calls
forth the dead to be saved or smitten with
another thousand ills in Satan's halls,
where Gabriel and St George combine
to winnow wheat from the chaff to ensure
that each soul in Heaven is clean and pure.
When humanity has been so refined,
and there is no more need for flesh or mind
will the goldsmith in the sky be so unkind?

XXI  The World
The substantial orb and the world soul stand
united in the Anima Mundi,
completing the quest of each errant soul,
within a transcendent divinity.
Once hidden in matter but now set free,
the creative principle of the three,
foretold by Maria Prophetisa
is revealed by the magic of the light,
instilled in air, earth fire and water
by that first great imperious command.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vitreous Humour

Gathering in hollows the waters lie
reflecting what's above but not below,
supine eyes staring at the azure sky,
unsighted spurning what they cannot know:
though stray beams filter through the gloomy deep
and keep unconscious denizens from sleep.

Moving on the waters, the winds disturb
the sun's bright paintings with crude striations
and those airy vibrations that perturb
the symmetry of light's fine creations:
below, mother's shells gleam with pearly pride,
where vain procrustean thoughts are wont to hide.

Sheltering from the wind beneath the trees,
a pair of youthful eyes take their delight
in talk between the water and the breeze,
revealed by the play of flickering light
reflected on his features as he kneels
to touch the one who neither knows nor feels.

Fleeting ripples, water's brief memory
of wind, soon dissipate upon the shore,
but nothing catches light's celerity
or persists of reflections made before:
only a perceiving mind can capture
both the cooling breeze or vision's rapture.

At first there was polished obsidian
then beaten copper or burnished bronze for
ladies to admire their complexion,
or for Martial men dressing up for war.
Mercury and Saturn laid under glass,
helped vanity and weary days to pass.

On the Island of Murano a boon
was invented in aid of vanity,
Mercury, not yet wedded to the Moon,
ruled alone, but  spread his insanity,
until Bohemian silver paved the way,
leaving Venetian craft to yesterday.  

Once the secret was loosed upon the world,
mirrors abounded in the stately halls,
with prancing ladies, hair bewigged and curled,
dancing in glass canyons with mirrored walls:
a hundred candles, spawning hundreds more,
breathed smoke and showered wax upon the floor.

By day Apollo's golden arrows fly
but in the night Selene's silver dearth
paints pale moonscapes beneath the sparkling sky,
where starlings fly above the dreaming Earth.
Young moonstruck virgins rise with restless heads
for naked views in mirrors by their beds.

At midnight, peering in the scrying bowl
may yield apparitions or none at all,
or spell disaster to a damned soul,
doomed to wander hopeless in Hades' Hall:
but broken mirrors only mean seven years
bad luck for those with superstitious fears.

The image in the looking glass I see
contains another I that is untrue:
the mystery of the mirror is not me,
but spatial confusion between the two:
we do not see the messengers of light,
but their messages only after flight.

In the mirror I see another me,
twins fathered by the looking glass are we,
divided by a twisted parity.
Narcissus admires his divinity
and leans forward to give himself a kiss
but not close enough for that spectral bliss.

In the Hall of Mirrors at the fairground,
the twisted forms of friends or family
cause merriment and laughter to resound
from the shining walls, but no enmity
to anyone or even wounded pride,
but relief at being taken for a ride.

The friendly glass confirms identity:
what we appear to be not who we are,
as whole beings of possibility
and dynamic selves who become aware
of others too, caught in imperfect bliss
or webs of pain, when we reflect on this.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nothing Comes from Nothing

Nothing took it into its empty head
to speak its piece at last and quickly said,
"Big Bang", but there was no one there to hear
because Nothing had neither brain nor ear.

But nevertheless it got very hot
under the collar, created light, not
before time but just in time to make way
for enough space for what it had to say.

The other story is that Everything,
Nothing's elder brother, continued to sing
his interminable song in the dark.
'til bored gravity struck that fatal spark,

filling the new laid egg with blazing suns
and that noxious gas that everyone shuns
when flatulent theories burst and release
foetid confusions that disturb their peace.

Then sleeping consciousness that nowhere dwells,
except within our brains, those wobbly shells,
woke to discover that the world was real,
because there was a lot of pain to feel.

Eventually, the wheelchair man spoke too,
and put a spoke in the hullabaloo
about the origins of time and space
not showing us its original face.

Now we all wait with baited breath until
the Large Hadron Collider can infill
all the important theoretical gaps
left by God and those other clever chaps.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Fisherman of Thera

The naked fisherman stood by the wall,
a bunch of freshly landed mackerel
clutched in each hand, his biceps straining to
maintain a natural and easy posture.

"Why does he want my picture on his walls,
with these fish an' all? You'd think he'd rather
have his fancy women there, with their white
breasts nestling like doves in the trees."

The painter did not reply but added
more earthy pigment to the wet plaster.
"The great dolphins you did over the door,
I can understand that, but mackerel?"

The painter looked up crossly, "Keep quiet,
and keep your arms up or we'll never be done.
The Lord wants a fisherman and you're it.
There are ladies too but not for your eyes."

"Why are you painting my body so red?
I'm not that much darker than you are."
"You ask too many questions, fisherman;
it's true, we both toil too much in the sun."

"While our masters lie inside these cool walls,
laughing and sporting with their womenfolk.
Ah, those women!" The fisherman sighed,
"I haven't caught one of them yet, have you?"

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Lucifer, rising from the mists of dawn,
clings on behind Aurora's binding ties:
the fading crescent of the moon looks down
on damp fields where the snaking river lies.
The newborn sun soon wakes the dragonflies
and the frothing nymphs who jump and spit
upon the buttercups and meadowsweet.

The swallows quit their muddy homes beneath
the eaves of house and barn, breakfasting
on dancing swarms, taken on the wing: high
above the heath  they swing on to pastures
new where the day will host life's frantic play,
that bloody corybantic dance of May
that ends in death for all their merry prey.

At rivers edge the drooping willows sway:
beneath their roots the red-striped stickleback
performs his dance of love to lure away
his bride to be, who never wants to play.
Penitent cows endure horse fly attacks
and lash their tails across their weeping backs,
useless travail as lifeblood seeps away.

From sandy holes along the river's banks
the martins take the air in serried ranks,
and join the swallows scribbling on the clouds,
black surds in Roman numerals describe
the fleeting shrouds that mark the time and place
of the million small funerals it takes
to slake the metabolic thirst of birds.

The footless swift emits its piercing scream,
joining the killing crowd above the stream
where, in the rippling waters, endless stores
of naiads swim, nymphs cling to waving reeds,
some changing costumes for the final act
of love, or sowing seeds along the shores,
before dying, seduced by nature's pact.

Elsewhere, in the desert air, barn swallows
dive and soar over bare Euphrates' banks
oblivious to their brother predator
who drones in circles round abandoned tanks,
where they sometimes nest in rusty hollows,
threatened only by the curious child
intent on seeing nature in the wild.

In the meander of a sandy dune
foot prints of a child at play are memorised
in mud, between the bulrush and the blood
flowing from the mangled bodies, hit by
missiles launched from the whining drone above
the desert sands, guided by foreign hands,
that strike down carelessly each stinging fly.

Gaia, that unprincipled virago,
has stamped the traces  of her imago
 on the greatest and the least: man or fly
must follow the imperative to kill
and die; meanwhile in the reddening sky
effulgent Hesperus in retrograde
burns as the evening light begins to fade.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Sage scimitars shake in the canopy
beneath the turning Magellanic clouds,
aromatic lungs exhaling fixed air
as the rootless stare at the scenery
of serried arms raised against restless skies.

Counterpoise to diurnal energy,
leaves play night music in the waving shrouds,
nocturnes composed by zephyrs with a flair
for breathing through the comose greenery
an ancient air of life and earthy sighs.

In autumn winds the leafy panoply
advances and retreats in waving crowds,
a motley crew dressed for a winter fair
stands united, a leafy plenary
against the ravages of stormy skies.

The gardener wakes to find that entropy
has redecorated the lawn: his proud
work, curbing nature with much daily care,
clothed  with an arbitrary finery
appreciated only by the wise.

With rake he bends to mend the symmetry,
and, with an aching back, complains out loud
when scattering breezes bring disrepair,
which rude nature's careless adultery
will not amend no matter how he cries.

October 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beggar in Belgravia

Brown girl in Belgravia,
strolling down the crowded street,
your skirt is shorter than
the shiny boots upon your feet.
You seem so very fashionable,
your face so very sweet,
why have you distracted me
from my frenzied cherchez la femme?

It's not you I was looking for,
in this beknighted borough,
I was seeking a milliner,
so meticulous and thorough,
who says she makes hats for the Queen.
I wonder if you've seen her here,
along Kings Road or in between
Rotten Row and Sloane Square.

I mean, I don't expect you have,
but I'll follow you anyway,
close behind your tapping feet
and gaily swinging derriere.
I like your face, so strange and rare,
like a model in a fashion fair,
but would it be indiscrete
to ask you if you really are.

Walking here from Kensington,
I was accosted by a beggar man,
brandishing a safety razor
and a dirty shaving can.
I listened to his tale of woe
and gave him a few shillings.
He smiled at me in gratitude
and showed me all his fillings.

But all the while my head was filled
with last night's banging down the hall;
the pounding of the headboard
in the bedroom through the wall,
where the milliner had donned her cap
to entertain her lover,
or some other lucky chap
she had working under cover.

I called upon the Devil then,
and offered him my soul
if he'd punish that faithless girl
with fire and burning coal,
or better yet the unknown man
whose horrid body she caressed.
spurning the one whose ear was pressed
against her bedroom wall.

But now I'm strolling through Hyde Park,
beside a southern beauty rare,
with raven hair and liquid eyes,
two black cherries sweet and dark,
in a face of caramel and cream,
a feast to match the lovely dream
of swelling breasts and soft brown thighs,
that bold action could soon realise.

In her tiny serviced flat,
I get to see the rest of her,
a generous field of lean and fat,
laid down from adipose to that
pair of soft delights, and soon
a luscious coffee cream ├ęclair,
freely offered up at noon,
at Eaton Square near Chelsea Town.

Sleeping, her eyes still seem to see,
a milky meniscus beneath each lid,
keeping a witch's watchful eye on me,
the restless lover by her side.
I wonder whether to stay or flee
this bond of sudden sorcery,
as from her narrow bed I slide,
and return to where I reside.

At home, waking from a nightmare,
I lie sweating in my lonely bed,
trying to grasp the bright images
running through my burning head.
No brown girl, beggar or milliner
filled my dreams that night,
but angels dark and sinister
guarding a city full of fright.

Strange adventures I had there,
like Dante and his companion,
past Charon into a cave I ran,
and thence into a dingy canyon
peopled by shades in sulphurous air,
filled with weeping and despair.
It was the stuff of B-grade dramas
frightful enough to soak my hair
and the front of my pyjamas.

Facetiousness aside, the dream
was awe-inspiring. I saw outside
a dismal figure robed in white,
dragging a death cart through
a city bathed in purple light.
And in the distance, there were beams
of golden light, where squatted
brazen angels of enormous height.

Then over a barren heath I flew,
across rolling hills and stony ground,
until by force was halted near
a trilithon with that profound
inscription, and familiar sound,
'abandon hope ye who enter here'.
There I felt a nameless fear
and trembling coming from the ground.

Stopped short of being propelled between
the lintels of that dreadful gate,
I need not fear the obvious fate,
it seemed, until I heard a sound,
like some great train, Hell bound,
bearing down on me - too late
I tried to jump aside but down
a hollow plunged into the ground.

Clinging to the heather on the slope,
three times I evaded great engines
trying to press me down into the pit.
The first green, but indeterminate,
which changed into a yellow
juggernaut, and then a final blow,
a whirling cloud of purple mass
tore my fingers from the scraggy grass.

But still I clung on desperately,
not falling to the depths below,
clawing back up the hill to safety,
how I managed I do not know.
Turning, I saw a tiny figure
rising from the gloomy pit,
it seemed rather insignificant,
until I got a better view of it.

Kundalini flowed up my spine,
flooding my mind with ecstasy
as the satanic figure rose
to greet me where I lay prone.
Terrible in its majesty,
it overcame its deadly weight,
and a massive plinth of stone
securely chained around its feet.

Three figures glowed before my eyes,
blinded I could not see their features,
but heard their theriomorphic sighs,
and felt the numinous magnetic bliss
streaming from these creatures,
let loose upon the hills of Dis,
as the triple demon I beheld
raised a golden disc above its head.

A star shell of fear and pain
burst through my body and my brain.
In terror I was lifted high,
bent double, I was forced to pray
levitating before this god,
now knowing what he held aloft,
my soul, surety for that act
sworn yesterday, my jealous pact.

And now I'm scuttling down the street,
accosting everyone I meet.
"Have you seen my brown girl anywhere?"
Some take pity on my plight,
but others cannot bear the sight
of a beggar man in Eaton Square,
with burning eyes and grimy face
holding out a battered shaving can.

Tony Thomas 2005

Monday, October 5, 2009

Coffee House

The waitress brought his mocha on a tray,
he thanked her but he would have liked to say,
"you're very pretty", but this would not do
for a poor patent clerk, and married too.
He should have said," I will be famous soon",
but might as well have spoken to the moon.

The marbled patterns in the tabletops,
beneath the cake crumbs and the coffee slops
then revealed to him aether's janus face:
ten origins defined as time and place,
tensely reciting their mysterious rhyme
in ambiguous seas of space and time.

The curving saddle of the violin,
clasped to the softness of the woman's chin,
blended the interplay of cosmic fire
with high vibrations in the singing wire,
suffused Bach's ringing music in his blood
with thoughts of love and happy womanhood.

Like a wily goddess languorously
displayed, the universe humorously
played god's waiting game with her loaded dice,
against his equations until that nice
moment, revealing energetic charms,
she let her mass fall lightly in his arms.

Tormented fires, raging without a sound,
like unabated furies swirling round,
all neatly caught before he was quite sure,
in bold equations in his office drawer.
The three-page supplement should make it plain
another Newton had been born again.

The yellow dwarf was bending light from stars
before mankind had ever noticed Mars,
but now two expeditions caught Sol out
despoiling Newton's perfect world without
a doubt, and confirming, more or less, that
space-time was bent or slightly curved, not flat.

The cream expanding in the coffee cup
spawned galaxies before he picked it up,
the dreaming eyes within the gentle face
rested lovingly on the moving space,
no Riemann geometry was on his mind
when he observed the curves of womankind.