Saturday, 29 December 2012

Elemental Stuff

Transience sometimes provides small rewards for humans. When we evaluate what's permanent and meaningful we inevitably revert to the basic elements.


Air, home of the spirits,
Breath of God.
Kinetic sculptor of all shape,
Defining master of sea and sod.
Air, benefactor of all bellows,
Human, and made by hand,
Shaping a wraith of cloud,
Polishing a grain of sand.

Air, ferries life to each of us
And randomly takes it away,
She lends form to the dance
Gives voice its say.
Air, great runway of the heavens,
Gives landing to earthly aspirations,
Sounds the death knell of ones
And twos and all passing nations.

Air in singular majesty
Decides what might be,
Syllable, phrase or sentence
Or page of history.
Air of contract and expand,
Accordion never still,
Stroked by invisible fingers
Tuned by ethereal will.

Air, lavish larder of countless scents,
Home of myriad memories and dreams,
Unseen guardian of mists and moisture
Eternal proof of all is not what it seems.
Air, life source of every flame,
Greater than gravity your power,
Ferryman of dark and light
Pendulum of every hour.


The Gods, in playful mood
stole a cinder from the sun,
And Prometheus in turn
stole this fire for everyone.
In the name of the Fire
the Sun and the Stars,
This forever flame
borrowed its colour from Mars.

This fire got life from friction
as does every living thing,
from flash, flame and flicker
the cricket learned to sing.
Fire conspires with air
To bring liquid flame alive
And still the mystery remains
Why only the pure survive.

And man believes in control
Of this element, for himself
In forge and kiln and stove
Red matches on the shelf.
Terror, the democracy of fire
Invented by soul savers
Not to live better lives
But be owned by people slavers.

This fire produces light
Frail shadow of the dark,
Impatient fire never still
using every spark
to brighten conversations
at the hearth of every grate,
Shape-changing theatre of tale,
Matter into nothing, nothing matters, too late.


Land, first born of the first born,
Here before us, here without us, alone.
The ancient eye of landscape watched our coming
patiently, through pebble, boulder and stone.
Land gave us whereness and temporary roots,
Foundation for our frailty and need,
In return we gave her rape, ruin and pillage
to power our engine of greed.

Mother of meteor, father of fossil,
Vulnerable to religions daughter,
Silent parchment of all commandments,
Her message is ferried by breeze and water.
Rock and mountain, grain of sand,
Ledge and ravine has soul.
Intruder man knows lesser Gods,
Lesser than her grounded mole.

What ishereortherewithout the land?
Where is home and away?
Every place is where she leaves us,
Allows us to come or stay.
Birds and beasts her allies,
Seas and mountains her stores,
Trees and rivers her jewels,
Etna and Vesuvius her pores.

Man, an earthen vessel himself,
Self proclaimed Lord of all,
Stone, the ultimate conclusion,
Certainty, the coming of another fall.
Ever changing skin of vegetation and colour
Every heartbeat an ever filling glass,
Earth, mantle of our useless bones,
Secure in the knowledge,these too will pass.


Water, liquefied air grounded by gravity
Far greater Leveller than even Shirleys Death,
Dew in the morning, fog in the evening,
Translucent halo of angels breath.
Binding member of eternal elements,
Ancient conversations with the stone,
Tears of the earth, border of life and death
Life that can live alone.

At the wedding feast of Cana
the host was mute and hushed,
Then the humble water met the Lords gaze
and the humble water blushed.
Since baptism in Jordans river,
Since Ararat of two by two,
Theres no will but the waters will
The white swell and the blue.

The well connects the darkness and the light,
The seaside ties the water to the land,
The river joins the country and the ocean
And rain provides the life in everyman.
Ice, the surgeon with eternal scalpel
Carved each valley, glacier, river bed,
Elusive mist, cloak of every mountain,
Snow, a scarf for headstones of our dead.

Water, first mirror of the universe,
Never strays outside its own desire,
Tide, slave mistress of the moon,
Diviner of thirst; of flame, a sole defier.
The first swim of this life
in amniotic whirlpool of the womb,
The last swim of this life
in all embracing moisture of the tomb.


  1. Brief note before I forget: This post is not coming through the feed (11:30 p.m. USA time).

  2. I'm sorry but your comment got lost somewhere! Regards P+P

  3. Yes, it did -- in my head. It's still processing. (Takes some time.)

  4. An epic of the elements, carved like a sculpture, haunting at its endpoints -- especially the last.