Mark Scrivener

Poetry Poems Original Verse

Monday, April 25, 2011



From markings many journeys could collect
The little likeness of a learned, old,
World globe stands, in a stillness, on my desk;
From times when hard adventure paid with gold,
Lands green and brown lapped by a yellowed sea,
The whole earth's semblance through the eyes of age,
Here imaged in the early seventeenth century.
Before blind pedantry had made a cage
Of false exactitude and barred precision,
This small and clumsy globe still marked a vision.

Imperfect; some that's froth of fantasy-
Seabeasts that never saw the joyful sun;
Yet each land's drawn with its own imagery,
And seas bear tree-born ships that travelled on
The will of wind and here there's bark canoes
And leaping fish; and there, like some odd flower,
A compass of sharp petals points the views
Of many lands: half-known but well-known now.
For we've no use for pictures such as these,
Our plans are clear to fractions of degrees.

Here giant Africa still carries palms
And grass-made huts and hills with shadowed sides,
And naked warriors with shields and arms;
The brown south pole has beasts with strange, green hides.
Here China's wall's so tall that Everest
Is dwarfed; Arabia's desert has camels still-
New Holland, strangely-shaped, is blessed
With its brown hunter too, spear poised to kill;
And Aztec temples rise from jungle lines,
Which oddly seem composed of firs or pines.

But our world's mapped by globe-encircling spies,
That ray the sites of instruments of death.
If this is all our thoughts epitomize,
Why did we ever bother to draw breath?
Yet though we've murdered our imaginations
And gaze upon the screen through soulless eyes,
Perhaps we can arise to new creations,
Perhaps there's time for us to realize
We're blind behind our calculated bars;
Each seed holds secrets deep as those of stars.

Saturday, April 16, 2011



I am a cloud and I fly on far sky,
White in the light of the sun's blazing eye.
Freely I float on the ocean of air,
Unfurling, uncurling- like wild wisps of hair.
There the great eagles can spread out their wings,
Scanning the landscape and all lower things.
There the high swifts can circle and soar,
On rising, warm winds by my wide, ghostly shore.
There I can drift on air currents that roam
Through the vast blue of my light-filled sky-home.
Over the mountains and valleys I flow,
Casting my shadow on far earth below.

I am a cloud and I sail by on high,
Blown by wild breezes that rush through the sky.
Whirling, I swirl on, with mountains of mist,
Covering earth when the hot sun has kissed
Grasses and flowers till all they desire
Is my cool shade to lessen its fire.
Then, when the shimmering day's shine is done,
And sinking away is the gold glow of sun,
I catch final fire and flame with its light,
Bringing last beauty before dark of night.
Then, when the dawn first awakes from night's dreams,
I herald the sunrise with rosy-pink gleams.

Millions and millions of droplets of rain,
Tiny, untouched by the earth's muddy stain,
Are freed from the salt of the wave-rolling seas,
Are freed from the lakes and the leaves on the trees,
Are freed from the streams and the rivers and ground,
Rising to sky heights without any sound.
Drawn by the sun pouring warmth from the sky,
Drawn by that raying of heat from on high,
Vapours invisibly ride on warm-rising
Winds and wide currents that flow to surprising
Heights where condensing is caused by cold air
And fine dust that forms all my misty shapes there.

These are my substance, earth's moisture made pure,
Saved from beneath so that life may endure-
So that my showers can water bright flowers,
So that the rivers are fed by my powers,
So that the forests on mountain and plain
And all that is living are nourished by rain.
Weaving my shapes, tiny droplets all swirling,
Rise up or sink with the winds that are whirling
Through the far spaces to build up my towers,
My spirals and mountains, my high misty powers,
My columns on columns that spin my wild forms,
Until I release my furious storms.

Lifted by currents and fed by warm winds
I rise and I rise till the air itself thins;
Greater and grayer I grow all the time,
But flattened on top by the end of my climb.
For I am the bearer of lightning and thunder,
Developing charge as I rise from down under,
Till power bursts forth in my flash of white light,
Electric-fierce lightning that dazzles the sight,
Expanding the air with deep-thundering sound
While heavy rain pelts down so hard on the ground.
Then, when the fury of storm has swept by,
Showers show rainbow's bright shimmer on sky.

I am a child of the sky and the sun,
Winds and earth's waters which I weave as one-
I rise and I vanish, but I never die.
Though it may seem that the blue, wind-swept sky
Hides not a drop, not a wisp of far whiteness,
Still I am building, unseen in the brightness,
Gathering forces, about to be born,
As surely as dark night is followed by dawn,
Turning in time to returning to life,
Bringing again my blessing and strife,
Riding the winds over mountain and plain,
Bringing again the life-giving rain.



We are
Our bodies born of the breath of suns,
our souls move in immensity.

Yet we
forget so easily
we're bathed in stellar light;
given vision
beyond terrestial dimension.

For we have lost humility.

We are
Yet we
forget so easily
we're of illimitable universe:
we're granted power to be.

Our sun
harmonizes with the round of stars.
The planets ring our journeying.
We feed on trapped sunbeams,
the moon moves our deep seas.

Yet we
forget so easily
a gratefulness for conscious being
and, blind in pettiness,
squabble over nothings.

We are, we belong.
We are star breath, star song.

Yet we
forget so easily.

We are
star children
and we all spiral with the stars through vastness.

Friday, April 15, 2011



Geometric crystal structures,
dark of hard-compacted rock depths,
massive and age-moulded mountains,
stony cliffs and veins of metal,
bleak, expansive, desert stillness,
take the stable shapes of earth.

Lulling of low-lapping ripples' shore-splash,
wild, gale-blown billows loud-lashing the land,
streams gurgling, rivers long-looping the plains,
calm, level lakeface reflecting light blue,
sun-glittered raindrops slow-pooling to puddles;
flow with life forms of the world of the waters.

In the rush, roll, and whirl of rough wind,
in the whisper of leaf-rustling breeze,
in a tree-crashing hurricane's roar,
in spring zephyr's soft drift brushing by,
in a winter wind's ice-whistling rage,
in the spiralling rise of warm currents;
runs the breathing, free swirl of the air.

The fury of unfolding, dancing fire,
the still intensity of single flame,
the sun, sight-dazzling centre of day sky,
from heaven giving heat to earth and ocean,
a volcano's hidden and stone-melting heart,
and even embers fading from fierce shining,
reveal the vivifying force of heat.



Jupiter has vastness.
So has Saturn with its rings.

Yet this small, polished stone,
this blue lace agate,
with white and blue
and bit of brown,
reminds me me of another thing-

a photograph,
a blue-white jewel
in darkness
rising from the moon.

Only here,
in all the sun-spun spheres,
fish swim in seas,
wind rustles leaves in trees,

and all the universe
is mirrored in
a child’s
dark-adapted eyes.

Only here
can dawn grow clear
to multitudes of minds,
to ears that hear
winged, singing voices.

Only here
we see this treasure
of life in all its complex measure,
upon this jewel amongst the stars,
upon this living, sun-drinking sphere
we we are born to learn of love
only here-

only here.



Why is it one should feel a spark while one
Feels nothing of that hidden flame and light?
Yet so it is- for none can call the sun
To rise nor throw the stars upon the night.
And none can force another's heart to feel
What isn't kindled in some secret deeps;
For none can merely wake upon what's real
Responding longing where no longing sleeps.
So where there is an end it's best I turn
Away and know in time that time will smother
That foolish, random spark that it let burn.
Yet I shall hope you think well of the other...
Recall I praised your presence once and smile-
Think not unkindly of me for a while.




This autumn afternoon
I'm waiting near
a short, grey street.

Grey-growling cars
go creeping by.

And under cold, grey sky
one lone, newspaper leaf,
half-crumpled and abandoned,
is dancing fitfully
in southern, ice-tipped breezes.

In our ephemeral creation
the wordy tidings of the tide
of yesterday already wash
upon tomorrow's desolation.



A flock of spine-tailed swifts
swarms and drifts,
distant black wings on the blue,
predusk, summer sky.

They glide. They rise so high.
They roam the boundless realm:
the free, ethereal
empires of air.

voyagers of vastness,
they travel through the far
kingdoms of the winds,
countries of the clouds.

With such a seeming ease,
they soar and sweep,
they wheel and fly.
they skim the sky.

Above the earth’s
set, heavy world,
they live the light,
far in our sight;

they ride world breath-
no passports stamped for them
when they departed from
the far coasts of Japan.

With wings on wind, they span
the weather’s current world;
they range the airy streams,
the rivers of the heavens…

like thought's far vision,
swift, spirit seeing,
aware of world's vastness, aware
of boundlessness of being.



"Why is the sea king of a hundred streams?
Because it lies below them.
Therefore it is the king of a hundred streams."

What's left of those long, honoured lines,
those proud, most powerful potentates
of ancient days?
Those ruthless rulers of the flower realm?

Time's swept their fame and might aside,
like lost leaves in dry, autumn wind.

Where are the gleaming courts,
the glittering displays,
the chambers of the slender concubines,
the shining weapons of the warriors,
the scrolls of ever-honoured names?

Dust of the dust of the driest of plains.

And we, whose childhood's history
is from the farthest reaches
of your most distant skyline's
dusk-golden vanishing of sun,
don't even know those rulers' names;
we cannot speak the singing signs.
I first came on the might of dynasties,
as footnotes to the poets.

And since the great march of the peasants,
even the proud, jade emperor of heaven
is cloud-bound, whereabouts unknown.

But you, illustrious Li-Po,
your spirit's working lives on, for
your quiet thoughts at night,
your silent, lunar light,
your cloudy mountain paths,
far waterfalls and swirling mists
and journeys of the secret soul
in far, far, upward flight,
are supple with humanity,
and sing in universal keys,
through carefully translating art,
within the hearing of the heart.

No petty emperor could claim
such a travelled, shining fame.

Thus from another land,
another time,
I raise salute
across the distances of seas and centuries.

Li-Po, you were right to call
the ones above your kin,
immortal of heaven as maker of song,
your body like enchanted breath-

still shimmering.



Lightly, late sunlight is glittering bright,
Goldening glistenings on the small stream;
Lightly as light, even lighter than light
Breeze that is brushing the ripples that gleam.

From the light sky, from high clouds that bright sun
Called into being, the free raindrops flow-
Seeping from hillsides they finally come
Down to the path of the valley below;

Down to one path that is always the low;
Following gravity's down-given course,
Yielding to overcome; letting them flow
Onward and onward, without using force.

Silky oak leaf-cluster patterns are bold,
Lit by the lowering shafts of day's beams;
Slow-rustling gum trees shimmer white gold,
Gleaming with sun on their foresting greens.

What is a stream but the flowing- the growing
Form of the flowing forever ongoing,
Leaving its legacy shaping the ground,
Like a slow, snaking shape oceanward-bound?

What is its shimmering beauty but glowing?
Mirroring heaven-set heart of the light?
Water takes coursing without any forcing,
Gathering shining in passing my sight.

Small waterdragon swift-slides with a slither
Into the water's concealing, safe flowing;
While a black wood duck slow-glides with a shimmer,
Rippled in vee-shapes that follow her going.

Standing in silence now, in the late light,
Watching in silence the green and gold sight,
Dappling of shadow and shine on the scene,
Gurgle and trilling and gush of the stream,

I am hearing its music; soft sounds' imbrication;
I am seeing its intricate dancing of light:
Sight of a moving through stillness and quiet,
Sound of a flowing through silent creation.

Monday, April 11, 2011



Small grass skinks creep,
from lands of gradually-dissolving leaves,
and rest in quiet,
scales iridescent in the light,
silenty soaking in heat;
sides swelling and shrinking as they breathe,
as if entranced or half asleep,
yet they're alert to shadow fall.

Are they
the microcosmic cousins of
earth-shaking thunderers, long gone all?
As if wrong-telescoped by time, some say.
But what of sizes anyway?
Within their garden world they're great
cockroach fighters of the reptile state.
And what awareness have they of our size?
We are not scaled to minute eyes.
I wonder if it is the same for us,
worlds within the one.
When shadows fall how shall we guess
what friendly watchers stand between us and the sun?



Ever-ceaseless sun is parching
Pasture grass on browning hills.
Heat gives topic to tired talk,
Day is blazing silent haze.

Afterthoughts of white cloud contrast
With the brilliancy of blue:
Day's dome bathing all in thirsting
Radiance that drinks earth dry.

Here is heat that holds the landscape
In a sorcery of glare;
Like a sulphured dragon breathing
Fire through the trembling air.

Even butcher birds and magpies
Hide in fainting leaves to shelter
In solicitude of shadow,
Beaks slight-parted, softly-panting.

Now time sweats. And even colours
Burn upon the vision, flame,
Hazed in day's intensity,
Focused in a crystal furnace.

Yellowed grasses wither back
To dry-fisssured ground which bakes
To a hot and lifeless dust.
Creeks and dams sink towards the earth.

Hazed with heat, eyes glazed with glare,
Restlessly we scan the rim
Of our sight for rain's relief,
For release from fire weather.

For tranquillity is coolness,
And detachment from sense flame;
Fire weather's fire sermon:
All the world seems burning, burning.

Sunday, April 10, 2011



I carry home
a leaf for Timothy
from beneath
a tall fig tree,
from below
its canopy,
green spread on blue,
from beneath
its buttress roots
that stretch like giant limbs
into earth.

Smooth, dark-green and veined it is.
I hold it to the winter sun
and see the ever-finer branchings,
intricate beyond my sight.

All life depends upon the light,
warm light that powers the life of leaves,
on weaving nourishment from rain and soil,
and breathing substance of the air.

And thus despite
the wire and the rays,
the concrete and the steel,
our mineral pride,
I know from ancient days,
from some faint utterance that comes
from atavistic and deep time,
from forest aeons of the dream,
that we were born to leaves.

And thus, for little learning eyes,
I hold it up and speak.
And thus, for little learning ears,
I show a word for leaf.



A moth,
in death, has fallen
from air-life to the floor.

I turn it over in my palm,
the tiny carcass,
and note
minute and creamy hairs
that mass beneath the thorax;
its topside exposing
brown, armouring plates;

the window light,
a round blur of white,
on spherical,

thin legs folded
in death's rigidity;

abdomen striped
with horizontal brown.

Wings are unbeating,
transparently frail,
like haze-deepened moonbeam made visible,
differentiated by a thousand scales,
veined like a leaf,
pale, golden brown.

If, some night,
from tenebrous invisibility,
it has flitted into sight
towards the consuming
fascination of a gleaming filament;
all detailed view might be missed,
all but the mystery of moving life.



Following objections from American war veterans,
the Smithsonian Institute toned down the results
of the atomic bombing of Japan in its display
of the Enola Gay: the bomber that dropped the first nuclear weapon.

At the exhibition
it has been decided
not to overemphasise
vapourizing, burning,
lingering long deaths in pain.

It is an ordinary plane.

The sixth of August, nineteen forty five.
Let us not overemphasise
the deadly gift
given unto us,
now and forevermore.

They were a murderous enemy.

Look at this plane: Enola Gay.
In the seaport city it was to be
an ordinary day.......

housewives haggling over prices,
neighbours' smalltalk, babies' bawling,
children just beginning school.

Hiroshima, Nagasaki. Let us not remember
these were but the baby bombs.

Oh, let us not remember
the burning and the pain.
It was another day beginning.

Then all the sky was turned to flame.



Yes, I believe you lived,

For everyone like you has striven
in ever-varied living,
long-voyaging upon the windy sea of life.

Did the travelled, in-viewed poet
know everything and nothing varies,
know everyone who lives traverses
each evanescent wave to venture on
a voyage, vast or small?

Take this day.
Do I not sail
upon an ocean of the hours,
a sea of shifting circumstances?
Do I not view
its marvels and its miracles?
Do I not seek
to skill, with daring to survive
the variation of events,
a treachery of islands?

To cross a simple road is navigation
between steel monsters bearing death..

I take my breath
upon the wind;
I veer between
the fatal outer error's vortex
and the long-armed,
inner creature of the nightmare.

I blind the ancient eye of trance
with glowing-pointed reason's lance.
And Circe calls alluringly;
and strange-voiced sirens sing to me.

And still I voyage, ever-seeking
the home within the heart of all.

The poet knew the image woven,
Penelope's great tapestry of song,
the meanings that the moments give.

Yes, Odysseus,
I believe you live.



The artificial light has faded from
The cardboard skyline. Now pale points of light
Are dimpling the dark-domed planetarium.
We sit within a semblance of the night.
Our stellar host elucidates and wields
A cosmic arrow on the turning sky
And shows the hazy band that spans star fields.
Quite casually the numbers pass us by:
One hundred thousand million stars. And each
A sun. Is this beyond all feeling's reach?

And I remember frost-clear nights when darkness
Was palpable upon wide upper spaces.
And there, upon the real, star-dotted vastness,
I saw the galaxy's white, milky traces
Arched overhead from earth rim to earth rim.
And gazing upwards in receptive quiet,
It seemed quite possible to gain a dim,
Grand apprehension of the depth of night.
But some perception of this arcane glory
Depends, perhaps, on how you tell the story.

For it's not hard to find a facile phrase
On "distances beyond imagination".
And it's not hard to talk in expert ways
Of light-years and of galaxies' creation.
Soon cliches drown a living comprehension
And dull immediate, informing sight;
Until you steer a telescope's attention
Upon the milky way's sky-spanning light;
Resolving it to far suns, each a spark,
Like gleaming sand grains, scattered on the dark,

And see the vast and glowing clouds of gas
And clusters with such myriad of stars
Each centre merges to a misty mass;
And know these things are not just some ideas
But of our cosmos, real as all on earth,
As real as stones and trees, as clouds and flowers...
More real by far than fame and honour's worth,
And schemings of the wrongly-named "World Powers".
What power is power compared to all of these
Worlds without end on space-time's chartless seas?

Worlds without end: how shall we feel this speaking?
We dwarfs who measure time by hours and days?
How can we sense our sun's great helix sweeping
On through those time-deep, wonder-filled star ways?
How at five hundred thousand miles an hour
To circle this, our single galaxy,
Will take two hundred million years. O how
Shall we touch truth of such immensity?
Great empires are but a minute here,
Within the passing of this cosmic year.

Men dream mad dreams of power, war and kill
For rule so brief on one small globe, believing
That this imparts some majesty to will,
When all that's ever left is waste and grieving.
And even murder for some mere conception,
When it is manifest in all the height
That there is much beyond earth-small perception,
The limits of our Lilliputian sight.
Beyond earth's edge the world goes far beyond the Far;
No human craft can touch a single star.

And so when daylight's done and there outside
The night releases vision of the vastness,
And shows the pale an stellar stream stretched wide,
The pathway of the worlds across the darkness-
Then called to heart is sure belief that being
Has depths beyond our deepest, searching thought,
Has heights beyond our farthest, sharpest seeing,
And this, at least, is heart truth of one sort.
One hundred thousand million stars; and each
A sun- it's not beyond all feeling's reach.