Star Struck

Notes & Scales - More Circles - Veils -  Moses & the Moving Sky - Ra


Notes and Scales


A cave man bangs out a harmony

With a dry femur against two bearskin drums

Singing of the stars and moon


Chu-I teaches his students, in absentia.

All they see are his footprints

Leading upward into the snowy hills,

Pine boughs almost buckling beneath the weight


Aristarchus looks up into the Greek sky

Wondering if that really could be Diana with her bow

Or Andromeda on a rock.


The astronomer adjusts an angle on one of the 115-tonne antennas

and peers into the centre of the Milky Way, 

past the anarchy of swirling suns.

He wonders if what lies in the middle of it all is in fact

a supermassive black hole. 

He shudders to think that this is only one

of hundreds of billions of galaxies. 

He shivers in his lab coat,

though the room is warm in the ALMA Observatory

five kilometres above the Atacama Desert.


Along thin, brief lines of human time

we connect the dots.

Phantom Landscape III , by Yang Yongliang, 2007-8, in the British Museum (clipped photo by RYC)

Phantom Landscape III, by Yang Yongliang, 2007-8, in the British Museum (clipped photo by RYC)


More Circles

We exist at the centre of many points:

self, family, society, world, solar system, galaxy;

points that can become circles or not.

If we want, we can insist on our own point,

telling partners and friends what is what;

telling dissenters, rednecks, communists, greens, gays, 

religions, countries, entire cultures to get in line.

Or we can refuse to tell others to get in line,

refuse to draw a line between us and them,

refuse to draw lines in the sand,

or toe the line.

We can refuse to draw any lines at all.

We can circumvent lines altogether by drawing circles,

outward from the self

beyond sex and colour

beyond colour and politics

beyond national will   wider     and       wider

circles beyond our water supply and factories

beyond our GDP and national interest

beyond even our deepest allegiances

to friends, family, religion, language, culture

circles beyond our own definitions

circles, endless circles

round as the turning world.


The Veiled Virgin , Giovanni Strazza, 1856. From

The Veiled Virgin, Giovanni Strazza, 1856. From



I’ve spent my life looking through veils:

childhood veils of ego and hunger

adolescent veils of anger and lust

veils of Heaven and Hell

and Guru Dev mysticism

and ambition

being and nothingness

politics and rage

my own unending needs

and creeds

and everlasting hypocrisies.


I wonder, How many more veils will I look through

until I see my self for what it is:

a dot

drifting in immensity?


The Sufis say there are seventy-seven thousand veils

which the Christians boil down to seven

deadly sins, the chief among these

the first and the last: pride

(I understand it all)

the final



 Moses & the Moving Sky


Moses lifted his eyes from the ground

and saw that everything moved:

the winds twisted and the sky wheeled,

with its piercing yellow ball from one end of the horizon to the next.

But the ground stood absolutely still.


The sand dunes of time drifted this way and that

but the ground beneath them didn't shift.

More constant than the great sun-god Ra,

the deep stone edifice of Earth

was deeper than oceans, more solid than the god-filled sky.


Moses lowered his eyes to the ground

And saw that it didn't move.



You who are always beyond our reach,

You who are sixty times sixty times sixty leagues from the earth,

Yet still we cannot look you in the eye.


You who are the origin of all life,

Who created man from the compassion of your tears.

Why look further for an image of God

Than this perfect circle of blinding light

Wrapping the world in Its spinning flight?



Next: Doubt's Dominion

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