Ode on a Rocky Homeland

No one comes from where I come from

No soul one single season on the soil survives

And stays soft – snail-soft simpleton or dumbbell-soft

Yes, you can’t come from where I come from and get soft

Rock-hard land, rocky soil growing timber, where to breathe

You wrestle, like Jacob, poor soul wrestling for a blessing

Striding barefoot, combing forests

Day by day, dawn to dusk

Hewing hills, cracking granite with bare teeth

Raiding caves, hot breath blowing trees

Wrestling fairies – resident fairies

Resident in the air

In hills, in trees.


You can’t come from where I come from

And go soft; rock-hard soil growing timber

Where you wrestle to live, combing forests barefoot

Flitting from valley to mountain, fighting fairies

Chewing blazing coals, spitting volcanoes

Facing demons, fixing sphinxes

Like Elijah, or the Baptist

Fighting, scrambling

Child of struggle, born of battle

Man and bird jostling for windfalls

Watched over by giant rats on sentry duty

Palace-powered sentries tending junctions

Pious hunters everywhere, fondling charms

Raking cash, creating wealth for hangers-on.


You battle for wood

You battle for food

You battle for air

Hot air hourly fouled by UFOs

UFOs pouring oil on boiling hills

You battle for life, fighting fairies

Resident fairies – resident in space

Sprinting, sweating, running errands

For countless dads, countless mums

And other kin you hardly know; you

Scramble for light, you scramble for life

In a cave so stuffy you wrestle to breathe

Clay pot on your head like a weight of sin

As you comb field after field for fallen fruits

And dried out twigs, plying bush paths for water

Drinking water springing from a communal brook

Sacred brook that’s swimming pool and laundry bowl

One sacred brook that’s sundry things to sundry beings.


Day by day you visit the village square via the brook

Via the farm, market and a potting shed named school

Where you’re fed at the feet of cane-wielding teachers

Hungry teachers teaching toothless souls to say ‘cheese!’

Big trees yielding shade, green fruits hanging overhead

Swinging, winking like deadly sins on Jezebel’s chest

Your head spinning, ringing, warning bells ringing

Pouring you pure panegyrics, praising your star

Singing startling songs of your hopeless peers

Countless cohorts in teeming cities trapped

Of hopeless peers lost like silly hounds

Of legions swept off to spirit planets

Spirited off by drunken whirlwinds.


Day by day you visit the potting shed named school

Where you’re fed by famished teachers

Under the shadow of mighty trees

Green fruits winking

Warning bells ringing

Brittle breeze tickling your soul

Mimicking plastic fans in foreign climes.


Day by day you’re taught to see the school in life

Or teacher – cane-wielding schoolteacher

Hard ground shaking you, shaping you

Blast furnace yielding gold.


You can’t come from where I come from

And go soft; rock-hard soil growing timber

Hard castle stood on solid rock, not quicksand

Where, borrowing thunder’s fire and lightning’s

Power, you pierce through rocks to taste honey

Where you wade through fire to fetch water

Fire-eater’s heaven where you’re judged by

Nothing but the fire in your bones, where

Eyes trained on God, you’re trained to

Chant: ‘In your own eyes stay small!’