Knight of Cups

Add Water to Fire, the Fire goes out.
Add Fire to Water, the Water boils away.
Nothing is left.

Fire has bright eyes, high ideals, dreams.
Bur Fire cannot stay.

Each new lovely woman, each new ideal,
new dream, comes swirling out of the future and …
is gone. Like Water.

Water never looks back.
But nor does Fire.

0 – The Fool

We are all born fools, then grow up (more or less)
and do as we are told, and put away
childish things. This one didn’t.

Look at him: a poet, flower in hand,
full of unrequited love for all the world.
He doesn’t have to become a child again
to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

There’s another deck – an older one –
which shows a bare-arsed tramp:
a fool for Christ, preaching Amor perhaps,
in the teeth of Roma: without love you are
as sounding brass, a clashing cymbal. Speaking out
(like Paul) though he face sticks and stones, the stake.

The first’s the fool who leaps before he looks;
no angel’s a fool.
The second has died to this world; folly indeed,
not only to the Greeks.
A third’s the fool who writes in verse –
these verses, all these verses! –
“I am two fools, I know:
for loving and for saying so
in whining poetry.” (John Donne)

Another, of course, the fool who reads it – you!
(I greet you!)

And then there’s the old fool (no fool like him)
the once proud oh-so-grown-up
man of gravitas, now with no pride left,
no dignity …
In the end, all of us.
We are all born fools and we all die fools –
stepping, eyes closed, out of the cave
or off the high board into infinity.

The King and Queen of Wands

The Lion King,
humane and wise.
Old Soul;
Sun King in the Land of Faerie.

His only failing?
Being oblivious
to petty jealousies,
smiling lies
and infidelities.

Overconfidence:
Arthur’s bane.

If the King is Arthur,
this is Guinevere, Sun Queen,
femme fatale.

She walks by and flowers open,
sunflowers follow her
with their great black and yellow eye.

Once seen
never forgotten:
yours until you die.

That red hair.
That black familiar.

XI – Justice

Looks good. But what is it?
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?
A life for a life? Jesus said ‘No’ to that,
‘that’s part of our brutal past,’
and he spoke the truth,
but was he perhaps

a Fool in some ways,
a Fool with his head in the clouds,
talking about what should be
rather than what is?

Sounds good, too. Half the cake
for little Johnny, half for Jane.
One slap for one slap,
two slaps for two. But that way
they will never learn
that life is full of pain
and justice a fairy tale.

A fairy tale,
like Larry the Lamb and Peter Pig
in little Johnny’s book.
Peter Porker and the Larry the Lamb
Chop more like.

Justice? … In
another life perhaps.

In another universe.

VIII of Swords

It doesn’t have to be this way,
bound and blindfolded, with upthrust blades
penning you in, hard, cold and phallic.

You don’t have to obey.

That earth looks soft beneath
your bare feet. Feel it.
Where water flows, where flowers grow,
you too can go and flourish and be free.

Things don’t have to be this way.

Or is that, perhaps, the sea? Is the tide
on the turn, about to sweep in, swirling about
your legs, your waist, your breast, your face?
Are you a virgin still, a sacrifice
to the great sea serpent, the Stoor Worm?
Wriggle out of those bonds and run!

You don’t have to do what they say!

Or are you “an adulteress”,
condemned to pay for some man’s “sin”?
Wriggle, quick! Wiggle out of
that ugly brown robe, and run –
or swim! – be a mermaid! – but
do something! – and be free!

You don’t have to stay.
It doesn’t have to be this way.

The ground, the earth, is soft beneath
your bare feet. Feel it.
Where water flows and flowers grow
you, too, can go and flourish and be free.

Things don’t have to be this way.

Or is that, perhaps, the sea?
Is the tide on the turn, about to sweep in, swirling
about your legs, your waist, your breast,
your face, and you a virgin, a sacrifice
to the Stoor Worm, the great sea serpent?
Wriggle out of those bonds and run!

You don’t have to do what they say!

Or are you “an adulteress”,
condemned to pay for some man’s “sin”?
Wriggle, quick! Wiggle out of
that ugly brown robe, and run –
or swim! – be a mermaid! – but
do something! – and be free!

You don’t have to stay.
It doesn’t have to be this way.

XV – The Devil

Are these two slaves The Lovers?
Did they believe the lies,
and eat of the Tree of Knowledge
and grow out of Paradise?

Are these two slaves the know-it-alls
who lay beneath the Tree
and laughed at the Fool who knew nothing?
The Fool who knows nothing is free.

Better a Fool who knows nothing
and is happy with what he has got,
than be chained like a slave to the things of this world
and think you know the lot.