XIX – The Sun

When the dot popped, we are told,
that marked the beginning of Time.

I can’t say I hold with
beginnings of Time,
but one thing seems clear:
if the dot hadn’t popped
or had popped and then stopped,
or if things had unrolled
just that tiny bit faster – or slower –
we wouldn’t be here;

and that now
if our blessings didn’t outnumber
our trouble and pain,
there’d be no one and nothing
here on this earth
but heaving slime and barren dunes
and sticky, burning rain.

II – The High Priestess

Between the pillars and the veil
we may glimpse the other side
But the holy Priestess pale
seems guard, not guide,

a priestess made of marble cold –
she will never stand aside
not though it be for the Pope himself
in all his pride!

She is not made of marble cold
but she may only stand aside
for the coming of the King
and the King’s bride.

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.

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.

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.

XIII Death

For those who know, and knowing –
not deducing, not surmising,
but knowing – like I know where I grew up,
know the name and face and feel of my first love –
and knowing, know that any attempt to show
this was not so is laughable, preposterous, absurd –
for us, Death is merely the end of this,
the beginning of that,
and a funeral a rite of passage.

Beyond the Styx, beyond the Land of the Dead,
between the two white watch towers,
the sun is rising.

XII – The Hanged Man

Nine minutes, okay.
But can you go nine hours –
nine days! –
without the instant gratification
that is our way
of living in this world –
never a second without input –
our way
of forgetting that the grave,
the great silence,
looms ever closer?

Nine hours or nine days
hanging upside down from the tau-cross.
Nine hours or nine days
buried face down in a dark and silent grave.
Nine hours
face to face with infinity.
Nine days
a part of the infinite.

After nine hours, the initiate
is taken down from the cross,
lifted up out of the grave.

After nine days, it is a god
comes down from the cross,
a god that rises up out of the grave.