Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘One of Many Things’ and other poems

By: Geoffrey Heptonstall


The singers walk out of the future
where music flows in crystalline streams.
The scene is sketched in vivid outline,
later to be painted as it should be
in a paradise of charms.

And down from the mountains
all good news is spoken clearly.
What else is there but not knowing
the crackle of salt spilt on the floor
is also the sound of feathers burning?

Strange resemblances gain control,
and the ashes of sacrifice scatter.
The wild geese are tamed by chance
when, sun-dazzled, they fall.
Their bones alone will linger.

For some, for many a form
more immediate than wondering.
Here is the thing in essence.
The experience is to be an example
of many things all at once.

A nation of hornets gathers on the lawn.
Some may prefer to see caterpillars
whose benign intentions are clear
from the gentle manner of their crawl.
A butterfly recalls how things were.

And what was once will be again,
we feel as the future comes near.
Storm warnings on the peninsula
uncertain of the ravenous waves.
We walk the causeway between worlds.

Cutting through the undergrowth
for another way out of confusion,
he encounters a dancing gazelle.
She turns her head to glance at life.
He has timed his entry well.

But she is single and singular.
In her patent shining she steps
with a horsewoman’s stride
even wearing a silken city dress.
All manner of wishes walk by.

To gaze at the whitewashed wall
only to see what was never there.
Obscurity defines the hour.
Every minute seeks an explanation
of an implausible everything.

There never could be one alone.
Such things take flight on waxen wings
that reach for the stars in limelight glow
reflected in the waters of the crossing.
Faith is survival, every grace an island.

For some, for many a form
more immediate than aimless wonder.
Here is the thing in essence.
The experience shall be an example
of many things all at once.

Yet there is something else to say
that is nothing more than the truth.
A solitary tree leans in the wind
that blows her hair in all directions
except the one that leads safely home.


Of experiment and remembrance:
inspiration seeking a voice,
something said quietly in the crowd,
an allusion to the questioning
of all that requires a clear response.
The defeat is forever delayed
by eloquence from a thoughtful tongue.
And truth may be a consolation.

The unthinking see only an obstacle
when every choice is ambivalent.
The inclination is to the marginal
to be overcome by whatever means.
All else is mere speculation,
a ghost within the ruins
always in autumnal light.
What we do well we do least.


On steps that rise without ending.
as if there could be an always,
the narrow way they walk down,
the ones who go without leaving.
Good times must have their virtues
nourished in the company of friends,
if only to teach everyone
a melodious syncopation
with its tastes strong and sharp,
On the Paragon Steps
the sounds of the stones speak for me
because memory’s sentinel wakes now.


Others may choose their particular ways
of passing the time tick by tick
with eyes ever turning to the light
reflected on the surface from the sun
when all options are down in deep water.
Such wild dreams rise from dark wine.
Ideas, they grow with ganglion roots
to seek a cure for the scorpion’s sting,
or to leap like a mountain lynx,
to swim the span of an expanding ocean,
to heal the wound of a tigress,
gaining a victory set in stone,
to scale the walls of conflict
before waking the reality of day.


To speak of certainties that sing
all eyes are watching for who will come.
It is the Muse herself summoning a voice.
When the dust has settled her sound is heard
that the tumbling stones have buried.
Here at last we may feel the words begin
motioning where we wish to be
to uncover the secret of her serenity.

Life comes and goes in a single moment,
floating like a ghost ship of old
toward the reach of oblivion.
All ears are waiting for an answer
of the rising tide of enquiry
if there could be a return with the flow.
The message is the source of acceptance
only to reveal all that is not yet there.

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