Through a Glass Darkly. A Poem by Robin Ouzman Hislop. 1999.

Part. 1.

Arrow pivots arc
& the archer is transfixed
between space & flight.

Moving from towards
Finite from infinite arrow
Appears & disappears.

Angst of the arrow,
As string tautens. Bow stretches.
& the arrow flies.

At the speed of light
Arrow pierces crow’s black heart
Through a glass darkly.


The long day crane drops
Its breaking neck into a
Concrete theatre pit.

Through a glass darkly
Everyone imprisons in
Shadows of the glass.

In the telescope
Power & force in chaos
Become the deluge.

Attract & repulse,
Elements that twin the day
Into a weird world.

Day & night revert
To fleshly brutality:
Wounds of stars & dust.


The livestock rustler
At Stonehenge is beheaded
By an angry mob

& buried beneath
An ignominious stone slab
Beyond the Temple.

We dig him up to
Redeem him his ill won fame
& bury again.


A bleached pine branch floats,
Its sodden joint wrenched in a
Grotesque scream or smile.

In familiarity
Of brutality.

Light obscurity
Absorbed into distances
Impossible to judge.


Watching two women,
As they talk, as they fall in
Love, gentle as doves.

Beat of the Metro,
Their eyes concealing desires
In secret kisses.

I walked through the streets
Of the gay crowded faces
Far far away on

The Isle of Capri.* – (Dusty Springfield – Sharks of Tibirius)
So long ago, Sappho, in
Beauty everywhere.


Even cycles of time
Begin & remain at odds
With cycles of time.

One many in many
One any poem writes one
Many in many one.

We scratch out the craft
Of days as etched upon stone,
We engrave epitaphs.

The moon in water
swallows the mirror & shines
Through a glass darkly.

Part 2. Gorilla Sky.



First came the salad days
Fresh in sweet pods & green mush,
Then as the squeezed juices churned bitter
There came,
Chaos, Diaspora, turmoil, shattering
& splitting,
There came,
Dissension, conflict, sickness & loss of love,
Our earth”s archetypes rent asunder
& cast to the corners of the earth in their antagonisms.
On this tortured rainbow,
On this threshold of kiss
On black lips, Earth Mother,
Your black omnipotent tongue
Licks this heart’s red blood
Trickling to feed a handful of stars
Flight through the spheres.


Gorilla sky,
Pug nose, sad eyes
in wrinkled bags.

Drenched in
my dressing gown,
I watch cockroaches
singing in the rain.


Top of the
morning to you
top tilted top
hat tilted top
sky to passers bye
& I why, why,
why wonder
don’t look now
look away, look
away, look away
does she presence
beauty everywhere
all the milk
white spilt heaven
gone west, gone west:
if you were
the only girl
in the world
& I was
the only boy.


Ancestor of the stars
of sun & moon
of the first day,
the first sky, the first cry.

Ancestor of the wilderness
of earth’s heart’s blood,
descendant ancestor,
ancestor of the spheres,
ancestor of first fears
of 10.000 straw dog years,
ancestor of the mortal day:

who has left,
who was never here,
who will not return
but who has been
in existence somewhere,
ancestor of earth, sea
& the Gorilla sky.

Part. 3. Lord of the Mice.



At times I write in my white cell
in which the light shines through.

I scratch in black ink
& watch vertigo cracks
for spiders to appear.

Outside is pandemonium,
a one word poem.

Inside is the silent white wall
with only the turn of the page.


Georgian coquette,
ruffles & coifed
wigette wrought
in cream meringue:
ostrich plumes
delicately silhouetted.


Keep your back straight
Keep your shoulders back
Keep your diaphragm in
& your chin level, look straight
Ahead, keep a stone face,
Wear dark glasses, listen to
The wind & walk on, walk on
…………..& you”ll never………..


Through a Glass Darkly:
one difference lies in that writing &
translation were more or less simultaneous,
we were always under the spell of the originals
& therefore did not need to re capture past moods.

* Derived from Foreword to
Doctor Brodies Report.
J.L.B & N.T. di. Gi.


Alpha & Omega.

The cat stretches
Like a penis
Trembling into repose
But poised. Cat
God, Cat Goddess,
Sleek as silk,
Lick themselves asleep

& the mice
Begin to play
< in the attics >
Where I scratch

Lord of the Mice,
The galley boy
On the burning deck,
The rubbish man
Up to the neck.

I wash the floor
On which I slip.
I carry the rubbish
Out to the tip.

Part 4. Feet.



Flat feet
Down at heel.
Black feet
Running on before.
Washed feet
Alms after ablutions.


My dreams are living memories
In other worlds from which I speak.
Immanence is in my imagination
As imminence is also distance.


Love is like a violin *
Play it long & strong
& you might leap or win.
Play it weak & thin
& you might weep or grin.

* Ken Dodd.


Photo Gene @ 13.

I know, I know,
I know you. You
Were conscious
Then, as I now, as
You look at me,
As if you know
Me, as if you know
I know & yet we
Are not, we are as
Other lifetimes, we
Are as strangers as
I remember your
Light is the same
Still as mine now
In present reducto.



Life is the bird’s song as it leaves its
throat. Life breaks on its own wing.

Ravens & vultures patrol light limits
over burning precipices, rock flames
that keep the dark side of the hill,

Where stray cub or foal would fall
forever on that fell, even as the seethed
kid knows the first light of instant
blindness, as life shines on in the dust.


The years seem as puddles
In the rain, as I step through
Mud, gravel & watery obscurity.
The door creaks, the knee weaks,
The roof leaks.


The curtain falls to ruffles & applause.
The phantom auditorium rises up the walls.
The queen in yellow meringue pirouettes,
Two massive guard henchmen are her gate.
Like pillars of Hercules they stand
& out on the land
The multi-mob glittering robot
Infantrymen parade
Up & down in salute;
& you go on, you go on &

& this is the way the world ends
Not with a bang or a whimper
But suddenly as you write it.


Bitter frost is on the ground
Hoar is on the brow
Feet tread as though on sand
No tracks left in dew.

This the wilderness, this the threshold
This the world, mirage & wall
This the place yet still to be crossed
This the face & shadow to fall.

Yet the wall will fall in its place
& imprison no garden to an orison
Bound to time in veiled space,
Where arms beckon a tinkling caravan.

Robin Ouzman Hislop 1999