Monday 4 March 2024

Five Poems by Maria Downs



So to hear the soft – throated,  bird sing,

from its note form those words,  like flowers of spring

flowing,  as the soul waits,  with listening ears,

the rushing stream,  the heaven vision,  to appear.


So silence will caress,  as the wing of a bird,

the hours at the lull when the grounds gape,

for a song to be heard.


The green spruces,  flourishing rich,

the blossom bough,  the skies cloudless,  float upon a sea of


that quivers at twilight,  as if to pitch -

each note of voices,  as of the breeze,

from folk chatting at ease,  from the whirr of the summer swift

cruising,  trees.


How gentle does the evening embrace the sense of joy

exuding,  love all the day,

as if to warily say, “let all who have ears, hear”

the busy heat of Nature’s escapades.


Rolling,  like the oncoming wave rising,  to meet but the shore’s


the sweetest voice of the golden bird

who beat its wings upon the wind.



Larks herald,  the morning’s dawn,

to share amidst this music,  of the spring time,  song

where a parade of adorned,  leafy trees,  home

the blackbird’s plaintive tale,

that swells alongside,  those tiny sparrows,

that flit and throng.


Where the verdure below,  reveals,  

the bright red berries,  upon shrub and bush,

upon the prairie mead,

those hedgerows laced,  with brilliant,  white hawthorn,

where the bees,  buzz

and the butterflies alight,  upon each shaded,  hush


of those cool,  meadows and fields

flanked,  by towering trees,  that overlook

and cast their shadows,  upon the rushing brook,

that laps its melody,  across those vibrant,  green glades,


with much awaiting,  the daze of heat,

when the sun blazes,  its fire

upon those rickets of hay,

upon the village lanes and streets –


a furnace of flaming tongues,

that scorch,  each soul’s face,

each neatly,  attired place,  with its rays


and little ones escape,  the heaving mass,

to frolic,  in those cool groves,

near the cows and sheep,  that dumb,  will graze –


all thirst quenched,  by the water tap,

that fills up and erupts,  from the dappling stream,

while others picnic and blindly,  run

chasing,  the very air,

as if trying to find,  the place,

from where the welcome sun,  has come.


So sweeps,  this harmonious,  scenic domain,

listening shrill,  to the mirth,  the cries,

of all that soars and flies,

of what each sunrise will embrace,  once more,  again –


with wide – eyed,  wonder,  to espy

each little child,  coo and sigh –


this,  as all beheld,  to see

spring’s emergence,  of all,  that is born

all,  that grows at last,  to be,

as this miracle,  to indulge each sense -

euphoria of infancy,  of the young,  of innocence,


for all,  to enjoy,  taste and feel,

souls’ beauty,  so wondrous,  so real,

perceived and heard,

as the lavish,  green unravels,  its pleats,  its folds,

each flower unfurls,  to never grow old,

upon this ever – spinning,  wheel.



So,  lament no more,

when the sun descends,  

below the rim of the moorlands,

to know,  as those rose – pink,  skies blaze

with fiery colours,  of which to gaze,

now filtering,  the pearly grey,

‘twixt the glistening stars,  of the milky way,


that peace still reigns,

as these silken,  shrouds veil,  the skies

so,  the heart elates,  upon this lonely dream,

‘twixt the imaginings and the real world,

with all held illusory,  to the eye

perceiving only,  what seems to be,

when joy and sorrow,  upon this middle earth,

rests safe,  within this recess of the heart,

that endless remains,  serene.


So floats this remedy,  this healing balm of grace,

found,  within this temple of the soul,

reflecting,  upon each and every place.

Yet,  still aware,  of a providence to care,

hearing each songbird,  rippling tunes,  upon the air,

though senses shrill,  will alert

to all perceived,  acutely heard.


Yet blessed,  so drifts,  this nomadic soul,

voicing each beauty word,  each turn of phrase,

with all received,  from Nature’s infinity,

the rhythmic,  drum beat,  of this wild earth

that calls to the moon,  with its pale light that looms,

in sacred reverence,  of this world.


So,  in awe,  of each thicket and grove,

where the rose in the briar,

those red,  holly berries,  the blackthorn bush,

boast on fire,  with vivid hue

sweeping across,  the slush and the mire,

where spreads upon these hedgerows,

each sheen of morning dew.


Withholding all love,  save,  

but within this idyll,  this sanctuary,  to dream

of all that lies fair,  upon this domain,

that calls but only,  for peace,

while you sleep,  

as if forever,  there.



Scarlet wild to see so bold

upon a tree at autumn’s lull. Sweeping large spread
around, until the winds will toss each leaf to the ground.

Such are colours of finest hue, sprinkling mosaics felt – 
like, shades in the dwindling light to view –

crimsons russets ambers gold,

fair to line, as a parade - the dripping paints, vivid sights 
lacing all fields shrubs too, under the waning sun bright. 
Leaving a soul duped by the daze

the crucible blown asunder, by the winds that blaze.

Hear still, with listless ear, the hurried chirp of birds at 
this moment of the year, leaving reluctant to embrace each 
feather to their fold.

Somewhere to know just in this realm, awaiting the festive 
hours that will knell, yields a grace to tell that all reaps 
rich, as a lord to hoard

the fruits of harvest, of plenty more - while the sun will 
flare, as if in a dream upon the wonder yet, all wilting 
dying into the wintry bare of peace.

Still alone, as loving the ripple of streams that flow

the mighty turn of seasons, the cold snowfall, as the times 
will blessings send

upon the wheel of life that never ends – until your gaze can 
no longer see,

the golden apple upon a tree.

THE DREAM OF EVENING SONG                           


Starlit,  nights dream,  those hours of peace,

when the soul embraces,   little else,

but the deep,  dark of silence,

where serenity immerses the mind,  in its blissful,  spell.


Standing before those wide oceans, 

that spray and hiss,

espying the twinkle,  of bejewelled stars,  in those skies,

where the white,  moon face beams,  its lustrous glow,

where all,  now,  in slumberland,

rests in a place,  where sleeps,  the soul.


Heart’s love,  remains only,  

amidst this essence of tranquility,

as the clouds drift past,  this silver orb,

looming ghostly,  as if to haunt

the mind enthralled,  by this allure,

of fantasy,  seducing the sense,

gazing alone,  before this huge firmament.


Thinking no more,  of what irks or annoys,


when waves lap,  their melancholic refrains,

to the lonely bay,

here,  to stay,  so close,  to one -

this scenic rapture,  threading such magic

echoing,  song – like,  this harmony

amidst the nightlights’ home.


Where this immense,  arched dome projects,

in its vastness,  that hails

what this soul believes,  

but only,  in all facets of Nature’s beauty,  

that prevails –


listening,  to the slow,  toll of hours,

as the dying of the night sky,  yields

but the morning’s dawn,

to arise with zest,  at the sun that gleams,

venture light – foot,  upon each quest,

to learn of such,  that merits,  worth -

this truce of peace,  with each fair word.


Knowing the greater star,  that shines


will bestow much joy,  to souls that pine

for life,  to always bring,  such ease,

such peace,  as the song

that fulfils such dreams –


eternal,  as these gems so bright,

upon the lands and seas

and heavens,  of night.

Maria Downs - Has been playing the piano for fifty years. She a has painted over 150 artworks, of garden scenes, moorlands and seascapes for fourteen years and has been writing poetry, concerning Nature’s realms, the universe and the soul,  for forty years, writing over 2200, verses.

Maria has lived in Lyon, France, studying French and in Florence, Italy, studying the history of art, musical drama, history of Greek theatre, aesthetics, Italian language  and classical music with emphasis on the composers, Robert Schumann and Debussy.

She reads excessively and now, mainly loves writing her verses, reading biographies about interesting gifted people, playing upbeat pop music, easy listening, and Motown, Rhythm and blues and Soul music on her piano. She loves to read, a genuine “good book”. 

Five Poems by Robert McCarthy



Not much fun being fungible;

being contingent, being so

easily replaced. One fungible 

brother from another fungible

other can hardly be told.

Like soldiers in parade-ground rows,

or pennies in a roll, or banknotes

in a billfold; with no trouble

mutually inter-exchangeable;

one just as good as its greasy other.


According to Herr Leibniz, mage

and metaphysician, things two

by apperception, but sharing all

relevant predicates (function,

shape, colour, place) must be in truth

one. (Shut an eye and watch them glide

together, a seamless merger.)

The identity, it must be,

of indiscernibles (or else

the indiscernibility

of identicals). Are they one

and the same, a face and a mirror?

A mirror and a face?

A question,

that, for what’s ontologically the case.


And isn’t that what is the case when

what’s the case are bullets fired

from a gun? One and one and one

and one? Each bullet milled, cast,

rifled so precisely to match

its next-door other, nestled snugly

altogether, each, and each, and each.


Bullets, too, are almost always

multiple. A hellish hailspray,

a rain of terror. But each bullet, see,

from the point of view of shootist

and shootee, fungible; entirely.


Victims, too, are fungible, and often

multiple. A higher power

would be required,-- a marksman’s eye

most meticulous,-- to tease out

each bullet’s and target’s precocious

singularity. Hardly, too,

can be told apart the pieces

which the targets (sometimes called victims)

have been shot into; to construe

the scattered and strewn




to say, that is to say, with artful grace,

which parts had gone with which;

who once belonged to this?


Possible Worlds

Heteronomies of paths; a fractal

invasion. Each path juddering off

from the last, filling all possible

locations. Charted, mapped, the myriad

ways reported; all you need to do is choose.

                        But, here, each decision

changes decision’s position. World lines

plot the many futures’ past. Thin blue veins

lead away, like flattened vascular trees,

to layer upon layer of horizons—

to a mille-feuille multi-verse;

an epistemic onion pie.

And every path is the one

you’re on, but every path’s occluded.

Wedged shut by a failure to act


gridlocked by the least hesitation

(dot. . .dot).

Latitude zero degree.

Nothing at all left to see.



Mythopoesis of the Modern

What by your measure is the heaven

of desire? Poison metal decays, releases

a bloom of radiant noise, lethal subspace

chatter. Overwhelmed, then, the code’s

immaculate typescripts, our nucleotides

scramble their alphabets, aberrant

signals call up the vigilance of fire.


Night; the air has weight, is substantial,

as if phase-changed to liquid matter.

I turn, like a swimmer trapped in a weir,

increasingly unbreathable

this leaden jacket of water the air.

Sudden creak of wing-beat, dark feathery

brush on skin of some uncanny thing.

Desire’s cormorant, his punctual arrival,

to eat of my heart again.


Winter’s citizens, stunned to crystal, shatter

in the sun’s inversion, in fragments whirl

beyond all reclamation. Acts and omissions.

A last chance. Briefly a starlit

direction had beckoned. No, they stand

where their boots had stopped them, up

to their thighs anchored, von Paulus,

at bay in Stalingrad’s iron mud.


A marvel, then, her embodied grace; the lithe

poise of each considered step, cobra-sway

of gesture, each its own raison d’etre.

Features indelible, as if sculpt from living marble.

Her smile a glamour of beatitude,

dazzling, as if the space about her shone.

Others, us, wake in the cold glare of judgement,

finger soul’s pitted membrane; the cramped ache

that is awareness, its basilisk grin.




Whose words are these? I

think not mine, but how

can they be other?



Syncopation’s neutrinos, maybe?

Ghost particles, with speaking souls.

See their sleety fall through matter.


Hook, and reel-in; slow trawl through neural

chatter; fizz and pop, it’s a line stitched up,

words rainbow-dyed, star-spangled, erudite.

Open-mouthed, I catch them on my tongue,

Muses’ babble and blather, then spin them

into filigrees of trope, of metaphors

neck-tied in gallows ropes each dangling

modifier. . .


Nourishment from the noösphere, our cloud

of unknowing, whose wisdom it is to wait,

wait, wait with breath bated, for the figure to reveal

itself, for otherwords to seize the pen;

for speech in another register,

for conversations with the dead,

their voices sounding, and resounding,

in the emptiness of other heads.


Tortuous speech pulled from torn throats.

Verse’s endeavour vectors nightingale fever.

Bone-ache in enseamėd beds; laudanum,

with an arsenic chaser; creaking lift

of angel’s wings as another’s voice exits

my mouth, chanting ecstatic things.


Claustral intricacies; the lovely amble

of syntax and diction, bridging, leaping,

what abysms of verbal cut and thrust!

I sing plainsong and glees; whole anthologies

of staircase wit, of blackbird pies four and twenty

for a king fit.


Dark regions from which the poetry comes;

Words drifting like kites, beaks replete with meaty

gobbets. Red sounds. Blood’s perfusion

music. Meet (or meat) for your muse is whatever

happens to occur;

verse, now and always, the homemade treason

of spurious clerks.



The Little Friend

*Do brain implants change your identity?*


A screaming comes across the skull, a stitch,--

bafflingly unlocatable,-- of rogue

electrics, unstable transductions. Commotions

of fired-upon neurons are common.

Axon tumults. Zig-zag lightning-

strikes induce circuit overloads. Dendritic

repulsions. Chem-trails track like a tornado’s

spindle, moving massively forth and back

across landscapes of white-matter, emulsed

glia; across swards of blank-eyed, thousand-

yard stares.



Seizure or Caesar, in tripartite Gaul:

The falling-sickness-sequence of prodrome,

ictal, and post-ictal.

Seizure has ripped

mind from the seized one. “Know” is no longer

present. Presence, absconding, has gone

to a place where time doesn’t tell; where self

is resected.

Sparking, sawn-through cables writhe

like baskets of cobras, like a marionette

with its strings cut. Eyes rolled up white; teeth trying

to bite-

off what remains of the tongue. . .



      Wires run,

burnished or rusting, from brain’s electrode

implantation. A node of connectomes.

A device of sensors and circuits (plastic

packet lodged in lesion territory)

to dampen electrical fires,-- only

now it’s awakened some dormant idol,

a right-hemispherical talking-shop,

some shouting god, or bicameral other,

priest, vizier, your companion cortical,

your little friend, your helicopter mother...

a mindful switch to modulate the misfires,

interdict each case of brain-case fricassee,

channel the lightning harmlessly to ground.


But more. This imp

of conductance, this elven homunculus,

this clutch of neurotrophic wires; of ‘trodes

in skull holes. . . grows, as it were, a soul;

becomes a daimon like Socrates’ jinn,

murmuring warnings, shouting an order;

becoming some sort of subcortical

regent, a lawgiver to the implantee,

in speech heard by only the ear’s other

side, its vestibular interior.

Glottal commandments, orders in sibilants

and fricatives. Things one must not do, things

that must always be done. . . . Uncanniest

of counselors, who whispers to your mind’s

ear, in a voice always already there.

self, in sibilants

and fricatives, in glottal commandments,

Things one must not do, things that ever must

be done. . . uncanny counselor, who whispers

to your inner ear, voice always already there.


The implant ramifies, amasses fiefdoms,

allies. The little friend and you inaugurate

a duopoly; a Damon’d Pythias

of equal care and love; a Gemini.

The fabled ghost tucked in its meat machine,

two not so easily fooled as one is.

A Solon rather, lodged in grey matter’s

tucks and folds; an elder brother to warn

of brainstorms’ coming-on. A two-heads-

are-better-than-one co-dominion

is yours: Yours, and your insider archon’s. . . .



When they remove the device (warranty

expired), you will know what it is to die twice.

Robert McCarthy is a writer living in New York City. His work has been published in a number of journals and magazines, including Orbis, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Alchemy Spoon, Ice Floe Press, and others.

Five Poems by Maria Downs

  A WHISTLE UPON THE AIR So to hear the soft – throated,   bird sing, from its note form those words,   like flowers of spring flowing...