Clive Matson writes from an itch in his body


hourglass“What we call ‘I’ is just a swinging door which moves when we inhale and when we exhale,” observes Suzuki in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Each piece in Hourglass describes how it feels to become that swinging door — or to wrestle with thoughts that would jam it. The poet engages in a long, entertaining and unwinnable battle with his own mind. As his understanding grows, consciousness becomes at once commonplace and full of wonder.


published by: Seagull Press
ISBN: 0-9617687-0-3
format: perfect bound, 5.25 x 8.25 inches
numbered pages: 53
cover price: $10.00
art work by: Renee June
photograph by: Carole Wright



Blink and for one instant the eye
is a clear lens looking both ways
from the pinch of an hourglass
that opens out into two worlds.

No thought moves, no emotion swirls
the eye askew. The table, glass
and vase are table, glass and vase.
The ocean has its shore, the sky

no end, the cliff has a steep ledge.
Sight inward travels open ground.
The porthole is clear and glistens.

The world balances on the edge
of no event. Two pumas prowl
a conch shell, ears pricked to listen.

In Sadness

I walk in sadness through gray scrub.
The sky is blue streaked under pinks.
I think of all the things I’m not
with circling mind, with claimless heart.

New grass is green beneath the brush.
Each bush is brittle, thorned and links
my loves, my standing, fights I’ve lost.
My head and chest feel stretched apart.

I walk through scrub on steep green hills.
My legs stride on with little change.
Long strings of gems are dew in webs.

Deep sadness rises, swells and spills.
How strange this strangeness keeps on strange.
The sky is blue laid under reds.

The Peacock

The peacock drags its tail behind,
and string-like feathers drape the ground
until a threat, or mating urge,
alerts the muscles in its spine.

Rustle! Sigh! Rows of turquoise eyes
arch up and out, their rims green-brown
and cores blue-black. In one long surge
the tail bends straight. Its colors shine.

Ninety allies stare from the fan
without a blink. What sense can tell
if they’re for show, or if they’re live?

The peacock struts. “See this? See that?”
An inner mind has touched each cell,
and each one blossoms with an eye.