The Mosque on the Moon

On the twenty-third of June in the year
Two thousand and thirteen, sudden motion
Was detected on the surface of the
Moon. By November ninth it was clear that
We were not alone and had not been lost
On the move. The mosque on the moon confirmed
All of that. We had just not been listening.
Glistening glint, the hint of light was what
Our telescopic eyes could see, but not
Microphonic, our ears were the problem.
The call had been made for millions of years.
We now know that the first movement was a
Momentary anomaly, a flick
Of a foot by a member of the faith.
But the heads had been touched to the prayer rugs
By the faithful many millennia.
The backs had been arched over eons of
Time. The marble colonnaded courtyard
Had been still, and the pigeons had roosted
On edges of the enclosure, and all
In grey and white shades were invisible.
So minarets had seemed like mountainous
Pillars on the edges of craters on
The surface of the moon. And the backs of
The worshipers like greyed-over moonrocks,
But more to the fact, when not expected,
The eyes of man had not been trained, and ears
Most certainly had been blocked many years.
– – – – – – –
That first movement disturbed the prayer of time.
The birds were sent wheeling in unison.
Dozens of shapes swept like shifting saccades.
One in its wingshape seemed like the foreground,
Its wings angled upward like the crescent
Of the sphere, and the observer on Earth
Saw it was a sign, when the sound was heard.
Only he knew the sign came before sound.
For all others the sound filled the air, and
Ears everywhere knew the tune of the moon.
The muezzin was calling from the high
Minaret, from the roof of the world, as
The prophet of the seventh century
Had called for, and prophets before as well.
That the sound came with the sign was a great
Mystery. Only homo sapiens
Had been deaf to the call. In milky sea
The Earthship would list, lenses of ocean
Pulled by the tide, like two ears on the sphere
Of a mother’s round face, or two whites to
The sides of an iris, waters displaced.
In the mosque on the moon, no eyes had been
Turned to the blue and green jewel on the sea.
For the moon is the unborn sister of
Earth, the caul of its fortunes hiding from
Sight the footprints on Earth, til the turn of
Fate in ’69, a Yin-Yang of signs,
Left a footprint of man on its shoreline.
– – – – – – – –
Wherefore forty-four years man’s eyes had been
Blinded when the eye of the moon had been
Opened. A mould was made of the mark of
Man, and placed in the mihrab built in the
Wall where the worshipers faced to pray to
The Source, to reinforce their one focus,
Knowing then that man could not hear at all.
All the creatures of Earth had always heard
The sound, the call to come to the prayer hall.
To the music of the spheres had their ears
All attended, to one hundred thousand
Million stars in an ocean of milk
One hundred thousand light years across in
A jug, crescent moon the lip of the spout.
The whales in their sounds in the singular
Water, ululations fluctuating
In the subsidence of tidal movements,
Knew the tune cast on the nighttime moonbeams.
And newborn foals too cocooned in their stalls
Felt reassured by the muezzin’s call,
And heard fully the extent of his song.
But for the humans who thought that the moon
Was a place, and not a portal or veil,
A speaker cone thrumming with the rhythm
Of space, a round music box wound with the
Thread of time, a skein of wool spooled on a
Bright bobbin in the mind, in memory
And imagination, analogy
And rhyme, the moon was indeed a dry place.
– – – – – –
And so the moon was marked with man’s feet, a
Feat of literal comprehension, to
Knock on the dry wall of a deserted
Village in the heat of the desert, and
Not realize, that within the blank walls,
Had they arrived a little later, would
Be a welcome and water from the well.
Typical of the building traditions
Of the desert regions of the Earth, the
Mosque on the moon was featureless from the
Outside. The dust of the dunes covered
Man’s feet, mariners marooned on the moon,
lunatics lost from the loom, a balloon
That sailed off into space without a clue.
When the muezzin’s call was heard at first,
A madness entered the Earth, for the sound
Was merely a monotone, a drone just
Past mute, a low mellow toll of hollow
Bell, more a murmuring from a deep sleep,
Mutterings from the other half of the
Brain, a call ‘cross the corpus callosum.
Only the mystics heard the true sound, and
Communed with the mosque’s moguls and mullahs,
The imams and moolvis and African
Moors on their mosaic-paved paths on the
Moon. In the monastery of Mont St.
Michel, the monks there knew only too well
What it was like to be isolated.
– – – – – –
In silences the monks meditated
In their cells like bivalve molluscs that strained
The sea of sound for meaning, til all was
Quiet and yet was heard the muezzin’s
Call as feeling, and a sense of inner
Movement, as though a mushroom were forming
Under the earth, and soon to be revealed.
The sadhus in the Himalayas were
Likewise occupied, as they rode the tide
Of sound from the meniscus of the moon
To full, and heard the pull like an oar through
The foam, like the spores in the loam, like a
Scythe as it sweeps through the field in the late
Afternoon, in their tympanum eardrums.
The artists and mooncalves and usual
Fools of society also grew still,
And stayed in their rooms and wound down to a
Pause, stowed in the shadows, and slowed to a
Crawl, and grew their antennae like moths in
The dark, and so heard all the goings-on
Relayed from the moon’s white radio disc.
In such ways for some the sickle moon sang
Like a venetian blind hung, turned from the
Sun. Or with curved blades bent flat, tuned to a
Varying degree such that that was the
Waxing and waning of feelings and sound,
Until moonlight was spilled on windowsills
Inside, and they walked and talked on the moon.
– – – – – –
But those in the citadels of reason,
Shrouded in science and shored up against
Nature, only heard the tinnitus tone,
A ringing, an unanswered telephone
Reverberating in their craniums,
Machine-like titanium singeing
Nerve endings never sending along song.
Not for them was the white geranium
Of the moon blossomed in the woad blue sky,
But like a coin tossed, lost on dark pavement
Jealously possessed, a dollar, money,
Moolah, Moloch addressed, obsessed over
If it seemed that some other nation was
Mining on it with machines on the sly.
Or worse, if some alien entity
Had designs on the pride of the father,
And had thought they could take the dowry
Of the moon, and via the bride, spy on
The Earth, the groom of the moon and charge of
The paternalistic tribe of elders,
Monopolistic monarchs of Terra.
Training their telescopes further, they saw
Not a whit of the mosque, but straining with
Unbridled fervour, only saw more of
The feathers tempest-tossed, but witnessed as
A molecular disturbance, motion
Like snow in a blizzard of moondust so
They thought, not having eyes to see clearer.
– – – – – –
With dry eyes and dry minds they saw moondust,
Like pockmarks on the Mona Lisa’s face.
They saw not the gaze of the mother-of-
Pearl-lustred sister of Earth, a goddess
Like she, twin at the birth but covered in
Night and unborn to the days of the Sun,
But festooned in her changes like moonstone.
They knew not the silvery spoon, dipped in
The soup bowl of sparkling sesame
Oil drops floating on dark miso soup,
The bleached wood wine cork bobbing on the sea
Under atmospheric mists amid waves
Of stellar cosmic rays, a pale doorknob
Opening to the landscape of nightfall.
They had not halved the feijoa moonfruit,
With the cool taste like the grapes from Bordeaux.
Or drunk lemonade in a tall glass in
The shade of a beach umbrella by a
Sparkling ocean. The moon is a shell
Caught in swollen swell of tidal motion,
Calciferous iridescent omen.
The milk teeth of the moon leave only a
Temporary bitemark on the passage
Of time. When full, her mouth is a moue of
Pout til the nipple is out again and
Fed, she sleeps once more, round belly growing
Smaller and turning into the blanket
Of night, grows hungry in her dreaming head.
– – – – – –
Well, the merchants of enterprise chimed in,
And said expedition to the moon was
Timely, to determine the source of the
Sound. So with consummate skill they designed
A great vessel, a double-hulled schooner
Hung from a dirigible, an airship
Of technical splendour, Gondola One.
It set sail on the solar wind, ‘cross the
Swale of sky, like a coracle on the
Sea caulked watertight with oakum,
Anchor rope freed from the bollard of Earth,
From its mooring, and cast to the shivering
Stars, a glissade of light like the passage
Of past ships sailing the Straits of Dover.
Large lateen sails, slung fore and aft from the
Mastheads on loose-fitted booms, could accept
The solar wind on either side, and thus
With the voyage timed close to an eclipse,
The clipper spaceship tacked to and fro through
The tidal zone between the two planets,
A boat floating on the moat of the moon.
In its hubris it mimicked the moon phases,
With white robes of gossamer cobweb sails
billowing from sickle to albescent
Fullness, like the embroidered handkerchiefs
Of morris dancers flicked on the wind or,
Weighted with beads, placed over the rims of
Wooden milk pails pooled brimful with liquid.
– – – – – –
Across the gulf of space, with the faint stars
Twinkling in their masses like milk sprinkled
On a bowl of black molasses, the bow
Of the zeppelin gondola ship sailed,
The long guyropes holding like a hand on
The pommel of a saddle steadying
Its course, the inky sea an ambling horse.
In the distance the moon loomed, murmuring
With the sound waves of the muezzin’s call
That emanated from craters deep in
The Sea of Serenity, formed over
Three thousand million years ago, by
Meteorites causing lava to flow,
Making the maria, the dark hollows.
Apollo never discovered the mosque.
Eleven landed on Tranquillity,
And Seventeen on Serenity, but
Even with this last mission, the result
Eventually on Earth, was that none
Heard much of anything, and never learned
That the moon was in truth a tambourine.
The moon was made out a monument of
Dust, a dowdy doppelgänger, a dry
Crust in a petri dish riddled with mould,
A millstone grinding the husks of science,
While the mass media relayed only
Talcum powder and dandruff to the young
And the old, and calcium for your bones.
– – – – – –
As scientists pored over dry moon rocks
From the solar Apollo moon missions,
And telescoped into the empty eye
Sockets of the maria craters in
Porous skull bone of their own mongrel moon,
The Gondola One seafaring crew fell
Into orbit to circle la Luna.
And mutatis mutandis, the sound of
The shimmering, tremulous gong of the
Moon underwent a sea change, as a sine
Wave vibration lifted it into a
Modulating melodious music
And even an incantation, as the
Muezzin’s voice of the Muse was now heard.
The starship passed over the mountainous
Moonscape below, and the maria were
Arrayed like a montage of photos in
A row, the thickness between crust and the
Mantle of the moon, Mohorovičić
Discontinuity-like in thickness,
Thinnest where the ancient lava had flowed.
And it was as if the whole planet played
In a moderato tempo, with a
Mutable mellifluous melody
Swimming among the multiform moonrock
Like a meandering minnow below,
The moiré ripples of sound moistening
The moon’s dry atmosphere like monsoon rains.
– – – – – – –
The Mandelbrot set of overlapping
Craters were mandalas of mantra, a
Plangent pattern of plate tectonics, a
Vibraphone or Moog synthesizer, a
Resonating drum kit of cymbals and
Symbols, like that of the surface of a
Pond suffused with syncopating raindrops.
The galleon gull of Gondola One
Sailed an elliptical path, over the
Artemesian satellite of Earth,
And felt the symphonious current
Reverberate in its hull, sharp-ridged keel,
Rudder and tiller, and wheel in the bridge,
And the magnetic coils of its turbines.
Now the albatross wings of its mainsails
Lifted the vessel to the height of the
Apocynthion, furthest point from the
Moon below, and over the edge of the
Curved horizon darkness grew, and thus swooped
Into deep dark lunar side, the diving
Almond mandorla vesica pisces.
A manhole cover slipped over the night,
The moon a dark bubble under sea, the
Monkshood wolfsbane octopus tentacle
Sucker surrounding and suffocating
Its prey, the sound now muffled suffering
Catacoustically, and crew onboard
In a form of forgetfulness trauma.
– – – – – –
Cuticle of light, melt of butter on
Toast, a shoal of quick fishscales flashing in
Slant of sunbeam. A luminous hoop of
Lunisolar light tipped over the ship’s
Proscenium deck. And muffled bassoon
Turned mandolin, chimes and bodhrán again
In the flashbulb of the full melon moon.
Farinaceous host set in silver
Monstrance illuminated in a
Glass lunette, was raised by a priest dressed in
Black cassock, not moth-proofed such that the stars
Shone through. Rosary beads of nebulae
Glowed in curlicues, as the roaming craft
Of Gondola One reached its rendezvous.
Boosters flared, the windjammer’s momentum
Was moderated, and many miles the
Fair airship descended, til into a
Synchronous orbit it fell, above a
Floury flocculent ice-floe lagoon at
The edge of the Sea of Serenity,
Like flotsam floating above the seafloor.
Zoom lenses would see the mote in the eye,
Speck of metal, wood and muslin. Minute
Matchwood masts in a microgroove of space,
Zooplankton organisms in a vast
Watery waste, grains of pollen strewn by
The wind, while the Muslim muezzin’s call
Anchored them all, a harmonic harpoon.
– – – – – –
Out in the boondocks of the galactic
Hinterland, the Gondola cosmonauts
On the observation deck scanned their eyes
Through the vacuum, looking for the source of
The euphonious sound – and the lustrous,
Gilded, turquoise and eggshell-blue tiles of
The golden mosque’s great onion dome answered.
The geometry and mosaics of
The iris of the dome were plumage of
Peacocks in opalescent polychrome
Arabesques of ornate decoration,
Calligraphic swirls and interlaced vines,
Fractal-like tendrils in elemental
Motifs with endless knot scrolling entwined.
The stationary crew fell into a
Swoon, realization rolling over them.
How jejune their mentation not to see
The moon was a convex mirror, onion
Dome pearl the microcosmic blue-green Earth,
And the calling, the reflected crying
For the moon of Earth’s inhabitants’ dreams.
The mosque on the moon has a cinnamon
Tree where all creatures go to pray, fed by
A gourd of water from Lourdes, memory,
Emotion, imagination, wonder,
Mystery and mood, liminal light and
Noosphere loosened in pungency, moon a
Corm storing water, fortune and story.
– – – – – –
© Tony French
Winter Solstice
Full Moon 2013

Centre Sphere

If half a sphere sat on a square
Such that the circle was intersected
Tangentially where it touched
The midpoints of the four sides

And centred then at cardinal points
Of East and North West and South
So that it formed the upper story
Of a constructed cross of tall hallways

Placed upon platforms of many steps
That led to avenues lined with trees
Surrounded by grounds filled with birds
That flew from forests all around

Laced with roads that winding ran
Along the sides of valleys dividing
Rocky promontories facing plains
Reaching out toward the horizon

Then we might wander to that place
And place our feet upon those steps
Pass through hallways rich with arches
Until we came to that central space

And looking up into that dome
Recognise our sacred home
The heart’s interior in blue of mind
The golden dome in the sky a sign

Echoes of angels in the songs of birds
Mosaic paths to gardened earth
Pillars of virtues guiding the living
Fountains of nourishing waters giving

Peace to the air of dappled sunlight
Leafy shade at edges where we might
Circle the circumference with songs that rhyme
Weave body and soul and words and time

Awakening to Memory (1980)

(Note: refers to a time when, awaking from chaotic dreams of medieval chaos and ruin, I recalled a happy memory to calm me. I remembered a time at the lights in Newmarket with my lover, when she asked for her ‘drug’, and I kissed her, thinking impulsively she meant ‘me’. Two guys in a van behind us clapped – such romantic spirit? My lover explained after that it was a cigarette she meant. In the poem this memory is translated into medieval garb from the dream traces).


Carrouselled past Shavian
Flowersellers, to days of when
Medieval knights and damsels
Fled from evil sights to castles,
And past bombardment of quaking towers
The last enchantment, for waking now,
My dreams have gone, and I’ve lost the battle,
And streams of consciousness now grapple
With thoughts of sleep and safety’s shore
For fraught with deep pangs greatly more
Of love and loneliness, my mind
A dove on a lonely quest to find
A memory
Of when we
Were carefree
And laughing
Reminisced when, on trusty steed,
The damsel was kissed, when just such a deed
Was requested of the prince, who confused the words
In the message rather, since it amused the bards
In the minstrel troupe behind, who clapped for more
And the damsel looked blind to what the kiss was for.
Not a kiss was the request for the task, nor a hug,
But for Turkish cigarettes when she asked for her ‘drug’.
And awakening to memory, I welcome reality.
In taking you with me in my dreams, you are in me.



One Sentence (2005 poem for my mother)

For my mum, my mother, a grand (young) lady,
Is her son, no other, her grown-up baby,
Come, to discover, in this grove so shady,
With a poem, how I love her, and with writing maybe…

Uncover, with the necessity, of rhyme and rhythm,
A lover’s propensity, to undermine in him,
Everything other, than underlying givens,
Nothing to cover the undenying fool’s whim…

To declare, forthright, the plain and simple truth,
That whether, for nights, I was staying under her roof,
Or otherwise, in flight (having left the nest as a youth),
I have never, despite the dress of appearing aloof…

Ever, though ways seem to part,
Severed her from my heart.