Andrew Kerr

The Castleford Sutra


The Castleford Sutra

is it not delightful to have a friend come from afar?”

I. Descent

My Lord the Bodhisattva Mahasattva looks down
as the obese and diabetic roll along Methley Place
on mobility scooters, considers descent, whose aid,
if any, he might enlist, his own fallibility. Dawn

but no sunrise. Chris Stanton sits outside the Co-op
religiously with a sleeping bag over his knees
and a foil blanket tucked away for emergencies
for those worst of days and the Lord said to the Bhikkhus

beg but do not choose where and accept whatever
is given. His skin condition makes you want to push him away
and he knows it. One of the wisdom sutras likens the start of the Path
to a man pushing a boat through shallows against the tide:

at some stage you hoist a sail and crack on – so it says.
At lunchtime I walk to the nearest bridge, the rusting carcass
of a metal barge rests midstream between the stanchions of the elegant
regeneration project, long grass filling its belly.


II. The Classification of Beings

Greg gets twitchy if he starts to talk about the voices,
gets twitchy goes home and drinks more, probably won’t
come back and Joanne with her dyed red hair, drinking
a litre of vodka and swallowing phet drinks more
when she thinks about her boyfriend who died of liver damage
last year. Keith has stopped drinking but started falling over
three or four times a day for some reason and Dale
who comes in with a 3 litre bottle of Frosty Jack bulging out
from under his jacket sits in the group and babbles on about
how he could kill a BigMac or a KFC and when I take him
for a piss test asks me if I work with many people
as bad as him with it. The Lord, finding one lying alone
in his own piss and shit cleans him up and calls the monks
together: monks you have no mother, no father – who
if you won’t tend to each other will tend to you? Scott
we sent straight off to A&E with a tummy like a little
boulder, Ricki pretends he knows everyone
because he can’t remember anything.


III. Creating the Buddha-Land

He is toying with awkward marriages, unlikely offspring –
His Buddha-Land emerging from the exhaust pipe
of a Black Van on the way to Wakefield, where the Pikeys
piebald horses graze, heaven in a drop of pollution,

inexhaustible skillful means. He sees the Tigers
gold and black polyester shirts cupping the pigeon chests
of smokers with COPD and gets distracted – thinks
of other times, extravagant countries, monks

filing past his tooth in the great temple in Kandy,
the supple hips of prostrate devotees, robes
and saris, magenta and saffron silks, swirling
incense. What luminaries can Castleford boast?

Viv Nicholson say the faithful – Spend
whenever you can. Don’t bow your head
to anyone. Whoever holds the relic holds
the governance of the country.


IV. Fruition

This is my house
Says Rosalie
Who cannot read
And cannot cope

This is my home
And here’s my son
Whose every hair
Is absolute

If not for him
I’d shoot myself
Sing tyger tyger
Little one

Sing tyger tyger.
With some kind of damage
Some thicko some pratt

The Lord gave
A white cloth
To wipe his face with
Once a day

Slowly the white cloth
Turning grey
Some thicko some pratt
Some anvil-arahat.


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