Altar – a poem by Jay Ramsay


It’s all very well saying this table isn’t solid,
but it is—I bump my knee against it
and the hard matter of this world
is a stone there is no breaking
a fact there is no changing
as the light shines, exposing our eyes
to what we can no longer hide—the spirit
seeks us out for this reckoning
in our post-truth illusion, as we duck and dive
thinking we are free to lie without
being held to account by something so insubstantial
that is the soul of all substance: the Most Low and the Most High,
on this altar where I lay down my life.

Jay Ramsay


Jay Ramsay, who died in December 2018,  co-founded Angels of Fire in London in 1983 with its Festivals of New Poetry, was the author of 30 + books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation (with Martin Palmer) including Psychic Poetry—a manifesto, The White PoemAlchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, Shu Jing—the Book of History, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Places of Truth, Monuments, and Agistri Notebook (both 2014). In 2012 he recorded his poetry-music album, Strange Sun. In addition, he edited 6 anthologies of New Poetry—most recently Diamond Cutters—Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania (with Andrew Harvey:, as well as many collections for other poets, also under his own pamphlet imprint Chrysalis Poetry. He was also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, working in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and healer, and running workshops worldwide (

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