Padlock Lake

I’ve fed dead fish
At Padlock Lake,
Five miles above
An old sluice gate.

Over yon way,
Beyond game-sedge,
A calf eats hay
At Ghost Farm’s edge,

I knew, like you,
From early ages
Through hardship and harm,
Through old Autumn breezes

Cold as a fist,
This inability to wish,
We dreamt of byres and
Troughs instead.

We pass by a polite
Chinese scientist
With one arm
And owls woven

On grey lapels.
Yon farmer exists
In a caravan balancing
Precariously

On rusting teeth.
Brambles and briar
Nettles and dock,
A solitary robin,

Red from the cross,
Her songs could span
An albatross, in flight,
Over oceans of moss.

Years later
I found a certain haven,
Pulling those fish ribs
From a peaty bog,

Not far from where
They found a body within
A concrete outflow pipe,
Naked, leaking, exposed.

Sometimes even gods
Of parks and lakes
Make human-seeming
Basic mistakes.

Parables

Black squid ink
Descends through
These pebbles
Of my body,
My teeth,
My blood black,
Purple ribs,
A deep infusion,
A bruising
Poisonous sea,
As I sit at my desk
And reflect
On how I failed
And O yes, how
I failed again.

Unprepared,
Unmade for this,
Steam from heat,
Pendulums for
Pencils and
Abeyances
For where I am
Both sitting
Semi-respectfully
And not sitting too,
Fitting and yet
Not quite fitting,
Neither into life
Nor, of course,
My death anew.

Still To Live

You touched my lips
With your fingertips,

Exquisite verisimilitude
In every moment’s potential,

Fragile as tomorrow’s moth,
Enduring as a marrow-tusk,

And softly you spoke,
Almost inaudibly,

Infinitesimally,
‘Please try and forgive

For when we do not act’.
I did not understand

As gently holding my hand
You touched the very tip

Of expectation
Spiking my existence,

Drifting into a mist
Of memory and reason.

‘I love you so,
This much you know,

But not enough
Still, to live’.

And with those words
I came to know

Crude openings of loneliness,
Closing of a season.

State Rooms

In a dream
I am painting
State rooms
For the Queen.

Before reviewing
Each room and
Each paint pot
Her Majesty had to
Take a call
Which wasn’t odd at all
And at odds with not
Before we fall.

Acorn green
From eggy paste,
I complimented
Regal tastes,
But underneath I
Plant in haste
Words I heard
Within her wake,
Succinct,
Pertaining to
All I knew about
Her commodore’s
Disgrace.

My Family Is The Type

My family is the type
Who, while the Titanic
Of this life is sinking,
Stand westwardly and
Thinking how delightful,
How beautiful this view,
This nightly icy view,
Whilst whistling a tune
Of some long-forgotten
Ditty, and this view is
O so pretty, their words
A fuel to keep me down
Beneath a winter’s bloom.

With my bailing bucket
And my useless glue
Suppressed within that blue
They survived, it’s true,
And traveled on
To somewhere new.

Drinking Partner

Perhaps, drunk with my death,
Yet death my drinking partner,
Passed me every refilled cup,
Every tankard foaming after.

Death who did the yeasting,
Death who farmed a barley,
Soul-beer for our feasting,
Prone to darker parley.

He drove a Harley-Davidson
And dumped me on a porch,
His wiry eyes were gnarly,
His pupils held a torch.

Each morning his reversing
Equipped me for his bar,
And though he kept me burning
I felt those rains afar.