A Dose of Gothic

What did it mean, what power exerts,
When waking life has just desserts?
A dire-dream slipped through my mind unguarded,
To flame the way, lights disregarded.

Insomniac, I left my night-bulbs on back then;
For fear of the wraiths I slept with my pen.
For fear of my faults I slept through the day,
While workers channelled the abysmal way.

Then here for my Goddess are the terms of that dream,
Like stage-hands our semblance were moved to a scene:
Charged to manoeuvre two living maquettes,
Two grim postured women with lace bertha-necks.

All suppleness gone, dissolved of their flesh,
Their limbs were wood, their joints metal-thresh;
My dreammonger conjured the task for trafficking,
To move in new ways the gruesome mannequins.

The nearer the elder, and less perturbed,
She suddenly seemed in the gloam disturbed,
And to my dream-horror, and my protests for home,
That loathing lady, with eyes of foam,

Grabbed my wrist and fixed my own;
Urged me: “release us from this dismal throne”,
In just one weird moment shared their disaster,
How their bodies became puppets for a far puppet-master,

From a long-lost time their sibling hearts stolen,
For the King of Odessa, his blood emboldened,
And they were exsanguinated, exiles converted,
Deossified sisters with sycamore skirted.

Her grip released, I could not have known
The future dark ways that they would have shown;
That doppelganger split into sisters was mine,
The ghastly hand that touched, divine.

What did it mean, but obscenely teach
Of those bold futures out of reach.
Five years on, that sister’s touch caught up with me;
From a motor vehicle flung, and into a Spanish surgery.

The List

What was I to you?
Let me suggest a few new words:
A figment, a fragment,
Imagination with sepsis,
A curve, a disaster.
A word, a quiet scourge,
A red-white sticking plaster
To bandage the scars on your sotted heart.

You’re distilled in my moles,
My melanin converged;
I carry you with me, my daily dirge;
I was your inconvenience, placed
In the way of your mythical thirst.
Your scale, your weight,
I was worse than the worst
Dreams of marsh-mires which gobbled your hearse.

A ritual forgotten,
A language unheard,
A poem unwritten,
A pugilist hurt,
Did she hand you the key
To the cell you deserved?
A grandfather gnawing through this earth,
Deprived of his sons, and their sons’ births.

I am only just beginning
To know where you are, oblivion;
It is not made from bones and flax
But the sound of beating drums.
Burn me with my poems
And Time poured on my chest,
My verboseness overflowing,
Only then will we rest.


I could not foresee that you would be
Much like my father;
A ghost floating in my mind in real-time

Like flotsam on my eyelids.
He talked of petals and poppies and diamonds.
He was believed, and my webbed and sticky

First fleeting look at the world
Was within a fleece of silence.
My heart is filled with an improvised pantomime

Of love, jettisoned in the vacuum where
There is Love which leads to loss.
I did not know that it included you.

I did not know that we would fall to the same violence
Of memory and thought, forces exerting,
Pulling from one another like an injured fox

From a hunting rifle. We held the bullet
Of that hurt in place, to stop the haemorrhaging
Memories from bleeding out into dark pools.

Something similar once was done by Neptune
Using the spikes of his Trident to plug the ocean.
The moon turned away in disgust.

Time’s carriages rattled on,
Built by men for herds of sheep, cattle, loot;
Bloodied fathers everywhere: men, time, gods.

It is what they do best.
I arrived at the Museum of Modern Loss
Where I was tossed from the temporal wagon

Under the bronze, onto platform number one,
(I don’t know why to this day it was numbered,
There was ever only one of those mausoleums).

Where I see the queues forming in mud.
Mud abundant enough to slop into the bowl
Of heaven where new ghosts were whittled.

These men, our fathers,
Compelled by the Goddess to repeat
The mistakes their bloodlines wrote on.

The ghost resurfaces. We have nothing to say.
A question unanswered, a code stood uncoded.
And suddenly, without warning, my daughter was stolen.

Time For Today

There is time for Today
And a time for Tomorrow,
There is time for Joy
And a time for the Horrors.

There is a time for Revelry
And a time for Silence,
There is a time for Heraldry
And shields which go unpainted.

There is a time for love and hope
When I was cleansed of splinters,
There is a time for moonlit trysts
And time for searching moorlands.

There is time for coffee and for tea,
And time for the doctor’s appointments;
There is time for the ink in my blood
To find unmoving papers before me.

This time was always allotted,
No more or less in the making,
Only when my self is forgotten
Will it end the diurnal raking;

Raiding my soul and all it encounters,
The dead and then the living;
And when all this time has been taken,
I would pray that I am forgiven.



For her coterie’s pleasure, the Goddess of Feathers
Stretched in the leisurely fashion her diaphanously
Silk-draped forearm, down into a labourer’s skep
From willows and wishbone woven;

The women there wept as she salvaged an egg,
Languidly turned in an orbit the fleck-speckled dress,
Its fabric a grey-green calcium taffeta.
She immersed her fingers, palm, then wrist,

Like markers of time, a sundial’s teeth,
Her sleeve rolled up to her elbow,
And into the yolk it flowed from the lip of the shell
Of distraction. The women wailed old grievances,

Of men from the homesteads who went off to war
And who came back as bundles in hessian bags;
They yelled and beat their chests and the bird escaped
Into me. I flew out far across marshes, over

Mudflats diving and rising and dipping and gliding
In erratic spins, like a slightly drunk bride on a
Somewhat mild whim to enjoy the wedding of the one
She resents. They tattooed with their words

Seven ways to ward off lizards, sand-snakes,
The invidious whispers of Tupinambis.
The deceits, the tidings, a murder, a gulp,
We argue in gardens of dunes and grasses

Until threats to our season pass over.
This vernacular, retreating sea-worms and spiders
Recede to those feminine throats and the egg
Is re-sealed for the night; the Goddess is silent.