Et Snøskred

I would choose if I could
To be anything but a wasted man,

Sinews roping duct and glands.
Leave me, as everyone must,

Leave me to organise these poems –
Jumbled words from an idiot,

Good for kindling, good for dust;
I only request a lifetime’s hibernation

And a printer on a sturdy desk.
You pushed in vain, no little art,

Jumpstarting with your spark plugs
This cold and weathered heart.

My mind is like a mountain slope
For when I shout, an avalanche

Subsumes with snow
Everyone I hear below;

Terrified sounds, such voices,
Of my own villagers trapped

In subatomic neuroses,
My choicelessness of choices.

N.B the title is Norwegian and means ‘An Avalanche’

Liverwort Blues

We live on a cliff above
A dank, oppressive marsh.
That’s how this place
Became itself, through
Our existence alone
And had its name bestowed.
We should have stayed in caves
Where there were no names before.

Everyone here is killing
Each other in a ceaseless
Pursuit of mistruths
And words like food
Turned stale, inedibly so,
Are crumbs scattered
From battlements and
Powerful tower-tops;
The churches lost their teeth
And the castles their crows.
Over there, the man
Who invented petroleum
Is being set alight
Every night;
His corpse is hosed,
The daemons breathe new life
And have him oxidized
Despite his ghostly moans,
All those protestations,
Only, they return in numbers
With a burning bridge in tow.

If a man tells you he misspoke
Then he is not to be believed,
For, prior to impolitic exposure
He said those very words
And so he shows contrition
With oxymoronic verbs.
Truth is his disease –
Even good people lie, he said –
But what is true and what is not
Are shuffled like cards
With the suits turned to spots.

Either exasperated or bored,
I pressed a poisoned knife
Through my psyche,
A mix of suet, memories,
Bratwurst with some liverwort,
And everything that’s past
Is unforgotten, recreated in
A future that evolved,
Fitfully and biting,
Into something even worse.

Crow Lake

Sarcoma days,
Tower of Babel skies,
I tiptoed across our dam
At the top-end of Crow Lake
Where we once stripped
And with youth’s fearless
Exuberance
Ebulliently we dived.
There, beneath obtuse
And lucid ways of waters
We swam together
Through shoals of mouldy
Long-drowned dreams
Before arriving, hands held,
At a blocked sluice gate
We remembered,
And a rusty pump,
Green from age and
Exhaustion,
Before Victorian weirs
Weaving weeds between
Words and memory,
Water and air,
You, the wharf-god’s daughter;
There, we found a forgotten,
Unexploded bomb.

Nowadays,
I want to blast myself open
So that you can see what is inside.
You missed how I found
The secret to eternal life
In that furniture store on the high street,
On a kitchen shelf disguised
Amongst the pans and knives.
If uncovered by anyone else
Then doubtlessly
This elixir, this
Canary-coloured liniment
Would be instantly,
Relentlessly,
Mercilessly commodified,
By gaudy adverts plastered,
Just as they sold us that very same
Water, and air, and life.
I stored it for a little while,
As always, capriciously
Unable to determine
A fixed course of action,
And then I decided
A reasonable middle path
By stirring tea leaves
Judiciously in that fluid –
I studied that substance
For years in a porcelain cup
On a worn antimacassar
Right there beside me,
Then thought, before
It was too late,
To pour everything into
A kitchen sink
In need of bleaching.

Here then, the other side
Of nowhere,
Huge cooling towers
Bruising the sky,
Testament to an older lie.
What did you find
Inside my stomach –
An empty bottle,
Some faded magazines
And a buzzard left to die.

Faltreir

I heard all you said,
About how I expend my time
At nowhere’s edge,
Ignoring the living,
Courting the dead.

Last steadfast leaves of autumn
With their crow’s nest views
And hardy crow’s feet skin,
Swiped like diseased teeth
And tossed into a low
Evergreen sedge.

That storm stole a blackbird’s nest
With one disarming vortex,
Firstly from the north and then
Again from the west.
It was an intricate weft of delicate twigs;
I wondered, how do those diligent,
Hard-working, indigent parents
Rebuild with such artifice,
How do those innocents
Start over in epicentres of
Such windy maleficence,
Pick up the twigs,
Pick up the nest?
And where will the child
Now emerge and
In its emergence
Break out from conformity
And finally live, and erupt
In the fires of self-fulfilment,
Above the bracken and the copse,
If a storm allows for this.

Solutions

O my corrupted eye,
Sight lines interrupted
For self-inflicted comforts,
Diurnal placebos
Clothed like voters
In their healthy, plastic republic.

Where did my kingdom go?
What happened to my wealth?

They pasted a gluey solution
To the body of that boy,
A million flies swarmed
In a huge amorphous form,
All beauty there destroyed.

I turned to my blind guide
Who often liked to confide
Such scenes in me,
His expression one of boredom
As I spoke without words,
“I thought I was role-playing
In a game I did not ask for”,
And then, I said,
I misunderstood,
Only now. to find out,
I am no longer dead.

A Crime Scene

Turn my head to one side,
Existentially shy, and sleep deprived;
Alone in a mostly unhomely bed
And words tip out
From my mouth,
The mouth in my head.
I observed mutely
Their acute, distinct forms,
Their acumen as they tumbled
One
By
One
Onto my musty bedroom floor.
Until all that remains
Is a hollowed-out cranium,
And a verbal stain
Of beetroot-red blood on my case.

A lexicon of detectives
Entered the stale daylight,
Scratched their proverbial heads,
Striving when aligning invisible dots,
Returned home to partners
And a scotch on the rocks.

Night-time, dark seas,
Waves as high as a devil’s eye
And a coldness which strips your
Life-jacket and your skin
And then your seven dignities
As it becomes something horribly
And unethically mythic and
Intravenous.
What senseless, sponsored
Statelessness
Could be worse than this
For you to attempt crossing,
To enter this grey
Bay Of The Disconsolate.
Searchlights and sou’westers,
Faces chipped and glazed like
Limestone obelisks stolen
For someone else’s vanity project,
Now violated, graffitied,
Vandalised to your very souls
As you float in oceans
You have never even seen,
Where an armada danced
Before your demise,
Supinely, and serene,
Nor the land and sovereignty
And simple everyday occasions
Which can gratify and relieve –
A birthday, a Wednesday –
To ease an eternal
Deplorable soreness.

I want to rip out the sea;
I want to tear out the heart
Of every incompetence and
Inadequacy –
You were all born, you were
Umbilical, and biblical,
You were loved and languages
Added into those percolating bones;
You were found and swelled
In life’s great lung-like wells
And still, unchangeably, all for this,
Far too far from any sort of homeland;
Lighthouse power outages,
And so many exits unplanned.

Ballast

To all those I once held dearly;
To all those I did know sincerely;
I have not seen for many years,
My debt is your arrears.

Yes, you fill my dreaming night,
To move, to speak, without a light;
Rooted in my reaping river,
Supplanting dead who’ll have me shiver.

My body’s a blunt portcullis,
Designed for neither malice
Contrived nor brooding fears,
Raised to feed fore-mentioned peers.

My brain now ballast, deadened weight,
Sea-bedded hull will keep my fate,
Mid innocence of baleen whales
And uncles drowned, wrapped with sails,

One’s niece a starry, Parisian dancer,
Étoile, no less, so my sorry disaster,
Forgotten by a Victorian mind
For later archivists to find.

My briny lesson – do not be named
For dubious fathers, nor regents famed;
We all will have our future fight,
Though tunnelling moles have more insight

Than me, believer in dogs to see man’s soul,
Mine charred and black, with blighting hole;
Food unfit for a foulest ghoul –
Defend, my friends, from all that’s cruel.

So Long The Ceasefire

My head is a bread bin
Without any bread,
Where loaves were stored
Mould’s sprawling instead.

My body a trawler
With no herring for kippers;
Caught by a storm,
Overboard skippers,
Returning to port
With no smoke for a dinner.

My soul a cathedral
Burned for a cause,
So long the ceasefire,
Bombs did not pause.

Finally, my mind has vacated,
My body, and my will;
Standing at a bus stop crying,
Placated by the thrill.

Butterfly In November

The guardian on duty
Fell into eternal sleep,
So he could not tell me
That ivy ceased crawling,
A stranglehold wore off,
That devious armies retreated,
Helmets for a broth;
Ice caps melted;
Oaks no longer spalted,
A sward in sunlight
For a short time
Stirred the early grass.

A butterfly in November
Landed on my finger,
And then a dainty
Ladybird; and I knew
In my thorn-protected heart
How planets and a moon
Might finally restart.