Out Of A Lotus

Time will slip by
Unhurried, unnoticed,
So I propose one kind action
For someone out of a lotus.

Sometimes kindness requires
Doing what you would usually not;
Sometimes self should write aside
Someone else’s suffering plot.

Tempus Fugit Usquam,
So in moments see kindness renewed,
For some future day, ego expunged,
What will become of me and of you?

Apocryphal

You called me with a wish.
The line was broken, interrupted.
Your children were in the car
Behind you, concerns unspoken.
I knew you could not call again;
My mind is a radar for sadness.

An apocryphal fog followed,
Thick as a Polkovnik’s moustache,
A fog for causing shipwrecks,
Misunderstandings telegraphed.
In any event, I became mute
Until I met my nephews again.

Alignment

Your smile illuminated a night.
The Moon is loosening Jupiter,
A cat is lowering bark;
Southwesternly, further too,
Venus, Saturn, mistaken stars
Are found aligned at last
As I walked with my dog
Through an unlit park.

Light rebounds from behind
God’s eyelid, a pinprick
In a twilight sky extracted
From the uncuttable diamond.
And if so dimly lit
After years of travel,
Like the last burning candle
On a galleon returning
With a South Atlantic vase,
If this could reach my sight
By quarter to ten
As I stand in awe
On the frightening grass,
Then I will see your smile
In a dampening daylight,
Restoring a long lost past.

Giraffe Police

We accepted the unacceptable;
Evolved what was ephemeral
To permanently inevitable.

Dusk, orange early evening light.
We arrived at the municipal
Railway station, magnificent
In its antiquated style,
Minarets, many fountains
And bountiful hanging baskets
Where passionflowers spilled
Into their sulfurous being
As brightly and wide as your smile,
Only to be met and then processed
By two genial-enough
Officers in crisp white linen
Riding on giraffe-back;
From their howdahs’ vantage
They shouted down to kindly
Inform us, notebooks ready,
That their Bactrian camels
Had for the night retired
At their presidential stables,
And so on these languid
Knock-jointed mammals
With wrists for knees
They had to travel instead.
Those ungulates looked at us
With profound imperviousness,
Nonplussedness no less,
As phlegmatically
They chewed their cud;
Their riders read us our rights,
Although what we call rights
They now name our trouble.

We could conceive
The inconceivable
But in this desert crucible
We choose not to.
We did not question
How the officers knew
We were on the 2.20 train
From the coastal town
Where time had run out,
And now my memory hurts
From the telling.

There is no dispelling the fact
That these people dreamt of me once;
I was writing a poem on the subject
Of their nomadic travels
And subsequent apprehension
By a lieutenant and his junior,
And in this way
Come what may
The poem became the people.

Not The Bearer

Sometimes Love’s amphoras
Overflow, enriching
Not the bearer
But everyone below,
Until Love’s ceramic
Sun-glazed jugs
Finally become discoloured,
Emptied, and in shadow.

And although
I hide my losses well
You can always tell
When I am struggling –
I forget
To cut my toenails
And I forestall
The days of the week
Which I have changed
To names of trees
Extinct by thirty years;
Monday’s Ash,
Tuesday’s Elm,
Wednesday Oak;
Poplar’s heights
Touch Thursday’s toes,
Willow’s Friday’s river-cloak,
A weekend fit for toasting
Alder and Horse Chestnut,
Cold kidney pie
With mustard mash
I misplaced from last week’s lunches
Before returning to ash.

You can also tell
When I am unwell –
Chores do not interrupt and
You can hear the sounds
Of chaos from somewhere
Down the hall –
A thousand years of loneliness
To only end it all.

Love can pour back upwards –
See the citadel’s sorrow;
Place a lid upon the urn
And try again tomorrow.

Everybody Got What They Needed From Me (Except Me)

My counsellor said, exasperatedly,
That title is a generalisation
And that I am susceptible to exaggeration.
I said, this is how I feel.
The remaining appointments did not go so well.

On a village green a well ran dry,
And at the nearby cricket pitch
The yearlong deluge washed away
Protests more and more obscene
Chalked on a scoreboard by
Openers for a disgruntled team
Still wearing pads beneath their knees.
Villagers gathered under umbrellas
Scratching their waxy heads
With unusual visages weathered
And perplexed, looked up
To all redoubtable heavens,
Misunderstanding how so much rain
Could fall on something terribly and
Relatively minuscule as a
County bore with bucket,
As if a curse for colonising
The sands and surf of far
Nehantucket, by forgotten
And foolhardy ancestors
All those centuries, long ago.

Awdl I Wraig Pysgotwr

Cultivating seven lemon leaves of love,
She keeps their citrussy pips
For infusing our elevenses
And drizzle cake for afterwards,
Returning from the morning trip
Aboard my pre-dawn sea-breeze skip
Amid ululating waves, gigantic
Monoliths to rage and grief,
To shower away all memories
Of tarpaulin, and bountiful cod
I sell to a fishmongers’ market,
Fresh are the fish they sell
For a clamouring townsfolk
On beds of mushy peas
And curried chips.

From my time at middle-sea
My lips are akin to potato skins
Abandoned in a frozen field
After a squad of soldiers’ stampeded
Over muddy Flanders and Frisia;
I have rugged Stegosaurus toes
And a cranium bursting with
Plains of great grey
Oppressive clouds,
I am sometimes gruff
And sometimes I say nothing for days,
For who would converse
With mizzle-clouds and fish
And fog?

Yet despite these lesser facets
She is my anchor and my harbour –
Two states of material being –
A qubit, a Schrödinger love.
She is the single numeric code
For those thousands of padlocks
Encircling my rusty tortoiseshell heart;
She is both trusted compass and direction,
And when I set course
On a shipful of bones
For snowy Arctic bays and coves,
She returns me slowly, slowly,
Patiently home for cake and tea –
A blend with seven lemon leaves.


N.B The title is Welsh, ‘Ode To A Fisherman’s Wife’. I noticed the closeness to the Cornish word for Fisherman – pyskador – but I was not certain that I could approximate the Cornish title closely enough.

Puerto Pollensa

Anchored, then,
Tonight, the harbour is quiet.

Whenever I tripped over,
I landed on a bed of
Stray abandoned thought-cats.
I survived their falling fire
But this explains why
I have so many scratches
On my forearms and back.

I recently remembered
How we descended into
That far northern resort
Looking like tourists lost
In a monsoon,
Collapsible buggies
With razor-sharp teeth,
Drenched luggage deposited
Wordlessly on a side street
By our bored busman
With the darkest five o’clock shadow
I had ever seen –
No change left for gratuities.
Aromas on a warm squally breeze
Of palm trees, exotic and pliant,
Of ice creams with spirited titles:
Granizada, y Helado Suave o Cremoso,
The absurdity of
Watermelon socks
And mouths shaped like shuttlecocks.
Our sodden map was upside down.

If I want to, I can remember
Every item on the restaurant menu,
Every position of every dining chair,
Every taxi driver’s third child’s name,
All those feelings twenty years ago
Of misguided optimism and hope
Now that memory ploughs and harrows,
Swelling and then low like whitecaps
A stone’s throw from our hotel window.
Time’s arrow is stuck in between my ribs;
The trouble is, I do not want to go back.

Even a fast-food chain looks sophisticated
Anywhere else but home;
Home, this starless island is where
Powerfully corruptive usurpers
Paint turpentine stripes
Across our tarred faces.

Everything good we knew
Vanished without a trace
Into thick, corpulent air.