Guadeloupe

Our little band, our merry troupe
Had just arrived in Guadeloupe
Filled with mirth and junipers.

Island clouds, mangrove lush,
A chartered man from the Hindu Kush
Landed us where a giant dune occurs

As high as three knees of the God
Of Iguanas, verdant mountains at odds
In their majesty with smaller dwellings

Of colibri, territorial, proudly emblematic
Of a land where a slightly rheumatic
Castilian caraveller (and with swellings)

Imported moose to banish snakes
Like San Patricio of the Lakes,
Only those Eurasian deer grazing would devour

With gazes obtuse as atheists as they chewed
All native flora and fauna viewed
A few hundred years ago, an hour

Of ingestion at a time, and no longer.
At the harbour I found a fishmonger,
Lobsters as bright as the famed red paint

In the sacristy and the credo
Of Santa María de Toledo,
He boiled the claws and prayed to his saint.

In a fever my genuflecting libido
Summoned dreams in a white tuxedo
Worn in that club at Les Abymes –

(The club they told me not to frequent,
Entrance shaped like a one-eyed serpent),
Where a barman garnished a large Ti’Punch for me,

Where a Caribbean singer
Whose hips within my view would linger
Gave birth to the shape of Guadeloupe.

I woke in a deep and heated sweat
And for a moment I would forget
That I had not flown before, nor my troupe,

Nor travelled to her sheltering lore
Where I lost my mind before
On the blue shores of Marie Galante,

And in that hazy nightclub smoke
Holding someone’s panetelas, I woke
In the concave dreams of an Ashanti

Slave-trader, only I was the slave
And he softly spoke and gave
Advice which has ruined me to this day,

For I was to be imprisoned in his seam,
Neither stirred nor sleeping with a beam,
But somewhere in between the fray.

Still, somewhere out beyond my prison cell
My people there have smiles to quell
Storms which filled a holy stoup

Of less green seas, their hills of gold,
Where rains remain our friends of old,
We steered our flight, to Guadeloupe.





Ode To My Son

Do not count our losses
Like loose blue beads that save;
Though bruisewort and wild mosses
Overwrought my daily grave,
In your deeds I only see
Hope devoid of hegemony,
And how a heart embosses.

Those fathers who fulfil their duty
Know the mark of every day;
Self-assured, and inner beauty,
You are both the prayer and way.
In your deeds I only see
That I made you and you made me,
Undismayed by aged mutiny.

If I revived myself to life undone,
Though they recant such powers,
I’d expunge the knife and shun,
Take rain from May-time showers.
In your future we will find
Solutions for my weaker mind;
Happy Father’s Day, my son.

Hepatic

Same thoughts,
Get over it
The counsel said,
Belly-brewed
Within a witch,
When she stirs
I start to twitch,
When I twitch
I start to think,
Gears will shift
And skin will itch.

Same thoughts,
Same day,
I was born
To be betrayed,
I was born
To know the stray.
Why this cursed,
I cannot say.

Death herself is
More or less
Conceptual,
Somewhat experiential,
A bruising myth
Handed from fathers
To their children
Like unwanted gifts;
Ushered in,
Silencing,
Rather than die
For certainties
I fly on a whim
That skims
Weatherfronts
In the far Hesperides.

Flatlining,
Drowned by
Duck-stooling
And cajouling Fate,
Stateless sister
Wearing midwinter,
A bleakly
Wielded and
Formidable
Conglomerate,
Unreformed and
Strange
Opponents.

One of my
Hispanic
Diseased
Hepatic
Blackened
Dragons
Is emerging in my
Synaptic troughs,
This one headed with
You are not good enough‘.
His thoughts are in crimson,
There are eels in his blood;
When he moves, I tend
To expend
Entire mornings lost
Watching windscreen wipers
Swiping in the same
Parking lot
I mentioned before.

Death is whittled
On whetstones of Time,
Sharp bladed Time,
And I am frightened
Of a place that is final,
A place definitively
Made without rhyme.

Majorca

This government of mine
Has mastered a post-modern
Political and Sophic arts
Of fuckwittery,
Omnishambles,
Clusterfucking, and
Chicanery, as though
Ambling ineptitude
Was newly in fashion,
As if it was a finest
Prensal Blanc from
That sun-blessed island.
Swearing during the pandemic
Like so much hot air
And so much in the ashes of
Public money and taxes
Is uprising.

Why did we lose our hard earned money
As though we were those robbed blind
Homeless wayside token folk
Within a certain scripture,
To those mountain-dwelling raiders
Who did nothing for us,
Who we never befriended or even met
And yet they depreciated
And were depraved;
From our place and our markers
We watched as they built
Majorcan mansions and plazas
Using the future depths of our
Self-dug graves.


I don’t usually provide a narrative to my poems. I prefer the words to speak alone, and I like to think the reader will also find their own meanings and interpretations, if I am using metaphors or allegories. This poem is a little more direct, perhaps, and yet ironically justifies an explanation. I also do not tend to swear, not illiberally, yet the italicised words I use at the top of the poem are some of my current favourites – so descriptive and with currency. I like lists. I have a list ongoing of my favourite words – there are currently 1654 words on the list. I also started keeping a list this year of issues concerning probity and conduct in government. I don’t know why particularly, I suppose it was a constant cause of frustration; the lack of accountability and transparency. It is only from one news source, the UK Guardian online; so many news sources I find difficult to read due to ownership and bias and political leanings. Here is my list so far, though I know that I will have missed a lot. It is just for my own record. Also, a recent study in the UK has shown that swearing during the pandemic has, apparently, increased. Is it little wonder?

(Oh, and as an aside, I travelled to Majorca many times on holiday in the 2000s and it is the most beautiful island, with wonderful people and places. My reference to it in this poem is I suppose the juxtaposition of an ideal, which can become changed by something, but it is not a comment of any sort on Majorca itself – or if it is, it is only positive about that European neighbour – and it was only my poetic licence. Plus, I like the island’s name for the title).

List:

28/02/20 The EU launches its first joint procurement of £1.2m worth of gloves and gowns/overalls. The UK is not one of the 20 member states involved. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
24/03/20 No 10 says it has not joined EU procurement schemes as the UK is not in the EU and is “making our own efforts”. The government later U-turns to say it failed to receive an email inviting it to be part of the initiative. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
26/03/20 The government says it has 8,175 ventilators, but turns to British industry to help produce 30,000 in a matter of weeks. The engineering company Dyson reveals plans for an entirely new medical ventilator working to specifications set down by the government. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/apr/13/timeline-of-uks-coronavirus-ppe-shortage
11/04/20 Payment was guaranteed for 3.5m antibody kits designed to show who was immune but they later proved wildly inaccurate https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/11/reveal-cost-of-35m-unusable-covid-19-tests-health-chiefs-told
18/06/20 The government has been forced to abandon a centralised coronavirus contact-tracing app after spending three months and millions of pounds on technology that experts had repeatedly warned would not work. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/18/uk-poised-to-abandon-coronavirus-app-in-favour-of-apple-and-google-models
11/08/20 The government has been urged to demonstrate there was no favouritism at play in awarding Serco a contact-tracing contract worth £108m, as a leaked memo revealed the outsourcing firm was enlisted to help with the Covid-19 response as early as January. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/aug/11/uk-government-serco-contact-tracing-contract-leaked-memo
12/01/21 Lockdown rules in England have been changed at least 64 times by the government since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a human rights barrister has calculated, amid growing calls for clearer guidance for the public. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/12/england-covid-lockdown-rules-have-changed-64-times-says-barrister
16/01/21 Priti Patel faces growing pressure over deletion of police records https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/16/priti-patel-faces-increasing-pressure-over-deletion-of-police-records
16/01/21 Priti Patel faces growing pressure over deletion of police records https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/16/priti-patel-faces-increasing-pressure-over-deletion-of-police-records
19/01/21 Crossrail 2: more than £115m spent before project mothballed https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/jan/18/crossrail-2-more-than-115m-spent-before-project-mothballed
22/01/21 Ministers criticised for plans to create 500 new UK prison places for women https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/23/ministers-criticised-for-plans-to-create-500-new-uk-prison-places-for-women
23/01/21 Minister under fire for ‘shameful’ virus spread as staff told to work on with more than 500 cases at agency in Swansea. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/23/minister-faces-fury-over-mass-covid-outbreak-at-top-government-agency
23/01/21 Set up shop in Europe, government advisers tell Brexit-hit businesses https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/23/brexit-hit-firms-advised-government-officials-set-up-shop-in-eu
26/01/21 Former Tory MP’s posting as UK ambassador to Cuba raises fresh cronyism claims https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/26/former-tory-mps-posting-as-uk-ambassador-to-cuba-raises-fresh-cronyism-claims
28/01/21 How UK spent £800m on controversial Covid tests for Dominic Cummings scheme https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/28/how-uk-spent-800m-on-controversial-covid-tests-for-dominic-cummings-scheme
10/03/21 No evidence £22bn test-and-trace scheme cut Covid rates in England, say MPs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/10/no-evidence-22bn-test-and-trace-scheme-cut-covid-rates-in-england-say-mps
25/03/21 Liverpool council may have squandered up to £100m of public money https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/mar/25/liverpool-council-may-have-squandered-up-to-100m-public-money
02/04/21 Tory donor lobbied minister to speed up his £65m PPE deal https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/01/tory-donor-lobbied-minister-to-speed-up-his-65m-ppe-deal
31/03/21 No 10’s race report widely condemned as ‘divisive’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/31/deeply-cynical-no-10-report-criticises-use-of-institutional-racism
21/04/21 Boris Johnson is ‘constantly lobbied’ by text, sources admit https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/21/business-leaders-and-politicians-regularly-text-boris-johnson-sources-admit
22/04/21 Fifth of UK Covid contracts ‘raised red flags for possible corruption’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/22/fifth-of-uk-covid-contracts-raised-red-flags-for-possible-corruption
25/04/21 Labour calls for Electoral Commission inquiry into PM’s flat refurbishment https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/25/labour-calls-for-electoral-commission-inquiry-pm-flat-refurbishment-downning-street
25/04/21 Boris Johnson urged to reveal if he endorsed Super League plans https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/apr/25/boris-johnson-urged-reveal-if-endorsed-european-super-league-plans
26/04/21 Johnson denies saying he would rather see ‘bodies piled high’ than third Covid lockdown. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/26/minister-denies-boris-johnson-said-thousands-more-covid-deaths-better-than-another-lockdown
30/04/21 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/30/scandal-charge-sheet-johnson-wallpaper-lying
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/may/12/boris-johnson-faces-court-judgment-over-535-unpaid-debt
17/05/21 Home Office letter wrongly tells British citizens to apply for settled status https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/may/17/immigration-letter-sent-to-long-term-british-citizens-causes-alarm
25/05/21 Tory Islamophobia report criticises Boris Johnson over burqa remarks https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/may/25/tory-islamophobia-report-criticises-boris-johnson-over-burqa-remarks
02/06/21 No 10 advisers who have quit Boris Johnson’s government https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/02/no-10-advisers-who-have-quit-boris-johnsons-government
16/06/21 Cummings texts show Boris Johnson calling Matt Hancock ‘totally hopeless’. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jun/16/cummings-texts-show-boris-johnson-calling-matt-hancock-totally-hopeless?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

No Way Back

Forever will it be the case
That those I love most deeply

Are not the ones most likely
Dissipating in vague apparitions

To be missed every long grey
Overcast day.

When Love and Loss entwine
Through ramshackle

Outback outposts
In my abandoned mind

One suffocates the other
Until there is only ivy,

No jasmine for fragrance,
No berries for wine;

A vast and dusty plain ahead,
My road home, my signposts

Disappeared without a trace,
And I am standing here,

A village sank in sand
But gravestones remain standing

Throughout a land made parched
And perilous, so very long ago.

Interstate / Intestate

Is my soul conceptual?
Is my soul pre-occupied,
If my soul exists at all?
Like foetus feelings in a womb
I heard her moving
To a tune, or maybe
I can explain this all
As simply a rumour or two.

Midnight driving,
Interstate,
All the lights askew.

Dear soul, if I neglected
You, I will provide my
Penance, armistice
From parlances of daily
Dues, and I am certainly
In deficits accrued.
Next time around,
I hope that there is one
True guide to growing,
Nurturing and
Preserving you.

Meanwhile, intestate,
I remain convinced that
Souls of Popes
Are one same great weight
As souls within
Our populous deprived,
The homeless and
The destitute.

But for now, dear soul,
There’s nothing more
I’d say from my deep
Emptiness and sorrow,
No, nothing more
That I could do.

Unencumbered

I have no misgivings
That Life is for the Living;
Go forth with your luminous

Lustrous and flourishing
Heart! You are the beginning
For so much cherished and loved.

There is nothing so urgent
As the higher sirens unencumbered
Proclaiming emergencies above.

You are the dock leaf
To my meadow-nettle sting,
Salve urticarial rashes;

You are cotton-light soul
To fill such holes
Within my spirit-dwelling;

You are in my tested toll
And heavy eyes at nine o’clock,
Drifting asleep in the old armchair

Where once you sat and sang to me
Until the next alarm. Know this:
Just because I am gone

Does not mean you are lesser loved –
Do not believe all you are told,
Do not descend a buried half;

Do not be deceived
By pre-constructed episcopies,
Do not settle for their losses;

If something is free
Then you may be the product

Of consumerist albatrosses;

And when the expurgating racists
Run our ruinous parliament
It’s time to move abroad.

Life’s a little better unscripted,
A little less choreographed
For the garlands in your heart;

Regardless, I cannot yet
Apologise for the pieces in our
Backwards path those others broke

So long ago, a squandering,
Anonymous in their parts
And we are stranded, poles apart.

Another ending is a start;
For eternity you will be
The finest creation I could conceive,

Yet Death again is stalking me,
And though I called numbers
Their manual did not include

My quicksand thoughts, and I
Become his maddening habit,
He takes comfort in my residency,

The rest is just formalities.
I cannot forestall the inevitable,
I cannot distract tomorrow

From chasing the tail of
Its sadness in gardens of
Summer sun-drowned lambs;

All I can do is remind you of truths
Ever preserved in this poem,
For how proud of you, my son, I am.

Water Slide

We enter by a dark
And elevated chamber;
People do this, apparently,
For their own entertainment.
Yet atop those chlorinated
Steps where re-used water
Pours back down rusting
Spiral stairs beyond where
Semi-naked people stare
Up towards me
Or at least the
Approximation
Or vicinity of me
Expectantly and patient,
I have nothing to give.
Instead, I observed
On this heady pilgrimage
A phlegmy edge of
Chewing gum,
Masticated and
Impressed behind this
Aluminium balustrade
I cannot touch.
An English teacher
Some thirty years ago
(Although I recall
This moment as if
Furloughed by Time and
Just further below
A moment ago), expounded
On how gum survives
Within large intestinal
Tracts for three years
Or more, which he imparted
As a matter of fact,
And though that Mr E.
Is now deceased and outlived
By you and I and all
Those innocent eyes
On those rows below me,
All I know is how
He used to pull me by
My ear until my ear
Then reddened, and there
And then, my soul was
Deadened. He also said
Or instead proclaimed
That should you drink
From water fountains
Within the central city,
That very same fluid had
Reduced and sluiced through
Eight other bodies already.
From where I am standing,
Inner tremblings
Vertiginously,
There is little difference.
So in this hellish place
I find amalgamations
Of my two severest fears:
Water, and the populous
Within this easy confluence.

For a vast majority
Upon this downward
Uncontrolled trajectory
Where I am shouting
With all my internalised
High cacophonies
They are having fun
And bless them yes
They are laughing.
Buffeted from side to side,
Elbows bruised,
Points confused,
My soul paramedics
On standby, they know well
I create and decorate
My private forms of
Self-inflicted torture.

Far north from here,
The heavy skies of Scotland
Brew a murder or two,
Or at sixes and sevens,
Whilst I am thrust from
The open mouth
Of a rusty and very
Asthmatic serpent
Into this new heaven.