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.

Scylla

Sea-millipede hair,
Ocean groundhog mare
And coral-hog stare,
Mouldy Gorgonzola-stench
Infused and clenched
Into the newly drenched
Visions of whalers
As they sail too near
To her slowly growing
And highly attuned ears,
Two harpoons in array
Aimed from the back of
Her thoracic majesty
Towards their deepest fears,
Ironic demise, inevitably.

I dreamt of this revenge
Bare chested in my bed,
Possibly to escape from the thought
That I am the cause
Of my own death.

In this way,
This is why I stay anchored
Under my duvet all day.

Alaska

A kettle appeared in my hand
From nowhere,
And the entire land
Became orange and broken.
I remember you,
Spearer of white salmon,
Your heretical parents –
Those academic navel gazers –
Abandoned you to delusions
And a gnawing consumption.
No wonder you moved to Alaska,
This spoke nothing of you,
Glued to the hues
Of forest and tundra,
Of numberless lumbering
Grizzlies, lunar phases
Unencumbered behind secret
Nictitating eyelids,
And everything of them,
His head between a women’s legs
And hers wedged into an oven.
Sometimes, sub-arctic skies
Seemed so vast, so all-consuming,
Your bruised soul could slip
Off a precipice and
Into the basalt rubble,
And that, of course,
In time,
Is exactly what you did,
Standing in those atrocious
Foaming rapids, in galoshes,
The rod appeared in your hand
Just like this whistling kettle,
Akin to the miraculous
Echoes of odourless thought,
And in that moment perhaps
You felt alive so clearly,
So attuned to the hubris
That all of a sudden
You died, too.
You forgot how to swim
As your limbs metamorphically
Merged with sockeyes
And piny yellowfin.
The rifle appeared in your hand,
Also from nowhere.

No poet saved the world
Through writing alone,
Yet they should not have
Ever suggested
That you could.

Blue Gables

This blue-gabled house
Makes melodious tulips
Of music its own;
Organza crescendos,
Echoes of phones,
Ineffable
Dance steps
Float over floorboards
Of alder and oak.
Timpani trancing
As rain strikes the sill,
A bandaged-up boiler
Is sneezing its whelks;
When you live by the sea
There is sand on a shelf.
Syncopation of seagulls
Stomping on tiles,
Green ghosts in the attic
My lymphatic choir,
My harpsichord bones
Should I ever aspire.

In the distance
Crows argue, they bluster
On a gerundive of lungs,
A buffeting breeze;
Church bells are chiming
For two and then three,
A couple walk by
With a cough and a wheeze;
Huddled together,
The past my disease,
I remembered her hat
As her skin touched the sea.

Forsaking the purpose
Of memory’s caves;
I watched the house auction,
Then walked into waves.

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’