Lignified / Petrified

Whenever you go
Far from this billowy,
Dune-draping coast,
Maze hedgerows
In my fertile mind
Regrow.

I circumnavigate
A sculpted globe,
A bench or two,
A berbery rose.

Statuesque Eros,
Chrysanthemum prose,
Within your Sphinx
Firstly I turned
With internal rings
Into wood,
And the wood
With eternal mechanics
Turned effortlessly
And irrevocably
Into stone.

The Advocate

All my experience
Distilled into
Three enormous vats,
My lawyers drink from each
To analyse the facts.

Those ruthless rims
Were trimmed with gold,
A sight to behold
As my eyes
Turned the taps,
Pouring slowly
Untrue words from
An advocate.

In my heart I understood
I was never good enough.

I awoke as someone new,
Toothlessly eschewed
And bawling
In a Balkan
Orphanage cot.

Some Do Fall

Yesterday, my younger self,
Slowly, inexorably –
Focused, inevitably –
Overdosed. And
So it goes everyday.
It cannot go away.
In that moment, I re-read
My lines diligently,
Preparing my soliloquy,
Eighteen ancient years
Yet more child than adult,
Scared and confused
And alone in an era
Of cocktails and beers,
Of riding in car trunks
And rolling down hills,
Of men being salacious
At best, of disregarded
Lectures and inspectorates
And spider plants
Stoned on window-sills,
Questionable fashions
And a plethora of cigarettes,
Bedrooms thick with such acridity
You could not see your peers
Across the room as they kissed
Excessively and toked.
Mine were Marlboro
Because the British
Have never known how to smoke.
Cold, punishing dormitories,
A chicken’s head,
Everyone was bloated
With sex while I sat
With my knees to my head
On a dim and distant bed.
Much of the nuances I missed,
A hand held, a love letter,
Unattended trysts,
The blushes and
The sadness.

That age is a rope bridge
Like the frayed
San Luis Rey –
Many make the crossing and
Pass over quite adequately,
Some are even enthused by
Such precarious views,
Some with heads in clouds,
Some too confident as well.
And some do fall,
Succumbing to atrocities
And I was one;
No audience,
No gods with pince-nez
For a pauper’s show,
Just a tablet at a time,
Slow, slow,
Slowly absorbed,
Purchased from
Supermarket jaws
Over several weeks,
A letter to no one
In particular.
One tablet at a time
Because my future glowed
Brighter than a forest fire –
Untamed, unquenchable –
And because I was pressed
From the pages of
My father’s blasphemous
Kiss, a contradiction
Of love and self-loathing,
Pressed like a dandelion,
Seeds separated
By the careless impact
Of a book once loved,
Now in a cardboard box
Gathering mould
And dust
In the attic of a house
I did not frequent.

As the last pill then
Descended through tubes
I have never seen and
Never will see,
My only thought was how
I would want you to know
That I did not mean to do this,
Did not even want to,
But sometimes life
Has a weird way of
Leaving me estranged
And saying No to what is best.

It seems good enough for some
And not for others,
But my mind,
Held in a crisis-vice,
(I had to be good for something –
Even if it was to be this) –
Led me to ignore my own advice.
I thought about it twenty
Thousand times
And then twice.

I woke into odes of disappointment,
Applied an episodic ointment,
A compassion of paramedics,
A wrangled worry of parents.

Permanent autumn.
Charcoal throat.
Embarrassed, strained voices.

Twenty-five years is a long way to go
From being youthful and comatose.
Life became lodged –
Visions persist of pine trees
And a missing residential goat,
A warden’s office, pool tables
And loyalties and loss,
As someone I loved did say –
‘Society thinks it is more
Sophisticated now, when
Instead it is far less’ –
Such is the price.
And now I must go,
I must prepare this
Next last meal
Upon a gas wheel
Of jambalaya and rice.

Window Soul

Why was I designed for isolation?
I must be my own contagion
And these environs
My ICU.

I miss you so much.
Burn my eyes
From wombs of my existence,
It will be a lesser pain.

Outside, beyond this ward
With its outdated equipment
And exhausted professionals,
Trees, yellow and frail,
Decaying before me,
And then my favourite
Type of rain, as I explained
Previously, mizzling,
Fine drizzling, and for a moment
I convince myself
That my soul could be ignited
Once again.

Polyphemus

Bareback-riding blue whale stars,
Stirrups smelted fishing scars,
In his grip, sea-scimitars,
Poseidon’s hooves in necklace jars.

Poseidon’s blood his tattoo-paint
Across his nose and briny face,
Proteus blind, a drowning saint,
These brutish oceans will embrace.

Reins abrasive, totems clutched,
Trident eyes tell of a place
Where skin’s by sun so rarely touched,
Where islands sank without a trace.

Incidental

Surfeit of loneliness.
Meditating cursively;
I found him thriving
In my surf-marrow,
Hollow as a sparrow’s
Dulled midnight blinks,
Loneliness to end
All lonelinesses,
Searched for and found,
Pure, eternal loneliness.
Friendships shed
Like ended skin
Akin to showmanships
Before a circle closes.
A Higgs Boson loneliness,
Citculating endlessly
Until I resurface
Within entropies
Until they multiplied,
And see them,
See how they sink
Their teeth.

Ngurrumugu Ganbi

Adolescent kangaroo,
Outgrown mother’s pouch,
Pack of dingoes in pursuit,
His gawky form falls out –
Upside down, furry snout.

A wilderness deserts him,
Blind to why, though atavistic
Legs might kick, defensive surge,
Unprotective mobs disperse;
Understorey blending blood
With senna and sun-soaked gorse.

Fugitives found a fleeting feast.
Did you only exist –
Immaturity barely behind you –
So you could fix
The minds of beasts.


N.B In the Guugu Yimithirr language ngurrumugu ganbi translates as ‘kangaroo blood’.

Empty Jug

My mind on a table
Like a bare empty jug,
Portmeirion ewer,
Red matching mug.

Welsh dressers behind me;
Pine shelving captures
Low autumn light,
Meticulously managed

Commemorative dishes
And lilac bone china –
Beside me, a bowl
For imported delights.

Periwinkled rims,
Porcelain basins
Brimming with season –
Apples, squash and

Hawthorns for jelly,
Trim spindles for reasons
In Bible quotations
And needlework hymns

Sewed by our Nelly
Blessing the bins –
A dawn frost already,
Hair starting to thin.

A door in the corner
To a deep pantry leads –
I can’t turn the handle
Or let myself in.

Iron pots, cupreous pans,
Hung high across a range,
Everything brightly polished
Because I polish every day.

Abandoned baguettes,
Gavaged pâté delivered,
Braces of pheasants,
Gifts from Our Giver.

The party returns
Merry, lighthearted,
Mine still burns
For one less departed,

With tales of heroics,
Gusto and laughter,
For love of their flush,
Unmet ever afters.

Until then – only echoes,
Hall clock chiming three,
I filled up the jug
With milk for their tea.

P Versus NP

Might I dream that I can see
All pathways laid out clearly,
For life and death are industries
Without a prize for nearly.

Do we all resign to bed
Believing in this age instead,
Oblivious to a night ahead,
Or am I by my age misled.

For life and death are mysteries,
P v NP – problem unanswered,
Solution out from histories,
God is not a dancer.