Numbers, Part 2

Plastic bag in a tree
And a sizeable saving
By a company
Still to this day
Profiteering.

Divide by seventy two
And you will finally find
The value of one human life
To the north of a borough
Is equivalent in weight
Of a wife’s whiskey sour
In the lies of the mouths
Of their blue sickened south,
South to the south of a tower.

I cannot yet rewind real life;
But when I can, I will
Know those perpetrators
And their sad accounts
One by one, although
There are those who continue
With more grief in their arms
Than I have ever known,
Who still continue with more dignity
Than any member could ever redeem
In number ten, or eleven, or three.

If you want to see,
Touch, and hold
Discrimination raw as
Rotten fruit in your hand,
And also observe
Sallow platitudes
From an MP and their man,
Their deepest is shallow,
Just head for the gallow
Dressed up in green,
Witness how words
Defer and demean.

Fever

Fever surged like tides anew;
Well, my father said fever
But mother said he was a heathen
And nothing more could be said
About him, or her, or you.

My cactus-needle fever swept
His scraping rake on the sands of my back,
My back a long-lost Zen garden
Surrended to thistles and to feverfew.
My beard is ten miles long,
My ears as hot as a south-Saharan tongue,
A mirage of Madeira and mechanical raining frogs.

My white blood cells fought in Malawi
Against some boys in blue,
Riotous and corruptive on safari
Around northern housing estates
Sunk in those grains, like an eye,
Like the truth. Next day
The fever broke to my relief,
Though not before my mother
Retrieved from the loft
A grip of dusty rosaries and
A worn sackcloth, each sweaty bead
Counted by the market seller
Who wore lavendar
At his cart of wares
On a distant Thursday afternoon
In Cairo, and also Khartoum.

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.

Norfolk

Clouds the size of minor planets,
Cumulonimbuses, and expanding;
Cirrus sunsets mesmerising.
You can tell as we approach
The coastline, you can smell
On a breeze rocksalt and diesel
Even before you see creaking
Metal shop signs, rust flakes
Concealing their meanings.
Intrepid starling squadrons,
Nimblest swifts and swallows;
Birthplace of tsarist pretenders
And far greater adventurous sailors.
You can see these fields of rapeseed
And mustard from space
And if we had our way
We would paint the whole world
For just one day in yellow.
Warblers and wayfarers,
Farmers of the Seas,
Accents as broad as a snoring giant
By folklore kept in Cromer’s cliffs;
At times ineffable, I can hear
My own inflections veer
From North back into the East,
Comfortable as hands in midwinter
Mittens, this never-ending
Friendly vernacular.
Raindrops do not stop
Wrens and finches singing
In a land without misgivings;
Expert chefs with epaulettes,
Neither judgment nor regrets,
And in her epicentre there are
Markets blessed, cathedrals and
A Kingfisher Spirit winding.
Time is slower here,
And though everything has changed
So too has nothing,
For I thought as a child
With those clouds in exile
I could not ever perceive
Bluer skies or as widened,
And though I am ancient
And travel-weary from hills,
That child is yet to be denied
And he is proven still.

I threw my bones out the window
From a room where I once slept,
Photographs abounding
With our divorced and dead.
You know when they’re getting older –
Dust thrives most unchecked;
Dead flies and curdled milk;
There are spiders the size
Of your clenched-up fist
Within their potting shed;
They can readily fall asleep
With nodding heads
By 8.15p.m.

Their Labrador died recently,
Her third leg went,
And I felt that it was palpable,
The quiet blanketing silence
Like a black pall of snow
Over this whole house;
Instead of friendly greetings
There’s a tough wringing
Out of untrustworthy Time
To dry on a washing line
By copper-clad clock hands,
And as a musty tablecloth
Hosts marmalade unopened,
So too the inevitable jar
Of last year’s home-made jam.

On Homelessness

There is much to be said
For a warm, downy bed,
And a roof for my head.

In truth, those cold stars
Kill men with their draught;
Stratospheric, crystal glass.

I knew a man who died that way,
On a bench rain-soaked
In a well-loved park;

Several cars had slowly passed,
Narrow tailgate margins;
I didn’t have the heart.

He started somewhere far apart;
So much at sea drifts
Listlessly from where our hands

With a planetary love did chart,
Yet Truth has no use for straw
Or for bars, nor Justice, too,

Constantly miscarrying,
She chews on rue like
An ancient Appalachian goat

And her rivers are in my bones
And bath. In the long grass
I lay there waiting, in hiding,

Until the shadow of my self
My life, flew slowly,
Silently above those hills,

A giant airborne stingray,
Inexplicable, mythical,
I cried at the sight of my

Childhood loss. Returning
To my humble shed from roaming
Through my gloaming spirit-loft,

There is much to be said
For a warm, downy bed,
And a pillow for the lonely.