Haiku #370


Unanswered phone call.
Sore throat. No time left to say
I missed you today.

Mustard Dreams

Before the incursions
And the banning of street lamps,
We played a game, family time;
It was called Cluedo;
You may or may not remember it.
It startled me at first,
That men would mass-produce
A board game focused on murder.
These days I think to myself
If I was an androgynous
Plastic mustard-coloured
Representation of humanity
I would have been bludgeoned
In the study,
Killed by email avalanches,
Smothered by their signatures
And reminders to save the environment.
Sometimes I had remarkable dreams,
Dreams of escaping, a hero breaking out,
But there are all these checkpoints,
All these traps, language,
Age, work, the internet, mustard seeds,
And relatives urging me to repeat
Mistakes they made and could not atone,
No matter how much they spent or repented.
We are still in bondage to a myth
That shapes what we say and who we are with,
How much we are willing to accept.
And then I would hope
That when they decide to begin the ceasefire,
Agreeing their terms,
Hosting their summits,
(Reparation’s good for accountants),
Burying the unnecessarily dead bodies,
That it would be different next time,
Our love cracked open but not like albumen from an egg,
Not like oil in the Caribbean,
Something else, worthwhile, wonderful and compassionate.
Instead I dreamed last night of a fieldmouse cornered beneath a shed by a predatory kite,
And then a separate scene of a footballer Making celebratory gestures, goal-scorer,
Mimicking rhythms of face-mask removals en masse,
The same stadia were used for public executions back in the day,
While I was returned to my chains,
Against a radiator seated,
Watching indifferent dreams piped on a tv screen,
The sky outside a mustard yellow,
And I knew then that nothing, not even love, would change.

Spiraea Song

Spiraea’s blossom’s waning,
Fragile white, blanket lawn;
The neighbours haven’t stopped complaining
Since they died aged 84.
I too have lived as annual witness
To lanceolate billowed hope,
Each one just the petal’s business
To spiral over lower slopes.
Death cafés proliferate,
It started in the wi-fi;
They submerged a coastal town as bait
For a Goddess of the Magpie.
Spiraea’s blossom’s waning,
To thrive again next Spring;
If I survive the monsoon raining
I would dance with you, and sing.


Searching through the lifelong scrolls
My time and place of death,
There’s no surprise or irony
The crossing killed me with regrets.

It entered first and second chambers
Where many more were lost,
The walls defaced throughout the ages,
Symbols in the rocks embossed.

It’s a modern form of shellshock,
Anxiety of the evening,
They etched a rose and hollyhock,
Banks with quantative easing.

Further on, I reached the river,
The place I knew, now lost from view,
Crows feet in the mudflats breathing,
Volcanic ash where airlines flew.

Life alone is sacrosanct,
The death-dial my disease;
To each and everyone I thank
Who kept my self from me.

Lockdown Sonnet

What is this secret locked deep within me,
Where do I sift for its six-digit key?
Resting there songs of love, songs for the free,
And witholds to the end of emnity.
No longer newsreaders, jumping sea-sick,
Turned mad from constantly reading death-scripts;
Banned coastal visits from Dover to Wick,
The Severn is burning colours of Styx.
My heart stored in a horse chestnut kernel,
Green caltrops harbour a conker inside,
Ingredients there for life eternal,
The trees loomed on a canal’s waterside.
Landfall is peace with myself, over the sea,
There was no secret, there is no key.

First Day Nerves

Slightly shorter and undernourished,
Those seasonal times of year
When stationery sales long-lost flourished
And the oldest emotions appear.
A leather satchel handed down,
Holes and fraying handles;
A seismic shame my teachers found,
Reborn each day, self-vandalised;
I did not want the uniform,
I did not wear the sandals.
She kissed me in her morning-gown
As I stepped down from her seventh home,
(The dreaming-house they since demolished),
Without grasping who she was
Or whether she had abolished
Surnames and all that was stable.
Alphabets abounded then
And prayers preparing for Heaven;
Algorithms, and Boolean logic.
They said my head was in the clouds,
They said there is another puddle forming,
Beneath the desk, or sometimes a table.
No one read my later reports,
In their haste they emptied the office.
We escaped on our lunch breaks
To braid a chain of daisies in a garland;
Abroad, the battalions expounded.
I searched for non-existent patterns,
There was only the fray of the day;
Its textures took September hostage
And advanced into me this way.
All the decaying roots are buried,
The meadows abandoned in disarray;
In a fairy-forest, north of the border,
They recovered my head from a disused well,
For I never did find a better heavenly spell,
That day we unearthed a daffodil.

Eleven Lines

Self-absorbed, we soon lost touch,
It didn’t seem to matter much;
We did not do such things at all,
Not on the lines nor in the hall
That people did, in days before.
Relatives, friends we contacted
To check and ask if they still lived,
But you, tacked against a cottage wall
In a painting of the dream appalled;
Chiselled from each other’s granite,
Circles now round different planets.