Faltreir

I heard all you said,
About how I expend my time
At nowhere’s edge,
Ignoring the living,
Courting the dead.

Last steadfast leaves of autumn
With their crow’s nest views
And hardy crow’s feet skin,
Swiped like diseased teeth
And tossed into a low
Evergreen sedge.

That storm stole a blackbird’s nest
With one disarming vortex,
Firstly from the north and then
Again from the west.
It was an intricate weft of delicate twigs;
I wondered, how do those diligent,
Hard-working, indigent parents
Rebuild with such artifice,
How do those innocents
Start over in epicentres of
Such windy maleficence,
Pick up the twigs,
Pick up the nest?
And where will the child
Now emerge and
In its emergence
Break out from conformity
And finally live, and erupt
In the fires of self-fulfilment,
Above the bracken and the copse,
If a storm allows for this.

Yellowknife

Yellow anaglypta sky,
Mulchy leaves like mirrors;

Yellows, pinkish too alight,
Grounded sky implied

And downward falling rivers,
Pre-crepuscular,

What was their objective, stripped?
To end here, nearer, those souls

With tanks trapped in sand,
Engines choked, gears stuck,

What was to be delivered
For all we held dear?

Are we this bored with ourselves
Because we did not go to war?

Dawn solo,
Lonely blackbird,

Forbidden sky,
Foreboding and with an egg

Frying on a bonnet in the middle,
Upside down,

Yellow clouds
So close to the surface

I do not know if we fell out.
Rain, thick and heavy as

Lovers’ heartbeats;
You were to go swimming

With your uncle
Who has not changed since

He was last seen way back when,
And which would not ever happen

In this duality, neither yours nor mine.
He took a bicycle without asking,

The one I cannot ride on,
Knowing full well the municipal pool

Is in that part of town
With thefts in spate.

I woke on a motel bed in Yellowknife,
No duvet, no sheets,

The side of my head was swollen,
A fearful headache,

Empty whiskey glass beside
A faulty bedside lamp

Which began to reach into my mind
And my only thought

As I heard their sex through
A wall behind my head, was this,

Of how war may well be madness,
But families, often, more so.

I used the toilet, sipped a drink
That was not there,

Then climbed naked back
Into that cold, uncovered bed.

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.

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.

Still To Live

You touched my lips
With your fingertips,

Exquisite verisimilitude
In every moment’s potential,

Fragile as tomorrow’s moth,
Enduring as a marrow-tusk,

And softly you spoke,
Almost inaudibly,

Infinitesimally,
‘Please try and forgive

For when we do not act’.
I did not understand

As gently holding my hand
You touched the very tip

Of expectation
Spiking my existence,

Drifting into a mist
Of memory and reason.

‘I love you so,
This much you know,

But not enough
Still, to live’.

And with those words
I came to know

Crude openings of loneliness,
Closing of a season.