Bled Out

I am envious here
Of people in tiniest
Terraced houses,
The bald sweaty farmers
And all the brief spiders
Delighting in
Their whitening,
These workers in spinning
Peripheries of forests
Where greens speak
Privately, some merge
Silently, and where
Motorcars plucked pheasants
From trajectories
More skywardly,
Now turning berserkly
In the ferny flushing
Of their fibres, I passed
Carcasses of some
While others
Jerked and spluttered;
Even here, I know envy,
Walking by,
I am a dying light
Within a zoetrope
And these narrow doors
And rotting windows
Float by like embers
Before the lightning,
And I come to realise
Through my own signage,
Through my own bones
And fingers
The bare river,
The influx from cities
With their hardening
Inflexions
And battery acid
Vernacular
That I am envious
Not of bricks
And mortar,
Not of the movers
And removers,
Nor my life stymied
By neither my fear
Of creativity
Nor failure,
But instead
Of my own childhood.

Tombolos

Sometimes I could not feel
My feet or my hands,
These extremities
Of my experiences,
Socially tied
Like isthmuses
Providing havens
For radicals and
Eminent pariahs
From the edges of
The Hesperides,
Unable to return
To our homelands
For fear of persecution
Or reprisals
(Or if not the Hesperides
Then the Cyclades
Or Sporades, or if
Not the Sporades
Then the Great Orme
Or the Rhins of Galway
And also Blakeney Point
Where my tame grey seals
Sunbathe on sandbanks
And I know each one
By name for we are
One and the same),
I grew up believing
Radiators were designed
To handcuff hostages
By the mist of international
Politics – in lands
Without plumbers or
Thermostats, but wild
Celebrations which also once
Blinded a man as shotgun fire
Fell back down to earth –
Before returning by
Diving back in to
My childhood, one day
I remember vividly,
Colluding in my empty room
With an atlas,
A tiny life ahead
In parentheses,
Until I observed,
Dropping that great book,
My feet and my hands
Turn in to translucencies
Of lapis lazulis and shiny jade
And my wonder reverted
Into horror then
As I climbed up inside
The used husks of my future,
Where my whole long
And arduous life filled
With silent furores
Became a faded photograph,
In a family album
No one opened ever again,
Nor blew dust off
In that boarded-up house
From its light blue cover,
And what was once,
A long time ago,
A gold leaf letterhead.

La Ville Rose

Switching from black next
Into pink-red ink,
I wrote to you
On a postcard
From a cruise ship
In Tolosa, a city you know
As Tolouse.
Strange how dreams
Shift and slip
And casually blend,
For you and I know well
It’s a few hours drive,
Through foothill climbs
And Alpine screes
With views, O such scenery!
Bridging rivers in spate
And by old Limoux,
To reach the sea
Though give if fifty years
Or perhaps fifty two,
And Toulouse could be
A Venice anew.

Forgetting to keep
My writing hand removed
From a postcard’s edge,
I smudged the ink
And forgot what to do.
Though I had not seen my
Friends for half that time,
There they were travelling too
On our erstwhile cruise.
I could not find my shoes,
And so they disembarked
With cheery ‘see you soons’,
À bientôt!
With dreaming ways
Approximating every day
You moved away from the group,
Grabbed my hand, urgently said:
Retrouvez-nous au bureau de poste
Sur la place de la ville
And though the memory
Is firmly impressed,
You did not speak French
And our meeting proposed
Did not take place,
But blew away
Like seeds escaped
From a dandelion’s tooth.

On the postcard
I wrote about
A dream preceding that very
Same night; I felt this need
To communicate its birth,
Its bald and blind occurrence.
We were back at that bungalow
Our grandmother built
And owned; after death,
The parcel of land
Divided up, small acre
Made unhindered by
Childhood imagination,
Where once we played
But do not any more,
We drank lemonade and
A home-made sponge,
Harvested peas and
Mowed the lawn,
Buried now beside
All future capability
To cope.
Well, a revolting mogul
Bought that land and soon
Demolished our home of hope,
With apartments compressed
Where once we roamed,
I entered his bleak building site
As if the shift in ownership
Remained unknown, observing
With deeply absymal passivity
His carpentry, in the hall
Where we shared a meal
At Adventide and Easter,
He crafted four ingenious stairs
Around a trunk revolving,
Other rooms – tarpaulins smothered,
And I realised an awful truth,
And ran as fast as I could
To the family car,
Outside that place
Upon an unadopted road.

And so I relayed this dream,
This apparition, on a card
In a dream that followed;
A card I did not
Otherwise post,
I woke in sweat,
Somewhat soaked,
Desperately attempting to
Achieve a meaning in
Those hollows, and finding
Nothing instead but sadness
For those unborn forms
A waking morning swallowed.

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.

Beckoning

A deluge in May,
Kerbside surface spray,
Torrents overwhelm
Dank country lanes.

Driving in low gears,
Waterfall chicanes,
Wrong latter ways,
Reminds me of childhood

And leaping over streams
Beneath a tarn-light bay,
Beside a dead man’s seam
In long-lost dreams

And longer lesser days.
Over there, a castle, see,
Its ghosts roam free
Through basements, attics

And these oak-pannellings
Overlooking a sodden
Village green;
Stumps received,

And sandwiches filled with
Cucumber and cheese;
The church hall leak,
Well, we can fix,

While men in linen-whites
Played winning willow innings,
Then ominous rains returned,
And a beckoning for tea.

I Caught A Certain Joyousness

I caught a certain joyousness
In a potter’s wheel,
The pedal turns the morning rain
Upon my windowsill.

I found a flawless form of light
In a Blacksmith’s Arms,
She called me from a willow trunk
And brought me out of harm.

I followed through a rabbit hole
The image of myself,
Rolling down a childhood hill,
For childhood was my wealth.

And though my wealth was stolen,
And placed upon a bark,
I sailed across an ocean bare
And dreaming in the dark.

Nothing good may come this way
To remedy what’s past;
That isolated bairn has gone,
The future now is cast.

Ode To My Father

When I opened my mouth
It was you, yes, who spoke;
When I then fell asleep
It was you, yes, who woke.
You colluded with love
And waters then broke.

By the skin of my teeth,
No skin on my nose,
You scooped all the futures
And curled up my toes;
No bedtime stories
And nowhere to go.

We drove down to Dorset
With one empty seat,
I rushed to the school gates
With no one to greet;
You opened a door
And the door was my Fate.

Daily they’re grieving
In pubs and the streets
For those overboard
In the bayou and creeks;
My numbers are letters
And the letters are Greek.

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.

The Lakeside Path

There is a Preacher waiting
Beyond the seventh lodge,
These words prepared are gravitating
If goodness leaves its watch.
A Gravedigger from the village
Gave birth, to a Perpetrator’s wires,
We cannot restore the image
From before you wandered the mires;
For they excavate an oblong hole
And with a Carpenter conspire,
As single-minded as the mole,
The mole with a mind of fire.
Earthworms hoarded in his tunnels,
Thoughts down there we cannot absolve.
The criminal-in-waiting constructing funnels,
Humanity stirring sanity, when mixed dissolve,
Paid to lathe a cedar box
He slipped into the void,
The space and filling where a fox
Had life’s spiders all destroyed.
The woodland will witness silently
How soil’s disturbed so easily,
The muted lake’s complicity,
The backhoe rested queasily,
His bed a spade, his mind now trapped.
And yet these three men are moving still,
We hear the sounds of Time elapsed,
While you are stones on the furthest hill.
We remember your joyfulness and laughter,
Mellifluous more than spring-tide streams;
We love you all forever after,
In waking grief and grieving dreams.
We’ll cloak your permanent youth in gold
And resurrect your beauty;
Something happened which can’t be untold,
Conforming to spinsterly duty.
We are faster in our failing,
We carry your bones in our cages,
We are stronger when we are ailing,
We have suffered the fourteen stages.
The ingenuity is endless
Of mens’ cruelty so defenceless;
Our daughters all now friendless
For those nights loom long and senseless.
Guard the path beside the lake,
Daughters home before seven,
May you never read this at the wake,
For there are no rules in heaven.

[For S. and For U., in my thoughts and prayers when I wrote this].