Embers

Sunset walk, the coastal path,
Souls in time untethered,
See ascendant evening stars
And cup my face forever.

Driving homeward in the dark,
Glass by fire remembers;
Moments always leave their mark,
Waking alone by the embers.

Two Tattoos

I loved your tattoos,
A dreamcatcher,
A European wolf;
They reminded me of two
Weeks in Paris where
You fell in love with me
And I fell in love with you,
Paving an inked way
To the gardens and inlets
Of a coastal Francophile
Formative truth. I traced
The stepping stones of your
Spine where the bones led
Me down to the gentle
Mouth of your wolf.

A Sioux leader I knew
Had something similar
In his tattoos, with his
Dreams of teaching these
Invasive species
From a different soil
That their time was wasted
In this eternal toil.
He taught them a thing
Or two, and hung their teeth
From the fringe of his comb.

I held a teenage affection
For my two favourite actresses,
Then, mid 1990s, next century,
Jennifer Jason Leigh
And Audrey Tatou and
The marriages in my mind
Lasted like an English summer
For a day or two, but
Then it was you, and if
Anyone was tattooed just
Inside my skull and on my
Beating heart, it would
Always and still does
Beat the syllables of you.

Some imprints are more
Than skin deep, like a
Red Rorschach Test
On our bones and in
The loves stored in our heads.

I would have tats too, I said,
As you rested the threads
Of this bliss on my chest,
On that beach, and I stroked
Your soft and beautiful hair,
Scent of sand and curlew breath,
And you replied, if only
Your pain threshold was higher,
And anyway what would you
Have tattooed on your back,
Our hands entwined,
We relaxed into that time,
For life’s best ink is love,
Love lost, love found;
I will never forget your response
In the sand, and the dunes,
And there across the Sound.

Surfaces

I walked towards my own ghost,
Floating only as ghosts can float;
Like a drifting bouy, slow
On surfaces strange and remote,
Where no sounds exist, no
Harbour alarms, no tired boats.
As certain, yes, as infinite
As armadillo scutes wrapped
Round a universe’s components,
Defending flesh, soft underbellies
And then bones, shrew-like thoughts,
Or the scent in my kitchen
I left behind of burnt toast.
He beckoned me into the folds
And fabrics of his being as
He smoked new fogs through his nose,
Billowing over a greying coast.
We were the same shape, for
Sadness bloats the lonely minds
And comforts like a winter coat.
I stepped inside his fashion,
Morassy cold moments, bitterly
Cold, where he stood and told me
About his life, such unrecouperable
Losses as though he had gambled
At the great southern casinos
Where everyday players lose
Their chips and notes, he wagered
His soul, and now pays
For his choice, which was not
A choice, by taking listless nightly
Walks along the seawalls draped
With grieving molluscs, barnacles
In grim mourning costumes,
Along the shores
Of consciousness.

My pillow drenched with sweat,
I moved to reduce the clammy sense
When my hands fell through
Where the pillow had been, and
I remembered then, with unending
Awe and horror mixed at the
Contemplative designs of
Suffering, there was no kitchen,
No burnt toast, no rendezvous,
For looking back I realised again
That I was the ghost
And he was the man.

Shoreline

Decanting on the shores of sleep,
Where dreaming estuaries will weep,
Perilous cliff-top climbs are steep,
Sounds across a border seep.

I found a strange sensation brew,
Stranger than the crossing’s crew,
A second breathing bridged the two:
Inhale once, exhaling due.

Inveigling spirit, a bellow between
What is dreamt and what is seen,
Organist pedalling lungs for a dean,
Cathedrals where I have not been.

Apparitions line the coasts
To sing in chorus for their hosts
And keep witheld communion ghosts,
My bark is tethered to their posts.

The Submariner

238.

The fanfare of lovers’ cheers
And mothers’ fears
Silenced by their dreams
Which form a ballast
Which burst the barometers glass,
The weight of sleep, the dreams
Of barnacles and molluscs.
I think about all the homecomings
That did not happen, all the embraces
Of grateful sisters, and the fathers who
Were the commissioners of fossils
On that silvery coast;
It aggrieves in midwinter,
It shimmers in summer.
A gift unopened, a present,
A necklace of serpentine
Now tungsten. All the folklore
Unexplored, all these semi-precious
Memories which into blue dungeons
Silt and deposit.
The flags are furled with care,
The lid is closed on the casket.
It takes its own unending tangent, the coast,
The perpetual waves with their own summits.

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.

Dream Key

We journeyed through villages once in existence;
Marsh-margins for farmlands, and ocean converge;
Dreams don’t delude me, when there is no hand lotion;
Work harder, subconscious, for attention deserved.

Decelerated car, we had not travelled far
Before I thieved moments: self-important photographs.
Coastal cottages firmly fixed, like constellations
Sublimated their cement from stars, and with

Roots of Sandstone and Flint.
Suddenly we walked, hand in hand, using geo-location;
Found your house hidden, a sub-alternate hamlet near.
Yes, cognisant of a dream, translucently you appeared

In front of your red-bricked homestead, plot of land,
Fields of wheat fleece the horizon, where the soil
Caught the sun beneath a hawk’s sebaceous gland.
A birthday party, somewhat random; rooms filled

With friends of your teenage son, there is laughter
And tattle in corners of my electroencephalogram.
Your daughter’s bicycle wanted repairing,
So alongside her I ran, through those fields tanned,

To find an arena all littered with steel,
Pedals and pipework, a pedlar’s crop circle,
I tried to show homage to an older man’s knowledge
By checking the length of the frame and the wheels.

Outside and beyond a storm with no name
Complains with conformity’s zeal.
I heard there were never such storms before
Everyone turned in to their own island.

I woke, wondering where that family lives,
Close and remote, simultaneousness.
One day these words will be as new and obtuse
As hieroglyphs etched in an old tree trunk.

North Norfolk Coastline

A poem I dreamt I wrote
On tumbling down a sandy crag,
Lines beneath sleep’s blustery flag,
Where clouds reflected seemed to float.

The substance was immediate then,
As wave-tips with the drifts would wend,
Yet now sands near and foreign blend
Homogenous times, where sea meets men.

And I as I write this record now,
A keepsake as that feeling lands,
I wonder what had made these sands
Where I wake, where words drown.

No More The Sea

No more the sea,

With its treacherous talk

Of adventure,

Of poetry.


No more will my soul

Yearn for the unsolicitous cliffs

Where the heart of cars

Departed once precipitously,


Left a plume of matted flowers

And an exhaustion of maternity.

No more the tortuous sea,

Its intoxicating sea-salt mist


And all the grey variants

Which number in their hundreds;

A fleet of adjectives:

The fret, the mizlin, haar


And ollund-blue boar drizzle.

The dormant sea, then,

The plastic sea, soulless,

Unfathomable, unloved,


And uncontested by molluscs.

No more the sheer sea, and its seasons

Of sudden shifting patterns,

The pale green glass


By a beach of burn-brown burrows.

No more love, no poetry,

No sea roses, no infidelities

Of language; but instead,


A constant mourning,

A dropping down of flags,

A pinching out of lanterns.

A silence. A warning.