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.

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.

Ballad Of The Lame Duck

We travelled together
To a country pub,
Twice down the lane
And called ‘The Lame Duck‘.
Hillsides abounded,
You could roll Cheddar downward,
Seats of stone
Beside summer-westward.
The riverlet rilled,
Smells from the grill,
A rusty sign twinged
With sounds of relief
As we entered a darkness
Devoid of belief.

On your thumb you twisted
An emerald ring,
And down in my heart
I heard your soul sing
Songs of sufficiency,
Songs of lament,
Funerary orations
Deeds, necessary, and
Seed preparations,
Epitaphios Logos,
Stored within an amulet.
You turned to me and slowly said
Do not be sad that I am dead;
An eye for an eye,
A tooth for a bed,
Cat got my tongue
A seventh judge said.

Many more crossed
The same riverbed
Before you stepped into
The last wildnerness.
Wide expanses,
Better unsaid,
I roamed alone
And into the red.

Death Of An Obsessive (Twelfth Sonnet)

Lunch after Sunday, a walk with our dogs,
Over stiles clambered, some lumberjacked logs,
Through cowpatted herd-fields, a traced rabbit path,
And beyond the axe-pond where sometimes we’d bath,
To find that cottage, abandoned and dark,
From lintel and jambs hanged swallow and lark;
Roofs sunk to woodworm, gnawed holes from the rot,
A cracked window showed the home of a sot.
Children had played on the rosebay-raped swards,
Supper’s at seven, your heels on the boards;
White linen’s fresh, pegged to washing lines sang,
Before words turned beneath ivy to slang.
These losses framed by a mind’s fatal breath;
An airbag inflated, scene of a death.

A Peatland Fire

Fire on the heath!
Flames are fanning heat
Inside a famished tiger’s teeth;

His cinder-lolling tongue
Tastes borders of grass parched
On the levee-surrounded

Island retreat, home to
Nightjars also known
On southern moors

As Goatsuckers, bizarrely,
Crespuscular-loving Roe Deers,
Adders in the reeds

And hawking Hobby Birds
Through longer summers sleep.
Bog Moss grows here too,

Bitter Berries for calming nerves
And promulgating peace
Across the prairie-reserve

Of my mind,
Where passions conspire
And ego confined.

Impunities of fire,
Merciless tiger-like intent,
So he contemplated dharma

In a higher monastery,
And mementoes from markets
Still selling today in Tibet;

Untrodden Himalayan
Glaciers will repent
And retreat from his breath,

Untouched by well-worn piolets
And crampons, where violets
Cling to the crags

Like old thoughts,
Geranium perfumes
And bright patchouli,

By the prayer-side sight
Of my Lama,
I caught a momentary odour,

And then the fire subsided,
A tiger’s stripes defeated
If not forever the tiger.

Countryside Scylla

She wore clothes in the country way,
Waxy coat with stoat-skin underlay,
Cottonopolis cloth in Wellington boots
Appearing behind the hawthorn roots.
This landed lady lost two of her dogs
Somewhere beyond the dream-line fogs,
My task to pursue both near and far,
I could not see her Isabella fur-hidden scar.
Traversing hills and greenfinch lanes
I searched through snow and seven rains,
Crossing torrents, the Fells in spate,
All memories she would eradicate,
Until I crossed a last long moor
And found the exhausted Labrador
Alongside a shadowing Sheltie.
I returned to my love bareback on a Kelpie,
Imagined rewards, her embrace and her kiss,
But I had wandered far from such bliss,
For her head had since turned a form of darker:
A country lady’s body bound to an Ovcharka.

River Road

The effortless ego now observed
Pulled from sand as a nematode
That’s bait for jaw of carp and perch.
I cannot stand on the bridge of myself
For exploring the falling is not without
The water disturbed and a cry for help,
At the green-reed ford the flow’s interrupted
By hikers, a sheepdog, a car is corrupted.
Weighted down with wants and verbs,
Further down with opposable thoughts,
Further down with what is deserved;
Iridescent skin, unblinking eye,
His thoughts the distinction between you and I,
Singular purpose the turbid survived,
As anglers on a leafier side
Stretched, and yawned, and rested awhile.