Natasha Renewed

You were the envy of centuries,
Your love the unplundered loot
Under plum-coloured helmets
From mud-lusty Danes of Harthacnut.

You moved into a house
On a slope (made hazardous,
I imagine, by frost and ice
That yet must be a long way off
Along another horizon),
Next door to my grandmother
Who rested dutifully
In the annex
(Like an old mole
Upon your jawbone,
You resigned yourself
To her perspiring presence)
Carved from a former saloon
Where of an afternoon she snoozed
While keeping vouchsafed in a jar
Her one last sandstone tooth.
O how a home that could not exist
Yet appear with a simple veneer
Much like any other rooted
On this strange village street,
The only difference being
When you opened the door
There was nothing beyond
A jaded porch, lavender
And heather turned to dust
Along with dried
Forget-me-nots and
Compass points made moot.
You had changed your name,
I do not know why,
To Natasha, your eyes
As wide as a frontier
Where swirled surprise
And regret in those glass bowls
Once burning like calderas,
And in your hands
Scentless celeriac,
Cauliflower florets
And a head of herring.
Somewhere along the line
You bought eggs from a garage
In a parallel place and time.
At the very extremeties
Of our dormant love,
I knew too late to appreciate
That which I could never touch,
Neither ending nor the essence.

This dampening dream-like nature,
A long green duffel coat and hair
Once vibrant as sunsets
Over Mediterranean ports
And on to far Aden
And golden Sharjah,
Cities we knew a long time ago,
Now grey as a downpour in May
With a woodland scarf,
A husband – I could not meet his eyes –
Two children and my phone
Running low of charge
Like my soul, which is why
I step through my dreamcatcher
To wherever you are present,
Mapless, stateless revenant,
In a rendezvous pretences,
Preferring to be this lost,
I would rather be surrounded
By all those silent deaths above
Than tortured by the humdrum sounds
Of life removed from your love,
Modern and irrelevant.

Valedictions

Valedictions for you,
We do not accede;
Valedictions for you,
Nor do we recede;

None superseded,
None to subscribe,
No more spun your wool
For pulling our eyes;

No souls contorting
For far-faulted causes,
No more conforming
Under horse-trammeled forces.

Valedictions for you,
No longer we thrive,
Only lessons unlearned
For liars survived.

Alaska

A kettle appeared in my hand
From nowhere,
And the entire land
Became orange and broken.
I remember you,
Spearer of white salmon,
Your heretical parents –
Those academic navel gazers –
Abandoned you to delusions
And a gnawing consumption.
No wonder you moved to Alaska,
This spoke nothing of you,
Glued to the hues
Of forest and tundra,
Of numberless lumbering
Grizzlies, lunar phases
Unencumbered behind secret
Nictitating eyelids,
And everything of them,
His head between a women’s legs
And hers wedged into an oven.
Sometimes, sub-arctic skies
Seemed so vast, so all-consuming,
Your bruised soul could slip
Off a precipice and
Into the basalt rubble,
And that, of course,
In time,
Is exactly what you did,
Standing in those atrocious
Foaming rapids, in galoshes,
The rod appeared in your hand
Just like this whistling kettle,
Akin to the miraculous
Echoes of odourless thought,
And in that moment perhaps
You felt alive so clearly,
So attuned to the hubris
That all of a sudden
You died, too.
You forgot how to swim
As your limbs metamorphically
Merged with sockeyes
And piny yellowfin.
The rifle appeared in your hand,
Also from nowhere.

No poet saved the world
Through writing alone,
Yet they should not have
Ever suggested
That you could.

Liverwort Blues

We live on a cliff above
A dank, oppressive marsh.
That’s how this place
Became itself, through
Our existence alone
And had its name bestowed.
We should have stayed in caves
Where there were no names before.

Everyone here is killing
Each other in a ceaseless
Pursuit of mistruths
And words like food
Turned stale, inedibly so,
Are crumbs scattered
From battlements and
Powerful tower-tops;
The churches lost their teeth
And the castles their crows.
Over there, the man
Who invented petroleum
Is being set alight
Every night;
His corpse is hosed,
The daemons breathe new life
And have him oxidized
Despite his ghostly moans,
All those protestations,
Only, they return in numbers
With a burning bridge in tow.

If a man tells you he misspoke
Then he is not to be believed,
For, prior to impolitic exposure
He said those very words
And so he shows contrition
With oxymoronic verbs.
Truth is his disease –
Even good people lie, he said –
But what is true and what is not
Are shuffled like cards
With the suits turned to spots.

Either exasperated or bored,
I pressed a poisoned knife
Through my psyche,
A mix of suet, memories,
Bratwurst with some liverwort,
And everything that’s past
Is unforgotten, recreated in
A future that evolved,
Fitfully and biting,
Into something even worse.

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.

Solutions

O my corrupted eye,
Sight lines interrupted
For self-inflicted comforts,
Diurnal placebos
Clothed like voters
In their healthy, plastic republic.

Where did my kingdom go?
What happened to my wealth?

They pasted a gluey solution
To the body of that boy,
A million flies swarmed
In a huge amorphous form,
All beauty there destroyed.

I turned to my blind guide
Who often liked to confide
Such scenes in me,
His expression one of boredom
As I spoke without words,
“I thought I was role-playing
In a game I did not ask for”,
And then, I said,
I misunderstood,
Only now. to find out,
I am no longer dead.

A Crime Scene

Turn my head to one side,
Existentially shy, and sleep deprived;
Alone in a mostly unhomely bed
And words tip out
From my mouth,
The mouth in my head.
I observed mutely
Their acute, distinct forms,
Their acumen as they tumbled
One
By
One
Onto my musty bedroom floor.
Until all that remains
Is a hollowed-out cranium,
And a verbal stain
Of beetroot-red blood on my case.

A lexicon of detectives
Entered the stale daylight,
Scratched their proverbial heads,
Striving when aligning invisible dots,
Returned home to partners
And a scotch on the rocks.

Night-time, dark seas,
Waves as high as a devil’s eye
And a coldness which strips your
Life-jacket and your skin
And then your seven dignities
As it becomes something horribly
And unethically mythic and
Intravenous.
What senseless, sponsored
Statelessness
Could be worse than this
For you to attempt crossing,
To enter this grey
Bay Of The Disconsolate.
Searchlights and sou’westers,
Faces chipped and glazed like
Limestone obelisks stolen
For someone else’s vanity project,
Now violated, graffitied,
Vandalised to your very souls
As you float in oceans
You have never even seen,
Where an armada danced
Before your demise,
Supinely, and serene,
Nor the land and sovereignty
And simple everyday occasions
Which can gratify and relieve –
A birthday, a Wednesday –
To ease an eternal
Deplorable soreness.

I want to rip out the sea;
I want to tear out the heart
Of every incompetence and
Inadequacy –
You were all born, you were
Umbilical, and biblical,
You were loved and languages
Added into those percolating bones;
You were found and swelled
In life’s great lung-like wells
And still, unchangeably, all for this,
Far too far from any sort of homeland;
Lighthouse power outages,
And so many exits unplanned.

Ballast

To all those I once held dearly;
To all those I did know sincerely;
I have not seen for many years,
My debt is your arrears.

Yes, you fill my dreaming night,
To move, to speak, without a light;
Rooted in my reaping river,
Supplanting dead who’ll have me shiver.

My body’s a blunt portcullis,
Designed for neither malice
Contrived nor brooding fears,
Raised to feed fore-mentioned peers.

My brain now ballast, deadened weight,
Sea-bedded hull will keep my fate,
Mid innocence of baleen whales
And uncles drowned, wrapped with sails,

One’s niece a starry, Parisian dancer,
Étoile, no less, so my sorry disaster,
Forgotten by a Victorian mind
For later archivists to find.

My briny lesson – do not be named
For dubious fathers, nor regents famed;
We all will have our future fight,
Though tunnelling moles have more insight

Than me, believer in dogs to see man’s soul,
Mine charred and black, with blighting hole;
Food unfit for a foulest ghoul –
Defend, my friends, from all that’s cruel.

Ngurrumugu Ganbi

Adolescent kangaroo,
Outgrown mother’s pouch,
Pack of dingoes in pursuit,
His gawky form falls out –
Upside down, furry snout.

A wilderness deserts him,
Blind to why, though atavistic
Legs might kick, defensive surge,
Unprotective mobs disperse;
Understorey blending blood
With senna and sun-soaked gorse.

Fugitives found a fleeting feast.
Did you only exist –
Immaturity barely behind you –
So you could fix
The minds of beasts.


N.B In the Guugu Yimithirr language ngurrumugu ganbi translates as ‘kangaroo blood’.