Along A Weir-side Way

How slow the snake uncoiling
On weird cerebral lawns,
Grips those moles now grieving
And how the wagtail mourns;
Feet of gruesome coots are blue,
Uprooted and reborn.

His weir-side way gave us today –
Barbed our briar impressions;
His river’s course, unnatural,
Fallacies abounding wherever
Escapes briefly water or weather.
Too late the discourse and the dawn;
Too late misplaced starlings imitate
A feather’s fate forlorn.

A garden in his stomach then,
His bowels behold the bones:
Where self-conceited owls will plot
Their death, I walk the weir alone.

Not The Bearer

Sometimes Love’s amphoras
Overflow, enriching
Not the bearer
But everyone below,
Until Love’s ceramic
Sun-glazed jugs
Finally become discoloured,
Emptied, and in shadow.

And although
I hide my losses well
You can always tell
When I am struggling –
I forget
To cut my toenails
And I forestall
The days of the week
Which I have changed
To names of trees
Extinct by thirty years;
Monday’s Ash,
Tuesday’s Elm,
Wednesday Oak;
Poplar’s heights
Touch Thursday’s toes,
Willow’s Friday’s river-cloak,
A weekend fit for toasting
Alder and Horse Chestnut,
Cold kidney pie
With mustard mash
I misplaced from last week’s lunches
Before returning to ash.

You can also tell
When I am unwell –
Chores do not interrupt and
You can hear the sounds
Of chaos from somewhere
Down the hall –
A thousand years of loneliness
To only end it all.

Love can pour back upwards –
See the citadel’s sorrow;
Place a lid upon the urn
And try again tomorrow.

Everybody Got What They Needed From Me (Except Me)

My counsellor said, exasperatedly,
That title is a generalisation
And that I am susceptible to exaggeration.
I said, this is how I feel.
The remaining appointments did not go so well.

On a village green a well ran dry,
And at the nearby cricket pitch
The yearlong deluge washed away
Protests more and more obscene
Chalked on a scoreboard by
Openers for a disgruntled team
Still wearing pads beneath their knees.
Villagers gathered under umbrellas
Scratching their waxy heads
With unusual visages weathered
And perplexed, looked up
To all redoubtable heavens,
Misunderstanding how so much rain
Could fall on something terribly and
Relatively minuscule as a
County bore with bucket,
As if a curse for colonising
The sands and surf of far
Nehantucket, by forgotten
And foolhardy ancestors
All those centuries, long ago.

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.

Et Snøskred

I would choose if I could
To be anything but a wasted man,

Sinews roping duct and glands.
Leave me, as everyone must,

Leave me to organise these poems –
Jumbled words from an idiot,

Good for kindling, good for dust;
I only request a lifetime’s hibernation

And a printer on a sturdy desk.
You pushed in vain, no little art,

Jumpstarting with your spark plugs
This cold and weathered heart.

My mind is like a mountain slope
For when I shout, an avalanche

Subsumes with snow
Everyone I hear below;

Terrified sounds, such voices,
Of my own villagers trapped

In subatomic neuroses,
My choicelessness of choices.

N.B the title is Norwegian and means ‘An Avalanche’

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.

Vespers


She is in the trees,
She is in the vespers,
She is in the roots,
She is in the wasted
Space between my fingers.

She is my disease,
Depression yet sequestered,
When she bares her teeth
I forget to forage.
From my dramas
And catastrophes
She can reverse engineer
Her favourite comedies,
Pressed in pretty borage.

I passed a caulking boat
Upon a tidal ridge,
High-lining and abandoned,
Borax-white, saline scented;
I felt my head upon a rack
Within her unplugged fridge;
And when exhausted
I came to, yet unexplained,
I did not know where I had gone
Or who did expurgate.

Parables

Black squid ink
Descends through
These pebbles
Of my body,
My teeth,
My blood black,
Purple ribs,
A deep infusion,
A bruising
Poisonous sea,
As I sit at my desk
And reflect
On how I failed
And O yes, how
I failed again.

Unprepared,
Unmade for this,
Steam from heat,
Pendulums for
Pencils and
Abeyances
For where I am
Both sitting
Semi-respectfully
And not sitting too,
Fitting and yet
Not quite fitting,
Neither into life
Nor, of course,
My death anew.