Grey River

We knew of ancient love,
But change with an A my lady;
Now I know of sickness enough,
Convalescing whilst all’s fading,
My monochrome existence.

There will come a day
When I traverse Grey River;
I know that day is not today,
Little less strength to deliver.

I was born with arms
Just like you,
I was born with a heart
And lungs and a liver,
But all this lost art,
Immaterial now,
Lonely are those left to shiver.

Abyssinia

Sometimes these abysmal lows
Seek to address and occupy

My own ebbing soul’s
Reclusive loan and use

Of shadowy caverns,
Avoiding outer

Stony nomenclatures
Or any such anatomies of light,

Suspended and unrarefied
Far beneath the looms

Of gloomy, nervous time.
And if poured out now

From this diluted womb of myself,
And if all I am told should sleep,

And if all I observed and believed
Tattooed into the warp and weft

Is less akin to blood
In her unusual rivulets

Underneath riveted drifts
Within my skin and my bones,

Nor like molten gold
Or anything else so brightly bold,

But doubtlessly a
Thick congealing

Tarry albumen
Under my night-auk’s

Starless eye and ceiling
I am constantly reeling

In a reckoning disguise,
And arctic cold.

Sometimes I feel as though
Life is a test without answers.

Sometimes I feel my road
Is routed through converging disasters.

My body brittle as a twig
Drifting away from life’s fine flourishing,

Away from glittering citadels of my truth
Down a bruising river,

And when they find my floating form
Who will be my forgiver?

I Am Not Unique

I am not unique.
There are another ten thousand
Just like me (sub-meaning being
I am far from irreplaceable)
In these unredemptive moments
Which fall like old snowflakes
In baubles and saucers,
In reflections and in tendencies.

I am not unique.
This sadness is ubiquitous,
(Engulfing and never retreats)
We are woebegone experts
In the ravenously bleak
Mapless frontiers with our
Purring batteries
And silent artillery.

I am not unique;
Stone-filled arteries
And bruisewort disease,
We sit in our cages
As cycles continue
On the last of the piers,
Or lost, haplessly,
While out at sea.

I am not unique.
By our army united
And spirit-siphoning industries,
We comb our hair
And wash our beards,
We go to bed,
Amazed when we wake up
The same way as someone else.

A Conservator’s Son

There is a hidden off-switch
Within my restless mind,
Wound-up, pre-electronic,

And though I search and search
I stay here, quietly supplied.
From time to time I realise

My overwatching
Wingless guardian
Has such primacy!,

Looks after me, misguidedly,
Surging through my monkshood-blood,
My sub-generated supply’s backed-up.

Karagöl

This shortening life,
This thickening life,
This blink of an eye
Left on a continental shelf
Life, (devoid of the I
Which ego contrived
And relies upon having hatched
Like a blind hag-matriarch,
And who underneath our
Inexplicable surfaces
Survives and thrives
While my egg-timer soul
Is turned over again),
I felt my sense of self
Not to reside inside me
But externally derived –
Fermented and distilled
Across our guarded borders,
Lifelong out-of-body experiences
And my many other disorders,
Then the near-death experiences,
Lifelong too, (my witness,
Who is a pawnbroker
Of disasters and also
Fathers, who sold
Ink perpetually
To stain my sinking skin,
Told me this is so),
It is well-written
With strange hieroglyphs
Throughout, ever present,
Every sallow thanklessly
Tantalising day
Behind my harrowing eyelids,
That clear and imprinted
Rendition of my deep,
Impending gallows.

Ballad Of The Lonely Ghost

She said she travelled
(In her eloquent way)
To see a Medium,
Frequented only yesterday,
Apropos of non-sequiturs
Over our morning tea.
Not the travelling kind,
She said, caravan-bound,
Deep brown eyes beneath
An unwashed shawl –
Beadily watching as one gold coin
Then two would fall, into
Her grisly and well-wizened palm;
No, not that kind you see, she said,
As she tapped her date-stamped
Hard-boiled egg –
Three, four, five times,
Nor the kind of folklore-hag
Whose ghastly attention would demand
Something greater and so much closer
To rapture, and which disarmed
Most ardent former lovers
And battle-hardened
Heavily moustached lieutenants.
No, this particular Haruspex of Time
Conducted her sight-seeing business
From an everyday house
Not far from my innards
On an everyday estate nearby;
An advertisement on the internet,
A card in the window,
And introductory laminated sets
Of terms and conditions,
Frayed at the edge, which she said
Stated very professionally
In legalese vernacular that
You can pay by direct debits,
And she tapped with a quite
Ordinary finger, no boils,
No snake-charm tattoos
At a text which succinctly read:
No refund for mistakes.
Life-affirming posters adorned
Her anaglypta office walls;
Pithy quotes, images in pastels
Of votive candles and petals,
Yoga practitioners
Posturing in lycra, all of which
When relayed to me
I mistook unintentionally
For reliably post-modern
Oracular irony.

I knew without being told
As to who she had enquired about;
It was, after all,
A significant anniversary.
I recalled a funeral,
A sister-in-law in tears,
Readings from a book
Nobody had leafed through
For many, many years.
Aptly black umbrellas,
Except – an aunt who
Refused to where black
Because she said she could not stand
Morbid traditions and so
Brought along a
Parasol in pink.
The vicar uttered appropriate words.
The family stood with patience
And thoughts elsewhere
About football results
And affairs of the heart
And pub opening times
And penitence.
A newspaper article later announced
That he had not meant
To do what he did,
Yet it happened, all the same,
And consequences remain
Instead of what he could have been.

A jolt, a rise in temperature;
Suddenly he was wheeled
Through an ether
Like the beret-wearing grandmother
Of that corner-shop owner
Who used to emerge from a storeroom
And berate their hesitant customers –
Not that corner shops exist these days –
He outlasted, in his own way,
So much, come to think of it.
Wheeled then, yes,
On his upright gurney
Designed for just such
Inter-dimensional bumpy journeys.
He was somewhat philosophical
Despite his condition, whereby
Without choice or say or any form
Of mortal pauses or tenures
Or even dereliction
He is moved from pasture
To pillar to post and
Back to pasture again.
He said that he no longer
Has any arteries or
Heart or veins.
He said the realm he’d entered
Has recently given him a cold,
Possibly influenza although
He is just about coping with
Shivering in his inherently
Discrete and indiscernible
Ghetto for the Soul.
It should be said, I rejoindered
As she slurped on molten yolk
That, in his previous actual life,
He was minded to many an illness;
A hypochondriac, I said.

He did not divulge any mysteries
Of the abundantly divine
To my wife on a Friday,
Nor differential margins
If only just above the earthly plain
Which may make a singular difference
Between the right and the just and the holy.
He said that he had been feeling shaky
A little lately, and he was not one
For sushi and sake from a
Lacquered masu-box,
Yet here he was resigned to
These formalities
And ceremonies
In places we could not tread
On boards or with any maps to plot.
He was worried for the future,
He was worried for what he had lost.
And then, as if to typify
All absolute control foregone,
He was manoeuvred silently,
Slowly, unbearably slowly,
Away from where moments ago
His unwieldy, unworldly form
Had briefly merged with ours.

And since that day
I feel a certain constancy,
Permanency, too,
In loss and life-long being abandoned.
Sometimes, I waywardly strive
To divert my waking mind from it,
Often unsuccessfully,
Sometimes I find
These bald and wailing perinatal
Conditions comforting,
Because I am used to it,
Because in the storm-tossed
Concussions and contusions
You confirmed for me
That I did once exist,

Even if for now
I knock at the glass windows
Just as he once did, and yet
Which showcase your successes
While I persist only
As a living ghost
Palms open,
No tokens,
You will never find
A camaraderie, a troupe of ghosts –
It is just not how we were made,
Drifting through all others’ hopes
And into our open graves.


Thought-Flotilla

A depression sinks
Thick teeth into my bay.

Brazen, sharply emblazoned
Within my beacon’s sleep,

One final action
Before the king of myself

Exiled himself in a fit of treason
To his most inhospitable island in

Far rough southern waters
Beyond starry St Helena and

Tar-deep lavas of
Tristan de Cunha,

And even beyond the other island
Of shimmering immateriality

And such impossible wealth,
With more lakes than land,

More puffins than people
And fathers’ mouths

Mastic with less teeth in number
Than they bequeathed children,

And statues of elders
Each chiselled with just one foot;

Well, he commissioned hundreds
Of such pitch-pots over

Coastal paths and marshland routes
To alert his nation’s duties

Towards resurgent armadas,
A thought-flotilla

With canons trained
On peace and seasons,

On woodlands and hope,
On fisheries and reasons,

I woke to an ocean of
Platitudes in old Spanish

And also Greek calligraphy.
Blood on my wrist,

Alpha is Omega
In this new script.

Why do I enjoy numerically
These blood-clot sensations,

These idyllic notions
Beyond posts of my death.