Apocryphal

You called me with a wish.
The line was broken, interrupted.
Your children were in the car
Behind you, concerns unspoken.
I knew you could not call again;
My mind is a radar for sadness.

An apocryphal fog followed,
Thick as a Polkovnik’s moustache,
A fog for causing shipwrecks,
Misunderstandings telegraphed.
In any event, I became mute
Until I met my nephews again.

Giraffe Police

We accepted the unacceptable;
Evolved what was ephemeral
To permanently inevitable.

Dusk, orange early evening light.
We arrived at the municipal
Railway station, magnificent
In its antiquated style,
Minarets, many fountains
And bountiful hanging baskets
Where passionflowers spilled
Into their sulfurous being
As brightly and wide as your smile,
Only to be met and then processed
By two genial-enough
Officers in crisp white linen
Riding on giraffe-back;
From their howdahs’ vantage
They shouted down to kindly
Inform us, notebooks ready,
That their Bactrian camels
Had for the night retired
At their presidential stables,
And so on these languid
Knock-jointed mammals
With wrists for knees
They had to travel instead.
Those ungulates looked at us
With profound imperviousness,
Nonplussedness no less,
As phlegmatically
They chewed their cud;
Their riders read us our rights,
Although what we call rights
They now name our trouble.

We could conceive
The inconceivable
But in this desert crucible
We choose not to.
We did not question
How the officers knew
We were on the 2.20 train
From the coastal town
Where time had run out,
And now my memory hurts
From the telling.

There is no dispelling the fact
That these people dreamt of me once;
I was writing a poem on the subject
Of their nomadic travels
And subsequent apprehension
By a lieutenant and his junior,
And in this way
Come what may
The poem became the people.

Scylla

Sea-millipede hair,
Ocean groundhog mare
And coral-hog stare,
Mouldy Gorgonzola-stench
Infused and clenched
Into the newly drenched
Visions of whalers
As they sail too near
To her slowly growing
And highly attuned ears,
Two harpoons in array
Aimed from the back of
Her thoracic majesty
Towards their deepest fears,
Ironic demise, inevitably.

I dreamt of this revenge
Bare chested in my bed,
Possibly to escape from the thought
That I am the cause
Of my own death.

In this way,
This is why I stay anchored
Under my duvet all day.

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.

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.

The Advocate

All my experience
Distilled into
Three enormous vats,
My lawyers drink from each
To analyse the facts.

Those ruthless rims
Were trimmed with gold,
A sight to behold
As my eyes
Turned the taps,
Pouring slowly
Untrue words from
An advocate.

In my heart I understood
I was never good enough.

I awoke as someone new,
Toothlessly eschewed
And bawling
In a Balkan
Orphanage cot.

A Painted Sign In Green

Pool-black thoughts,
He moves through doors,
A scent of herbs,
Descending spores,
Trace evidence
Of cloven-footed
Carnivores.

Waiting for a call;
A scratch on the wall,
A cuneiform.

In a dream a donkey
Beat me with a stick,
Berated me with flehmen lips
For eating grass
(He said was his)
From pastures therein dwindling
And with the evening kindling
I pointed with my thoughts
To where three days before
A painted sign in green
Had clearly said to me:
‘Welcome, Pilgrims,
Rest Awhile Your Feet,
The Hay And Harvest Here
Is All That You Can Eat’.

Letters From A Misanthropist



If I laid stock-still
Through quietest nights
On my side
Would all
My naked thoughts
Fall out?

An earthquake of pain
Reverberates
In my tectonic mind.

In a dream
Through gritted teeth
And a sense of purpose
I did not own,
I wrote letters
To my son
And also everyone;
Letters of apology,
Letters singed by the sun.
So little left to inspire,
I decided to enquire
Into my mind and
Write down names
Of several men I admired,
To prove a value
More for my son
Than myself,
Than anything else.

Alphabetically
This dream-missive listed:
Alex Jeffries, for persistence,
Colin Powell, for cross-party respect,
Denis Mukwege, for making a difference,
Despite the circumstances;
François Villon, balking against
The injustices of
The See of Orléans;
Mr John Wheatley,
Same reason as Denis’s,
Only a different season
And in a different respect;
Louis Bleriot for his determination
In all matters aviation
And in love;
Richard Ratcliffe for his hunger striking
For a principle, for his wife;
Several Russian mid-nineteenth
Century poets, ditto Chilean,
Ditto Chinese and Japanese
And European and American
From predominantly before
1980 or maybe 1984.

I poured a molten moth
Back up into my skull
Through my broken
Ethmoid bone,
And woke up, exhausted,
In a sweat I must confess,
And wondering how
I had evolved
Through experience
Into this
Misanthropist.



Dolorous

Mockeries
Of democracy,
A companionship
Of loneliness,
Obtuse
Collective nouns.
On a top floor
Of my mercies
We designed –
I do not know why –
A water feature,
Incongruous
And somewhat vain,
A bowl formed
From igneous rock,
Only, a leaky
Feeding pipe
From a fireplace
Caused a gorge
Or fissure
We have to step across.
In this huge new building
People compliment
Beautiful views
But I worry
About that leaking
And a distinct possibility
Of damp in these books.

In the distance,
Or it may be inside me,
I hear a colliery band
Strike a dolorous tune –
A bugler too – and as
With all things lost
Therein lies a
Sombre mood.

I can’t remember how
I parked the car,
Let alone where,
Or how much all this
Shopping cost.