La Ville Rose

Switching from black next
Into pink-red ink,
I wrote to you
On a postcard
From a cruise ship
In Tolosa, a city you know
As Tolouse.
Strange how dreams
Shift and slip
And casually blend,
For you and I know well
It’s a few hours drive,
Through foothill climbs
And Alpine screes
With views, O such scenery!
Bridging rivers in spate
And by old Limoux,
To reach the sea
Though give if fifty years
Or perhaps fifty two,
And Toulouse could be
A Venice anew.

Forgetting to keep
My writing hand removed
From a postcard’s edge,
I smudged the ink
And forgot what to do.
Though I had not seen my
Friends for half that time,
There they were travelling too
On our erstwhile cruise.
I could not find my shoes,
And so they disembarked
With cheery ‘see you soons’,
À bientôt!
With dreaming ways
Approximating every day
You moved away from the group,
Grabbed my hand, urgently said:
Retrouvez-nous au bureau de poste
Sur la place de la ville
And though the memory
Is firmly impressed,
You did not speak French
And our meeting proposed
Did not take place,
But blew away
Like seeds escaped
From a dandelion’s tooth.

On the postcard
I wrote about
A dream preceding that very
Same night; I felt this need
To communicate its birth,
Its bald and blind occurrence.
We were back at that bungalow
Our grandmother built
And owned; after death,
The parcel of land
Divided up, small acre
Made unhindered by
Childhood imagination,
Where once we played
But do not any more,
We drank lemonade and
A home-made sponge,
Harvested peas and
Mowed the lawn,
Buried now beside
All future capability
To cope.
Well, a revolting mogul
Bought that land and soon
Demolished our home of hope,
With apartments compressed
Where once we roamed,
I entered his bleak building site
As if the shift in ownership
Remained unknown, observing
With deeply absymal passivity
His carpentry, in the hall
Where we shared a meal
At Adventide and Easter,
He crafted four ingenious stairs
Around a trunk revolving,
Other rooms – tarpaulins smothered,
And I realised an awful truth,
And ran as fast as I could
To the family car,
Outside that place
Upon an unadopted road.

And so I relayed this dream,
This apparition, on a card
In a dream that followed;
A card I did not
Otherwise post,
I woke in sweat,
Somewhat soaked,
Desperately attempting to
Achieve a meaning in
Those hollows, and finding
Nothing instead but sadness
For those unborn forms
A waking morning swallowed.

Cloud Topiarist

Clouds shaped like lovers,
A giraffe without a neck,
And skeletons in cupboards.

Cloud topiarist,
We seek perfection and yet
The nearest shears are in heaven.

Metallic balls on a yttrium string
Swing rhythms on a table;
Dead offices; disconsolation.

Was there ever a collective
Endeavour roaming
Worth our reminiscence?

It remains an open secret,
There are many dead men walking
And living people buried;

This is what occurs
When graves within my sleep interred
Are kept broken, undelivered.

I hear recurring prophecies –
Spiral vortex dreams –
A financial offshore tremor,

A van concealing hostages
In flags of white and blue,
Loaded guns, rooms in rubble.

If over nations clouds remained
They often gave that day a name,
Apartment diaries, online news,

Then happy in this skylight citadel
Are those murdered few,
For at their graves

Where clouds give shape
They’re brought to life
By a drama or two.


Subliminal Hooks

Dreams are hung on sunbeams,
Out in a garden to dry,
Steam I have seen rising,
Subliminal hooks in the sky;
Ancient as an argument
While no one remembers why.

There is an unseen world
Within my organs, my tubers,
Where moving creatures thrive:
Spermatozoa,
Micro-organisms,
Carnivores in disguise.
Should my body burst
Like a vodka-soaked melon
Standing in only my socks
In a hosted dream
In your backyard,
Please do not wake me up.

I wonder how far into madness
We can stray before it is
Too late to return.

Over the river
They have set seven festival fireworks off.
I heard applause, distant,
A languorous dog breathes
In my ear and tells me
Life is not for living;
Her voice is husky and
Her beard is coarse;
And i wonder whether all those moments
Are locked, unchangeable,
Or if variants spin and gather
Like a Catherine Wheel
In a clear night sky.

Somewhere then, I am worse off;
I would return to that place
Though not at that one time –
There’s too much pain in the host,
And the river there offers nothing,
But sinners floating, and ghosts.

Withering

I woke within sounds appalling,
Crow caws on my pillow mourning;
Rolling over, window-way,
Found jackdaw claws on the other;
Jaundiced wallpaper,
Sunlight slithers,
Only believing such dust
From their claws are withered.

Sell my books, sell the lot,
Donate my bones to charity shops;
Do one thing well, no polyglots,
Place my plea in a local plot;
Gasoline dreams, gardenia rot,
I woke in a dream I then forgot.

Searchlight

It was your birthday
Twenty years or so ago;
We descended into a city
Of ghost re-rendered
Restaurateurs
Mostly only known to us.
Strange how
None of this exists right now,
Except perhaps
Within my pillow-bounded head.
(Can dreams be transferred
From my subconscious mind
Through or even then from yours?
Do you also walk these dead
Pedestrianised streets
Of the deeply-raised interred?
)
It is with a distinct sense of dread
That I am always falling asleep,
From fear of these cities
And people who are
No longer the same,
For they all emerged without me,
A subliminal sequence
Of years long ago.

You hadn’t changed,
Still good-humoured,
Still talkative,
You walked into an establishment
Named the Ho-Ho for
Whatever unknown reason,
And you told a silent joke
To a new waitress and her
Two dumbfounded customers.
And so it was your birthday,
And that Chinese eatery
We searched for
Where your coterie
Of twentysomething
Student
Aficionados
Had slipped, shifted
Away from its mooring
Adjacent to l’office du tourisme
Located by the river
Where eleven vessels
Ride the rip
In the seams of my dreams.
I am denim to a somnambulant
Nocturnal god’s demesne.

Inexplicably, my role
Suddenly evolves to carry your
Curry-coloured shoes,
And then also later a
Stuffed blue bear, a child’s toy,
(Still holding your shoes),
An armful of regalia
And vintage paraphernalia.
I held the door for your peers
But was not invited
To the benches where
The glitterati sipped
On bamboo juice
And green tea hips.

Your German teacher made a tarte,
The Chinese menu à la carte;
I wonder when my heart
Restarts.

I have had this awful
Gnawing sense my whole
Long life that I was born
For arduous tasks,
While with something inside me brewed,
Malformed to fail,
How the audience laughed
And now, half-formed,
I replay it all each night,
A searchlight from my
Buzzard soul above
A pre-dawn gorse,
Hovering over those very fields,
Hedgerows, lanes, old roads still,
For the fugitive source.

Bare Feet, And A Breakwater

For a fleeting moment
My unfathomable toes and feet
Seem almost real to me,
Almost within reach,
As a once-foamy, infamous sea
Slips between and over
Mirages of my own
Mutinous limbs,
Sockless and unshoed.
Saints preserve us,
I am an unremarkable sinner.
I am an extension of the sea,
The sea exhales me and
For a fleeting moment
I almost feel alive.
Treacherous, beloved sea,
Beachcombing my dreams
For all you might retrieve,
You leave me empty handed
Until randomly and yet also
Not quite randomly
A glass appears in my hand,
Liquidless, my left arm aloft
Perseveres
As I make a toast
To my seaweed-surrendered
Familial ghosts.
Involuntarily, I lift a single
Foot, prosaic yogic pose
And in doing so
Crack the tragedies;
Another wave, just
As the old; another me,
Just as the one before;
I count my losses in beads
On a cord around my fortieth wrist,
The reality is this:
My waves do not break
But retreat, and retreat;
With each gravitational pull
The Moon colludes
With the sea, and these losses
Amount to someone else’s
Distant, enriching dream.

I must fulfil something, surely.
A spine of briny breakwaters
Backtrack towards a lower tide.
I cannot physically touch the loss.
One day, with the last great loss
Accounted for, there will be no need
For water, and you will be able to walk
From here, to that line of spruces
Just visible across the gulf
Which on summer days in my youth
Likewise appeared almost real in
Their shimmering form and
Remorseless truth.

Visitations

In this weary adulthood
I cannot imagine
If those events actually happened
And if so, interred,
Misunderstood?

I am not one for turning over stones,
The hot stones of my youth
As impenetrable as the basalt eyes
Of the terrifying basilisk
Of myth, reputed to
Induce death with a single blink.
All these ghosts with their
High-level dependencies,
Their egos and their
Aggravating needs continuing
Long beyond our diaspora,
Long beyond death,
Remorselessly they approach,
Ceaselessly, a man once kindred,
A disappeared friend,
Their arms are tangled and
Darkly entwined like
Night-wire ivy in my dreams,
In the gloaming dream of the
Gloaming dream of the
Gloam of my stones.
They are heated,
Placed with skilled deliberation
On my back, my spine,
And I retreat, a shadow-fact,
Into a station, into a flat,
Into diminishing time.

And then you are there, living.
Will I be forgiven
For what I used to do?