Yellowknife

Yellow anaglypta sky,
Mulchy leaves like mirrors;

Yellows, pinkish too alight,
Grounded sky implied

And downward falling rivers,
Pre-crepuscular,

What was their objective, stripped?
To end here, nearer, those souls

With tanks trapped in sand,
Engines choked, gears stuck,

What was to be delivered
For all we held dear?

Are we this bored with ourselves
Because we did not go to war?

Dawn solo,
Lonely blackbird,

Forbidden sky,
Foreboding and with an egg

Frying on a bonnet in the middle,
Upside down,

Yellow clouds
So close to the surface

I do not know if we fell out.
Rain, thick and heavy as

Lovers’ heartbeats;
You were to go swimming

With your uncle
Who has not changed since

He was last seen way back when,
And which would not ever happen

In this duality, neither yours nor mine.
He took a bicycle without asking,

The one I cannot ride on,
Knowing full well the municipal pool

Is in that part of town
With thefts in spate.

I woke on a motel bed in Yellowknife,
No duvet, no sheets,

The side of my head was swollen,
A fearful headache,

Empty whiskey glass beside
A faulty bedside lamp

Which began to reach into my mind
And my only thought

As I heard their sex through
A wall behind my head, was this,

Of how war may well be madness,
But families, often, more so.

I used the toilet, sipped a drink
That was not there,

Then climbed naked back
Into that cold, uncovered bed.

Verdant Sky

Sunlight faded
As soon, it seemed,
As Dawn announced her yokes,

Transitions in a jaded sky,
And a verdant sky as
I write, from sunshine
Burnished over willows and oak.

I had a winnowing dream within,
Where trees slowly revolved
Into people, and people
Into sainted trees, and
Every furnished suburb
From here to Chertsey,
Crawley, Teddington,
And every housing estate
Inbetween the manifest gaps
Of parliamentary teeth
Was suddenly green,
And then green,
And then green.

The Hawser-Husband’s Song

All seafaring folk
Reasonably discharged
Understand deeply 
Having travelled so far
Frequencies of rope;
Clews marking time,
Demarcating fate
Like crow-wrinkles carved
In a late man's hope,
Smiling sublimely
While his body bloats
And slowly floats away
Within a curlew's ode;
They count in knots,
They measure briny-time
With bights on the lee,
And sometimes by 
Their cat-beards' growth
Upon a beaming sea.

There are far more purposes
For well-made ropes
Than horse-dreams harboured
On wayward western slopes
Of blue infusing hollyhocks
And sadnesses of heliotropes.
Beyond those voyer-headland folk,
Such a balch-length I do know
Is coldly devoid
In a dead man's grope,
Unfeeling, careening, 
So from humanity we eloped.
Her colours change as suddenly
On a breeze as the piskey-cheeks
Of whiskey-infused 
And maudlin mopes
Who sit beside the steps
At the plentiful village pump,
Sometimes straight as a butter-cross
And sometimes they do slump;
One day as grey as a bassam,
The next day graily eggy-hot
And bald as a wreaking coven.

Knowledge of how to fashion
This mission's cabled spires
Is memorised by barning-ghosts
Under varying fires;
The future slips through
Their misty furtive fingertips,
Fewer than before
Their green immortality.
Sailing some more,
Nothing abounds;
Within our creel ribs
Old myths rebound,
Waves make landfall
Permanent and yet somehow
Without existing at all.
Breathing in
And breathing out,
Hessian fodder,
Oceanic Frisian cow,
Horizon unknown
For years from now,
On slowly floating ice-breaks
My vessel is aground.



N.B Cornish dialect in this poem includes:
Balch - a rope
Barning - phosphorescence
Bassam - a bruise
Eggy-hot - a warm beer
Graily - an aged beer
Piskey - drunk
Varying - lightning, St Elmo's Fire
Voyer - a headland

Guadeloupe

Our little band, our merry troupe
Had just arrived in Guadeloupe
Filled with mirth and junipers.

Island clouds, mangrove lush,
A chartered man from the Hindu Kush
Landed us where a giant dune occurs

As high as three knees of the God
Of Iguanas, verdant mountains at odds
In their majesty with smaller dwellings

Of colibri, territorial, proudly emblematic
Of a land where a slightly rheumatic
Castilian caraveller (and with swellings)

Imported moose to banish snakes
Like San Patricio of the Lakes,
Only those Eurasian deer grazing would devour

With gazes obtuse as atheists as they chewed
All native flora and fauna viewed
A few hundred years ago, an hour

Of ingestion at a time, and no longer.
At the harbour I found a fishmonger,
Lobsters as bright as the famed red paint

In the sacristy and the credo
Of Santa María de Toledo,
He boiled the claws and prayed to his saint.

In a fever my genuflecting libido
Summoned dreams in a white tuxedo
Worn in that club at Les Abymes –

(The club they told me not to frequent,
Entrance shaped like a one-eyed serpent),
Where a barman garnished a large Ti’Punch for me,

Where a Caribbean singer
Whose hips within my view would linger
Gave birth to the shape of Guadeloupe.

I woke in a deep and heated sweat
And for a moment I would forget
That I had not flown before, nor my troupe,

Nor travelled to her sheltering lore
Where I lost my mind before
On the blue shores of Marie Galante,

And in that hazy nightclub smoke
Holding someone’s panetelas, I woke
In the concave dreams of an Ashanti

Slave-trader, only I was the slave
And he softly spoke and gave
Advice which has ruined me to this day,

For I was to be imprisoned in his seam,
Neither stirred nor sleeping with a beam,
But somewhere in between the fray.

Still, somewhere out beyond my prison cell
My people there have smiles to quell
Storms which filled a holy stoup

Of less green seas, their hills of gold,
Where rains remain our friends of old,
We steered our flight, to Guadeloupe.





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.