Unguligrade

Lost
In elaborate
Oblast-wide
And aboriginal
Anarchical
Ladybird-shaped
Labyrinths
Of my clockwork mind,
No way in
And no
Way out,
No signs in a concrete sky,
No internationalist help,
Just dead ends,
Drainage channels
Shaped for my tears
And Time.

Always
Subtle,
Time.

To speak,
I open my mouth,
Move my lichen-lips
And mossy nostrils
And larynx about,
But no words now
Come out.

And though
I summoned
A squall
Of thoughts
Thunderous
As ten thousand
Stampeding
Elephantine
And rhinoceros
Feet beneath
My howdah-like hope,
Those walls were not
Demolished
Nor even diminished,
My life no more
Than a demoted
Capitalist’s
Grey plastic trope.

Their hunting party
Marched onwards,
Tusks sharpened,
Banners and bluster,
Oblivious to
A hurting man
Not far beneath
Where unguligrade
Digital comforts
Impact under
Those herdsmen,
Those conglomerates
Entombing sand,
Dust and undergrowth,
By perrisodactylic
Surfaces
Engulfed.

Song Of The Lone Nomad

He steered into town
From the Elephant Road –
Historical misnomer;
For the locals don’t know
Where ivories go

So kept the tusk-gates open.
He peered from his howdah
With a bowlful of chowder
Atop a crowning dust-cloud;
And vials of musth

Faked from the husk
Of Arctic walrus,
Narwhal or seal.
Opulent earring,
Summer sun searing,

The townsfolk gathered
In wonder and thrall.
His name did not matter
And nor did his platter
Bestowing cassowary galls.

He talked of cladistics,
Gujarati mystics
Seven-feet tall,
Harmonious yoga,
Callisthenics diploma

He kept in a scroll.
Sirenian slaves
And a third murdered charmer,
He talked of mermaids
Braiding a harbour,

Catastrophes, yes,
And distant disasters.
Just as curious as his arrival,
Hostage to his survival,
He departed on plumes of fern,

Turning dirt to marble,
When the district police descended
There was no apprehending,
He crossed alive into Nepal
And left the dead to marvel.

Tuesday Morning Crime Scene

The detective pulled at his moustache,
Combing at the edge;
Subconscious stroking by a man
Who’s well-versed with the dead.
‘He was thick-skinned’ he murmured
To his second in command,
As they stood and observed the body
In a far-flung foreign land.
‘Don’t let the press see this one,
Make sure the perimeter’s sealed’,
He surveyed the size of the task at hand
In a blazing Bushveld field.

The victim’s eyes were orange,
Killers fixed by a fiercer lozenge,
For in older times a nearby tribe
Mythologized in sketch and scribe,
Forever imprinted in their eyes
Death-dawning final sights of man,
The smiling black-backed jackal,
A clue imbued in iris tan.
His body distended, and how it straddled
Demarcations of the tide,
Where the water’s spate
In long-lost seasons paralyzed

By daguerreotype and high.
With mud the body semi-concealed,
Flies on his ears had gathered;
The smell of death would long repeal
All hopeful hearts, all fearful bladders.
Grey skin scaly, turned rust-like
In oxides from the almighty battle,
Ten miles from the last turnpike
Near where the river basin dried,
The townsfolk used to fly-fish here
For River Pipe, and Barbs, and Moggels.
The Goddess of Nature created tusks

Like golden threads in turrets spun,
Woven over millennia, but stolen over-night.
They examined a substance in the soil,
The detective and his partner;
Followed a scent like kerosene oil,
They gathered some musth in evidence bags;
Secretions beneath the sandstone altar
Had bubbled before in a temporin gland.
Sometimes he found it easier that way,
Remembering former glorious days
Running with elephant herds on safari,
He used to think that come what may

On roads from Durban to Harare
Justice would appropriate
Those hunters and their hubris.
He paused and heard the elephant’s call;
Still better that than the knock on the door,
A simple summon which always appalls,
These rituals people routinely endure,
To explain to a daughter, fatigued by man,
How her missing much-loved father
Was finally found on a Tuesday morning,
Sunshine-bled within April,
On a rock-ledge by the River Derwent.