Natasha Renewed

You were the envy of centuries,
Your love the unplundered loot
Under plum-coloured helmets
From mud-lusty Danes of Harthacnut.

You moved into a house
On a slope (made hazardous,
I imagine, by frost and ice
That yet must be a long way off
Along another horizon),
Next door to my grandmother
Who rested dutifully
In the annex
(Like an old mole
Upon your jawbone,
You resigned yourself
To her perspiring presence)
Carved from a former saloon
Where of an afternoon she snoozed
While keeping vouchsafed in a jar
Her one last sandstone tooth.
O how a home that could not exist
Yet appear with a simple veneer
Much like any other rooted
On this strange village street,
The only difference being
When you opened the door
There was nothing beyond
A jaded porch, lavender
And heather turned to dust
Along with dried
Forget-me-nots and
Compass points made moot.
You had changed your name,
I do not know why,
To Natasha, your eyes
As wide as a frontier
Where swirled surprise
And regret in those glass bowls
Once burning like calderas,
And in your hands
Scentless celeriac,
Cauliflower florets
And a head of herring.
Somewhere along the line
You bought eggs from a garage
In a parallel place and time.
At the very extremeties
Of our dormant love,
I knew too late to appreciate
That which I could never touch,
Neither ending nor the essence.

This dampening dream-like nature,
A long green duffel coat and hair
Once vibrant as sunsets
Over Mediterranean ports
And on to far Aden
And golden Sharjah,
Cities we knew a long time ago,
Now grey as a downpour in May
With a woodland scarf,
A husband – I could not meet his eyes –
Two children and my phone
Running low of charge
Like my soul, which is why
I step through my dreamcatcher
To wherever you are present,
Mapless, stateless revenant,
In a rendezvous pretences,
Preferring to be this lost,
I would rather be surrounded
By all those silent deaths above
Than tortured by the humdrum sounds
Of life removed from your love,
Modern and irrelevant.

Gravitate

You gravitate towards
A sadder song,
Ended the being
Where you would not belong,
Hurts to return
And hurts to move on;
Autopilot, Rubicon.

Sometimes, insurmountable
Are these feelings
To survive
An eggshell minute;
To contemplate
Is too much pain,
This world without you
Fingerprinting
Permissible limits.

Sadder, yes,
For if only you lived
To know the joy
In light you sought
And thought beyond
All your perceptiveness,
All your intelligence,
Instead, permeated and bled,
Permeates to this day
With all such grace
And truly intangible poise
Of miracles, abundantly
Transfusing through
Everything we did and yet can do,
In this safely stored-up knowledge
Would you still have demurred,
The abdicator absconded.

In Memoriam

Corridor necessities
Amid vomitoria policies,
A mind in memoriam;
For benches searched
Or even Delphic creeds
Though every turn
Fired memories
Across my synapses,
And how they burned;
I may never achieve
That Field of Reeds
Across the frightening river,
When reason is deserting
And yesteryear still hurting,
Irony is shaped by
Hephaestos beserkly
Hammering my soul
Once golden and yet
Now smouldering,
Malleable, and dirty;
With each strike he sang
A weapon for a war we lost
Before conscription started.

Someone stole the show
While, in cells below I waited;
So I write, not to remember
But instead, to purge, forget,
And now is nothing,
Is all I have left.

Peripheries

There’s a sink that needs cleaning,
A festive wreath to pack away;
Death essentially demeaning,
I can’t see beyond what you did today.

Meanwhile,
The pure agony of existence
Is on the peripheries
Of oceanic ferries
Towards bliss, or heaven.

I can remember every moment,
Pernicious and horrible;
Impervious to me, terrible,
Memories in their tsunamis
And their oceans becalmed,
Crammed into the ecstasy
Of my every waking thought.

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.

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.

A Birthday

I forgot about you today.
That is not true.
That is another oxymoron.
But I did not know what to say
And all my candles are blue.

I forget about you most days.
That is not true.
I reused a tealight this morning.
And yet, it does make for an easier way
To dismiss all that you did

And did not do.
There is sometimes no greater gift
Than memory. Deny it,
Not even to refine it,
And grown men panic

And split themselves in two.
There was a future form of you;
We did not meet, touch, or approve.
And yet, sometimes it is so much more
Helpful to forget a resemblance,

Where dreams become punishment,
And hope is meted in knots,
And comfort in blots of confusion,
And when there is more hindrance
By remembrance consumed.

South Of Somewhere

South of Somewhere, Fairburn Road Car Park.
Small town, off from the main route.
Or large village? The first two hours parking is free, but you still have to go to the ticket machine and press a button for a ticket. The information display has yellow print on a black background. The municipal Council crest includes two mythical beasts either side of a shield, also yellow and black. There is a whole language for heraldry. There is a misprint between two symbols for a disabled person, which reads ‘Dabled badge holders FREE’.

I wish it was colder, or raining, or cold and raining. I prefer the rain. People tend to stay indoors a bit more.

I haven’t been here before. It’s only 8 miles north west from my house, but the journey includes country lanes with tall hedgerows leading into hamlets.

A local transport intersection, freight trains and East Coast LNER trains rumble by. Commuter belt, I expect, for workforces in the not too distant cities and larger towns. Smaller Northern Rail pacer trains, liveries of purple and white.

You can draw a straight line almost, from the southernmost city the one furthest north. This is somewhere inbetween.

I feel supernaturally tired. I will be unable to drive again, post surgery, she said. I said I will make for a moaning chauffeur.

You video-called me yesterday evening. You were wearing a silver chain with a silver crucifix. You ask me if I like it and I lied and said yes.

Days merge. And then I feel bad for feeling envious of those who moved on.

People I have seen arrive here are now returning to their cars, laden with shopping and misplaced hopefulness. They seep out from corners and sidestreets, like waxy by-products of my inexhaustible life, like tears. As I drove away, I remember thinking, if there is anyone as hermetic as me, I would like to meet them.

My Family Is The Type

My family is the type
Who, while the Titanic
Of this life is sinking,
Stand westwardly and
Thinking how delightful,
How beautiful this view,
This nightly icy view,
Whilst whistling a tune
Of some long-forgotten
Ditty, and this view is
O so pretty, their words
A fuel to keep me down
Beneath a winter’s bloom.

With my bailing bucket
And my useless glue
Suppressed within that blue
They survived, it’s true,
And traveled on
To somewhere new.