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.





Spiral

In the Autumn of my thoughts,
I poured my exploring self
Into one of my known past lives
Where somehow I became caught
Inside the awful seven lies.
Not the life where you
Track me back to a
Red-throated gecko’s crest
In my headwear,
And not the life
Where poems were tied
By one red ribbon
To my samurai chest;
No, deeper again,
To where our wagons petrified;
This is the clearing
And this is the song,
A place we are nearing
Where we do not belong;
Here are the stones
And here are the flowers,
Though petals have withered
And the stones block each hour.
They visit here in their hundreds,
Luxury coaches, air conditioning,
One hundred students
With pre-conditioning
And pink pleated curtains.

My meditative ability
Underneath here,
As much as an oyster and eyeless,
Shucked for humanity’s
Gut and its gears.

Time is a spiral
We surf southwards on,
God’s corkscrew pulls out
To produce the Big Bang.

I can tell you, all physicists,
What’s on that other side;
No more nor less
Than my lost love’s
Champagne-scented sky.

Ode To A Wife

In my next life
There’ll be no such concept
As husband and wife,
All will have been addressed,
Thoroughly rectified.

No more paternalistic
Nomenclature,
No man-made linguistics
Where women are subject
By pronoun or clause, and

Where the word woman occurs
In Middle English, wife of man,
But people stand as they are
Not based on gender
Or bodies and bodily functions

But on our own higher terms,
Individual and unified
By more appropriate words.
Why societies do not challenge
More often customs and

Collective idiosyncrasies
From the centuries prior,
I’ll never be able to learn.
That said, if you wanted me to,
I’d kneel for you, my love.

No-one ever says the phrase
In English wife and husband,
And yet why ever not;
Because for centuries the man
Was all a woman got.

Veracruz

Ah verdant Veracruz,
Inquisitors landed
With seminal footsteps
On your sandy shores,
Anchored in foam bluer
Than undry eyes of lonely
Brides who cried like ghosts
Each night, for they
Knew the truth by then,
The truth unbound about
Those men both intrepid
And yet also afflicted with
Scurvy, to whom they once
Curtsied in courts, in
Galicia, and Castile.
Praising their gods with
Spongy gums, rashes infernal,
Thousands of miles from home,
Finding exotic diseases and
New fruits for their horses,
This coast too was a ghost
Of a nation destined to kill
Itself. They swore they saw
In those first loamy forests
Evidence of snakes
Eating their own tails,
And carvings of aroused
Totemic beasts whose tidings
Could block out the most
Ardent and stifling sun,
If rubbed with a little belief.

Those forests turned with Time
Into fields, the terraces and
Mesas of modern Mexico,
Where memories are as long
As the potential in doors unopened
And mines are as rich and fertile
As the self-sanctified appendage
Belonging once to none other than
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,
Who, having traversed from here
To Baja California, was injured
By grapeshot fired from
Obusier de vaisseau on board
French blockaders, during
The Pastry War; they stretch
From unsung Sonora and Sinaloa
Which later sadly became layered
And synonymous with bloodshed,
To the caudillo’s hacienda above
Seagull nests and roadsteads,
And the hotel where we made
Ablutions, and took our rest.

That night I dreamt of seven miles
Of Atlixo, somewhere south of
Popacatépetl and the myth
Of the sleeping woman,
La Mujer Dormida,
A strip of land turned by arts
Within humanity’s hand into
A colossal supine statue
Much like Cristo Redentor
Only flat, yes, and not sculpted
From concrete with soapstone
But fashioned from the soil,
The land, into the shape of his
Image. I viewed this from the air
And marvelled at the ineffable
Grace and scale of his creation;
I wondered if something spiritual
And filled with meaning had been
Hidden under this humble yet
Hot-headed, passionate and yet
Disconsolate continent’s seams.
It reminded me of another dream
More than twenty years old, when
Two giant statues of a bodhisattva
Glided down a river, both imposing
Yet serene, navigating rapids as if
There was nothing inbetween
The reality, and the artifice
Of a mastered stream.

Kindling these memories, I forgot
That I was in a dream within a dream.
May the Mexicayotl transcend,
May the Malinchista be forgiven,
For there will be time in the end
When we too can see between rivers.

I Went For A Walk Outside Our Hotel And This Is What I Discovered

I found a secret pond
Hidden behind our hotel,
Undisturbed by human touch
As far as I could tell.

Cow parsley abounded,
Poppies and wild orchids
As high as an ox’s haunches,
As quiet as a glade where

Kine chewed their cuds;
Harbingers of summer rain,
They survived for years
Near this pond in a spell

Without knowing.
I later researched the spot
And read in a local newspaper
(On a whirring microfilm reader

In a library which burnt down
To appease an arsonist’s wishes;
It was not rebuilt but
That’s another plot)

About a boy found nearby,
Murdered thirty years ago,
Face down in a muddy brook
Which filtered through that pond;

His body turned to browns
Then younger dust, as does
Memory, as does Love.
The ox transformed before

My eyes to become a great
Black swan with a neck as long
As a distant sun, like beams
Which slipped through our blinds

In the hotel room we shared
As I kissed your back, and
Inhaled, and found a mole
Beside your spine I had not

Observed until that afternoon,
Just like the pond and
The boy and the swan;
They all took flight.

I kissed you there as you slept,
Grateful for your affirmations,
Your vivacity, your life,
And I thought about a community

Seeking a child through
The scrub and the reeds
And the sum of all strife
They would not find alive.

A Rescue

I found your children where you
Buried them, deep in my dreams,
For no one would go there
Forraging except the blind
And myself, we had no choice,
Which you did not predict,
And so I found them both, I did,
Wide-eyed, innocent mannerisms
With unconditional love towards
Their inexplicable parents.

Underneath dream-bracken,
You had no time for dignity
Or wherewithal to cover
Your tracks, and so I woke
Both gently, and they held my
Hands as we searched high
And low for their mother,
To reunite you only to show
What you had succumbed to
In giving up your title.

A caravan park on a clifftop,
Seas in my dreams are different,
Infinite wildernesses in grey,
Violent expressions of emotions
Suppressed, we searched through
Excessively overstocked and
Busy campsite shops and bars,
An outdoor pool, a clamour
In chlorine and glorious swimwear,
As busy as lidos’ 1960s heydays,

They held my hands all the while
As we walked the miles we had to
Cover, until we found a white
Wooden signpost with your name
Painted in a blank font as if you’d
Become a coastal village, but
Instead of miles, the miles
Directed me in years, pointing
Towards a hidden beach, a cove,
Sands where truth exposed you

Out of sight and reach,
Or so you thought in my dream
Interrogating and sweeping
Low coasts like a disused
But incessantly-working
Self-determined lighthouse beam,
On the way to that village
As it shifted from being inland
To now lifted above the
Culmination and climax

Of my sorrows. We descended
A makeshift path between two dunes
To where you cavorted with
Dream-formed friends, balls
And assorted balloons. At last I
Returned two beautiful children
To you; your feigned joy appalled
Yet did not surprise the atoning.
I collapsed to my knees, exhausted,
Knees in sand, and woke alone.

Amazonia

Californian seraph,
Amazonian wraith,
Stalking through forests,
Turning those graves
Where quarriers
Profits had gold
Coffins laid
Alongside cousins,
Flemish Margraves and
Iberian Dukes,
Escudos in pockets
Left by their brains.

With ivy and apples
You’d rise and reclaim;
Brazil-nut trees high
Over canopies rein
While moss runs amok
In their orbital cups;
Epiphytal orchids
Climbing kapoks.

Institutionless,
Nature’s state;
No surgeons here,
No interest rates;
The only needles
Are pines which bore
A broth, a braid.
No wills feeding
Outbreaks in swine,
No dates, no petrol,
No courts and no crime;
Just miles and miles
In greens and whites.

And so they raped you
With tractors and bulls;
Cattle for steak,
Dipped mint and a port;
Wines from their grapes,
A knife and a sword.
They lamented your loss
As they burnt you twice
On cruciform wood;
We can still hear today
The faraway hums
Where they
Buried you under
Highways and slums.
Dismantled to fatten
The lenders for life,
They will no more
Sustain us
Than unwatered rice.

Fourth Plinth

I don’t know where I stand
On plinths. The unabashed
Alabaster-eyelashed
Anti-abolitonists may be
Rightly pulled off by their
Victorian marble cleats,
Yanked into prostrate
Positions in the street,
Through the arches
Celebrating ancient
Atrocities, hauled on
Rattling oaken logs
Like dismantled henges
And pyramid schemes, to be
Tossed with appropriate
Ceremonies in to acidities
Within the English Channel
Or from Outer Hebridean rifts.
The sea-bed will be their
Stateless graveyard, no loaded
Roses for them or confetti,
Just blind crustaceans
Tapping the cracked wizardry
Of stonemasonry; bridge of
A nose, a furrowed brow;
Dichoptic sights gouged out
Amid the thaws somehow,
Great geological ages,
Finding their way
These days with eyes
In their claws and their
Claws in their mouths.

I’m finding my stride, my feet.
I’ll never see a statue carved
To memorialise my achievements
Lacking, or phrased
Substantively,
My beautiful failures,
Unless statues in future
Are chiseled (as carefully
As Rodin’s amanuenses
Incisioned with the diligence
Of gastrointestinal surgery)
For honouring cleaning chores
And actions self-defeating.
I for one am glad and pleased,
As judging by societal
Algorithms there would be
Crowds burning books
A hundred years beyond me,
Their pages filled with
Wondrous stories and twists
And prophesies and myths,
All on a pyre
For politics.

But while we lead the
World in protests without
Achieving change, unless by
Change I am writing accounts
About the people I can see
Being worse off,
Parents with less wages,
Children with less
Developmental learning stages
And universities mastering
Navel-gazing, will they also
Demolish or recycle,
(I don’t mind, either),
Statues in bronze and
Verdigris which pepper
Parks and colleges, (some are
Busts, let’s not forget),
Of long-dead men who
Exemplified jingoism, or
The rapists of indigenous
Lands and speech,
The million bigots
Who suppressed an entire
Gender no less for centuries,
Or justifiers of war,
Their bellies made fat
From bellicosity and
Concentration camps.

Then at last, perhaps,
The Lions of Trafalgar
Will collapse and sink,
For those discontented animals
Chased and ate helpless
Gazelles and the elusive
Blue duikers of Botswanan fables,
While the gazelles and gnus
Expressed their gratitude
From within the depths of
Their oppressors’ stomachs,
Their horns on dining tables.