My head is compressed
(In cartouche contents
Made for dead
Languages and archaic
Aspirations traced in
Plumes of incense,
Haunting nisba-laden
Conjugations with lists of
Nubian fisheries, bakers,
Haberdasheries and fabrics
From a starry peninsula,
Often misread and
Always missaid aloud,
My name was poorly
Pronounced somehow),
As I tread these deserted fields
Devoid of other dog-walkers,
In colder shrouds and clouds
Formed by exhaustion,
Pressed and re-pressed
Like a dried dandelion
In a volume unread,
My pages of dread speak
Into the breach of
Time and space,
From marbled halls,
A minister disgraced,
To a Baltic beach
Beneath the dacha
Where their children
Reach to impossibly touch
Vapour trails the gods
Of cacophonous oligarchs
Inhale from within their
Sarcophagi (and we are blessed
They said to be able to travel
And sunbathe and have sex
In the toiletry aisle
Of a Balearic supermarket
While a bored middle-aged
Checkout attendant with a
Name badge which reads
Catalina files her red nails
And rolls her eyes
With a fed-up expression,
Until we unknotted our lives
Into marriages and false promises
Or if not false then unwitting
And no less juvenile,
And jobs, and downfalls,
And a vacuous
Repetitiveness of Dawns),
Spumous offerings
And votives and how futile
To think otherwise,
Or to fume with such
Unprecedented fury
Our peers denied,
And all through that time
They were the ones in a happier crowd,
They were the ones burning
A once-fabled cow,
Oiling a river on fire,
Standing up to their knees
In effluence clotted
By our keenness to deliver,
By our kindling desire.

Over a different horizon
I envisaged a raft, far adrift,
Where I was alone and immersed
Therein eternal solace
And a certain bliss.


This interminable year
Of dustbowl polemics,
They argue in circles
Over single drops
While townspeople drowned
And totems they found
Amongst unwatered crops
Brought nothing profound,
Only their gain for
Our grateful loss.

Consistency in frailties,
A raffled upbringing
Under bunting days
And tattled nights;
Remembering fallibility,
I was brought up to respect
And venerate
Without algorithms
Or forecasts for
The awful days ahead –
My irritable and
Complacent elders.
Now they have mostly died
Or fallen asleep
Or disappeared,
A bleak retreating tide,
An impoverished bequest,
The flags in their sandcastles
Of my childhood
Have washed away,
Only black lugworm blasts
Prove they did exist,
In damp grooves and piles
They flew through
And grew the scratchy
Source of itches and smears
Seeping through
The unending seams
Of my dreams in tesserae.

Why do we settle for anything less
Than our future would bless?
O how our past instead
Will steal, and profiteer
For their own cheer
And compromise,
Obviate, obliterate
And deviate from
A delicate and infinite line,
An alchemy smelting
The radiant and the poised
Into prosaic rearrangements
For our everyday demise.

A Solitary Oystercatcher

A solitary oystercatcher’s cry
Found my likewise mind;
Migratory, too far inland,
From my distant depths
I couldn’t discern meanings,
No matter how much I tried
To orthographically identify
And arrange taxonomies,
Avian alphabets and
Seventeen semantics,
The range and extent
Between an urgent alert
And a call to act
Was lost on me.

In isolation
We are not unique,
Nor our abandonment;
Despite a thousand words
For loneliness
I made much the same sound
From my fish-mottled beak
On returning from work,
On falling asleep.