Et Snøskred

I would choose if I could
To be anything but a wasted man,

Sinews roping duct and glands.
Leave me, as everyone must,

Leave me to organise these poems –
Jumbled words from an idiot,

Good for kindling, good for dust;
I only request a lifetime’s hibernation

And a printer on a sturdy desk.
You pushed in vain, no little art,

Jumpstarting with your spark plugs
This cold and weathered heart.

My mind is like a mountain slope
For when I shout, an avalanche

Subsumes with snow
Everyone I hear below;

Terrified sounds, such voices,
Of my own villagers trapped

In subatomic neuroses,
My choicelessness of choices.

N.B the title is Norwegian and means ‘An Avalanche’

The Advocate

All my experience
Distilled into
Three enormous vats,
My lawyers drink from each
To analyse the facts.

Those ruthless rims
Were trimmed with gold,
A sight to behold
As my eyes
Turned the taps,
Pouring slowly
Untrue words from
An advocate.

In my heart I understood
I was never good enough.

I awoke as someone new,
Toothlessly eschewed
And bawling
In a Balkan
Orphanage cot.

Window Soul

Why was I designed for isolation?
I must be my own contagion
And these environs
My ICU.

I miss you so much.
Burn my eyes
From wombs of my existence,
It will be a lesser pain.

Outside, beyond this ward
With its outdated equipment
And exhausted professionals,
Trees, yellow and frail,
Decaying before me,
And then my favourite
Type of rain, as I explained
Previously, mizzling,
Fine drizzling, and for a moment
I convince myself
That my soul could be ignited
Once again.

Parables

Black squid ink
Descends through
These pebbles
Of my body,
My teeth,
My blood black,
Purple ribs,
A deep infusion,
A bruising
Poisonous sea,
As I sit at my desk
And reflect
On how I failed
And O yes, how
I failed again.

Unprepared,
Unmade for this,
Steam from heat,
Pendulums for
Pencils and
Abeyances
For where I am
Both sitting
Semi-respectfully
And not sitting too,
Fitting and yet
Not quite fitting,
Neither into life
Nor, of course,
My death anew.

I Am Not Unique

I am not unique.
There are another ten thousand
Just like me (sub-meaning being
I am far from irreplaceable)
In these unredemptive moments
Which fall like old snowflakes
In baubles and saucers,
In reflections and in tendencies.

I am not unique.
This sadness is ubiquitous,
(Engulfing and never retreats)
We are woebegone experts
In the ravenously bleak
Mapless frontiers with our
Purring batteries
And silent artillery.

I am not unique;
Stone-filled arteries
And bruisewort disease,
We sit in our cages
As cycles continue
On the last of the piers,
Or lost, haplessly,
While out at sea.

I am not unique.
By our army united
And spirit-siphoning industries,
We comb our hair
And wash our beards,
We go to bed,
Amazed when we wake up
The same way as someone else.

Nubian

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.

Inheritances

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.