Amentiferous

Today is the same day
As yesterday,
And every day preceding too.
The weather may change –
The same bleeds tomorrow –
And slowly then, a view.
A skinny, catkinny frost,
All futures somewhat like
Frozen carp in a cube,
Suspended, inanimate
Within a lake unthawed;
A whitening sun ignored,
Bleaker the sky, and blanched,
Inscrutable eyes widely forlorn –
A stupefied state –
So too the perch,
The grayling and the dace.
And so too, yes, the sky,
White as a severed heron’s chest,
White as survival and yet
Still agonisingly fruitless,
I pack up my taxonomies,
Slowly headed for home
In my exposed, irrevocable chest.

Crow Lake

Sarcoma days,
Tower of Babel skies,
I tiptoed across our dam
At the top-end of Crow Lake
Where we once stripped
And with youth’s fearless
Exuberance
Ebulliently we dived.
There, beneath obtuse
And lucid ways of waters
We swam together
Through shoals of mouldy
Long-drowned dreams
Before arriving, hands held,
At a blocked sluice gate
We remembered,
And a rusty pump,
Green from age and
Exhaustion,
Before Victorian weirs
Weaving weeds between
Words and memory,
Water and air,
You, the wharf-god’s daughter;
There, we found a forgotten,
Unexploded bomb.

Nowadays,
I want to blast myself open
So that you can see what is inside.
You missed how I found
The secret to eternal life
In that furniture store on the high street,
On a kitchen shelf disguised
Amongst the pans and knives.
If uncovered by anyone else
Then doubtlessly
This elixir, this
Canary-coloured liniment
Would be instantly,
Relentlessly,
Mercilessly commodified,
By gaudy adverts plastered,
Just as they sold us that very same
Water, and air, and life.
I stored it for a little while,
As always, capriciously
Unable to determine
A fixed course of action,
And then I decided
A reasonable middle path
By stirring tea leaves
Judiciously in that fluid –
I studied that substance
For years in a porcelain cup
On a worn antimacassar
Right there beside me,
Then thought, before
It was too late,
To pour everything into
A kitchen sink
In need of bleaching.

Here then, the other side
Of nowhere,
Huge cooling towers
Bruising the sky,
Testament to an older lie.
What did you find
Inside my stomach –
An empty bottle,
Some faded magazines
And a buzzard left to die.

Swan In A Restaurant

Lately this bald lake
Is a beer can graveyard,
More litter than fish which
Occasionally float
On the surface, lifeless
And bloated and stripped
Of their sequin-coloured
Sequences.
Still, a scent of bergamot,
A lost incongruous
Birdwatcher with
Binoculars on a cord
Around his neck
Says a cheerful hello
And we are on our way.

A single bold swan
Wandered into a restaurant
Beside the lake
Yesterday as we ate,
Yellow tag on her ankle,
Perusing for food,
Brazen and tame.
She could take my dreams
And sculpt with her beak
A series of images
With memories interlaced.

Little then required to inspire me,
Just you and me and a song;
For many years afterwards,
Years after you had gone,
I wondered whether that swan
Had ever visited at all.



Stay The Moon



On a constant path descending
With gooseberry seasons ending
For mackerel sauce we searched.

Hooked many years by fish,
Beneath that bush our every wish
We stirred in gooseberry fools;

Rhubarb too, did crumble,
Time through fingers fumble,
Poured in to an oily pool.

When my peers awake,
They will see that dreadful lake
And fear their fruitless doom,

For I too once was as they are,
And though I watch from here afar
Unable now to stay the moon,

With a bulbous cultivar,
Poetry my scimitar,
I’ll cut my lonely gloom.

Padlock Lake

I’ve fed dead fish
At Padlock Lake,
Five miles above
An old sluice gate.

Over yon way,
Beyond game-sedge,
A calf eats hay
At Ghost Farm’s edge;

I knew, like you,
From early ages
Through hardship and harm,
Through old Autumn breezes

Cold as a fist,
This inability to wish,
We dreamt of byres and
Troughs instead.

We pass by a polite
Chinese scientist
With one arm
And owls woven

On grey lapels.
Yon farmer exists
In a caravan balancing
Precariously

On rusting teeth.
Brambles and briar
Nettles and dock,
A solitary robin,

Red from the cross,
Her songs could span
An albatross, in flight,
Over oceans of moss.

Years later
I found a certain haven,
Pulling those fish ribs
From a peaty bog,

Not far from where
They found a body within
A concrete outflow pipe,
Naked, leaking, exposed.

Sometimes even gods
Of parks and lakes
Make human-seeming
Basic mistakes.

Boondocks Soul

Harvest moon,
Spoke too soon,
Sometimes this sadness
Could encircle
Vast treelines
In crimson lagoons.

I dreamt of the rest
While I slept on a boon.

Snow falls in my dreams
All year round;
Underneath,
A grey-bluish peat,
A muteness abounds.

Hoped for the best,
Received so much less,
I woke to a scent
I would describe
Neologistically
As nutmeggishness.

A northern moorhen cried;
The harvest also died.
I said I spoke too soon.

Endless Moons

Your smile lights up your face,
Your face lights up a room,
Light this world around you.

For you are vibrant candle-life
And concomitant fuel;
Within that waxing we will find

There burns another two –
Red and orange flickers,
In Chinese Lantern hearts

My lungs like old balloons.
Tea-lights in these lotuses
Over lakes, beyond pontoons,

Causeways through a thousand
Tiny, endless moons,
A route, a moment in time,

A kiss made statuesque
Within my memory of you.
Your smile lights up your face,

Your face lights up a room,
And when the night has found its place
Your light’s inside me too.

Red Moon Blues

I am your red-moon camisole,
A cheongsam of satin,
Lunar satraps patterned there,
A chaffinch in the cabbage.

I am your wardrobe’s winter-wear,
I trapped to bay a blizzard,
Then husky-sleighs across the lake
Beneath an eagle’s eyelid.

I am the fire in the hearth
When you return from working,
And water-ice for your champagne,
Cheongsam drapes a surface.