Not The Bearer

Sometimes Love’s amphoras
Overflow, enriching
Not the bearer
But everyone below,
Until Love’s ceramic
Sun-glazed jugs
Finally become discoloured,
Emptied, and in shadow.

And although
I hide my losses well
You can always tell
When I am struggling –
I forget
To cut my toenails
And I forestall
The days of the week
Which I have changed
To names of trees
Extinct by thirty years;
Monday’s Ash,
Tuesday’s Elm,
Wednesday Oak;
Poplar’s heights
Touch Thursday’s toes,
Willow’s Friday’s river-cloak,
A weekend fit for toasting
Alder and Horse Chestnut,
Cold kidney pie
With mustard mash
I misplaced from last week’s lunches
Before returning to ash.

You can also tell
When I am unwell –
Chores do not interrupt and
You can hear the sounds
Of chaos from somewhere
Down the hall –
A thousand years of loneliness
To only end it all.

Love can pour back upwards –
See the citadel’s sorrow;
Place a lid upon the urn
And try again tomorrow.

Everybody Got What They Needed From Me (Except Me)

My counsellor said, exasperatedly,
That title is a generalisation
And that I am susceptible to exaggeration.
I said, this is how I feel.
The remaining appointments did not go so well.

On a village green a well ran dry,
And at the nearby cricket pitch
The yearlong deluge washed away
Protests more and more obscene
Chalked on a scoreboard by
Openers for a disgruntled team
Still wearing pads beneath their knees.
Villagers gathered under umbrellas
Scratching their waxy heads
With unusual visages weathered
And perplexed, looked up
To all redoubtable heavens,
Misunderstanding how so much rain
Could fall on something terribly and
Relatively minuscule as a
County bore with bucket,
As if a curse for colonising
The sands and surf of far
Nehantucket, by forgotten
And foolhardy ancestors
All those centuries, long ago.

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.

Incidental

Surfeit of loneliness.
Meditating cursively;
I found him thriving
In my surf-marrow,
Hollow as a sparrow’s
Dulled midnight blinks,
Loneliness to end
All lonelinesses,
Searched for and found,
Pure, eternal loneliness.
Friendships shed
Like ended skin
Akin to showmanships
Before a circle closes.
A Higgs Boson loneliness,
Citculating endlessly
Until I resurface
Within entropies
Until they multiplied,
And see them,
See how they sink
Their teeth.

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.

Still To Live

You touched my lips
With your fingertips,

Exquisite verisimilitude
In every moment’s potential,

Fragile as tomorrow’s moth,
Enduring as a marrow-tusk,

And softly you spoke,
Almost inaudibly,

Infinitesimally,
‘Please try and forgive

For when we do not act’.
I did not understand

As gently holding my hand
You touched the very tip

Of expectation
Spiking my existence,

Drifting into a mist
Of memory and reason.

‘I love you so,
This much you know,

But not enough
Still, to live’.

And with those words
I came to know

Crude openings of loneliness,
Closing of a season.