Hoofprints

Everything you see of me
Rooted more resolutely

In those muddy hoofprints
Of my morning loneliness.

Gravitate

You gravitate towards
A sadder song,
Ended the being
Where you would not belong,
Hurts to return
And hurts to move on;
Autopilot, Rubicon.

Sometimes, insurmountable
Are these feelings
To survive
An eggshell minute;
To contemplate
Is too much pain,
This world without you
Fingerprinting
Permissible limits.

Sadder, yes,
For if only you lived
To know the joy
In light you sought
And thought beyond
All your perceptiveness,
All your intelligence,
Instead, permeated and bled,
Permeates to this day
With all such grace
And truly intangible poise
Of miracles, abundantly
Transfusing through
Everything we did and yet can do,
In this safely stored-up knowledge
Would you still have demurred,
The abdicator absconded.

Samphire Coast

I was made, long ago,
Stirred in a broth
Of pigeon legs
And prisoner bones,
To carry on my back
Weighted packs
Of ingredients tossed
In plastic entrapments;
A jar of pain, like star anise,
Hurt, like saffron,
And for loss, lovage,
Samphire coastlines
And a bay leaf
Or two spared from a frost.
I make my payments in salt,
Mostly, though sometimes
Also in a love that’s lost;
How easy it seems
To touch the golds of this
Inadequate ductile god.
All this explains why
I peddle the boards
With eternal spinal loads,
And why I am magnetised
To saddest folk songs only;
Miasmic mallow the marsh –
A spacious, sacred place
To autograph my heart.

The Hermit Of St Kilda

A sturgeon in a muddy bath
Atop one wayward cleit-bound path,

A bunion-coloured troubled moon,
Swallowed by his bleak lagoon;

Bothy ghosts with bridal sedge,
Perilous steeper western edge.

He floated on a flotsam-skiff
Disembarked, in gloaming mist,

Footsteps in her foaming surf
Winds were purging sands and turf;

He knelt, and kneeling blessed,
Wilder elements would contest,

Existence, akin to snow still falling
Intrinsically, all thoughts appalling.

An aching storm then passing through
Shook the eyes in that lagoon,

Lugubrious eyes, ugly too,
All the things he never knew.

Dead-way eyes, and deadly too,
For all who looked within the gloom;

Rising above, more than self,
Prayed upon a skerry shelf,

While sturgeon, eel and salmon fled
Back to where the city bled.

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’