Open Verdict

I can see how it happens.
We have no need for oracles
Or, defeated, a dragon’s gizzard;
Sharper than a horse’s heart,
Thoughts pouring from a blizzard.

His better name then excavated,
His blood to poison changed;
His sadness – clouds, coagulated,
Their shrouding sutures elevated,
All futures rearranged.

Aftermath, less miracles –
Answerless, no explanations;
Denials instead, and driverless,
We move between our stations.

Peripheries

There’s a sink that needs cleaning,
A festive wreath to pack away;
Death essentially demeaning,
I can’t see beyond what you did today.

Meanwhile,
The pure agony of existence
Is on the peripheries
Of oceanic ferries
Towards bliss, or heaven.

I can remember every moment,
Pernicious and horrible;
Impervious to me, terrible,
Memories in their tsunamis
And their oceans becalmed,
Crammed into the ecstasy
Of my every waking thought.

Apocryphal

You called me with a wish.
The line was broken, interrupted.
Your children were in the car
Behind you, concerns unspoken.
I knew you could not call again;
My mind is a radar for sadness.

An apocryphal fog followed,
Thick as a Polkovnik’s moustache,
A fog for causing shipwrecks,
Misunderstandings telegraphed.
In any event, I became mute
Until I met my nephews again.

Alignment

Your smile illuminated a night.
The Moon is loosening Jupiter,
A cat is lowering bark;
Southwesternly, further too,
Venus, Saturn, mistaken stars
Are found aligned at last
As I walked with my dog
Through an unlit park.

Light rebounds from behind
God’s eyelid, a pinprick
In a twilight sky extracted
From the uncuttable diamond.
And if so dimly lit
After years of travel,
Like the last burning candle
On a galleon returning
With a South Atlantic vase,
If this could reach my sight
By quarter to ten
As I stand in awe
On the frightening grass,
Then I will see your smile
In a dampening daylight,
Restoring a long lost past.

Puerto Pollensa

Anchored, then,
Tonight, the harbour is quiet.

Whenever I tripped over,
I landed on a bed of
Stray abandoned thought-cats.
I survived their falling fire
But this explains why
I have so many scratches
On my forearms and back.

I recently remembered
How we descended into
That far northern resort
Looking like tourists lost
In a monsoon,
Collapsible buggies
With razor-sharp teeth,
Drenched luggage deposited
Wordlessly on a side street
By our bored busman
With the darkest five o’clock shadow
I had ever seen –
No change left for gratuities.
Aromas on a warm squally breeze
Of palm trees, exotic and pliant,
Of ice creams with spirited titles:
Granizada, y Helado Suave o Cremoso,
The absurdity of
Watermelon socks
And mouths shaped like shuttlecocks.
Our sodden map was upside down.

If I want to, I can remember
Every item on the restaurant menu,
Every position of every dining chair,
Every taxi driver’s third child’s name,
All those feelings twenty years ago
Of misguided optimism and hope
Now that memory ploughs and harrows,
Swelling and then low like whitecaps
A stone’s throw from our hotel window.
Time’s arrow is stuck in between my ribs;
The trouble is, I do not want to go back.

Even a fast-food chain looks sophisticated
Anywhere else but home;
Home, this starless island is where
Powerfully corruptive usurpers
Paint turpentine stripes
Across our tarred faces.

Everything good we knew
Vanished without a trace
Into thick, corpulent air.

Ballast

To all those I once held dearly;
To all those I did know sincerely;
I have not seen for many years,
My debt is your arrears.

Yes, you fill my dreaming night,
To move, to speak, without a light;
Rooted in my reaping river,
Supplanting dead who’ll have me shiver.

My body’s a blunt portcullis,
Designed for neither malice
Contrived nor brooding fears,
Raised to feed fore-mentioned peers.

My brain now ballast, deadened weight,
Sea-bedded hull will keep my fate,
Mid innocence of baleen whales
And uncles drowned, wrapped with sails,

One’s niece a starry, Parisian dancer,
Étoile, no less, so my sorry disaster,
Forgotten by a Victorian mind
For later archivists to find.

My briny lesson – do not be named
For dubious fathers, nor regents famed;
We all will have our future fight,
Though tunnelling moles have more insight

Than me, believer in dogs to see man’s soul,
Mine charred and black, with blighting hole;
Food unfit for a foulest ghoul –
Defend, my friends, from all that’s cruel.

Lignified / Petrified

Whenever you go
Far from this billowy,
Dune-draping coast,
Maze hedgerows
In my fertile mind
Regrow.

I circumnavigate
A sculpted globe,
A bench or two,
A berbery rose.

Statuesque Eros,
Chrysanthemum prose,
Within your Sphinx
Firstly I turned
With internal rings
Into wood,
And the wood
With eternal mechanics
Turned effortlessly
And irrevocably
Into stone.

A Birthday

I forgot about you today.
That is not true.
That is another oxymoron.
But I did not know what to say
And all my candles are blue.

I forget about you most days.
That is not true.
I reused a tealight this morning.
And yet, it does make for an easier way
To dismiss all that you did

And did not do.
There is sometimes no greater gift
Than memory. Deny it,
Not even to refine it,
And grown men panic

And split themselves in two.
There was a future form of you;
We did not meet, touch, or approve.
And yet, sometimes it is so much more
Helpful to forget a resemblance,

Where dreams become punishment,
And hope is meted in knots,
And comfort in blots of confusion,
And when there is more hindrance
By remembrance consumed.

Blues And Twos

Resting her guitar she said
I lost my boy that Sunday noon,
He fell far from a fenny ledge,
I hope I see him soon.

The sergeant in his car she said,
No need for blues and twos;
He placed his helmet to his chest,
All prayers I did not choose.

They found him in a peaty lake,
Body naked, face confused;
For other’s sins we do foresake,
A father’s hands abused.

Higher, yes higher,
They emptied out his stomach,
‘Duly Lord made me aspire,
Though I have not recovered’.

O that old marshland song
From where she lit a mallow,
Far too long, and woebegone,
A soul within the shallow.

Pick up my guitar she said,
Let’s drive to that lagoon;
Those missing must have been misled,
I hope I see him soon.

Those missing must have been misled,
I hope I see him soon.