Piscatorial

Don’t rely on me, little fish,
I’ll only let you down;
I am cursed within a wish
To wear your funeral gown.

Peering through the water,
Turbid there, and brown;
You wanted me for a daughter,
Forgetting how I drown.

Innocent eyes ignoring
As my spear struck down,
My visage clearly imploring,
Fishbones in my crown.

The last late catch did bloat,
I had to purge myself;
Derelict, a dampening boat,
An underwater schismed shelf.

Don’t rely on me, little fish,
I’ve seen the seaweed’s truth;
I’ll be served with a citrus dish,
Pierced by a piscine tooth.

Encomium

Artists, hold up the rivers of the world!
Re-route all the inevitable flow
Through fenny drains and artifice.

This glassy surface observed from below,
Through your mirrors fixed and held
Our curving universe, a damp fell,

And being a mute extra in my life
I am dexterously kayaking cataracts
With no little verve and thrill

To preserve those passing actors
And their entourages through a swirl,
Achieving nothing at all.

Apparatchiks and financiers
Will line those canal-sides furnished
With skulls just like trophies

Burnished with jewels and gold,
Only both are grey and dulled,
Only their blood a colour

Known in thickening wine poured
Between our lips within an older world.
I witnessed this appalled,

Hiding behind a sail-clip
On my little persevering hull,
My skiff of walrus tusk

And hacksawed ivory hope.
When the fields are flooded
Inherent a danger in thinking

We are more than we are,
Rain fall, river roars,
Then painted and sold

At Abyssinian bazaars.
So rally, protest in your artistry,
As I wend into a distant, aching lake

Where they practice still
Their beating hearts
And their husbandry.

The Blinded Deer

Secrets stored within you,
Only you could know,
Frozen in five fevers,
Melted in a snow.

You stood within a blizzard,
Tied against their drums,
All those ghosts surrounding
For whom no few succumb.

A blinded deer in forests deep,
You memorized her ways,
Awoke within an hour,
Head circled in a daze.

They found you on that ferny bed,
Emptied by your hand,
Lost to all who you adored,
A future fire fanned.

A Conservator’s Son

There is a hidden off-switch
Within my restless mind,
Wound-up, pre-electronic,

And though I search and search
I stay here, quietly supplied.
From time to time I realise

My overwatching
Wingless guardian
Has such primacy!,

Looks after me, misguidedly,
Surging through my monkshood-blood,
My sub-generated supply’s backed-up.

Fog

Just when you think you are
Near that very end,
But you are not,
Like becoming aware that this
Interminable book is
Published in many volumes,
Cursing its unknowable author
For your youth and your loss,
Or a film the university tutor
Required you to study lovelessly,
Even though he himself yawned
Through his own seminar;
Teeth like a caught makerel’s,
Dark and doomed and sharp;
Only to discover there would be
A trilogy of liquifying dross.
He vaped, and looked you up.

Or conversely,
When you think you have
More steps to take,
Feet forward,
One at a time,
Wherewithal,
Seeing with each imprint,
Tentative rubber tread,
Success is the end,
Yet only to fall;

So this, then, is my life,
Like being on a pier and
Trying to make sense
In a dense unending fog.

Stepping Stones

River started, river ended,
Broken bridges never mended.

Plenty there to get through first,
Don’t know yet I’ve even seen the worst.

Brown water, light dappled,
Twisting trees and rotten apples.

Ice, thaw, ice, more,
Rivers rise with bicycles,

Like canals in Amsterdam
Rise with fallen bodies.

I am someone’s story,
Someone else’s narrative,

And only on their stepping stones
Am I allowed to live.