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.

The Mime Artists

We occupy a space
In Time, on the tip
Of the tongue of
This forked existence.
Within this place
We do not move,
We have no names.

A smaller theatre than many,
Off chicaneless straightened
Motor-roads, we persevere
In aspic rote.
Performances to schedule,
Although audiences
No longer shuffle through
Ornate clicking-ticket
Turnstile posts;
They observe from afar,
Some dead, some remote,
And some these days
Just watch from home.

At the end of the programme’s
Print – a colophon – published
In diverse archaic languages
For our final footnotes.
All that’s there are
Epithets and anecdotes;
See these fading photographs
From our mute community;
This troupe, a trope,
Broken Truth’s fraternity,
And there, I pointed out,
I jabbed my wizened
Old man’s finger, look there
Where you should see mine!
Instead there is that space,
A smidgeon of flaky glue,
A residue of DNA.

Foxhole

Straggly sprouting rust-coloured roots
Define my vulpine life;
At dusk, I stare up from my earthy-bedded
Denizen, up this red tubular shoot
I dug out with my snout
To observe a dutiful Moon,
Rusty too, old ruby shoes,
With my paw I claw for an awful truth.
Distant Moon, you are unrepentant,
Occluded too,
And unlike most other liars
Have nothing to say that’s new.

Dark chute, daylight blues,
I rest my head on my outstretched legs
And watch the ostracised humans
Moving to work.
I once had whiskers of fire
And I would dream about you,
Fearless dreams, dead dreams
Starving mutual fuels of desire and truth.
Along with those roots there are
Long-buried plastics and also bones
From crones and a Viking tooth.
At times, it is stifling down here and
I have nothing left to chew.
Our litter, by some absurd urge
Of the Great Dictator Nature
All outgrew their rooms. Of course,
You were the apple of my eye
And I thought, I believed
Habitually, against my better sense,
Ritualistically, squeezed beneath a fence
That I could not live without you.
This was a lie, for whom Nature
And I inevitably colluded.

New bins, broken lids,
My nose is still the same as yours
(Although olfactorily mine is more highly
Evolved), and I am not immune
To crossing busy turnpikes
In the early evening light
In the hope, as thin as the unblinking
Eyelashes of Moon, dodging lorries,
That a car might careen
Through a new reality or two.

Marginal

I walked through a wall of existence,
Still breathing, still believing;
Brickwork little resistance;
I caught myself in a mirror,
Where the new tide goes out
A sea-tongued oppressor returns
To burn the littoral villages,
(All the villagers succumbed to flesh or fled),
Terrorises forgotten margins
By a finest thread, then departed.
The sea is in my stomach,
Within the acidic ripples
Briny anatomic micro-organisms
Breathe and live and cling
Like bivalve molluscs
Balanced on an edge
And I am the ballast
Between life and death.
These unseen beings which cling to me,
Surface only to surf on waves which begin
With servitude to this nude existence,
Yes, beyond the ellipse and bells
Of life and of death,
Where everything we give
Is received by an unrivalled sea,
Effortless are the divinities in
This efficacy, these elegies
Where the sea says her prayers
With whitecap-rosaries,
Seaweed petals and confetti of squid,
Their ink so black it could forge a night
And blind these biting gods,
Ravenous on the rocks of their follies.

Dead Sea Blues

This dead sea,
Or sometimes dieing sea,
My trilobite soul
Buffeted by bilbously
Deceased bodies
Endlessly,
Keeled overboard
Under a peerlessly high
Wilderness sky in
Terrorising blues
And refracted perilous green.

Halcyon blanched to moccasin,
Pyrite turned to stone;
Starlight down to calcium,
Seahorse in my bones.
A sun beneath the ocean,
Tarpaulin drapes my heart;
The sea’s relentless motion
Returned to where we start.

Umbilicus

Constant reminders
In my body’s retirement
Of your indelible
Indiscretions
Dissolved into me,
My skin the sea
Filled with your molluscs
And a coprolitic fossil
Of your movements,
Your impossible
Puzzles and befuddled
Cryptic sentences
Like lugworm trails
Where the blight receded,
You see his sand-cast there
But not his burrowed body,
For flesh and form
Took leave long ago,
And all that remains
Are contusions.

Emerged from your gulf,
Urgent as a siren
Until the giant waves
Rewound, every mole
A continuum from times
Of settlements in iris,
Unfunny jokes,
Inverted laughter,
I made no demands for
The complexities of your
Shell-emptied nautilus,
Salvaged from a sea-bed,
Thrust up through a hole
With samphire-weed and poison.

Seagulls squawk and spiral
On a Fibonacci horizon,
I do not own a hair on my heart,
I do not own a thorn-seed;
I was born on Steppes of Despair,
And that is where I am mourning.