Nubian

My head is compressed
(In cartouche contents
Made for dead
Languages and archaic
Aspirations traced in
Plumes of incense,
Haunting nisba-laden
Conjugations with lists of
Nubian fisheries, bakers,
Haberdasheries and fabrics
From a starry peninsula,
Often misread and
Always missaid aloud,
My name was poorly
Pronounced somehow),
As I tread these deserted fields
Devoid of other dog-walkers,
In colder shrouds and clouds
Formed by exhaustion,
Pressed and re-pressed
Like a dried dandelion
In a volume unread,
My pages of dread speak
Into the breach of
Time and space,
From marbled halls,
A minister disgraced,
To a Baltic beach
Beneath the dacha
Where their children
Reach to impossibly touch
Vapour trails the gods
Of cacophonous oligarchs
Inhale from within their
Sarcophagi (and we are blessed
They said to be able to travel
And sunbathe and have sex
In the toiletry aisle
Of a Balearic supermarket
While a bored middle-aged
Checkout attendant with a
Name badge which reads
Catalina files her red nails
And rolls her eyes
With a fed-up expression,
Until we unknotted our lives
Into marriages and false promises
Or if not false then unwitting
And no less juvenile,
And jobs, and downfalls,
And a vacuous
Repetitiveness of Dawns),
Spumous offerings
And votives and how futile
To think otherwise,
Or to fume with such
Unprecedented fury
Our peers denied,
And all through that time
They were the ones in a happier crowd,
They were the ones burning
A once-fabled cow,
Oiling a river on fire,
Standing up to their knees
In effluence clotted
By our keenness to deliver,
By our kindling desire.

Over a different horizon
I envisaged a raft, far adrift,
Where I was alone and immersed
Therein eternal solace
And a certain bliss.

Visitations

In this weary adulthood
I cannot imagine
If those events actually happened
And if so, interred,
Misunderstood?

I am not one for turning over stones,
The hot stones of my youth
As impenetrable as the basalt eyes
Of the terrifying basilisk
Of myth, reputed to
Induce death with a single blink.
All these ghosts with their
High-level dependencies,
Their egos and their
Aggravating needs continuing
Long beyond our diaspora,
Long beyond death,
Remorselessly they approach,
Ceaselessly, a man once kindred,
A disappeared friend,
Their arms are tangled and
Darkly entwined like
Night-wire ivy in my dreams,
In the gloaming dream of the
Gloaming dream of the
Gloam of my stones.
They are heated,
Placed with skilled deliberation
On my back, my spine,
And I retreat, a shadow-fact,
Into a station, into a flat,
Into diminishing time.

And then you are there, living.
Will I be forgiven
For what I used to do?

Fumina Bianca

How sweet the sombre Moon,
Her constant timbres
In tremulous rhythms,
Crepuscular hues.
I have my own yellow
Contusion or two.

How easy for you,
Overdue now the Moon,
Pregnant, permanence,
Your statues in temples
Are resplendent and nude,
Only a subtle
Lightless
Subdued.

Pendular Moon,
Appearing too soon,
Indulging indolent soldiers
And causing seven hundred
Saboteurs in your shade to
Swoon. They planted a flag
On your granular calcified
Caldera where entombed
Pulmonary metastases
Are cultivars which once
Were those sluggish
Bedfellows’ scimitars;
They rest on
Their thuggish elbows
Your silence,
Your rays on their chest.

I reached for my own sword
And found bread
Shaped like crescents
Instead.
The sharp tip of the route
To the Moon
I witnessed,
Its lactating tip bore
A causeway from my bed
Into new nocturnal views again.

A witness to misfortune
And efforts in mute,
Disasters reduced to mere
Moments, and the life cycles
Of the great and ancient
Volcanoes rendered into
Wispy smoke,
As the dragon incarcerated
With potent stones
Woken by a cough,
Or announcements
From His concave staff,
Heralding a Pope.

On The Banks Of The Pripyat River

That Galatian draper
Of parthenogenetic
Golden grapes
And apples of sapphire,
Oceans of lapis lazuli
Divined in her eyes
The mother of Aphrodite,
Born from waters high
Beyond heaven,
The tortuous waters
In stellar torrents
From braided brushed hair
In plaits which cascaded
Like Venezuelan or blushed Kenyan Falls
Down the hellebore back of
Our great Goddess Gaia,
With a samphire-scented brace
The ancients traced to their doom
In primordial hazelnuts festooned
About her neck, and seven
Phoenix eggs a grandson
Stowed from Yemen,
Born from fragrant desire
In such fecundity, such abundance
With celestial semblances
Impressioned in seven arches
Of her firmament above me,
Sufficient for holding up heaven,
With new advances in
Seminal-fermenting broth
Resolved in a garland of yawns
And languorous delicate touch
To spare her first-born’s tubers,
And so with a delicate cough
Which paradoxically would snuff out a
Kindred thickness of stars
By their redundant, hapless wicks,
(And from where pinnate-plants
Bore the name of Cosmos
In their penance),
Expunge black holes,
Drain oceans from skies
With catholicised taste,
Poured her boy’s illness from a
Terracotta urn
To secure his safe arrival
From shores of the leprosy-coast,
There he had sojourned with all those lame
And all those made infirm by wars
And misadventures; and their survival
The entertainment for their progeny,
There are two things we have observed
About the foibles of men
And their disciples –
Firstly, that they never learn,
And secondly their egos are
By nature never sated,
And they always get
What they deserve
From the immortal populous
Of Nemesis and Comeuppance,
And the Goddess of Depreciation
Turned to me and lifted
A curtain of dawn choruses
And spoke with thelytokous words
She counted three;
I have no enmity with truth
And far be it for me to displease
A Goddess with a neck and depths of
Merriment and pleasure that,
If She chose, She could make a man
Immortal, although she pledged instead
To deny this atavistic talent.

And so this is why men existed,
Unfathomable predilections
Became a habit, and the cloak
Of the floating planets unwound
The charred distress, the ancient
Razing of rivers and forests,
All to preserve the life blood
Of her son with pleurisy
And tuberculin
As wide as the winter in Chernobyl.



Lady In The Lake

Observe that certain beauty
In the dying light,
And though the signage
Read ‘Beware’,
I still conceived the flight.

The swans disguised as geese,
The geese disguised as swans;
Westward went that fleeting skein
Mellifluous my remorse.

For I have known the bones of snow
And blood redeemed from ice,
And I’d beware and warded off
The lady once or twice.

She lives in a long-lost village,
Submerged within that lake,
And when a poet’s heathen-set
His soul she gets to take.

I thought his sword rescinded,
A thrush his throat well-caught,
Ripple-effects reverted,
Silent as a corpse.


Little Mjölnir

A hammer I found
On a tall mound of earth,

Only man-made,
So little like Thor’s.

I swung it at mountains
Of old washing up,

I heaved through the trees
Of ancestors lost.

The townspeople laughed
As I toiled and I huffed,

Its handle unvarnished,
Its corners were scuffed.

Look at him missing,
They sang and they coughed,

But they couldn’t see
The meaning of moths,

Shattered my ego,
Departing the docks.

Veracruz

Ah verdant Veracruz,
Inquisitors landed
With seminal footsteps
On your sandy shores,
Anchored in foam bluer
Than undry eyes of lonely
Brides who cried like ghosts
Each night, for they
Knew the truth by then,
The truth unbound about
Those men both intrepid
And yet also afflicted with
Scurvy, to whom they once
Curtsied in courts, in
Galicia, and Castile.
Praising their gods with
Spongy gums, rashes infernal,
Thousands of miles from home,
Finding exotic diseases and
New fruits for their horses,
This coast too was a ghost
Of a nation destined to kill
Itself. They swore they saw
In those first loamy forests
Evidence of snakes
Eating their own tails,
And carvings of aroused
Totemic beasts whose tidings
Could block out the most
Ardent and stifling sun,
If rubbed with a little belief.

Those forests turned with Time
Into fields, the terraces and
Mesas of modern Mexico,
Where memories are as long
As the potential in doors unopened
And mines are as rich and fertile
As the self-sanctified appendage
Belonging once to none other than
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,
Who, having traversed from here
To Baja California, was injured
By grapeshot fired from
Obusier de vaisseau on board
French blockaders, during
The Pastry War; they stretch
From unsung Sonora and Sinaloa
Which later sadly became layered
And synonymous with bloodshed,
To the caudillo’s hacienda above
Seagull nests and roadsteads,
And the hotel where we made
Ablutions, and took our rest.

That night I dreamt of seven miles
Of Atlixo, somewhere south of
Popacatépetl and the myth
Of the sleeping woman,
La Mujer Dormida,
A strip of land turned by arts
Within humanity’s hand into
A colossal supine statue
Much like Cristo Redentor
Only flat, yes, and not sculpted
From concrete with soapstone
But fashioned from the soil,
The land, into the shape of his
Image. I viewed this from the air
And marvelled at the ineffable
Grace and scale of his creation;
I wondered if something spiritual
And filled with meaning had been
Hidden under this humble yet
Hot-headed, passionate and yet
Disconsolate continent’s seams.
It reminded me of another dream
More than twenty years old, when
Two giant statues of a bodhisattva
Glided down a river, both imposing
Yet serene, navigating rapids as if
There was nothing inbetween
The reality, and the artifice
Of a mastered stream.

Kindling these memories, I forgot
That I was in a dream within a dream.
May the Mexicayotl transcend,
May the Malinchista be forgiven,
For there will be time in the end
When we too can see between rivers.

The Place Of Mistakes

Here, the God of Hammers reigns,
Long live the God of Hammers!
Swinging clubs, set me in place,
Secured in Plasters of Paris.

I looked into that pit of Hell
Where he tossed his mallets;
There I lost my sense of smell
And all the sensate palettes.

From my perch the lightning
Bruised throughout his business;
I hear that loathsome striking still
Within a loamy distance.

He pushed me through the hole
Of souls, in to new abysses;
In this way, I claimed coal,
Feeding the fire of kisses.

Amazonia

Californian seraph,
Amazonian wraith,
Stalking through forests,
Turning those graves
Where quarriers
Profits had gold
Coffins laid
Alongside cousins,
Flemish Margraves and
Iberian Dukes,
Escudos in pockets
Left by their brains.

With ivy and apples
You’d rise and reclaim;
Brazil-nut trees high
Over canopies rein
While moss runs amok
In their orbital cups;
Epiphytal orchids
Climbing kapoks.

Institutionless,
Nature’s state;
No surgeons here,
No interest rates;
The only needles
Are pines which bore
A broth, a braid.
No wills feeding
Outbreaks in swine,
No dates, no petrol,
No courts and no crime;
Just miles and miles
In greens and whites.

And so they raped you
With tractors and bulls;
Cattle for steak,
Dipped mint and a port;
Wines from their grapes,
A knife and a sword.
They lamented your loss
As they burnt you twice
On cruciform wood;
We can still hear today
The faraway hums
Where they
Buried you under
Highways and slums.
Dismantled to fatten
The lenders for life,
They will no more
Sustain us
Than unwatered rice.

Isabella

We loved in a realm
For spirits reserved,
Though if this residency
Permitted permanence
I could not tell.
Perhaps it was supposed
To be a turbulent
Temporal visit, until you
Punctured me three times
With love and said I should
Dismiss all thoughts and
Earthly worries, and
Deposit our hearts in the
Underground streams
Which feed the willows
And lawns of Surrey.

The wounds were in me still,
So you coated my coma
With love like a varnish;
How time must tarnish
And blemish and steal!
I blushed in my sleep
While you blew the cobwebs
From my dry and dusty body
And my lungs were refilled.
What I lacked, you crafted;
What I did not know, you thrilled
Me with impossible, vertiginous
Stories beside our windowsill
Where we merged our words
And when I awoke annealed
In a different Time
And different world,
My Isabella, our bones repealed,
I found my soul in your soul sealed.