Yellowknife

Yellow anaglypta sky,
Mulchy leaves like mirrors;

Yellows, pinkish too alight,
Grounded sky implied

And downward falling rivers,
Pre-crepuscular,

What was their objective, stripped?
To end here, nearer, those souls

With tanks trapped in sand,
Engines choked, gears stuck,

What was to be delivered
For all we held dear?

Are we this bored with ourselves
Because we did not go to war?

Dawn solo,
Lonely blackbird,

Forbidden sky,
Foreboding and with an egg

Frying on a bonnet in the middle,
Upside down,

Yellow clouds
So close to the surface

I do not know if we fell out.
Rain, thick and heavy as

Lovers’ heartbeats;
You were to go swimming

With your uncle
Who has not changed since

He was last seen way back when,
And which would not ever happen

In this duality, neither yours nor mine.
He took a bicycle without asking,

The one I cannot ride on,
Knowing full well the municipal pool

Is in that part of town
With thefts in spate.

I woke on a motel bed in Yellowknife,
No duvet, no sheets,

The side of my head was swollen,
A fearful headache,

Empty whiskey glass beside
A faulty bedside lamp

Which began to reach into my mind
And my only thought

As I heard their sex through
A wall behind my head, was this,

Of how war may well be madness,
But families, often, more so.

I used the toilet, sipped a drink
That was not there,

Then climbed naked back
Into that cold, uncovered bed.

Song Of The Atlantic Horseshoe Crab

Translucent blood siphoned
With syringes and pipes,
Your fluid inundates
Troughs, factory
Managers desperate
For profitable results
Turn graphs upside down
Just like the crabs in
The robotic hands
Of night-shift staff.

There are thousands
Of shelled companions
Held in vices and
Archaic contraptions
As far as the visiting
Eye can see.
Atavistically
They expected far
More universal blinks
On east coast sandbanks
With lamallae fins
Flicked like pages
In a novella
Held by the idle illiterate
Hand of the God
Of The Very Last
Sea Breeze.

Then your blood
Infused by oxygen
Turns to liquid blue
Like the manager’s
Nightcap Curaçao
Or a football team’s shirt
Sponsored by the industry,
And it is that cobalt
Saline-bred
Iridiscence
Giant pharmaceutical
Ostriches desire
In their hunt for clean
Chemical equipment.

So, sad specimens,
You are ritualistically
Exsanguinated
In factories where
Strip lighting flickers
And the workforce
Experience nightmares
Where crabs with giant
Poisonous incisors
Triumphantly cut
Out their underpaid hearts
On a daily basis.
Many awake at dawn
With sweat in their
Underwear.
The inventive
Revenge of Nature,
Your feet are your flags
And you sing in your sleep
For your native place
Where waves are high
And the waters are green
And the rockpools are deep.

They drop you off from tractors
Half-asleep, numb beneath
Layers of geology
Stored in your heart beat.
It’s worse for the males
Sometimes, too tired
To reproduce, and sometimes
For the larger females,
Caught in a predatory way
And unable to move.

What the trustees did not realise
With all those dollars counted,
Is that when the final carapace
Turns upside down, empty,
Hollow, held aloft
By a boy on the beach,
Like a sand timer with cracks,
Humanity’s luck falls out.

Ode To May

The outside world thins,
As still as a painting,
A ceiling fan is spilling secrets
Without waiting
For interrogations
From daylight’s detectives,
Who pursuing will strive
To arrest and detain
The tails of life
Without ending,
Much like priests
But without overpayment,
And never successful.

The torsos of sinners
And chess for beginners,
Sweat drips on to a bishop,
Diagonal moves and although
The air is thinner
A nation exhales
Over mythic travails
With flags and balloons
And bunting, but I am not one
For hunting the hart of the past
To splay its bludgeoned carcass over
A diminishing present.

Cigarette-end days, hot ashes,
Swimming pool bans and
Dead roadside pheasants;
Trays of unaddressed fears unstamped;
An empty, drowsy watering can,
It’s years since I made resolutions
Because I do not trust myself
To keep their sacred seedlings safe,
And I do not trust dogma or customs;
The politicians appear like
Ice cream vendors on television
Misselling again,
Though broadcasters would have us think
That more believable are the men
Wearing patriotic ties.

Oxygen contracts like a dowager’s eye,
And if I am not mistaken
I’m waiting for havens
Of winter again.

Little Wonder

Walking into a room I do not recognise
For a reason I cannot remember,
People reach out to touch me
But my hope has been dismembered
By the wild dogs of life,
So I stare blankly, as vacant
As a motel closed for the winter,
Or at least the sign said so but the owners never came back,
Or as a gas station without any fuel,
Or as the cold grey body we found
As children, we were ten years old,
On the towpath, exsanguinated, nameless,
Impossibly cold;
Our parents reported the incident to the police
But by the time the constables arrived
The body had disappeared;
They asked me for more details,
The officer holding his notepad and pen
Seemed to me at that time
Like the authority of a different god
Trapped in the daily mess of men,
I didn’t know that gods would agitatedly tap their pens on standard issue pads,
But he did; and I remember that it had
A royal crest imprinted on each page;
The pen was green, I thought it odd,
Green ink, green the colour of youth
And nature and sage and envy and see
Therein how nature’s complexities and miracles
Uses colours in its constant endless symphonies
While man dilutes it to his needs and numbers,
Little wonder,
The colour of greed,
The colour of prisoners’ uniforms
In the prison between three rivers
Where they outsourced all the provisions
And now the prisoners bleed green blood when they’re rioting;
The colour of one pound notes which no longer exist but which inflation determines you can purchase at a much greater price these days using those websites this man in the room uses on his portable screen;
Yes, green ink from a green pen;
A pen, that was what I came into this room for,
In the middle of nowhere I know any more,
Filled with strangers who scare me and persist in saying
That everything will be alright
Whilst I overheard one say I didn’t have long left to be alive and they had better think about preparations and the transfer of her finances into their account
As they poured another glass of wine;
And I seized that pen, gripped with every fibre of senescent strength that I have left,
And wrote on a post-it note in front of me,
Black ink more comforting I should say,
And handed it to that man, (my hands have these lesions),
Who read it with the same sighs
That is said to be locked in the western cliffs,
And crumpled it up and said with the tone
Of a suspicious alibi
We don’t know what you came in here for either, mother,
And those were the last words I remembered and wrote down,
In a diary no-one will be reading,
While a cat with orange fur wails outside
Another room I entered
For no good reason.