Guadeloupe

Our little band, our merry troupe
Had just arrived in Guadeloupe
Filled with mirth and junipers.

Island clouds, mangrove lush,
A chartered man from the Hindu Kush
Landed us where a giant dune occurs

As high as three knees of the God
Of Iguanas, verdant mountains at odds
In their majesty with smaller dwellings

Of colibri, territorial, proudly emblematic
Of a land where a slightly rheumatic
Castilian caraveller (and with swellings)

Imported moose to banish snakes
Like San Patricio of the Lakes,
Only those Eurasian deer grazing would devour

With gazes obtuse as atheists as they chewed
All native flora and fauna viewed
A few hundred years ago, an hour

Of ingestion at a time, and no longer.
At the harbour I found a fishmonger,
Lobsters as bright as the famed red paint

In the sacristy and the credo
Of Santa María de Toledo,
He boiled the claws and prayed to his saint.

In a fever my genuflecting libido
Summoned dreams in a white tuxedo
Worn in that club at Les Abymes –

(The club they told me not to frequent,
Entrance shaped like a one-eyed serpent),
Where a barman garnished a large Ti’Punch for me,

Where a Caribbean singer
Whose hips within my view would linger
Gave birth to the shape of Guadeloupe.

I woke in a deep and heated sweat
And for a moment I would forget
That I had not flown before, nor my troupe,

Nor travelled to her sheltering lore
Where I lost my mind before
On the blue shores of Marie Galante,

And in that hazy nightclub smoke
Holding someone’s panetelas, I woke
In the concave dreams of an Ashanti

Slave-trader, only I was the slave
And he softly spoke and gave
Advice which has ruined me to this day,

For I was to be imprisoned in his seam,
Neither stirred nor sleeping with a beam,
But somewhere in between the fray.

Still, somewhere out beyond my prison cell
My people there have smiles to quell
Storms which filled a holy stoup

Of less green seas, their hills of gold,
Where rains remain our friends of old,
We steered our flight, to Guadeloupe.





Tuesday Mornings

Tuesday mornings, bright
Sunshine, as white as
Appallingly lupine teeth
On the necklace of Life,
And so I close my blind;
Outside, a recycling lorry
Cruises through this
Bluesy estate
Like a finless basking shark,
Filled with impending menace
But with no fish in its reach,
Turning in circles
Of bottles of bleach;
Oblivion surfaces, and
I recalled how most of our
Recycled plastics are shipped
To Malaysia, or Indonesia,
(Such is the warp in our media
That one death on our doorstep
Creates an outrage equivalent
To twelve thousand Uyghurs
Slaughtered, fathers, sons,
Mothers and daughters,
And so we are not at all
Infuriated by profits
To be made from a safely
Consumerist sham),
This in their saguine halls
They call the Local Angle,
I call it a derelection of
Empathetic humanity;
We are always shifting our problems
Around as though brushing
The ice of our collective
Societal conscience
Will push these Ailsa stones
Of our hope just beyond the bar;
The green bins are rumbling
With caterpillar emitics
As their stomachs are emptied;
The trouble with recycling
Lies in it’s false economics,
Some plastics are usable
Just twice and many are burned
Or buried – people most in denial
Are those who sing their party notes
The highest, and they are marching
With placards to back their
Kleptocracy and their
Oppresors who wear
Their wigs with pride,
And clip-on earrings with
Mother of pearl and gems
Translated as woebetide.
I am surrounded by ghosts;
I surrendered my soul so long ago
I forget what she should feel like.
She too was salvaged and reprocessed,
Yet I do not recall acceding to this,
Thrown into a blight where
In the night we are comandeered
And the worst-off disappeared,
Blessed are those left only
Disappointed.

I live in a world of the
Politically-appropriated woke
And their tokenistic gestures;
This last week a sportsman
With whites and willows was suspended
For racist language beffiting
Our idiocracy, only to be replaced
At the very next wicket
By an interchangeable
Transposed
Xenophobe;
Social media is an oxymoron.
We have international footballers
Being asked to consider
Not taking to the knee
In solidarity for our worldwide
Sisters and brothers
Because although they have been
Subjected to abuse for
This symbolism, this feeling,
So as not to offend those
Of this idiocracy no less,
Who took offence and in
The ample caverns of their minds
Transcended their affront into
The boos of the unevolved
Who thought their bleak
Cause more potent, more worthy,
Those from the grossly inflated
Self-imposed judiciary
Of moral impotence and rectitude,
While our Government of Pelicans
Introduced a Bill wherein they are
Proposing to traduce the aid we give
To reduce the hurt and pain we made
From Sana’a, and Aden, to Gaza
And on to Tripoli and Khartoum,
Not to mention Hong Kong,
Chittagong and everywhere else
Our forefathers with their
Bigotry and intolerance
And slavery and injudisciousness
Would tread on the neck
Of sovereignty, well, these people
Are still bleeding and our
Blessed parliamentarians
Are cutting the cord and
Cloth of humanity they said they spun,
A dress on the men disguising such brutality
There’s four billion sterling less
Dispersed to those we made worse off,
While the liver-gazers protest
At consecrations, statuesque,
Of those now deposed in rivers
Where on that barren plinth
The future racists and despots
Are already being sculpted.

The day we ask the careful
And the kind, the thoughtful
And considered, to moderate
Their conscience and their
Language and their actions
So as not to offend
The racists and the zealots
We may as well burn our books
And drown out all law-abiding people
We once demeaned and diminished.

I pulled up my blind using a Roman string.
The laughing, noisy workers had gone.
The sunshine still blinded,
So I pulled the blind back down,
Made a coffee, thought of times
I knew of human tears,
Went upstairs, undressed,
And fell asleep exhuasted
On my single bed
For a hundred thousand years.

Norfolk

Clouds the size of minor planets,
Cumulonimbuses, and expanding;
Cirrus sunsets mesmerising.
You can tell as we approach
The coastline, you can smell
On a breeze rocksalt and diesel
Even before you see creaking
Metal shop signs, rust flakes
Concealing their meanings.
Intrepid starling squadrons,
Nimblest swifts and swallows;
Birthplace of tsarist pretenders
And far greater adventurous sailors.
You can see these fields of rapeseed
And mustard from space
And if we had our way
We would paint the whole world
For just one day in yellow.
Warblers and wayfarers,
Farmers of the Seas,
Accents as broad as a snoring giant
By folklore kept in Cromer’s cliffs;
At times ineffable, I can hear
My own inflections veer
From North back into the East,
Comfortable as hands in midwinter
Mittens, this never-ending
Friendly vernacular.
Raindrops do not stop
Wrens and finches singing
In a land without misgivings;
Expert chefs with epaulettes,
Neither judgment nor regrets,
And in her epicentre there are
Markets blessed, cathedrals and
A Kingfisher Spirit winding.
Time is slower here,
And though everything has changed
So too has nothing,
For I thought as a child
With those clouds in exile
I could not ever perceive
Bluer skies or as widened,
And though I am ancient
And travel-weary from hills,
That child is yet to be denied
And he is proven still.

I threw my bones out the window
From a room where I once slept,
Photographs abounding
With our divorced and dead.
You know when they’re getting older –
Dust thrives most unchecked;
Dead flies and curdled milk;
There are spiders the size
Of your clenched-up fist
Within their potting shed;
They can readily fall asleep
With nodding heads
By 8.15p.m.

Their Labrador died recently,
Her third leg went,
And I felt that it was palpable,
The quiet blanketing silence
Like a black pall of snow
Over this whole house;
Instead of friendly greetings
There’s a tough wringing
Out of untrustworthy Time
To dry on a washing line
By copper-clad clock hands,
And as a musty tablecloth
Hosts marmalade unopened,
So too the inevitable jar
Of last year’s home-made jam.

Taraxacologist’s Song

I've been foraging for borage,
Buttercups and a certain
Salving parsley, floral
Wreaths and silence,
Foxgloves floating in their thousands,
Beyond
My soul-tsunami.
Above love's undergrowth
Billow seeds of lion's teeth,
Also known by cankerwort,
Irish daisy,
Witches' gowan, take
Your pick dependent
On your parlance,
Slowly drifting by
Like the quietly
Glowing intentions
And desires of
Subtle snowflakes.

No greater miracle we need
Than Nature -
Germination, regeneration,
We packed away our overcoats
And umbrellas and crumbs
Of conversations to stand
With crowds in verges,
In suburban lanes where
Carnival celebrations
Passed us by, a smile,
A photograph, a wave.
For this self-renewal,
I saw that same procession
With elephants and acrobats
And other-worldly fruits,
A girl with second sight,
A vial of dust did sprout legumes,
A great-great-grandmother
From the coast who met
Her son exhumed; flags
And banners and drums;
And there, within
This entourage's
Centrifuge,
A quite magnificent
Lioness, born from leaves
Through penury,
Through belief,
Through ritual and rosaries
And into then beatitude,
Never better expressed than
In some jagged leaves
Of a weed, upon
A kerbside edge,
Recipient of our wonder,
Thereafter born anew.

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.