Flavit Et Dissipati Sunt

Is this the device
To restore me to life?
Aside from Time.

Aboard a forecastle,
Transshipping north,
I had for a while complained

On a dead-dream’s galeón
About that empty butter-dish
As a reflection of maritime

Indiscretion and, yes, indiscipline,
When, mizzenmast by mist absorbed,
I observed the strangest

And yet also greatest tactic
For navigating by enemy ships
My mind might ever deploy –

Such naval mastery,
Having praised the artistry
And admired the torsional

Balance of Riggers
With hands as thick
As a goatskin canteen

I recalled as a boy,
Crafted by one zahatogile
Who lived in the hills

Between beautiful old Bilbao
And her sister-ville, Vitoria-Gasteiz,
With the vigour

Of rumours
In human form,
I watched those sailors

See their majestic
Eponymous flaxen cloths
Unfurl like those enormous flags

High above God’s citadel –
I could only marvel, open-mouthed;
My porcelain soup-ladle fell

To the floor with a clunk
Of patterned petuntse on oak,
Oak above ocean

And bitumen stores, and bunks.
I witnessed that pernicious
Enemy approaching,

Those hawkish sea-dogs set
To embed their yellow jaws
Into Iberian hulls,

When with miraculous invention
And a surreptitious detection
The whole, entire ship,

From fore and aft
Ballast and derrick and all
Submerged slowly, deliberately,

Its seaborne form
Into much murkier waters
Until even our crow’s nest

(Which I once sat within
With telescopic lens to check
And did detest that

Vertiginous platform)
Disappeared from sight,
And the royal mast’s tip

With every man and boy
From Powder Monkeys
To a Quartermaster himself,

Sunk and sunk and sunk
Somehow, yes, sunk,
Under the surface

Our seven hundred men
Descended, by what artifice,
By what new science

I had simply no idea.
Time slowed down,
Saturated pumps immersed,

Until the advancing party passed –
Kittiwake-facing adversary –
And our loneliness checked,

Our gallant vessel
Rose triumphantly,
Independently from nature,

No fish in a tricorne,
No whelks in our breath,
All the saltwater pouring

Away from our death,
We sailed on, yes,
Impervious

To our future defeat
And descent, until
The English said

Flavit et Dissipati Sunt,
Our angels translate as
Repent, Repent, Repent.

O Barqueiro, A Coruña

To finally sleep
Is all my thinking needs.

A stone in the slowly
Unfurling
Ocean,
Insistent waves,
Incessant waves
Murmuring
Unseen.

But I am afraid
Of the
Deep,
Deep,
Deep.

Dark fish are there,
Gloomy, alone; they forget;
Through dank seaweed stare,
And by trawler nets
They are longing for home.

Yet how can I ever go home.
There are no stones left
To throw and there are
No oceans here,
Just the sounds
Of lawnmower motors
And dogs beserkly barking
At nothing at all.

Thought-Flotilla

A depression sinks
Thick teeth into my bay.

Brazen, sharply emblazoned
Within my beacon’s sleep,

One final action
Before the king of myself

Exiled himself in a fit of treason
To his most inhospitable island in

Far rough southern waters
Beyond starry St Helena and

Tar-deep lavas of
Tristan de Cunha,

And even beyond the other island
Of shimmering immateriality

And such impossible wealth,
With more lakes than land,

More puffins than people
And fathers’ mouths

Mastic with less teeth in number
Than they bequeathed children,

And statues of elders
Each chiselled with just one foot;

Well, he commissioned hundreds
Of such pitch-pots over

Coastal paths and marshland routes
To alert his nation’s duties

Towards resurgent armadas,
A thought-flotilla

With canons trained
On peace and seasons,

On woodlands and hope,
On fisheries and reasons,

I woke to an ocean of
Platitudes in old Spanish

And also Greek calligraphy.
Blood on my wrist,

Alpha is Omega
In this new script.

Why do I enjoy numerically
These blood-clot sensations,

These idyllic notions
Beyond posts of my death.

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.

I Caught A Certain Joyousness

I caught a certain joyousness
In a potter’s wheel,
The pedal turns the morning rain
Upon my windowsill.

I found a flawless form of light
In a Blacksmith’s Arms,
She called me from a willow trunk
And brought me out of harm.

I followed through a rabbit hole
The image of myself,
Rolling down a childhood hill,
For childhood was my wealth.

And though my wealth was stolen,
And placed upon a bark,
I sailed across an ocean bare
And dreaming in the dark.

Nothing good may come this way
To remedy what’s past;
That isolated bairn has gone,
The future now is cast.

The Temple

One day all this will end,
Futile as the Sea to consider
Existence when the
Weeds reclaim the roads,
And far offshore offload
Post-coastline,
Fossils of litter
And a piece that once glittered
On the most beautiful chest
And wrest from the wrist
In swells and scallops
Of circadian
Harmonies.
The Sea then, endures,
Whole cities gone,
And even the parables
And phrases
Of sacred texts became
Little more than plankton
In the bellies
Of mammals with gills
And dreams about fish,
And ancient revenge
By growing two legs,
Just as ours were then, upright,
Two feet, unhindered by water
And waves thirty years
In their making and
As steep as Athena’s temples
And her garlanded head.
Irreparable trust,
Covenants rust
On the Sea bed
With traffic lights
Stuck on red,
And where once there were highways,
Rivers instead,
And then, a watershed.

And yet I would sacrifice
And trade
Ten oceanic years,
Arduous, longer
Than man-made metrics
Of time and place
And longer again,
For a day in the shade
Of my one beloved,
My one true friend.