Soul Lash (or, Futility)

Sensing impermanence
In my self,
The essence
In the artifice
In the candle-flame
Of the wick
Where my older soul resides,
Well, in that distant place,
My soul lashed out
And slowly flapped
Until lamely she
Gasped one last name,
One last race to breathe,
Akin to a dull fish in shallows
Berating the sands and mudflats,
Berating that constant urge
Of nearby waters to flee
Scenes of my existence
And surge downstream
Away from me,
Though once my scales
Shone like polished heraldry
In folds of
Rainbow-golds
Shimmering
Iridescently.

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.

Subliminal Hooks

Dreams are hung on sunbeams,
Out in a garden to dry,
Steam I have seen rising,
Subliminal hooks in the sky;
Ancient as an argument
While no one remembers why.

There is an unseen world
Within my organs, my tubers,
Where moving creatures thrive:
Spermatozoa,
Micro-organisms,
Carnivores in disguise.
Should my body burst
Like a vodka-soaked melon
Standing in only my socks
In a hosted dream
In your backyard,
Please do not wake me up.

I wonder how far into madness
We can stray before it is
Too late to return.

Over the river
They have set seven festival fireworks off.
I heard applause, distant,
A languorous dog breathes
In my ear and tells me
Life is not for living;
Her voice is husky and
Her beard is coarse;
And i wonder whether all those moments
Are locked, unchangeable,
Or if variants spin and gather
Like a Catherine Wheel
In a clear night sky.

Somewhere then, I am worse off;
I would return to that place
Though not at that one time –
There’s too much pain in the host,
And the river there offers nothing,
But sinners floating, and ghosts.

After All

Under margrave groves
Of peach blossom trees
There flows the falls
Of a winding creek,

Their blossoms’ aromas
Are mild and are meek,
But those torrents below
Are baleful and bleak.

My iris-blown beard
Diurnal and straw,
But under my chin
Eternal tears pool.

Snowfall cloaking
After all,
But when the snow melts
(If not long before),

Those bodies revealed,
Their mortal hands hold
The one different future,
Distant and cold.

The Meaning Of Fish

The meaning of fish
In my angling firth,
My minnow-mind slipped
And did not deserve.

Alluvial sediment,
Disinterment deferred,
Shifting sands seen
On a dark shiftless earth.

Croaker-bait,
Poison hook;
Reeled from a river,
My gauche gawping look.

The meaning of fish
Too late I would learn,
For if not for fish, or
Water-weeds or worms,

I would not exist
From a loch to the burn,
And my scaly-grey heart
Would no longer yearn.

Tristessa

Strong hearts
Do not require taming,
Unmetallurgic wild horses
Never found comfort
In sodden-straw stables.
Your father brought home
For the old kitchen table
A brace of dead pheasants
Bound by a cable.

Through turbulent moors
And rubicon rivers
We felt there reverting
A timeless deep raging;
From scorched summers burning,
Briar-berry and bramble,
To winter’s bare pantry
Where salt pays for aging.

Together, five or six moments,
We felt more or less able
In the heartbeat of angels
To outlive the lengthy assailing,
(Daily they’re planted,
We later discovered)
Of all modern things
People now take for granted.

No one here has ever seen
Our grey-green seas
Deprived of life and motion,
The fossils would make a commotion!
No one observed those orchard trees
In the entirety of their devotion
To imparting the knowledge of apples,
And no one here speaks,
For our mouths do not open
(Unless for a token),
So I remain unable to say
How much one singular moment takes,
Though without you here
This feels like forever and its days,
Restrained by constant motion.

Eight Glasses

Water’s passed
Through seven
Towns on two
Banks of the
River Thames,
Or Isis as she’s known
At Oxford upstream,
Although it’s the
One and same
Dead river nymph
Before flowing
In to London’s
Bloated all-consuming
Hips, her public
Fountains and
Underground
Waterways.
Seven sips through
Seven lips on
Seven mouths,
Seven stomachs,
Some with ulcers,
Seven lies and
Seven dowsed,
Then hepatic ducts
And bladders where
Water in a hoisin-sauce
Soaked duck
Or any creature
Clipped from luck
Swirl in confluence
Post-gut, post the
Spatchcocked organs
Deconstructing
All that’s good
Before arriving at the
Thirst-quenched populous
Downstream from the
Golden Cotswolds
And into throats
Of foaming dogs.

So too seven lovers
Fell through me like
Teardrops, like
Ethereal waterfalls
And hydrogen bombs,
Floating on to where
Other men and
Women meet
To hold, and sigh,
And comfort, tossed
From one lifeboat
On their journey
To the next, until
At some sun-blessed atoll
They found a form of
Peace. I crawled to
Blackened riverbanks
At Purfleet and drank
Salt in my sleep.

Those who know me
Might expect a
Comparison
To the eight glasses
You would drink before
The day had even
Reached its peak;
But I am tired,
And I’d like to drink
Something else neat,
Some herbal tea,
Some skimmed milk,
And fall asleep.