Alaska

A kettle appeared in my hand
From nowhere,
And the entire land
Became orange and broken.
I remember you,
Spearer of white salmon,
Your heretical parents –
Those academic navel gazers –
Abandoned you to delusions
And a gnawing consumption.
No wonder you moved to Alaska,
This spoke nothing of you,
Glued to the hues
Of forest and tundra,
Of numberless lumbering
Grizzlies, lunar phases
Unencumbered behind secret
Nictitating eyelids,
And everything of them,
His head between a women’s legs
And hers wedged into an oven.
Sometimes, sub-arctic skies
Seemed so vast, so all-consuming,
Your bruised soul could slip
Off a precipice and
Into the basalt rubble,
And that, of course,
In time,
Is exactly what you did,
Standing in those atrocious
Foaming rapids, in galoshes,
The rod appeared in your hand
Just like this whistling kettle,
Akin to the miraculous
Echoes of odourless thought,
And in that moment perhaps
You felt alive so clearly,
So attuned to the hubris
That all of a sudden
You died, too.
You forgot how to swim
As your limbs metamorphically
Merged with sockeyes
And piny yellowfin.
The rifle appeared in your hand,
Also from nowhere.

No poet saved the world
Through writing alone,
Yet they should not have
Ever suggested
That you could.

Halcyon

Is there any fabled,
Unfathomable existence
More at one
With homely surroundings
Than fish flowing through
A river, gills and mouth
And fisher-spirits open
To planetary potentates
And every heavenly potential
Imbued in bluebottle djinn
And a sleeping
Grasshopper’s eye,
Under clear midnight skies,
A billion stars,
Spleen and queenly heart
And inner canals
Microcosms
Of wishful organisms
Larger and lesser
And dimmer
By far.

A kingfisher dreamt this,
Years ago,
Near coastal roads
In Zanzibar.


Grey River

We knew of ancient love,
But change with an A my lady;
Now I know of sickness enough,
Convalescing whilst all’s fading,
My monochrome existence.

There will come a day
When I traverse Grey River;
I know that day is not today,
Little less strength to deliver.

I was born with arms
Just like you,
I was born with a heart
And lungs and a liver,
But all this lost art,
Immaterial now,
Lonely are those left to shiver.

Abyssinia

Sometimes these abysmal lows
Seek to address and occupy

My own ebbing soul’s
Reclusive loan and use

Of shadowy caverns,
Avoiding outer

Stony nomenclatures
Or any such anatomies of light,

Suspended and unrarefied
Far beneath the looms

Of gloomy, nervous time.
And if poured out now

From this diluted womb of myself,
And if all I am told should sleep,

And if all I observed and believed
Tattooed into the warp and weft

Is less akin to blood
In her unusual rivulets

Underneath riveted drifts
Within my skin and my bones,

Nor like molten gold
Or anything else so brightly bold,

But doubtlessly a
Thick congealing

Tarry albumen
Under my night-auk’s

Starless eye and ceiling
I am constantly reeling

In a reckoning disguise,
And arctic cold.

Sometimes I feel as though
Life is a test without answers.

Sometimes I feel my road
Is routed through converging disasters.

My body brittle as a twig
Drifting away from life’s fine flourishing,

Away from glittering citadels of my truth
Down a bruising river,

And when they find my floating form
Who will be my forgiver?

Encomium

Artists, hold up the rivers of the world!
Re-route all the inevitable flow
Through fenny drains and artifice.

This glassy surface observed from below,
Through your mirrors fixed and held
Our curving universe, a damp fell,

And being a mute extra in my life
I am dexterously kayaking cataracts
With no little verve and thrill

To preserve those passing actors
And their entourages through a swirl,
Achieving nothing at all.

Apparatchiks and financiers
Will line those canal-sides furnished
With skulls just like trophies

Burnished with jewels and gold,
Only both are grey and dulled,
Only their blood a colour

Known in thickening wine poured
Between our lips within an older world.
I witnessed this appalled,

Hiding behind a sail-clip
On my little persevering hull,
My skiff of walrus tusk

And hacksawed ivory hope.
When the fields are flooded
Inherent a danger in thinking

We are more than we are,
Rain fall, river roars,
Then painted and sold

At Abyssinian bazaars.
So rally, protest in your artistry,
As I wend into a distant, aching lake

Where they practice still
Their beating hearts
And their husbandry.

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.