Causeway

Am I the cause
Of all bad things

I couldn’t help
But wondering;

Am I the way
Beneath the sea

Busload crowds
Come walk on me;

Pilgrims reaching
Chapel’s shore,

See me drown
To bed once more.

Awdl I Wraig Pysgotwr

Cultivating seven lemon leaves of love,
She keeps their citrussy pips
For infusing our elevenses
And drizzle cake for afterwards,
Returning from the morning trip
Aboard my pre-dawn sea-breeze skip
Amid ululating waves, gigantic
Monoliths to rage and grief,
To shower away all memories
Of tarpaulin, and bountiful cod
I sell to a fishmongers’ market,
Fresh are the fish they sell
For a clamouring townsfolk
On beds of mushy peas
And curried chips.

From my time at middle-sea
My lips are akin to potato skins
Abandoned in a frozen field
After a squad of soldiers’ stampeded
Over muddy Flanders and Frisia;
I have rugged Stegosaurus toes
And a cranium bursting with
Plains of great grey
Oppressive clouds,
I am sometimes gruff
And sometimes I say nothing for days,
For who would converse
With mizzle-clouds and fish
And fog?

Yet despite these lesser facets
She is my anchor and my harbour –
Two states of material being –
A qubit, a Schrödinger love.
She is the single numeric code
For those thousands of padlocks
Encircling my rusty tortoiseshell heart;
She is both trusted compass and direction,
And when I set course
On a shipful of bones
For snowy Arctic bays and coves,
She returns me slowly, slowly,
Patiently home for cake and tea –
A blend with seven lemon leaves.


N.B The title is Welsh, ‘Ode To A Fisherman’s Wife’. I noticed the closeness to the Cornish word for Fisherman – pyskador – but I was not certain that I could approximate the Cornish title closely enough.

Scylla

Sea-millipede hair,
Ocean groundhog mare
And coral-hog stare,
Mouldy Gorgonzola-stench
Infused and clenched
Into the newly drenched
Visions of whalers
As they sail too near
To her slowly growing
And highly attuned ears,
Two harpoons in array
Aimed from the back of
Her thoracic majesty
Towards their deepest fears,
Ironic demise, inevitably.

I dreamt of this revenge
Bare chested in my bed,
Possibly to escape from the thought
That I am the cause
Of my own death.

In this way,
This is why I stay anchored
Under my duvet all day.

Blue Gables

This blue-gabled house
Makes melodious tulips
Of music its own;
Organza crescendos,
Echoes of phones,
Ineffable
Dance steps
Float over floorboards
Of alder and oak.
Timpani trancing
As rain strikes the sill,
A bandaged-up boiler
Is sneezing its whelks;
When you live by the sea
There is sand on a shelf.
Syncopation of seagulls
Stomping on tiles,
Green ghosts in the attic
My lymphatic choir,
My harpsichord bones
Should I ever aspire.

In the distance
Crows argue, they bluster
On a gerundive of lungs,
A buffeting breeze;
Church bells are chiming
For two and then three,
A couple walk by
With a cough and a wheeze;
Huddled together,
The past my disease,
I remembered her hat
As her skin touched the sea.

Forsaking the purpose
Of memory’s caves;
I watched the house auction,
Then walked into waves.

A Crime Scene

Turn my head to one side,
Existentially shy, and sleep deprived;
Alone in a mostly unhomely bed
And words tip out
From my mouth,
The mouth in my head.
I observed mutely
Their acute, distinct forms,
Their acumen as they tumbled
One
By
One
Onto my musty bedroom floor.
Until all that remains
Is a hollowed-out cranium,
And a verbal stain
Of beetroot-red blood on my case.

A lexicon of detectives
Entered the stale daylight,
Scratched their proverbial heads,
Striving when aligning invisible dots,
Returned home to partners
And a scotch on the rocks.

Night-time, dark seas,
Waves as high as a devil’s eye
And a coldness which strips your
Life-jacket and your skin
And then your seven dignities
As it becomes something horribly
And unethically mythic and
Intravenous.
What senseless, sponsored
Statelessness
Could be worse than this
For you to attempt crossing,
To enter this grey
Bay Of The Disconsolate.
Searchlights and sou’westers,
Faces chipped and glazed like
Limestone obelisks stolen
For someone else’s vanity project,
Now violated, graffitied,
Vandalised to your very souls
As you float in oceans
You have never even seen,
Where an armada danced
Before your demise,
Supinely, and serene,
Nor the land and sovereignty
And simple everyday occasions
Which can gratify and relieve –
A birthday, a Wednesday –
To ease an eternal
Deplorable soreness.

I want to rip out the sea;
I want to tear out the heart
Of every incompetence and
Inadequacy –
You were all born, you were
Umbilical, and biblical,
You were loved and languages
Added into those percolating bones;
You were found and swelled
In life’s great lung-like wells
And still, unchangeably, all for this,
Far too far from any sort of homeland;
Lighthouse power outages,
And so many exits unplanned.

Origins

A basking shark
Swallowed whole
A water horse;
When its stomata exploded
Time fell out, followed
By remains of fish
And juvenile squid,
Car tyre parts,
A severed head,
A battery charge,
Semi-digested,
Later became
Inspiration
For several
Famous inventors
And letters for my name
Amid fingertips
And foam fermented,
Bones in oaths
Cemented
Not far from a coastal path.

A dead shepherdess
Squatting upright in a nest
Portended through
An eyeless dream
That basking shark’s unrest.

I came to this coast
Two years ago,
Not for the amusements
Or the beachy sands,
But to search
Amid the dune grasses
And mollusc graves
And collect,
Searching
And foraging
If nothing more
Than to forget.

Rain on red sand
Ignites all the land.
I have a false memory
Of you holding my hand
As the dawn sun grew
In slow confidence,
Fanning out over
Marshes, fields
And settlements,
And once more
We began.

Polyphemus

Bareback-riding blue whale stars,
Stirrups smelted fishing scars,
In his grip, sea-scimitars,
Poseidon’s hooves in necklace jars.

Poseidon’s blood his tattoo-paint
Across his nose and briny face;
Proteus blind, a drowning saint,
These brutish oceans will embrace.

Reins abrasive, totems clutched,
Trident eyes tell of such a place
Where skin’s by sun so rarely touched,
Where islands sank without a trace.

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.

Seabed Song

‘We are always
Attracted
To doors
And other
Less perplexing
Exits’,
The old man said
(As our freezer-trawler,
Ophelia In Blau,
With leeward lurch
Later forced
A futile search),
‘And old fashioned
Windows
With seaweed
And latches,
Letters to lovers
Parceled in batches,
A room
Fashioned
Like a skull
On a ship
Just like this,
Sinking
Without
Its hull, or indeed,
A trace,
Moss in the corners
And pheasants in
A briny brace;
A grandfather clock
With empty face,
Barrel and fusee
And organs exposed
On its side,
Water through sockets
And essays in pockets.
Letterboxes
With unhinged grins
As everything spins
In this underwater lozenge,
Including the finest
Jasperware
And Spode
We should have left at home
As all the shelf slides
Along with our lives
Down
And down
And
Seabedwards’.