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’.

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.

The Hawser-Husband’s Song

All seafaring folk
Reasonably discharged
Understand deeply 
Having travelled so far
Frequencies of rope;
Clews marking time,
Demarcating fate
Like crow-wrinkles carved
In a late man's hope,
Smiling sublimely
While his body bloats
And slowly floats away
Within a curlew's ode;
They count in knots,
They measure briny-time
With bights on the lee,
And sometimes by 
Their cat-beards' growth
Upon a beaming sea.

There are far more purposes
For well-made ropes
Than horse-dreams harboured
On wayward western slopes
Of blue infusing hollyhocks
And sadnesses of heliotropes.
Beyond those voyer-headland folk,
Such a balch-length I do know
Is coldly devoid
In a dead man's grope,
Unfeeling, careening, 
So from humanity we eloped.
Her colours change as suddenly
On a breeze as the piskey-cheeks
Of whiskey-infused 
And maudlin mopes
Who sit beside the steps
At the plentiful village pump,
Sometimes straight as a butter-cross
And sometimes they do slump;
One day as grey as a bassam,
The next day graily eggy-hot
And bald as a wreaking coven.

Knowledge of how to fashion
This mission's cabled spires
Is memorised by barning-ghosts
Under varying fires;
The future slips through
Their misty furtive fingertips,
Fewer than before
Their green immortality.
Sailing some more,
Nothing abounds;
Within our creel ribs
Old myths rebound,
Waves make landfall
Permanent and yet somehow
Without existing at all.
Breathing in
And breathing out,
Hessian fodder,
Oceanic Frisian cow,
Horizon unknown
For years from now,
On slowly floating ice-breaks
My vessel is aground.



N.B Cornish dialect in this poem includes:
Balch - a rope
Barning - phosphorescence
Bassam - a bruise
Eggy-hot - a warm beer
Graily - an aged beer
Piskey - drunk
Varying - lightning, St Elmo's Fire
Voyer - a headland

Piscatorial

Don’t rely on me, little fish,
I’ll only let you down;
I am cursed within a wish
To wear your funeral gown.

Peering through the water,
Turbid there, and brown;
You wanted me for a daughter,
Forgetting how I drown.

Innocent eyes ignoring
As my spear struck down,
My visage clearly imploring,
Fishbones in my crown.

The last late catch did bloat,
I had to purge myself;
Derelict, a dampening boat,
An underwater schismed shelf.

Don’t rely on me, little fish,
I’ve seen the seaweed’s truth;
I’ll be served with a citrus dish,
Pierced by a piscine tooth.

Arriving At A Lighthouse In Mizzle-Rain

I drowned an eagle with her sky,
Crash-landed at my feet;
I heard her forest deeply sigh,
I heard the fir-trees creak.

I walked a slow way home,
Tortuous chicanes;
When she begged for sunshine
I summoned only rains.

We reached my lighthouse late,
Its giant lamp diffused,
We slept on sandy landslides,
Waves became these dunes.

My DNA is rain, my breath aloud,
Tip of my spongiform fingers, too;
My bones a brewing stormcloud,
Don’t linger, stones in blue.

There is no greater calling,
Sirens in your heart we found;
Rehearse and learn the ending
Before their signals start to sound.


Soul Coast

My feet are a foreign land
As I stand where surf relapses,
Whitecaps are my family
And encapsulate with great
Succinctness
And sadness

My lifetime of experiences,
An escapologist, an emphasis,
My bare toes in saline curls,
Where is my soul’s house
In this here and now?
I too loved the feet of her odes,

As measured as moonlight
With feminine verbs,
I caught a punctured headlamp
From a lane that would curve
And chicane until it meets
A coastal kerb, above

The haunting cove,
And I am compelled,
Once again, to restart,
To daylight’s return.
On periwinkle sands,
A mustard-coloured heart.

Immolation

I set my soul on fire,
Alive on a pyre of
Dry hyacinths and
Sad gladioli dreams,
A blind man’s
Sandals, and shoes
Without seams.
By a scruff
Of the neck my flames
Took hold of and wholly
Captured that beach,
Held up like a brace
Of heaven’s partridges
With only a tidemark
A cause for retreat.

A scandal for a year or two
And then the villagers
And media and cartels
Will sleep. We are all
Victims, one way or
Another, of sins.
A distant windmill withers.
In a dream sunk
Within a different dream
Your hand came out
Of my mouth like a tongue,
Like a mythical petrified snake
From a deep sunless cave
And for the first and only time
I was made complete.