Outside, An Ocean

Outside,
An ocean
Of constant motions,
Lush tropical abundance,
Yet all I cradle are ashes
Charred from bark
And burnt rubber plants,
Unusable coconut
And a poisoned palm –
The bark itself carved from
A mythical phoenix-tree
They discovered
Accidentally
And nonetheless marked
And later diseased –
This would have been
My self-sufficiency.

If no man is an island
Mr John Donne
And Mr John Dryden,
Then why does my lonely abode
Align with the limits of
My aspirations so comfortably?
I have seen in deep reposes
Those ghosts who come and go
For whom there’s no repelling;
Sometimes they stayed a while
Perhaps from curiosity,
Or perhaps their own
Uncertain form of loneliness,
Yet never so long
As to find me compelling –
This writer without hands,
This tongueless orator.
They always stole something
Out of nothing, or would
Confiscate our materiality
In the end –
Glass from oriels,
Tiles from steeples
And church-roof lead.
This is why, to hold the pen,
I maintain my right to an island
With hopes and invocations
For better times ahead.

Tombolos

Sometimes I could not feel
My feet or my hands,
These extremities
Of my experiences,
Socially tied
Like isthmuses
Providing havens
For radicals and
Eminent pariahs
From the edges of
The Hesperides,
Unable to return
To our homelands
For fear of persecution
Or reprisals
(Or if not the Hesperides
Then the Cyclades
Or Sporades, or if
Not the Sporades
Then the Great Orme
Or the Rhins of Galway
And also Blakeney Point
Where my tame grey seals
Sunbathe on sandbanks
And I know each one
By name for we are
One and the same),
I grew up believing
Radiators were designed
To handcuff hostages
By the mist of international
Politics – in lands
Without plumbers or
Thermostats, but wild
Celebrations which also once
Blinded a man as shotgun fire
Fell back down to earth –
Before returning by
Diving back in to
My childhood, one day
I remember vividly,
Colluding in my empty room
With an atlas,
A tiny life ahead
In parentheses,
Until I observed,
Dropping that great book,
My feet and my hands
Turn in to translucencies
Of lapis lazulis and shiny jade
And my wonder reverted
Into horror then
As I climbed up inside
The used husks of my future,
Where my whole long
And arduous life filled
With silent furores
Became a faded photograph,
In a family album
No one opened ever again,
Nor blew dust off
In that boarded-up house
From its light blue cover,
And what was once,
A long time ago,
A gold leaf letterhead.

Lachrymose

Desolate heart,
Sharp cactus needles protect you
On the one hand,
On the other they pierce you
And a blue world weeps through
To infuse you with melancholic
Ablutions and rituals
In savannah lemongrass.

Avoid generalisations,
Exaggerations and
Residual absolutes,
Plaster the holes in the sky
Perforated by two statues’ crowns
Where an impossibly white sky
Drips like a dose of milk
And gives birth to the word
Lachrymose.

For all things in
This realm remain
Within a constant knot,
Of what is possible
Tied to its same self
By what it is not.

Innings

All this time I’ve been sinning,

an unknown will was winning
I wreathe my own self with regret.

It was ever this way, beginning
To end, where the word innings
Is used by Englishmen in debt

To euphemisms, tongue-pinning;
Now their relevance is thinning,
Notes on a plummeting language.

When they say ‘ he had a good innings‘,
This means dutybound death’s spinning
Through the roof of our anguish.

Yellowfin bellies, sashimi de-finning,
Abbatoir beating-belts are skinning
But sin is how I’m scarred by a knife.

All this time, ever since my sinning,
That devil down there may be grinning,
My inheritance is only my life.


Someone Else’s Song

I heard the end of your song
Before you finished singing;

I found the end of my life
Before I finished living.

Now I’ve been singing someone’s song,
Their words in my mouth, verbatim,

And over time their phrases replaced
Everything I had forsaken;

Routed out, vicarious mouth,
Only my soul’s voice was not taken.