Giraffe Police

We accepted the unacceptable;
Evolved what was ephemeral
To permanently inevitable.

Dusk, orange early evening light.
We arrived at the municipal
Railway station, magnificent
In its antiquated style,
Minarets, many fountains
And bountiful hanging baskets
Where passionflowers spilled
Into their sulfurous being
As brightly and wide as your smile,
Only to be met and then processed
By two genial-enough
Officers in crisp white linen
Riding on giraffe-back;
From their howdahs’ vantage
They shouted down to kindly
Inform us, notebooks ready,
That their Bactrian camels
Had for the night retired
At their presidential stables,
And so on these languid
Knock-jointed mammals
With wrists for knees
They had to travel instead.
Those ungulates looked at us
With profound imperviousness,
Nonplussedness no less,
As phlegmatically
They chewed their cud;
Their riders read us our rights,
Although what we call rights
They now name our trouble.

We could conceive
The inconceivable
But in this desert crucible
We choose not to.
We did not question
How the officers knew
We were on the 2.20 train
From the coastal town
Where time had run out,
And now my memory hurts
From the telling.

There is no dispelling the fact
That these people dreamt of me once;
I was writing a poem on the subject
Of their nomadic travels
And subsequent apprehension
By a lieutenant and his junior,
And in this way
Come what may
The poem became the people.

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.

I Give The World Back To Nature

I give the world back to nature;
A waxwing with a breast of songs
Calibrates my credences,
Re-writes years of wrongs.

If gnostics, also stoics feared,
Divined this branch’s end,
What other laws acceded to
Make tools for our amends.

I give the world back to nature:
Conjugate, Platonic fox –
Milk may curdle, wood will rot –
As brambles smother brickwork clocks.

All my beliefs retreat in nature,
Moorland horses, forest boars;
Language seldom for relief
Nor remedies the source.

I watched a guru wash a lake,
His oily face was aged and cragged;
Flowing ocean, growing marsh,
Have me slowly backwards dragged.


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.

Valhöll

I did not say good morning
To a magpie, solitary fellow,
Conspiring with a rooftop
To clag my hindered eyelids.

Nothing changed.
The day stayed the same.
Grey, motionless torpor.

A leaf appeasing gravity
Spiralled to the floor;
Breathing-in is a luxury
I cannot afford.

Under a lantern-clad ladder
Leaning up into Valhalla
I mindlessly walked;
I stamped on cracks,
Send me back,
And smashed a mirror
With my orb.

Nothing changed.
The night stayed the same.
Sirens, waves of woe
And obsolete laws.

That magpie loosened its claws
And disappeared into
All-consuming hours
Which do devour in tides
Both the man and the boy.

Some Do Fall

Yesterday, my younger self,
Slowly, inexorably –
Focused, inevitably –
Overdosed. And
So it goes everyday.
It cannot go away.
In that moment, I re-read
My lines diligently,
Preparing my soliloquy,
Eighteen ancient years
Yet more child than adult,
Scared and confused
And alone in an era
Of cocktails and beers,
Of riding in car trunks
And rolling down hills,
Of men being salacious
At best, of disregarded
Lectures and inspectorates
And spider plants
Stoned on window-sills,
Questionable fashions
And a plethora of cigarettes,
Bedrooms thick with such acridity
You could not see your peers
Across the room as they kissed
Excessively and toked.
Mine were Marlboro
Because the British
Have never known how to smoke.
Cold, punishing dormitories,
A chicken’s head,
Everyone was bloated
With sex while I sat
With my knees to my head
On a dim and distant bed.
Much of the nuances I missed,
A hand held, a love letter,
Unattended trysts,
The blushes and
The sadness.

That age is a rope bridge
Like the frayed
San Luis Rey –
Many make the crossing and
Pass over quite adequately,
Some are even enthused by
Such precarious views,
Some with heads in clouds,
Some too confident as well.
And some do fall,
Succumbing to atrocities
And I was one;
No audience,
No gods with pince-nez
For a pauper’s show,
Just a tablet at a time,
Slow, slow,
Slowly absorbed,
Purchased from
Supermarket jaws
Over several weeks,
A letter to no one
In particular.
One tablet at a time
Because my future glowed
Brighter than a forest fire –
Untamed, unquenchable –
And because I was pressed
From the pages of
My father’s blasphemous
Kiss, a contradiction
Of love and self-loathing,
Pressed like a dandelion,
Seeds separated
By the careless impact
Of a book once loved,
Now in a cardboard box
Gathering mould
And dust
In the attic of a house
I did not frequent.

As the last pill then
Descended through tubes
I have never seen and
Never will see,
My only thought was how
I would want you to know
That I did not mean to do this,
Did not even want to,
But sometimes life
Has a weird way of
Leaving me estranged
And saying No to what is best.

It seems good enough for some
And not for others,
But my mind,
Held in a crisis-vice,
(I had to be good for something –
Even if it was to be this) –
Led me to ignore my own advice.
I thought about it twenty
Thousand times
And then twice.

I woke into odes of disappointment,
Applied an episodic ointment,
A compassion of paramedics,
A wrangled worry of parents.

Permanent autumn.
Charcoal throat.
Embarrassed, strained voices.

Twenty-five years is a long way to go
From being youthful and comatose.
Life became lodged –
Visions persist of pine trees
And a missing residential goat,
A warden’s office, pool tables
And loyalties and loss,
As someone I loved did say –
‘Society thinks it is more
Sophisticated now, when
Instead it is far less’ –
Such is the price.
And now I must go,
I must prepare this
Next last meal
Upon a gas wheel
Of jambalaya and rice.

Gully


Fresh autumnal rain.
More memories, less gain;
When will I feel real again?

Bricks in my lungs,
Ballast in my brain;
Cargoes containing offal

At the county dock detained
Host more value per grain
Than weights of my breath

Weights of my stains.
In a vision or a dream
Or pulleys in between

Leaf-angels concealed
In that forest unsealed,
A garland of garlic

And damp pine cones
Adorning a gully
Appears more comforting still.

In the distance,
Ambulance sirens,
Playground ebullience;

Good luck to the teary drunk
Trying to abstain.
This is the Year of the Ox

I explained, your wealth;
Deaf ears and ailing health;
I did not let that tiger inside you.

A cessation in rain;
In time, I came to realise
Nothing here will ever be real.

Swan In A Restaurant

Lately this bald lake
Is a beer can graveyard,
More litter than fish which
Occasionally float
On the surface, lifeless
And bloated and stripped
Of their sequin-coloured
Sequences.
Still, a scent of bergamot,
A lost incongruous
Birdwatcher with
Binoculars on a cord
Around his neck
Says a cheerful hello
And we are on our way.

A single bold swan
Wandered into a restaurant
Beside the lake
Yesterday as we ate,
Yellow tag on her ankle,
Perusing for food,
Brazen and tame.
She could take my dreams
And sculpt with her beak
A series of images
With memories interlaced.

Little then required to inspire me,
Just you and me and a song;
For many years afterwards,
Years after you had gone,
I wondered whether that swan
Had ever visited at all.



1461

Alpacas in a rolling field,
And species sold unseen,
Many metres down my shield,
Such places I have been.

You have doorbells now,
I had muse and mead,
Bones did show to me somehow
A foul and future deed.

An owl within your stomach
Flew through all this time,
A blizzard for a buzzard,
Sacred and sublime.

We sacrificed our future,
Seven days of rivers red,
My past both sword and suture,
A llama farm my bed.