Guadeloupe

Our little band, our merry troupe
Had just arrived in Guadeloupe
Filled with mirth and junipers.

Island clouds, mangrove lush,
A chartered man from the Hindu Kush
Landed us where a giant dune occurs

As high as three knees of the God
Of Iguanas, verdant mountains at odds
In their majesty with smaller dwellings

Of colibri, territorial, proudly emblematic
Of a land where a slightly rheumatic
Castilian caraveller (and with swellings)

Imported moose to banish snakes
Like San Patricio of the Lakes,
Only those Eurasian deer grazing would devour

With gazes obtuse as atheists as they chewed
All native flora and fauna viewed
A few hundred years ago, an hour

Of ingestion at a time, and no longer.
At the harbour I found a fishmonger,
Lobsters as bright as the famed red paint

In the sacristy and the credo
Of Santa María de Toledo,
He boiled the claws and prayed to his saint.

In a fever my genuflecting libido
Summoned dreams in a white tuxedo
Worn in that club at Les Abymes –

(The club they told me not to frequent,
Entrance shaped like a one-eyed serpent),
Where a barman garnished a large Ti’Punch for me,

Where a Caribbean singer
Whose hips within my view would linger
Gave birth to the shape of Guadeloupe.

I woke in a deep and heated sweat
And for a moment I would forget
That I had not flown before, nor my troupe,

Nor travelled to her sheltering lore
Where I lost my mind before
On the blue shores of Marie Galante,

And in that hazy nightclub smoke
Holding someone’s panetelas, I woke
In the concave dreams of an Ashanti

Slave-trader, only I was the slave
And he softly spoke and gave
Advice which has ruined me to this day,

For I was to be imprisoned in his seam,
Neither stirred nor sleeping with a beam,
But somewhere in between the fray.

Still, somewhere out beyond my prison cell
My people there have smiles to quell
Storms which filled a holy stoup

Of less green seas, their hills of gold,
Where rains remain our friends of old,
We steered our flight, to Guadeloupe.





Kush

I rode through the snows
Of your Hindu Kush,
I walked through galaxies
Of entropic daytime-dust
Some hundred-soul kilometres
North from Rawalpindi
And the lemon-lush yards
Of green Abbottabad.

Returning to foul play,
All the way from Asia into
A Nottinghamshire ginnel,
Far, far away from palsied peaks
Of syncretic embezzled goddesses.
There is a certain ability
Of the English suburban
Populous, to keep a garden
Tidily, and a house
That I cannot share
Should I dare to return
To that sandy airstrip of grit.

In a dream within a dream
She passes for me
Daisies through our fence,
Although there is no recompense
For what I have seen
Between a sunny meridian
And that mountainous defence.

The Drowning Bride

The Queen of the Skies retired,
Long live our runway king;
Her assignation had three names,
It’s best not to question pretence.

Eulogies for a fuselage,
Front pages in the press,
But forestries are macadam
And all the workers left.

Newsreaders are enthusing,
A partisan casting and bribe,
Like praising skills of a killer,
Some words as sharp as knives.

They’ll read from flooded desks,
Drenched laptops and manilla files,
By sinking sails and tillers,
About my drowning bride.

Buffalo

I am no more privileged,
I have no further gains
Than Bison or Buffalo
Southwesterly migrating
In fated waves and a
Great obstinancy.
Their carcasses spiralling
Over yellow Plains,
They shot so many
The carrion could be seen
From space, to near
Extinction, annihilating,
Through Nebraska and
North through both
Dakotas too,
We were only feeding
Progressive trends towards
My detriment and death.

These are the thoughts
I couldn’t discuss with you,
Not about Buffalo
In the end, but men
Who did not return home,
Feathers in their scalps,
As I drove through the
Border identification checks,
Like the mind of a solitary,
Lonely surviving Buffalo,
And on to Saskatoon.

Ode To Taipei

Let’s land you in Taipei,
I’ll gladly meet you there;
The monsoon strips will throng
With blossom, pink and bare.

Let’s bring you to Taipei
By Bangkok, Three Gorges rested;
Hold my hands, it won’t be long,
Harbour floodgates daily tested.

Let’s see the Taiwanese fireworks,
I know exquisite spots;
You’ll contemplate the high-rise perks
Of living with your polyglot.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is filled
With roads downhill
And greyness still,
Timber yards
And paper mills,
Mist, and rain;
Houses built
With wooden slats;
A girl in the pines
They left for dead.
Furnaces, steel,
Forests feel
Endless. Settings
For a thousand films
And TV series will
Give glimpses but
Never the essence.
Rain on my mouth.
Interstate routes,
Rivers, bridges,
Flow until just south
From the ridges where
We met and loved.
A glove, a rustbelt,
A Methodist church,
I dropped my prayers
In roadside dirt.

Heaven Lake

Recurring dream,
Sent in advance
On the saddles of geese
To an ancient land
Where reincarnation
Is taking place.

Repatriating me
Tentatively, years
Before the shift,
Like a preview for
Audiences to a film
In a cinema
They may never frequent.

Scenes lack chronology;
It was sold to these people
I do not know as
A route for tourists,
But the nation’s mask
Slipped and I knew then
Of poverty and deceit.

Fields beyond
The spying sedge
Divulged soils
Barren and as red
As ever a Martian rover
Beamed back by satellite link;
Yet it did not go unnoticed,
How villagers were forced
To rake and till
That seedless, empty
Former lake.

I broke away from the tour
Just before a torturing place
Disguised as security checks;
I ran uphill, a country lane,
At the summit I found two houses
Built in an odd representation
Of Western architecture.
An elderly woman departing one
Looked into my soul with
A purpose beyond divining
And said ‘we are not allowed
To converse in this space,
It is frowned upon, and you
Could be arrested, especially
Once they hear your accent
Which I recognise from Boston,
Massachusetts‘. I was nonplussed,
For am I not clearly from a small
And stateless island?

I made my way downhill, through
Living rooms filled with shifting
People and weird toys. Finally
Arriving back at the hotel
I understood these protocols,
You cannot look at the locals,
You cannot engage in dialogue
According to the ubiquitous
Signage in red and white,
They are trained to melt away
When the Western ones walk by,
Our suitcases as curious to
These servants and obedient managers
Who are sometimes shot
In secret locations, in forests,
For reasons counterfeited
And approved, rubber stamped,
As curious as we found their
Customs and their dress, their
Acquiescence to their fate.

I rushed to catch up with my group
Queuing for an airport coach,
A final check of passports,
A glimpse of army patrols,
An overwhelming sense, relief!,
Beyond the controlling sleep
To arrive back safely in mornings
Where I know of choice and loss
And love and grief. I stretched
Out of bed, showered,
Combed my post-pandemic
Longer hair, reached for my phone
Where nightly it charges, but
My phone, like all my
Karmic chances,
Had disappeared.

Tundra

You said that my chest
Is where the caribou’s
Hooves leave their trail,

The pine cones in my
Bones and breath
I held until you felt

The forest’s cloak of snow
Fall to the frozen ground,
Heralding a Spring in you

As wide and vast
As the experiences
Of sudden tundra

We shared in wonder
By horse and sled,
Under a permanent blue.