Poem: In The Beginning

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Emerging from the womb-like dark,
I wander in the garden,
Clawing past trees with cryptic bark,
To seek completion’s pardon

For half a being I only am,
No mate to caress my features,
A terrible beast called ‘a man,’
Alone among all creatures

Birds nuzzle in their nests,
Foxes huddle in their hollows,
In wretched mimicry of their love
My heart blindly follows

Unfit I am for this world,
Unfriendly and insane,
A clockwork watch designed to be
A continuum of pain

My flesh, unclothed, meets the teeth,
Of bitter, twisting thorns,
The only sound – rutting stags –
Clashing with their horns

Then rising up from the earth,
With onyx feathered wings,
Lady Night, shawled in stars,
Prophetically sings:

“I see you in your nakedness,
Wretch by the name of Adam.
Master of me you cannot be –
I will be your madam!”

With agile twist and flick of veil,
Slow reveal of pearly flesh,
The female comes to pin the male,
Sinking claws into his breast

Scarlet hair smothers me
In mad, Medusa coils,
Her voice, a melody of woven vine,
Screaming from the soil

Ears cruelly glut themselves
On panic-stricken cries;
This revelatory hypnotist
With sparkling, sapphire eyes

She bites my lip, until the juice
Of unveined blood does trickle,
Incarnadine wine flowing from
A smile so free and fickle

I feel the pressure against my chest
For which I’ve always longed;
My reality has been dismissed;
The axis of my world is gone

And falling headlong in a flash,
I see the deathly cost,
Paradise never was The Truth –
Paradise is lost

Sadly, now, disembraced,
From the arms of Circe,
Impassioned malevolence falls away
To be replaced by mercy

In a sudden shock of motion,
Hands falling from her hair,
Regarding me disdainfully,
She says: “Noli Me Tangere

“O, man, feeblest of flesh,
You cannot dance the dance of death,
Shaming death, in mortal greed,
You abjure your soul’s deepest need

“To feel the scythe in twist of skin,
Memories of skulls in ache of love,
Turning desire into sin,
The serpent flees into the grove

“Where I still rule, command the flame
Of all self-torturous yearning,
Where I still rule, command the light
Of empty churches burning.”

And, ridding me of my fleshy chains,
My heart remains imprisoned,
I cannot hear The Word of God;
I never tried to listen

Hungry, was I, to hear the song,
The chorus that always killeth,
To hear the forbidden melody,
The secret voice of Lilith

But now that tongue has silent grown,
My music’s sad undoing,
No teeth sink into my flesh,
My garden is a ruin

And so I wait for the reprise,
Of the chorus that always killeth;
To hear the never-whispered song:
The secret word of Lilith

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Poem: Alchemy of Forms

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My heart is full of you,
And the throat-rattling cries of ravens,
Pulsing through the air in liquid beats –
The serrated sky my soul entreats

From Sirius, to Algol, to jewelled Aldebaran,
Over pathways of stardust to draconian Thuban,
From Castor and Pollux, the polarized twins,
The churning maelstrom in which my desire begins

Coalescing to shape in the body’s strange lands,
A victim of passion and its fevered demands,
Agony becomes bliss in the passing of time,
The sipping of blood, and the sharing of wine

The alchemy of forms is soft and profound,
Your arms encircle – your lips surround –
Of words and thoughts I will no longer teach;
Rather, let your body speak

To mine, in whispered caresses, sweet,
A temporary victory for eternal defeat,
Yet, what happier surrender, what treatise of peace,
Comes with the promise of such ecstatic release?

Poem: Deadlier Vision

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I don’t believe in innocence;
A deadlier vision ever lurks, untapped,
Unfulfilled, canker worm not yet exposed,
Too soon to see it come full bloom
Yielding the fragrance of darkness distilled

I cannot make you out,
Befogged in Neptunian mists, spindrift,
The cloaking device of lunar repression,
On what chopping block has your head lain,
The hard edge of fate so sharpened?

But you cannot make yourself invisible,
In the conspicuity of absence,
Trauma is revealed
In the coarsened thumb-marks
Still chiming on swan-like throat

The score is continuously re-written:
The fumbling of incipient notes

Poem: Silence in Tregare

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A halo of isolation offers
The certainty of distance,
A secluded cottage home –
The picture of my heart –
No one else for miles around

Intermittently, travellers pass by,
Stowaways amidst hedgerows,
Peeping through hawthorn, picketed fences,
Glances cast through book-tiered windows;
All well-weathered ruination

A winterbourne flows by, prone to flooding,
Pheasants howling stupid in far-off fields,
While mad choirs of sheep ring demented
In peals of cacophonous disaster

It is serene, but cannot be crossed-over,
Only a byway, the barest hint of hospitality,
Catering to appetites, uncultivated, impossible,

There could be parties here,
Sequins, ballrooms, celebrations,
But just the quiet domesticity
Of page following page
Is an ocean of introversion

Here, thoughts are assembled,
Seldom shared – culled or distilled
Into an idealized populace
To share with visitors of a fierce enough
Calibre to withstand psychology
So sharply displayed

James, Austen, Trollope
All write furiously in a corner,
Artists honing the perspective
Of a perfectly clarified mind,
While The Surrealists loiter
In the garden, turning sunsets
And cloudscapes into jagged
Shrapnel of thought, displayed
As cudgels of inflammatory colour,
Blending artfully into interstices
Untrammelled, unwanted

A universe, then, in image, in words,
But never quite finding a space where
Flesh can enter; and, the body, disused,
So much crumbling masonry, only caressed
By the bare knuckles of time

Joy is a weed soon uprooted;
Your sorrow is in its prime

Poem: Guillotine

 

guillotine

We come in sadness,
And leave in sadness,

In the end,
All our spires will burn down,
And all of your verdicts,
No matter how well played,
Will always be against you

You can rage and cry,
And squeeze your mattress
Until it oozes bloody droplets

But once the guillotine has severed
The cerebellum from the spinal column,
Then all the hopes of soul and body –
Psyche and Cupid –
To overcome their fatal disunity,
Are left in the trash heap of remorse

The veil is broken,
Mass is over,
The stars go on their course

Poem: Penally Andromeda

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My heart, still palpitant wound,
From the thrifted cliffs, pleading,
Scarlet slithers down the rocks,
Into the blue-black sea, bleeding

Offerings to ancient stone,
Thistles of the wave’s foam thatchers,
In the sky, herring gulls roam,
Curlews, doves, and oystercatchers

From sandy dunes, blue bell paths,
Legs wending to soft liaison,
To anchorage where hermits chant
Heart-felt cries of ‘Kyrie, Eleison”

Head sky-full of amorous thoughts,
Heavy chest from love’s sharp ache,
See the motions of the tide,
Hear the thrashing wavelets break,

Healing comes but once a lifetime,
How I’ve waited, loved, and longed,
To feel the touch of true completion;
The savage blow of Asclepius’ wand

Will it come, or will I lie?
Hollow reply to empty pleading,
Trickling scarlet as I die,
Feed the ocean with my bleeding

Poem: Hymn of Dionysus

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In the thrill of my flesh
From the altar of my wounds,
To the serpentine sewers, collecting
With wine and rotting meat;
In the orgiastic symposia
Of chthonic, all-night vigils

I suffer so you can be happy

With my muscles loose and tender,
Aching with the care of Orphic hymns,
Spilling its desire, and the very vine of hope,
Where the cells of my dismemberment
Are the fruits of your joy

I suffer so you can be happy

When you dance depraved in your candle-lit revels,
Or howl from the tops of war-like promontories,
While you sing hymns unto my pain,
From the rooftops of cathedrals

I suffer so you may be happy

But tracing back through the ossuaries of times,
To the fevered delight in the bread and the wine,
Pull at your helices and you shall find:

I suffer so you may be happy,
I suffer so you may be happy

Poem: Salome

Salome

When stepfathers wish you to dance,
Only severed heads will suffice

While saints still live,
Your legs lie nerveless,
Taut with agony,
And not even a Zimmer frame,
Or a wooden leg,
Will help you kick The Temple
Of The Holy Sepulchre

But inspiration arrives in incestuous demands,
And the performance of bloody ablutions

Migrainous and languorous in bed,
Your heavy lids lift to the felling
Of innumerable botched and unclean blows;
By the time spine is severed from cerebellum
Why – you almost feel you could dance!

It’s almost like magic:
The moment you hear the silver platter
Tinkle with the initiate of Golgotha,
Those palsied and nerveless pins
Leap into an ecstatic frenzy

Your servants hardly know what to do

Suddenly you are a whirlwind,
A sizzling canopy of veils,
And a staccato flash
Of your blood-anointed flesh,
Is enough to make tyrants befoul their thrones

The one great act
Of your erotic life:
Demons dance alone

 

Art By Isabel Robson Instagram: englishwomaninwales

Poem: The Invisible Man

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Once I take off my clothes
My body disappears

Like The Invisible Man,
My appearance is defined by my apparel,
And no sooner do I remove
These trappings of civility
Than I atrophy:
Ugly – evanescent

You can try and catch me at it,
This multi-dimensional burlesque –
Spiritual striptease –

But the dividing line
Between touch and visibility
Repels me from the sweetest of reaches

I am the rags you find on the street;
The limbs on the strandlines of beaches

Poem: Angrbodha’s Curse

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Cutting through the withered limestone of spine,
Vertebra by vertebra, my disks slip
Into the petrified glade of deep time,
Where every minute is the full-growth of a tree trunk,
Bulging like a swollen tongue

In these ashy entrails
Where haruspices harrowed truth in soil and blood,
This the oesophagus of pearly stone,
The ache of bellied mud

You cannot bury us here

Though you encrypt us deep,
In your catacombs and sepulchres,
The memories of Earth Giant need to weep,
Amnesia gurgling into vomit

Then, our bleeding fingernails,
Scratching surface-wards,
Like vinous tendrils
Seeking sunshine for blood,
Puncture the skin
In pockmarked solace,
To rob quietude of its birth,

This is the limestone curse,
The endless memory of Earth