Poem: The Triumph of Failure

rooftops

Starting as the space between the strings,
A silent duet above the street tops,
Words and melodies trickled from lips,
Hearts-hiccoughing from grace-frayed gifts,

But then I became repulsive to you,
All my songs the stuff of maggots,
And now you only saw carbuncles
Whenever you looked into my eyes

“You can sing from a place of fire,
Ushering lyrics into The House of Beauty,
Lift the fallen out of the mire,
Find sweetness in the tears of cruelty

“But can you sing me a house?
Write a symphony of social security?
You’re a worthless, rhapsodizing louse
Venom in the mouth of domesticity”

And, as troubadour, I must triumph in failure,
Submit to the solitude of starved desire,
Search vainly in despondent valour,
For the pain sure to inspire

Unearthed pain unlocks the treasure,
Fresh blood mingles in the fountain,
Divorce from love gives me leisure
To make hell into a mountain

Purgatory, overflowing, has no gates;
A journey across the desert awaits

 

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Poem: Lake of Ice

202050_theprisoner_heart-of-the-swamp

Why can’t my heart fly?
Sticky and stranded among the rocks,
Enwrapped by tentacles and shelled molluscs,
It lurks among the turbid waters,
Waiting to breach for dry land,
But finding safety in the cool thrill of darkness,

I am treading to you over a lake of ice,
Mindful of every shudder, each stentorian crack,
Taking my time,
Not wanting to thaw with frenzy,
To turn what I love into an evasive enemy,
But chased by persistent fears,
Running razor fingers through the grooves of frost,
I want to hold onto you as a ship’s mast,
The last refuge of a madcap drowning fast

But patience, restraint, are my self-loaded chains,
The bitter laughs spluttering from the lips of my ribs,
The pain of counting out the divisive seconds,
The heart splintered by the season’s dials

Always afraid of making the wrong move,
As though love were a game of chess,
A test of endurance and strategy,
Plotting, conniving, abstracting,
Finding excuses to see you again,
To get closer,
To silently sample each efflorescence of your wonder

To kiss goodnight down timeless streets,
The place where endings and beginnings meet

Poem: Terror

anxiety_by_beethy-d576qa8

Terror, terror, in my skin,
Where do you stop and I begin?
Filling me with dreadful care,
I seem to find you everywhere

Unconfined by geography,
Where is not your suzerainty?
I’ve tried to find it, but in vain:
Yours is an all-encompassing pain

You follow me everywhere,
Like an infection, skin-eroding,
Ask me if I do or dare,
Simplicity becomes foreboding,

You follow me in my happy moods,
And when I’m walking through the woods,
Chewing away my insecurity,
My only recurring stability,

Terror in the supermarket,
Terror in the crowded street,
Terror sits upon my chest,
When I cannot get to sleep

You make me feel like death’s flirtation,
You jeer, and jibber, grind and goad,
Ever repeating this one thought:
Any second your heart could explode

Why dishonour myself by believing,
Things that might or might not be true,
Why are you now my voice of reason?
Why have I put my trust in you?

I begged you to go away, Fear,
Said we should both see other people,
I do not wish to return to your church,
Or impale myself on its steeple

I am hungry for a deeper peace,
Hungry for the embrace of wisdom,
Hungry for a love that can
Be its own, fear-destroying Kingdom

Now a memory, I can see,
Pictures of our time spent together,
Holding hands, reluctantly,
Why did you love me, so much, Terror?

But now that you have gone, Fear,
I can see what you helped me learn,
But it does not make any more keen,
To know the day when you’ll return

 

Poem: Joey The Underwater Milkman

 

octotot

After years of being a milkman,

 

Joey decided to become an octopus.

 

He studied them as much as he could.

 

 In the delirium preceding the slitting of his throat,

 

Octopi were his thoughts’ sole focus

 

 

 

In the following murkiness, the dark hours

 

Of draining blood, the growing schism

 

Between spirit and body, Joey’s essence poured

 

Itself back into the world, rewaking, couchant,

 

Before the throne of Jove, who, diving his soul’s purpose,

 

Cast him deeper into the sea’s foams

 

 

 

Then all was a chamber of blue,

 

Procreant from a shuddering shell,

 

He left his egg, fragile doorway of the world,

 

His hard, horny beak breaking through its bonds,

 

To clack into infinity

 

 

 

Not bird, nor fish, nor snail enlarged,

 

His thoughts expressed themselves

 

In the billows and contraries of undulant body,

 

Not a recoil, nor the spilling of crimson ink,

 

But a net, a hunter, a capturer, an acrobat

 

Hunger-governed

 

 

 

He danced with polymorphic agility through this matrix

 

Of ocean, seaweed-silhouetted, peeping beadily through

 

Shoal vistas, circumspect, puncturer of any thought,

 

Listen to his mind: the crunch of soft-tissue and bones

 

 

 

Concealed in pebbles,

 

Minareted in sands,

 

Perched on the brink of sub-aqueous cliffs,

 

Waiting, searching, fin-tasting and charged,

 

A maze of motion, of unwritten currents,

 

Jet-propelled prism refracting muddied

 

Fragments of stealth

 

 

 

II.

 

But then days arabesqued into more than just

 

Stealth-lined shadows – of prying life-pryer:

 

 

 

The coral was coloured too harshly,

 

Dizzying his mind into unwelcome mazes:

 

What if there is more to being an octopus

 

Than being an octopus?

 

 

 

“There is,” unthroated strangeness confirmed,

 

“For all things stretch back to and emanate

 

From the centre. All things lead to where

 

Your tentacles are going, your thoughts

 

Disappear in discoloured ink.”

 

 

 

And he was a kid again, at the fireside,

 

Hearing his father wax lyrical on the delivery of fresh milk:

 

 

 

“At the centre of the ocean is an octopus bigger than all of this –

 

His far-reaching arms balance the eight directions,

 

Juggling the five elements,

 

His ink is the blackness settling the night,

 

His eyes the flash fire of ineluctable day.

 

 

 

“He Is the reason your Father dies after ejaculation,

 

And your mother a sack of eggs serrated by self-slaughter!”

 

 

 

“But why must I be so?

 

An eight-armed orphan to the world?”

 

 

 

And Joey remembered the seasons of his father’s woe,

 

The dread certainties manhood would make him mate.

 

He knew of no more earthly love than this.

 

 

 

So he cried into the ocean,

 

Neither man nor mollusc,

 

Just a net adrift, conundrum-captured,

 

Hunting and roaming,

 

While throats, still slit, dribble reality into the sink,

 

As The Baboon God beats out his own brains.

 

 

 

Poem: Jackdaws In Love

jack

A congregation of jackdaws zigzag above a spire,
Each of their clacks a prayer of unconscious praise
The patterns dissolve and then repeat
Recombining in a thousand different ways

I’ll admit it – I am afraid of tenderness –
Of softness – of anything that can speak
Sweetly to me when I expect only indifference
And repulsion

A loving whisper can wear away a wall
Quicker than a brass band at Jericho,
And a soul-sung smile can disable
Even the most high-tech of security systems,
Leaving you defenceless and worn

But each of my cells is a jackdaw,
Sometimes cohering together in a maze of flight,
At others electing to spend lives of searching on lonely rooftops,
Dropping stolen objects onto the ground below,
To observe the laws of Caws and Effect

If a tree shan’t be my throne,
Then a throne shall be my tree,
And from the scriptural skin of spiral-spun bark,
I will offer shelter to those above and below me –
The Wooden Almshouse of the World

Just by being here, I am unchastened,
My kisses are loosened from their reins,
And seek out streams in which to bathe their secrets,
In the eddies and whirlpools of unknowing

So see me chaste,
And then unchastened,
In the clacking prayer of bird-born syllables,
Strung on every strand of the sky

 

Poem: Queen of Autumn Sanctuaries

autumnlady

Queen of Autumn Sanctuaries –

What will you do now that your sovereignty

Has been displaced by a less sweet season?

*

Your season might be over – but your work is

Still in motion – posing unanswered thoughts

In the lullaby pulse of every burrowing creature

 *

You do not like to work out in the open – you weave

Your secrets into neat little parcels,

Deposited underground

For safest keeping

 *

Your kingdom is the happiness of jays;

The flight paths of swans in the lunar mist;

The roaring of the fire, in its tight iron cage,

Transmuting sadness into warmth,

Well-kindled,

*

Yours is not the regality of pomp and glory –

But the whispered glory of the small and

Hidden, hibernating in its own subtle beauty –

The half-heard majesty of the evening

*

This is why you love trees: not for their grandeur,

But for the way they enhance your smallness –

For you love anything that can miniaturize your

Frame, and enfold you in the gallantry of

Kindness

 *

Your palace is not turreted; but a pine cabin

In the woods. For, what need have you for a

Palace, when your kingdom dwells in a gallery

Of acorns, and the sustained tear fall of

Ice in the making?

 *

II.

Sweet Queen – though I can see you in the

Dolour of every yellowed elm; the escape

Of a squirrel’s tail – though I can hear you whispering

In unfinished manuscripts, and the mirk of sea-stained

Pages – still, I thirst for more than just traces, and the mad

Melancholy of boot-crushed berries

*

Invite me into your cabin –

Take off your veil –

Let us come face to face:

*

In the twilight of your kitchen;

In that perfect womb of cottag’d silence,

We will discuss the things that only we know,

And sing sweetly all that the mists only mutter

*

And against the shadow of all that furtively flutters,

The unsaid will be louder

Than the said

 *

 

Poem: The Heart Unmasked (Seven Hells/Heavens in Seven Parts)

 

blake

PART ONE – INFERNO

How can I do it?

How can I be the poet, who

Epitomizes the pain of this age, to

Everyone’s satisfaction? I feel the

Constant sheddings of impermanence –

Those fleeting moments of joy, all

Too quickly overwhelmed by that tide

Of despair; by that pain and despair, so real,

And so intense, that you thirst for it, and howl

For it, sigh for it, and scream for it – beseeching

All the embers to burn you up, in that

Loving madness of pain. I tried to

Take off my mask; to show you

My naked face – but my Plutonian Overlords

Only cram it on more tightly, affixing and

Oppressing me with identities, I

Wish I didn’t have to invent – Oh!

Great Phantom Gods of Pain! Please

Help me in my aim, to bespeak the pain

Of a generation – not for fame – but so

That in the pools of these wildish words,

Their myriad sufferings might be diffused;

Perfused with the kinship of suffering, that

Transcends any skeletons or bones.

This is why I want to take off my mask –

To show you the agonies of my mind – my skull

Scarified – the crumbling condominium

Of my heart, that both harrower and

Harrowing have pried: for my heart,

Like Heaven, is a mansion with many

Rooms: some vile, some atrocious,

Some bloody, and melodious – some

Filled with the purest of nightly whites,

That few have the courage to ingress.

Let me take you on a tour through

My heart – in the basement I

 Keep my childhood, where emotional

Impressions were chaotic, and, like Jude The Obscure,

I felt consigned to a reality I was doomed to abhor; where misunderstanding

Was to be the lady-in-waiting, beleaguering my future

Hours. From thence, we arrive at the kitchen,

Where my teenage years were prepared; amidst

A melee of experimentation, I re-designed and

Destroyed myself daily, hoping to hit upon

The secret formula, that would most assuage my

Pain – years in which every stranger was a potential

Assailant, saviour, or oppressor; and girls were

Mythical creatures, by which only other men were

Allowed to be loved – so, up above, I clung

To my guitar, as a six-stringed refuge, in

A storm misbegotten, drowning myself

In music, and overindulging on breath mints,

That I hoped that would clear the air of repulsion,

That drove people so far away

From me. As we descend

Through the lower tiers of the hells

I quarried for myself out of the rocks

Of my misguided youth, we find my years

Of Cynicism, stung by seclusion,

Scientific endeavour, and literary speculation;

Of wandering down the dual carriageway at

3AM, blood all over my arms and thighs – (I

Didn’t realize the wounds were so serious, and

That we would later have to amputate her entire

Left side) – stuck statuesque in infernal

Discotheques, whilst the morons of my

Generation, danced in ignorance around me,

Clutching their tridents and chains – Like I said –

These were misguided days, in which I sincerely

Believed, if I learned enough, and accumulated

Sufficient knowledge, perhaps I would eventually

Be loved – Finally, somebody did love me,

Loved me so much, that they had to overdose

Themselves on painkillers, just to render themselves

Sensible to me – these were the years spent

In higher towers, in which the gilded furnishings

Barely concealed, the blood on the wainscoting, swifter

Demolition revealed – in these apartments

I sought after macabre joys – of secret parades

Wrought, in uterine blood – of victimization

Circling the carousals of my mind; end of the

World arguments, that left my nerves in a wreck,

And the stains of suicide, like an albatross

Round my neck – how much hope I invested in this pain!

In this dark trial of love, that oversexed me to a state

Of begrudging climax, taut with the torn ligaments of woe;

Of rare aphrodisiacs – trips to the doctors –

Of life-time imprisonment, in a life-long bed

With a girl whose compassion knew not

How to grow – when it was all done and

Finished, and my ill-gotten liberty perplexed me

To higher states – we turn now into the adjoining room –

The gallery in which are hung, all the hearts

I’ve broken since – constructive demolitions, housing

A stony memorial of guilt, for the death of an

Ill-hatched parrot, who never should have been

Caged next to me; besides a filing cabinet, cataloguing

My subsequent disappointments, filed

Alphanumerically.

  1. PARADISO

But, let’s not deceived by this –

I don’t want to be some lopsided

Reporter, a dualistic biographer of

Slaughter, who only highlights the trials

Of life – and not the incorruptible joys

They helped to fertilize. So we’ll ascend

From Hell for a moment, to pay homage to

My favourite chamber – the one thus yclept:

‘HOPE OF THINGS TO COME –

HOPE OF LOVERS NEXT’ –

In this chamber, you are the sole

Occupant, an ageless muse, resplendent in

The raiment of the moon;

In bridal veil, white gown, and sail, I beseech

The scions of Heaven to stitch you into my

Future – I know we have little temporal

Acquaintance – but around you, already, I dance:

You are the choreographer of my days –

The executioner of my nights –

The denuder of my face –

The purveyor of my delights – Already,

My heart has become your principal

Exhibition – The Archive of your every

Expression – in which I display all the

Trophies that celebrate, any time I spend

With you. If Hell is the past,

And a loveless present – then this is why

I rail against Time, longing for

It to stop in its tracks, to speed into

The future, or to sometimes double-back:

Those frozen moments, which I wish, immortalized,

I could paint myself into – when you cross over

The threshold, into the sacred suzerainty of my

Arms – Oh! How I wish I could preserve such moments

Forever – pickle them in a jar – mummify them

In my memories, that know no near,

No far: that, like some waxing candle,

I did not have to see your proximity, snuffed

Out before me. And so I dream,

Of some secret chamber, some tax-free

Haven, some forbidden penthouse of

Heaven, where I keep you in my arms,

World without end, in a loving embrace

We never suspend: an embrace that overcomes

All boundaries; liberates all beings from

Discontent; every wound is healed; every

Wrong is righted; every corruption is

Purified, all guilt elided, all love

Heightened, and elevated to a state

Of boundless magnitude, enwreathed with

A corona of eroticism’s angels, triumphing

The music, that can’t help but resonate

Betwixt our lonesome souls – don’t you see

The crux of my anglicized delusion? That

Separate, we are but tiers of Hell; but

Together we become the fabric of Heaven?

So, I will rail against Time – Time, the

Ender and initiator of all pleasures and

Pains – Time – The closer and can-opener

Of all embraces – Time, which

Brought you to me, and which I despair, may,

Too soon, carry you away – Oh! Don’t

Delay! What are you waiting for?

BRING ME MY HEAVEN! Do what you

Must to me first, but just BRING ME

MY HEAVEN! Shoot me with arrows like

St. Edmund – nail me to a cross – make

Me read dross – toast me like Joan of

Arc – torture me like a Buddhist captive in

The hands of a Communist oppressor – only:

BRING ME MY HEAVEN! Bring me days

Of unuttered release, where you untutored

Kisses, will be the only language I will ever

Speak – a Lover’s Binary Code: parted lips

For ‘YES’ – Closed lips for ‘NO’ – supple

Lips for ‘ONE’ – parched lips for ‘ZERO’ –

How can I ever entertain such hopes? How

Do I have the audacity, to compose such

Luscious heavens? I am but a tramp, half-crazed,

Caught up in the malaise of unhappy existences,

I struggle to daily transmutate. How can I be your

Role model? How can I provide you with hope; except

For within, the sacred environs, of two tender arms,

That speak with greater eloquence, than my tongue

Ever can? For all my experience and disillusionment,

I still feel an affrighted virgin – a mountain monk

Celibate; killing myself with nettle soup, and

Chanting scriptures, that will have to suffice, in

Place of an absent touch. Bug am I not always being

Touched? Does not the sky embrace me?

Do not the mountains readily enthrone me? And,

Is it not the autumn mist, with which my soul

Is seasonally kissed? I am a fool – I could

Never be the hero – I must be Mercutio or

King Lear – Dear, dear, dear! I am too

Much of a prankster, a fixer, a trickster – but

Does not the Trickster, too, cry out for love? Does not

The Fixer demand a bride, to lay the follies of his benighted

Cunning aside? Someone to exculpate him

From his virginal taint – to be loved as a

Man – not an unhappy saint?

III. INTERMEZZO

So, you have seen some of it now –

I have allowed myself to be unmasked –

(Though with too much stage make-up

For this revelation to last) –

I have taken you as a tourist, through my heart –

Through my private Heavens and Hells –

Do you feel you know me better? Can you

Feel me within yourself? Do you hate me

More, or love me less? Or do you admire

Me for finally attempting to express, what,

For too long, my dignity, has assayed to suppress?

Ah, fuck dignity! Dignity be gone! I will crumple

Myself at your feet, like a failing conflagration, and

Demand that you touch me – that just once

You burn your fingers, on these icy pinnacles of flame:

My body is a fire,

Only you can put out,

But still – it is not enough –

There is too much left – I want to

Give you more, to explore every drawer,

Every last compartment, snow-strewn escarpment,

Every sun-scarred ridge; every last follicle

Of skin stung by mosquito or midge; I feel

Responsible – I want to give you some little

Hope – some stainless technique of solace

You can use as a rope. If I must

Give you more, then let it be this:

Be a musician to the moment;

A singer to the stars, a poetizer

Of experience, a raving drunkard

In every bar – be an intimate lover, to each

And every last thing: to every insect, bird, rock, man,

Woman, fish, or tree – to everything that sings:

Whatever you experience – celebrate it –

You every peril, your every pain, your

Every amnesty, your every chain; your joy,

Your grief, your wakefulness, your sleep, your

Ecstasy, your agony, your clarity, your confusion, your

Disparity, between what you love, and what

You would like to be – your love, your romance –

Your mad shaman’s dance – with this royal perfusion,

You can transport us all to gold – this is your sacred

Tool-kit – The Paint-box of your

Soul.

IV.

But, if you return into the raging

Prison, that I call my heart, you will

Find your name, writ upon every cell,

Emblazoned on every myocardial fibre – every

Throbbing wall of this blood-pumping dell. I chant your name to

Pass the time, and, doing thus, I have never felt

More alive, you are very easy to love – to you?

I fancy I am not – but perhaps amongst these

Wildish words, some understanding will be got.

V.

But, I cannot leave it there – I

Promised not to end on a pessimistic

Note; to give you some mote of hope – but

How can I urge others to self-believe, when to

The potential of being loved myself, I so struggle

To toast?

So, maybe it could happen –

Maybe you could love me –

Maybe I don’t have to be typecast as Koko,

And find my courtesans eloping with

Less headless men? Maybe? Maybe!

A thousand Maybes! A torrent of Maybes! A

Pigswill of Hope, groping for something on which

This hollow heart can float; consumed by grotesque

Diners, and the squalid old man who lives in my

Moat. Oh, Hope do not desert me! Pray,

Courage, lend me your oar, so I can help

Myself and others, get to The Other

Shore, and make it in time for my

Wedding Day – Oh look! – They’ve

Just thrown the bouquet! And on each

Painful convolvulus is written,

A charitable omen of Hope.

VI.

So, for now, time is still stood still –

Your tenancy in my arms, brooks no

Eviction, we need no conviction, to know

That the united front, of every heart beat’s exeunt,

Is the only pulse we need for our days – Let’s leave

It there, in that shallowest of Heavens. I will

Take off my mask, one last time, and

Crested aloft on un-urgent rhyme, I will

Leave you the space,

To kiss unclothed face –

Finally seeing inside,

With Hope open wide,

I climb up on the rocks

And am killed by my bride.

And, on what wisdom, has our bread been leavened?

That separate, we are but tiers of Hell – but Together

The Fabric

Of Heaven.

VII.

If I must

Give you more, then let it be this:

Be a musician to the moment;

A singer to the stars, a poetizer

Of experience, a raving drunkard

In every bar – be an intimate lover, to each

And every last thing: to every insect, bird, rock, man,

Woman, fish, or tree – to everything that sings:

Whatever you experience – celebrate it –

You every peril, your every pain, your

Every amnesty, your every chain; your joy,

Your grief, your wakefulness, your sleep, your

Ecstasy, your agony, your clarity, your confusion, your

Disparity, between what you love, and what

You would like to be – your love, your romance –

Your mad shaman’s dance – with this royal perfusion,

You can transport us all to gold – this is your sacred

Tool-kit – The Paint-box of your

Soul.

 

Poem: The Cellar

hogarth

Life is the stomping ground

In which foolish actions can be made

The arena in which ignorance

Can be pitted against itself

In gladiatorial combat

To see who comes out he victor

But I already know the answer:

I will emerge victorious

Bewreathed with slain fancies

And a murder of crows

Who know how to seek out

The sweet shade at an inferno’s centre

At the epicentre of my dilemma

I could never find a more peaceful moment

In which to revel in my unkindled distress

Or the fragrance of the hour

We were caught In flagrante by ignoble watchmen

Imprisoning us, they threw us by accident

Into the cellar, instead of the dungeon,

Where we drunk our way to a liberty

Neither of us had previously imagined

I sent you a blessing; I sent you a curse;

I sent you flight feathers; and a blood-filled purse

But still no verdict comes –

We must remain

Drunk all the same

Drumming on the corpses of barrels

Filled with the blood of our future

Can you hear my hollow smut?

Can you hear the flatulence

Of my suicide sphere?

You pressed down on my

Shrunken stomach, urging me

To fart out my thoughts –

I resisted, clinging to the vines of propriety

That have strangled many of my dreams

Once a gentleman – but always a madman

Forever a frolicking satyr

Leaping around museums

To play the pipes of Pan

My ribcage does not engirdle me

Easily now. But we will drink

In the dungeon. And after plunging into

Another flagon, I will climb

The tree of cyanide

To see where its poisoned bowers

End

 

Poem: Song to a Muse

piggirl

You are a bower of bliss

A little fortress of possibility

Slithering into my awareness

With those unforgettable brows

And that visage of excitable calm

How could I not take you as my daughter

And leave you in the road to die?

Oh, don’t ask why!

Isn’t it enough just to know

That I am here to be your guide;

Your psychopomp through valleys far and wide?

And to teach you to address

Those chains of experience

That will thus constrain and arouse you?

Why you should be on THIS raft of the living

Is your purpose alone

To guess

But your power is great

And it is just my delight

To bring it into fruition