Poem: Feathered Lands

lay

Feathered lands settling on sunset skies,
Blackbirds whispering codes
Well-versed in melodic intrigue,
Prickled all over
By broom-blossom belle-dames,
A net of nerve-endings
Emanating from a nervous system
Incapable of forgetting

From chords strung on moon-bent harp,
The host of Venus on ecliptic string,
Puppetry of stars, jarred by serenity,
Dial tones of birds on the wing

Poem: Three Nights

lighthouse.jpg

The first night I slept alone
The Ocean sang me its fever,
My moorings were lost in the turbulent heat –
The arms of the gentle deceiver

The second night, my bed untamed,
Chewed me with its awnings,
And all around, the promontories choked
With writhing, lovesick warnings

But, the third night, with sick delight,
Gave freely of its reasons:
I was to decay; grow; wax and wane
In accordance with its seasons

And now alive, no more to writhe
In bedsick, homesick languor,
I see the hope of stars conjunct –
The lighthouse in the harbour

Poem: A Necessary Mess

sybil-and-aeneas-in-the-underworld-jacob-van-swanenburgh

A necessary mess,
All the coordinates of oblivion,
Enacted in stereo;
Mutated soundscapes, jagged and jarring,
The crumpled-up waveforms
Of transcendent madness

Intoxication is the heart-rate of violation,
The fulfilment of ecstatic trespass,
Overstepping the sacred barrier
Between meat and the soul it encases

Turned out into the strangest places,
The churchyard, garbage piled into mountains,
We searched among the carcasses,
All the futile fruition,
To find the cancer of abundance
Hanging from the branches

How could I have wrought this?
With the whiskey still aging
In oak barrel livers,
And the disjointed footsteps
Of over-extended limbs
Cavorting in agony –
The skull-trophy churches

Then lurching into the dawn,
And the unwatered hope
Of despair-nurtured kisses,
We found union in the trespass
Of corpse-fingered ditches

To twinkle in the star-spilt
Novelty of riches,
Rendered potent by the raving
Word-birth of witches

Poem: The Nursery of Pluto

goya

The baby crawled its way out of the corpse,
Feebly making its way through tendons and intestines,
Weeping and necrotic, in this world of black nightmare,
The soft, pink hands, making quick work of ribs,
Snapping them like twigs underfoot

Out there, the ritual continues,
The agents of disinterment
Dance to the tempo of up-shovelled corpse,
Binge-drinking bodily fluids,
And other symbols of the devil’s ejectamenta

Like lice in the furrows of rotting woods,
The baby makes good its moribund mission,
Most of the sternum has collapsed now,
With the pelvis and loins faring little better,
All falling away, like slops of gelatinous pudding,
Yummy ice-cream to nurse an infant

Who put him there?
In this strange cradle, where lungs should be,
A nursery emerges, a whole battalion of infants
None crying, but intent on a purpose,
All magnetized by some invincible direction,
The prospectors and fruit of a new resurrection

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

 

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

 *