Poem: Warring States

the-wake-up-spring

The pressure is mounting,
Perched on a branch, in a matrix of lust,
Entirely invested in the warp and weft,
The want and hunger for shape and colour,
I cannot ignore that iridescent sheen of red,
That just-so poise of geometric isolation,
I must assimilate it – take it into my heart,
Make peripheries crumble in deliquesced wanting,
The insanity of a smell that arouses taking,

It makes me quiver,
A shaking, desiring, eye-captured thing,
Prostituted to my own senses,
The irresistible blister of this itching cathexis,
Turning me into the prisoner of my own libidinous
Investments

Are you my enemy,
Or are you my lover?
I cannot distinguish anger from desire,
The sacral pulse of over-strained flesh,
Of celibacy combined with concupiscence

Because in violence,
There is the clawing away of skin,
Unplugged blood vessels,
There is the maggoty worming
For interiorization intense

And in lust,
The tender drill-bits are no less integral,
Fingers are knives that pierce to the essential,
The sadomasochism of simply being yourself,
When that ‘self’ is a spasm of wanting

Then I become nothing less than a bear,
Tearing out its opponent’s throat,
Like the cruel Jazz musician,
Who kills you with a single note,

And hanging on to that wasp-sting of over-strained brilliance,
I will find the beauty and danger of meeting with essence

 

Advertisements

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: Limestone Dreams

limestone

The limestone here seeps into your dreams,
Pebbles embedded in quartz-stricken seams,
You can fall into empty air where the peregrine flies,
And coppice your own thoughts until a new forest does rise

Then out of the enchantment of swarming gloom,
A bat creeps out of the netting and circles your room,
With omens and prophecies, relinquishing strange jewels,
Singing to you, oneirically, in inaudible mewls

But to her, you are as a thousand shards of a mirror,
A rookery of sounds – the netherest of nevers –
There is no spite – only a refreshment of feeling,
The parishioner plants kisses that are ripe for the stealing

These flowerbeds are not earthly, their colours betray
Tones that are not possible to see in the day,
Creeping slowly through them disguised as shimmering petals,
Green fingers of bracken – teeth of precious metals

With sapphire smiles, turquoise, magenta, and gold,
The most luxurious things to be so wretchedly old,
But the soil is their pardon, the only Bible they read
Is written in the language of wildflowers and weeds

With Green Men in pews, thoughts eroding to silver,
Nothing is as enigmatic as The Wye River,
And with weepers of autumn bringing their evensong chants,
I will reap of the kisses The Parishioner plants

Poem: The History of Spring

The Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes 1935 by Eric Ravilious 1903-1942

When you hear the sound of a bird call you do not know,
And all your manuscripts are trapped inside an old snow globe,
And the violence of frost must be avoided at all costs,
When the flowers ring wedding bells in the woods

Then you must trace your finger along an old dusty map,
And deliberately stick your hand in a rusty bear trap,
And walk through Wales with a cat o’ nine tails,
Lecturing the tongues of the dead

Then the riddler on the roof will stick out his tongue,
And we’ll return to the wood from which the wedding bells rung,
And to the melody of lost time, we’ll end this queer rhyme,
And rewrite the history of spring

 

Death As A Woman: An Ode

death.png

I.

Death approaches like a beautiful woman,

Long silken sweeps of her dress sashaying,

Something lovely, but far from human,

A picture of beauty, never decaying,

Yet decaying anyway – festering – burning –

Inflamed by the desire to be something else,

Yet the majesty of being here is returning,

And the melody of the moment fails to melt

The longing for stability in a body still shaking,

Inability to surrender to a pain hardly won,

A boy in the dying – an artist in the making,

The web of experience is unforgivingly spun;

And Death, as a Woman, pulls me to her breast,

Unshackles her waistband, and begins to undress

II.

And there, in her nudity, Death’s lovely form,

Is not cold and spiteful, but voluptuous and warm,

Inviting, and seductive – a thing fully fleshed,

A toxin-crazy fire,

Of invidious desire,

Forfeits me of the skin in which I’m carelessly enmeshed

III.

She has been known by many names:

Lamia – Circe – Christabel –

Persephone of the Underworld – Queen of Hell

Of everlasting allure and malicious fame –

 A murderess for sure – whatever the name!

IV.

O, but we lust for her – cannot be without her!

We only value our veins when from them she’s drank

More than we can give; cannot revoke the offer,

And our once youthful vitality becomes sinister and rank,

Until we see ourselves in the mirror – hollowed-out half-demons,

Sisters of the Grave, and Brothers of the Shore,

Delirious and twitching with delirium tremens,

Eat us with your kisses – give us some more!

You syphilitic hussy – all white and lovely –

Curving with a smoothness that kills all it feels,

The more beautiful you become, the more we grow ugly,

And our lease on living is salaciously repealed,

Tooth-marked and skinless, love teachingly betrays,

Marries us to Murder – measures us for the Grave

V.

Ah, but lovely woman, I cannot leave you there!

Haughtily vaunting over our sepulchre,

You are innocence and sin, orgiastically combined;

You do not just kill us, but make us refined,

Sisters of the Grave, yes, but Brothers of Rebirth,

From eggs hatching,

Caught, but never catching,

You execute us, perfectly, without needing to rehearse

VI.

Thus, with hands clawing up out of the ground,

Caked with sod,

And Caducean rod,

I emerge victorious – from death unbound

From mortality lost – by eternity found

 

Poem: The Ballad of the River Usk

styx_by_aniaem-d4ex5ev.jpg

I.

Wild demons are abroad tonight,

Feasting upon the absence of light,

Lurching, and twisting, and pulling wry faces,

Seizing the energy your fear displaces

II.

On a night such as this, I sail down the river

To seek forgiveness from an unholy forgiver;

The River Usk, a Styx and a Lethe became,

To the underworld I descended, with only the flame

III.

Of the amber-spun moon flaming over my head,

A sky-burning candle, guiding my quest,

The water is like oil – a riverine road –

An aqueous voyage to the land of the dead

IV.

Sailing onwards, even the darkness grows darker,

A thick fog of nothingness stifles my eyes,

Yet still through that darkness, I see the outline of ruins,

Palaces that crumbled before they e’er could rise

V.

Yet rise yet he does from that oily darkness,

Algae drips from him, reeking of death,

His visage is the very imagery of starkness,

Rotten teeth in his mouth – no eyes in his head

VI.

An eye is handed to him by a faithful assistant,

An orb of pure vision that sees more than I,

He howls and he brays as it burns into his socket,

He moans, he trembles, he screams, and he sighs

VII.

And issues a hiss of ungodly utterance:

“What does this mortal want with me?”

But before I can tremblingly answer, he says:

“You need not tell me – The Eyeball – it sees!”

VIII.

And what did it see, this eyeball omniscient?

What embryo of agony did it spy in my soul?

What did it see, so morbidly efficient –

Making it pulse, twitch, writhe and roll?

IX.

Could it see all my sins – my scarified errors –

Or was it an omen of disfigured prophecy?

Could it witness the fruition of all my terrors?

O, whatever, O ever, could that terrible eye see?

X.

But The Demon King just laughed at the scream of my tension,

Each of his laughs like a murder of crows,

An otherworldly laugh of unknown intension,

A tumour that hurts the more that it grows

XI.

I shivered in the face of these loveless decibels,

I thirsted for mercy – anticipating none –

I heard the ringing of bells from unholy churches,

I felt as though my good deeds had all been undone

XII.

Undone, undone, and spun into evil,

The purity of my love distorted to hate,

Yet still I loved on – loved on in that darkness,

Beating my heart ‘gainst a barbed-wire gate

XIII.

“What will you do if these gates burst asunder?

What will you do?” the Demon mocked with glee,

“What will you do with that heart-forging thunder?”

And once more The Demon King laughed at me

XIV.

And I had no idea what I would do,

No idea what I would do if my love were set free,

If all of my dreams were liberated from hell,

And returned, like swallows, back to me

XV.

I cried, and I wept, and sobbed in a frenzy,

Clawing at my skin, as if to escape,

Anything to be liberated from this eternal tension,

Eternally falling in a mouth grossly agape

XVI.

But then the Demon’s grin turned into a grimace,

His bones from his body began to break out,

A rupture of entrails – thus I morbidly singeth –

Oh, his agonizing bones – they came out – they came out!

XVII.

He screamed in agony – blood from him erupting

Blood coursing from his eyes in rivers of pain,

And from that squalid darkness corrupting,

Emerged a bright light – a lucent white flame

XVIII.

That filled the caverns of Hades with almighty wonder,

Devils and demons all dream-makers became,

The oily River Usk turned a magical color,

And the joy in my heart sang freely again

XIX.

But whether Love could triumph in hell’s temporary oblivion,

That my tale cannot foresee;

Heaven is a mysterious and scary abysm;

And my Dreams are their own private agonies

XX.

So, I’ll stay here, and linger a while in the forest,

Stay here and sing with the birds in the trees,

Stay here, straining to hear the winds whisper

If ever my love is meant to be.

 

Poem: The Vial of The Night

black

I drink from the vial of the night,

Strange sips, in the groove of some

Unearthly tango, a maddening shambles

That divests me of sense’s good rhythm

 *

And in ancient Rome, at the death of some

Great dictator, you grabbed my hand with

Great excitement, to pull me into that flowing,

Serpentine procession

 *

But I had not changed my position:

I was still numb, numbless, purling out

In all directions for want of love – an

Ever-encroaching shore that licks the

Land, as statesmen thirst for war

And if I was on that sepulchre,

All my lovers, and those that loved me,

Would take turns kissing me,

And I would be apotheosized by their kisses –

Raised up and poured like a sandy equation

Into the vial of the night

 

Poem: Café Sonata – A Fantasia

lead_960

Watching The Willow Woman come to life,

All winter, cursed in un-nurturing soil, she

Breathes as though for the first time now

That spring is here

*

Brittle branches become swinging limbs,

Thirsty roots become the tenderest of feet,

Unleafed buds become strands of blonde,

*

This creature from Ovid, this nymph, this Dryad,

This unsylvan Diana becomes a forest in herself,

The very agent of every breeze, a body of skirts,

Shawls, and fabrics that apportions beauty to

The sighing breath of the wind

*

Bored of being a tree, she becomes a woman,

A girl, and takes a spirited tour around Europe

For a year, floating through museums, dancing

With statues, supple footsteps in marble – half-

Heard cantatas on the wind

*

Europa was made solely to delight her,

That flying dove – that agent of sweetened

Disaster, spiriting down boulevards, cobblestones,

Singing to the scent of Belgian coffee, aromatic

Skyline smoked into matter

*

This flightful fantasia that can take me

So far away from where I am sat – to

France, The Alps, Belgium, Senegal –

The sunny and sun-spotted skulduggery

Of Roma where – La Dolce Vita! – she

Will fall into a fountain, slim-waisted,

The water exploding, resonantly, from

The aftershock of Anita Ekberg’s breasts –

Federico Fellini still burbling as he is

Motorboated into his grave.

*

II.

Now The Willow Tree is bored of travelling;

Whimsical for want of whimsy, she decides

To settle somewhere, to give her space to reflect,

Sinking her roots into an art-cum-coffee shop,

Where she paces around, purposefully, like an

Avian-wader, looking for fish to follow the teachings

Of her gullet, only too eager to be swallowed by her

*

Luckily, I am not a fish –

I am a tree sparrow, hopping along

A window ledge, furtively casting artistic

Glances at her, available for purchase in

My next issue of illustrations

*

From the cup of a tulip, I compose my fantasia,

Pencil lead composed from a tulip stem

*

I hold it in my beak, and make detailed

Notes about her – details of breeziness

And lithe branching legs that I will later

Stretch beyond all reason into a set of

Popular French novellas

*

III.

And what does she think of this sparrow,

Making eager notes over here, his face exhumed

From artist’s charcoal – with breadcrumbs for his

Wings? Stood behind her counter, heron-straight,

Heron-composed, until the need to fiddle with

Something in the shop, calls her daring legs away

*

He does not chitter – he does not even issue forth

A dunnock’s dripping of melodic litter – he just sits,

And sips his MOROCCAN MINT TEA, until his muse,

Or the desire to buy yet another book, calls him

Idiotically away

*

IV.

And then to a bay, some wide, glittering,

Sun-knighted bay, where sands can kiss

One’s feet, and it does not matter where

One is, whether in Africa, The Continent,

Or Barry Island,

*

All that matters is that one continues to stand here,

To be nursed by the moment, to be tenderly caressed

By invisible arms, and held by wallpaper patterns of

Hindu Gods, sparkling, glittering, and aurorically panting

To the vividity of God’s Glorious Painting

*

V.

And somewhere, on the other side of the world,

There is a baby lamb just being born, and through

His mucus-bleared eyes, all he can see is sun – sun,

Sun, sun, sun – a world of sun – a light – a corona –

A detonation of innocence beyond the threshold

Of its own awareness

*

And, in about three seconds,

He will be dimly aware that

Some sparrow has just written

About him in a blank verse poem

*

VI.

But The Willow Woman has no such knowledge –

Only her till, her counter, and her marrow bone’s

Worth of musical items

*

And in the warmth of Innocence and Ignorance

Playfully dancing, The Cafe Sonata will draw to

A close, once the coffee machine stops working

*

 

Poem: The Mistletoe and The Oak

normal_mistletoe_man

I.

I, the Mistletoe, on heavy oak boughs hang,

Knowing not who feels the deeper pang,

Botanists may classify me a parasite

 But in my vampirism I am devoutly contrite,

For love makes me feed, and I must feed on love,

Which is what makes me linger up here above;

Not hunger cruel – but direst need –

Do not castigate me as a nosferating weed!

But make me a crown – a tiara – a diadem green –

Up here in the treetops, by some seen and unseen,

II.

But what thinks this Oak of I in its branches bare –

Am I but a louse in its be-lichened hair?

An insect, a hookworm, a disease spheroid,

My teeth slowly draining it into the void?

Or can it idealize me a jewel – seaweed of the sky –

As I watch the clouds loiter purposefully by,

I wonder if the firmament, too, is parasitized by clouds,

Its resources drained by those star-suffocating shrouds,

Yes, life feeds on life, and dark feeds on light,

And into a shadow’s haunches light also will bite,

Teeth chasing teeth – mouth chasing mouth –

North, West, and East being consumed by The South;

Yes – hunger – desire – are the driving forces of life,

Wife desires husband – husband desires wife –

In that union, death and life propagate in vitality new,

And death robs the same trunk from which its limbs grew,

III.

So tell me, My Oak, how do you feel

As Into your life-stream I silently steal?

For though feeding on your blood, I cannot taste your thoughts –

But fain would I die if I could drink them in draughts!

Give me a pint of your reveries – a dram of your dreams –

All the myriad fancies with which your veined bark teems,

And then, My Oaken Love, I will leave off my appetite;

Give your hallowed boughs some well-earned respite,

And tumble humbly to the ground – by gravity waylaid –

A thistle-hearted lover by his heart-quenching slayed

IV.

But if you fulfil not my will – grant me ingress to your mind –

I will drink from you continuously, until you are burr-ridden and blind,

Thought-starved, I will become vicious, a heartless vampire,

A wolf whose violence is sustained by his ire,

In a feedback loop of vampirism – pain will beget pain –

The less you have to drain, the more will be drained,

Let it not come to this – freely give what I ask –

May not my haunting fingers be those that peel off your mask;

Only my loneliness hath of me a parasite created,

Hopeful dreams once ran through me – veins eagerly dilated –

But now – O, now! – I must feed on the dreams of others,

The unhappy lover, always smothering, but never to be smothered

V.

And now night inkly falls, I feel the pain of moonlight,

Into my aching flesh those moonbeams musically bite,

And the moon parasitizes me, as I parasitize the Oak,

Robbing me of my murderous currency until I am bankrupt and broke

*

And so, moon-murdered, I drop to the ground –

Ever to be discovered – never to be found

 

Poem: Mercy’s Valediction

rain

The rain came pouring down,

And, in the cleansing impact of every

Raindrop, its self-proclaimed vortex creates

A perfect circle – a snapshot of unity straight

From The Geometer’s Compass

 *

Every raindrop peels a little bit of the past away,

Dislodging dirt, leaving pockets in the skin like chinks

In porcelain – a broken, run-down, Japanese aesthetic

That makes perfection seem not like a stranger, but an

Uninvited guest in every scar and suture

 *

And I wonder how we managed in the past,

In time’s before last, when the open cavity of

The skull was our only umbrella, and every raindrop

Ignited a neuron that suffused everything with color,

Color – color:

 *

Each raindrop a rainbow

Each raindrop a spectrum of discovery

Each raindrop a cosmos of endless unfolding

That makes you retreat into the dampness of your

Own unlooked for nakedness

 *

Those naked bodies came together out of the rain,

Their moisture-puckered skins warming through friction,

Little beadlets of love as dampened strands of hairs entwine,

Like braids of seaweed – braids of vine – flirting with the sullen

Strength of a rock – both powers to combine

Yes, pillows become castles, and a landscape

Of softness forgives the water, with Mercy’s

Calloused hands smoothing out the sands

Of competing friction and softness

 *

And all is forgiven

And all will be forgiven

When tenderness and violence kiss in forgiveness

In the pale oblivion of the sky

And even if I do not want to say goodbye,

Goodbyes are the currency of death in a

Forgiving, change-balanced world

 *

So, goodbye,

Goodbye,

Until we meet again,

Perched on the hand

Of impossible circumstance,

By the possibility of imagination’s

Power revived

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

*