Poem: Joey The Underwater Milkman



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






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






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


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 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


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


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!


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


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


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



Wild demons are abroad tonight,

Feasting upon the absence of light,

Lurching, and twisting, and pulling wry faces,

Seizing the energy your fear displaces


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


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


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


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


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


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!”


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?


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?


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


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


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


“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


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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


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


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.



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



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



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



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



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



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,


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,


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


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


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


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,


Until we meet again,

Perched on the hand

Of impossible circumstance,

By the possibility of imagination’s

Power revived

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye




Poem: The Waiting Room


Sitting in a waiting room, I see the piercing, pungent

Eye of God cut through the reality of the hospital’s

Environs to look penetratingly down upon me


“Give me hope, you blistering bastard of light!” I cry, I rail,

“O, if you must fill my heart with a poisonous pain that

Recycles itself in perpetuity, at least give me hope in an

Earth-bound after-life that comes after sadness – hope

That your light is not just an illusion, but a true realization

Of sweet happiness’s rebirth.


“Let not this happiness, so newly come, be so newly lost –

I know ‘the course of love seldom runs smooth,’ and

I’m inclined to doubt anything that does – but cannot I at

Least experience some stability in love? I do not expect

Anything to last forever; but after so long of living in pain

And unhappiness, cannot I at last sink fully into and be

Cleansed by my bath of love, before the plug is so hideously



“It is the nature of your love,” accused a floating nurse,

“To become all that you love – and so become a curse –

But in invading that space, you become an object of hate,

And scare away those you would most love.”


“Fine! Make of me a monster – a parasite!” I said

In defence. “But it is the nature of love to invade

And be invaded – it is a holocaust – a bloody fucking



“I am invaded by the love I feel for what I love;

Wish to invade the loved one with my love; and

Have them, in turn, invade me with their love.”


“Sounds like a sexual metaphor to me!”

The Coffee Machine incriminatingly hummed.


“This has nothing to do with sex,

As sex has nothing to do with the

Full penetration of love!”


“Speak for yourself – I’m just a coffee machine –

The closest I come to love is when the technician

Returns to re-stock my beans!”



Though slightly soothed, the portal to heaven

Still open before me, uncertainty yet was found

Pacing around me, foaming like a dog-foaming



“Will she? Won’t she?” I asked myself

And The Universe, watching a window-shade

Tremble flutteringly at the slow, pale anxiety

Of my flutter


Then I thought of those I had erstwhile loved,

And wished they would find the love elsewhere

Which to me they could not return


Then a pregnant nurse came in and talked of the

Spiritual investment that had become her charge;

And I thought that, if the child bore even a trace of

The happy purity that beatified her face, then I could

Stroke the black purr of my pain, knowing the world

Would soon be a better place.


This is what The Eye of God can show you

When you have nothing better to do

But wait