Poem: My Heart Scuttled Sideways


Beneath its shell,
Those waltzing ramparts of tender meat,
I scurried from the obtrusions of seagulls,
A dancer on ten legs,
Wounded wet retreat

With starfish in abeyance,
Dead bodies colonize the beaches,
The footsteps of men in danger,
Unloading cargo,
Purloined from wreckless reaches,

Now, as a human,
Shivering in houses of ship-built timber,
Your breasts hold back the cold,
And frozen breath,
Betrays the taste of winter

I cannot carry their mirthless warmth,
That history eats for dinner,
To forgive myself in thirstless thanks;
The cancelled pages of the beginner


Poem: Sea, The Builder

sea arch

Counting out the change of marsh pennywort,
The Sea is the finest architect,
Thinking not of porticos, corbels,
Synthesized by this architect’s moist fingers,
The real estate of Blue Mother Sea,
Puts seaweed in the drowned lungs of singers

Her body is crystal,
Melted and given motion,
The rhythmic undulations of sparkling sapphire,
Symbol of the subconscious’s cryptic emotions

In the bellies of grey limestone caverns,
The latticework of maritime honeycombs,
Wrought with striations of ochre and quartz,
Red torsos webbing between earthed gasps
Of landmass

The fishermen will be given a separate church,
So their scent offends not the men of God,
While God himself huffs all the perfume of the world,
Caring not if it is shit or vanilla

Scurvygrass will be the fruit of your arthritis,
When the sea counts back the bricks of your digits

Poem: Thalassic Discothèque

st. margarets

Staring out from thrifted cliff,
White-rumped redshank perched on limestone
Carboniferous, views of Lydstep just beyond,
The thoughts of death, body sea thrash,
The fear and joy of feeling the ground
Beneath me breathe

I have walked away from old patterns of frustration,
Uncluttered now the deeds of dissatisfaction,
Skylarks erupting in interminable car alarm calls,
Black tar lichen autographs the walls,

Over on St. Margaret’s,
Razorbills and guillemots rejoice,
Ululating into clanking air tangoes,
The great vault of stone is a discothèque now,
Evicted, humans have been put back in their place,

But I am no intruder,
Animal enough to be granted a season pass,
I feel the serpentine pulse of coast unpeopled,
Of Pembrokeshire magic insisting on the completion
Of a malingering shaman’s soul

And turning my body into octopus arms,
Into the sea I now will roll


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: Dirge of the Dying Whale


The whale rises up from the deep,

And, as he his lead to be moored

By The Cliffs of Dover, maybe then

I will understand why I am housed

Within this cave of cartilage – this

Floating stone of the surf; for now

My body grows heavy with the united

Scourges of despair and ignorance; it

Lies upon the beached sands, and counts

The harpoons in its back – one, two, three –

One lodged in the base of my spine; another

Making obeisance to the confused fortress of

My throat – the third and final piercing message

Planted as firmly as a flag in the back of my skull,

Where the rusted iron can equally commingle with

My thoughts, ever rusting, rusting, rusting . . .

And once unbound from this becalmed beast;

Once set free from the seat of this leviathan’s tonnage,

What will my homeless spirit do then? When my body,

Unsouled, is but ambergris and blubber, what will they

Build of me? Build me, sayest I, into a museum, and read

Each of my cells as books to craft a library, where you can

Source the traces of my thoughts in the broken circuitry of

Every scattered neuron

But, what you will find no more of is the unbagging

Of my notes; for the death of a whale is the death of

A song – and the death of my song is the breaking of

A cord which ties us to where we most want to



My song belongs nowhere now;

It is lost and adrift as a broken raft,

A voyager sent to space in an

Unmanned craft


As the whale lies there –

As I lie there –

Cleansing the oceans with the offering of my blood,

I attempt to sing out one last song – not a swan song –

But a whale song

I sing it,

And my mouth becomes its own maelstrom,

I sing it,

And the coasts reverberate with the sounds of a dying chasm,

I sing it,

And all the seaweed,

And the tides and rhythms of the hollows of the earth,

Find their voice in my threnodic whistle


Because I do not just sing for myself,

But for the world – I sing for all those that

Cannot sing for themselves – I sing for

The disenfranchised, lonely, and oppressed,

For those submerged in deeper oceans, who

Will never get to dislodge those harpoons of

Pain which spear their chaotic chests

For these will I sing,

Until, mayhap, the tides come in again,

And my fins turn into wings



Poem: Eliza and the Sea


Let me tell you a tale of the worlds


She sat upon the jagged rocks,

The sea surged about her –

They were her allies – her closest

Friends – her sources of strength and power


The spray, the mist, the foam, the

Bladderwrack, the sunken submarines,

And great triumphal arches of gored

Mountain sides


She sat upon the rocks.

And surged along with the surge



Let me tell you a tale of the worlds

There is the Overworld

And the Underworld

And within these two concentric circles,

All things overlap, interpenetrate, unite,

And fight, so that, from the One, comes

Two, and from the Two, comes




She sat upon the rocks,

The mist, the spray – all hers first –

She sat upon the rocks


She knew she would have to

Go out to sea any day now. The

Gulls in all their sky-ambling circularity

Of prophesy; every strident laugh, a

Signal of an unforgettable voyage, already

Forgotten, memorized by the sea, until it



“Embark! Embark!” the winds call,

And the anchors drop. “Embark! Embark!”

Cry the clouds. They are hungry with thunder,

The sea populated with embryonic waves, that

Paint the jagged curves of Chaos’s sweet



“I am Captain Eliza O’Malley,” she

Said in consideration of herself. “I am

The Greatest Stowaway of my Age. I was

Forbidden entry into this world by The Lady

Of the Lake. But, I am The Lady of the Sea!

The shipwrecks are all a-search for me,

But they will never find me.”



So, it is possible to be a feast

For all things:

To keep a foot in one world –

A webbed toe in another


Christ will wash your foot in one world,

Satan will manicure your toes with his tongue

In another;

Then they will trade places,

For they are both the same



Eliza O’Malley was the Captain

Of her ship. She would sleep all

Night in the beak of storms – in the

Gills of stentorian leviathan, struggling

To sleep in the deeps


She had killed all her family,

And left them behind her,

But families are just ghosts out here,

And everybody must kill a ghost,

Before they go out to sea


Eliza sang her song:

“If those waves were ladders

That snaked downwards instead of

Upwards, how fast would I have to be

For them to appear statuesque and

Still? A typhoon is a portal – the swilling

Of seawater in Neptune’s jaws, before he

Turns off the faucet of time. I have read of The

Esquimaux – how their seafaring shamans

Would dive to the bottom of the ocean,

To brush the knots in Sedna’s locks.


“But who will unleash the locks

In my own hairs? Can’t you see how

Every strand interlinks with a cloud;

Every cloud interlinks with a station;

And every station interlinks with a

World? These are all just different

Frequencies, my dear. They shift and

They slide, and oil the tide, of the swift’s

Wings, in blackness, beside,


“So, world-strewn is my hair.

But, if braided, tressed, and spun

Out for miles, these hairs and

Fibrils would seem like nothing.

 I would raise my arms up to the

Sky – the sky would lower its arms

To me – for every lass must marry

The Sky, afore she go to sea!”



Eliza wrote this story by a lantern,

A tender flame – we call it ‘a sun’

In our universe – but it is but the reflection

From the window of a moving train in hers


A black shadow with blue and crimson eyes

Climbed into the galley of her ship where she

Kept her quarters:


“What do you do, Eliza?” he asked her.

“Is this your life: just to roam and be



“Isn’t it everyone’s?” Eliza shouted

Back defiantly, slamming down her

Gin. “How can you escape the wanderlust

Of ages? The nautical lust to want to be

On the other side of the porthole? To

Lash yourself to the pounding heart

Of every tide? To set sail astride the stars,

And dip your feet into the udders of galaxies,

Until you are completely stranded in the isometry

Of time’s restless motions?”


“But you are all alone,” the shadow

Said softly. “Where are the people in

Your life? Where are you friends? Where

Are all the smiling eyes that will nestle

Kindly upon the words you’ve written

In these pages?”


“I AM THE SEA!” Spake Eliza.

And she said it with such power,

That no one would dare doubt her.

“You maggoty false-breed! You trifling

Piece of spume! You tornado squeezing

Out of the flatulent arse of time! How

Dare you drift into my quarters, with your

Insinuating words, and half-spun slogans,

And question my worth for the world?!

I am The Lady of the Sea!

And you would all be nothing

Without me.”


The shadow smiled at his case.

And disappeared once again into the dark.



Eliza shuddered at the shadow’s words.

She had flashbacks of late nights and drunken

Mornings; of climbing into bed with sweaty breasts,

Getting lost in the limbs of hairy men, the organic

Machinery of sex, the hidden ocean within, disembarking

On crystal caverns, of groans and moans echoing through

Coves, sea-shanties of sex, that pounce of bedsprings,

Reopening ancient treasure chests, sealed, but never



She could remember all those things,

Because the sea never forgets –

It just goes on, remembering and

Forgetting, with the dementia and

Hypermnesia of every uncertain

Wave –


Sea Log: Autumn, Winter, January,

September, 1972, 1665 – the shadows

Did not come again today. But I can still

Feel his judgement. What am I doing so

Wrong? I have never experienced anything

But affirmation before. I go out

Onto the decks, and I am applauded

By every albatross. The clouds come to

Me in fetters to beg pardon for stealing

My sunshine away. But I curse the sun!

The sea is the sun’s grave! And I will

Eat his light into my belly, as sure as

What’s made beest unmade!”

(But the judgement still hung heavy about her)


“So, you want me to go back to land, do

Ye? To seek out people? Well, I tell ye,

There be no people out there! All those

Land-lubbers are just ghosts. You can walk

Through all their cities and see nothing but



“But, out here, everything is emergent.

There are no ruins. The coral reefs are

Like ancient cathedrals, robed in sand,

Rebuilt every day by the waves’ secret



But, then back to 1772,

Jocosely addressing her pirate crew:


I tell ye, boys, there be barnacles

Upon my breasts, as sure as there’s

Cockles in my larder! Let the canons

Spell out incipient destruction, and

I’ll tell you how I lay there . . .”



And, she still lays there like

That, thus-wise, with the bladderwrack

Rising up around her, a constriction of

Seaweed charming her into paralysis

Every night, searing her body in visions

So vivid, they would frighten the giant

Squids of the deep


“I tell you – I LOVE THE SEA!”

She shrilled into her writing desk.

“But, when I die, will the sea mourn

Me? Will it attend my funeral? Will

It weep for me? Or has the sea e’er

Been weeping? It is for this that it

Beest so wet?


“I have never known a dry moment

In my life. When you used to

Come towards me, Harry, and towel

Me down, how I used to scream! Don’t

Divest me of the last vestiges of my partner!

It was bad enough living in a house with you,

And not feeling the ground swell and rock

Beneath me, except when we were in bed,

Harry, my dear – I could really feel the

Curtains decked with spray then! Oh, to be

Alive and in your arms! And the arms of the

Sea! I could never tell you apart from the sea,

My Harry. So, when I was away, sailing, for

Months on end, for years, for centuries, it

Was as though I was sailing upon you, my

Harry, my love . . .


“But you land-lubbers are such ghosts!

Such ghosts, such ghosts, such ghosts!”



And so, sometimes we sail between two

Worlds; not knowing if we ever meet –

Maybe just a sudden chill – a flash of colour –

A trace of electric paint in the air.


Those are the only signals we

Might have now – no longer the

Lapping and laughing of gulls and



But we still love you, Eliza.

And we will bury you with

All your books and candles,

Until God finally rebuilds

The Sea


Poem: Visions of the Sea


By the sea with you

You are wearing an electric

Blue dress – the same color

As the storm, which, even now

Is conducting the sea outside our

Villa into a crazed anti-petrifaction

Of chaotic ferment


The curtains rail against the

Inside and outside of the villa,

Like opaque sheets of strung-up

Skin, searching for a skeleton to

Starve to death with the famine

Of perfect definition


But we are both too

Tired to pay tribute to

The storm – instead, we

Pay drunken courtship to

Morpheus, the god of Dreams,

Lying foetal, intersect, with one

Another, on the darkened couch,

Swaddled in lighting, tenebrous,

And escorted by the presence of

Invisible oneiric courtiers, whose

Nature can only be alluded to in

The snuffing out of candles, and

The jettisoning of empty

Treasure chests, which will

Sink to the bottom of the

Ocean, never to be found


I know I am happy

Because I am asleep

There can be no sadness

In sleep, until the horrorful

Bliss of dreams is washed away

By the screaming tides of sentience –

The crisis of an indestructible consciousness

That longs to be forgotten


We have both drunk too much –

My tuxedo is damp from laughter

And dancing – whilst your dress still

Covets the jealous outlines of your body,

Which your dreams will tear off, and your

Death put back on


If the champagne’s gone anywhere,

It’s taken us both with it – as I dream,

Lodged in the haven of your sleeping

Heart, I feel that I am out in the wrestling

Arms of that stormy sea, and you are the frail

Raft – my angel in three boards,

That keeps me from going under



You stir for a moment –

Your happy, drunken lids

Obliterate me with their

Favour; your gaze, lopsided,

Trying to emerge from

A liquor-soaked nervous

System, still a million

Miles from synchrony


In the phantasmagoria

Of that half-waked moment –

Can these loveless lips borrow

That semi-conscious kiss from

The future, if I promise to

Dutifully return it once time

Crystallizes it into reality?


I can feel it all so fully,

So sensuously, so lucidly,

So urgently


But I am not in that

Storm-girt room with you –

Only in the stifling room of

My sadness-girt, lonesome

Cosmos of consciousness,

Watching The Proms after

A show, trying to find some

Auspicious truth, in the fragile

Clutter of my dreams


What will I find there

To hold onto? A few kind

Words? A mint edition collection

Of now stale embraces? A scattering

Of this seasons prophecies, all by

Wishes misconstrued?


I will find what I will

Find. And once the parties

Are all over, and the glasses

Have been drained, I will

Abscond to that storm-girt

Villa, and wait for you to

Find me