Poem: Kali Makes Good

kli
Kali has put away all her severed heads
And skulls – “No longer,” says she, “will
I be a lady of gore, but a lady of love!”

“I scarcely see how you can do that!”
Interposed her pet crow, whose sole
Livelihood depended upon her ability
To combine carrion with courtship

“No, I am done with all that!” she declares,
“No more will I thrust and frug until skin is
Worn away to bone and hoof,

“I will serenade the sun, and awaken to the day
In pleated skirts – I shall ice ski across frozen wastes,
And nibble on the nipple of every nunnery –
Not in the gnawing, blood-thirsty way in which I used,
But dainty and pretty, like a new-born kitten, that has not
Yet distinguished right from wrong –
Accepting one and deploring the other!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” scoffed The Crow,
“You were made to fuck the dust of the world.
You may work towards innocence and purity,
But you will do so with such impossible lust
And cruelty, that many would have refrained
From leaping into the grave, had you just remained
The war-hungry whore you are.”

But Kali was not the one to heed such words.
She put on her nun’s habit,
Assumed the form of a lamb,
And dawdled sweetly into the world.

II.
But once a Goddess,
Always a Goddess

Kali travelled over dusty mountains,
Through endless fields of gold,
She tickled her cunt in old stone farmhouses,
And searched in the vastness to find the clitoris
Of the world

She travelled for so long that she forgot
Who she was and became a maid on a poor
Peasant’s farm

She sucked on the tits of cattle,
And so inflamed the appetites of the she-bovines,
They would go rampaging after the bulls, and leave
Them trembling, traumatized in silage barns

III.
But then Kali forgot she was a milkmaid,
She tore off her clothes, danced across space,
Spontaneously, violently, and landed, uninvited,
On a madman’s star – and fucked him so violently,
He became sane, and afraid of his own sanity,
Doing everything he could to try and drive himself
Mad once again, like a chef trying to repeat a drunken
Recipe he knows he’ll never repeat

But Kali grew disinterested and drove herself elsewhere,
Landing on a sacred star, where sex and gender did not exist,
And peace and serenity reigned secure – within a week,
The planet was a forest of cunts and cocks – all the
Androgynous Ones were put to death, and the only
Thing more central than lust was eternal conflict and
War

IV.
Eventually the gods grew tired of this
And determined they must intervene,
And so, intercepting her as she hitched
A ride on a passing comet, they whisked
Her up to The Brahma Heaven that overlooks
The Earth

“Don’t you think you’ve done enough?”
Questioned Krishna, not knowing whether
To look amused or stern

“I don’t know who I am!” she cried
Triumphantly as a little girl, and such

Was the merriment of her ejaculated amnesia,
The whole heaven split in two, and went tumbling
Back to Earth.

V.
When she awoke, she found herself beneath
A lime tree in a German park, with a sweet,
Dirty blonde woman sat beside her, stroking
Her false tresses and curls

“How can I do it, Stephanie?” she asked her,
“I try to be pure and innocent, and yet all I
Leave behind me is carnage and war –
How can I be as sweet and as kind as you are?”

Stephanie smiled and lowered her sweet blue
Eyes to meet those of the Goddess-bound girl:

“You are not designed to be sweet,” she said,
“And you can be sweeter by far by just being
Who you are. Listen to the words of your faithful
Crow – he will not lead you wrong,”

VI.
Then night fell, and the sky was as black
As a raven’s beard, and everything shimmered
With the dense foliage of his feathers, hypnotized
By his guttural squawk
She cuddled into his plumage, and,
In the softness of that sleep, she slowly
Returned to her original form, and the
Bandolier of severed heads regrew
As she nuzzled into his fur

And, closing her eyes as peacefully
As a little girl, she dreamed happily
Of violence and war

 

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Poem: A Winter’s Tale

winter

Winter’s Tale, winter’s tale,

Bodies grouped into bed – Chinese,

Tibetan, brick-oven mattress, keeping

Their bodies warm. We clap if we think

There are ghosts around – ghosts need

Applause

 *

Spices fill the air, vapours of

Cinnamon, cloves, cloven hooves,

Mulled wines and smoked viands,

Purling down the hall, rolling up

Chimneys to exchange greetings with

A night crisp and cold as a frost giant’s

Thumbs

*

What will the norns have to say

About this? They have kept my

Fate simmering in the larder for

Longer than I can remember, my

Family crumpled together, like

Skeletons in a crypt

*

Chinese, Tibetans – but certainly

We are in London – the mayor flicks

His yak-tail whisk, and hides himself

Under many skins –

Offerings to the Mountain Gods

*

“I am but one man – a friend

Called me a medieval bard – but

I have all of Tibet and China within

Me; perhaps, too, samples of Mongolia,

And blizzard-faced Siberia, where my

Throat-singing can still be heard.

 *

“I should like to go to some fireside

Tavern, and tan my hide into the devil’s

Leather.

*

“You see, he’s just been misunderstood.

We need the devil as much we need that

Which shuts him out.”

*

My cloven hooves clattered over

Cobblestones, streaky sludge from

Mysterious snow, where the wisteria

Faintly grows

*

I lay down in the cold.

I wanted to die.

I wanted my follicles to be

Fingered with the flame of

Every piercing frost.

 *

And lo! The Lord of Frosts

Appeared before me in his

Glistering kingdom. He set

The sails astrand that lets

Every mucker know, his

Iceberg would soon come

Into land.

 *

 “But my family!” I pleaded.

“My wife and her daughters

Are all squeezed into bed in

One Tudor room!

How will they escape you?

How will they fly from

Pneumonia’s embrace?”

 *

“They won’t,” said the Lord

Of Frosts, coldly. “All freeze

Whom I dare to freeze. And

Have I not frozen? Your case

Is lost with me.”

 *

“Please,” I begged him. “Is there

Nothing I can do to save them?

Take me – not them!”

*

The King of Frosts was not

To be appeased. He had a

Hunger for human women.

He wanted to feel their skin

Cripple beneath the

Tenebrosity of his arctic flesh.

A disgusting rapist of the realms.

Yet he dared call himself lord!

*

But then he had a thought:

*

“I have never experienced this

Thing called ‘heat.’ He said to

The man. “Give us leave to

Wear your body, and perhaps

Thy wife and daughters will be

Spared.”

*

“Perhaps?!” cavilled the man.

“Am I to lease my life on the

Crumb of a perhaps?!”

*

“What man can promise

Any kind of certainty

In a world such as this?

Take what I give you.

Perhaps they will be

Spared.”

 *

The man nodded his assent.

*

Casting his soul out with a

Scream, The Lord of Frosts

Took habitation in his body,

And instantly founding it wanting

 In pleasance. But he knew this was

Only because he knew not heat.

Hence, findeth heat he must.

 *

II.

The man, meanwhile, was in

 A graveyard of shivers. Arctic

Demons sang out in symphonic

Shrieks to towering snowmen –

To Kings of Death, and Queens

Of Hate.

*

They ushered his chill soul

Into their almighty halls,

Racing through with blistering

Winds, and immense ravens with

Jet plane wings.

*

“We loves the cold,

We loves the old,

We cuddle death,

And the wind’s palsied breath!

 *

“We loves the snow,

We loves the frost,

Into the icy sea,

You will be tossed!”

 *

Thus, they tossed him into

The sea. He would try to cleave

His way out, but the only adjacent

Landmass was an archipelago of

Madmen, who would throw him

Back in again, laughing, every time

He tried to come aboard.

*

III.

Meanwhile, The King of Frosts

Acclimatized himself to human flesh;

To the misery of chilblains, and the constant

Hell of living in an environment,

Never intended for life.

*

“Oh wifey! Oh kiddies!” he crooned

Down barrel-dragon streets. Drunkards

Lurched glaringly out of newspapers,

And tawny owls screeched above; a

Midnight curse to all they do not

Love.

*

IV.

At last, he found his house.

He walked up the sooty stairs,

Screeching at any guardians of

The threshold who might prohibit

His malfeasance.

 *

His wife and kids were on the

Second floor, crammed into a

Four-poster bed. In a palace, faraway,

A Haydn oratorio was carousing the night

Air. But, this was not a palace – just a den

Of sleep.

*

The Winter Demon could see inside

The dreams of the children. They

Dreamt of the redemption of hunger –

Of larders overwrought with cakes, and

Jellies, pastries, and hard toffees. No

Cinnamon smoked here – just the parlous

Perfume of ice.

 *

The Winter Demon tried to see his

New wife’s dreams. But

Her dreams were only whispers

Of a plea, degraded into

Sepia – A Husband’s Return

 *

The Frost King loomed over

The bed. He saw the piled-up

Coverlets, and was reminded

Of an avalanche – a love letter

From Abomination.

*

“Pneumonia, my pretties! Sweet

Lung-spattering pneumonia!”

 *

“Stop that muttering, Henry Giles,”

Murmured his missus from the bastion

Of the covers, “and get into bed! Your

Heads all a-muddle from

Those night-terror colds! Get

In here where it’s snug and

Warm!”

*

“Warmth!” The Frost King drooled.

“That’s why I’m here!”

At his wife’s insistence, he stripped

Off his sodden, slush-soaked clothes,

And crawled into bed beside her. He

Did not know what to do. He had never

Shared a bed with a human woman

Before, except in the catharsis of

Death.

 *

But the wife directed him. She

Cradled her soft, fat body against

Him, his loins nestled betwixt her

Buttocks like toad-in-the-hole. Then

She took his hands, and sternly clasped

Them to her milksome breasts.

 *

“There you are, my dear!” she said,

Delighted. “That’ll warm you up! Just

You hold on tight, and those winter

Demons won’t plague my Henry

No more!”

*

“But I AM a Winter Demon!”

The frost king wailed miserably.

*

“Of course you are, my dear!”

Missus Henry cosseted him.

“Now, you just snuggle up

With your missus, now, and

We’ll see if we can’t thaw

That winter demon out!”

*

V.

And, true enough, the Winter

Demon melted like butter in

The arms of his wife. And, except

For a little sniffle every now and

Then, no more was said about

It.

*

But, what of poor Henry Giles?

Was his soul still floundering at

The Bottom of the Ocean being

Snapped at by sea demons?

I shall leave that for the reader

To decide. Otherwise:

*

It’s all in winter’s night, my friend,

All in winter’s night!

 

 

Poem: Eliza and the Sea

eliza

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

*

II.

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

Many

 *

III.

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

Swallows

*

“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

Surface.

*

“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.”

*

IV.

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

*

V.

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!”

*

V.

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

Roamed?”

*

“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.

*

VI.

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

Forgotten.

*

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

Ruins.

*

“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

Masons.”

*

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 . . .”

FLASHFORWARD

 *

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!”

*

VII.

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

Sea

*

But we still love you, Eliza.

And we will bury you with

All your books and candles,

Until God finally rebuilds

The Sea