Landmarked in a place we’d never seen
we walked along the dike, across the marsh,
heads down and wishing we could huddle
against the buffeting of the endless wind
that chased its shadows in the reeds
bending, bowing, circling in their beds
until it hustled out across the sea –
to places where our dreams had been…
Before we found a shelter in the sails
that had driven down the grinding stones –
now opened, trusted to receive
an unexpected vital moment’s strike:
a moment, even two, of clarity and warmth
to mark a passage through life’s mud and salt;
so we can imagine how to live, into a future
different from the past.
And you said you knew / how the supports all worked / though they were engineered and unobtrusive
You bastard! How you indulged your agony / of misplaced confidence, at best / or a flow of fresh mendacity, stinking in the sun / spilling over purpose, one step off the curve / a vision out of focus, lacking depth of field…
as you observed, in cold and brittle politesse / in baffled, bunkered equanimity – ha! –
the columns leaning out, not in / splayed by their own weight / across each other’s lines / before the roof was even raised / to welcome innocents abroad / who’d come to worship here, and play –
let alone the masterpiece / we could have made inside….
But you said you knew / how the support would work / within the frame I’d barely found.
You bastard! Who will build the shelter now / in praise of openness?
So we drifted past in the night:
as implacable ships of disregard,
except the changing bells of watch,
respecting rights of way in navigation
if not always each other…
Until we were woken
by the dawn barrage of voices,
a lying loud array on shore
joined in the jagged struggle to defend
unprotected feelings from attack:
Exposed, but settled headlong
into ways I thought I knew.
The solace of anger loiters
invitingly – my whore – a fire
to which I’ll give myself
to be consumed and sintered among ash.
I am not a subtle man but prone;
and prey to louder voices
than my feeble, flabby, flubbing tongue
can manage or control.
The morning rises with a tide in flood,
a swelling warmth of swallowed salt
that lifts my body off its feet
then muscles up and through the chest
as it overpowers a racing mind with calm –
or the tastes of sweetened rum and the delights
of islands that once dreamt a feathered man,
imagined in the humid light, a force of colour
radiant in palm-carved air, hanging….
but vibrant with a pregnant pungent life
which if inhaled infects the heart and fills me
with uneasy sweeping dreamy peace. Peace
that may forget the old molasses and mosquitoes
of a Caribbean twice a sentence, twice a grave:
a candied killer and attractor, destroyer of the men
who made sugar for the craving and reward
that brought wealth beyond their avarice for the few
and a fevered anguished aguey death for many;
islands liberated but still branded by the stain of slavery,
when one was damned and ten, a hundred men were owned
to make an ancient sin industrial: the power
and the desire to erase those people’s names
and chain their children to that rotten block –
the foundation stone of empires, the anchor of our trade.
You are the bleak-hearted fear of what exactly?
Unnamed and nebulous, pervasive and
refusing to take shape – but stronger for it,
your dark gravity distorting time and space among us…
I may try to name you, I cannot define you
I can never face you; panic wins again
Since my skull is empty, while a cold wind
rattles shaking through its sockets
where innate confidence belonged
and skill should sometime rise again, they say
Well, I said. I hope
You can do what you like
But there’s a cartel, you know…
Marquee Moon: scratch it out, hypnotically
a soundtrack to a lifetime / in which lightning / struck itself
We are in the red box / with our first world problems
# shift it along /// # overlay #
Warm and caustic. Prolonged… Accelerate!!!
Don’t walk away. In silence
Don’t walk away
from the big brass bed / I had, in dreams
Chord Discord Accord
Thesis Antithesis Synthesis
Order Counter order Disorder
Life is full of irony
if you can stop screaming / long enough to listen
And so it goes…
From our heartbeat / to your caricature
We tried. You try. They will try
Do your best, my son. My daughter will not listen
We’ll go polling once again
to satisfy the calculations
of their cynical party managers
and their backroom infighting –
backstabbers in a nationalist disguise.
But we are not the Turks.
Perhaps somewhat like the Dutch,
we’ll troop into the flimsy booths
in our shabby local halls
and sit those bastards down!
The beast lay awkwardly across the road
hemmed in by the obscenity of shock and pain
pressed on the labouring heart beneath its sleek dun coat;
its head was high, its neck was taut, struggling against gravity
with hatred of its torment and the closing graze of cold oblivion
coming motionless to end it, on an unforgiving tarmac hill.
Its countless springtime outcomes now reduced to one:
endurance out of time, prolonged until the tranquillising dart
will still its complex writhing eye, the dimming eye, in mercy…
… oblivious already to any kind of meaning I might have glimpsed
or thought I could ascribe, to the tiring dregs of his gifted life…
to the sacrifice of lithe young potency, betrayed by random order…
to the Fall from a morning’s innocence, rutting with antlered pride
to this helpless agony of broken-hipped distress, still tied
to life by fraying threads of habitude and parting ligaments,
his reality cut through to bring the grave its victory
as we went streaming safely past, insulated in our sins.
Who could prepare for this?
Empty thoughts – a dry river in the night:
Of wanderers condemned to replay – and enjoy –
a game whose rules are crossed
so we can never win, but only hope,
repeatedly forgetting the result.
Mere humans and yet more:
we, the godless, and our longing.
Of our strange mistress – unkind,
unsentimental, alien and rare –
who consumes our fat and leaves us lean
transfiguring what’s left until
we are transformed in her devotion
so that at last we’re marrowed bones
transfixed by our desires;
covenanted to the most elusive of ideas
in which, in truth, we had no choice but to believe.
Of a futile longing, for some thing unknown,
someone half-glimpsed, disguised, unrecognised.
How can this feel so much was lost?