Kastanie

I felt the scented smoke of chestnuts burning 
among the clinging reek of old damp leaves, 
hazy, catching at my breath, 
falling to the bottom of my lungs; 
while I ripped up the tracks of my life behind me
as I walked, a purpose in itself, 
half-lame, within approximate direction; 
cast out – or walked away – from our chosen home… 

Searching for the borders of community 
but lacking any risk of crossing into “theirs”… 

It’s complicated, as they say, 
containing layers on layers and mysteries – 
such as how the crank and dumb and ill-informed 
and leaders unfit for truth can conquer – 
while the future ebbs away across the water, 
decisions turning water into oil and oil into distress… 
and Demos flounders, self-absorbed and slavering
over brazen idols, especially devoted to their feet of clay ~ 

~ Forgetting those who’ve shared our pains,
against whom we found ourselves by misadventure. 

I am lying low, a little low, for now. 

Valediction for a year

Goodbye to you, two thousand and nineteen, 
without regrets.  A year that fled: 
lived through in disarray –
nothing new or unexpected there – except 
it let those bastards steal the future, 
taking out a mortgage on their souls 
redeemable against our children’s lives
without responsibility.

Goodbye, two thousand and nineteen: 
My beloved dog outlasted you / but only by three days 

Practicals

Sliding down a ladder-worth of concepts 
from my makeshift eyrie in the sky – 
blown almost-out-of-mind while scanning 
the horizon for some-or-other threats – 
I fell into the glue-pot, push-of-pike 
across the ditch and sticking-in; 
to make progress from day-to-day, 
perhaps in the direction of tomorrow?
Reality 
enabled, when I stabbed an ice-axe
in the bones, the skull, of a beholder;
A clear-cut fall from grace, back-lit
against its own disfiguring defaults 

Inwards?

Roofed by gloom and floored by chill, 
walls shaken from outside by hammer blows, 
I focused on the fire that keeps us warm. 
A turn inward?  It gave me space to speculate: 

What could we teach the sea? Who understands its driving tides? 
Who may plumb its sulphur deeps or gauge its acid waves?
What can tame its rise before it reaches us, in rage? 
Our hands?  All filmed in soot, defiling what we touch!

We had a thousand words for rain. 
We’d flown the flood, we found a shelter here 
while others foundered, tinder-dried in an unwanted wind: 
Our parody of choice, which worsens every time ~ 

Life will revert. It will come back; 
but we have moved the curve 
to leave us on the beach, sifting through its grains 
among the spreading streaks of soot…

So many lives to weigh, to balance and divide. 

Autumn

In stealth, along the avenue 
autumn brought out robes of bright decay 
above the showy salmon roses – hanging on – 
masking paths baked-dry in summer certainties; 

As sunlight mustered waning strength, against an easterly 

We braced, heads-up from time to time 
to watch the failing harvesters of light 
curl into their tracery of death, passing 
as October paled toward November; 

Which drips and soaks and floods and howls in threat 

The construct of a year stripped bare, to bones 
no longer pandering to life’s desires; 
its coat of gold has worn threadbare and gone, 
strewn russet on the ground; 

Now – darkening grey and coming – winter stalks …