STA

I was ambivalent and awkward, an outsider twice squared
who was fluent with an accent and my eccentric idiom –
just a small-town foreigner, come to work their way

except that I became a citizen by choice
of a city in the orbit, on the horizon’s outer edge
which signalled opportunity (although not in its back yard);

to discover England’s shrivelled heartbeat flutters weakly
in those precincts – and my veins, now clouded by regrets
much as the limestone-flooded water hardens in its pipes;

when little men entrench themselves to replace what they lack
where importance is a virtue and welcome is pretence
since inclusion is a theory here and amity a lie…

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Deva (short version)

Thrax was sharp and distinctive:
replete in his fine scalar armour
an authentic steel helmet, a local wool cloak
and a girded flat sword that cuts and thrusts,
which marked him…

as he spoke, to advocate a world-view long gone
save for fragments – of stone and mosaic,
of formative concepts and habits of thought;
to sketch lives as they came to a crossing
of wilderness and west…

of inked sardonic veterans of service
watching for rewards within the empire
against wild-eyed blue-skinned warriors dying to be free
in flames of honour;
bound in kind by different customs.

from the gullet

I stood on the hill where the barges had gone
through the locks or the inclined plane,
draining the guts of the country downhill
to force its carbon promise free

In forsaken tribute from miners and stokers
who gave their lives unequally to fuel
propelling power in blind direction,
while the worth of a man was measured
by craft – and the gift of a bottle forbye…

I stood on the hill where my family had waited
for children to come, in the wake of TB –
and had me, who was glad to escape
and walk away without intent or purpose
at the second opportunity;

When I had fought against my brother
and let my father die,
on a day when smoke hid the sun
like a cloud, I went home.