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 


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?
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 

~ beyond Chester

We crossed at the edge of the West 
from our wider plain / towards a higher fall; 

We crossed above the head of navigation 
leaving fertile plains / for the western fall…

We sailed at dusk, the tide in flood, 
our logic flawed, in baffled honesty; 
We held a course towards the outer islands – 
enticing, in their warm deceptive welcome. 

“Ourselves alone” was once the bitter warning, 
a harbinger of inwardness and violence, 
of sixty years of poverty to come… 
But now it echoes louder from behind, 
brayed by the problematic poster-boys of privilege, 
rotting from the head.

faded paint

Once we were new and immediacy could guide us! 

Now that quisling young intensity has passed
since consciousness began to tire;  of holding on
like paint the sun has faded until it flaked away,
cover wrinkling into splits and decayed character;
of some older habits that have lingered past their time,
reminders that the past was smaller than the now –
although a film of settlement resists the change,
obscuring shallow detail, forgetting losses in translation 

Except: at least, this has not disappeared –
it’s time to hand over / for others to renew… 



national poetry day 2018 – calling for change

Pictures: You and I

I hold you in my wallet, to keep you safe from harm
in a fading store of memory, with our devalued currency –
a little worn with use and age, but easy to access;
an aperture into a version of our past, above revision
once framed by shutter speed, in silver salts or pixels /
or inked in composition, rolled out by the press /
or sketched in charcoal strokes, brushed by human touch;
a fragment in a narrow view, blurred in shallow field…

Except there is always an act, an outside intervention:
the fleeting gravity of looking – itself irrelevant –
gone to seek transparency where none exists, instead
reflecting back a composite (of me and you; of now and then)
and composing a reflection, to evoke my thoughts and feelings
without asking or concerning how they could be requited
or if that moment’s image had been perfect or a lie
or something in between, a flaw pursuing life?

Because you are not mine, or ours, or motion drawing breath
but a chameleon’s subtle model, to represent reality
in flakes of time torn off the torrent in its flight, snagged
while other things that were once new have aged in turn,
grown into the fabric before fading away – while you remain,
a tainted arrowhead lodged against a nerve
that leaves a wound infected by the presence of our past
and a seed to germinate belief in never letting go…


(revised from version posted in early May 2018)

3/9, 4/9

The year turned, slowly, in its cycle:
racked a hollow mark on its traverse
from origin towards infinity… 

~ as harvest ripened;  barley malted,
the living yeast renewed itself
and brewing sang in warming water 

~ as negotiators inched and postured,
compromised, on our behalf
while falsehood shifted to us, past us 

~ as I turned my back on you, in tears,
coming to face a life alone.
Autumn lowers. Winter follows. Death. Rebirth. 

I will find a way, or make one