Straw Tide

In a dream, five furlongs wide,
I stood at my cliff-top to hear the straw-tide;
Ahead a dead posy to a wire fence tied,
Last remnant remaining where fallowed hope died.
More lows will follow eleven months hence,
Decomposed relics in the campion dense.
That time, when the blossoming son of a drover
Insensately sped his motor-car over
The marl and feldspar scree-scarping cliff;
The mudflats flooded a midwinter skiff.
You can find there still in tasselweed bound
Parts of the Land Rover and carburets drowned.
Some-time later, with rustable nails,
A charitable man hammered signs to the rails;
Warnings in white on a background of green,
But the boy who went over was nowhere to be seen.

And no-one knows strata of grief in-between,
The divorce from Fortune where cliffs intervened.
I remember well that white-washed beach, the Forties which strafe,
Where a blanching sun sets backwards, the edge unsafe;
An entire populous reductive in slumber,
Like wind-washed willows bending south of the Humber;
Distanced from mothers who would not sleep in their beds,
Their collective noun is a shaking of heads.
Some of their friends are aficionados
Of the Sylvia Plaths and Vincent Van Goghs,
The musician shooting himself in the mouth,
The actor self-immolating in the Deep South;
They buy the biographies and stand at their graves,
Tattooing emblems, the clefs and the staves,
Tuning forks and elbows of grief,
A can of worms and words in a leaf.

So the myth-peddling industries gilded their wrappings,
And though I know nothing of individual kidnappings,
Abducted by Fear, Delusion, Self-Loathing,
And their henchmen in Pity and the Sadnesses’ clothing,
Everyone has their own cliff and their skies with their limits,
The painted lines where the law prohibits
Falling by thoughts of  fulmars and linnets,
I know that each one would revert those last minutes.
Away from here, five hundred miles down,
There sits on a sceptre a Pantalone clown,
In cloistered halls his plutocrats meet,
To dilute this world with a threshing deceit.
They stole the Solstice, the Saints Days, Thanksgiving,
To send us to markets for baubles and trimming;
They defrauded Love, and the Selfless, and Heaven,
Sold them as goods at a 7/11.

But you can decide who resides at this limit;
He does not yet own air, or the soul on a pivot.
Choose moments wisely, Time soon will be gone,
And then we will welcome the woebegone,
Who suffered once at the cliff-foot, and twice when we judged,
Back to this village where the arbiters fudged
What we thought our compatriots lost, in to customs flawed,
Back to this town where their thoughts were outlawed.
Keep your mind full of charge, and your vernacular living,
Herald new ways for compassion, all compass forgiving
Those women and men who misread the direction,
Paradigm-polluted, head-spinning subjection;
Keep the squirrels from harm, keep the gulls nested,
Trust in your past when traditions are tested;
In widgeon-grass I saw a young man’s future abducted;
Woke up in a sweat, and this poem’s constructed.

2 thoughts on “Straw Tide

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