The Falls Of Athabasca

Re-reading your lines,
I’m teasing out new meanings
Which were not mine to find,

Like a novice tasseographist,
The leaves I thought were soaked
In languages like mine,

Or a youthful panner
Trekking northwards from
The Falls of Athabasca,

The lucid water, freezing cold,
Brings precious stones to surface,
Misunderstood, inevitably, for gold.

The planets in their place
Do hold, and I am grateful
For evening breezes are sublime,

But I would trade that race
To heavens of a simpler taste,
To read again our love in rhyme.

On Sovereignty

The country of our birth
Swaddled us at first
With amulets unearthed,
On the Bridge of Rings
Protected by verse and
Nursing circulated words
Designed to strengthen
A calculated succour.

But something went wrong
In the words of the song;
The rings began to throttle,
A rotting curdle clotting,
Until anthems unplugged
In a counterclockwise
Epiglottal vortex drop.
On a yoke of lies we choked

And collapsed, suffocated
By the very state which
For earlier generations
Maintained principles,
Protectiveness.
These words synonymous
Now with stock and broth
For better leaders abroad

To mock. Ours are dressed
In party-patterned frocks
With feathers plucked from
Lame pink pigeon legs
Where eagles nested once.
The continental populous
And associated press join
Lengthy queues for fuel

Of ridicule, and rightly so,
For our leaders heard
Laughter and cheering,
They fuddled and fudged,
Misjudging the thinking,
For the sounds were of jeers,
And a slow, prolonged sinking
Of all we held dear.

 

Ode To Compassion

If governments spent
As much taxpayer funding
On Compassion
As governments do spend
On posturing
And prevention,
Assassins and
Suppression,
Navel gazing
Ministries of War,
Prostitution of Race,
Antagonisms,
Beaurocracy
And laundry bills,
Then would we restore
Purity of purpose,
Currently a famine,
A hundred year long drought,
From the current pretenders
Through the Tudors
And Dark Ages,
All the way down until
Timon of Athens.

If only the ancient
Predecessors
Had invested in
Forums for Compassion,
Perhaps our sufferance
Would subsequently lessen,
Instead of obedience to
These Departments for Death
And Injustice.

Ode To Rhodes

Littoral landing strip,
A Dodecanese feature
Where you’re never more
Than a mile or four
From the Mediterranean.
You used to take your life
In your hands
When runways
Were little more than
Extensions of beaches,
Where sand swirled around
The slowing propellors
Like a sarong around
Euros’s daughter’s hips
As they saved Sparta
From a routing.

We avoided the bland
Concrete carcasses
Where anodyne hotels
Made mockeries of myths
And air-conditioned coaches
Turned in circles like
Steel moths regurgitating
Flocks of tourists.
An embarrassment of
Englishmen splashed on the
Melting macadam
Display still to this day
An art-form
Of complaints to
Patient pencil-moustached
Fluent majordomos,
And competitive pool-side
Societal traits.
We left our luggage in the room
Of a traditional taverna
On the hill across from
The old town, the heat
Of the evening reverberating
Like gecko veins,
The soft distant hum
From ferry engines,
You wore navy blue shorts
And I thought that your hair
Would cascade over your shoulders
Forever, as long as our hearts
Beat with iambic blood,
With the scent of sea salt
And blue sun-lotion bottles,
You wore the torc and
A bracelet bought from
A shop in the shade of
A side street in Kos.

We learnt a few Greek phrases,
We praised the waiters
Who danced the syrtaki
And later served
Tumblers of ouzo on ice,
A meze of tzatziki,
Goats cheese and
Flatbreads with rice.
I dreamt that night of
Sailing with you to Kiribati
On a balsa raft, and when
I retraced the possible
Meanings from my sleeping
Subconscious travels
You laughed, the sweetest
Feelings ever reaching my ears
Before or since, we
Embraced and kissed.
You said you loved
My unabashed romanticism,
Unwrapping the towel which hid
The book you stowed all that way
To surprise me.

The following week we flew
To Instanbul, then Baku,
Then through lush valleys and
Chasms beyond to Kabul,
Where nothing since
Nor with memory’s bonds
Could transcend or refocus
Seven days of sandy bliss,
The bones of my mind return
With heavy loads
Across the sun-browned
Mountain-tops, through
Secret coves
And olive groves,
To insights of a timeless love,
Within a timeless Rhodes.

Pareidolia

Pelagic frogfish
In the sky,
Captured by a satellite.

Religious icons are
Baptised
In bathroom tiles.

Cumulonimbus heights
Before a storm
Transformed to toads

And turtledoves
High above
The dreams of love

I found in your words,
As comforting to me as
Waves on the coast,

The sound and scent
Of my homeland.
Have I learnt nothing,

For I yearned to return
To your love, but all
I find beachcombing

On the edge of the ocean,
My sand-swept existence,
Though frantically I search,

Are flotsam thoughts,
Are the rusting returns
Of briny whelks on the keel

Of a boat, a vessel battered
By strife and winds and surf,
Messageless bottles,

A raucousness of seagulls
Being seagulls,
Conches and shells

In the foams
Of the moment
Seem like conches and shells;

The waves resurface
Their childish driftwood gifts
Offered up at my feet,

How the mind plays tricks
On a desolate beach
To rekindle itself.