British Columbia Feet

Several separate feet washed
Up on pebbled, shingled beaches,
Belonging to British Columbia
Across its furthest breaches
Over a decade, and various
Authorities slowly reached
A consensus that bodies
Which belonged to those lost
And neglected and homeless
Vagrantly inebriated
Often detach through natural
Wear and tear in salt water
Their hands, heartprints,
Feet, thighs and forearms.
It’s an explanation intriguing
Me because I have beachcombed
Many bays and inlets where
Collecting sea-glass, I have
Seen empty crab carapaces
And plastrons of unidentifiable
Species, but never did I see
A human head or teeth.
So is this what happens to
Men and women who found
Their escape on wide Pacific
Shorelines, or is there someone
Preparing their next murder
In a garage or a shed, while
His partner makes ablutions,
And prepares to go to bed.

Waiting Room

A crack-covered platform,
Weeds penetrate again,
Timetables faded behind
Glass with mildew stains;
Yet still I’m waiting for a train
That was long since cancelled.

The waiting room’s degraded,
Graffiti and lovers’ names spray-
Painted, names now dead or
Vacated as part of a great
Immigration, yet still I’m waiting
For arrivals to shake me.

The church has lost its steeple
And roof, and church-going
People, so I sit on a pew
On my own and look directly
Up to the grey-stained spaces
Where no one is waiting.

Driving On The Wrong Side Of The Road And Driving On The Right

In this recent dream, a series
Of reversions  and events
Only I could revisit in
Their random happenings,
Driving through this city
At night, accompanied by
Two people to the limits,
I have not seen them now
For twenty years
(We were friends back then,
It’s always an implied criticism
When long lost acquaintances
Tell me Nick, you haven’t changed a bit,
And I roll the eyes of my soul,
Disguised by this enterprise
Of living incidentally);
Into a one-way tunnel we drove
With two or three cars speeding
Towards me following a wrong
Direction, I see headlamps
Before their steel appears
And flashes away in to the night;
I brake, and a voice reaches me,
A girl who lives in a house
Above the tunnel, she transmits
Advice on how to navigate
This underground straight
And narrow. I send her a
Message of thanks, haunted,
Sweating in my sleep, before
Arriving at a dark parking lot
And I have all this stuff,
So much stuff I cannot carry:
Boxes with old work documents,
Condiments, sixteen years of
Abuse, a basketball, footballs,
A laundry basket and books,
A brisket and a wok, so we took
The unusual decision of opening
Another car’s trunk and filling it
With all my dreaming flotsam.
It seemed to me like baggage.

We are permanently eighteen here,
And in the next scene I cannot
Explain how we arrived at your bedroom;
Anaglypta wallpaper, a plastic bin,
An absence of parents.
I rolled up the skin of my memories
And threw those flaky balls
Into the waste. I expect you’ll return
Again tonight, you seem to want to,
Even though one is an architect
Who is hardly in need of contacting
A dead-end poet, and the other
I don’t know anything about any longer.
I don’t begrudge it, I cannot fight,
In the next dream, I waved goodbye
To my grandmother one last time.

So my unseen mind got stuck
In an eighteen year old’s plight;
Big deal in the schemes above!
Yet how foolish I feel now, to
Have lived for decades with a
Harrowing belief that I
Was driving against the flow,
These dreams have teeth to bite,
When all the time they were
On the side of my wrongs,
And I was on the right.

Aftermath

You’ve been shopping again,
Cruising aisles and clothing
Racks left in a season-ending’s
Messiness; sales are on four
Polished parquet floors
Inside my night-time mind
Where these more
Pleasant dreams
Sometimes reside,
And also you in spirit-form,
Sometimes hiding
Within me yet without me.
A paradox with summer storms,
We slipped into my department
Store with expectations to avoid
The rains and post-pandemic
Hordes, oceans of traffic lights
And umbrellas, holding hands
As we gladly made our way
Through this homage to
Commerce, this palace’s
Obscenely gigantic doors,
Deep green frames, lintels
Propped by angular art deco
Demigods with impossibly
Muscular jaws. I won’t be
Jealous of a statue in obsidian,
I sought myself, to reassure.
I’d visited here in different
Dreams several years before,
Alone and feeling lost,
Uncomfortable
In my only thoughts,
Though I have atoned
For those stones
As you know,
And now like everyone else
I can buy coffee, and tour
Menswear and menageries,
Counters and clocks.
All the fish have been caught.

Not knowing what you bought,
Jewellery perhaps, a camisole,
I could see beside your green
Heels three or four bags,
In purple and pink fabrics,
Even the inexplicable methods
For carrying purchases about
This city where you reach
So deeply in to me reflects
Your personality as perfectly
As the death of inadequacy
In Elysian markets.
Your ways delight and inspire
A primal circuitry, native,
As old as the hills of men,
Indigenous, sacred.
I just have bags under my eyes
From the tiredness, trenches
In my dreams are drenched
By July’s torrents. I longed
For the fresh air pursuing
A storm’s routes, its brute
Force, the airborne cousin
To the scent of grass after
Its mowing, from where we
Gave birth to a word: Aftermath.

I remembered in that dream
The store bags had lines from my
Haiku printed in white fonts
And I looked to you, as beautiful
As the day our friendship and
These sentiments too were born,
And I knew then the meaning
Of dreams where we met
On a simple bench in a store,
Avoiding the crowds, sharing
Moments of quiet reflection
And your laughter like lucid
Streams over those stones
I threw back in to the water,
A pure invigorating air
Only found in the Highlands;
Hands held, biding our time
Until the end of the storm,
For its end is on the horizon,
Then we may leave this building
And travel home once more.

I Went For A Walk Outside Our Hotel And This Is What I Discovered

I found a secret pond
Hidden behind our hotel,
Undisturbed by human touch
As far as I could tell.

Cow parsley abounded,
Poppies and wild orchids
As high as an ox’s haunches,
As quiet as a glade where

Kine chewed their cuds;
Harbingers of summer rain,
They survived for years
Near this pond in a spell

Without knowing.
I later researched the spot
And read in a local newspaper
(On a whirring microfilm reader

In a library which burnt down
To appease an arsonist’s wishes;
It was not rebuilt but
That’s another plot)

About a boy found nearby,
Murdered thirty years ago,
Face down in a muddy brook
Which filtered through that pond;

His body turned to browns
Then younger dust, as does
Memory, as does Love.
The ox transformed before

My eyes to become a great
Black swan with a neck as long
As a distant sun, like beams
Which slipped through our blinds

In the hotel room we shared
As I kissed your back, and
Inhaled, and found a mole
Beside your spine I had not

Observed until that afternoon,
Just like the pond and
The boy and the swan;
They all took flight.

I kissed you there as you slept,
Grateful for your affirmations,
Your vivacity, your life,
And I thought about a community

Seeking a child through
The scrub and the reeds
And the sum of all strife
They would not find alive.

The Place Of Mistakes

Here, the God of Hammers reigns,
Long live the God of Hammers!
Swinging clubs, set me in place,
Secured in Plasters of Paris.

I looked into that pit of Hell
Where he tossed his mallets;
There I lost my sense of smell
And all the sensate palettes.

From my perch the lightning
Bruised throughout his business;
I hear that loathsome striking still
Within a loamy distance.

He pushed me through the hole
Of souls, in to new abysses;
In this way, I claimed coal,
Feeding the fire of kisses.

Il Vino Fa Buon Sangue

You were born from a glass of wine
My grandmother glugged, from time
To time, though her predilection was sherry.
She met a man who shaved off his name
And slurred his words without any shame
Before sleeping on a last ferry.

She said she had wine in her blood,
Il vino fa buon sangue;
He died in the depths of a biblical flood,
Forgetting lingua franca.

Touring pubs of our childhood,
You urged the same for your son and your daughter;
Everyday miracles misunderstood,
Wine turned within us to water.

There’s A Blossom Lasting Longer

There’s a blossom lasting longer
Somewhere in my heart;
Secure, do you belong there?
They said it won’t restart.

It may have fallen from a tree
When cherry blossom’s over;
Petalled seasons aren’t for me,
Feeling better by October.

These sensations take me back
Without compelling reason;
Rose oil scent, where pink is black,
My heart committed treason.