Symptomatic

Is this world both one and true
As that within my mind,
From Argonauts, Thelassian crew,
A golden fleece to find.

I felt the sea the same,
That gentle Aegean lapping;
Did Peloponnesian navies tame
The inlets I am mapping.

Or is this landscape’s manifest
From minds divested only;
Symptomatic, I am a guest,
Devoid of fleet and lonely.

Don’t pity me, a juvenile,
These sands and weeds aren’t homely.
Owned by ones I could not find,
Wandering lost and lonely.

Isabella

We loved in a realm
For spirits reserved,
Though if this residency
Permitted permanence
I could not tell.
Perhaps it was supposed
To be a turbulent
Temporal visit, until you
Punctured me three times
With love and said I should
Dismiss all thoughts and
Earthly worries, and
Deposit our hearts in the
Underground streams
Which feed the willows
And lawns of Surrey.

The wounds were in me still,
So you coated my coma
With love like a varnish;
How time must tarnish
And blemish and steal!
I blushed in my sleep
While you blew the cobwebs
From my dry and dusty body
And my lungs were refilled.
What I lacked, you crafted;
What I did not know, you thrilled
Me with impossible, vertiginous
Stories beside our windowsill
Where we merged our words
And when I awoke annealed
In a different Time
And different world,
My Isabella, our bones repealed,
I found my soul in your soul sealed.

Libertas / Columbia

There is verdigris
Where copper plates
And audiences

With top hats
And massive moustaches
Used to be,

The great weights
Welded pre-Dreyfus
Excommunications

Shielded your aorta
And encased liberty
Before the disease.

Now ferry-fetched
Tourists who delight
In the Bedloe Island

Greenery tag you
On Instagram veneries
Whilst unknowing

Of your origins
In the patisseries
Of sculptors

In Paris and
Amsterdam, and your
Expedition in bonds

On barges, in parts;
Locals flocked
To riverside paths

To cheer you off;
Ceremonies, champagne
Bottle shards bobbled,

Magnums, Jeroboams,
Signifying nothing
In the frothy water.

They did not endure
Your journey over
The Atlantic blight,

Now tourists flock
Like a mazurka
Of seagulls;

New frock,
Statuesque,
In that capital

Men use coins
For the crossings
Which also turn to green.

In time, perhaps their
Souls do too,
As they stand and salute

In front of a diluted
Version of you,
On an island

Of the self,
On a sheet of green,
By a European shop window.

Swan Song

This is how it begins,
Because everything is
Born from beginnings;
From alpha hatchlings
To supplements of omega,
Although one is not
Necessarily completely
Distinct from the other.
Even the Miseries of Achlys
Were initiated and embossed
On the bronze shields
Of Athenian hoplites,
Before Time made remedies
In the form of Poetries,
And reminded me of
The birth of sorrows
Growing like
Bone marrow
Inside me.

It takes form
Like honeysuckle
Seedlings,
Which we may mistake
At first sight
For pervasive weeds;
A season later and
The fragrances fill the
Nostrils of bees
And the space taken
By souls we remained
Quite oblivious to,
When in reveries
On sun-soaked lawns
In June. It pollenates
On the tide of a Muse
Who exudes the words
And the words turned into
The life of poets,
Prior to their
Metamorphoses
For swans reborn.

Painful, humid days
Swept away by prevailing
Blustery trespasses
Of outlaws from
Atlantic squalls
Bring rainfall.
Sometimes the downpour
Is sufficent, Muse-willing,
And the songs of the rain
Are recorded as they land,
And some we give to the fields
And the valleys,
The water table’s replenished
From the peaks,
So that we can
Return to the springs
And the streams and feel
Inspired again.

These days,
Do not write if not
To unify something
Whether the schisms
Within you, or the
Disagreements of a family
Of nations, something
To chime with the
Pendulum of your soul.
Do not write unless
It terrifies someone,
Whether yourself, the poet,
Or someone who would
Rather mute the swans
Of their language,
Shackled on a
Stagnant pond
Of compliance.
Better to write something
And have authenticity,
Your poetry will flourish,
Than keep the words inside
As someone else’s charity.

Ode To Penelope

I have a fan beside my desk,
Utilitarian blessing of relief
(For I am a Leader
Of First World Anxieties
I mainly caused myself),
Presented its purpose
Conceptually just yesterday,
Unboxed and assembled
In the candleless caverns
Of my inner critic, brand new,
But you also bought it for me
From the supermarket
During the languorous lost days
Mid-heatwave, and I knew
This happened because you
Woke me from my sleep
With a dream of the receipt.
You had the oscillations set
To relieve me from my self,
The cool assurances
Like nautical miles
Measured one knot after another,
Like a necklace for a Goddess
Flown over an oceanic shelf
Returns me to a slender skiff
On the Mediterranean’s
Peerless blue hues, as blue
As the ineffable workings of the soul,
As blue as sacrifices to
That Goddess of Nets
With sea-sick sheep and goats while
Fishing for golden orata;
The great sea, infinite blue
Like poetry, glistens
And dances in a reverie,
Just as the same soporific
Waves subjugated Odysseus as
He traversed its gentle crests
In search of a cure
For hysteria.
O Penelope,
How a man craves his opposite
And the irresistible forces
Of his afflictions,
As conditioned as a dolphin
To click and swim
With supple fins
And graces, nattering like
Old acquaintances about
Their Italian diet and
Their penchant
For eviscerated fish.
No rainfall here
For another year,
But I have my fan and that feels
In the moment more vital, for
I outlasted Diocletian of Split,
And though it may only be good
For fanning heated air,
Perhaps that’s all I need
To survive another year.

Ekcha Rubdizô

Layers upon layers
Like sedimentary strata,
Then all of a sudden
We find ourselves
Out of reach of the arms
Of those who crafted with
Sandstone and chalk;
This is just my example.

We set sail with deliberations
Exempt from sense for
The infamous whirlpool,
Regardless of rumours,
Regardless of her
Layers upon layers
Of teeth with limpets bleeding,
Emboldened by newness
Of youth and cordite
Stored in wooden tubes,
The viewer and the viewed,
We preached to the priests
Who refused to immolate
A sheep with swallowed rue.

An inverse plume
Of drowning hues,
There are no songs there,
No shanties; no grebes
Or aquiline sea-portents;
Our waterlogged thoughts
Are dissolved of fantasies
And Poseidonic prayers
That enriched our years
In tireme training
Like flares lighting up
Underwater caverns
And lantern-thoughts
Iridescent as herring
In the cranial Mediterranean
Crevasses of monk-seals,
Dreaming on their rocks
Of squid and of molluscs.

I pulled the plug
And a whirlpool vortex
Of washing-up water
Rejoined a greater creation.
Oleaginous bubbles
Swelled like the fur on the back
Of the duck-hunting dog
Bred for swimming,
Or like the cumulonimbus
Over the fens, heralding
Mid-spring rains soon,
And I knew then from the patterns
Bled through my pen,
And through those clouds shaped like
Three hearts in a cuttlefish exhumed,
The certainty of storms by noon.

Charon’s Obol

At the worldly water’s edge I met
A ferryman fettered with every man’s debt;
Most men ferried were frantic and wailing,
But fretless he focused on only the sailing.

Sails unset, and a sulphurous shore-line,
He had not expected the twisting shrine
To offer me forward, unholy day,
Across the bubbling barking spray,

And twice, three times again he inspected
A register of sadnesses’ shipment selected;
On the sediment’s surface I thought it strange
To speak of no toll, no financial exchange

For embarking his dark gondola. My name
Was not listed, but it was all the same
Payment to him, to steer me on beyond all reach,
Where strange landings occur on a stranger beach.

His grim hand flaking pointed barge-wards,
Above us flew three haggard blackbirds;
Anchored not far from where I appeared,
Like a friend in a dream, the same yet weird

And disconcerting, we had not met for years,
I saw myself moored with morbid fears.
I tripped on the littoral margin, and spumes of red
Bit my bare legs. Inelegantly, I clambered instead

And sat opposite from my hanging host
As he pushed off with oars from his dockyard post.
I looked over the lip of the creaking craft;
Nothing reflected, fore and aft.

At the midway point of this bleak crossing
(The worst of the details I’m continuously glossing)
I noticed, new horror, three holes in the deck
Through where the wild waters would willingly wreck.

My chaperone slowly turned his head,
And said without moving his lips of the dead:
“I have two skulls, two holes they’ll seal,
You must choose which two are real”.

His great grim hand, the bone-blockers rolled,
Across the base to where I sat cold
In the heat of the river, a terrible choice,
I had forgotten the feathers to love and rejoice

And as I felt my last heart sinking,
And all I could see were the hollow heads thinking,
I dropped those skulls with heavy regret,
And awoke beside you, covered in sweat.

Featured image is Charon and Psyche (1883)
By John Roddam Spencer Stanhope – Private Collection Roy Miles Fine Paintings, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43610750