The Coast Of Devotion

A part of my curse,
Inculcated, in marrow,
Nearing kingdoms of self
A wider gulf narrows.

I’m rebuffed, beaten back,
By bluffs from sea-sparrows,
Fall from a deck
On to self-tinctured arrows.

Where you are on green,
I’m red at the light;
When I dreamt I was falling
You stood through the night.

I expect this will pass,
For the future’s in sight,
Where I can’t compete
With gifts in your life.

A future sea-faring
In circular motions,
Just out of reach
From shores of devotion.

When all is extinguished
Find new attuned heights,
Blessed by Love’s arms,
Devoid of the night.

The Coast Of Shrouds

I prefer heavy rain
As rain keeps me grounded;
A shipwreck submerged,
A ghost keeps its counsel.
Crowds too kept at bay,
A drowning skiff is confounded.

I lost all I loved back then,
And all I would love forever,
Is it surprising to know
I could not imagine life
And thoughts within it.
Thoughts like skittish clouds
On the coast of shrouds
As unseen suns diminish.

Canto Dell’aragosta

They used to eat lobsters here,
Before beginning the end of ends;
In restaurants, on promenades or piers
Which have since all disappeared –
Overlooking the Papal Bay of Scampi
Patés of blue tomalley.

Fresh from the sea, picked from a pot,
Seasoned with salt for a rich polyglot;
Suspended in freezers, icy blocks,
They tied the pincers, joined the dots;
As he played with his ring
He lied to his wife that his lover had gone.

A lobster with one claw or less is named
A Cull, in Maine and the eastern seaboard.
The male transfers sperm through its legs,
The red is the red of the roe;
We breathe through our gills
Through the gaps in our toes.

Once we have extinguished all nature,
Where will dharma and karma take us?
My hands are changing before me,
My body will soon have its telson.
I will adapt to a life on dark distant beds,
Before I am speared, for fatter men fed.

An Unrestarted Heart

This road is the road of my death.
I stood motionless in its lucid waters
Where parallel to the ocean

I speared a neon fish.
He admonished me with a fossilising
Shock of ages, waged in his eyes

Which were tiny, glaucous opals.
He once danced and shone
In shoals unknowable as stars.

I am opposed to my own taxidermy.
Standing in the sea leaves me thirsty.
The sky is perforated by jars

For storing a catch which is ours.
Lobsters, swordfish, octopus hearts,
Once the muscle is stopped

It’s almost impossible to restart.
I witnessed it only once, as a boy,
And mythology claimed it for herself.

How far we had journeyed.
I envisioned my existence
With gulls and oppressive seasalt air

Which stripped the elders of teeth
And their ability to remain human,
Their silence as fragile as chalk,

And it corroded all moments
And customs, the colours of
Spring summoned in my lover’s hair,

The jigs of tradition around
A pole each townsmen bore
To the beach with such gravitas

Commensurate only to their souls;
The saline air froze time,
Woven into their hair, banded

Together like a comet’s tail,
Like the spawn of the golden eels
Which are reeled in by fishermen

With the sun tattooed into
Their ganseys. I too will be spry
And fry, live and die,

There is nothing starker.
For now, I arrive and I cry
Behind my steering wheel,

A harpoon through my hope,
Ego skewered by a dart
Outside an unlit supermarket.

An Old Panoramic Photograph

Let’s drive the coast road longways
And park at scenic views,
Though no sight there’s more beautiful
Than margins holding you.

I cannot visit shores again
For there’s too many blues,
Returning from my armchair here,
In reveries renewed.

Children today don’t use cameras,
They wouldn’t know what to do;
I still have your scent and sunglasses,
Each day closer to a truth.

Your smile could light the vista,
Your hair could tame the dew,
And though I’m frail, it’s not so cold,
When memory’s kindled by you.

Veracruz

Ah verdant Veracruz,
Inquisitors landed
With seminal footsteps
On your sandy shores,
Anchored in foam bluer
Than undry eyes of lonely
Brides who cried like ghosts
Each night, for they
Knew the truth by then,
The truth unbound about
Those men both intrepid
And yet also afflicted with
Scurvy, to whom they once
Curtsied in courts, in
Galicia, and Castile.
Praising their gods with
Spongy gums, rashes infernal,
Thousands of miles from home,
Finding exotic diseases and
New fruits for their horses,
This coast too was a ghost
Of a nation destined to kill
Itself. They swore they saw
In those first loamy forests
Evidence of snakes
Eating their own tails,
And carvings of aroused
Totemic beasts whose tidings
Could block out the most
Ardent and stifling sun,
If rubbed with a little belief.

Those forests turned with Time
Into fields, the terraces and
Mesas of modern Mexico,
Where memories are as long
As the potential in doors unopened
And mines are as rich and fertile
As the self-sanctified appendage
Belonging once to none other than
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,
Who, having traversed from here
To Baja California, was injured
By grapeshot fired from
Obusier de vaisseau on board
French blockaders, during
The Pastry War; they stretch
From unsung Sonora and Sinaloa
Which later sadly became layered
And synonymous with bloodshed,
To the caudillo’s hacienda above
Seagull nests and roadsteads,
And the hotel where we made
Ablutions, and took our rest.

That night I dreamt of seven miles
Of Atlixo, somewhere south of
Popacatépetl and the myth
Of the sleeping woman,
La Mujer Dormida,
A strip of land turned by arts
Within humanity’s hand into
A colossal supine statue
Much like Cristo Redentor
Only flat, yes, and not sculpted
From concrete with soapstone
But fashioned from the soil,
The land, into the shape of his
Image. I viewed this from the air
And marvelled at the ineffable
Grace and scale of his creation;
I wondered if something spiritual
And filled with meaning had been
Hidden under this humble yet
Hot-headed, passionate and yet
Disconsolate continent’s seams.
It reminded me of another dream
More than twenty years old, when
Two giant statues of a bodhisattva
Glided down a river, both imposing
Yet serene, navigating rapids as if
There was nothing inbetween
The reality, and the artifice
Of a mastered stream.

Kindling these memories, I forgot
That I was in a dream within a dream.
May the Mexicayotl transcend,
May the Malinchista be forgiven,
For there will be time in the end
When we too can see between rivers.

Sea Poems

I.

Somewhere on the sand
I wrote your name
With my driftwood-stick soul
And sun griddled hand.
The second time I visited,
It was washed away again.

II.

To find sea glass, I need
For the sea glass to exist,
And to exist myself.

III.

Marvel in greens,
A million different greens
In the sea and seaweeds,
Colours of good wishes
Stored in your emerald ring,
A life’s cargo jettisoned,
A series of jades and viridians.
Clouds play with their
Unwed fingers absent-mindedly,
For in clouds are formed dreams
And so we see the shapes,
A tortoiseshell, a carapace.
There’s a pillbox there
Encrusted with an
Ennui of barnacles,
Bulbous carragheen
And thongweed spleens.
Grown men used to stand here,
Shivering midwinter
In mushroom-coloured fatigues,
Sharing reused cigarettes
And the substance of regret,
Cleaning their muskets for
An invasion which did not exist.

IV.

One day my thoughts too
Will be as immaterial
As the bladders of archaeopteryx
Once imperative and cawing
On this lonely coast,
Evolution’s spindles
Created a curlew out of you,
And then a kittiwake of me.

Poem For Lovers, No.2

Let’s fill this house with flowers,
Attend some summer balls;
Forget those broken vases
Where we danced across the halls.

Let’s take a zigzag rabbit path
Between two sun-blessed dunes;
Waltz around a sandbanks
To lost romantic tunes

Which drift across the currents
And over love’s lagoon,
Reflections in her waters
Make a second moon.

I’ll pack the hamper in our car
And won’t forget those flutes,
Driving home above the stars
On blue Atlantic routes.

Let’s celebrate your loveliness,
Let’s grow old as weather,
The vases glued togetherness,
And rest beneath the heather.