Ode To Our Bed

You have your side’s tidyness,
My side’s still its usual mess.
If we swapped, I’d take time

To trace those crests and hollows
Where your resting shape resides,
Refill your empty cup of sorrows,

Folded clothes conformed
To your uncontested beauty,
Ready to be stored in drawers

Like confessions in a chapel,
Like reforming resurrections,
Routines diminish duty.

Middle night and middle storm,
I reached for where your milk was stored,
But darkly your side metamorphed

Before I realised, and with great design
The bed of life revolved once more,
Mechanics wheezed while agents yawned.

Now I’m trapped where blankets lied,
Transfixed by how I lived and died;
You wake, shower, prepare for work.

God Of Kindness

Sometimes the sky seems as wide
And big as my sadness.

Sometimes I wonder how it was Permissible for you to step out,

While I was stored within a moment.
Sometimes I wish I was something else,

Less than my cobbled wheezy-sided,
Indulgent, obsessive false-comparison self,

And that’s just the better half
Of my kernel. On the other side,

A spider’s on my eyelids;
A paperweight, a floating shelf.

If I was a god of kindness,
By degrees I doubt it would help,

I’d be a god of putting things off
Instead, and drinking tea,

A god of missing you,
The goddess of missing me.

How can I follow my love’s path,
When there is no path to see.

The Endless Bar

All those before who fled,
What did they do to me?
They poured their troubles onward,
Red blood could part a sea;
Still, you’re in untended plots
In a quiet corner of Cheam.

How far I looked up to you,
A child at the endless bar,
We’d walk across midwinter tracks
When you couldn’t drive a car.
You tended donkeys with more care
Than family bruised and scarred.

Adults sometimes shed the skin
Their parents dressed them in,
But you glued your self to mine,
Inheriting your chin-chin.
Each evening when I’m drunk
With words, I think of you,

Hoping this is not the last drink;
Without words what can I do.

The Ironies

Bitter the ironies,
Fuel of my life,
Devourer of time,
A grave for a wife.

Seeds in an apple
Letting trolls down,
I remembered you wearing
Your basque wedding gown.

All memories sealed
In a chest they had drowned,
Deep in sharp oceans,
A long-submerged town;

You can still see some rooftops
When you dive further down;
There’s the church belfry,
Brass bells make no sound.

I cannot choose living
With this charged weighted load,
For as soon as it’s given
I must cross their toll road

To pay with the striking,
The force and the blow,
So I hope you’ll forgive me
If I remain here below.

There Is A Version Of Me

There is a version of me
Seven steps ahead,

He implored that I should follow,
Spinning a spider’s thread.

He led me over marshes
Where mallow-long laments,

We toured the northern caverns,
Where habit-froth ferments.

I asked him, where are we going,
His resolute manifest mute,

Without reply, I remained unknowing
Of purpose to his shameful route.

For he stole from me my compass,
He stole from me my hope,

And all the things that I should be
Are buried on those slopes.

If you see me wild and wandering,
Unarmoured man, who once was kind,

You are not viewing me, but him,
My grave was seven years behind.

Ode To R.

You would be 41 now.
We arrived at similar times
On a similar watch.
You would be married,
Three children, three
Boys. Brown fronds,
Your brown eyes
Instilled in them like
Virtues, like topaz,
Your voice as molten
And sweet as caramel.
How quickly they grow
Your grandparents who died
And who no one knows
Or attends to their
Weathered gravestones
Would have said,
As everyone does say,
From time to time
As they gave the boys sweets
And ruffled their hair.
To where did your pride go?

You died on your own
In a flat far from home
In May 2000 or so.
Few remember, but I do,
Although I cannot know
How your mother
Outlived her pain, or
How bright comets
Orbiting suns
Could sometimes
Simply disappear,
Even as their fiery tails
Within our charts had grown.

So much happens of course
In twenty unlived years.
All the times we could hold dear,
All the good that went wrong.

I’d have gently, soothingly,
Removed syringes from
Your arms while I sang a
Song from our childhoods
And stroked your matted hair,
Unpicked you from
Your foetal position
Before the rigor took hold,
And longed for the bruises
Before they became lines
To go. Intravenous,
You and me, yes,
Cradled in a room in a town
No one knows, where my
Penitence is life, and the
Possibilities of you
Remain unknown.

Snowblind

Capabilities I traded
Some marshland moons ago,
No safeguard now for faculties,
My soul beneath the snow.

Snow-blind winter mirage,
Mistaking those colourless plains;
Snow is her own camouflage,
I misspoke her forty names.

Forty words for snow misspelt,
Fall from unknown heights,
Crystalline, and each unique,
To drift with inner blight.

I carried her lumen inside me
Throughout an adult’s candle-flux;
They scoured the lakeside vainly,
An isthmus village’s populous.

Wearing bear and beaver furs,
Who sought to revive my life,
Bitter friends, beloved strangers,
My heart’s beneath the ice.

On the lonely lake I conspired
To seal the eternal fate,
O lovely lake of long-lost summers
Now endlessly frozen in place.

Choose your moments wisely
For sacrifice found me and plight,
Resuscitation, love, is fruitless,
When death’s disguised as life.

My Doppelgänger

A dozen dead-ends later
I found my better self,
Hiding in reflections,
Or somewhere on your shelf.

He blanked me at our café,
Your hand upon his arm;
He filled our box at Othello;
I hammered a theatre alarm.

Infused by choice and chances,
Gods have quirks of humour;
I did not know I’d been stolen
Until I read those rumours

In headlines in his grasp.
I hemorrhaged poems and songs,
He’s gone researching romance
And my cortège won’t be long.

Step Across

Your room
Perfectly preserved,
Just the way you
Last observed it;
Same duvet cover,
Same sash.
Your favourite band
In a poster, yellowed
By the years, an empty
Glass on a bedside table,
An undisturbed pack
Of fears.
Sometimes I draw open
White chiffon curtains
But it’s still too bright,
Even this far removed,
Our eyes adapt
To darkness, as if
All of time
Is night.

A bookmark,
An elastoplastic strip,
Outside your window
A satellite dish.
We were such materials
In the continuity
Of loss. Sometimes
I wished and convinced
Myself that you would
Step across that threshold,
I’d hold you, the hug
To end all that could
Have been better defined,
But some things are not real,
And some are only crimes.

First Finches

First finches having landed,
Found a suitable place to nest
In rooftiles’ gapped teeth.

Lichen gums, worn enamel,
A tap that can’t be turned off,
I live in a land of crow’s feet

And magpies as relentless as
Camels traversing Saharan
Landscapes. I remember beads,

Kaftans, strange dreams of
Otherworldly animals
Drinking from a sandy stream.

These finches did not know
The motives of crows; now
All I hear is a constant alarm

Like a monotone screech,
A warning, a rallying call to live,
Though their breasts may be

As small as young dwarf
Coconuts before they fall
On undiscovered islands.