Pawprints In Snow

Snowfall,
Incorruptible,
Unpreventable
Flurries in melodies
Of white so composed.
I have no further claim
To a snowdrop’s name,
In damson-greys
A pre-dawn light,
For the sight of your
Unfolding
Spindling
Quintessence
Is the same feeling inside
The Roman frontiersman
With bones and sinew of ice
And the kindling world
Which is capricious when it comes
To obsolescence,
And her calcified husband
Have ever since felt
Under sandals
And Mercury’s frozen brogues
Also in caducean whiteness.
Bald white, furrows of white,
Cathedrals of trees
And choirs of sprites,
Unfurling burrs of fern-fronds
Have their cowls bowed down
In homage to such heathen genius
Of seasons long lost;
Icicles for arms,
A tetrahedral white,
And penuries of frost.

All things start with love,
For much like the snow
There are hundreds of words.
A crust of slush-smothered snow
Collapses from a rusty Lada’s
Rear window.
Snowfall, a sky-bound
Unicorn’s fleece untossed
Onto holly, and spiraea,
Mint and sage and mosses;
Chicken-wire befuddled and bent
In the shapes of dead clementine drunks
Observed from Moscow
Across to the Khanate of Kazan
Guarding crystal-lined Urals,
From St Petersburg to
The opulent gems of Tashkent,
The meanderings of memory,
A time that roared and went
Into spent exhaustions of
The walkable Volga.
Pawprints and clawprints,
Adipose and strange,
A chasing of tails,
A lifetime spent in shadows
Yet adamant for this existence
Did happen,
Did take place,
Much like a thought
In the cavernous yawns of today,
From where fell one or two fathoms
Destined to thaw, retreat
Down a chasm’s wake,
A singular, ever-unique
Snowflake.

Melt Like Butter

Butter on its own
Isn’t much to write home about,
But melted in the middle
Of a croissant, on a
Crescent-shaped plate,
At a hotel morning room
In the early fabled light
Only found in Istanbul,
Is transcendental.

And now I’m writing home,
Meditation on its own
Won’t fill letters from heaven,
But meditation on a lotus
In the eye of the dharma elevates
The breath and the floating moment
Into something translucent
As I meditate, alone,
On a parcel of butter.

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.

An Elegy

The fallen ones do return, Marina,
With many roads to death, one exit;
Restored in rosemary and verbena,
They’d laugh at Pandemics and Brexit.

You see, nothing will change or fade,
Wheelwright’s brand humanity,
Where only wheels were ever made
For conveying misery.

Your golden hair was poet’s fire,
Verses like arson, exploding malpractice;
I could not disrobe the clothing of liars
The way you exposed them, a female Atlas

Condemned to bear a crate
Of man’s rotting apples, the weight
And the shape of a globe. Your gate
Wanted oiling, your river in spate.

So I thought again of my childhood,
Suppression is more than state-welded;
It spores like moss and ferns in the wood
Until darkness and sunlight are melded.

I rode a bike like a horse into battle,
The driveway my Sevastopol,
My pen’s an unsheathed sabre’s rattle,
Through fields of rye for alcohol

Fermented, how adulthood lamented
For the limits and shackles it made itself;
Carefully the state had creatives cemented;
Two decades later, your book’s on the shelf.

I am blessed, I could escape as matter stands,
I hope to never know the pressures
Which exist in the mind and the hands
Of wheat in the wake of the threshers.

Use powerful words to sentence strife,
Fly me, poets, to Yelabuga; 1941;
Let’s bring a poet back to life,
Let’s fill old age with her song.

 

The Diplomat

What exodus, the great
Denialist said to himself,
As he tore up carrots
From the soil with his mouth.

A barren wasteland,
Émigré brides,
They sit in their bars
And revere this weird pride.

Even flowers of plastic
He brought home for his wife,
And left in the bathroom
Had suddenly died.

Lost conversations,
And misplaced files,
Diplomatic communiques,
Men gathered in crowds

To inspect, solemn and wise,
Forlorn fields of crops in shale,
And miles of stray dogs,
Chasing their tails.