Someone Else’s Song

I heard the end of your song
Before you finished singing;

I found the end of my life
Before I finished living.

Now I’ve been singing someone’s song,
Their words in my mouth, verbatim,

And over time their phrases replaced
Everything I had forsaken;

Routed out, vicarious mouth,
Only my soul’s voice was not taken.

Ansonia’s Song

Are these matters
Commensurate, I really have
Little or frequently no idea.

All I know is relative
Within my idealistic heart,
This desire, wanting you near,

Like a pendulum pulling on
The weights of my attention,
Harmonic oscillations,

I stand in the hallway of my life,
Dust appears in shafts on light
Through a stained glass window

Above a blue door I cannot open,
Doomed to stay motionless
Until I am used for new fires.

The Postman Always Knocks Thrice

A postman’s signature
Knock, three raps
And then another,
On the doorstep
A parcel’s born
And the coffee mugs
We ordered have arrived.
Underwhelming gift,
Little porcelain
Counter-intuitive
Surprises unsurprising,
For their smaller size,
With William Morris
Designs also seen on
Wallpapers, on rugs,
Are purposeful
Only for espressos,
Yet portrayed online
As substantial mugs.

With a greater global
Population, and less cocoa
Germination in Ghana
And the Ivory Coast,
Chocolate bars are half
The length they used to be,
Or even a third, in 1985,
Yet with the expense
Aligned to inflation
A hidden cost is greater.
They think we have not
Noticed, nor the momemt
When one day there may also
Be less milk in a pint.

Board games too, observed;
We played a game just
Yesterday where the stage
Back in the day felt
Expansive, with nuances
And details now long-lost,
Like ancient adverbs
In etymologies. And so
It is the same with politics,
A contraction and reduction
Of facts and elements
That seemed before to matter;
Was there ever a fabric
Of truth? And technologies
Engender a similar impact
On relationships and
Workplaces and families
And finances as everything
Condenses in to the will
Of a small belligerent
Minority, stars and planets
Swallowed fully into
Unforgiving black holes
Fuelled by testosterone.

The only advantage to me
Is if mid-passion you’d turn
In our near dotage
Cupping my wrinkled face
To say it’s not what it was Nick,
But seems a great deal less,
While robo-postmen
Knock three times downstairs
With smaller parcels again,
Commercialism minimising
Like inner Matryoshka dolls,
I would say definitively
Darling, nothing is the same
As when first we fell in love.

Tundra

You said that my chest
Is where the caribou’s
Hooves leave their trail,

The pine cones in my
Bones and breath
I held until you felt

The forest’s cloak of snow
Fall to the frozen ground,
Heralding a Spring in you

As wide and vast
As the experiences
Of sudden tundra

We shared in wonder
By horse and sled,
Under a permanent blue.

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.

Song Of The Elk River

Delightful kayak,
Slender vessels of joy!
Although the river rages,
In ribs of driftwood
We’re delivered safely
Over ice-cold rapids and
Through the traps
Of countless ages,
Whitehorse-west and
North of thawed
Townships where
At torpor’s end
Aubading lumberjacks
Sing with hair of the dog
Of a haunting elk,
Its chimeric proportions
Known from Manitoba
To islands beyond
The frozen shelf,
And where the great
Mackenzie roars
We roar with little
Echoes back from our
Purified alveoli.
We reached the launch
By chartered flight,
Land of caribou herds,
Mosquitos rule
The endless night;
We shared the aurora
And an insect bite.

Days at one with the rocks
Rampaged by torrents,
Branches and crags
And this great river
Blend all the same,
There’s no distinction as
The foam fizzes and spits
At paddles and rig,
A whirlpool’s teeth
Sprayed the wherry
Where precursors
Of the Łutselk’e once
For pike and burbot
Fished, long before
The European explorers
Hired scouts to forage
For exportable coal
And a chieftain’s wife.

Our bodies were given
As blessings to the water,
The force of the river
Steals our breath as a
Payment for sensing
The riverbed’s soul.
Submerged and turned
In unison, my thoughts
Under the surface
Roll towards the Aleutian
Baidarka, inexplicably,
The scent of seal-fur
In the nineteenth century,
Pursued by light rains
And the hunger of huskies,
We come up for air
And in time the waters
Quietened, it’s an
Imperceptible shift,
As if the river
Did not so much lose
The argument, but is
Attuned to the level
Of cloudberries and
Lilacs, into still waters
We steered, a lagoon,
And there on the shore
We fleetingly caught sight
Of that wonderful monarch,
King of Bugle-Calls
And bull-thistles,
Eyes as bright in
Their patronage
As unearthed lazulite
Lifted up to the bright
Limelight sun from
Mines much further away,
With vestigial tusks
And antlers as wide
As prayers from a Trappist.

That mythical elk,
Unwinnable prize of
The lumberjacks song –
Their drunk serenades,
For not before long
Evening is tidal
Many moons behind us.
Blind to our surprise
Encounter with spirits
And garlands and nectar,
It would soon be time
For the touring company’s
de Havilland turboprop
To rendezvous
On the nude strip of
Southern plains,
And we would not have sight
Of that magnificent emblem
For more than a minute
Nor ever again.
We rubbed tired eyes
As the flight surpassed
The days and nights,
Into sunsets we flew
Like two sea-eagles
Pregnant with conjecture,
Your head on my shoulder
And in the eyes of our mind
The Song of the Elk
And the language of pine.

The Traps

Within wars weft, lifetimes before,
The traps of my self were set;
Bearded sappers breached the shore
Where future selves I met.

I surrendered myself without fuss;
The ingenious tools of men!
Colonels, handlebar-moustached,
Still sing of the clamps on my pen.

Clamps with jaws and razor teeth
My pen-holding hand ensnare,
Poisoned punjis shape a wreath,
My soul is pierced and bare.

Confidence and care suppressed
By granite rocks atop a stick,
Man-made methods, liver-pressed,
I watched the other authors tick.

Pelagic scenes the sappers reach
Where I was meant to live,
But mines entrenched along the beach
I cannot now forgive.

Tenth Sonnet

To any sons thriving without Dads around,
For any sons finding their Fathers curtailed,
If minds to paternity had they bound,
This poem’s the sorrow they should have mailed.
Don’t traduce, you’ll reduce future power
From the weakness deep in their fleeting heart;
Wordings within time’s woodland and bower,
All’s born anew, your chance to re-start.
Understand now, as it’s written in acorns
Formed from dead oaks, beyond golden sokes cropped,
Less are the heroes, more troubled by thorns,
Better ahead, than before the yoke dropped.
Settle their debtors within and there’s peace,
Unfurled from success, all debts will then cease.

Ninth Sonnet

Less the requirement for tablet or shed,
Poetry’s gardens are seeds in your head;
Daily distractions will chatter and chase,
All their dull efforts, one rhyme will replace.
Minutiae delights, heaven’s your ceiling,
Don’t hide from your self, hardships revealing;
You don’t need a war for a war poetess,
Injustice and conflict sow your success.
Your heroes don’t live in scripts or a screen,
Your heroes prevail inside you unseen;
Don’t over-bake, or burn with keen edits,
Don’t wait for their praise, the obverse discredits.
More words you’ll intuit, let the free world fight,
Follow terms for your self, and freely write!