Searchlight

It was your birthday
Twenty years or so ago;
We descended into a city
Of ghost re-rendered
Restaurateurs
Mostly only known to us.
Strange how
None of this exists right now,
Except perhaps
Within my pillow-bounded head.
(Can dreams be transferred
From my subconscious mind
Through or even then from yours?
Do you also walk these dead
Pedestrianised streets
Of the deeply-raised interred?
)
It is with a distinct sense of dread
That I am always falling asleep,
From fear of these cities
And people who are
No longer the same,
For they all emerged without me,
A subliminal sequence
Of years long ago.

You hadn’t changed,
Still good-humoured,
Still talkative,
You walked into an establishment
Named the Ho-Ho for
Whatever unknown reason,
And you told a silent joke
To a new waitress and her
Two dumbfounded customers.
And so it was your birthday,
And that Chinese eatery
We searched for
Where your coterie
Of twentysomething
Student
Aficionados
Had slipped, shifted
Away from its mooring
Adjacent to l’office du tourisme
Located by the river
Where eleven vessels
Ride the rip
In the seams of my dreams.
I am denim to a somnambulant
Nocturnal god’s demesne.

Inexplicably, my role
Suddenly evolves to carry your
Curry-coloured shoes,
And then also later a
Stuffed blue bear, a child’s toy,
(Still holding your shoes),
An armful of regalia
And vintage paraphernalia.
I held the door for your peers
But was not invited
To the benches where
The glitterati sipped
On bamboo juice
And green tea hips.

Your German teacher made a tarte,
The Chinese menu à la carte;
I wonder when my heart
Restarts.

I have had this awful
Gnawing sense my whole
Long life that I was born
For arduous tasks,
While with something inside me brewed,
Malformed to fail,
How the audience laughed
And now, half-formed,
I replay it all each night,
A searchlight from my
Buzzard soul above
A pre-dawn gorse,
Hovering over those very fields,
Hedgerows, lanes, old roads still,
For the fugitive source.

Bare Feet, And A Breakwater

For a fleeting moment
My unfathomable toes and feet
Seem almost real to me,
Almost within reach,
As a once-foamy, infamous sea
Slips between and over
Mirages of my own
Mutinous limbs,
Sockless and unshoed.
Saints preserve us,
I am an unremarkable sinner.
I am an extension of the sea,
The sea exhales me and
For a fleeting moment
I almost feel alive.
Treacherous, beloved sea,
Beachcombing my dreams
For all you might retrieve,
You leave me empty handed
Until randomly and yet also
Not quite randomly
A glass appears in my hand,
Liquidless, my left arm aloft
Perseveres
As I make a toast
To my seaweed-surrendered
Familial ghosts.
Involuntarily, I lift a single
Foot, prosaic yogic pose
And in doing so
Crack the tragedies;
Another wave, just
As the old; another me,
Just as the one before;
I count my losses in beads
On a cord around my fortieth wrist,
The reality is this:
My waves do not break
But retreat, and retreat;
With each gravitational pull
The Moon colludes
With the sea, and these losses
Amount to someone else’s
Distant, enriching dream.

I must fulfil something, surely.
A spine of briny breakwaters
Backtrack towards a lower tide.
I cannot physically touch the loss.
One day, with the last great loss
Accounted for, there will be no need
For water, and you will be able to walk
From here, to that line of spruces
Just visible across the gulf
Which on summer days in my youth
Likewise appeared almost real in
Their shimmering form and
Remorseless truth.

Visitations

In this weary adulthood
I cannot imagine
If those events actually happened
And if so, interred,
Misunderstood?

I am not one for turning over stones,
The hot stones of my youth
As impenetrable as the basalt eyes
Of the terrifying basilisk
Of myth, reputed to
Induce death with a single blink.
All these ghosts with their
High-level dependencies,
Their egos and their
Aggravating needs continuing
Long beyond our diaspora,
Long beyond death,
Remorselessly they approach,
Ceaselessly, a man once kindred,
A disappeared friend,
Their arms are tangled and
Darkly entwined like
Night-wire ivy in my dreams,
In the gloaming dream of the
Gloaming dream of the
Gloam of my stones.
They are heated,
Placed with skilled deliberation
On my back, my spine,
And I retreat, a shadow-fact,
Into a station, into a flat,
Into diminishing time.

And then you are there, living.
Will I be forgiven
For what I used to do?

Umbilicus

Constant reminders
In my body’s retirement
Of your indelible
Indiscretions
Dissolved into me,
My skin the sea
Filled with your molluscs
And a coprolitic fossil
Of your movements,
Your impossible
Puzzles and befuddled
Cryptic sentences
Like lugworm trails
Where the blight receded,
You see his sand-cast there
But not his burrowed body,
For flesh and form
Took leave long ago,
And all that remains
Are contusions.

Emerged from your gulf,
Urgent as a siren
Until the giant waves
Rewound, every mole
A continuum from times
Of settlements in iris,
Unfunny jokes,
Inverted laughter,
I made no demands for
The complexities of your
Shell-emptied nautilus,
Salvaged from a sea-bed,
Thrust up through a hole
With samphire-weed and poison.

Seagulls squawk and spiral
On a Fibonacci horizon,
I do not own a hair on my heart,
I do not own a thorn-seed;
I was born on Steppes of Despair,
And that is where I am mourning.

The Drop

Familial disasters
Bore disasters in me;
I am a master of nothing,
Not even Serendipity.

If only I could have such feelings,
My soul made for annealing,
But I am not for kneeling
And that is all there is.

Be wary of the door you choose,
For one is black
And one is blue;
Deeper than the lake
A bruise,
Deeper than the mines
A truth,
Where the Lady is buried
In an old borrowed tune.

The Dog Board

In a dream you left for me,
Showed where souls will go,
A mantel-mounted wooden stand
Held miniature drawers in rows.

Should I show you how your brother rests?
You said with some resolve,
And pulled out one such tiny chest
Wherein all hope dissolved.

No treasured urn, no cenotaph,
No scripture on a stone,
Just a hundred unsung blocks
In that yew-tree spirit’s home.

She said ‘It’s called The Dog Board’,
It homes your snow-dogs too,
There beneath the foxgloves,
The white drops and the blue.

There’s no entreaty I could make
To save a space atop,
That place both terrifies and captivates
Above the cauldron pot.

Sacramento

Ego-buffeted blustering coast.
I hurt the ones I love the most.
Seaweed thoughts and neon foam,
The loaming mantel hides a ghost.
Shipwrecked, re-wrecked,
Where’s the host?
The crow-man left the crow’s outpost.

Feather-blossom, light as moon,
If we leave you’ll see me soon,
Apple-wort and rotten trunks,
Ego-thorn and ego-dent,
My life there’s one experiment.
The ones I loved hurt me the most,
Sacramento, holy ghost.

Damoclean

Lifelong I have walked in sole-bare shoes,
With the trapdoor of my thoughts
I am going through,
Like an inverse Damoclean sword,
Like a parapet above a bamboo pit,
Each stake sharpened
By your silence as wide
As a black hole’s gingival abscess
Or a behemoth’s grin.

I walk with a shadow
Owned by self-sabotaging indiscipline,
Infrequent in me, your company,
I trod the floorboards while you
Flossed your wolfbane teeth
With cider-froth and
Complacency.

Only lately,
That lateral door’s secured
By love,
A love that endures
Longer and more fast set
Than a Trappist’s bloodstone whetting,
More than the Gordian knot
Where once we tied to dogwood
In this self-same moment
An ageing satrap’s ox;
And I, my love,
I will no longer drop.