Pensive Moon Totem

Salmon skin,
Salmon teeth,
Oceans of oily
Asparagus feet.
Double clef,
Rubber stamps,
Telegraph poles
And lifeboat ramps.
Guanine crystals,
Trogon nest,
Bird cliff droppings,
Indifference.
In the village
Fishermen sing,
Pensive moon
And separatists.
We built a nation,
Misplaced Souls,
Hedgehog dreams
Beneath the snow.

Neon Dwarf Fish Tank Blues

There’s little nutritional
In minds of a fish,
Yet I too am moved
When you enter the room.
Uncontrollable impulse,
Electrolyte charge,
I ceaselessly swim
With a fast-beating heart.
Observing with eyes
Slight as a pin,
The grace of a human,
We’re closer within.

If I could say something
While beauty floats by,
My mouth would be filled
With chlorine and sighs.
Doomed only to witness
Your unlaced finesse,
As you brew a new coffee
And turn on a switch.
I died on your gravel,
I died on the lawn;
The soul’s multicoloured,
Alone I’m reborn.

The Meaning Of Fish

The meaning of fish
In my angling firth,
My minnow-mind slipped
And did not deserve.

Alluvial sediment,
Disinterment deferred,
Shifting sands seen
On a dark shiftless earth.

Croaker-bait,
Poison hook;
Reeled from a river,
My gauche gawping look.

The meaning of fish
Too late I would learn,
For if not for fish, or
Water-weeds or worms,

I would not exist
From a loch to the burn,
And my scaly-grey heart
Would no longer yearn.

Ode To A Parking Lot, No.2

Grief, do not disparage me,
Do not diminish my yearning
To observe the rites I will learn
In turn, by rote, just as oceans
Spurn the lode in mackerel bones
And whiting dreams and cod,
Fulfilling the needs in fishermen’s
Ganseys and hand-made
Tablecloths their wives
Once ironed, having washed,
On kitchen benches draped across,
Though sometimes a trawler
Or two were lost and the sea,
With blind unfeeling disbelieving
Reasons breeding in their peaks
And troughs, duplicitous sea,
Brought home only grief and loss,
Those I have known and those
I have not, as I cried on my own
At midnight in a parking lot.

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.

Kingfisher Song

You were too eager to please,
I chided myself, so keen to
Write that the venerable pen
Leapt from your desk and in
To your head where it bled
Through the clenched fist
Of your thoughts, the other
Hand, where I could not write,
But fell asleep in fields
Unfurling fallow whites.

Bald world, as blanched
From colour and sounds as
When the midwife caught you
Like steelhead trout in
Nets of coastal fisher-folk
Who could not speak themselves,
Brine burnt their throats;
They held their plunder up
To the sun, trident-spiked,
Piscine mouths in pristine
Exhibitions of shock,
Joyous affinity as one
With the kingfisher god,
As later priests held up
Broken bread and the veins
Of the grace and the good.
I’ve observed how a ritual is
Repetition streaming through
Survival’s gills, waking up,
My pen still in my hand,
Without scolding myself,
Then wrote.

Ode To Penelope

I have a fan beside my desk,
Utilitarian blessing of relief
(For I am a Leader
Of First World Anxieties
I mainly caused myself),
Presented its purpose
Conceptually just yesterday,
Unboxed and assembled
In the candleless caverns
Of my inner critic, brand new,
But you also bought it for me
From the supermarket
During the languorous lost days
Mid-heatwave, and I knew
This happened because you
Woke me from my sleep
With a dream of the receipt.
You had the oscillations set
To relieve me from my self,
The cool assurances
Like nautical miles
Measured one knot after another,
Like a necklace for a Goddess
Flown over an oceanic shelf
Returns me to a slender skiff
On the Mediterranean’s
Peerless blue hues, as blue
As the ineffable workings of the soul,
As blue as sacrifices to
That Goddess of Nets
With sea-sick sheep and goats while
Fishing for golden orata;
The great sea, infinite blue
Like poetry, glistens
And dances in a reverie,
Just as the same soporific
Waves subjugated Odysseus as
He traversed its gentle crests
In search of a cure
For hysteria.
O Penelope,
How a man craves his opposite
And the irresistible forces
Of his afflictions,
As conditioned as a dolphin
To click and swim
With supple fins
And graces, nattering like
Old acquaintances about
Their Italian diet and
Their penchant
For eviscerated fish.
No rainfall here
For another year,
But I have my fan and that feels
In the moment more vital, for
I outlasted Diocletian of Split,
And though it may only be good
For fanning heated air,
Perhaps that’s all I need
To survive another year.