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.