Haiku #629

629.

All those car owners
Driving by, I did not know,
Before they too died.

Eight Glasses

Water’s passed
Through seven
Towns on two
Banks of the
River Thames,
Or Isis as she’s known
At Oxford upstream,
Although it’s the
One and same
Dead river nymph
Before flowing
In to London’s
Bloated all-consuming
Hips, her public
Fountains and
Underground
Waterways.
Seven sips through
Seven lips on
Seven mouths,
Seven stomachs,
Some with ulcers,
Seven lies and
Seven dowsed,
Then hepatic ducts
And bladders where
Water in a hoisin-sauce
Soaked duck
Or any creature
Clipped from luck
Swirl in confluence
Post-gut, post the
Spatchcocked organs
Deconstructing
All that’s good
Before arriving at the
Thirst-quenched populous
Downstream from the
Golden Cotswolds
And into throats
Of foaming dogs.

So too seven lovers
Fell through me like
Teardrops, like
Ethereal waterfalls
And hydrogen bombs,
Floating on to where
Other men and
Women meet
To hold, and sigh,
And comfort, tossed
From one lifeboat
On their journey
To the next, until
At some sun-blessed atoll
They found a form of
Peace. I crawled to
Blackened riverbanks
At Purfleet and drank
Salt in my sleep.

Those who know me
Might expect a
Comparison
To the eight glasses
You would drink before
The day had even
Reached its peak;
But I am tired,
And I’d like to drink
Something else neat,
Some herbal tea,
Some skimmed milk,
And fall asleep.

Buffalo

I am no more privileged,
I have no further gains
Than Bison or Buffalo
Southwesterly migrating
In fated waves and a
Great obstinancy.
Their carcasses spiralling
Over yellow Plains,
They shot so many
The carrion could be seen
From space, to near
Extinction, annihilating,
Through Nebraska and
North through both
Dakotas too,
We were only feeding
Progressive trends towards
My detriment and death.

These are the thoughts
I couldn’t discuss with you,
Not about Buffalo
In the end, but men
Who did not return home,
Feathers in their scalps,
As I drove through the
Border identification checks,
Like the mind of a solitary,
Lonely surviving Buffalo,
And on to Saskatoon.

Ode To Taipei

Let’s land you in Taipei,
I’ll gladly meet you there;
The monsoon strips will throng
With blossom, pink and bare.

Let’s bring you to Taipei
By Bangkok, Three Gorges rested;
Hold my hands, it won’t be long,
Harbour floodgates daily tested.

Let’s see the Taiwanese fireworks,
I know exquisite spots;
You’ll contemplate the high-rise perks
Of living with your polyglot.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is filled
With roads downhill
And greyness still,
Timber yards
And paper mills,
Mist, and rain;
Houses built
With wooden slats;
A girl in the pines
They left for dead.
Furnaces, steel,
Forests feel
Endless. Settings
For a thousand films
And TV series will
Give glimpses but
Never the essence.
Rain on my mouth.
Interstate routes,
Rivers, bridges,
Flow until just south
From the ridges where
We met and loved.
A glove, a rustbelt,
A Methodist church,
I dropped my prayers
In roadside dirt.

A Peatland Fire

Fire on the heath!
Flames are fanning heat
Inside a famished tiger’s teeth;

His cinder-lolling tongue
Tastes borders of grass parched
On the levee-surrounded

Island retreat, home to
Nightjars also known
On southern moors

As Goatsuckers, bizarrely,
Crespuscular-loving Roe Deers,
Adders in the reeds

And hawking Hobby Birds
Through longer summers sleep.
Bog Moss grows here too,

Bitter Berries for calming nerves
And promulgating peace
Across the prairie-reserve

Of my mind,
Where passions conspire
And ego confined.

Impunities of fire,
Merciless tiger-like intent,
So he contemplated dharma

In a higher monastery,
And mementoes from markets
Still selling today in Tibet;

Untrodden Himalayan
Glaciers will repent
And retreat from his breath,

Untouched by well-worn piolets
And crampons, where violets
Cling to the crags

Like old thoughts,
Geranium perfumes
And bright patchouli,

By the prayer-side sight
Of my Lama,
I caught a momentary odour,

And then the fire subsided,
A tiger’s stripes defeated
If not forever the tiger.

Charon’s Obol

At the worldly water’s edge I met
A ferryman fettered with every man’s debt;
Most men ferried were frantic and wailing,
But fretless he focused on only the sailing.

Sails unset, and a sulphurous shore-line,
He had not expected the twisting shrine
To offer me forward, unholy day,
Across the bubbling barking spray,

And twice, three times again he inspected
A register of sadnesses’ shipment selected;
On the sediment’s surface I thought it strange
To speak of no toll, no financial exchange

For embarking his dark gondola. My name
Was not listed, but it was all the same
Payment to him, to steer me on beyond all reach,
Where strange landings occur on a stranger beach.

His grim hand flaking pointed barge-wards,
Above us flew three haggard blackbirds;
Anchored not far from where I appeared,
Like a friend in a dream, the same yet weird

And disconcerting, we had not met for years,
I saw myself moored with morbid fears.
I tripped on the littoral margin, and spumes of red
Bit my bare legs. Inelegantly, I clambered instead

And sat opposite from my hanging host
As he pushed off with oars from his dockyard post.
I looked over the lip of the creaking craft;
Nothing reflected, fore and aft.

At the midway point of this bleak crossing
(The worst of the details I’m continuously glossing)
I noticed, new horror, three holes in the deck
Through where the wild waters would willingly wreck.

My chaperone slowly turned his head,
And said without moving his lips of the dead:
“I have two skulls, two holes they’ll seal,
You must choose which two are real”.

His great grim hand, the bone-blockers rolled,
Across the base to where I sat cold
In the heat of the river, a terrible choice,
I had forgotten the feathers to love and rejoice

And as I felt my last heart sinking,
And all I could see were the hollow heads thinking,
I dropped those skulls with heavy regret,
And awoke beside you, covered in sweat.

Featured image is Charon and Psyche (1883)
By John Roddam Spencer Stanhope – Private Collection Roy Miles Fine Paintings, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43610750

Report Of A Theft

My dreams were stolen
Contrary to the laws
Of time and space,
Thirty years before
In a tanned leather case,
Stowed on a chartered
Northern-bound midwinter train;
It was nearly collected erroneously
By an elderly man
Who was never the same.
They tried to cut the padlock,
But the guard was asking for tickets,
So they crossed the border,
Disembarked, and lugged that valise
(Worn and covered in stickers
From places we once visited,
Venice, Rome and Trieste)
To their downtown offices
And shot at the numbers
With silver-white bullets.
They used the blueprints
For their gain
And that’s why the man was never the same,
For I was that luckless elderly man
Heading homeward over the blizzarding sounds,
On a snow-drowned locomotive.