A lioncub played with hyenas
When they laughed
At his pride;
And a cuttlefish caught in nets
When striving to retreat
Is poor man’s salmon disguise;
And a sparrowhawk’s
In the heat of the heart
Of a wasp nest demise;
These creatures died
With a startled sharpness
Keener than their births
And the girdle
Of this whole earth
In their eyes,
All are victims more to mankind
And man’s disease of language,
And man’s demeaning mind,
To subjugate, and classify;
Nature is nature’s intent alone,
There’s no greater or lesser divide
Than between you and I,
So I won’t be so shocked
When I rest my sore head
On an Edenless bed,
Aspic words preserve the lie.
All this time I’ve been sinning,
an unknown will was winning
I wreathe my own self with regret.
It was ever this way, beginning
To end, where the word innings
Is used by Englishmen in debt
To euphemisms, tongue-pinning;
Now their relevance is thinning,
Notes on a plummeting language.
When they say ‘
he had a good innings‘,
This means dutybound death’s spinning
Through the roof of our anguish.
Yellowfin bellies, sashimi de-finning,
Abbatoir beating-belts are skinning
But sin is how I’m scarred by a knife.
All this time, ever since my sinning,
That devil down there may be grinning,
My inheritance is only my life.
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.
Quale uomo a sangue caldo non poteva confessare
A te che sei l’imperatrice divinamente erotica.
Ho imparato l’italiano solo per riprodurre i suoni
Del tuo bel corpo nella mia bocca,
Possa io invocare la dea minore dell’amore
Per mostrarmi le vie del sud
Dove vivremmo in tempi tranquilli e altri
Riottosa esaltazione dei frutti e delle agavi
Delle nostre fatiche, e alza un bicchiere
Al tuo grande cuore e alle labbra morbide,
Perché in questa compagnia troviamo la nostra beatitudine.
In my next life
There’ll be no such concept
As husband and wife,
All will have been addressed,
No more paternalistic
No man-made linguistics
Where women are subject
By pronoun or clause, and
Where the word woman occurs
In Middle English, wife of man,
But people stand as they are
Not based on gender
Or bodies and bodily functions
But on our own terms,
Individual and unified
By more appropriate words.
Why societies do not challenge
More often customs and
From the centuries
I’ll never be able to learn.
That said, if you wanted me to,
I’d kneel for you, my love.
No-one ever says the phrase
In English wife and husband,
And yet why ever not;
Because for centuries the man
Was all a woman got.
Se l’italiano è la lingua della poesia,
Patria di Petrarca nella sua corona a tre punte,
E il francese la lingua degli innamorati,
Patria di Hugo, Baudelaire e Francois Villon,
E il russo la lingua di neve e foreste
Dove è cresciuto l’abete rosso di Checkov, Pushkin e Lermontov,
Il cinese è la lingua dei fiumi che scorrono,
Dare alla luce Cao Xueqin e i tre grandi salici,
Dove emergono le parole della bellezza non posso andare.
Perdonami per le lingue nobili che non ho ancora incontrato,
Lingue spagnole, portoghesi e settentrionali,
Perdonami se le mie parole suonano
Come una corteccia stanca, sradicata e vuota,
Ho perso il conto dei dolori della mia patria,
Perché l’inglese si perde come il sangue
In una prosa sanguisuga.
I’m learning a new language,
Only for my better self.
I may be unable
To navigate grey
Of post-pandemic terminals,
Yet this time’s expended well.
Delightful rolls and
Lilts, the muscle like
Gondoliers gliding through
Venetian tongues of water,
Expressive swells, expansive
Canals of digraphs, sibilants
Lapping the foundations of
Verbs and nouns. My favourite
Habit is to hold the hips
Of conjugating mnemonic tips,
The linguist-loving lips.
No more the mundane forms,
The brutal tubers of unusual
Metonyms removed from mouths
Of Romans millennia ago,
Bemoaning the rain and food,
On frontiers far from home.
And then we loved, and words poured
Away from us, a waterfall in spate
Filled with verbs and nouns, letters
Lost in torrents below, as certainly
Tossed for oblivion’s guts like
Old English Thorn and Wynn, missing
Companions we touched in the mist
By our fingertips before they slipped
And disappeared from names, epithets
And tongues. Witnessing their fall,
I felt for a moment absurd and a fraud
In this wordless world, grammarless,
No Greek or Latin constructs, none,
Definitive gerundives undone
(Which filled the mind with just enough
Distraction to thwart the edge of skies);
No descriptors, no positives for assaying
A modicum of metallurgic lore,
Nor negatives, for they undermine more times
Than not; you reassured me from above with
Lips as soft as horsehair brush for bows
Of musical instruments – there are words
In concertos only your soul can decipher;
And I ceased talking for a moment,
And I was quiet in the light of your smile;
For a moment is eternal, when we measure
Not with syllables, but instead with love.
Taught nothing more to enjoy
Than your memory.
I have become immune to fears,
Self-isolated well for sixteen years,
They parade unpaved disparities;
Penthouse peer, wealthy elite,
At different ends of a London street
As those avoided by Charities.
Having heard men demoted
And with vanity bloated
Rose pomades for their ego-whores;
The trumpet and flag as bad as the gun,
Why does it surprise most everyone,
When they evince long since I closed my doors.
They stole the ways which I adored,
Replaced with substance I abhorred,
And shaped a brand new Anschluss.
Trace it back to where it began,
Roman praetors had a plan
Overthrowing Tarquinius Superbus;
We are living still within their laws
From Linnaeus through to Aristotlean cause,
From scientists rife to churchgoers;
So I bought anteaters for my thinking-lawn
Long before ideas were born
Of secateurs and mowers;
Painted a cross on my front and back doors,
Filled memory-cupboards, finished my chores,
Pulled down the eyelids of my sea-shutter.
Divulged to my love a secret knock,
Watered the plants and changed the lock,
Set sail on a harbour-dream cutter.