Dreams Of My Father

Two excessively-sized
Ketchup bottles stood
On a lounge floor,
Tangible labels
With a maker’s name
Imprinted, a brand
I did not recognise.
Before disappearing,
A dog knocked over
A shiraz-gladdening glass
On to a green sofa,
We watched that wine
As thick as bloodlines
Slowly fall on to a
Sofa I now owned
And you did not.
Slow motion too,
The substance absorbed.
I implored my mother
Who had just appeared
From nowhere at all
To rush through the hall
To the kitchen, for salt
Would reduce the opportunity
Taken by that liquid’s blot,
But you have to be quick
In these situations
And, sadly, she was not.
I did not think it
Implausible
That the one time
She stood in the same room
As you through forty years
Of stubborn lamentations was
At your cremation and wake,
Yet here she was in a space
Fetching salt for a wound
In the universe’s clockface,
Where through me these days
Flow all such forms
I’ll ever deserve.
You took down a door
From its hinges with
A gentle, deliberate force
Just to shout to the boys
Upstairs in their rooms
Presumably, those friends
Who had not aged at all,
Turn your music down,
Although we heard no
Sounds penetrating
Floorboards,
And no-one gave the
Implications of that door
And excessive force
A second thought.

Interchangeable scenes
Between life and a screen
Where inside we see
A film, and next, a magician
Who walked on night-waters
Where I have floundered,
Who made toothpaste appear
In a celebrated
Mathematician’s
White shirt pocket.
A window in that lounge
Morphed into a doorway
Which opened on to a street,
I mean literally on to
The central reservation
Of a busy urban arterial way
In to a city I recognised
In some respects and not
In others, for it existed
And at the same time it did not.
We were to meet in a restaurant
And had separated to browse
In different shops. An album
Landed in my hand, two discs
Of music I did not buy
And did not want.
Inside a store,
Miscellaneous goods and
Purple fonts, lewd record sleeves
And no DVD of the one I wanted
To buy you left in stock.
Some of the residents dressed
In Fenland ways I had not seen
For decades. I passed by bars
Filled with unreal people
Returning to you,
A cathedral, restorations,
A palace with three children
And I thought the extent
Of a garden
As extensive as theirs
Is a privilege in this city.
I carefully parked a car
In a nearby parking lot.
A game in a programme,
Or a programme in a game
To entertain the citizens,
I refused to play and they
Wanted me to place my hands
In two see-through bags filled
With red ants and foliage
Before I departed.
A disappointed bag-handler
Shifted again in to
An actress who held me close,
We kissed as though our
Lives were martyred,
And her single kiss
Flew me back to you,
Where you walked on
City walls at pace,
Talking passionately
To nobody else
About the psychopathy
Of Roman emperors.

I can’t remember how we
Ended these scenes, nor how
I awoke in to blue mornings,
To a world where imaginations
From children are stolen,
If indeed
I ever did.

Heaven Lake

Recurring dream,
Sent in advance
On the saddles of geese
To an ancient land
Where reincarnation
Is taking place.

Repatriating me
Tentatively, years
Before the shift,
Like a preview for
Audiences to a film
In a cinema
They may never frequent.

Scenes lack chronology;
It was sold to these people
I do not know as
A route for tourists,
But the nation’s mask
Slipped and I knew then
Of poverty and deceit.

Fields beyond
The spying sedge
Divulged soils
Barren and as red
As ever a Martian rover
Beamed back by satellite link;
Yet it did not go unnoticed,
How villagers were forced
To rake and till
That seedless, empty
Former lake.

I broke away from the tour
Just before a torturing place
Disguised as security checks;
I ran uphill, a country lane,
At the summit I found two houses
Built in an odd representation
Of Western architecture.
An elderly woman departing one
Looked into my soul with
A purpose beyond divining
And said ‘we are not allowed
To converse in this space,
It is frowned upon, and you
Could be arrested, especially
Once they hear your accent
Which I recognise from Boston,
Massachusetts‘. I was nonplussed,
For am I not clearly from a small
And stateless island?

I made my way downhill, through
Living rooms filled with shifting
People and weird toys. Finally
Arriving back at the hotel
I understood these protocols,
You cannot look at the locals,
You cannot engage in dialogue
According to the ubiquitous
Signage in red and white,
They are trained to melt away
When the Western ones walk by,
Our suitcases as curious to
These servants and obedient managers
Who are sometimes shot
In secret locations, in forests,
For reasons counterfeited
And approved, rubber stamped,
As curious as we found their
Customs and their dress, their
Acquiescence to their fate.

I rushed to catch up with my group
Queuing for an airport coach,
A final check of passports,
A glimpse of army patrols,
An overwhelming sense, relief!,
Beyond the controlling sleep
To arrive back safely in mornings
Where I know of choice and loss
And love and grief. I stretched
Out of bed, showered,
Combed my post-pandemic
Longer hair, reached for my phone
Where nightly it charges, but
My phone, like all my
Karmic chances,
Had disappeared.