The Coast Of Shrouds

I prefer heavy rain
As rain keeps me grounded;
A shipwreck submerged,
A ghost keeps its counsel.
Crowds too kept at bay,
A drowning skiff is confounded.

I lost all I loved back then,
And all I would love forever,
Is it surprising to know
I could not imagine life
And thoughts within it.
Thoughts like skittish clouds
On the coast of shrouds
As unseen suns diminish.

God Of Kindness

Sometimes the sky seems as wide
And big as my sadness.

Sometimes I wonder how it was Permissible for you to step out,

While I was stored within a moment.
Sometimes I wish I was something else,

Less than my cobbled wheezy-sided,
Indulgent, obsessive false-comparison self,

And that’s just the better half
Of my kernel. On the other side,

A spider’s on my eyelids;
A paperweight, a floating shelf.

If I was a god of kindness,
By degrees I doubt it would help,

I’d be a god of putting things off
Instead, and drinking tea,

A god of missing you,
The goddess of missing me.

How can I follow my love’s path,
When there is no path to see.

Lifting Weights

Even beneath uncontestable rain
My weightlifting neighbour
Presses his bench; he strains
Biceps and triceps against
A violence of indisputable greys
A month before July. Contorted face,
I pray he does not look the same
When extorting sighs from lovers,
Sincerely he appears to agonise;
Self-afflictions behind a fence,
An audience of cypresses blink
Under dark green umbrellas.
I cannot justify nor rationalise
The constraints of the body,
And I furthermore pray
For his ligaments to remain
In place, for our ambulances
Are overwhelmed and our hospitals
Like Ministers for Roads
Offloading excess silicates
Have cancelled triple bypasses.
The barbells rattle and wheeze;
Barbaric routines, might I pray
One more time that he should find
WD40 in a kitchen cupboard, please.

Across the flooded lane, which ego
Dictates may as well be as wide
As the Irish Sea, wider than speech,
Wider than a bouyant comet’s tail,
Even beneath uncontestable rain
I fail in the never-ending bout
With myself, I’m the butterfly
Shadow-boxer punching metastatic
Targets which look like me,
Where no winner flouts his
New-found wealth, silver belts,
No podium nor medals nor
Pouting for swarming paparazzi,
Nor even simply the satisfaction
A man may find when pressurised,
Moving kilograms up and down
Under a turbulent kingdom’s sky.

A weight can take so many shapes,
And when a weight is lifted
We mean to achieve a sense of relief,
So why when I strive
To lift aloft my dumbbell-mind
All I find are aches and grief.

Half-Life

Even now, I remember well the half-hatched ordeals
Of that autumnal evening; beginning not with
Someone’s finding of the student,
(Not a friend, but a caretaker or cleaner),

And then the conjectures revolving into rumours,
Around the cold corridors of dormitories;
And again, the next day, nameless officers confirm and
Light up a truth which quickly dissolves

Like a tooth in a tumour, or a blinking eye
In the dark damp womb of our creations. Self-stopped
Like half a clock at the 19th hour,
Nothing more to absorb, confused, alone.

It did not begin when some other freshers planted candles
With a different future’s blossom, some flowers, some cards
Expressing half-life-sorrows, blocks of bewilderment
For a young man they neither addressed nor uncovered.

Twenty-two years have now slipped through that noose,
Twenty-two years of what-ifs and the bruises and confusion
Which do not diminish in those poor parental hearts,
A dominion where dear grandchildren are not born,

Where the extremities of life contract and reduce,
Where no one cries from their jaws for sadder times and joys,
Where a disease tore into graduation photographs and
Glasses of champagne once filled, left altogether untouched;

A thesis which unlocked the shift and pulleys of the universe
Unpublished; and an unmarried wife who wed her lesser wish,
(Died ten years later at his hands, discovered there in plastic bags
By tracker dogs, over the hills at Nightingale Woods).

Decades later, a specific chair was not moved into
A specific space at a celebration of alumni as they gobble port
And profiteroles in prestigious campus chambers,
Because no one there remembered, despite those dreams

Which govern and gnaw, without a name there is no lore,
They shifted on their feet, exchanging nouns and verbs,
They noticed people who whetted their mouths
Eating grapes and canapes in shades of green and purple.

No, it started many lives before, when someone somewhere
Did not say a vital word, a necessary term, a contract with Life
Left unassigned, unrehearsed, over and over until unlearnt.
Outside, Australia is burning.

And so we hurtle on, now unrepentant exiles of that time,
Post-internet, where anything seems accessible,
We stand still in illusions of luminous currents,
In the vacuum of chronically forgetful republics.