Untitled Poem #5

It was a myth, man’s making,
Yet once, it was a religion.
Now, I am surrounded by ghosts,
Yet once, they were the living.

If a choice, then this will be worse,
There is nothing made from nothingness.
Yet more comfort than the daily giving,
What does this say of life’s long blessing.

He took his pills and threw them up,
His arms and thighs he scratched and cut;
Always up, and never down,
Life’s bride without a wedding gown.

A question denied of an answer,
Carcinogen less a cancer;
To a bonfire they strapped a martyr,
Death does not need a dancing partner.

I bandaged your scars with forgetfulness,
I emptied your stomach and beat your chest.
To life at last you had me receptive,
And the ghosts had me cast as Mr Deceptive.

Know this ghosts, I am not defrauding life,
That was your palpably poisoned decision;
I opened your wound, distaste was rife,
Ink flows from my self incision.

A Memory

From meditations on Hamlet
An English teacher looked up,
Discerned a room of eight students
By detachment conjoined at the hip,
And geophysical forces since birth.
He expanded at length a priori
On ‘how musicians should be judged
By live performance, contrary to
Studio content’. A random thought
And unextraordinary.
A bell called time
Somewhere over an event horizon.
He had a daughter called Gudrun,
And proselytized Chaucer;
He was tall and balding,
The tea spilt on a saucer
He tipped back into a porcelain cup.
This is as much as I can now recall
From a home for the old and lonely infirmed,
Of those two years of study
I worked hard thereafter to unlearn.

Time called the Bell,
(Oh how you are missed);
Moments glued to memory’s cells
Like the scent from a thurible
Or a wasted first wish;
Like a wasp in sap,
The sting remains discernible.
Those eight adolescents went their ways,
Glorious pollen, fight off senescence,
See beyond the surface skirts.
I should not curse excessively
Of all the state would have me preserve,
I am not an Urghur from the Rim of Tarim;
Yet the state could surely do so much better
Than hosting roundtable colloquy,
And disproving disgust in a letter.

Ducking Stool

This is the place and this is the time,
Where Langland’s roots, fertile and wide,
With verdant shoots succumb to rhyme,
Vigilantes ready their faithful ride.
That mob with minds of malevolent fire
Assault me in my living quarter,
Drag me by hair, claim me a liar,
And then do the same to my daughter.
They assault me again in the masculine way,
A tumbrel is yoked, obedient ox;
This tumbrel which stinks of manure and decay
Some-time contained rotten Bramley and Cox.
The gum-stools designed to flaunt the buttocks
Of the sisters imprisoned, withheld;
This method is used on the land of the Suffolks,
The Marquis of Hay and the cruel Arundells.
Along a flooded tow-path there’s jostle,
Pandemonium blew through the river’s defences;
They pelt with cabbage and songs of throstle,
Onions and neeps and garlands of menses.
Once as a child I caught a grayling
In my fingers, that lady of the stream;
Her dorsal rainbow, my future is failing,
She slipped into a different dream.

This is the time and this is the season,
The River Lugg is in full spate;
Its confluence scars latitudinal reason,
Water-crowfoot and buttercup fate.
We disembark from the baleful wain,
The ox flicks at midges with his turd-matted tail;
Their leader asks if I will curse or refrain,
I give him the finger and spit at the male.
These actions would not have our status absolve;
We are shackled on two separate tilting boards;
Those oaken slabs with great art revolve,
Our feet for the sky, our tongues for the hordes;
The first new abuse consumes without warning,
Wrists well-restrained, water floods in the lungs
And takes the seat of words once forming,
Bleeds into organs, we speak in tongues.
We want to scream out but water’s our mouth,
Reeds for our hair and frogs for our nails,
Cold to the bone, North becomes South,
Newt-spawn frocks, alevin trails.
In a drowning lock I lost all my songs,
Until the spirit of the Lugg ascended;
With rainbow fin, unseen by the throngs,
Our death-bond’s better suspended.

Torrents of water poured from the board
As the stewards manoeuvred it shoreward,
It’s written in annals of Derwent, and Discord,
Profanities our torturer foamed forward.
“They will have died”, the defrauder decreed,
“May the truth now have them from sufferance freed”.
Yet two hundred years on, still great is the need
For effigies fitting the breadth of their seed.
That seed still spawns in the tides of the rivers
From Offa’s Dyke to the Tigris and Windsor;
I’ll be Time’s widow when Justice delivers,
And while that stool’s on display in an English Minster.

Ni Una Menos

The gods are with those who fled,
Moments before a state-imposed deadline;
The hoodwinked donated bullets for bread,
Tidemarks are the breadline.

They sought work abroad, professionally wasted,
The journo’s a postman, the surgeon’s a baker.
Back home, they had the booksellers basted,
Agitprop is promoted, to be a peacemaker.

The crowds will be marching, banners and slogans,
The industrialists’ profit from a fixed water cannon;
The pacifists rallying were shot by the pro-guns,
While the Minister for Peace toured a factory in Annan.

No matter if Terror removes our scalps,
Or makes blankets from protestors’ hair, they said,
As long as you can buy flights to the Costas and Alps,
And hear the Shipping Forecast tucked up in bed.

The Ministries of Happiness and Dialysis merged,
The Secretary of State hated hearing of words,
(So many words, who knew so many would have to be purged),
These quacks who bemoan waiting times and wards

So overcrowded, they’re treating children in boiler rooms;
So he had the hospitals either closed or rebranded.
The Minister for Porn woke up late and resumes
Invasions of privacy, to keep in place the red-handed. 

The king’s abdicated since his uncle groomed
Television presenters for well-cushioned thrones;
There are thousands in stadia stranded and doomed,
They make gallows from goalposts and wear headphones

To censor the sound of the women’s screams.
In Shetland, the tidemark is called a shoormal.
March womankind, march beyond dreams,
These man-made visions must not become normal.


Morning Storms

The God of Vexation
When Neptune was courting
Scooped up the Atlantic
And bestowed it on Norfolk,
Long before you and I were born.
The quickening Wales survived,
and the red-heathered glens of Scotland,
albeit biparted. There is a new lagoon
Which stretches from Cumberland
To the kings of Northumberland
Who vandalise shops where they can.
In a hundred awful years or more
Sightseers and tourists
Walking the shoreline,
Buying mementos and keepsake-gifts,
Will laugh at preposterous legends
Of villages consumed by the water.
Today is all I claim to own,
A universe condensed.

A canvas harried by the gale
From the patio table’s circumference,
In that moment morphed
Into an airborne octopus
Or other tentacled fabulous beast;
Flew over the poet-advocate’s garden,
And beyond his neighbour’s fence.

Antiphonary

Quotidianly the Church of Failure I entered,
It’s perched on the edge of the Perilous Cliffs;
Overlooking a township where sailors self-centred
Have painted Saint Elmo on leprous skiffs.

The lych-gate’s with knotweed succumbed,
The last wedding here only led to divorce;
The yew-trees colluded and suddenly plummed,
Incited cattle to trample, remorseless and coarse.

Saint Saviour’s statue outside the narthex
Lost both His hands in the penultimate storm;
The gargoyles with moss and lichen are blessed,
The Roaring Forties with tempests transform

The lands where narwhal skeletons rest;
A place of reflection and calm contemplation
With sea-kelp and crab claws dressed,
The trammelling corpses upbraiding salvation;

The empresses here are other crustaceans,
A giant squid’s eyes guard the vestibule;
Defrocking is also laicization,
The vicar defrocked to a village near Goole.

The organist abetting has been suspended,
We sing our cantatas in a capella ways;
The pipes and the pedals we had recently mended
An absconding convict stole, while in prayer we praised.

Some congregational hearts are not really in it,
They thought a Vesper a vehicle needing repair;
They thought that Lauds was the home of cricket;
Sabbas the Sanctified looks on in despair.

Quotidianly a coffin tips over the edge,
Parishioners strive to catch caskets with nets;
Coastal erosion reached bramble and sedge;
That view had survived a thousand regrets.

Those who tampered with truth eat their desserts;
We go home, watch executions from London to Delhi.
We petition each day to make matters worse,
But prayers are not heard from within a whale’s belly.

Antidote

One by one, you pulled the thorns from my face,
Their poisons had stented my blood in its place.
To me unfelt, unseen, ever-present,
Many years later, lined my grave in a crescent.
This was the one which cared what they thought,
With a yellow arrow my sallow cheek caught.
This one circulates eternal regrets,
Its blue dart contused where the jawline sets.
This was the one that had me seeming unfit;
Piercing the skull and draining my wit.
This one pumped out time’s wasted pleasures,
I hung on the wall its dream-catching feathers;
This the one that stymied the truth,
Its sharpness the colours hidden in Ruth;
This one had my hapless soul bent,
Drained it away, my body for rent.
Gently you removed one last stemming thorn,
Kissed my forehead, my senses reborn;
Each needle carved in a craftsman’s way,
Filled with promise and lies and delay;
But the greatest lie of all I heard,
Was the one I stabbed in myself, and stirred.

This Man

This man held a song in my throat;
Oh how I clean the stains daily,
Yet he left only once.

This man soaked my stomach
With the skin of a pig
And the heart of a stoat;

This man now cannot say what he wants
Because he does not know,
While the parliamentarians ferment revolt.

This man did not think of the rift and the ripple,
Nor long on the legacy-love of a tipple,
Nor the blackbird nesting within my vision.

Flood Defence

 

For thirty years I crawled
Through unearthly wild-wending tunnels,
(While you looked away, did nothing at all),
Into a dream with no ending.

When I used my pen breaking through the last bend
I merged into you, and felt the full sorrow.
You are the room which narrows and narrows;
You are the drowning house, but not

In the harrows when the barriers fail,
But floods of human mud and effluence;
We had to bury you in a faraway barrow
Where mourners are banned by the God of Tomorrow.

A gale could not uproot a tulip,
It was Time who took the baby’s tooth, no hex.
Enough of this fruitless relationship,
Lord of thoughts of truthlessness.

When all is done, loneliness is murder,
Alone in your cell without horses or bell,
With just your thumbs and a useless spell,
Your thoughts will run further and further.