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.

Ode To A Jug Of Milk

These dreams pour
In to me with fluidity,
Like milk from a jug,
Like clotted cream, from
A place in time both
New and old to certain
Degrees, where I am not
As one would be, when
Awake in passive daily
Routines. This drink
Plays tricks on me,
A mind as arid as
Deserts devoid of oases
And mysteries sealed in
Camel humps and dunes
That burn beneath my feet.
Too eager to be deceived,
I gave away my fortune
For its cornucopia
In return received;
I opened the throat of
My soul to swallow
Molten gold, and in
Flowed milk from the
Dreams of a goat.

Crows assemble
On timelines scratched
Across the planets
In my palm. A caw,
And the awful liquid pours
Through my stomach,
Through duodenum walls;
These organs worked hard
Behind the scenes for
Decades. Assortment of
Bellows and pumps,
Light industries,
Where will the substance
Pour instead when at
Cellular levels
And levels of lux
I am composting the dead
Autumn borders of
A farmer’s garden;
He who sows, I haven’t met.

I survive the nightly
Poisoning, an attempted
Abduction with chlorophyll
And monkshood. I wake
To a dawn chorus.
Such structures men
Conceive in seahorse
Dreams, in prison cages
Far removed from the sound
Of thrushes warbling,
And the downpouring
Of cups of tea.

Yeísmo

I’m learning a new language,
Only for my better self.

I may be unable
To navigate grey
Plastic-muzzling protocols
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.

How A Black Cat Came To Symbolise Bad Luck

We found a stray, sympathetic beings
Come what may, to universal plights
Known by neglected domesticated
Mammalia these days, for extinction
Is less a mass event, it’s a slow unwinding overnight,
Finding craters and sink holes appeared.
Neighbours said ‘this stray, it will bring you luck’,
But it’s getting a little late for that.

Mangy hair, a silver bell made proclamations
Like an Emperor of Sounds, and we didn’t complain.
Blue collar, no name engraved on a non-existent disc,
A slightly wild-eyed glare as the stray
Ate all the tuna we placed in a bowl
On the patio. He ate like an empty-stomached wolf
Whose belly rumbled in time to forest rainstorms
And whose timber ribs ached through every bone.

No care for recrimination, nor reprisal;
Naturally, he returned each day to his gorging place
With increasing confidence and weight
Bordering on insouciance and later
Encasing lipids, sat beside the back door,
His claws clicked along the porch,
No doubt walking over graves;
For one day we drove to work, unaware

That constant betrayals bled berried thoughts throughout.
Arriving home, three blackbirds mauled,
Three less songs. Those empty nests.
Avian throats provoked a furore of Sophoclean choruses within willow-fleeces
For sons eviscerated indiscriminately
By a stray that was not hungry, had no need;
A tiger never forgets its claws, and neither did he.

Chanting, yes, the aggressor’s name,
Empathies of sparrows wore masks
Regardless. So they stripped the cat
Of his title, its talismanic black
Entitlement and charms, and we received
In dreams instructions from the flock
To trap and stop his fortune, eternally,
In a waving form, in porcelain.

They said this last one will bring you luck,
Handing the charm to a boy at the front,
Just like the maneki-neko in future versions Of Kobe, or Tokyo; on a sea-front,
Kimono-wrapped, now found in restaurants,
In plastic, or ceramic, and fabric-wrapped,
Guarding fish shops and arcades
Which, in time, replaced pagodas and temples.

Healf-Sawol

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.

The Wake

There was a blowing out
Of puffed cheeks,
A wringing of hands;
A contest to see which relatives
Could stay longest standing up
Without talking.
A fiddling of rings
And necklaces clasped,
A bland conglomerate
Of traditional foods protected
By cellophane: quiche
And salads, potatoes
And parts of beasts
Which were sentient
In feathers and fleece.
An unspooling new world,
I watched the future flag unfurl
Its warning as you leaned
From your designated seat
And said without speaking
It could be worse, son;
Perhaps, Dad, somewhere in a
Different inverse universe
Where time flows backwards.

I laughed out loud
And relatives noticed
Momentarily. I turned to you
Where you were not,
Sitting on your vodka rocks;
Some words sank and some words
Stuck with a malodorous waft
I attributed to a corner
Of unwashed carpet
Where the church cat
Unashamedly squatted
And relieved its feline
Bladder. I enquired
After your diverticulitis
And you said there are no
Stomas or indeed consultants
In the paradigm you found
Yourself in, nor catheters,
And that, hey, you could
Drive me home, and how strange
And perverse I thought
That we use words to hide
And divert meanings and truth
As if truth should be
Obfuscated with moss
When grieving families say
‘He was under the influence’
Or ‘they were disappeared
In the Troubles’.
What do you know?, you said,
And back to the subject at
Hand, with this predeliction
I could drive you home
Six or seven months later
And I lose control, the trunk
In a tree, steam rising as
Documented in tv programmes
And films. That would be worse.
You nodded; I looked at you
In utter disbelief, and
Surmised that the gap is great
Between sotted and besotting.
Before you evaporated I said
Knowing you my father,
I’d never get into that car.
The relatives left silently,
Taking home their flowers and
A brace of pleasantries.

Everything good you have, embrace,
Instead of what you’ve lost;
For when embracing emptiness
We fall with greater cost.

Superinjunctions

One day all the press,
Online and print,
Will be formed completely
With advertisements,
One hundred percent
Fillings, from habidashery
To gasoline proponents,
To hide and collude
And ride and dismiss
The dissenting
Foaming waves
As they rise and crash,
While starved waters
Of truth inundate
Studios, penthouse flats,
And meeting rooms.
If that’s not already
The case, then I’m a
Pregnant seahorse adrift,
Or a starfish colonising
Panamanian dunes
And Honduran rifts,
Just like that
Spate a decade ago,
When some matter
Or other took place,
A tort-law judge
Deigned beneath his silks
That we too were beneath
His bar of knowing
What does and doesn’t exist.

So I superinjunctioned myself
And no one could know,
Neither families nor friends,
The life I deprived
Of myself, unpublished,
To the public unknown,
A red headline splashing
Other content to fool
The populous into confirming
Their pre-suppositions,
While the actual event
Slipped by unopposed.