Future Reminiscence

We reminisced
Like indistinctly
Separated lovers,
Carefully unwrapping
Other people’s memories,
Other people’s bliss.
Remember when our hair
Fashioned in newly shared
Romantic styles
With kanzashi propping
We would later forgive,
Shoppers made from glass
Reflecting the market
Would stare, open-mouthed
If to be so avant-garde
Lately had we dared.

Before we earned
Our contrasting directions
We understood much less,
There was no compendium
For the sentience
Of stones at the summit
Of mountains dressed
In red, and unexposed
To prejudice like silt’s
In gall bladders
And appendices,
Or the forty wars
They ordered, keeping
Us occupied long after
The conflicts and
Had disappeared,
Parboiling three or
Four pandemics,
Six or seven daughters;
They mansplained
Impossible are
Any further losses,
Like fathers returning from
The Boer only to see
Their sons conscripted
In 1914. The reason
Stages are loved by
Adventists, confutators
And politicians,
The pamphleteers
And the musicians,
Teachers and priests,
Is there the congregations
Hear messages as though
Not for the masses
But for individuals
Directly injected,
A form of ancient
Alchemy. You always
Said tread carefully
Through the verbosity
Of men on podiums.
I did not know then
All that you meant,
But now, I understand
Suffering and love.

You honky-tonked
Your way through the blues
While we flirted through
Millennia, where
Of computer-generated
Seem somehow preferable
To the hardships
Of being kept apart
From you. We endured
Obscene tortures
On our screens,
Aeroplanes burning,
Dossiers deserving
Nobel Prizes
For turning what existed
Into what did not,
Rainforests made way
For shampoo and
Doughnuts sprinkled
With hundreds
And thousands of years;
Forget-me-nots lost,
We tied a bonding knot
Where we might meet
And reminisce again,
Holding hands across
Our thoughts and the
Of space and time,
Appalled by the myths
Brewing the next
Fusing and feeding
The next apocalypse.

Ninth Sonnet

Less the requirement for tablet or shed,
Poetry’s gardens are seeds in your head;
Daily distractions will chatter and chase,
All their dull efforts, one rhyme will replace.
Minutiae delights, heaven’s your ceiling,
Don’t hide from your self, hardships revealing;
You don’t need a war for a war poetess,
Injustice and conflict sow your success.
Your heroes don’t live in scripts or a screen,
Your heroes prevail inside you unseen;
Don’t over-bake, or burn with keen edits,
Don’t wait for their praise, the obverse discredits.
More words you’ll intuit, let the free world fight,
Follow terms for your self, and freely write!

The Anorectic’s Contest

From scalp to soles, all muscles atrophied,
She courts water flavoured with aniseed
For an emetic. It’s seven days now
Since signing her sisterhood’s wasted vow.

Her chest’s like mine, her bones are clean,
Servery patients crowned her queen;
We meet without eating, only talk about food,
She tires quickly, and quick to brood.

Tattoos shrunk, teeth turn black,
A single cordon keeps death back
In exchange for her youth, an appetiser;
May a long later life be one tranquilizer.


N.B This poem is written in remembrance of a member of my family’s experience, and as a response to Wisława Szymborska’s Bodybuilders’ Contest

The Song Of The Moon

I used to live in a forest
Where all the world was dark,
But now I live in a clearing
Where at last I see the stars.

I used to live in a strata
With amethysts purple and blue,
But I could not touch their colours
Until worlds were opened by you.

I used to live in a town without words,
As silent as the night-sea;
But now I reside in the poem
And I gather the oceans in me.

I used to live in an aperture
And watch the lights flash by,
But now I remember the camera
And let the memories lie.

I used to live in a forest
Where all the world was dark,
But now I can see the trees and the berries,
The song of the moon, the heart of the stars.


This poem is a waterfall
And lyricism sprays,
Grey Mare’s Tail in full spring-spate
Whisks and wisps the words away,
Cascading down through language
And reflections I have made,
To arrive inside a memory
Where unfailingly you display
The falls in blue and turquoise waves,
Tumbling over your shoulders,
Flowing over your spine,
Between the tattooed lillies
Which gripped those limestone cliffs
Through all of human time,
These rocks and ferrous boulders
You claimed were ever mine,
Since that summer we arrived
At beautiful Bamyan, we stood
Beside each other, held hands,
Long before they had the statues
Catalogued and classified
As iconoclastic, arts all ossified,
Desecrated, understated,
Very few survived,
Sandstone rained in torrents
Onto arid Afghan soil
Like a giant Siren’s teardrops,
Opposing islands in their own turmoil,
Falling down the Angel’s fourteen columns;
Hair scented of citrus, exotic
And foreign, we stayed four nights
In a hotel not far from the airport,
Sipped the most incredibly strong coffee,
Our room overlooked a sign which read
‘Welcome to Kabul’ but with a missing L
Illuminated under a broken-bulbed light,
There were bullet holes above the bed
And by the second night your back had bled
With those tattoos inked indelibly;
I trace the route now like a cartographer
From Karthoum to Addis Ababa,
There’s your angora cardigan, a lotus
On your parting, and hair slides,
There are mountains in Andorra
Where waterfalls much the same as those
I have described
Are hidden,
Undiscovered, pristine,
Pouring down into lagoons
Encompassed by meadows
Untouched by the awfulness of marauders
Or well-meaning but ultimately disastrous explorers
Or a shepherdess’s daughter;
Fascinated by the fabric of maps
And all to be discovered,
How symbols become plans
Which morph into experiences on our travels,
God-willing over the deserts
Where the skin and the sand become one long tussle,
Like Somali geelxir
Unmarried and removed from a tribe
We herded and rode our camels,
Your head and hair in a tannin-coloured tagelmust,
You smiled with your eyes,
Kohl on your eyelids,
Your smile an elixir of soul
And the antidote for all losses,
When you smiled
The water poured back upwards
And into the river above,
Red Nile to serenely green Lamadaya,
We slept in tents and sometimes outside
By the light of stars and kindling fires,
You’d recount the myths of Orcadian Selkies,
The Shropshire Ashray hiding in reeds
And the lowland roving Kelpies;
We always kissed and said goodnight,
Until one day inevitably you shed your own skin of sand and love
Where the cancer got in
And life fell out;
I can repair some memories,
The scent of your hair,
Faded now and fair
In a Polaroid,
The colours on charts,
And substitute with other truths
The ones I’ve left remain impaired,
Until I reach the calming oxbow bends
And language meanders gently from me
Into cataracts
Where all words pool, and end.

Decades later
When the waterfalls had turned to stone again,
My grandchildren would visit
My hospital bed,
Bored and taking selfies,
Into iPhone screens stared.