Ode To Rhodes

Littoral landing strip,
A Dodecanese feature
Where you’re never more
Than a mile or four
From the Mediterranean.
You used to take your life
In your hands
When runways
Were little more than
Extensions of beaches,
Where sand swirled around
The slowing propellors
Like a sarong around
Euros’s daughter’s hips
As they saved Sparta
From a routing.

We avoided the bland
Concrete carcasses
Where anodyne hotels
Made mockeries of myths
And air-conditioned coaches
Turned in circles like
Steel moths regurgitating
Flocks of tourists.
An embarrassment of
Englishmen splashed on the
Melting macadam
Display still to this day
An art-form
Of complaints to
Patient pencil-moustached
Fluent majordomos,
And competitive pool-side
Societal traits.
We left our luggage in the room
Of a traditional taverna
On the hill across from
The old town, the heat
Of the evening reverberating
Like gecko veins,
The soft distant hum
From ferry engines,
You wore navy blue shorts
And I thought that your hair
Would cascade over your shoulders
Forever, as long as our hearts
Beat with iambic blood,
With the scent of sea salt
And blue sun-lotion bottles,
You wore the torc and
A bracelet bought from
A shop in the shade of
A side street in Kos.

We learnt a few Greek phrases,
We praised the waiters
Who danced the syrtaki
And later served
Tumblers of ouzo on ice,
A meze of tzatziki,
Goats cheese and
Flatbreads with rice.
I dreamt that night of
Sailing with you to Kiribati
On a balsa raft, and when
I retraced the possible
Meanings from my sleeping
Subconscious travels
You laughed, the sweetest
Feelings ever reaching my ears
Before or since, we
Embraced and kissed.
You said you loved
My unabashed romanticism,
Unwrapping the towel which hid
The book you stowed all that way
To surprise me.

The following week we flew
To Instanbul, then Baku,
Then through lush valleys and
Chasms beyond to Kabul,
Where nothing since
Nor with memory’s bonds
Could transcend or refocus
Seven days of sandy bliss,
The bones of my mind return
With heavy loads
Across the sun-browned
Mountain-tops, through
Secret coves
And olive groves,
To insights of a timeless love,
Within a timeless Rhodes.

Libertas / Columbia

There is verdigris
Where copper plates
And audiences

With top hats
And massive moustaches
Used to be,

The great weights
Welded pre-Dreyfus
Excommunications

Shielded your aorta
And encased liberty
Before the disease.

Now ferry-fetched
Tourists who delight
In the Bedloe Island

Greenery tag you
On Instagram veneries
Whilst unknowing

Of your origins
In the patisseries
Of sculptors

In Paris and
Amsterdam, and your
Expedition in bonds

On barges, in parts;
Locals flocked
To riverside paths

To cheer you off;
Ceremonies, champagne
Bottle shards bobbled,

Magnums, Jeroboams,
Signifying nothing
In the frothy water.

They did not endure
Your journey over
The Atlantic blight,

Now tourists flock
Like a mazurka
Of seagulls;

New frock,
Statuesque,
In that capital

Men use coins
For the crossings
Which also turn to green.

In time, perhaps their
Souls do too,
As they stand and salute

In front of a diluted
Version of you,
On an island

Of the self,
On a sheet of green,
By a European shop window.

Hadron Swans

A Molar Mass of Souls collided,
Enmeshed atomic weddings,
We found our rest, residing
After centuries of flight

In each other’s summer dachas,
Manifests in tundras of
Your tumbling hair, your kisses
As wide as the Siberian flyway

Of migrating swans on my forehead,
These souls awoke in the reeds,
Weighed wings splayed and anklets
Encoded, from loneliness released.

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
Accumulations
In gall bladders
And appendices,
Or the forty wars
They ordered, keeping
Us occupied long after
The conflicts and
Armaments
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
Unfulfilled
Prophesies
Of computer-generated
Apocalypses
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
Continuums
Of space and time,
Appalled by the myths
Brewing the next
Holocaust,
Fusing and feeding
The next apocalypse.

Haiku #445 – #449

445.

Samurai’s breakfast,
Seaweed, curly kale and beef;
Other men’s leftovers.

446.

I pray I soon see
Your smile, just as it appeared
Before everything changed.

447.

For just a moment
I felt strong, strong as anyone;
An illusion flew.

448.

Your diary exists
Somewhere, if in lost ashes
Or singed memory.

449.

Your endurance test,
There’s no way of knowing yet
If I failed, or passed.

There Is A Life That Waits

There is a life that waits
For those who live with love,
And a world which therefore ceases
When love has had enough.

There is a life that waits
Where you and I would walk,
There between the old beech trees
And sit a while, and talk.

There is a life that waits
Filled with lifelong joy,
Your first time on a bicycle,
Your first date with a boy.

And there’s a life that was,
The one we couldn’t share,
The one with you in wonder wrapped
Whilst I walked scarred and bare,

In places where the leaves had withered,
Where heather turned to grey,
Where songs sink deep within the weather,
And no more games are played.

There is a life that with you waits
By some sunny cottage wall,
In a form of England lost,
Where I did not fail or fall.

The Quintessence Of You

Every night now it seems
You sneak in through my dreams,
Something of nothing
And not as it seems.

You received a phone call
Anonymously, from a man
Who was handed your number
By a non-existent intervention,

The depth of the detail
Begrudges my entrance
And I realise too late
That I have fallen in to

Your dream, damp statues,
Dovetails and unlit lanterns,
Mustard soup and vegetable patches,
All just as it used to be

Yet in differentials of essence
They are worlds apart,
Like a circle trying to turn
Into triangles, keeps faltering,

And I find my ego wondering,
Awake in the neap tidal night,
Whether you dream about me
In similar, strange distorted scenes,

Or, if not the reality of me,
Then a sublimated approximation,
The Nickness of Nick, as I reach
The quintessence of you,

And I know in my heart the answers
Before I asked the questions,
This art is merely reflections, never true;
I fall asleep in reds and blue.