Motorcycle Heart

Moonbeams on your Vespa,
No further symbols for trespass,
Behind the blind billboards of our minds
We could do anything we wanted,
And so we chose absolution,
Love unadorned, scooter tyre-patterned.

I massaged your bare feet,
Tired from oblique laws,
Passages of egos and fuel.
You nurtured my eclipse
Until I bit my lower lip. I learnt
How to live on your tongue

And inside your yawn.
Like the light of Punta Campanella
Or the abandoned tors of and moors of Lazio,
Clematis-clad elemental tubors
Are all unclad and unstrung.
A thorn plucked from my thigh,

Hubris carved from its twin stillborn.
You are the clue to my murder,
You are the breadcrumbs in my forest
And the compressed skin beneath the rings
Of the sun. Is this my body and breath,
Or is it yours? Sometimes, it is difficult

To tell the two apart. No hard feelings, then,
When the moon has poured and moved on,
Pregnant as seahorses in the male thoughts
In my belly, the sound of a small motorcyle
Starts in my heart. I breakfast alone
With a second sound, of healing

And feelings which are akin to migrating
Mythical birds which had not been heard in
My absurd world for a very long time.
You are the mechanism and I am the loss
As we are tossed and buffeted by
The grey mosaics tomorrow accosts.

You are music in my subconscious womb;
Workaholism reduces us to the musk
Of what once was. I play blue tunes
To remind me of you, and every time
I hear a Vespa outside my window,
I cannot help but wonder, and look.

Thirteenth Sonnet

We’re as fixed as anything else in heaven,
You can’t use douters on black holes or stars;
Why try placing Cornwall east of Devon,
We’re constant as Phobos orbiting Mars.
No end to hearings heard by eleven
Coroner cloud-gods in black cortège cars;
Bones have feelings, and our bread will leaven,
Our teeth cut with stuff from atomised scars.
See these bones, barely ossified rocks,
Set in their place by the Goddess of Clocks,
Ligaments moulded millennial rocks;
Even space can’t contain these lost aftershocks.
When leaving life to imagining death
We demean depth from our one daily breath.

Poem For Lovers, No.2

Let’s fill this house with flowers,
Attend some summer balls;
Forget those broken vases
Where we danced across the halls.

Let’s take a zigzag rabbit path
Between two sun-blessed dunes;
Waltz around a sandbanks
To lost romantic tunes

Which drift across the currents
And over love’s lagoon,
Reflections in her waters
Make a second moon.

I’ll pack the hamper in our car
And won’t forget those flutes,
Driving home above the stars
On blue Atlantic routes.

Let’s celebrate your loveliness,
Let’s grow old as weather,
The vases glued togetherness,
And rest beneath the heather.

Overboard

Toothless days,
Stale, bald coot days
On interstate railroads,
Destination Self-Loathing,
Then Self-Defeating,
It’s a quiet, small town
But they call it a city.

Soul-flummoxed,
Trapped in my stomach
Like a headless chicken’s
Featherless, eggless
Corpse in the grain.

Look-at-the-state-of-him
Days, Panic Stations,
Orange veins from picking
Fruit from the same orchards
For generations until
The task changes you,
The Orchard of Illusion,
You may appear the same
To others but your mirror
Is where the unvarnished
Truth remains, long after
I departed that room
For another day in trouble.

I would box up, pack up
These industries of nothing,
And the roots of mountains
Making good myths’ coffins;
It’s easier in this way
For the wordless, the mute,
To keep a promise.
One day would be sufficient.
I would pack up my bones
And throw the suitcase of my
Self overboard, in to endless
Hungry jaws of the ocean
But the antidote is intravenous
And continuosly working.
You took my hand, soothed
My brow, said you loved me
Although I didn’t know how,
And you put a slender finger
To my lips and softly said,
All we require, my dear,
Is love and wine and apples
In this bowl as proof enough
Of future life and tidal lengths.

Two Tattoos

I loved your tattoos,
A dreamcatcher,
A European wolf;
They reminded me of two
Weeks in Paris where
You fell in love with me
And I fell in love with you,
Paving an inked way
To the gardens and inlets
Of a coastal Francophile
Formative truth. I traced
The stepping stones of your
Spine where the bones led
Me down to the gentle
Mouth of your wolf.

A Sioux leader I knew
Had something similar
In his tattoos, with his
Dreams of teaching these
Invasive species
From a different soil
That their time was wasted
In this eternal toil.
He taught them a thing
Or two, and hung their teeth
From the fringe of his comb.

I held a teenage affection
For my two favourite actresses,
Then, mid 1990s, next century,
Jennifer Jason Leigh
And Audrey Tatou and
The marriages in my mind
Lasted like an English summer
For a day or two, but
Then it was you, and if
Anyone was tattooed just
Inside my skull and on my
Beating heart, it would
Always and still does
Beat the syllables of you.

Some imprints are more
Than skin deep, like a
Red Rorschach Test
On our bones and in
The loves stored in our heads.

I would have tats too, I said,
As you rested the threads
Of this bliss on my chest,
On that beach, and I stroked
Your soft and beautiful hair,
Scent of sand and curlew breath,
And you replied, if only
Your pain threshold was higher,
And anyway what would you
Have tattooed on your back,
Our hands entwined,
We relaxed into that time,
For life’s best ink is love,
Love lost, love found;
I will never forget your response
In the sand, and the dunes,
And there across the Sound.

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.