The Drowning Bride

The Queen of the Skies retired,
Long live our runway king;
Her assignation had three names,
It’s best not to question pretence.

Eulogies for a fuselage,
Front pages in the press,
But forestries are macadam
And all the workers left.

Newsreaders are enthusing,
A partisan casting and bribe,
Like praising skills of a killer,
Some words as sharp as knives.

They’ll read from flooded desks,
Drenched laptops and manilla files,
By sinking sails and tillers,
About my drowning bride.

Buffalo

I am no more privileged,
I have no further gains
Than Bison or Buffalo
Southwesterly migrating
In fated waves and a
Great obstinancy.
Their carcasses spiralling
Over yellow Plains,
They shot so many
The carrion could be seen
From space, to near
Extinction, annihilating,
Through Nebraska and
North through both
Dakotas too,
We were only feeding
Progressive trends towards
My detriment and death.

These are the thoughts
I couldn’t discuss with you,
Not about Buffalo
In the end, but men
Who did not return home,
Feathers in their scalps,
As I drove through the
Border identification checks,
Like the mind of a solitary,
Lonely surviving Buffalo,
And on to Saskatoon.

Ode To Taipei

Let’s land you in Taipei,
I’ll gladly meet you there;
The monsoon strips will throng
With blossom, pink and bare.

Let’s bring you to Taipei
By Bangkok, Three Gorges rested;
Hold my hands, it won’t be long,
Harbour floodgates daily tested.

Let’s see the Taiwanese fireworks,
I know exquisite spots;
You’ll contemplate the high-rise perks
Of living with your polyglot.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is filled
With roads downhill
And greyness still,
Timber yards
And paper mills,
Mist, and rain;
Houses built
With wooden slats;
A girl in the pines
They left for dead.
Furnaces, steel,
Forests feel
Endless. Settings
For a thousand films
And TV series will
Give glimpses but
Never the essence.
Rain on my mouth.
Interstate routes,
Rivers, bridges,
Flow until just south
From the ridges where
We met and loved.
A glove, a rustbelt,
A Methodist church,
I dropped my prayers
In roadside dirt.

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.

Tundra

You said that my chest
Is where the caribou’s
Hooves leave their trail,

The pine cones in my
Bones and breath
I held until you felt

The forest’s cloak of snow
Fall to the frozen ground,
Heralding a Spring in you

As wide and vast
As the experiences
Of sudden tundra

We shared in wonder
By horse and sled,
Under a permanent blue.

A Peatland Fire

Fire on the heath!
Flames are fanning heat
Inside a famished tiger’s teeth;

His cinder-lolling tongue
Tastes borders of grass parched
On the levee-surrounded

Island retreat, home to
Nightjars also known
On southern moors

As Goatsuckers, bizarrely,
Crespuscular-loving Roe Deers,
Adders in the reeds

And hawking Hobby Birds
Through longer summers sleep.
Bog Moss grows here too,

Bitter Berries for calming nerves
And promulgating peace
Across the prairie-reserve

Of my mind,
Where passions conspire
And ego confined.

Impunities of fire,
Merciless tiger-like intent,
So he contemplated dharma

In a higher monastery,
And mementoes from markets
Still selling today in Tibet;

Untrodden Himalayan
Glaciers will repent
And retreat from his breath,

Untouched by well-worn piolets
And crampons, where violets
Cling to the crags

Like old thoughts,
Geranium perfumes
And bright patchouli,

By the prayer-side sight
Of my Lama,
I caught a momentary odour,

And then the fire subsided,
A tiger’s stripes defeated
If not forever the tiger.