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digging in the meadow (Letter to the genealogists)

 

Beneath this fallow meadow of compacted soil

These gnarled roots twisting, twisting in eternal toil

 

Remembrance for butterflies that once charmed you in flight

And rekindling images of passion and delight

 

Of endless golden days and rolls in the grass

Just another shy dreamer and his favourite lass

 

Of when Manchester’s skies shone honest and blue

Before the Tempest of progress rained down upon you

 

Waiting to reveal secrets of a harvest long past

And grow new branches to your forgotten tree at last

 

To shed light on this neglected corner of foreign field once more

A once mighty oak weighed down by heavy sandstone door

 

Yet demanding of a key to raise you from your state

Your carved epitaph signed and sealed by your fate

 

An inscription to those who followed and then left

And to those who didn’t stay leaving others bereft

 

This silent Orpheus in song of the battles once fought

Beside his legion of lost soldiers whom Charon had sought

 

Voices silenced by obols for crossing o’er the river

Their instruments laid down with no dirge to deliver

 

His Eurydice by his side in a cold fixed embrace

Softly sobbing and reeling from her own fall from grace

 

But by clearing the leaves which had hidden your glory

We’re igniting bytes of energy and revealing your story

 

Scraping back all the moss which grew over your name

To the clatter of new looms, stitching you together once again

 

Revealing sadness and joy within woven cobweb scrawl

And in old yellow tomes which recorded your fall

 

And you still entombed in the presence of now

Singing choral refrain of what, where and how?

 

An answer to prayer that your memory might live on

And hoping we’ll shine too in this place once we’ve gone

 


 

winter

Winter will have her way

Those salad days of full lungs and song

Now acorns of remembrance

To feed the long silent nights ahead

Summer garments packed away for another year

To fade like curtains drawn to the sun

The last lick of ice-cream encrusting on the sleeve

And your once bronzed skin shocked ashen by the cold

 

Winter will ascend the freezing staircase

To a cascade of leaves and then snow

She will turn skeletal the once verdant trees

Which shaded your modesty and cooled your fires

And no spindle fingers can hold you here

Better to take the fallen branches and spark a flame

Better to take off your boots and leave them by the door

And better to wrap you hand around a warm glass and wait it out

 

Winter will be the catalyse for change

Shortening your days to reflect on the past

Halting your march forward in the wrong direction

Holding fast your dreams for another year

Winter will whiten the canvas again

Awaiting fresh brush to daub a fresher line

But knowing the marks you make today

Will not emerge as green shoots until the spring

 


library walking

There are corners of a city that brick you in

Where life eddies to a nowhere in particular

like autumnal leaves around the feet

There are spaces through which no light can permeate

nor aid your progression on

There are routes that hasten you through a place

on a concreted commute of protracted silence

There are pavements only ever viewed from above

each worn slab an abacus cube of passing time

There are broad well-lit streets and boulevards

that only dazzle the beauty about

There are shiny new piazzas that only contain the despair of separation

never permitting passage unto the bosom of home or hope

and overseen by carved actors reading from a different script

There are splendid glistening fountains that ejaculate on the works of others

or seek to wash away the semblance of the past

There are recesses here that only echo further your lament

Places into which slowly rumbles the thunder of regret

and muffles the passionate voices of true dissent

There are numerous ways and means by which a man can navigate away from a city

to preserve the sanity of his soul

 

But not here

 

Here is the arcing pathway to logic or desire

Here is the curved route to implementation or embrace

Here lies the choice to make or be made

Here is the sweeping smile of a unique memory

Here I can map a route across the firmament

or be guided by the sun

Here both man and bird can wing their way to a sweeter caress

For here is the crucible of a humanity that predates you or I

And here beside this stone drum can a rhythm of further progress be beaten once again

Here good men can and have engaged in good deeds

Here we can still hear the demanding voices of the few

in desire to change the lives of the many

Here we must never forget

For here lies a better man than I

Here was born a better ideal

Here lives the opportunity to continue on the right path

Here my sentiments are echoed

Here my beliefs are reinforced

Here I can decide to stay or go on

And here I will love you today, tomorrow and forever.

 


meeting your match

Meet me in the sombras of a yesterday

Beneath the crumbling arches of the bridge

Over the path of a treacle brook that no longer flows

Just more of the same old, same old

Meet me where spiders spin out a new beginning

Or create another same old, same old sticky end

Where the black earth beneath your feet holds firm or reaches up to drag us under

And damp moss is the only thing that grows

Meet me by the charred embers of another life

Where no campfire songs ring out across the forest

And the sweet scent of roasted hunt is replaced by the acrid aroma of rotting flesh

Meet me in your carcass-stripped cloak

That, even without eyes, rains a deluge of tears

Meet me with painted crimson nails to hide the damage you inflict

And meet me with garnished lips to suck the carrion from my frame

Meet me on the back row of the empty cinema

Whose last film reel of celluloid death left the damsel on the train tracks

With no hero written into the script

Meet me by my fraying upholstered chair

By the paint cracked window that mirrors the drying of my skin and bones

By the same old, same old view

Meet me on the corner of the terraced street

Where no childhood opera gets played out

Just the rolling clatter of never collected litter on worn stone flags

Meet me under the clock of the bombed out church

Whose rusted hands chime no call to future mass

Meet me on the promenade

To watch our last sunset get extinguished by the sea

And our castle walls crumble to a smooth sandscape

Meet me by the frozen lake

Where icy footsteps disappear into a shattered black morass

Meet me by the leafless winter oak

To strip our names from its ageing bark

To amend the sentiments of a love that probably never was

Meet me on the rotted boards of the dance floor

To sashay a mournful arc towards the exit of the last caress

Then meet me for a glass of flat champagne

To toast a happy ever after to us both

 


Your siren on the rocks

Atop an emerald chair on sapphire sea

Her winsome smile a beckon to her feast

Her golden locks a silk to dress all wounds

Those honeyed lips a sweetened tingling kiss

Placed undeserving on roughened, travel weary cheek

This reclining beauty a cushion for your rise and fall

A haven from the storm

A champion for all your victories and losses

In a battle waged on distant oceans

Against faceless foes who carved you your locker

And would plunder your lover's heart

This Ariadne incarnate unravelling your soul

And leading you to the welcome bosom of a journey's final port

 

The gentle lapping waves about her feet

No reference to the turbulent currents underneath

No notion of the strangling seaweed on the rocks

Nor the guardians of the caves beneath her seat

Nor sharpened spines of verbal anemone mines

This wild Medusa constricting down your spine and torso in too many ways

Her tossed asides hiding the scars upon her face

Those blood red lips the final lick of past quarry

Those diamond eyes to cut your heart like glass

Those sharpened talons  to pin you to your mast

That bronzed skin from the smoked charred demise of the last brave sailor

Just the first darkening of the skies above as the storm rolls in

No foretelling of your final conflict

No foretelling of your salted green death beneath the siren on the rocks

 


cast out

Cast me from the highest exalted steeple

As we search for the new horizons

Grasp my hand as you lead me to the edge

And caress my spine as you help me progress onward

Pile kindling sticks about my feet

Or place the ladder to aid my ascension atop the pyre

Force down my head and shoulders beneath the water

And hold me under until the predators take over

Help me to my reclining glory upon the altar

And sharpen the blades for a quick exit

Laying my entrails unravelled across the scene

Scatter the wicket basket beneath the guillotine

With soft petals for my eventual fall

And shroud my face in silk to hide my shame

Oil the hinges of the trapdoor beneath the gibbet

And make sure the rope is as good as new

Sever the brake cable beneath my automobile

And pour diesel on the fastest corner out of here

Making sure the seatbelt is almost cut through

Place the radio precariously by the edge of my bath

As I soak to wash away my troubles

To a solemn requiem of the day and slam the door behind you

Hand me the chilled glass of cold comfort

Hoping I won't notice its powdered glass finish

Load my quill with black ink to write my epitaph

And close my history by igniting the finished page

 


archipelago of ideas

You thought you could be an island

You thought you could absorb the constant waves against your shores

You thought your cliff walls would repel all invasion

You never believed they would crumble to reveal the bare bones of raptors within

You though those sparkling streams that sated your thirst would maintain your island, running freely to an endless protective sea

You never imagined the water would ebb to a trickle connecting you to other lands

You never thought your cornucopia of succulent fruit would become the home to unwelcomed guests

And the bounty of nourishing inner flesh would wizen and decay under the solar furnace

You believed the treasure trove of solitude you'd carefully buried beneath golden sands would be a continual source of wealth

Never believing those sands would shift that trove from beyond that familiar placed kiss

You thought the exotic beauties that danced your arrival would continue at your beck and call

Never thinking theirs was a preparation for a feast with you inside the pot

You imagined the chieftain title you'd bestowed upon yourself would be enough to gain followers

Never understanding that it is others who would make you a god

You thought the majestic galleons that moored off your shores and launched forays to your place were seeking to share in your Xanadu

Never imagining that you were the anthropological study and they were inquisitive Darwinists

You thought you might age as an ageing constant tortoise of this place

Never recognising that we are all destined for the soup in the end

You thought if you stayed within your pupae self long enough

You would evolve into resplendent butterfly capable of transit beyond all shores

You thought this would be the epiphany of you in your universe of the id

Never recognising your island volcano could erupt to entomb your hopes and dreams

And seal you within yourself forever

 


santorini

In this former cauldron of civilisation,

you settle to watch the sun go down again.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

A Pagan ritual for those seeking illumination beyond history.

An extinguishing of the eruption that burnt the day,

pulsing coloured kaleidoscopic memories into the soul.

And oh, how the heart beats at a slower rate,

in time with the oscillating horizon

and cooled by the rhythm of omnipotent zephyr.

Who can predict the next tectonic catastrophe?

Who can subdue the furnace below your feet?

Better to construct another house of god

crowned in lapis lazuli blue, and pray it's not in this lifetime

You stored faith in vast earthenware pots,

only to see it buried beneath a torrent of bubbling magma.

All that energy of progress fixed in a timeless tomb;

A white dove of hope, which took flight and sealed your fate.

It's an anxiety of waiting, waiting, waiting,

beneath the strata of fallen humanity

Weighing heavy on already encrusted mind,

and not even the loyal beast of burden can relieve your toil.

And so you wait and you wait and you wait.

With pumiced feet you'll rise anew to walk the day's path ahead,

in this former cauldron of civilisation,

to watch the sun go down again.

 


This same window through which you've viewed you whole life

That mists over with the continual conversations of old

Beyond lies something without shape or coherent thought

Through the seasons it ages and warps your dreams

The paint flakes to reveal the follies of past colour

And later the rotting of its core

You dress the surrounds of this view in summer chintz

Hoping the warmth might permeate your soul

But beyond is a different view of carnal regret

Of a landscape where others frolic and you look on but never out

 

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She who would only dance in the half-light

Skirting the edges of the floor

Never far from the shelter of the walls

Never far from the comfort of obscurity

She who would sashay through my view

A glitter ball of stars to light her path

But only until the lights came up

And I came blinking to my senses

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

When do we go back to life?

To unfurl the bunting of arrival

And lay tablecloths on trestles that will be our stage

When will we feast at new banquets,

On the ambrosia of fresh notions?

When will the nectar of hope drip through

To quench the thirst for knowledge

And sate this arid view?

 

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bomb her

This windswept self blown across the moors

But to set foot would surely fix your place

Held in a black morass as the seasons pass by

Only the heather holds firm

The roots march out across the view

As veins haemorrhaging in bloodied unison

The dark weeping landscape of a world in flux

And you, as fragments from a different time

Your ghostly self scattered across the scene

Shot down in flames in another battle

 

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d(r)own

Mourn yourself as you float beneath another bridge

Below the collapsing arches that no longer support

Caught in a flow that's raging to a torrent

In a torment where the head stays under

Transported amid cast petals to an ocean beyond

Where did this begin?

From a higher source

As a silvery trickle, pumping life from below the surface

Pulsing with effortless ease

And you ran with it, down granite scree, over green pastures, through dark shaded woodland

Lapping a well-trodden route, you made a mark

But you joined others who swam faster

Who buffeted your progress and spat you into stagnant ponds

Eddying to a nowhere in particular you fought and you fought and you fought

And you got back into the flow again

Or probably you were cast back into the torrent by others who begrudged you your tranquil pool

Those were the tranquil pools of childhood

When you laughed in the shallows and when water was a warm embrace

But no pool remains tranquil forever

And the deeper you swam the colder it got

Yet water was where you came in, where you swam your best strokes

And water hydrated your skin and mind

And water cleansed all paths ahead

And maybe it will be the ocean that will help protect the drying of your bones

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Do they laugh the birds

In chorus amongst the trees?

Is theirs a call to flight

or a harmony of impending change?

Do they sense the stirring of the elements?

Do they catch the news in the leaves?

Or is theirs a simpler song for the here and now?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

angels in the meadow

Outflows the breaths infected by bad air

The Cholera of these times has taken hold

No font of vinegar can cleanse this space

nor values of puritan endeavour

Their bones fertilise these meadows of failed harvest

laid under flags to silence dissenting voice.

You destroyed your altar with their sacrifice made,

leaving fallow all hope for redemption,

before moving yourself, right out of their view

No more the rattling looms bring early death

for death here is a slower process and much less mechanised