north (sons and daughters)

we travelled south
east and west
each taking a bone
to plant and tend
we grew great forests
gave them names
like laughter, love
tundra, teal

there were swans and lakes
hills and streams
swallows flew
dreams took place

and then one summer
years from then
I caught my breath
inhaled again
and there before me
on the shore
a skiff, a whale boat
nothing more

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north (mother)

we found your bones
recumbent
in an abandoned skiff
bleached and burnished
wind weathered
but there on your finger
the ruby red ring
and around your ribs
intricately knotted
the matching necklace
identifying you
laying claim in this
wasteland grave boat
connecting us
in no uncertain terms

your sons and daughters
they built a fire
with driftwood and dried kelp
and using the stars for lanterns
sang your name until morning
when light shone
and you were at last
at peace

north (father)

we went north
where the whaling ships
once hunted – found them
rotting like beached leviathans
and on the shore
rocks and caribou antlers
great spikes seaweed draped
the blue grey background
inviting only to the brave
who would venture out
between the droplet islands
your wake watched
by black eyed monsters
and banshee winds in
howling caves

I never knew my father
his soul was cast adrift
when I was a child
but out there
and up here
I can still feel the roughness
of his hand
in mine
when I close my own
black eyes

Bob and Diane

in their medium-density fibreboard house
Bob and Diane lived their flat packed lives
mortising each other with heat treated lies
glossed over with painted facsimile smiles

until one day they nailed the meaning of it
they boarded up their double glazed eyes
took their woody station wagon for a drive
and naked in the back seat they came alive

oh goodness said Diane I feel like a goddess
oh goddess said Bob you look like a goldfish
well kiss me on my fishy lips and shift your
gear stick between my legs and gun your

engine in my direction my formula 1 driver
my rally cross lover my getaway bank robber
let’s get outta here and shoot the sea breeze
let’s do the Big Sur my rock star chauffeur

and leave our MDF house back in the south
where locusts can live in flat packed swarms
in the kitchen the bedroom all over the lawns
yes Bob and Diane have repainted their smiles

 

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Anya

Hi Anya, I was just thinking about you and when I popped in from chopping logs I found you’d left me a like. Drop me a line via the contact page – would love to hear from you. Hope you’re keeping well. All the best, Col.

swaddling

wrap me in your swaddling arms
blanket me with your love
tonight this man is your child
don’t let him out of your sight
for though the moon may shine brightly
there’s darkness behind the stars
and this man is a child and needs you
to guide him through this night

(to read more in this series please click on the Shepherdess tag below)

shotgun cabaret

i shot my reflection
as i walked past the mirror
with two fingers levelled
& cocked thumb twitching
my snide grin mocking me
‘a loaded gun won’t set you free’
the closest thing to suicide
for one that’s scared to run & hide
i live to fight another day
this life we call a cabaret

yes ‘life is a cabaret, old chum’
but for some it’s more a bowl of glum
the days humdrum
the nights succumb
to the rule of thumb
that we must overcome
and accept the crumbs
like little jack horner
who sat in his corner
saying what a bad boy am I . . .

(song lyrics by Joy Division – New Dawn Fades
and Fred Ebb / John Kander – Cabaret)

even the geese have flown

it was as I suspected
it was as I had feared
the footpath was deserted
the mountainside was cleared

empty were the pastures
where her goats had wandered free
the tinkling of their neck bells
no longer calling me

and in the valley woodland
I stood beneath the tree
where she and I first surveyed
the grasslands growing green

it was as I suspected
it was as I had feared
no more her lips to savour
no more her voice to hear

but will the spring return her
to my arms and to my side
in all my dreams I will conjure
my shepherdess, my guide

(to read more in this series please click on the Shepherdess tag below)

Shepherdess IV

she was knee deep in cut fleece and laughter
and I was thigh high in cleaved oak and joy
her with the shears and me with the axe
we snipped and chopped in the open air
until, work done, we shook off the dust
retreated back behind our eyes and went
our separate ways . . .

(to read more in this series please click on the Shepherdess tag below)

Shepherdess III

oh god she is beautiful
tending her flock on the hillside
lighting a bundle of gorse twigs
to see herself through the dark

and inside the abandoned byre
she rests her head on a bed of stars
for this is not the Elysian Fields
this is here and now and forever

and time is a breath

(to read more in this series please click on the Shepherdess tag below)