as if my birth was only an echo of yesterday’s calling

eyelids heavy
sun setting
between lashes of rain I nod my thanks
like a pigeon full of shot
on a bed of autumn leaves
the little traces of blood spattered
amongst the green
yellow
brown
camouflaged bed now careening
on swivelling casters

an overfilled trolley dash
to death’s door

it’s a
bump
bump
of a ride
that rollercoasts me to the sea
it’s a
dive
dive
that parachutes me
to the bottom of the blue
it’s a
gulp
gulp
that delivers me
to the entrance of your cave
it’s a
kiss
kiss
that welcomes me
in the arms you hold open for me
it’s a
why?
why?
that haunts me

your door – always open to the brave
the barnacled handles
wrought lattice portcullis entwined with kelp
that helps hide your underwater domain
that helps keep your castle cave secret
amongst the shoals of fishes and seafoals
and dragon breath’d seals who guard your inner sanctum

and there
in the corner
coiled in a cockle’s mouth you lie
like the coral queen you are
I venture forward
I stumble on my own breath
the bubbles foaming in my nose
I know I am not drowning
I know I am under your spell
I know why I am here
I know now the answers to all things
and I know nothing else matters

deep down inside your mother belly
to which I have come to return
as I knew I always would
as I knew time would call me back
you waiting patiently
as if my birth was only an echo of yesterday’s calling
and I would have no wish to leave
as I had before

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river

I know where you have come from
but not what you contain
I know where you are flowing
with your toxic brew to drain

I wash in you and worship you
as millions often do
I watch as you float past me
to flush our waste into the sea

I know we hold the answers
to cure your deadly pain
I know I’m but a poor man
a large family to maintain

I hope that help comes quick
before our children all fall sick
I wish for purer waters
to cleanse us mortal sinners

I know where you have come from
I know where you will go
I pray you’ll send a sign one day
to help us change our ways

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photo credit Vikram Sharma / Daily Mail Online

demesne de ma belle mademoiselle

tired winds whisper through the shutters
breathing  stories into the dust above the fireplace
where once hot embers warmed your toes
now only ash and fallen plaster lie in remembrance

the mottled mirror in its gilt frame has long since gone
the furniture too – auctioned off and wheeled out
on sack trolleys borrowed from the stables
themselves now ravaged by worm and rust

left behind when all had fled this crumbling pile
your white dress and pale skin stalking the corridors
ghostly and forlorn on floorboards unfit to bear
the weight of words that tumble from these walls

I too am lost as I wander from room to room
doors creaking to the push of my hand
filtered sunlight finding the motes of memories
that float in limbo in time’s absence

a bell far off rings and in my mind I scurry off
down staircases to kitchen and scullery
the servant boy who idolised the Mademoiselle
who dreamt of running away with his belle

only to have found himself an old man selling
tomatoes and tales under the lime tree in the square
searching every young woman’s eyes in hope
that one day, maybe, she would return for him

 

the cows in the fields

the man on the train is weeping falling rain
picking his brain like a pigeon pecking grain
he holds in his hand a picture of a key
and hopes that one day a key will set him free

the girl on the bus is eating pie and puss
doubled up with pain but making little fuss
she holds in her hand a broken bumble bee
and pulls off each leg after saying one two three

the moon in the sky will ask no questions why
untroubled up on high by poets bold or shy
its tranquillity is like a flattened sea
you have to admit you cannot disagree

the cows in the field are semi-demi-monde
fishing for eels in the wavy-gravy-pond
they search in the trees for nuts to throw at me
could this be . . . the way it’s meant to be?

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my world is empty like a memory

I’ve been standing in your hallway
wearing only my bare soul
and the imprint of your fingers
on the letter that you sent to me
is like the debris from the songs
that you sang in the night to me

I’ve been sitting in your corner
in the chair that you kept free
when everything had escaped you
leaving holes in your sanity
where the reflection of your face
caught the racing lines of raindrops

I’ve been lying on your cold bed
now that everything is silenced
and the birds have stopped singing
from the branches of the tall tree
that scraped its fingers on your window
in a scene I keep repeating over and over

I’ve been walking from your eyes
staring at the sunlight that blinds me
that burns away my guilt and shame
all the leaves that are falling now
in the autumn of your passing
are collecting on the bare ground

where I have long been standing
holding flowers in my cold hands
not knowing what to say to you
as your voice slowly fades from me
I will never hear you quite so clearly
my world is empty like a memory

that you are

your face
we laugh so hard
your black mascara runs
like liquorice laces
or a tribal tattoo

hello you
let me clean you up
a tissue a tissue
we fall to wiping
revealing your skin

how I love your face
full moon with starlet eyes
open as a window
on a breezy day
without a frown

and not a care in the world
unlike me the worrier
carrying the weight of death
on my shoulders
no hero am I

no
no hero am I
despite what you say
I am only doing what little I can
keeping you laughing

in the face of everything
the tubes the treatments
the surgery the scars
I couldn’t be you
brave beauty

that you are

your name and mine

the storm last night blew
the last remaining heart-shaped leaves
from the poplar trees
and swirled them through my darkest dreams
in which your knuckles rapped upon my eyelids
in which you called from beyond the clouds
my name and your name

and with growing intensity
every last remaining rusting roofing nail
that keeps my house from blowing asunder
jiggled like loose teeth in a crowded coffin box
on which your fingers had once released
the suffocating soil to bury my voice
from that day forth

oh that I would recognise you now
with your hair tangled in windblown knots
and your limbs akimbo amongst the fallen branches
strewn upon the orchard grass
where leaves lie rotting and colour is drained
from cheeks that once were apple flushed
with your lover’s kisses

you are but the ambient past to me
pliant and fluid with a light that glimmers
not guiding or warning or even moving
but still as a mirror on an oaken table
your calfskin gloves neatly folded
heart-shaped leaves from the poplar trees
pressed between the pages of your journal

all substance turned to dust that blows
on the opening of the crackling memory
you offered me no more than you could
the leaf held to the moonlight reveals its veins
as if the blood has been preternaturally drained
and I am left with only an echo
of your name and mine