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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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

Isn’t that just how dreams are meant to work?

I followed you like an orphaned lamb follows
a shepherdess, blindly bleating, jumping for joy
until you cut my throat and stifled my hunger
with your severing knife of cruellest steel

I know, I know, I didn’t sleep well last night
someone kept calling me out in all my dreams
I suspect it was you but I couldn’t hear your voice
and isn’t that just how dreams are meant to work?

they trick you into believing you are safe with them
that clouds and lambs and eiderdowns are
merry-go-rounds with familiar sounds and
there are painted smiles on the turnstile ponies

but on reflection, in the cold light of morning
I should have heeded the warning signs
and if by chance you should come my way again
leave at home your knife of severing pain

l’art pour l’art

opened the curtains
what did I see?
a Henry Moore statue
looking back at me

but which was the back?
and which the front?
and how did it get here?
this bronzed art stunt

I closed the curtains
went back to bed
thought about Henry
dreamt of Braque instead

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

coverlets

coverlets drape
my wordletting dreams
the printedpoems formingon pillows
i sigh and turn the otherway
to the razorlight that splices my cranium
and inthere somewhere are hiddenthings
that even i havenot yet discovered
perhaps they too are draped with coverlets
perhaps i am they

perhaps it’s an endofday exhalation
or the start of a new discussion . . . ?

Woke up

Woke up, it was a Zappa morning
and the first thing that I heard
was a song inside my windows
from the mofo of inventions
he came a-steaming up like freight train bells
and sang these words to me

Oh, that’s alright folks
We’ll not touch this daylight dial
And we’ll curse it ’till the night comes

Woke up, it was a Mitchell morning
and the first thing that I heard
was the call through yellow curtains
of a taxi cab in the parking lot
that came a-stealing up like the molten sun
to take these words from me

Oh, look out, look out
I’m not the only soul to ever be
Accused of hit and run every second of the day

Woke up, it was a Hendrix morning
and the first thing that I heard
was the dreary sound of a sweeping broom
as it cleared the weeping cobwebs
that fell upon this daybreak like a broken dream
that spilt this cry from within me

Oh won’t you stay
Oh won’t you stay
now the petals of my night time words
have forever blown away

 

(with a little help from my friends:
Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix)

 

a bloodbath of dreams

waking from a bloodbath of dreams
a machete stains red across the sky
how the mind does nightly wander
in silent screams and heinous crimes
the morning comes in pools of grief
a relief to be a survivor once more
but oh at what price we turn the leaf
of life’s weary pages we adore

The Lizard Queen

in the compost loo
amongst the poo
shone a shiny thing
an engagement ring
but how it got there
was the strangest affair
for I had swallowed it whole
to save my soul
from the woman of my dreams
who was not what she seemed
once she’d peeled off her skin
to reveal the lizard within
a vengeful coquette
with a strangeĀ silhouette
she slithered away
in the cold dying day