the only ones

on bright winter mornings
we drove hungover along the seafront
last night’s disco ball now a low hung sun
a billion twinkling dance moves glinting
on every tiny ripple of a wave
and through it all the beat of our lives
ebbed and flowed with every tide
racing – pulsing – floating onward
not that we had anywhere to go
except perhaps to the end of the pier
where the fishermen cast their hopes
and the drunks dreamed in gathered shoals
like driftwood drawn from the north
they too had nowhere left to go

we used to park at the end of Madeira Drive
and make out in the car when the clubs had closed
we weren’t the only ones

orange beetle

reverie

the agapanthus sways upon the wind’s reverie
as if fishing for your thoughts when you lean sideways
hand clasped on the brass bird’s head that adorns
your walking stick, you forget why you came here
this was your garden after all, but somehow
it doesn’t feel like yours anymore
for there are strangers fitting safety handles
and filling up your space with chatter
like so many swifts that congregate like swirling angels
if only you could raise your head high enough
to take them all in
you know they are waiting there for you
but for now you content yourself with studying the grass
and shushing the voices that come to you on the wind
when only the faintest scent is discernible
from the agapanthus that sways upon your reverie

Hopeful

Hopeful visits me each morning
He tells me that man is ruled by a tyrant
whose name is Ignorance
and given half a chance
He would seek to overthrow that tyrant
if only I would throw him some scraps of food . . .
I tell him I have no authority to fulfil his wishes
or indeed to fill his feathered belly
and why doesn’t he go fish
like all good fisherbirds do?
Hopeful tells me authority is based on falsehoods
whereas knowledge is authority based on truth
and why shouldn’t I throw him some scraps
as he is poor and I am surely rich
and man should not be ruled by the tyrant called Ignorance
but by knowledge instead . . .
Or by conscience I reply
for if I feed you my scraps
you will forget how to fish
like the fisherman who forgets to wake
and misses the tide . . .
Ah, the ‘time and tide that waits for no man’ saying
spoke Hopeful with reproach
is not your conscience the amount of inner knowledge you possess?
but for me that time is running out
and those tides share little fish . . .
Hopeful tried fixing me with his beady eye
but I was having none of it
I said: one day the tide will turn back in your favour
and what is left will go unsaid . . .
Let’s hope, said Hopeful, not convinced
that when that time does come
it will not be too late . . .
He stretched his neck to the heavens
and like all our morning chats
it ended with a defiant shit
a fearsome screech
and a preening of the wings
but sadly no scraps for lunch

With thanks to Hopeful the Seagull in St. Ives and Victor Hugo.

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

five more treatments

1.
fearful and frightened
he friggedoff the day
and duvetdived into forgetfulness
but alas the wandering northstar
raped and bedraggled his dreams
tossed him in his own firmament
like a trickster on a rollercoaster
caught by a subwayticket lotteryinspector
begging for mercy

2.
coming up for air
he gasped and gobbled
fullsquared with a bitternboom
and a corncrake’s engaged tone call
to announce the end of the summerseason
the end of pier hilarities
clowns and comediennes
and fisherfolk with bendypoles
and wigglyworms
that don’t deserve to be bait

3.
he hung a sign at the end of his deathbed
NO HAWKERS OR CIRCULARS WANTED
no not for him the sending off gifted by others
the wellmeaning & highheeled womenfolk
the loudmouthed & stoutwaistcoated menfolk
trolls the lot of them…
he had his oneway ticket to hell’s themepark

4.
open the gates you bastard
he banged and berated the bastion of Beelzebub
burnished with blood and bronzecast babybones
the snap and crackle of poorly maintained neonlights
a grim and spectacular denizen of the downcast & brokenhearted
Reapersville in flakylettered adornment

5.
BRUTAL – his mind murdered under
flowed somewhere unfathomable
to a place unreasonable where the plunder lay
like an empty pirate’s treasurechest
filled only with dust and ground cinnamontears
and the salty taste of something washed up on the shore
where the sandhoppers frolic and fuck