this

the journey had been long and wearisome but uneventful
despite his illness
the black cab taxi ride to the airport
the flight across the unseen Atlantic above the clouds
where looking down he swore he saw angels waving

coming in to land and taking off again
transferring from one side of the continent to the other
well almost
the hire car and motels and people
the prescription drugs that kept him going

the roads narrowed and became less inhabited
the scattering of local tribal dwellings petered out
no more tarmac only dust
he drove as far as his Chevrolet Spark would take him
until the front left wheel wedged in a rut

he hiked the rest
knew where he was heading
for he had been here some years before
had recced the terrain and its possibilities
before the illness came

and there it was the cave on the hill
the gaping mouth begging for sustenance
in this dry and parched sonofabitch badland
where the desert-thorn drew blood from his passing hand
and the crows cawed, rattled and clicked

like I’m in a Western  movie he thought
stumbling into an ambush in a rocky ravine
he stopped by a silty stream and listened to the echoes
they were whispers of wind, dust, water and spirits
helloo he cried

helloo came the reply
but there was no-one there
his strength was almost spent
his race almost run
must make the cave he said outloud

must make the cave
and when finally he slumped inside its jaws
a great weight was lifted from his shoulders
no  more pills or food or worry
just memories and his fate with the birds

this was the way to meet one’s maker
wherever and with whomever that might be
the journey would be swift and serene
the sound of footsteps approaching
her hand forever holding his

this dream of death
this deathly reality
this wish
this wish
this

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There were times

There were times
often coinciding with the end of an eight hour studio shift
when I would listen to the radio late into the night and drift
lying near motionless on the floor like a sedated madman
blowing cigarette smoke up towards the broken ceiling fan
paint stains on my clothes from all those abstract years
of city sound and landscapes that still buzzed in my ears
and out beyond the window past the fire escape ladders
tall cranes would cast their ugly shadowy gallows
along the graffitied brick and timbered warehouse walls

There were times then
when all the world but me was silently sleeping
and not even the birds had alarm called the new morning
I felt alive then as if electricity was coursing through me
as if the needle I had long forsaken had once again been
and found my vein and wrapped me in its calm serenity
a bright red bikini sunset throbbing with Rothko intensity
Kathy, Jack, Frank, Sylvie, Jerry, WB and Charlie B with his lowlife cheap tricks
on the road down the coast cruising in search of mind bending kicks
Florida, Arizona, Tijuana, the famous coast to coast bar crawl

Yes, those were the times
but we knew they weren’t to last, we sought our separate ways
Bill to Kansas, he said living there was a helluva lot cheaper these days
and less violent despite the stash of guns and ammo he kept
for hunting and shooting and for clearing his debts
or killing tooled up rednecks when the day of judgement came, we’d joked
in letters and on postcards that kept the fires of friendship stoked
Kathy and I to New York until that mess of crazy didn’t work out
Jerry and Frank to California’s Laurel Canyon hideouts
Jack the jazz-fuelled wanderer, well, he was in it for the long haul

And those were the times
when we honestly believed we would change the whole goddamn world
when we marched with Anti-Vietnam War banners unfurled
from Greenwich Village to the Golden Gate Park
from Washington DC to Washington State we left our marks
on celluloid, vinyl, paper, pavement, tenement, in space
on canvas and Polaroid Andy caught almost every angle, every face
and blended fact with his fiction, his pop with his art
but it was all too much for poor Sylvie’s heart
the talons that clenched, the babes that bawled

Yet those times were
and forever will be indelibly tattooed upon my subconscious
in psychedelic dreams tripping with a lyrical lusciousness
and it is why I lie here with poetry and jazz and art alive within me
here on this apartment floor motionless and carefree
the voice of the late night deejay a lone performance
at this very minute, this hour, this life of mine, of no real importance
I am lucky to have dodged death’s unholy harpoons to tell my tale
like Ahab and his godforsaken avenging whale
these lines I think, I breathe, I gift, I scrawl.

 

for National Poetry Day:
https://nationalpoetryday.co.uk/

 

Mime Artists

The trees are moving like mime artists
Yet the wind is not their voice

They shed their silent thoughts
With every leaf that falls to the ground

The word autumn is echoed
In the crisp scrunch of footsteps

But it is a slow uncertain suicide
Shutting down and boarding up the show

Standing bare through winter
The arc of the sun scraping the horizon

Waiting to see if they will survive
And become mime artists once again

Elaine

My father was thirty eight when he died

I was barely seven

Mother took me to Spain to ease the pain

Help the healing and never forget

His death had crushed her heart

Part of mine too at the time

The soft white sand slipped through our toes

The cloudy night covered the stars

Transformed them into lost diamonds in the dark

My sunburnt skin itchy beneath my souvenir shirt

 

And then the rain came straight from the heavens

Her sad face and wet hair a sight I would never forget

I found a tiny shell and she held my hand

The castaway clasped between our palms

A momento mori of what was to come

For mother and son

 

For years after she would take me walking in the rain

Walking in the rain with Elaine we would sing

Just like the song

The tiny shiny shell always came too

Clutched between our dripping hands

Sometimes warm

Sometimes frozen

 

One day she tried to wake me from my teenage dreams

But I was growing tired of walking with Elaine in the rain

So she went on her own

And never returned

 

After searching for several days they found her body

She was bloated and floating face down in the local river

Partly wedged under a fallen tree

Somewhat hidden from public view

There was rumour it was murder

But I knew just how much her life had been blighted by grief

Since Dad had passed away exactly ten years before

 

We drove to the Chapel of Rest in Uncle Don’s white van

And there she was

All peaceful looking in her long wooden box

Her hands folded neatly across her chest

Like a sleeping martyr I guessed

I reached into my pocket and found the tiny shiny shell

I kissed it gently for a lingering moment and lovingly

 

Leaning over the coffin pushed it under her cold fingers

Safely wedged in the palm of her right hand

The hand that held mine when we went walking in the rain together

 

Here

Take this Mum, I whispered

And when you meet with Dad

Wherever that might be

Take a walk in the sunshine

And maybe think of me

Painted Rocks

I wake
to a blank morning
your tears stain the pillow
like drops of memories left abandoned
on a melted heartbeat burned
and charred under this equatorial sun

another step closer the edge
another deep breath

a paradise for tourists
a flaming hell for the unbelonging
glinting sunlight on wave after wave
crests diamond studded and jewel reflected
as far as your eye could never see
when blinded by such darkness

another step closer the edge
another deep breath

I relive your last moments
imagine your plight
but it is unfathomable
lost to me on a dolphin’s dive
you are simply gone now
another name on a painted rock

another step closer the edge
another deep breath

IMG_0140[1]

(this piece links to my previous post – the memorial to those who had committed suicide by jumping from a cliff on Gran Canaria. I tend to use the theme of wide open spaces – sea, sky, deserts, highways – in which to arrange and hang my imagination. I try to leave enough room between my words for readers to place their own interpretations –  a dreamy vagueness perhaps. I might use this idea of linking from one post to the next as an aid to writing and exploring different subject matter. It is all too easy to get bogged down with the same old words and never realise that your writing has stagnated).

Searching for Avalon.

Does my header art remind you of a seventies Roxy Music album cover? Maybe it’s the foliage and the expectation of two scantily clad women appearing from behind the signs. The signs themselves were photographed on Gran Canaria during a trip in January 2016. Much needed winter sun. A zigzag path opposite the hotel led to a rocky headland, a lighthouse and a favourite spot for suicides. It was a long, thoughtful journey to the rocks below. A small memorial of painted stones marked the spot near to where those brave unhappy souls had taken their final step of faith into the unknown: Nayra, Saul, Alberto.

IMG_06042

Just names on the parched volcanic ground to me but to someone else a loved one – brother, sister – boyfriend, girlfriend. The bottle of beer reminded me of Jim Morrison’s grave in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Perhaps an anniversary gift and one for the road. The heat of Gran Canaria in January seems an ocean of time away and I look now towards my two month summer trip to the States which starts on the 25th July. Searching for Avalon maybe.