Friday 7 September 2018

Poems, Autumn 2018

Morning Meditation, inspired by Chogyam Trungpa

The beauty flowers in each moment.

Crystal vases chime with the wind.

Reasons to be alive
stack up
like totem poles
in a forest clearing.

There are no rules
and yet
there must be an anchor.
Otherwise we float
like paper lanterns
into boundless space.

Swimming through cold water,
wading through thick mud,
fragrant smoke all around
to confuse the senses.

We read
from the old libraries
from the faces of rocks.

In their wrinkles
they tell of a time
pre-history, pre-shoes,
when men's footsteps
were quieter
than horses' hooves.

And women rained from the sky.

That time was like any other time,
in that,
it was passing.

There was a golden light
and it shone through feathers
from heaven.

And there was no tightening
only a free and easy loosening -
an exhalation
that was warm and long
and lasted throughout the night,
traveled down years.

Writing on paper
is the same
as writing on stone.
The fire only dances

Every night
I dream fierce realities.
I lead a double life
just like us all.

Anxiety, with Sheep Outside

Bleating onwards. When will they relax. Oh to be sheep, to be torn backwards. To be laid down and sacrificed on to stone walls. I sacrifice time, bury beneath it all. Everything so far out of reach – I can not touch it, I tell you, I can not touch it. What I can afford, what I can not. I am overheated, the sweat on my brow smells like old ideas. An insect inside me – and if the rain patters – lovelily, softly, lily pad – oh but the gargantuan yawning mouth of a chimpanzee! I was born cold, born somewhere with stone. Always like this – relax, relax, relax your body...always like this...always like this...Bleats like cries. Sunshine packed up in the clouds. Always like this, cross-legged and free. Always floating, and one person has long hair, and you cringe at the sight of a unicorn and – begin here, begin, a good day, a good day, things always change, just rely on the constant change and bury deep, bury deep. The heart of an ox, how it bleeds, and whisper goodbye, whisper goodbye, to that one who sheared you, who shaved the wool from your warm, bleating back. 

Still Life

Sunflowers beam in their earthen jar.

The afternoon melts and charms.

Situations, sticky and imperfect.

To taste strong coffee is a pleasure.

To pursue pleasure is a trap.

Hot milk.

Empty house.

Rustling of the seasons.

Cold air, breathing mist.

Pans on the stove,

melting pools of butter.

The house ticks.

It is not warm.

I grant you this illusion

We can smell the artifice and yet – how it reminds us of our grandmother's baking, that warm smell, madeleines, welsh cakes, bara brith with cold butter, slate tiles on the floor, rising steam from the kettle – earthenware, red cold knuckles, faint smell of cow shit always in the air, to remind us that there is no such thing as sterility – what is this move away from shit and guts? That is life, is it not? That is the whole messy complication – the shit storm, the production. Nails grow after death. Scratch the surface and create melanoma. Cancerous, ugly, crumbling like seaside fudge, sea salt rocks crushed and snorted, fizzing up the brain canals – little fish, sailing up arteries, pirates of diabetes. From the lava, lumpy like bad gravy, come the faces of Guernica, tortured and stylised and surreal, all rising and battered like masks discarded after Halloween.


I want you – to tell me – what ribbons to wear. I want you – to tell me – what flowers are there, do they blossom with fervour, in unison, do they grow?

      I assure you, I'm floating on dust, whirring around like a freak in a trance.

      Incessant tapping and the crows caw like a crying wolf. Going mad with the very fabric of existence – thick denim, cow hide, rough sack.

      Beyond me, a storm over red walls – The Red Castle – those freezing walls, so stately.         
      The sound of trumpets and gypsies and war.

      To be inspired is not to gain. To lose, to lose, to suffer is to gain.

      Waiting for a phone call, a buzz, a glimmer. All muscles standing to attention, and the stomach, yearning, and the heart, confused, being as it is, strange and alone, ears pricked up eternally, anticipating the soft murmur of love in all directions, melting backwards with a Disney princess sigh.

      Unborn child unaware of its fate, clasped to the hook at the end of a clothes hanger.

      I see gold flashes, I part ways with no regrets.

      Yonder, horizon, beckon, startle.

      The rumble and jungle, the juice and the fibre.

      Through thick bracken and tall trees eyes wait for me, to say, you are more than this, you are a torrent, and never should you work to death, never should you feel as though you're working. You will always have enough. Foresight is irrelevant, it's trust you should harness, and in that intricate trust lies a stream of warm rosewater, bubbling and fragrant, just for you. And the truth is that you were born and you exist and you are in this exquisite masterpiece moment and writing brings you here and there are no calamities, no explosions, just the lovely soft knowledge that there is nothing else but white knuckles, a pen, tired eyes, birds, distraction, the rich texture of trees, uncertainty, white buildings, the jangle of plates.

      The – knowledge. The flight away from it.

      The – knowledge. The ascension, the fall.

      The spirit, gliding, with the face of a mask. 

I found out there was only love

An accordion on the streets of a cold city.
Women; true versions of rainy day saints.
Gods hung in churches like dripping coats.

If only we could hold water in our humble palms
it seeps through and drips.


I land on soft ground
and here
the earth eats me up.
I am dazzled by the moon
and its empty breath
upon my heart,
the flapping of wings,
the beat.


I travel on air and nuance
breathe and sink
like a lung
or a night-blooming flower
opening up to a moonlit sky
(that is my sun).
I shine in darkness,
I am happy with glints,
exploring the shadows
barely perceived
when it is bright.

5th October, 1991

I was never witness to my parents love.
It exists for me only
in the jacket of a book,
my father's handwriting
wishing my mother a happy birthday
with shy sincerity
a year before I was born.

I witness their love
through reconstructions
inevitably marred
by the blundering years that followed,
and other marriages -
to people
and fates.

An Ode

As rain falls
soft and light as a harp
and church bells clang
in a strange hallucination of sound
I look up to the ceiling, the sky,
and bow down to my chest, my heart,
letting life course through me
knowing that I feel love -
not ownership
or the promise of its return,
but the kernel,
the sensation of life,
and I let it flow like a stream,
gushing, tinkling,
so that all my pores perspire
with its perfume.

Wednesday 6 June 2018

The City Bears Fruit: Poems from Granada (#3)

Temples of Sand

Slipping through fingers, shells in miniscule, ground to dust.

Someone tests the mike and I am hurtled, sky-rocketed, into an abandoned fervour, the dream.

Hasta luego, buene suerte!

Puppies lapping at fountains, full belly, twittering birds.

One trick sets off another. One horn, one trumpet.

What we need is water and strong legs and a cheerful disposition.

The places we visit – will they crumble too? In terms of – in terms of this – flying the flag high – above the castle, the fortress – the wind, sound of sails.

My temple of sand is built compact with rapid slaps of the palms
Maybe I should find a lover for my wife, then kill her and spend three years in prison
and nearby, waves crash, the sand is dark and wet and grainy to the touch, and I am able to carve paths and curves and contortions to fashion this structure, this whim.


We landed as bugs, causing pinprick footprints, delicate and spongey, our antennae and spindly legs leaving ethereal traces, ghostly marks. Nearby, a hermit crab, a jealous lobster clawing at a rock pool. A reef, resplendent with its variety of inhabitants, decadent with wildlife, with the many-textured, patchwork-odoured, overflowing mottled scene, like a seabed nativity, yearning to be picked apart by a loving toddler who is innocent of all concepts such as war and destruction, gaining by the minute, gaining in leaps and bounds and racing through fields and cornfields and mountain paths and groves and wild chestnut trees and canopies and fortified milk farms and cattle courtyards where they are left to bleed and die and ringworm factories and places to stick in your teeth and watersheds and farmyard animals and loose tongues and crackling pig skin and witches howling into the night and force-fed donkeys and chickens in their silent coops and the co-operative of birdsong and the flight paths of doves and the rustling nests and rustling leaves and the crack and pop of each new idea, each hope-filled love affair – and their deaths, beautiful and soaked with sorrow and smoke, laughing at some joke told long before when the world was funny, not grey, not dead, but uproarious and newborn and twinkling like the skin of a fresh baby, left alone and condemned to believe in miracles when there are none, trapped in a Soviet daydream where puddles and rubble and grey drizzle reign as the symbols of frugality and conformity, and it all rots, like fruit, and all its counterparts, faces melt into the background and we are left staring at the image of our true makers – placid, empty faces, dumb, dumb, shocked and numb and receding – and we are nothing, how many times do we have to be told, yet always without fail we wait on the sidelines, cheering on everlasting life, like lowly rats, rodents caught in the net, summertime transience beating down upon us, radiating our sweet faces with sickly light, promising palms full of oil and treasure, and what could be better, be so utterly poetic and just, as an empty promise, a story never come true, a truth on the verge of fruition, but condemned to the very same fate – that of withering into the grate, the jar, the crematorium. 

'I know where I am, but I have no idea how I got here'

I couldn't tell you for the life of me
the nature of these streets.
Winding with serpentine logic
and all the booming acoustics
of a deep well,
a cauldron.
Afternoon light
filtered out behind shadows -
slatted windows,
buried tracks.

I choose to listen to passing voices
rising up the balcony,
a ghostly mix
of spirit and song.

The orchard, the peach-brown slate.
The heightened perception of a clear mind.
The utter, restless, fervent, squinting, tail-dragging, manipulating, teeth-baring, chin-wagging, finger-snapping, world-crumbling hereditary indifference.

No more dead statues. No more images that threaten disownment.

Prompt me, try me, but do not stick.
Freeze it off like chewing gum or warts.

Oh – go out!
To the world, to the rain.
Oh – pay for your coffee and leave!

Swaying, from this world, to where -
all paths lead here.

I love surprises, I said, as I looked over my shoulder,
keeping one hand clasped on my knee.

Look out look out!

You could say
each moment prepares you for failure
as it lifts you up
like a small bundle,
a baby mouse,
a turtledove.

Words passed like grapes
from one mouth to the next.


The hissing woman follows me. She wears two different shoes.
    I pass her in the tea shop, fondling dried fruit like a manic child – a demon in a forest, stumbling across acorns or a patch of red spotted mushrooms.
   Warm spits of rain, heavy summer droplets on my bare shoulders. I take shelter in a cafe, under the awning, next to a guy dressed in black with a rats-tail running down his neck. We frame the entrance like stone lions.
    The hissing woman skulks in a doorway, mutters something and bares her teeth. The waitress asks her to leave - she raises a fist and cackles.
    Such wildness exists – and how does it survive?
    Such wildness exists still, in the streets.
    Jewels spread out in rice under the glass table top.
    Open door – fresh, wet – loud French voices – Ah huh dee huh huh huh – a Down's syndrome face with a beard and trilby – a city of umbrellas held triumphantly – bills flapping in the wind – the warm glow of a bamboo lampshade.
    The ever-creeping, ever-creeping frame, that self-conscious frame.
    How does one end up like the hissing woman? What steps to take? A to B to - ?
    The very mention of the word 'science' and I would be willing to argue with all my idiotic fervour that, that, that, we are made of stories!
    The dull grey sweater. The faint smell of sweat after a clammy night of dreams. The shutters tight, the space still settling, easing around you like a blanket of smoke – and what more?
    Like a blanket of smoke, and what more.
    Jewels laid out for me like fruit in a bowl.
    (Won't you make it OK, I ask you with a wide-open puppy mouth – lacking, lapping, spit dropping like the sweet jewels of a waterfall – stick it in there, and I mean that in the cleanest way possible).
    Oh sweet, sweet segments!
    I analyse like an obsessive professor, trapped in a cascade of outdated theories and stuffy furniture, rotting books. Ouch, I say, as they hit my head, ouch, I say, as they come tumbling down – the mistakes, my creations, the hard-won battles swept to the side.
    Native American faces – a friendly bird hopping on pebbles.
    You could call me a warrior, a queen, a lighthouse.
    Everything is so clear after it rains.
    The heaving chest subsides, and lets the rest take control.
    Sueno del nina, mhmm, aha!
    Bored of flower arrangements, bored stiff and petrified, like a dog, a daisy.
    Childhood frames seen once again, through the eye of a needle.

Monkey Mind

I heard a wild call to chaos and I am still in those woods with that monkey mind, leaping between trees and hollering, and I look down sometimes at those quieter, slower creatures such as the ant-eater or the warthog, those slower, humbler parts of myself, just to check in, just to check that it's all on track, and yes they may cast a disapproving eye upwards, but they send love all the same, up towards my creaking bendy branch. Glittering dust and bark shavings crumble down and I yelp and I hoot and scream with frustration and joy in equal measures – to be alive! To be alive! The jubilant struggle! The exaltation! The sticky wonderment and clawing rapture! The animal pain and suffering! The shock! The banality! The blood, the pain, the disease!
    Oh yes, I am forever that monkey on the branch. Always swinging atop cracking boughs, staring up through the lattice of jungle leaves at the wide open world, the searing bright sky, and wonder, and crawl back, content for now with just a glimpse, surer than sure that one day I'll fly.