Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into an artifice of eternity.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

SNOW


~For JH~

There is grey in the blood of day
and the day is dying – wounded snows
lace and scar the horizon and tracks
the lead into the white woods
stop just dead of the woods.

Night is falling like a blue blanket
flapped out over white sheets –
soon the lights will dim and only
the fading inscriptions of crows
will remain on the virgin snow.

A stray dog that fed on a sheep's placenta
is dripping blood traces in the fold –
his guilty, hesitant steps and bloody jowls
nose color back into the pale complexion
of this ashen, anaemic evening.

Why did I return to this – I followed
vanishing footprints only to find
they were wolves’ tracking me –
now the howls I hear are my own
inside this prison of snow and ice.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

WATERS


~ For J.H. ~

Water breaks before life, before air,
even before the sound of water –
it is the first bathing before the blood
spills and stains, and the first washing
that delivers us screaming into air,
but wounded and forever scarred.

Thales thought water the first principle
of things, the spontaneous generator
that turned dew to tears, tears to sweat,
and sweat to rivers of blood that stopped
and frozen could shoulder any world
back into the shrunken womb of itself.

When your waters finally broke,
our blood had turned to phlegm,
and all first things were last things,
as our lodestones dragged us under –
my hands were every father’s hands,
and your cries every mother’s cries.

Now slow waters slap our shores,
father is earth, and you the fire of stone,
our air has inhaled its own absence,
and all the waters we once wept
are veins in that sacred river that flows
mercurial into the plasmic body of the sea. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

PARTING

~ For JH~

Again, the fingers of winter extend arthritic knuckles into the gloom,
rheumatic joints grind like a hull’s crushed planking,
brash bergs meet and pack what is already frozen, and the branch
that pleads at my window is dead inside its casing of ice.

It was winter in the park when we parted, the lake was a rink of glass
though a crack ran across its middle like a plate or mirror split in two.
This was once our serving scene, its island our secret omphalos,
where fish now hang and stare dead-eyed through the murky ice.

A lone tree died there, winter had stripped it bare as a gallows.
On the bank a boat like a dead pod was upturned and its oar,
frozen against the stern, stopped one like a raised hand.
Snow continued to fall on the ice of that parting year.

It is winter again under the pergola and the lake is a plate of ice.
Geese congregate along the shore, lifting and alighting in unison.
Already their hearts have flown, dreaming of distant lands:
An Icicle hangs like Damocles’ sword from a purlin above my head.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

ALBUM

~For JH~

In these stills your life’s brackets
were still open and none there
knew what we all know now –
exactly when they would finally close.

Our times together were never still.
Life is not death’s camera,
shooting itself over and over as though
a billion running stills could make it live.

This album will never bring you back,
but just as well, father, for now these stills
can be run neatly into mine
as they never could in life.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

EXPOSURE

~For JH~

I

All the years I folded and put away my grief
Only to find that drawer still empty,
And what I wore with starched propriety,
The finest threads and custom fits,
All of it lies that couldn’t clothe a nakedness
So stark even the flesh disowned itself. 
So here I stand now displaced and unadorned,
Creased into a space so alien and bare
The self itself no longer knows itself,
And only reflects by sewing up the very words
That stripped grief down to its marrow-bone.

II

In this nudist colony we are emperors
Though we wear only the strips and rags of exile,
Here even the starkest duds are riches,
A lace of burlap a crown, a loincloth
A luxuriance beyond imagining …
What is it they lack they cannot suit for themselves,
The means to walk beyond their blind borders
And meet the world fully-clothed?
So mine come like emissaries of a false prophesy,
Preaching nudity beneath the scorching sun
And framing exposure as motley’s virtue.

III

I came to be rid of the heavy threads
That wear one down, the dark garments
We fashion into liveries and regimentals,
I came to throw off the fatigues of the herd,
The counterfeit greens we put on or off
To camouflage our different styles and fashions,
I came but found the strictest code of all,
That uniform of the flesh, where all genuflect
And bow in unison, bare their heads and heels
To swathe the naked light and then march
Naked into that womb of the white shroud.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

HEARTBURN


~ For JH ~

I fell down the stairs of your words
into the landing of your heart, 
where was littered the cold cuts
of our re-pasts - all was ravished there
until longing found us, famished 
and forlorn, chewing on gristle,
digesting the emaciated years,
and gardening the desert 
that was our parched plot.

Now morning shadows rise
around the razor rocks,
and griffons climb toward noon
on manky wings - we chase
the many mirages of ourselves 
across that fine line where water 
weeps on water, where oases
shimmer and the sun drops low 
below the vanishing of each day.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

DIRIYAH


~For JH~

It is Winter in the Wadi and no birds sing.
A low sun plates the desert floor with gold
but the dead air soon dulls it back to bronze.
Wild dogs bark along the escarpments
and Bedouins like ghosts drive caravans
of shadows homewards over the dunes.
In the camps the camels bawl and kick
at their halters and rams’ heads are craned
toward Mecca. Blood will spill and stain
the stones but no cries will carry in the still air.
Already the dark is down and a twilit calm
is choked by the chill smoke that coughs up
sacrifice and piety and ruin. I am alone here
on the old wall towers. The Adhan sounds
across the valley and men are on the move.
Now something else is stirring in my blood.
I can feel the tug. I won't hold out much longer.