By The Shore With Ink & Oranges

You turned the peel in bare hands
Grimaced at
The limonene sting
The universe unfurling
How it imperfectly fell
As if knowing became naked
The embryo inside
Weak as stained glass skin
Theses days they put on chicken wire
To bulwark the shore
For glass houses and negligently cast stones
When glory was a thing
Broken easily in derelictions
As if that were prayer 
But half sideways
The emetus with a life of its own
Written when I thought I died
The sea exhaling all around
That estuarine scour
Of brine and diesel on the page
Screwed it up - threw it away
Read the impressions
As if ink was thin as life – a tide
Below, between machine ruled lines
A few, illegible gouged words
Relentless in their parallelograms
Living in some now alien hand
Tore it out but
Irregardless of how much I erase
It is the welt you left
Littoral in reprise

The War At Easter

The milk tastes off in wartime
Clammy on the tongue 
Even when you are so distant 
You can hardly hear the metal bend
You make galaktoboureko
So thick the shape returns
Wondering why Easter
Falls in archaic calendars 
Each year on new days
As if martyrdom were inexact in its demands
I imagine Medea’s tears
In thick and sweet and distilled stains 
When she learned she ate her young
Time Is a wolf, you say
And in one deft hand
Break another egg

This poem is a war crime

The prisoners have butterflies for mouths

Teeth bared like burnt-out buildings

They say exactly what we want

– without undue coercion 

Just the slightest quaver

Of the jaw and throat

Where stubble hides the muzzled bruises

We lied, we are wrong

We came to drink your blood

These are eyes not camouflage

In haloes on our wings

Here the children have hands of bone

Bandannas over nose and mouth

In the stench they forgot somehow to sing

The sun is bright in vain

Inviolate on the mountainside

The studio has that flicker scent

Of blitzkrieg and cigars

when you are almost halfway up 

Back arched in trapezoid envy

The sky is less steady than it seems

Icarine- the too harsh blue

Of interrupted broadcasts

Looking up, we make new stars

Name them in bravado 

See the smithereens

Cascade in new intaglios

On the surface of the eye

Blink the warmth of tears

Gravity has an equivocal grip

When you are almost halfway down

Knuckles raw as dinosaurs

Feet arched in Quetzalcoatl torsions

Sending hubris, sending love

We will solve this war

Like a misheard refrain

That thick comforting savour 

Of something on the stove

Notes played and played and played again 

Til, despite what we have heard

What we hear is right

What  we  hear  now  has

Eternally been right
——

Sleeping Under Bridges

After the thaw

We gave dogs for the recovery

To gnaw burnt bones

With that slathered drawl

That brooks no interference

With the jut and fragmentary remains

Until all such blasphemies were gone

The numb colour

Of this too thin desecration

We are in the onramp’s hull

You and me, me and him

Earth and concrete carbon black

Cars stretch like the evening sun

Speared across the dregs of tarns

Rumble and are gone

As if a metronome

                                 slowed

                                               and faltered

In distorted syncopations 

Brayed a catastrophe laugh

The smeared window

To another world

Broken when you fell in

Dragged up again

In piecemeal resurrection 

A coin flips from thumb to hand

Rise

As if there was any other choice

Monoxide dreams like rain

Your eyes watch the curtailed dawn

For a distant star

Too late

In them the fishhook sun

Pulls you awake again 

Glory & Proviso

A poet has no nation 

– excepting this

Glory is not your word

The petal shape

Of a child’s anxious brow

The adumbrate pane of self

Sun warm against your arm

Leant in that strangely desert face

Of the sill’s soft craquelure

Lead white and with the dirt

Thick in seam and corner

A mica fleck where one day

(The window left half open)

Something small may grow

Once we are

The long strides of morning

Leaving curbs and fences

In a shadow’s flicker wake

Politics in Wartime

I whistle in rough kin
To a camaraderie of magpies
They return trilled warnings in reply
As if to say you are no one 
That we know, a thief of songs
Pied and clumsy
As any bastard’s fledge
We dispute the global south
With that stalagmite part of speech
You say it depends
On which way you uphold the map
I say words
Are the same in any language
Pulling flames like petals from the edge
One for love, two for hate, and on
Til bare husks are left
Black and hard as any rasp
Cracked, with a little salt
Makes a beggarly repast
You say these things are
Almost the same
I say, halfway home
Smoke coiled between my lips
They are almost different

She Shrugs Cloud Shadow

The tv spills a cold, invasive blue

I have an impression 

Of you walking on my spine

As if I were an arc and cable bridge

And you a monster movie freak

Grown so large and petulant that

None could help but fall

The sea below hard and pliable as new discoloured bruises

Tear it down, you say

Crush them all beneath your unbound feet

As if the stillness

Before and after earthquakes

Were merely punctuation

Wrath is love, you write on the sky

The moon moves farther away each year

I still abide, calling in that silent way

That I have always had

She shrugs

Cloud shadow, listens

I Gave You Tired Flowers (In The Stained Glass Evening)

You have the wary crackle
Of radio in war time
Uncertain of whom listens, and
Whom exactly speaks
In formal pronunciations
Desperate and resigned
As slowly burning ships

What do you recommend
For half-life —neither exactly
Celebration, nor lament
Mostly, perhaps
At resolve’s inordinate delay
A smirk, exasperated
With brown sugar and cinnamon 
Baby’s breath, aspidistra, nectarines
Gone overripe —soft
As waning summer—
For the intoxicating scent
Arranged in a chimera
Of cellophane as nauseating as breaking glass

Well, we all have something to sell
The static hard dismay
Just perhaps not quite
Drunk as wilted flowers
Pretty but
The stain indelible

In The Space Between Your Robot Breaths

Still the day, all lantern faced

my name is carnival

in alien respiration

throat coiled and translucent

my hollow, ringing accordion

machines, and grace

when the heart in moments 

repeats one note

beauty in its revocations

returns and is still

I lost you on the beach at the end of the world

These are private words
It is not for you to know
But me to say
You turned
Under a ragged sun
Only then I remembered 
How the world ends
Not with a whimper
(As Mr Eliot said)
But a shrivelled leaf
Almost an hour gone
The chink of knives on cups
Sour coffee breath
In that aching clarity
Between wakefulness and sleep
I waited while
You went on ahead
I hate it here you said
But we have nowhere left to go
Except this curl of beach
Tonguing the acid sting
Of salt and vinegar on cracked lips
That common benediction 
I will swim 
Til my ear aches
With the conch deep voice
Of your chasing echo
Ribs a heaving predator
Breathing in
A swelling tide
Breathing out
A stitch in time
Just like Jesus had
No more walking
Face a squall
Towards the sunpath, wounding
The shallow sea now gone
Leaving brine and sulphur
Wary, scuttling things
The day again renews
The shape of your shadow thins
Over loose corrugations 
Slips beneath my feet
When I turn head on
To almost forever
In blinding scintillations