"It’s in a long tradition of English, eccentric songwriters who have this flair for
words, and don’t conform to any of the set patterns .. "

Tom Robinson

A brooding meditation, sky dark as

sin, long hair tightly twined in suspended

animation, pot of strong coffee to

jump-start vascularity, heart ruffling

obstinately again like a caged crow,

clumped feathers surrendered, subdued what-ifs,

rain-clattered butterfly wings black on the

underside, you train-wrecked, me with super-

glue, dreaming that we were twins entangled,

the summer's photographs strewn across the

tracks, the phantom back from the dry-cleaner's,

body chemistry an anomaly,

wanting to make myself more than human,

and aching to do your washing-up too.

 

 

Anna's House

 

They're having a sale in the library.

30p will buy a wodge: thumb-bruised, musky,

Blood-inked Rebecca - Du Maurier's ghost.

Inside, still neatly tucked, is a reminder:

"19th July, 8-9pm,

Anna's house". My fingers fumble for silver.

 

 

The Burning


Taliesin: that is what they called me

long ago, for I have died many times

- taken many shapes beneath flick-books of

moons - since then. Again and again, breaking,

womb-snug, into the bright white of the world,

kindly pummelled, my tiny lungs snatching,

my tabula rasa whispered at by

ink-stained, bramble-thorned ghosts, I have endured.

I have clung to Her; to fractal Knowledge;

to the Unresolved, a questing reborn.

I, who met with Arthur's stare - who, in the

Battle of the Trees, fought alongside their

enchanter, Gwydion - did not find on

Cader Idris, alone and mumbling through

snow-tipped whiskers, that which my soul desired.

An intricacy in the palm of my hand,

caught by the dawn's silvery sliver, the

lapwing's sought-after secret provided

no solace. None at all. There was, instead,

the troubadoric yearning, the sorrow,

The Burning. I felt it at Agincourt,

knee-deep in the blood-blackened mud, my face

spattered and appalled. I felt it on the

Field of the Cloth of Gold, blazing unseen,

almost unbearably vermillion.

I felt it against the hilt of my blade

when a cruel witch-pricker was brought to heel

(there is no beast more monstrous than a man).

I felt it crouched quietly in a trench,

Lucifer the architect. I felt it

huddled in a café, in the tilt of

a poem, in another day's first blush,

in fingers of imagination pushed,

exploring the edge of the Universe.

I felt it weep from ley lines which led me

back to a town hemmed in by sea and moors,

where the Barghest begat Bram's Dracula.

Taliesin: that is what they called me

long ago, for I have died many times.

Now only a trace element remains,

diminished beyond recognition, but

I have found Her. At last, I have found Her.

 

 

Dead Eccentric


Dead Eccentric: a ghostly tea party

held annually beneath blossomed boughs.

Gainsbourg brings Gauloises and a bombe citron;

Derbyshire brings her wibblophonica;

Stanshall brings a picnic-gramophone, and

vintage smoking paraphernalia;

Cutler brings his wonkmonium and a

jumbled miscellany of epigrams;

Archie the bear brings Betjeman's chortles

(melancholia is shared with Larkin);

Tavener brings candles to the orchard.

No one can really say why Nick Drake brings

crumblings, poignant on the palm of his hand,

but we are always happy to see him.

 

 

Imperial Coffees

 

Raisin-scented; chocolate-coated; flecked

with sylphic wing-fragmentations; fractious

and fretful in the grinder: Blue Mountain.

 

Subtly fruited with the day's optimism;

metallic in the turning of my hand;

burnished in the orchard's perfume: Doi Chaang.

 

Archipelagic; intoxicating;

beans smelling like antique wood are crystal-

sharp: Galapagos Cristobal Island.

 

Dark, it brings to mind bookshops, a novel

not yet born, Parisian cafés, and

the word pamplemousse': Kenyan Lion King.

 

Cloud-moistened meticulousness; the long

sloping, pregnant with magma; cinder tapped

out: Hawaiian Kona Extra Fancy.

 

Cherries and heady gunpowder of the

mountains almost reached by questing, flinching

fingertips: Yemen Mocha Ismaeli.

 

 

Leonard Cohen

 

My suit - I only have the one - I keep for

Weddings, interviews and redundancies.

But Leonard Cohen used to have two suits: the

One he was wearing, and the other one,

Hand-washed, out at the back of his moving car -

Flapping freely there. Drying in the wind.

 

 

Sharp as the Moon's Blade

 

They sting a sniffling - a squinting scuffler,

Alone, wellie-booted and bramble-stained -

Until only deadened whimpers remain.

Up there in the spinney - a citadel

Lit by the summer's luminous waning -

He will find himself, enkindled, looping

Back to the paper wasps' umbrella of

Oozing, royal-centred agitation.

Unafraid - absorbing the hive's venom -

He will kick its scrunched, wafery seething,

Offer husks to the whip of the wind, and,

Breathing out, become a dusk-blue stillness:

Utterly alive. Sharp as the moon's blade.

 

 

Sound Waves

 

Why aren't they mimicking ocean-dwelling

Matriarchs - calling their stranded young back

To freedom? Why aren't they using sound waves

To map catacombs; isolate fingers

Of disease; pinpoint, on the sea bed, the

Fuselage of a forgotten aircraft?

 

 

When

 

When a sea fret rolls in, its chill clinging

To your skin, and a gull's ghostly spiral

Describes a longing for companionship;

When, ebbing from the upstairs warmth of a

Faint glow, the words of an old ballad are

Indistinct; when a snarling, slavering,

Ungodliness preys on your mind, and you

Hurriedly enter the wrong ginnel; when

Spectral, waiting blood-letters begin to

Unfold, like ghastly museum pieces,

Their wing-membranes and Victoriana;

When the Un-dead wake: take my hand, and run.