The Flood

There’s a shifted density
in the landscape
following your biblical
month of rainfall –
It has been days
and disturbed nights
of shutting-ins
and battening of doors

My chosen path
is tread-thickened soup –
The mossy velour
on my usual pew
is now an orbicular
stump-top sponge –
my meditative place
is soaked right through

The dripping leaves
of the common hawthorn
are plated to silver
and bent in prayer
by the salty weight
of God’s squeezed tears –
funnelled from him
by you – the doctrinaire

Where my path rises –
with logs as steps –
the deluge descends
in no need of grip –
making me turn
to take another route
to the higher ground
where your boat should sit

In your clearing –
of the sawn and fallen –
you list in pairs
and shout deaf-ear orders
finding many gone –
or now missing –
‘I have to postpone
my plans for The Flood’

Your holy fable
finds a level in puddles –
where water pools
in the lowest place –
and in the clearing
there is no Ark –
We will say
when the seas are raised

 

Lover lover lover

I leave clues in the bathroom –
empty blisters of pills –
Leonard is everywhere
singing of stiffening thrills

Affection is not infecting
the bodies in the beds
and children speak in whispers
because of what is said

All I want from your presence
is engagement and thoughts
instead we stare at screens
and read others’ fingered words

My weight is dropping daily
whilst the world fattens up –
I would pray for forgiveness
but I’d be praying far too much

Deleted Facebook

This phone feels lighter
after I deleted the app –
today I’ve restarted
with a single act

No pushes from Facebook –
that microscope
into others’ lived lies
and hashtag tropes

My thoughts were narrowed
by the blinkered view –
No yearns for ‘Likes’ –
No fear of peer reviews

Late Out

This dessicated path
is an off-white scar
under the moon’s phase
of waxing gibbous

Boots and tamed dogs
have worn this route
into a grass-bare map
which I read by that light

The holding flightpaths
of man-made meteors –
of ephemeral accords –
circle among the clouds

The transmitter mast blinks
with a beast’s red eye
shaming Arcturus and Mars
so even those stars fade

This as the bypass hums
a song of our war won –
our tilt against creation
by over engineering

Bottle

Here clear water springs
halfway up the hill –
forming a slow stream

into leaf-rotted mud
which could – at source –
be bottled and branded

It would sell in Lewes
as a holy of holy waters
off the Sussex Downs

because small miracles
still curl in these parts –
by the sagacious oak

and sacred hawthorn –
a liquid gift from God –
for five Lewes quid

Ali

This latest named storm
is as magnificently loud
as Seaford’s raw shingle
when overturned by tides –
but now it is tipped across
the highest of these trees
which emit fearful creaks
and then offer a low footfall
of snapped touchwood

These tall variations
take each sucker punch
like hardened pugilists
with their bent bones –
whilst whipped saplings
spill their dried germen
as they cower and crowd
like ingrateful men
sheltered from a fight

I sit to rest my shuffled legs
and shut my blasted eyes
to truly see what I can hear
as the stripped off leaves
fall in layers around my seat –
each arrival noted by the puff
of a soft landing on another –
In the hush of this ripped storm
I find my ancient connections

You Said in the Car

I would rather see
a benign dictatorship –
Democracy only offers
power to liars

I can still read that
ink-pressed megaphone
which lay wide open
on your kitchen table –

bare column thoughts
of the paper-sellers –
of power seekers
your new advisors

The Drawer

Then they grow up
and are like us
and our inheritances
which we hid

Those hand-me-downs tucked
below old underwear
in the sagged dresser
which needs mending

But moving it would
surely unsettle
the air into dustlight –
They sparkle at times

but not enough
to dampen our fear
of them becoming
just like us

Quietus

It is now zero-two-twenty-two
and my sleep is distracted
by far too much thinking
about minor possibilities –

and other rum miracles
in my conjouring mind –
such as taking my mother
back to the Holy Land –

to see her greet the white grave
of her eldest son – at least once –
for me to tolerate her
misunderstandings

There will be no myrrhbearers
but only her – one more witness
before the grave and stone
which is fixed – she will stand alone

I know that she will never return –
and I have no chance of a mute apology
as she struggles with family acts
of untranslatable love

She may live a few more years
having never felt his breath on her
off his loud grandchildren –
and seen the tears of his wife

And at zero-three-zero-three
I save this disturbance of sleep

Last Day

It is the day after
the last red ball
and rain has found
the indentations
made by the size
eleven landings –
those measured
imprints on grass
which were placed
half a dozen times
in the hunt for another
man’s number –
And another summer
is ticked off
and recorded inside
the scorer’s book.

The Boat

His boat had seen action in the East –
the reek of cooled sweat met him –
not yet mopped by long-damp cloths –
Never dried enough to work well

so that his first breath taken underwater
faltered – his onshore training failed him
making him cough like that last fag had
as he carried his black kit bag

He crouched to find the right height
at which he was to live and work –
now his skimming on the waves
were inked notes on his service record

This is how it started – it’ll make him –
those hours of constant perspiration –
a hundred nights of coffin dreams –
and still yet to learn Jack Speak

Dew

There has been no rain overnight
but the underfoot dew is enough
to darken both my boot toecaps
and to soak the dog’s knotted hair
as she bounds into blind prospects
of hedges and low distractions
And I look up at the underbelly
of another aircraft on another path
and do not envy their chosen route –
I then shout out for the dog’s return.

Into the Trees

Under the trees we find the path –
that one we missed last time –
and climb above the flood plain
on which – five miles downstream –
fools build fifty-four homes

We are now in nature’s green skin
where branches and hand-propped boughs
form unfinished rough shelters –
these experiments and adventures
decay to an undesigned usefulness

Further on the slunked gully runs –
here kids built mud and stick dams
until a wire fence was erected
and that sucking and silting stream
was blocked from the apprentices

The track is beaten and heat-cracked
which encourages youngsters on bikes
to take the risks we also under took –
but we hadn’t the engineered machines
on which they hurtle as fearless riders

The trees reverberate with monkey calls
and the shrill complaint of a lost child –
it is as if the internet doesn’t exist
as the off stage scramble of children
escalates – not quite Lord of the Flies.

Box Hedge

I ran my dipped fingers
through unscented hedges
as I tried to leave the rings
of your invisible traces
from our long afternoon
of deep interrogations –
the footpath steepened
to demand some attention
but I flipped my focus
back to that gratification
which I had deposited
on the untrimmed hedges
of the respectable tenants

New Terms

Whist you commuters
weary your lit ways
at ergonomic desks
and begging screens

I will walk out
to that richer idyll
that you can only visit
when allowed

You are locked down
by your WiFi streams –
even the commute
is more small displays

Those sealed views
from that fixed carriage
is the best you can do
on most weekdays

until the sullenness
of September dims
and the daily journeys
are seen as reflections

And the mid-term break
in October’s pointlessness
is the dark reminder
that holidays have been taken.

Sunday in Seaford

There the sunburnt woman
sits alone – her cheeks inflated
and colouring to that near-pink
of shrimp-stained flamingos

whilst two older ladies draw
their lines in snapping charcoal
on bared sketch book pages –
each hoping to record beauty –

two on art-pressured sheets
and one – later – in the mirror –
England’s ruddy south coast
still blushes as if caught out

The tradition of seaside decay
settles alongside the ageing folk –
curling as flotsam – delineating
the ragged edge of our known world

And here we locate ourselves
in a bolted and braced beach hut
to watch the dog walkers and seekers
parade in opposite directions

After a Party

The wisest of the kids
had reset our house –
so that my scratch-forced
early morning ritual
of back-door-and-dog
was quite normal

The unexpected waft
of an outside chill
was the only thing
I found misplaced –
that and a small bowl
of rolled fag butts

which I’d suggested
be left outside
when I had patrolled
their dying party –
consciously sniffing
at the air for drugs –
only tasting
the boyfriends’ sprays

Earlier in the evening
I had bolted myself
in my dark study
as the various volumes
of the engineered event
were subject to
the same social forces
we adults endure –
but at a different pitch

The dog had scratched
at my side of the door
as I sank even lower
on displaced cushions
and kid-shifted furniture

My brief entombment
was almost equal
to Egyptian disarrays –
alas for me there was
no mass of splendour
or promise of some
sort of waking heaven

Turn Left

I take the dipped fork
of near-identical width
but this left path is falling
and narrowed in breadth

It follows the slope
of the redundant stream
where the hills ran off –
once-washed – bare reached

But now drainage and driveways
have altered old flows
above ancient rights
there is no such urge

I pass standing iron –
a fence absorbed in a tree –
it needs no hard posts
in that adopted place

There’s a weighted trade
in these heavy woods –
between man’s intervention
and her constant response

A Diversion on the Road to the Dead Sea

We drove due east
past the concrete wall
by the older stones
which marked the fall

of carved out gods
honed by man’s cold sword
through the broken centre
of this confusing world

There restricted Jews
and Muslims had bled
under the scything prayers
of crusading men

Rose water was scrubbed
to reclaim the rock
to wash from the slabs
the foul tread of a god

When the Axa mosque burnt
in a war on the dome
a madness was found –
Jerusalem Syndrome

Hopes raise and implode
back to rubble and dust
Forty centuries of walls
have never been lost