Ghost Holes

This bar’s serving hatch is always left agape –
tonight I see it is a varnished picture frame
holding unfair perspectives of the pirouettes
of the not-Degas barmaids in uniform black

In this pub’s cellar are floating phantasma –
I am often told – here under my pint-fixed feet –
below the boards – Orbital corner-of-the-eye
lights are known to cross the cold stones

They are – the old boys also claim –
fixed by the presence of the town’s tunnels –
those mislaid smugglers’ rat runs now
bricked up within the dead-end arches

Other spectres are regulars in the saloon –
they bother the rushed staff and punters
from their precarious stools – a feat in old age –
added up they would predate electricity –

and then they shuffle off – with chains of change –
shifting between the bogs and their tall thrones –
always back on their seat to summon spirits –
from the optics – but not with their pensions

Cold

Believe in your child’s ghost –
but then let her spectre run
from the road-kill shock –
from the flare of the
body-struck headlights –

those halogen matches
will ignite her terrified flight
into the woods –
But don’t eye that place
where she first learns to haunt

in the permanent night
of tightly weaved birches –
where Nan Tuck flies afeard
of her burning death throws –

where the recently
spilt spirit runs
from the quick-kill road –
Who let the trees take the young
from our arms?

The wounding country lanes
kill our flightless birds
with too much winding speed –
She will be cold tonight

A Man in White

As I dropped over Falmer
I sped past a man in white
who was bent-double
among the weighted hedges

The descent past the stadium
was a collision of thoughts –
it then offered a roundabout
and i doubled back to offer

I rehearsed my approach
reminding myself of the place
and how I would have to slow
with hazards
with a wound window

But there was no man in white
in the place
only the waving of branches
under the charge of turbulence
no one on the untrod grass

Ghosts

They say that there is a ghost
in every old house

That frigorific forms will rise
to meet with warm blood
and damp bones

an attraction

almost a magnetism

It is beyond any control

Love is a heavy haunting
which we meet unexpectedly
in bars and dark bedrooms

The ghost I knew was cold

which I did not tell the kids

She troubled the shadows
of our chattering family home

Late in the night I would run
three flights of stairs
Yes
me
the adult
fucking scared

Mrs. M

Risen, our ghost,
on this landing,
her, embalmed,
our prior owner,
wishing to leave,
without asking,
M. reduced
by a buried composure,
slighted under
daylight’s exposure.

Our eldest child
met her in his room,
dark, spectred,
unexpected there:
he slumped back
to sleep’s deep rheum,
in doing so she slipped,
rent back to air:
our review made her
his dreamt-slept affair.


 

Routes

For CB & Flint

The briefest of expeditions –
gloam-reduced on unmarked
rough paths below Uckfield –
in frost’s shade – a steep
cut-back – a scuff of lost road
on our tugged walk along
the dip of a redundant drove

Sussex verges are now myths
of ribbons – tied-to mournings –
of days-limped bunched flowers –
of candles – air-pinched – below
roadside oaks – elms or beech –
there her young life leaked
after a deceleration – a kid
cut out by the steel saw and car

Our return home is assured
under our slow-stepped walk
on a lost-name route
on the lingering histories –
yet to be found – laid under tarmac –
only touched by the clod-split roots
of the oaks – elms or beech –
those tied-to fingerers of ghosts


E080119