Sunday 27 September 2020

The Second Going


I felt my father’s hand again on my forehead

and saw my mother’s face like a badge of courage;

all around was barren, the sun pouring its fire

and every foot was bleeding, its sole torn open.

The rocks were naked, parched, the oasis was red -

shrivelled, scattered skeletons lay around its edge,

the horizons were hazy, a cloud of barbed wire,

and time a measured beat, a slow stifled poem.


My mother untied her apron, the winds snapped it up.

The caravan stopped dead like still statues in stone -

they’d come as far as they could, now had to turn back.

My father gave me a drink, the last from his cup

and pointed me due west. So I went on alone.

The sands behind me dribbled and filled in my tracks.

Friday 18 September 2020

Even then


Till the rivers run up backwards into the hills,

the ocean currents come to an abrupt standstill

and stars lose their bearings, planets drop dead, blacken,

I’ll never forget, never forget even then.


Till the clouds go purple in the face blowing hard

and the wild old trees quietly standing drop their guard,

the grass sheathes its blades, swaps places with the lichen,

I’ll never forget, never forget even then.


Till the north winds stop unspooling their razor wires,

and the springs stop water, the volcanoes their fires,

till the earth itself implodes and stops being earthen,

I’ll never forget, never forget even then.


You’re woven into my veins, there’s no moving on.

It’s you who glows under my skin, throbs in my bones.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Not a reset


Today I remembered the bugle’s plaintive notes

somewhere near the bungalow, from across the road

every day at sunset. Some high official lived close -

his flags were raised and lowered as the bugle played.

It calms things down a bit to get into childhood,

to thumb old music - of bagpipes and Irish flutes,

this time demands a retreat into those tunes and books,

those long ago textures when she moored my decades.


Verses the world over, the texts have the same sting

all that’s born must die, there’s no point in suffering -

as if it’s an option, as if grief’s a reset.

There’s no preparation, no going out of mind,

no way to carry forward or leave it behind,

no knowing if memories will help or how to forget.

Sunday 6 September 2020

I'll Stay Home


I do not like the shape of your temple.

The doors and arches are too narrow

the steps are too high, the halls aren’t ample

it thrusts me aside, it does not invite

something about it doesn’t feel quite right

the pillar’s all wrong, the walls don’t seem strong

the chants don’t carry the public along

and the whole foundation’s shallow.

I think I’ll stay home. I’ll look for my deity

in some other place outside your city

less discriminatory, with a kinder story,

where exclusivity isn’t mandatory

and anyone can come and go.