Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Le Streghe

Our friend is seasoned on sloe gin tonight,
like a maple embering in autumn,

so at dusk by the fire the slightest shift and settle
of logs crumbles ever-so-slowly inside him,

and a thought, like a bird, like a blackbird even
will lift from the branches of his mind and rise

into the ragged tailwinds and entrails of sky
- with all that dragging behind of welts and torn-apart pasts -

to search for thermals rising off a hilltop,
lice under a half-rotten log, a place to meet its ghosts.


Look. Ivy braids up the scabbed bark,
ascends towards whichever heaven is foreclosed tonight

but present, we know, just over the horizon,
invisible in the ashy flakes;  an abandoned cliff-top

night club defaced with war banners. 
But now, here, in these embers, somewhere the pianist begins -

see her against the molten glow of plate glass,
intent on the particular, caught like wool in the notes.

(2nd Prize Wenlock Competition 2013)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Mother Dough

He were forever glancing behind; I’d see him under streetlamps
as he waited for the clouds to catch up.  When they did
from his pocket tin he’d bring out the mother-dough,

feverish with spoor-droppings, coo-coo spit, cobweb clots.
In those days he’d bet an owl from her feathers, a bride
from her ring, on a charm pluck the dimple off a hangman’s cheek.

The night of the Ceilidh I wagered him for that sponge
of unusual properties; it was said how a lame mare had taken
the Arc-de-Triomphe after it was rubbed on her tendon,

how a tar-penny’s worth could save a woman in still-birth. 
His dice were no match, and he mulched into a dry, dead leaf.
I took for the heather with two of the dogs. One morsel

and the bitch gave birth on the spot.  Them were rabid pups;
in seconds they suckled her to the bone. I drew lots with my shadow,
took the flake of it to my lips; rotten marrow, fermented sweetbreads,

enough to bring up the gag; that was when I heard my headstone ring
like St. David’s bells on All Soul’s Night, saw my bones
sprout from the grass in the tanner’s yard,  full of ghost-blossoms.

You can leave yourself alone only so long. To the false dawn
I was a pane of glass, the surface of a lake, either side of a hand,
but when I lifted it I saw there were no hands that were not wind,

no chambers in the heart but the clack of stones
they drop in the well of the pockets when they fit the noose.  

      Commendation National Poetry Competition 2013