Miscellaneous Poetry

Contents

Pier

The Edge of an Abyss

Kevin McCloud is Outside my House

A Poem about Pearls

There is an Ulcer

Chestnuts

Ancient Losers

Catiline

Crassus

Pier

I

It all came to a close on the pier,
Just where it had started
Under an over-the-top archway
To an outdated display of gaudiness,
Top to bottom.

Feet shuffle on this bridge to the blue and
Lovers part as friends,
Or so we all thought.

What a shock,
then,
When the bullet carved a path through
Thick, stifling summer air
– Custard for a spoon to stand in –

One man steps back from the other,
Is forced back from the other,
Into the open arms of another,
But this one is cold, unquittable in every sense.

Thrashing arms, but slowing thrashes,
He slides betwixt them stealing kisses.*

And the other is left dumb,
Struck down not by emotion but by the opposite,
The empty feeling of absence,
Absence on the pier
And absence in the barrel of his gun.

There is no sense of closure,
How can there be when this bridge insists on ending in the abstract.

*From Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander.

II

Enter NEPTUNE.

“Welcome home,” I intone
And it escapes once again
Into perfect spheres which muffle my meaning
Echoing, as they breach the surface,
My outstretched hand
Of hospitality.

Actions speak louder than words, I am told
But this place to which I am bound is silence
And I its silent keeper;
Only feeling has power –
lips, fingers and
wandering eyes.

With the speed and sharpness of a higher octave
I dive closer, as if waves were mere breath,
And between strokes I plant kisses,
Gentle as an early dawn, and caring.
“Welcome home”,
they say.

His wandering eyes.

Wandering eyes and slowing thrashes –
I pull him closer to my chest
And nimble fingers find a space
So I push away again.
Mobile lips part
from immobile lips.

My eyes wander to the space
And there is an exit through which his life escapes,
Rising, not in spheres, but as smoke from a low candle
Which stains my hands and forearms
A dark and
unwelcome hue.

My wandering eyes almost meet his wandering eyes,
But he looks to something behind me,
Somewhere in the endless distance,
Something or someone who is no longer there:
The obscure face of
abstraction.

Mobile lips and nimble fingers retreat
To a safe distance
From which wandering eyes watch
Smoke rising and body falling.
They always
fall further
than I
dare to go.

Exeunt.

III

Oh, what a night.
Brown wedded to blue,
Wave upon wave,
Dashing ambitions of yet another wave,
And murmurs of white,
A thief in the night,
With teeth casting light from a smile
Casting iron for a kill
With an ironworker’s will
And a window to look upon souls,
My half and your wholesome
Belief that I was a good one,
A misunderstood one,
And careful and kind,
But your trust was foolsome,
For I am a cruel one,
Remorseless and blind,
And I will continue to find
Men like you,
Who,
Through no fault of their own,
Are naivety made innocence,
And I will send them back to whence
They belong,
For I’ll be sure to recompense
For my sins and all others.
This, here, is my retribution,
Paid, in full.

IV

What,
Then,
Is the point of this interlude?

Flying high over red and blue
Illuminating a deadened hue,
Blackness cast as an unending
Suffocation and blending
At once with the red,
A forecast of dread,
And then with the blue
To capture the view
From here
To the pier
And the body sinking beyond.

So as body falls and life rises
Blue squalls and red chastises,
Cuffs click and law advises,
Contemplating compromises,
Soon the morning realises
All the night’s foul enterprises.

It takes the day a sweetened second to notice
That things are often as they appear.
And although the waves are loud
And the sky is far from clear,
A beast somewhere is proud
Of the body by the pier.

V

A pier?
A body?

What rot.
What noble, tangible, obsolescent rot.

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The Edge of an Abyss

Abyss

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Kevin McCloud is outside my house

“I’ll be completely honest,”
Spindly fingers molest his chin
In a strange and overthought parody of
The Thinker,
Although he would, no doubt, refer to it in the original,
Le Penseur,
“I can’t quite see what you’re trying to achieve with this
Frontage. The intersecting lines appear to be at
Cross-purposes.”
“Well,” I reply,
But silently and without moving my mouth,
“That is rather the whole point.”
Then with sound and dental motion,
“I think it will work.”
Which is punctuated by a pronounced and orotund,
“Hmm,”
From the pensive ponce.

The steel and timber exoskeleton of my house
Came down some months later
And back he crawled,
In the passenger seat of a tinted Range Rover
With a carefully practised quizzical expression
And a soft, off-white hand towel,
To pronounce that,
“The intersecting lines of this daring frontage
Add a real sense of-”
Pause for effect, hand on chin,
“Finality. In this one, single building,”
Fist brought down on every beat,
“I can see the beginning and end of everything
Which dares to be important or final
And in some respect,”
Look away from camera, momentary ponder,
“Daring.”
Pan to sky.

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A Poem about Pearls

If she were to cast aside her string of pearls,
Violently,
With a sharp tug,
And if they were to land in the ocean,
Decisively,
With the sound of rain on a puddle,
Would dolphins think them real?

Would seahorses blush and whinny
As if they were gifts?
Would jellyfish comprehend their iridescence
And think them brothers?
Would oysters redden with envious rage
To see such spherical perfection?

Would dead men weep
For the memory of their dying wives?
Would the cold, rigid heart of a shark
Soften?
Would the water itself accept them
As its children returning from failure?

Would they fool old Neptune?
Waiting still,
Itching still,
For a modicum of warmth,
For a delicate hand brushed against
His yearning cheek.

But if her string of pearls were cast aside by another,
Violently,
With a sharp tug,
And if they were to land in the ocean,
Decisively,
With the sound of rain on a puddle,
Would dolphins see something amiss?

Would they cower from the noise?
Would they turn tail and flee?
Would they know the seeping blood for blood and weep?

And would old Neptune despair once more,
For the end of another brief romance?
He must fight back the tears;
The sea is too full.

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There is an Ulcer
There is an ulcer
The size of a spaceship
On my lover’s lip.

He sang his concerns over the phone,
“I’ve read,” tunefully, “that it could be a sign of cancer.”

Clearly he forgot,
Cheerful but anxious,
And as the word spreads once more
Like a cloud with a dash too much grey
Or a single creature emerging from shadow with shadow –
Canis lupus
I feel her caring touch
On the dome of my skull
As she ruffles my hair.

There’s poetic justice in this;
Man’s deepest and most intimate secrets
Released through the eye of a lonesome beast.

And it’s amazing how quickly
His world and mine shrinks
For a week and a half
To concern itself solely
With an ulcer.

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Chestnuts
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
But the fire grate’s stuck
So he whips out the pliers
And he can’t get it off,
So the chestnuts are burning,
Blackened and burning and everyone’s yearning
For bright, burning pudding,
All figgy and warm,
So parcel the chestnuts
And package the scorn
In stockings and socks which nobody sees
So sad and so small that you couldn’t believe
It were true if you tried
Or false if you lied.
So pour out the brandy,
That gentleman’s drink,
For dear old aunt Mandy,
The one with the wink
Or perhaps gammy eye,
Tilt your head to the right
And oh me and oh my,
You may, you just might
Spot a glimmer of something,
Of Christmas and cheer,
But no, she’s just sleeping,
“Have at her,” we jeer
And we coat her in colours,
With tinsel and lights,
As we laugh at each other,
You may, you just might
Spot a glimmer of something,
Of Christmas and cheer,
So while Mandy’s sleeping
Our Christmas is here.

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Ancient Losers

Catiline

Catiline’s the name, my man,
Cat, if you don’t give a damn
For ancient names which don’t mean much,
My ancient life is just as such
Since nothing ever came of it,
But history books and other shit
With no real use to anyone
But grisly men who find it fun
To dig up every ancient failure
And treat it like a pruned azalea,
Showing it to all who come,
Just let it go, you sad old bum,
It’s in the past, it can’t be changed,
Events cannot be rearranged,
And yet your students come and go:
“All praise the proud name Cicero.”

Crassus

Pompey strong and mighty,
Caesar brave and bold,
Crassus sneaking round the back
Forever chasing gold.
 
The richest man who ever lived,
The human bank of Rome,
His one drawback was changing tack
And marching east of home.
 
A golden monetary man,
A skilled financier,
His military test came on
The Parthian frontier.
 
His armoured troops had nothing on
Their horsemen and their bows,
And soon old Crass was on his knees,
A Parthian held his nose,
 
And molten gold poured down his throat,
“Will this placate your greed?”
But Crassus choked and gargled,
“No, this doesn’t fit my need!
 
“This gold’s not pure, not more than
“Eighteen carat, not at all,”
Alas his words were cut just short
As metal mixed with gall.

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