Vanessa

{with tones of W.H. Auden}

Bring out the horses,

plumes and forelocks

tossing:

pour away the whisky

as the buzzard stands

sentinel at field gate.

Hold back the streamers

& the wedding gown,

for she’s left us

in a hurry

for a dark & distant

country, where there is

only one goodbye.

Bring on the trumpets

& the drums that are

silent, shout across

the sodden marsh;

for the first fingers

of a new day.

We lost her

in the evening

she left us

disbelieving

without a hand

to hold.

Bring out the horses

polish boots & brush out

your heartstrings

for today our friend

has left us, the owl

has forgone hooting

the wind is keening

love songs, the day

Vanessa died.

Lost

Hours pass

into days

then years

disappear

beached on the

whale of time.

I see you

as you used

to be:

laughing in

the midnight

streets:

a hand upon

a shoulder

you

turn to me.

We fade

to days

then years

pass

on the beach

of who we

used to be.

Now ‘two’

are only

‘one’

& one

has

disappeared.

Hours swim

into days

& the

years

breathe

‘difficle’.

Somewhere

in my dreams

a midnight

street

we are as

we used to be:

laughing.

First light

Sun still

burns

across

the vast

divide

we lift

our faces

to the warmth

the light,

feel it heat

our bones

stiffened

from the

endless darkness

lost in sleep.

Immeasurable days

& haunting nights

we hurtle

mindlessly

through space

& time’s

not on our side:

but this day

this instant

this breath

this life

we turn our

faces to the dawn

& warmth

resides: as if

millennium’s

first light.

Sunrise,

blood horizon

hides

other worlds.

Stars collide

comet’s blaze

burn lives

mellow now.

Ripe like

fallen fruit

I’m

soft around

the edge

bruised from

the constant

slam of

constellations.

Moon turns

a blind eye

feeds on our

ignorance.

Sunrise,

blood red

snow morning

the children

play on

malleable.

Tidal

Grey to grey

suction,

space

where two tides

meet,

shingle:

gulls hover

like

ancient pterodactyl.

*

This improbable

moment

hung with

intent.

We shimmer

in the morning

stretching shaky

wings.

See the shine

at midday

omnipotent

golden:

I’m fading here

in twilight

a slow

insouciant

flicker;

embers in

the evening

always the same

return:

silver to silver.

Little sister

Radiant now

glowing from afar

same flame hair

tipped by sunlight

a veneer of gold

I always seemed

to slide beneath,

unleash the terror.

You were my

first baby

tasked at seven

to shield you from

our childhood

chaos.

Our mother

held you high

for fifteen years

you were jewelled

dancing on a stage

you’ve never left

& when the fall

came, brittle, sharp,

shocking: whereas mine

I handled in utero

branded an abortion.

Did green love

creep in?

I’d like to think

not,

relieved you bore

the heady spotlight.

Time has wrought

distance,

no return to

closed memory:

slammed door

set us free

to breathe

uniquely.

You’re radiant now

safe in the arms

of Spanish heat

theatre in your blood

& now the poets’ touch

escapes your

dancing fingers.

Collective lock in

[This poem carries a health warning]

Scratchings from

the ‘party wall’

demented rats

they haunt

odd hours:

& the ‘boom’

of demolition ball

shatters early morning.

Two doors away

they build;

hard hats

yellow hi viz

discussing

sex lives

tainting

my morning

coffee.

I’m writing

in the dark

blind in both

eyes

out of control

cars, rev,

down roads

never travelled.

‘Us writers, a

solitary lot’

they brand us

as we blister:

peel apart forgo

free speech

worry how

‘woke’

our words are.

Dark scratching

party wall

rats’ bicker.

‘Our house

is not our home:’

nations rise

& crumble

lines in the sand

etched by strangers:

here immobile

in our beds

we die by

‘age number.’

Blind in

both eyes

my mouth is

shuttered,

I’m writing

in my sleep

screaming for

remission.

Storm blues

Nights are long

this side of Covid where

dreams are forgotten in the grind

of getting through.

Outside the storm

lashes beach, & roof tiles

shift threaten to lift

while our minds

remember times

where fly away

summer sun beckoned

a break, this month last year.

We wear masks

our smiles are

kidnapped: only

eyes show intention

talk less at

supermarket check out

conducting business

shakily.

I’ve made it through two

recessions, Brexit

and now this!

At least the bombs

aren’t falling

though riots threaten

& treason

lurks in every tweet.

Tick tock

tonight the clock

turns its face

away

we wake an hour

younger, time

lost at the click

of a switch

& I listen

to the wind howl

hope the roof holds

wait for a solution

as we all do.

 

 

An August night

sleep overtakes

 

I’m drugged

with truth:

 

morning rises

wise and grey

 

between us

worlds

 

dark matter

spins,

 

potentate.

 

Death,

the verb:

 

like birth

 

it hurts,

body loathes

 

to leave.

 

Heart gives

one more

 

beat, for all

the loves

 

we’ve lived

hover in

 

perpetual

present.