Mudflat Archive

The barn owl is an ancient vector
on the post in the blue silence
It slips a million years between
thin bones and structures of feather –
A predator engineered by galaxy –
Mudflats in the estuary pop and click
with the worms’ horrific cryptography –
Oyster Catchers read it as they pick
scraps from the crab corpse in the pool
then are torn from the sand by desire.
Tunneling into the cliff, the sea pops
and clicks rocks against recorded time
and daylight in the tunnel sketches webs
on the vault-line of the limestone –
Striations of land are sunk into the coast
the marsh holds a sheep skeleton –
The lady joins the doomed Gawain,
topless and expecting courtesy

We are ancient predators –
our eyes scan the front and the field
shifts and pulls towards us –
folds in the land are held straight
by our mind whose horizon is fixed
even while the body scrambles –
The lord of the castle leaves Gawain
to trek a last trek to the the rock chapel
in the green-black velvet valley –
cold in the morning – the horse
shifts and breathes under them –
the image of a single carrot impressed
into the horse-mind network
Mist lifts off the sweating body of the hills –
Sleep is slight like ice on a puddle –
We could not climb the stair quietly
the wood would crack and souls stir
stilling erratic movement of the eyeball

We remember dreams – of snakes
coiled around us, writhing on the bed –
of a silent goblin, watching, still,
until he fades – and tales of animals –
bouldering to find an adder nest
suddenly, and the shock was great –
a spider hides in the folds of a bag.
The engine pops and clicks as it cools
as the road humps over the land
holding us fixed, as the earth moves.
Swallows pop and click on the wires –
Geiger counters of each other’s name.
We are naked under these clothes –
she said it herself and I can feel it –
Scars on the land of the robes –
A bird warbles and beeps frantically –
then the fell runner whose hooves
scar the peat in flight from the lord’s hunt

Swallows struck from silver hang
in the sky like the bright moon
beyond three embracing drops in glass
and the black slate of the belfry –
the university where someone sits
in the library, feet up, on the phone –
and thrift clings to the rock pool –
small purple flowers held
for convolutional identification –
I hold the hand of an ancient woman
to help her through a gate and see
the old post office by the field.
We pass her later on the way
“I did think you would catch me”
I hold a red layered geode
someone had cracked on the beach
I hold a stone like a bearded capuchin
and bring it down to pop and click
rocks on the hard edged beach

My friends, there is no end
though the sun will soon expand
and the earth be smoothed
by the weight of the turbulent sea
There is no end – the habitable zone
will slip beyond us as we cling
by thrift, like thrift to the rock –
We might build a planet engine
to shift whole seas to tack our orbit
or we might not – it changes nothing
You want to preserve us forever
but we are preserved – I declare it
We are archived of ourselves
of this moment – I archive us.
Now tie these greens around your waist
and watch the grass move under cows
who carefully avoid (though they kiss)
the bluebells

Grange-over-sands

The quicksand and sea of mud
and the sea itself, running
with cold skies as long and deep.
Oaks step out from cobbled banks
with the train’s rumble stirring
the café in the pale house –
I cannot escape from this

barbaric lyric’s enclave –
with the way that the world goes on
how can I still find this peace?
Maybe I should have chosen
to be the gull, the shaggy
dog in the rail underpass
whose soft songs betray no-one

V.128

<< In-between two redbrick houses
there is an alcove and a shed
topped with a mossy corrugate.
On the campus. A leaf dances

shivers, hovers, behind the moss –
blown as if a storm plucked at it
on a taught invisible string.
I’m still in front of the horror >>

<< There is a leaf on the road home
I see in the peripheral
behind me when I look back down
the hill – on the grey concrete steps

It jumps and slaps the ground so fast
and in paroxysms of dance
confined to its small space – I blank
on everything and watch the glitch >>

<< Roland Barthes was crossing the road
when he suddenly stopped – in front
on the path ahead a brown leaf
shivered as if it was burning

but there was no smoke. Enraptured
he didn’t notice the milk truck.
As the blood pooled the leaf flew up
to hover over him, spinning >>

Metaphysick for the Tyrant

The picture shows the bottom of an ocean rift. Small lumps of mud or sand rest in focus in the centre and the rest is darkness.

This you?

*

Nihil of the world, ash and vibration in puddles of ash – your obelisks crushed
and sprinkled onto the beach for the sand to grasp and wipe.
Dog tags from the dead laid at your door will outlast you, scab of the world,
that architectonic of your emptiness, that emptiness of your nothingness, only delays
the time when the void will have its way with you in the way it will have all things –
your propaganda fails as it attempts to invent a face for a man who has no face.
And had you never existed, joy may still have lacked
but at least we wouldn’t have been forced to cope with your voice.
You are the white noise of the state, and entirely unnovel. Here is an overused phrase:
Forces you commanded lie sprawled by waves that liquefied their brains, and you
call meetings in vast halls and have others take the photos. Can you feel the plot?
All it would take for the world to forget you would be one shot from behind you
which would pass through the front of the skull and cause such blooms of flowers
to sprout immediately on the mahogany table perhaps inherited from a ship –
and from that same blood beautiful crystals would rise to melt the empire.
Those history enshrines, their people loved and white crabs tend to a vent in the blackness

*

The war stops. There is nothing else it can do when the soldiers have melted
Panting, you swim back and forth in a reactor pool, treading water –
glowing blue, you rest your collapsing ruins in the ruined body of the plant –
the sound of swan lake echoing through the corridors, over old tannoys –
over the sound of dripping water you breathe your last, while fireworks rear outside
as insects and raised dust whirl like a cloud of starlings above the forest clearing
Let us hold ourselves carefully and cause no vessels to rupture in innocent heads –
the void crackling across the years like glass on a car park floor, and more –
the sound of laughter like a morning chorus of birds being let out of a basement
There is much to think of in the slow walk in the dark back to the old bus
Even the smallest of our days like popcorn kernels that turn in the microwave
and conjure gunfire, or rubble falling from the roof until inside the pack a bomb
goes off and takes out the whole kitchen, leaving a cat yeowling in the rubble
What you destroy in emotion in the concrete city, all of it outweighs you
If even a small blackbird were caught in the crossfire, that would condemn you

*

May peace envelop you and absolve you and wipe you from the world, as quick
as bumping your head on the mantle as you stand up from the fireplace
causing a statue to fall in the desert and the wind to call – ozymandias –
Abel’s missile launcher smoking as Cain’s tank plinks cool in the dirt on the roadside
The charred turret of a tank becomes something ineffable in the dirt on a roadside
Given the unrestrained power of the state, all you could think of was pathetic
of metal whizzing around in the sky to strike upon towers of metal
Your name will go to rest having scraped itself from the slate of existence
as you scream. A tyrant opens its mouth and the wind of the universe blows,
raking the skin from animals and the bark from trees. A tyrant knows one word
and that word is dissolution but in a dialect of indelible slowness, one word
that is itself crushed by the vocabulary of a snail, or a thrush, or a thyme leaf
A tyrant knows one word which causes buildings to expel their insides onto the pavement
A tyrant knows one violently boring word, of unconfronted performance anxiety
A tyrant speaks of many things but always shows the turned face of his dying mother
A tyrant says one word and God places a hand over their mouth, offering silence –
the one word a tyrant says, is the final word, the word undignified, the word;

*

She should have died another time, you will shout – for this word deserves
a place for it to resonate – “Death!” But no, a cold concrete bunker will do for you both
Oh no, tomorrow, and tomorrow and the next day, and the following
sneak past like mice, each day along the cracks until the last echoes of your memories,
being dashed across the wall by a bullet, fade. And all your yesterdays will serve
only as entertainment for fools on their path to the final dust. Please turn off the light.
Your life is just a shadow that will pass. A clown that graced our screens for a moment
walking back and forth, wobbling – we will never see you again. You are a story
made solely of gunshots and screams, maintained by idiots. Signifying nothing

V.127

I wake in the dark and get up.
My heart palpitates. I listen.
My arm is cold, and the bird song
is half audible – I listen

There is a noise out in the air
I cannot place it – a night hum
beyond the cars whining – the woods
is a valley and they echo…

A high pitched hum – a dead discourse
of a ghost who sits in my sink
and mouth open lets out this noise
I avert my mind but listen

Yes there are new air raid sirens
being tested in the morning
over the cold roofs and wet fields –
not meant as a warning – merely

set to register the white flash
with a note of receipt so faint,
(Warmongering philosophers
stride in black across Odessa)

en deuil, les victimes à venir.
As I lie still, I can hear it –
the vedic wind resonating
on the moors, a landscape om

V.126 To work//and back

The Past is a Dream – it recurs
exactly as thoughts from a dream
as droplets from a cracked clay vase
in a forgotten desert spring –

drips from a rusted waterwheel
in a green abandoned valley.
Pigeons courting on a warehouse
in the golden morning let see

the past through this hectic event –
Always bowing, no matter why –
bowing to each other – honour
of one pigeon to another//

Isn’t it mad how supernovas
burn in incredible vibrance
and leave civilisations there
in their path like a residue

All the material on streets
of red brick trentes glorieuses
is the debris from a power –
Strange things happen to the star corpse

I make tracks out from the city
and hear fireworks in the cool dusk.
Ribs of light. Le Petit Prince walks
alongside me with his flower

Freedom by Paul Éluard

A translation for Ukraine, and all the besieged.

“…a very simple wish, an everyday wish, a hardworking wish, to free oneself from the occupier.” – Paul Éluard

In my school-books
On my desk, on the trees
On the sand and on the snow
I write your name

On every page I read
On every blank page
Stone, blood, paper and ash
I write your name

On perspex screens
On soldiers’ guns
On the tyrant’s jewels
I write your name

In the forest on the steppe
On the nests on the thyme bush
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On the events of the night
On the day’s white bread
In the married seasons
I write your name

On all my sky blue rags
On the sun dried pool
On the vibrant lake of the moon
I write your name

On the fields of the horizon
On the wings of birds
And on the shadow’s engines
I write your name

On each wave of the dawn
On the sea on the boats
On the lost mountain
I write your name

On the froth of the clouds
On the sweat of the storm
On the thick and tasteless rain
I write your name

On the sparkling shapes
On the colours’ bells
On the real truth
I write your name

On the waking paths
On the rolled out roads
In the packed city squares
I write your name

With the light we switch on
With the light we switch off
On our gathered houses
I write your name

On the apple, cut in two
Of my mirror, and my room
On my bed’s empty frame
I write your name

On my gentle dog who eats so well
On her raised ears
On her clumsy paws
I write your name

On the diving board of my doorstep
On my everyday objects
On the surge of blessed fire
I write your name

On all the flesh of lovers
On the face of my friends
On every hand that’s offered
I write your name

On the window with its surprises
On attentive lips
Well above the silence
I write your name

On my destroyed shelters
On my fallen lighthouses
On the walls of my despair
I write your name

On unwanted absences
On naked loneliness
In my steps with death
I write your name

On the return of health
When risk has disappeared
On hope without memory
I write your name

And by the power of a word
I begin my life again
I was born to know you
To name you

Freedom.

V.125 The Seventh Day

Only the finest and most active animals… – Nietzsche

On the seventh day, I rested.
I took my little boots, went out
and sat in the memorial garden.
Tears were licked from my eyes by time.

Cherry blossom was on the trees
a rusty angel holding wreaths.
I thought how, once built, a bridge lasts –
a stone bridge outlasts us, and sings.

Dreams of war danced in the cold night.
In rooms, piles of ancient books loomed.
The sun isn’t something missing
it’s an overflow of hot thoughts –

that dances on the horizon
and tricks us by travelling so slow.
I wanted to say this: thank you,
here is a Picquot tray of tea.

Like tidal waves upon a cliff
this came to me, this old feeling,
made me take a seat and begin
thinking the odds and ends again.

Oh, all my help and those I harmed
– joy hands on joy to us and then,
like lava at tectonic rifts
from this, may things begin again