V.135

and history may say alas,
but cannot help nor pardon –
ruins of empires are flowers
in Europe’s garden. Let more fall

’til empire is a lost nightmare
on endless dunes of autumn leaves.
Death-pale warriors and a king –
bearing black stars and stripes, and old –

were sent to quell humanity
wherever it was found – they cried
in joy as kind democrats died
and bestowed themselves red honours…

Now with desolated brains, shout
Vote! to us as we cry – power.
The only response they merit;
tears of sadness as we laugh hate.

All those they murder wait for them
in hell, with visitor’s tickets –
given dispensation to see
lives relived if the roles were swapped

Imperial officers scream
for their fathers as they clock it –
they are to be shot, shortly,
chopped up and put in a barrel.

The Witch of Endor

A worried king came to me, lord knows why
to measure his luck against the Philistines.
Strange how an eldritch technique can change
from heresy to dogma for reasons of state –
anyway, for all my murdered sisters I gave
him just enough doubt to put off his aim –
he’ll lay down his sword from anxiety, then
lie down and slide along it, slowly, to rest.
I slaughtered a calf to give precursive thanks
and fed him libation to his own pierced flank.

When the gods ascend from out the earth,
justice sees tyrants come off the worse.

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

Charms for Defence of the City

In the name of the night
may all your bullets strike true
throwing clueless belligerent men
into soft beds of nettles or the pond

So they may immediately limp home
to their mothers, or to see their dog

*

In the name of the wind
may all bombs that fall find
they are caught in spider-webs
spun round and tightly held

So that you may take them down
disassemble them and bury them

*

In the name of thunder
may all their machines fail
to bring them any closer
May their wheels fall off

Roll down the hill, and splash
into the river, heading to sea

*

In the name of the sun
may the tyrant find himself
lost among people
unable to speak

Cold and dark
screaming for his father.

*

In the name of an angel
may all your children be wrapped
in invincible spheres of gold
to deliver them from evil

So they may someday speak
and we may someday listen

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.

A Knighthood

for Sir Anthony Blair

In the shops of Leith, cower
crowds fleeing from the power
of tornados flying o’er

When a mother, growing bolder
is buzzed and dies, once holder
of a sword held at a shoulder

And crouched there in the shade
of a darkness he has made –
the knight that was tapped by the blade.

His waist, forgotten, holds
a girdle of green and gold,
marked by blood, and cold.

Thus; The waste of kingly treasure
and holy life will measure
the sins of the aggressor.

V.121

In the city, the Christians
grew accustomed. The empire war,
which had been waging for long years
had its opponents. Casualties –

always fighting, giving leaflets –
learning unaccountable truths –
no concept is safe from the earth.
Boys carry little flags, and gurn,

dragging the flags on the damp stone.
Empire and humanity, age
and mix, as womens’ hair is caught
on long lines of dancing metal

tearing it from their heads. This world
– this economy – transfixes
the human, tears it. Dresses it up
in uniform, in dead structure

We soon turn back, to watch its path
when only we remain. Staring
as images pile up on streets
that are dragged through the shifting dust

The city filled with glowing points
like a lost tangle of string-lights.
We try and unweave it, but soon
crackle and break, changing something

V.118

The future never lasts for long.
And is there something stirring here?
On the drizzled streets of Skipton,
a voice comes, offering leaflets –

not as I might expect, or think
important, knowing the stories
of the humanity of God –
but this – “you think we’ve been to space?”

In these words the future falls dead
and deadens the damp atmosphere –
Will England march across the world
ex-nihil again, destroying

any trace of a satellite,
repurposing launchpads to use
as metal to build – what? Nothing
or a ladder to test the sky –

find patterns in the crystal dome
there where the stars are set by God
Where comets bounce off and vanish
back into the void, or heaven.

These people cannot feel safe, nor
accept the realness of defeat –
if they take power, death may come
and our souls fall off the world’s edge

V.113 Bond

There was an empire here – therefore
pain is caked into statues lost
on the sea bed. Time is so scarce –
gas dissolves, sinks in the water…

Missiles built with economies
scatter like graphs of a world-crash
and it is beautiful, foxglove
of nuclear Armageddon

The new war is begun because
certain things cannot now be stopped –
aesthetic laws demand of us
complete dedication. Agents

look into the heart of the state
and it looks like a cup of clear
water with boiled flowers – drink me,
says the label, and grow smaller.

He stares upwards, blue eyes cancelled
by the roaring fusion of things
There is no crack team coming, no
hope for a future for the old

Are we ready to lose these hopes?
Denied redemption, what remains
but death? Are we not better than
the worst of the things we have done?

V.89

Pain in my hands as I hold them
grasping a book, obsolescence
staring me down across thirteen
futures, just those from that second –

Le Grande Chartreuse chants ply away
in chorus across the copper
and fibreglass, a chant of years
of imaginary journeys.

I can hear imaginary
thoughts of those who would use oldness
to justify anything new
they fancied the look of. Silence

for example. A lost image
which is strings of words and phrases
and none of it uncreated –
it was sung in old emotions

we learned (and we is a loose term)
in ages past (every term is)
when we were openings among
the trees. I mean to say that no

singer can by their song undo
hope, though the lost hope may argue.
No dice throw can abolish chance.
The new world will come regardless