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

V.124

I’ve loved you all my waking life.
and it’s rare like atmospheric
crystal rainbow clouds, in the night
catching the moon’s light. Called moon-dogs.

Though rareness isn’t a good sign –
rare diseases are rare, okay,
but I’m trying to find something
like a mock moon has its anchor –

I see your hesitancy through
your 22° halo –
Could we after all have found more
in others. Could is a puzzle,

and I’ve loved you, my waking life.
The tautology has my throat –
like a jet necklace. And the joy
you bring me has long years in it.

We are vintage. We can say that,
and others cannot. Exclusive
isn’t necessarily good,
okay… But the world falls away

when you laugh, or you say my name.
And that’s not good either, okay,
or is it. You are my chapel!
my holy book! my holiday!

The Field

THE ARGUMENT

An itinerant treads through the fields in London, Wales and England, picking through the debris of a culture war, heading back home to the north. They record the thoughts of objects and see the others talking and gesturing, haunted by visions and dreams of the past and future. The field repeats, each time slightly differently. In each field a different assemblage – maybe a castle, or a festival, or a bird

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Two Poems

Crowd

The vast pack turns now – howls
it echoes in the dark
locks of the valley cliffs
The whole hive mind stiffens –
an enemy appears
and soon becomes shadow.

The light of the howlers
is a dim-burning light
not hot like communion –
cold; cold as hill mist tears
that graze clean the day’s grime
From forgotten arches

Running silently through
damp places on the hill
Babbling under black clouds
And devouring, slowly
At first, skin from your flesh
And then, thoughts from your brain

Sun Worship

And as poetry dies a death
or is reborn – which is
the same, until it isn’t
And the sunlight takes on a sharpness
And the world begins again to end
quite unlike a mint falling to the floor
and breaking
cleanly in two upon the tiles
and the sheerness of thought stacks
so steeply –
Did not a roman slave walk
the dry paths of this split-cream coast
Does not this man hang such
washing as has never been bettered
in the warm air
Does not the mother walk a beach
as her dog exacts nothing from
the sea
as slow the waves pull down the coast
and the sun’s fog blurs horizons
and a thousand small discomforts –
there is still much to do
even on last days, which may fade
walking through a sliding glass door
as if to return shortly
but never returning (all this
in the sun)

Here, look up through the parasol
at the sun encased in black fabric
does this seem gaudy to you?
The prehistoric stands on a cliff
watching those same horizons
as the birdcalls change.
Ask for help from the sky-trails
as they spread into the blue.
Note the ferocious beautiful
of pre-bomb flares falling on a city
But note you may be thrown off the bus
by those who don’t understand
that a flower can exist in a wasteland.
Place your hands often on
warm heads of hair –
Cope like this – in sunlit ripples
on some body of water

some body of air

Collapse

In the winter sun I saw, a gold
forest of leafless trees appear
It was warm in the shower and the wind
could be heard at night on the eaves
I played games on the evening
and in the morning I played games
The tangle of ideas has become full
and the temptation arises of a sword
Stupid people say stupid things
and I cannot be sure of my difference
I cannot be sure of the world
but I can be sure of the deep house
I drink stimulants all day,
and in the morning I drink stimulants
My heart is a construct of ideas
of the faster beat and slower thought
I cannot be sure of my body,
my thoughts of my body are dark mirrors
I hold inside me a red liquid
I hold in my hands a rare earth element
In the winter sun I saw dirt on the screen,
and the night wind brought desert dust
I am a rare earth element, they know
my paranoia grows and shrinks in ceaseless
patterns I never see coming or going
It was warm in the shower as I heard
the guitar be generated by movement
The tangle of ideas is a symptom
of competing interests conceived as a whole
I cannot be sure of the political body
as its organs revolve, unconnected

*

In the stream of time games appear
and the faint sound of choirs
Things repeat and repeat and I hold
within me this repetition and outside
the wind flicks between warm and cold
I hold my loved ones close
I hold my hands clasped in the darkness
The answers I have found to crumble
and rebuild, and repeat only in torn
forms like recycled paper used for chips
or packing paper used to wrap objects
Words lie in ranks on the tablecloth
Connections form and are lost again,
being lines between lost things
In the christmas quiet I heard peace
In the blue fire of the hob,
small fragments of history gave us heat
The world is an organic simulation
Time pours through us and damages us.
The tangle of ideas rests in parallel lines
and smooths out the kind of fear we feel
The fire is warm on an evening
the sting of heat on my legs
the sound of ancient voices from my childhood
and far off trumpets and the brightness
Another year passes, I cope more easily
In the christmas quiet I heard peace

*

And what is there to say
when all stories are noise
and all stories are equal in their relation
to the void and what is there to say
and what is worth saying
when all words are noise and void
and all stories are at risk
From day to day I tumble from this mood to that
and often forget what I have said and believed
From day to day my purse grows lighter and heavier
From day to day the world goes darker
and darker and brighter and hotter

From day to day the clouds pass over the face of the sky
and the moon’s blank eye, and me –
If they do not care to save the earth
why should we care for them?
If they do not care to save the earth
why should we care for them?

*

In the end, the sun enfolds the trees
and as I gaze at the page, it watches me
Collapse is a strange thing, it threatens,
but never quite finishes with us –
my heart is a construct of golden ideas
a web, a force, a soul, a sun tower
The future cannot help, but out of the present
it flowers, and we can help ourselves
In the sun, I see, a winter sun behind a sea
of branches, there where I lose myself
to find what there is to see

The Ship of Alexandria

Out of the bay the new ship –
empty, and in the hold
scrolls are worked on
categorised

later, years later
the fires, the repairs made
of flotsam

And each time something falls
or a scroll falls apart
something else takes place.

Purpose holds, to go on
into the sea,
and the ship sinks, over years

Ropes and nets, and shark’s teeth
whale bones.

Slowly, slowly, falling apart,
’til one day, with a shock
it’s sunk

And the clear waves roll over
nothing was ever here

Requiem

The rock will weather the human storm
and aeons hence will thrive still.
Over the cold mountain, the clouds arise
And the gold sun.

We may not have been together in life
but rock does not hesitate to fall.
Our dust will mingle
under the red sun.

I have lived as all have lived
with the infinite collapse of things.
I have loved, and will love still
and soundless in the darkness.

You know who you are, my friends.
I sing your song forever.
I chant the requiem and praise
of the bright world.

Zodiac

I

Your week this week will go off
like a rotten egg. Such is life.
This fragment of a year will crack
and spill all over you, achieve

new heights of boredom and disgust.
Why? Do you ask why the fungus
grows at the tree’s base and grows
rotten? Come on. Just accept it

like you accept that your eyes
will look where you decide
and not just swing around like
billiard balls in a washing machine.

Next week brings with it new challenges
as exactly the same thing happens
for the hundred and eleventh time.
But this one, this is the one, I can feel it.

II

The stars are spread out in the orrery
like thick yeast extract on toast.
Things are everywhere finding it difficult
to connect. Take Bellatrix

for example. A salty taste on the tongue
just don’t let it touch an open cut.
Inside this emptiness of pain feeling
there is another expanse of tiny stars –

from each new star, we see new constellations
and the red bloom in Orion
is aching to reach them.
Close one eye for a while and things look flat.

There are an endless array of bears in the sky
clouds, atoms, birds, planes, galaxies –
all of these are bears if you look closely.
This week will bring bears.

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On Beauty

Considered with reference to bodies

Standing water, in the cold night
reflects the crisp moon,
thin stars in the eye’s quiet corner

In its shallows the dark leaves rot
starving greens and wriggling things
’til stillness reigns

There is only so much you can get
from a reflection –
just ask these dying flowers on the shore

But a river – god damn it
just look – look at that flow
It goes where it wants to

But slip up, take a photo
and there! It’s a pool again.
For gods’ sake delete it

Let us leave all our still disasters
a night of stars, devastated
without their flutter, their refocus and shift

and lay paper puppets, torn and sullied
by the fire which crackles with time
and burns with everything you needed

V.58

Air raid sirens are full of dust
in a culture my ears know. Let
fail the mode of lamentation,
let us breathe in the dust we are

and be happy, let us have strength
we can direct over the form of
the book, the film, the cigarette,
the vape, the game, the small figures

we create in our new-born minds.
Let me just remember this is
pouring rain, this is paradise.
If you feel your life won’t make sense

if conditions aren’t met, forget
that, and luminesce. You may think
maybe our parents shouldn’t have
had us, knowing then what they knew

and leaving the planet in states
difficult to parse, and this holds
for all ages, and all people
in them, what a hot sin it is

to create a newborn person,
it scalds and leaves us hollowing.
But it is a great miracle
like lives and all things in their grasp