Dark Dogs in the Morning

The darkness fell onto me like a fever
stirring – stripping and dressing in cold
I picked up my phone, and wiped breath from it
Weak coffee. I left the house, slid doors,
the dogs pressed against me – flickering
buzzing, sparking – something was up
but I didn’t know what.
            I set off

seeing the shoals of mist swim
in morning dark where day is forgotten
and the choral synthesiser drone of stars
shook me, made me shiver – I drowned it out
with my headphones. Walked out
with my pathetic torch across
the wood and farm-land in the mould black
morning – marvelling at the absolute lack
of magic, there in the dust-clump wood.
I glanced around me, saw nothing
thought ‘but wolves, but wild boars’
I smiled, took a fast pace down
the bend to the flood-plain
where I imagine the flesh-fade
of dawn began to apply itself to night

***

Later on return – left tracks
in the forest frost grass from the mansion
to the servant’s quarter
my breath was even more eager than I
to get to the house, it ran ahead
but stopped suddenly – a dead deer
half, half-eaten, eyes open
as the ground is open to the falling
sat there, on the cold patio.
Poachers only want the hind-half
I later learned – I felt the cold fur
brush past, long hair of the black dog –
thought; you were excited for your find
I left you behind. I’m sorry.
She took the skull between her teeth
and cracked it. From the cavity,
the night came flowing back…

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 sun-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

V.29

Matsuo Bashō reigns his horse
in and stops a moment. After
several seconds of cool sweat
pearls his forehead, he moves to grasp

some scrap paper. Ahead, the shrine
hung on the priest’s back sways buddha
slowly to enlightenment. I
think to write this poem as I

walk in the sun uphill and out
of the city. Some very apt
resonances would have been sought.
Between my walk and the journey

he took, ready to become close
to things which want their expression
in the form of a clear cut haiku.
As it is I had to take the

bus. Nevertheless, I think to
write this poem on the bus, yet
I see the wonderful smile and
mouse laugh of a girl I now know.

She tells me of the peregrines
nesting in the uni tower.
So, finally, I note this down.
I don’t think it turned out so bad

Elegy Written on the National Express

i

To the rusted coach, hurling through country
the misted landscape shows itself brightly –
smoke silhouettes and industrial edifice
rest in the view, as rubble in grey dirt.
Awake but precarious, I’m whimmed by the heat
and I wore too much crap, brought too much ephemera
rummaging for a pen, in notice of others
whose christian voices, here and there pray.
The whispering waving of torque and hot rubber
the passing on centre and passing on right.
The carriage rolls hungry, wafting on the road
in the air of the country, musty and cold.
The air conditioner breathes, occasionally coughing
in this rhythmic trance, the traveller’s loan,
which purchases the journey, cheap.

ii

In the coach, dull head and hot at the feet;
a clash of environments, splitting the cabin
and the swinging spindles of a needle thin turbine
obscured by the copses that spatter the land.
Miniaturised trees, from the fog’s deep gradient,
resting on the morning, and hewn dirt roads
(the trace of the coming expansion) flow outwards
pre-empted by pylons, ancient statues
whose rest in the desert, long after we’ve gone:
Buffeted by cold wind and frost in the nighttime
snow slowly erasing the web of old tarmac
pitch-dark and frozen, but the national anthem
plays still over the land, a deathless anthem
turning the fascist strata, and rousing
the fragments of newspaper to stand.

iii

In the fast fading coach, windows sullied,
shadow eats the occupied roads of the world.
Ambience change brings me reeling, threatened
from dystopian daydreams, to Motor Way One.
The unending chance-driven swerve of the chassis
rends me and jolts in my head and my stomach
and lightly the inevitable sickness sets in,
waiting for the portent’s rain to begin.
Mechanical reproduction’s music marks
the passing of time; it’s all that does
despite the rolling windows, falling country
whose homogeneous peeling marks the whole…
Drowsing in the sullen surge I wait
and London waits for me, churning,
the City dark with mould.