My plan was always to have a poetry section on this site. I was going to start by uploading the good stuff from back when I wrote a lot of poems, in my early twenties, then start adding new ones.
I put up Grandad, and it read pretty well to me. The plan, it seemed, was working. But I recently got around to reading through my archives. It was grim.
I managed to salvage two poems I consider worth sharing with the world, and then only after the editing equivalent of blitzkrieg. The rest I shall consign to the memory hole. If only they were in a notebook I could burn them.
So, here they are. Enjoy. For now, I fling off my poet’s cap, that some more worthy bard might find it.
Bitter Herbs (Catholic Mass, 26.08.2007)
My eye, a pale unsheathed testicle,
Drips its tiny vision into my skull.
Seeding the redblack soil with light,
Growing a tree, roots wrending my jaw,
A trunk of cracked spirals.
Ancient ritual slips into my mind.
Death has thrust us here like frightened dogs
Cowering beneath master’s roof.
Death, who should throw us at mountains,
Launch our dreams along a green bough
To spatter like paint,
Instead crowds us here
To sing weakly and eat sickly
Sweet fruit, when we should have flesh of lambs
Fried in bitter herbs.
Down by the river and we’re bathing the hymn book
Scoop up this child from the reeds and the snails
Spits out the water and the moss and the fish hooks
Sing silence, silence. Death raises the sails.
Eve laughs and shakes, whispers
‘Kneel before the tree son’
I do it, but I don’t understand.
Storm, storm, storm, storm
In thunder. Lightning,
The trundle wheel time
Turns the new child’s fresh dream
To the old man’s nightmare
Urinating in his bed.
The cold breeze from the window
Turning his photographs to ice.
The time he spent
In a Villa in Spain
Where, like hot wind, many women
Slipped through his door from the rain
With hair like thunder and
Eyes like ships
Turning all his new phonographs
To flame with their hips
And laughing in their bellies
Like a storm
By a train
At the jokes
Sparked like lightning
From his quick young man’s wits.
A warm breeze to melt
The coldest women into lovers
Smiling now from photographs
Shocked with icicles on the mantle
In the crisp dawn
Where an old man dies
tucked beneath his covers.
Down from the mountain and we’re burning the hymn book
Cleansed of all mercy for that merciless love
Eve dancing, laughing, scooping fish out from the water
Eating reeds and snails – giving lessons to her daughter.