Saturday, 31 December 2011

On Becoming Foam

The children always expect too much of the sand,
And I, too much of the sea.
But the surface is unbecoming and so we sit 
With shallow lungs and anchored ribs - 
Demoted from the waters - 
Our strings in disarray; eyes tangled in an undone moon
That dribbles wax soldiers on noose-ready trees and
Blooms uncharacteristically on the beach,
Expanding like open-mouthed algae
To suffocate a sky of driftwood bones and airborne souls, 
Split by human alchemy and abandoned 
By milk lipped waves that fight us off with drunken tongues.
The water-people care not for our existence,
And know not of death. They end quite definitely,
Renouncing their bodies on the sharpest rocks, to become more than nothing
But less than something, 
A dusty residue lining the throat of a cold world
That hums itself to sleep whilst feeding on metal letters 
And pivoting on a broken foot.
The water-people disregard our colours
And steal to the surface at dusk with graveyards for skin,
Stone eyes weary of the lost people - the children of mud,
Who rise from the fog and line up along the cliff
To break the waves and escape their burden of ever after.
The sea-doers won’t help though... 
Hands preoccupied -
Stitching carapaces and seaweed skeletons to the hinges of their limbs,
Mouths sipping at the self-consuming lullabies lost in the ridges of shells
Buried deep beneath the footprints of drifters.
They dress in death and smuggle their trinkets beneath the arms of water,
To plant in the loam of nothingness where they rest their being 
And tend to their dissolution in song.
I admire them from afar, fluctuating on the tallest outcrop,
Sidling neurotically on a rock shaped like a horse and
Mumbling to the other rocks that tip-toe across my mind 
As we wait for the horizon to open its eye and swallow us whole.

I bow to the Princess of Japan, dressed in kimono dust, 
Crawling on hands and knees towards the waves
After shooting down origami swans and ex-lovers
In an imperial pond of broken conscious.
I nod to the cliff-jumpers, dressed in skin, 
Charging the blue and melting into the splashes of night.

And then I regard myself: an expert in dust,
A fossil coiled around the white teeth of Dover 
That bite down on the bitter sand and call me home
In a paper boat where I’ll crumble recklessly
And candle-like,
To become merely the sea foam
You’ll brush aside when going to drown...

very loosely based on the Little Mermaid tale by Hans Christian Andersen (the darker non-disney-fied version) or more so this particular quote which I set as a prompt many months ago - "We sometimes live to three hundred years, but when we cease to exist here we only become the foam on the surface of the water, and we have not even a grave down here of those we love. We have not immortal souls and we shall never live again; but, like the green sea-weed, when once it has been cut off, we can never flourish more.." - Hans Christian Andersen, the Little Mermaid

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Monday In My Eye

I’ve a Monday in my eye,
Bloated and cancerous,
Sipping from my vision and obscuring
The limpid cell I built myself,
With skinless walls and curtained bars. 
I’m disappointed with my depression,
It promised to deal with the ghost I abandoned on the tube
And melt the cystic snow that sticks to my face...
But it hasn’t... and the evening 
Has misaligned itself across the ceiling,
Swollen and wheezing, its clouds unmoving -
Unbleachable and violent on the white-washed surface
That bubbles beneath my nails.
City dreaming is better than country dreaming, 
I was told by an old drunk pressed into a doorway crack.
The walls were better listeners he reasoned,
As we surveyed the neon night:
The moths trying to find salvation in the burn of a bulb, 
The crow smuggling stones beneath its wings
After a one night stand with death...
And the candles...
Crying wax tears whilst slowly eating themselves into 
Anubis sighed when he found me, 
Drifting around alleyways trying to get lost,
My pockets filled with sand, hands dripping ink -
Prints graffitied onto the brickwork canvas of a sharp city.
My travels were futile... and so I headed home,
Discarding the wrung out towel I’d used to mop the brow
Of a London in labour,
Birthing discontent and skeletal stars
As the Thames devoured the corpse of summer
And dribbled the sun along its chest.
I’m back to my window.
Though it’s starving and bored of its view,
Refusing to take the crumbs I feed it
When surfing the sill to see if the ground has gotten any closer.
I sit here... a tree with no roots,
Clutching to an empty coffee mug that consumes
The table-skyline hovering beneath my wooden fingers- 
A great civilization of shadows and light-specks
Weaving around the pencil-buildings.
My leaves were displaced by the wind and my skull unlocked-
Brain replaced with a hive of bees
Who hide the alphabet behind their swords and whispers,
And tell me I must keep guard,
For you can’t trust the ants or people-flies...
They’ll eat the sky and swallow the sea if left unattended.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Boulevard Blackbird (Breakfast for One)

The angels smashed all of my windows
In an attempt to out-do the sky,
Then sat obtuse as gargoyles on the side of the city
And poked around the sleeping stone
That rattled with dream-dealers
And rubble addicts, inhaling pieces of fallen sky
And injecting politics at Café de Paris socials,
Where society girls sold characters in the powder room
And patched up vogue wounds with dollar tattoos.
The city welcomes all they say;
It doesn’t care who it swallows and breaks,
Its mouth-waves consuming country dowries 
And spitting out broken lego-men and plastic dolls
On rain-shattered gravel.
Some get a bone to hang on their wall
When they crawl back to their shells with a beat face,
But others find solace in the shade of a tenement slum fire-escape;
Singing moon river to a crisp-packet puppet
And melting into the cataleptic landscape
That plays tin-can melismas on cobbled floors.
Not Her though.
She was bored of picking up the sky,
And was on the road to disprove the ground,
A boulevard blackbird
Rocking around to a city jingle of coins and keys,
Her eyes filled with ocean and left-over sun.
She preferred to live as a ghost on windows,
With a back to front reflection that let her drift
Around the city on glass without getting trapped,
Her feet kept firmly off of the pavement slabs
That snarled with cracked, soil-laced lips.
She drank her coffee in a haze of diamond smoke,
Before sipping at champagne shadows 
Under hollywood billboards and
Strumming guitar strings on a self-made window-ledge.
To toast the aftershock of a double-dip recession,
She traced galaxies on her carpet and
Painted the walls red with fingerprints and lips.
But her eyes were always fixed.
With one on the highest tree,
And the other on the rain bird, plucking its own feathers
In an ashtray as its soul was lost in city lights
And it'd forgotten how to fly.
I only met her once, when the city was embalmed in dust,
And the angels'd decided it was open-window season again,
Throwing bricks through the panes so we’d all know 
How it felt to live in the sky.
She'd packed her bags and was skipping down the stairs 
When she stopped and whispered:
‘Some know themselves too well...
And some learn too late to leave a crumb trail to find
Everything they’ve thrown away.’
She sighed then, exhaling a little heart,
Before having breakfast with herself one last time in the big window,
And flying away to get lost in the sky
With all the other things people would never be able to love.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Antiquity's Rose

“There was a world...or was it all a dream?” (Helen)
And there Homer traced the curves
Of Calliope along the walls of Troy, 
Beneath a god-made diorama of a matchstick war, 
Where all were lit, and all would fall
And yet I dream a most preposterous dream.
A dream where Troy is unbroken,
The lapis seas consuming themselves along virgin shores,
Helen sitting in the shell of her golden egg,
A flaming swan, fondling the sun
That rests between her burning lips;
Beauty entombed,
With sand-bled ringlets and moon-slaughtered robes,
But eyes of a chimera, of fire and ice, 
Fixed on the crinkled waves and paper boats, 
That glisten on the horizon like stars 
On a fallen sky.
She sings Paris to sleep with cowardly tunes,
And decorates his dreamscape with tales
Of tin-foil lions, and men broken on rocks;
Her gilded fingers 
(cursed with a malformed midas touch)
Scraping the impenetrable walls
As she retreats to her chambers, 
A blood stained siren.
The gods descend to ready their thrones
On the bones of man-made altars,
And the ghost ships arrive,
The windup soldiers standing two by two,
Thrown from the arc and
Moulded from Olympian clay, their fate
Carved into their breastplates by prophets of age.

“There is nothing alive more agonized than man 
of all that breathe and crawl across the earth” (Zeus)

And there they crawl, from sea to wall,
Soldiers born with rocks between their teeth
And metal stitched to skin,
Volcanic glory bottled behind mournful eyes,
Which steam as blood pumps through lava-tube veins
And Destiny drags their hollow limbs across the sand.

Many fall to Beauty’s mess
As she waltzes with Ruin atop the broken ramparts,
Lust smeared on naked walls,
As Hector and Achilles battle
In shallow waters of the styx,
An arrow through heel and sword through throat,
Bronzed death,
As Apollo bleeds from Spartan mouths,
And Aphrodite rips the hearts out of fallen men
To hang as windchimes over crimson seas.

The moon refuses to shine on fallen Ilium
And Helen sits dressed in shadows and pyre-smoke,
Her tears caught in an apple-core chalice,
As a wooden horse made from the bones
Of a thousand ships
Rubs its back against a decade of death
And explodes beneath Homer’s brocade - 
Shattering the walls of blood
With sibylline precision,
Cassandra broken in prayer at the foot of a temple,
Her words hanging behind glass eyes.
“Like the generations of leaves, the lives of mortal men. The wind scatters the old leaves across the earth and the living timber bursts with new buds and spring comes round again. And so with men: as one generation comes to life, another dies away.”

And there Helen sits
On the ruins of an empire,
A blood flower blooming 
Between the souls of Heroes
And bones of Myth;
Antiquity’s rose
Cutting the buds off of newborns
And scattering the ashes across the land
Lest she find another Troy to burn.

Yet, when the dust finally settles

On a war-born vase,
All that is learnt is how to fall
With melted wings and blinded eyes,
For no man can catch the sun,
But all would die trying...