Any town will do.

Any town will do, any one at all […]

Any town will do.

Any town will do, any one at all
All stucco pebbledash concrete
All smoking pipes at breakfast
Any town will do

Any town will stand against the wind
Of lunchtime disaster flood
Of can’t-get-home-it’s-raining
Any town will stand

Any town could be my home
It’s kind of quiet here kind of
It’s kind of boring here kind of
Any town could be

Any town is less than zero
Add up the hours add up the
Add up the days add up the
Any town is less

Any town is quite the beacon
Fulgent dual carriageways at night
Fulgent words in void of light
Any town is quite

Any town I have visited, any one at all
All overcharg’d and oversex’d
All broken hearts and living wrecks
Any town I have

Any town will do, any one at all
All wrong song wrong time wrong face
All birdcage sings at crack of doom
Any town will do.

 

Th’ Next Day

This colossal land will e’er rise […]

Th’ Next Day

This colossal land will e’er rise
T’ meet your steps
This white paving will e’er break
Your shoes into your worn feet
And th’ people that you meet—
Their words are as th’ crake;

Heedless tho you are wise
Seeing all future paths
Heedless of th’ starling warnings
Chick’d in palsy’d throat,
Tales e’re wrote
O’er lesserkin’s fawnings;

Ah, but parallel lines in size
Ne’re-t’meet, like lips
Bitten and broken, that e’er sneak,
Skulk int’ backwoods crick like wren:
Ne’re t’ be like consummate lent—
So shall I turn th’ other cheek.

 

The Fair Queen in Her Youth

In phantasy of daydream half untrue […]

The Fair Queen in Her Youth

 

I

In phantasy of daydream half untrue
You can espy the Dame of Nature’s bourn:
She cared for every wight ’neath canvas blue,
And crossed thru wand’ring wood that now doth mourn.
Her once-fair hands encompassed foal and fawn,
Graceful locks that held rough totems entwyned
Like honeycombe and petals from her lawn;
In youthful grasp she held the trees aligned.
The world was then unformed, unharrow’d, kind;
Sun shone upon her golden face, enlit
By Hebe’s glow and her playful ivy’s bind;
By the gentle rain was she oft bespit.
      So young was she that jewels did fleck her eyes,
      And watched was she by all her Nature’s spies.

 

II

Still resting by the windowsill of dream,
Beseech her now an audience to speak:
So weak her ears may wane, it may not seem
That the Queen would speak so; by her crook’d creek
Time captures breaths so soft and slender, meek.
When you wex woeful to ween lost delight
Fallen from the Fair Queen’s brow, you may seek
The will to restore them true: journey night
Through moonlit groves and scale far foggy height;
But tho you may seek to restore her crown—
Oak coronall yron ’bove amber sight
Is fading fast, as is her lily gown.
     Now turned to red, her leaves predict a fall:
     The hope that Winter steals not Beauty’s all.

 

III

Lay down and rest, O Queen, throw true thy beam,
For no other being holds flawless gleam
That glitters near my eyes, and strikes me blind:
Thy changing form is ever new in mind,
The perfections of thine are sensate signed;
Let down thy hair, in tempestuous ream,
Where moon’s moths, thy bounty, forever teem.
The rising bound’ry of thy bloss’mous breast;
Forlorne desire ensews for thy sweet creste—
And tho we keepe thy love, we thus sequest.
Last glimpse before the vision ends its stream:
Thou seest fading orchard, all enshrined—
     Time bids thee well, Titania: ’tis God’s truth;
     For even Gods must bid farewell to Youth.

 

“When we were young, we shared our bread and milk”

When we were young, we shared our bread and milk […]

“When we were young,
we shared our bread and milk”

 

   When we were young, we shared our bread and milk
Played games in the woods, chased the spirits there—
Caught a glimpse of something more, never scared
Were you, just laughed off the ghostly face
   Even when it appeared at your window
At night, and whispered secrets yet untold
What did it say to you in the darkness?
I always sat rapt, struck, when you spoke
   Of the depths of the encroaching forest
And how you saw another world inside
The reflection on the piano’s sheen
Just smiled as you fingered dainty tune.

   When we were teens, we never got too close
A hug or two, once a kiss — nothing more
But we never didn’t smile, best of friends
A boy, a girl, in love with the world
   But you always wanted more, spoke of things—
And when we wandered in the pouring rain
Your mind wandered to darkness, I knew so,
And I wondered what cold dreams you saw.
   We fell into our patterns with swift ease
And made those signs that only we did know,
I wanted to never see you depart—
But you were bruised, your eye red, swollen;
With stolen alcohol, you smoldered.

   It had been half-decade we didn’t speak:
I got out of town after you showed me
The room hid beneath the abandoned house
That lay quiet, unpleasant ’tween trees
   Skeletal and in constant winter grey—
You held my hand too tight, I remember
And something was wrong in your hazy sight.
I never knew I loved you before
   Then, the moment I knew I feared you much;
And after we went to mine and ate sweets,
And didn’t speak until you said goodbye
And left a shadow in dreadful wake.

   When I returned, it was on your request—
I found you at home, dilapidated
Plaster, pebble-dashed tomb where on the floor
Lay shrunken mess of erstwhile father.
   No longer woman, but dusk-changeling
So far from girl, Acheron followed you
With perverted grace of vindication:
I shivered to see your serpent smile,
   And wept when you told me what had to come;
Sweet childhood friend, dark empowered sorceress:
Shadows crawled upon your father’s dry corpse.
I watched man turned to messy chaos,
In hands of girl I once broke bread with.

   When you were young, you were stranger than life:
In cryptic patterns you danced fairy dance;
Snakelike smiles replaced that kind childish grin
As you stowed away your pain from me
   You hid the acrid scars and acid burns,
And listened close to whispering souls of which
Offered dark gifts of ancient sacraments
You uttered of, in hushed tones aside
   Gabbling crick in oaken glade we called home;
And you spoke to me what you meant to do,
One day, when the wind was rising eastward:
Comeuppance for your red swollen eye.

 

Luanne and the Lost City

When all has seen what all has done […]

Luanne and the Lost City

When all has seen what all has done,
and all to lift and all upon,
the four of thee with two in view:
when death falls from her lips,
the Elder takes the throne.

The boy of young wakes and steals away,
through the streets, away.
To the green, away.
He has done it three times now,
and each time has felt better than the last.
Time to be alone.

The fog clings to his jumper.
The village is desolate at such an hour,
and his footsteps echo into the
morning sky.
Early morning, early.
Still dark.
Rumbling grey skies waiting to break,
winds of vicious velocity.

At the park, she is waiting.
A little bit taller than him,
blonde hair, shimmering eyes,
still small, but to him a giant.
She smiles as he arrives.
He smiles too,
but worse.

She speaks to him, and her voice
lilts on the breeze.
She must be pretty, he thinks,
but he doesn’t really know what that means yet.

‘I want to take you somewhere,’ she says.
He wants to know where.
She nods her head
towards the woods.
He says that he is scared of the woods.
She laughs. It makes him shiver.
‘Don’t you want to play?’ she says.

He does want to play,
but he doesn’t know what to do.
She’s older than him,
so maybe she knows a secret way,
because otherwise they may get lost,
and he hates getting lost.

‘We won’t get lost,’ she smiles.
He trusts her.
It’s in the way she speaks.
So soft.
Soothing,
unlike his mother’s voice.
He takes a chance.

He asks for her name.
‘Luanne,’ she says.
The name bounces across the dew
on the grass.
He follows her, across
the bridge, and up the lane,
the woods high above them,
loomers with twisted arms.

The woods grow as they walk,
and she takes his tiny hand.
‘Little boy,’ she says,
‘you are cold.’
He nods. He is cold, it’s true.
Colder still with every step.

Luanne looks back and smiles at him.
Her shimmering eyes, yes, shimmering—
they seem to hold no pigment,
and even to his tiny mind this seems strange.

But she is pretty, or so he believes,
because he has only heard that word,
never really understood it.
His brothers say it sometimes.
From what he’s heard,
there are girls at school that are pretty.
But he wouldn’t know.

He pays so much attention to her face
as they walk,
that before long,
they seem lost. Everywhere
around them: spiralling trees.
He asks her where they are going.

‘We are going to meet the elders,’
she says.
‘There are five of them.’
He fumbles with the sleeve of his jacket.

He asks where they live. The girl
does not answer, instead
she just smiles. A pretty smile.

The trace of morning sun has been
blocked from the sky.
This isn’t his home,
nor should it be,
but why should he not be here, anyway?

Why not walk with this
girl of the woods?
This pixie?
She looks like a full-size Tinkerbell
from Peter Pan.

And after some hours, the woods break,
and he cannot believe his eyes:
there are whole other towns and villages here,
overgrown and sunken,
sleeping.

In the distance he can even see a city,
ancient, deceased,
huge towers reaching up.
Buildings within buildings,
ruined black architecture.

He laughs,
because it must be a dream,
must be.

Luanne stops and they gaze
over the lost buildings.
She turns to him and crouches.
‘This is how it could be.
How it should be,’ she says.
She pokes him in the belly and twinkles a smile,
‘and you’re going to help us.’

He wonders how. How
could he be any help to anyone?
He knows, he knows he is but
a burden, a nuisance.

It’s fine.

And now, he wonders—
how can he help?
For once, he wants to.

The girl leads him down further into the debris.
Trees as colossi, they must be four no five no seven no
eight no a million times bigger than him.
The branches grow persistently, breaking through
each other and joining together in harmony.
It really is peaceful here, he thinks.

They walk inside a house. Luanne
seats him in an old chair
that seems to be made of wax.
She looks into his eyes.
‘Let me tell you about them,’ she says.
He nods.

‘Sing the praises of the old gods,’
says Luanne.

‘We first feel Callaszag, the Soaking Wet.
His presence is signalled by a brewing of clouds
in the north. Once he is ready,
three thunderclaps will sound. And then,
the torrent that lasts for two nights will come,
and with it, there will be arrival.’

The young boy watches
as Luanne’s pupils glisten
with joy.

‘Then we will behold Shath,
the Watcher of Many Eyes.
His arrival is preceded by the One in Blue,
and this arrival is stated by
the taking of virtues.’

The young boy sees a glimmer
of spittle fall from the girl’s mouth.

‘Following Shath is Veliszeth,
the Dirt Beneath the Surface.
We shall know she is here when
we hear:
Weal and Woe,
All Bark Fades,
and Full is the Cup.
Oh, how mean she is.
She covers the eyes.’

Her voice is louder now,
not shouting, just bigger,
more precise,
and he does nothing but watch and listen.

‘Before the end, we meet Lucreczia,
The Tainted Mother.
Her arrival is preceded by the Music.
Tones between tones between tones.
Fragments of melody,
like nothing else.
Her arrival is stated
by the taking of names.’

She lowers her eyes, no longer
staring so wildly around the room.

The young boy meets her gaze,
but there is something different this time.
Her sparkle has dulled.

Luanne holds up four fingers, then
she raises her thumb to create five
and says,

‘When all has seen what all has done,
and all to lift and all upon,
the four of thee with two in view:
when death falls from her lips,
the Elder takes the throne.’

She blinks, and the shimmer is back.
She smiles at him. Pretty.
He stares.

Outside, beyond the borderlands,
in the great depths of the black forest,
the great lost city moaned.

All is Calm

Five hours, please […]

All is Calm

 

I

Five hours, please
   Just enough time to
     Sail away,
                        ride away

Surely a jewelled stallion
     May take my
            Last spot at pasture

Enraptured,
           a gilded crown,
not a frown from the bow

Just luminescent
       Liquid diamond

Goodbye, Old World—
   Would you pray for me yet?

 

II

Greetings from my castle,
     a wave from the walls.
Exiled Vixen,
          enamoured and vain.
Confession uncomprehended,
   an apology from God,

Whilst gears tick,
      a trick to keep you stuck.

Your beckoning finger
       Cannot drag me from this villa,
Just as the wind
        Will never encompass
                   The rain.

The prayer is silent.
       Penance can wait.

 

III

The sparrow flies
   beyond four walls;
between the seasons,
               She lies.
Hopping ’cross sand
                    and glass.

A freedom unchained,
      a supreme love,
ungained yet sitting
       like a phantasy
’twixt sweet pollen,
        angles askew,
a perfection unfound
        in even the Tetrahedron.

You seal on a paper heart,
       feel the warm air
            in December.

 

IV

There was a reason:
       To see life.
            Truly.

To live — that
          is it.

Autumn — the first.
     Brown hair.

The fort of dreams.
Godfather to existence.

     Amber glint.
                Lingering spit.

     Truth.
                 Beauty.

 

V

Winter, the last.

The jewelled stallion
         prays for me.

Whilst angels dance
    through blonde highlights,
And rooks knell
     like the church tower’s bell.

Turquoise ripples,
        chattering forms in blue.
A great, slight distance
                       from you.

    Good morning—
             open your eyes,

                 face the end.

 

VI

Weak profile and ragged
       hair — red spells death
Crimson cloth unveils
                  nothing more.
Acceptance.

             No new sight,
             you might say
                  I’m sorry

For rolling through
        and across
Celephaïs’ dreamt walls.

Lying in vulnerable grace
          spread eagle
     torn through by
          ragged arrow tip,
                      descending.

 

VII

The lone drifter must
      feel like Jean Seberg.
Dutch courage to die.

But these thoughts
        worry her not—
            instead,
                a chance smile.

The smile — the
                      very same—
     returns, many
                    years on.

When she thinks of the sun,
      the gentle yet chilling
                               breeze,
the absence of gulls,
       the soft lows of the sea.

 

VIII

Cigarettes and bottles
      of beer are this
           generation’s fossils.

Snow dove on the sand
Clatters into the sought blue,
       far above
           our shared love
                 of this lone moment.

The grace of infinitesimal
         grains, soft as the
     fur of an Andalusian dog.

No blade crosses the solar eye
      as cornflower canvas
           penetrates the self.

      This moment, here to stay.

 

IX

Vision at last returns
    Burns that cast religion
To seek a being
    Worthy of the throne
To sift through callous letters
    Whilst swarthy natives
Know you better
    Than the wall you crash against

Heart menstruation,
      A political demonstration,
               Policeman dressed
                                 in black.

A prayer for the slow
A prayer for the meek
A prayer for the soft glow

   and a prayer for me:
       the weak.

 

X

A return to arms.
A dry, salty beach.
Foreign conversations
            from behind doors ajar.

Exchange of ideals.
      An ever-present dread
  Coming closer,
                 getting further away.

Apologies and hymns.
             Hands held wide
       to let in the new world.

A gift of pain, black tendrils.

A masque of warm rain,
             Sitting innocent
             on a bed of nails.

 

XI

Life can be found in death—
     Without posthumus decay
     there can be no laughter,
     no love, no shared smiles.

Gentle crashing, closed eyes.
     A sweet summer scent
     so far from its home.
     I embrace it.

I remind it gently
         Not to wander too far—
    for even seasons can get lost.

There will always be life—
   Just as death will always
       be with us.

You cannot run — enjoy
    What there is, friend.

 

XII

Castles made of sand and glass,
     Blasted heaps of terror
Loom desolate over my home.

Alone they march,
                 These monoliths,
     Never hiding in Shath’s cellar.

    Right here—
                           Right now.
     I hold my warning.
     Tomfoolery of Chronos,
     Dream-state of Celephaïs.

Whilst gulls return, and
     Stallions stride, and
     Solemn prayers are sung;

We welcome in the new world:
   We shed our cowls of grey.

 

Three Love Songs: Starling, Spirit, Sincerity

There is a starling I hold close to my heart […]

Three Love Songs:
Starling, Spirit, Sincerity

Song of the Starling

 

There is a starling I hold close to my heart
   Winged darling of curious eye
Surprised in the brush, it doth depart
   I know I shall not see it again;
It was my friend.

Tender feathered starling, large as light
   Dainty and comely in the sky bright blue
And in the night it sings its song
   Upon the slender bows of the quince bush;
Then darts like arrow into downy throng.

O, voice so sweet, like lilting hymn
   Sings Christian tales of lovers’ consummation
I wish to hold its fragile limb—
   Inspect those eyes of delicate sharpness,
      And reveal scene of woed lovers’ separation.

There is a starling I hold close to my heart
   Winged darling of curious eye
Surprised in the brush, it doth depart
   I know I shall not see it again;
It was my friend.

 

 

Song of the Spirit

 

Beauty: pure be thy name,
     Distilled elegance.
Litanic lamentations of refined essence,
   Intoxicating,
To misplace a psalm into palms unworthy.

Foolish: Then,
     Alchemical rites of dusky biology,
Alembic apparatus to temper daemon’s sharp spirit-tooth,
   Archaic methods to soothe out romantic merit’s sooth.

Hands of prayer conjoined and closely tented;
     No phrases coined or lent to describe puerile tint and blush,
But those of reams of script enwrote in history’s brush.

The saint and soul exist entwined as contradicting tenants;
     They share the world, and see God’s lot of actions crying penance:

When for all we yearn is to spend our hours enriched by her subtle presence.

 

 

Song of Sincerity

 

A smile’s a gift of perfect ease with she,
An exchange of hands ’neath trees, ’neath rain;
I wince rue passions as she shifts her knee,
Project where her elfin form has lain.
The instances that comprise woodland tryst
Speak to golden wisps of hair from fey nymph,
The instances of seelie words I list
Flow o’er me as pure unyielding lymph.
My arthritic hand lends a laurel crown—
Such alms I wrought in care to thank her so
For what I wear atop sewn sylvan gown.
I steel the fears of romance, I forego:
      All other love that makes good sense to chase;
      Commit to one struck with tender fay’s grace.

 

Begotten

O, tattered skyline so many miles across

Greens, reds and silvers

Skellein structures and mismatched colours

Begotten

 

O, tattered skyline:
Greens, reds and silvers,
Skellein structures and
Mismatched colours;
The clouds gather
And watch it fall:
It has all escaped, now,
Betrayed,
Once loyal now in doubt—

Listen! The screams above:
The silence—
Their eyes—
Their movements—

Listen! The creaking below:
The sinking, bleeding—
The splinters—
Their creased wrinkles—

O, sunshine, break through:
Blue, azura, horrifying,
The sky now in sight,
Sounding lost:
Hallways;
Corridors;
Classrooms;
Offices;
Bedrooms;
Kitchens:
And inside every one,
A different cry.

 

Black Spots

Walking through black spots, wind […]

Black Spots

 

Walking through black spots, wind:
Sun-palmed trees, wrath of the beach—
The water beyond could drag me down;
Toes cling to sand for dear life.
We noticed the shadow of our friend,
Standing in the black spots,
Dragged by the wind,
Just thinking—

Archiving lists of gates and looms
In a library filled with sand—
Worried only by the leaping of beetles;
Vines, barrels full of beer, bitter.

Damned, deserted, upset:
Heralded;
Welcomed;
Abused.

Lost to the sea, drunk on a lilo, no horizon left
And swimming back to the dense streets of the city,
Where people scream, holler, revel—
And the feeling is mutual
When you say you don’t belong—

 

Paroxysm

The tower block collapses in the distance.

A lonely high-rise condemned

Just like we have been.

Paroxysm

 

Tower block collapses in the distance.
A lonely high-rise, condemned.

One side of a fifty-pence piece smiles.

You told me to be there at three,
But the roads were piled with the cars,
And the bodies:
Set off too late, and I could do
Nothing but stand.

Fires begin across the city.
Soon, the countryside burns, too.
The petrol that soaks the streets
Lights up in a line—

The sky is beautiful
And blue.