A Screed to Live By

You are nothing: remember this fact as you age, my son […]

A Screed to Live By


You are nothing: remember this fact as you age, my son;
Recognise that when put next to the golden others,
You are less than a man, with heart of grey — no fun
Will ever last, no soul will ever join you under the covers.

Line yourself up and see — a little short, are we not?
It is because we are different, my boy: we are the worst
That the crop had to offer — runts — left, they forgot
To keep us under the wing, neither special nor first;

Blackened are our fingertips. We have naught to take
For granted, nothing to look forward to: were I to procreate,
It would spell only a sallow, hollow existence; it would not slake
The everburning ember, nay, like ash it would only fall to further hate.

Take it easy then, my brother. Take it in your stride.
Let life slip through your fingers as if ’twere common dust.
Each day will brighten and darken, ebb and swell does the tide—
Take a sip, from one neck to another, and taste the rust.

The rest will die when God sends:
It ends when it bloody ends.

Only a Dreaded Scene at a Party

I declare today that I am Poetry […]

Only a Dreaded Scene at a Party

             I declare today that I am Poetry.
I am Spenser’s load and Eliot’s entrails—
                    Worth more than a penny.
And I declare today that I am to be Understood:
      For as I am Poetry, then I am opaque:
And as for my being opaque, I can be seen
                       Tru’n’thru’n’all the rest.
Today, England is a breathing, walking state
Of affairs; and to be a state of affairs, you must
            Also be reachable and touchable.
So thus I must be “England.” That’s common sense.
  I am Poetry and England; and this must b empirikal:—
O, cherished birthday bash, this age of snow’s glow!
Come down, o beauteous cherub, o kind clown
Of bared masque and childish laugh! Keep my
Calf below, in a cellar not unlike Shath’s; for I
Am the One in Blue—      and one is, ever, two
(Unless one is done with all wrath and cud to chew)
—So let’s call it a day and seek a joy much less of excess—
And should not just I and thee make a play of act of one:
     Two parts, two roles, together again!,
   Chuckling like fools in a rancid tavern
And undoing idiocy for the laughs of good old Jack!
                                                    AM I UNDERSTOOD?

      What’s he saying?
      I don’t know, I can’t hear him


Ode to a Governess

My governess, I maintain a sickness at heart […]

Ode to a Governess

My governess, I maintain a sickness at heart:
   It is for your love, and that is all: base, low love.
Your eyes change with the seasons, autumnal gazes
   That dance in playful bind, striking at my strings:
Then Summer’s hand strokes your golden hair—
   And once again you are in my arms, breathing,
      Supplying me with wise, considered counsel:
How you saved my life! How you brought me metre!
      How I watched the light stream through your locks,
Eden in your glow; these prime moments are countless.

Yet Winter’s grasp places all kindness in stasis:
   So in this waning light my love is yet forlorn:
Your humours reborn as the seasons shift inconstant,
   Guidance on my thread becoming evertorn—
Your eyes an icy grey, your pale flesh shivers
   At my finger’s touch, your gold mane hiding
      A naïve foolishness, countering your wit
Regarded in the warmer months: it quivers
      And turns blind from my sight, never minding
   Nor caring for my heart, ne’re even a bit.

A thousand lines to your laugh! O, what else
   Can I do, my governess? My tutor dear,
Beloved madam of the morning mile—
   Nay, turn away; nay, take my hand! Where
Should I turn for one to snare my thoughts
   And turn me towards the mighty Spring?
      Should I blossom with you, or else detain
My arch-aching atrophied blust’rous madness?
      Aye: for two must be done at once, nature
   Should be tempered with human restraint:
      In these forty days, I shall prove myself
         A man kindly unworthy of your care:
   Only then, my love, temp’rance be my wealth,
   Yes, only then shall I be worthy of your stare.


Sailing from Ostia

Then : carried by coarse sails, to crystal shore […]

Sailing from Ostia

Then :   carried by coarse sails,  to crystal shore,
Thy proclamation was complete :
      “ Tiresias !   whence this ship sailed,
      “ I was but a boy.   fond at the bow,
      “ at the bow I stood to stare e’re o’er
      “ what great pool stares me back;
      “ and now, a man, my hand guides the oar :
      “ we have come to crystal shore,
      “ that crystal shore I vowed to see, and saw,
      “ and yet did not quell the storm. ”
It was these words that perturbed my gut,  backwash
Lingering with a slosh, continuous.
               As if by the shore at Nemi,
               As if by that very bank of Nemi,
               I fell with Tiresias :
               Yet a woman, yet a man ;
               And yet a woman, and yet a man.
In distant chants and drum-thrums that lead ode to the unknown,
Lost,
Ne’re chance would we to seek the source ;
      “ Et cum spiritu tuo, ”
Was the word. Domine, domine,
Whence does this drum-thrum enthrall ?

In shimmering dress I waited, for guidance—
Domine, domine.
In fair made-up a maiden I awaited—
Domine, domine.
Domine !   Domine !
For Tiresias, yet a woman, yet a man,
For Tiresias, and yet a woman, and yet a man :
      Avernus begone ;
      It is my Nemi, not thy gaping maw,
      That calls my hand’s reticence.
And in shimmering dress I lazed,
At once woman, at once man,
And yet a woman ; and yet, a man.
               All the whilst, the drum-thrum tumbled
               Through thine ears, through mine own,
               And the greatest fear awaited out
               Beyond the reach of our mind’s echo’s grasp.

And would this be for naught, this trip ;
And would it be not for the desperate lurch
Of the gut — the gut, a fool, it makes us fools—
And drives our sandl’d feet closer still to the
Feverish thrumming drum-tap.
For thine is this journey ;   for thine is mine aim,
Which I pray may be true :
For if not, my only prayers left are for fleeful hesitation,
For simple desperation ;   my fateful wish
That draws me closer to the drum-tap’s decided doom
Is that this may be Nemi, that very bank at golden Nemi ;
And I hear it call:—

      “ Tiresias !   is that your approach ?
      “ Hast thou found your androgyny
      “ Awaiting reprieval ?   then follow
      “ The wintry, feverish drum-tap,
      “ For Nemi awaits ;   for thou art
      “ Woman — for thou art, too, man—
      “ And distant, golden Nemi and her queen,
      “ Diana, seek the prophecy of closure :
      “ That which was spoken by the madmen
      “ Ovid, Matthew, (one and the same)—
      “ So bring thy sandl’d feet, and the sandl’d feet
      “ Of thine order, thy kin, to the
      “ Distant, golden shore of e’re-waiting Nemi. ”

Such we did, began our red approach,
With swords drawn for fear of cruel retribution ;
Such we took our infant steps towards the drum-thrum,
The feverish tapping, the golden speech :
And all whilst we moved,
Through prayers—
Domine, domine—
Tiresias !—
My silk-clad leg rattled with ev’ry step,
My silken leg that was at once a woman’s, and at once a man’s.


A Dialogue / The Aleph

a pound fer yer thoughts — a penny fer the old guy […]

A Dialogue / The Aleph

 

a pound fer yer thoughts — a penny fer the old guy:
           tis been six weeks since the old binter left,
      no more thoughtful than the change
                             in my sickly pockit;
              how bout yerself?
                                                  been reet. been reet.
              just get the feelin that maybe she
              ent really gone;
                                        an i spent long enuf
              thinking about the old binter that
                                        sometimes she’s relly there.
                    The Aleph on the wall comes first:
                    And all around in the room, people
                    Enter and exit, stage this and that,
                    Set up for some song and dance.
                    Times like this I wish I were deaf.
an its not like                                                 she sed nuff’n—
               one day it were all sunny shinin an cutesy
           roun the back an et;                           then she were done,
                                               never did hear
                                               nother word.
                                                                        o I saw er:
                                     i didn’t pay no time ner mind
                                                  no penny fer that old binter
                                 aftah she did’t’yh.
fank, fank. an i wish i were strong’n’like’tha:
                                 but n’i know if the old lass
                                 came round bein crass and showin off
                   i’d be the first to chuck a coin in that old whole’n’all.
           got no self respek. no chance.                     can’ help’n’m’se’h.
                    My eyes are drawn back to the Aleph.
                    It’s the only one here who is solemn:
                    The rest are gargling absinthe, and
                    Sniffing a powder I know isn’t snuff.
                    Sometimes think I could have made
                    A good corpse. Better not to breathe.
notter mention, she’d’a bin talkin too much to that fecker.
      like an’as if I warnt there.                       so much fer love!
                                                 so much fer a state of romanz!
            feck’er. i sed: feck’er.                  which’n fecker
                                      you sed she speakin to?
            fecker’n wi’tha funny eye. ’e got that eye
            tha’s feck’n’d’all.                          an i know the cunt—
            feck’er got a rite ’orn for the lassie.
an i say so.   been thinkin on that one.   cunt’s ’ungry’n’al’f’r’er’fan.
                     jus say f’k’al.    no worth it.   binter’s gon.
       an yer rite. iss’a sham. not a fam no’wort the time.
       eh’s tima’ledditgoh.                     or yer’k’ledditgettay’.
                                        an then yr f’ck’d.
                    In the Aleph is all of spaced time,
                    And only I can see it twisting like
                    Candy cane like epigram like rite
                    To raise the dead. But, no. Then,
                    Yells, I am resurrected to the bells.
                    Seeing my days on crud-encrusted
                    Earth in Technicolor lens and flare.
bezzusarolliewouldyfam. sick us one.                fuckusacig.
                                                            ye.
            y’n’d’a’fag’t’feckaway’t’rancid’n’tha.          all ’em leave.
     y’d need one but mate. think.             ’n tha’s’it.
                 tis wha’td’is.                 ye. but not wha’could be.
                                                yns on the binter still?
           am’n’al. am’n’al.     wha’s’e got’n’tha i dont?
                        an mate its no tha. its no tha.
                        tha’s just it.            tis tha’n’all.
an a but i gave her time.   i gave her my all for two year’n’al.
two year. two year’n’al for her to just turn her eyes away an
two year’n’al for her to treat me like a feck’n’fool. an i am.
                                        a feck’n’jit. fel.
                    All I see is the Aleph. It draws me
                    Quite slowly into its world. And, yet,
                    Even beyond this parlour of aether,
                    This world of fuck’d-up dreams:
                    I am stronger than the Aleph. It haunts
                    My daylight hours, it makes me a
                    Foolish folk in this room of drawl;
                    Even in peaceable, less noisesome
                    Moments, I sit by the Aleph, dreaming
                    Like a drunken butterfly of what time
                    Might be. And it is time to break
                    Such idiocy: for you are just a silly girl,
                    And I am a fool of a man. But even
                    A fool can dance around that which
                    Temptation lies out, like spoiled food,
                    Like a meal of rancid flies and mulch;
                    I am a fool, but I shall dance hereafter
                    And for all time without your sly finger:
                    For it shall not draw me, tho it draw
                    Many a man. The Aleph is my future,
                    All my dimensions contained, withall.
                    My strength, God-gained, peaces
                    The clamour of obsessive pacing;
                    Up and down, tasking and displacing
                    A certain lust turned now to displeasure;
                    And my leisure is not to ascertain
                    This burden’d lust but to contain
                    A nightmare’s seat at the crown
                    Of all dimensional congregation—
                    So in this masterful degradation
                    Of sin of thought I stand affront:
                    The Aleph has enough to confront.
an tha’s my part.                                            an feck’t’al.

 

The Last Song

This is the last song that I shall ever sing […]

The Last Song

 

This is the last song that I shall ever sing:
A cadence to the skies that hold the swelt clouds
E’er with utero-bairn of scorching rain,
To let free that child of thund’rous eccho
And have it born upon a borderland
That prays for icen shards and martyrdom
Of Ophelia’s calm, drowned innocence.

This song is for the shores of bless and Heaven:
It shall see the end of marks upon the clock
As is ushered in the bravest era,
Whence pathology and ambition’s tide
Were carried forth as a seasonal bourn,
And weighed upon the shoulders of alb time.

The last song is for Hypnos, sleeping tight:
As for now he dreams only for himself,
And all other dreams are gone. They are not dead—
For a thought can only truly ever live
In the brainpan stream of evocacy
Wrought from a Christ’an child wise beyond years.

So shall that thought wreak more than my last song:
So shall that symphony o’ertake my ditty;
The childe’s harmony is thunder’s reverb
Upon the peak of everdreaming’s tilt—

Unlike my chant, it shall forever live;
Bring the swollen mists of skye’s replete womb
To the crooked apse of dryed riverbed:
Gust the pews with worthy lioness milk!

This is the last song I shall therefore sing:
I kneel aside for Ophelia’s life;
I die so she may live, it is my all
To lose all sight and taste for one so pure.
For time is ever-changèd, and marv’ling—
Dazzling scopes of future vistas, birth-right
Of the New Daughter: so comes the kind rain,
Apocalyptically altruistic,
To wipe all clean for the Age of Virgo.

 

ἔρως in amber

empty eros   encased   in.amber. […]

ἔρως in amber

 

      empty eros   encased   in.amber.
      caught god   stable.despite.hollowed
      (was once   aphrod.ites favour.ite)
      (son beg.otten   chaos or.mother)
      yet.passive   under soil.is shining
      to be waiting   found.excavated
      (ephemeral   from.man.to.boy.to)
      (wane.and wave   from amber.prison)
      romance   sculptors.wax   politic.
      whence this   .artefact.bankside.is found
      under foolsgold   under fossil   under.side
      (eros.breathe.   no to fly.where.in.here)
      (vomited.from   pitoftartarus.hence.chaos)
      (chimerakin.d   he bleats.roars.moans.)
      and placed   on steel stalks.eros.entire
      next to.the   desiccated.remains.
      of some old   king.of.egypt.pharaoh.
      for   .got.   ten. side.sh   ow. er.os.
      (once pride of litter: once the fav.rit son)
      (once to bring.the sm.ile of man.upon)
      (yet naught.more.than.now.than.now
      side.sh.ow   ros.et.ta.sto)ne. no.
      no rosett.a   st.one.not worth pr.ice
      of adm.iss.ion.er.os.em.pt.y.e.r.o.s.
      e.n.   c .a.s e   d   i.n.   am.ber

 

Duchess Songs

A set of six poems: In the Amber Grove, Duchess in Tempera, όραμα, A Match of Squares, A Vain Shadow, and She Turns to Say Farewell.

Duchess Songs

 

In the Amber Grove


Her Lydian wrist,
   Dappled rose and brown,
   Fraught with flaxen hairs
That catch the sunrays,
      Reaches out to touch
      The golden bough’s leaf.

Duchess enkindled,
   Closed eyes and sighing.

 

 

Duchess in Tempera


Speak of her heritage: she sat serene
Upon daybed, surrounded by suitors
That she entertained, painted tempera
Upon a canvasse by portrait-maker;

A near-woman with a presence-shimmer:
All stepped into her fulgence: one-sided.
To carry her name into future-world:
Duchess painted in a golden dream.

 

όραμα


Resting
terra verde:        ἁγνεία dreams,
Sylvan,        vision of sacrificial embers,
Aeternal duchess      of the amber grove,
Everydying yet  preserved she slumbers.

 

 

A Match of Squares


The duchess smiles: elliptic,
                  A coy fortune:
                  Liquid reticence. 

 

 

A Vain Shadow


In prone and fitful moon’s tide, I visit
Her German palace: wander empty halls
Where her silence falls, complete echo’s lack;
Gracing the walls, holding silver chalice,
Her likeness stares back; but yet my duchess
Is absent: desolate are the ribbed vaults.
In the night, wind cries from the firmament,
The creaking boughs despair; and I can find
No consolate sight of my beauty’s host,
Nor her voice; nor her breath; nor her ghost.

 

 

She Turns to Say Farewell


Morning’s blurry haze
      Brought day’s sight afore
      Nemi’s mirrored banks;
            Diana’s statue
            Gazed on from the trees
            At the lake’s yawning edge:

      Duchess wets her clothes,
      Which start to glitter
      Sanguine rose and gold;

            She turns back to look—
            Her amber eyes hold
            A single, fated tear.

 

Recalling Daisy Bell

And when the Age of Hailin’ Shadow Steele […]

Recalling Daisy Bell

 

And when the Age of Hailin’ Shadow Steele
Came afore the din of Man’s defeated kneel,
A visiting afterthought took shape in mind—

A village green where men played bowls
In cricket-white, hair of grey, adorned straw hats,
Where they had played for decades long;
Childer follied across the pitch in fanfare—
The elders laughed without irony at the innocence.

White and red blanket laid ’pon grass
To deter the jam-seeking ants, and to catch
The crumbs of breadcakes that’d fell
From hands of clumsy summer reveling;
Patter of feet as childer reached the river’s ebbing edge.

And Daisy Bell was nowhere to be seen—
O, where is my Daisy Bell?

La’al Ratty steamed still near Eskdale,
And lovers sat in the carriages, kissing
As the land unfurled its cloudless,
Rainless glory; a day to reminisce
On in many years’ future: captured in sepia tone—

Those wrinkled smiles of ancestors
Stare back, and your gaze meets your own as well:
You think of lovers now since past,
That hay-haired lassie with whom you
Rolled in the grass, before the Age of Hailin’ Shadow Steele.

And Daisy Bell is nowhere to be seen—
O, where is my Daisy Bell now?

 

Echoes Underground

Welfare cheques from the welfare state. A vote’s as good […]

Echoes Underground

 

Welfare cheques from the welfare state. A vote’s as good
As any. I shall wait around all day, for the post.
And when I walk, under my hood I smile. A tired smile.
(And when the post comes, then I shall laugh.)

I see more rats than ever. (Myself included.) I think I’m going bald.
The girl around the corner almost smiled at me.
All I hear at night is shouting, deranged and broken.
(A rat scurries around my bare feet.)

—In the tunnels there’s never any room […]
    Nor once they have passed either—

I should sooner fall on my sword than speak my mind.
Sleeping tarmac, yawning alloys, dreaming concrete corridors—
The preacher says the end is not nigh: Eschaton Averted.

(—Nay: I shall expedite its coming.!.—)