53
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rough-going

i.
there can be no arriving

death will extract me
a disappointed man

land-
locked i've named the sea
my self-completing image

the sea makes me sick
it drains my soiled legs
and rolls my stomach
into pits of self-abused
its liquidity the worst
of granite (marble monsters
dragging through my dreams)


ii.
i clutch at people's faces
whom i love - their flesh
comes away from whom they are
like hair diseased

the moment
when the sun should burst
through clouds trickling
its golden finger down
the mountain-spine
i am all
misery and shattered
by the bomb inside myself
shatter all others' trust

i cling to statues sal-
vaged from the past their
smashed-in heads still talking
out of turn

i (radical)
can find a present ease
amongst ancestral murders
feel myself destroyed
by longed-for flowers
coming into bloom

i am the earth the blood
of all my parents
chose to nourish
i
am the churned-up earth
today's flowers take
their pickings from
(their beauty nourished
by my harsh illnesses)


iii.
i writhe between the wish
that blooms the future
and the stale gold dream
(the sickness in my head)

i tread my mother's path
i bitch the simple waters
i beg for egg-shaped miracles
to come that have no substance
and all the time i cry
for such a perfect flow
to make myself the prouder

i want but do not want
those hands to lend their weight
to lift me out of drains
i've made my peace with
(they bring their help like maggots)

and yet there is no song
i know the words to sing
without their comfort-voices


iv.
i rock upon disgruntlement
find it hard to keep
my image of the stars
from sinking in the swell

i long for land the time
of self-sufficient (though
such a time itself a dream
of dreams before it)

for me this landed truth
has always been a sea
the sea i've sought is land
i don't know how to rest
upon a firm foundation
i pitch and cross my way
through granite and make
worse weather of it than
this ship now heaving through
these granite-looking depths


v.
i am a discontented
breaking making patterns
in my search for questions
i have not answers to
(questions breeding questions)

there is no room for peace
inside me although i spurt
my life towards the growing
of that peace
i farm in-
tensively towards
the reincarnation of
a golden eggshell the
intended bird stillborn

in breeding phoenixes
i turn the legend in
reverse - not the flight but
ashes are triumphant
(success uncertain grilled
by certain doubt)


vi.
each day
the song i'm bent on singing
scratches within itself
to clear its ancient tune

the sun sends deeper drills
into the kind of darkness
i pit my skills against

hands reach out beyond me
reaching hands and they too
unscrabble darkness as
they blossom into hands

this tracery of hands
(each pair a starting point
the rest unfurls from)
is proof of living hope
(if not yet monument
to its fruition)

the sea
for all my sickness on it
invests my groping earth
with visions - lifting from
the heavily-trodden space
i do my dances on


vii.
in this landless void
my face is soiled with salt

the sea's hide is grey - tough-
grained it rocks and lumbers
like a herd of elephants

my mouth destroyed by bile
i see the wave-slopes ladled
with its brother gold

unwell i synthesise
myselves - i go to where
i'm coming
come where go

i talk of inward seas
and self land-masses
both sharings of deep lies
mutual packs of truths

i accept my own disor-
ders fragmented symbols
debris of images strife
of fitting unfit bits
and pieces of tossed selves
into a sound believing

so the whole survives
its many flaws - and sings
concertedly (without
conceit) its strengths its salves
its calms and candours


viii.
the dream that stabbed the air
and drew first blood - that set
the motor going towards
the landed sea (a sea
of islands) still underlies
the sickness and the guilt
the fear of self and others
the pain and the disgust
the raillery and sulking

i love too deep for hate
(for demons mine or yours)
to prick and drain its ocean

i encompass drowning
encircle earthquakes
defy death's traffickings
to let the clear blue stream
share my red's birthrights

face unarmed my murders
sack deserts for their juices
fling open dungeoned thoughts
to share the taste of dungeons

my nature beckons bludgeons
exposes me to flints
lays itself with clubs
belabours and belies
the singing at its spring

except it is the song
the roughness is the smooth
the bile and gold are one

the earth that wants the sea
is wanted by it
i spin
(in others' spaces) a world
that answers for itself


ix.
take me for what i am

i ask that guardedly
not seeking absolution
not demanding it of right

i know my weights and measures
my contours and disasters
my two and two makes five

otherwise the cry would be
of terrifying selfness
a glut of deadly poisons
traded in the darkness

we have to know our self
before we burden others
with us - else we make them
victors to us victims
they have a right to fetch
a better treatment from us


x.
the wake of self-perception
loads itself with torments
whose pains cannot be deadened
by deceitful anodyne

to know that paths we walk
follow the routes of streams
pristinely mapped within us
releases and inhibits
charts of our unchartings

the galaxies we ache for
reflect the crystal streams
the aphrodite in us
used for entrances

mortal gods face two ways
through double-bladed doors
they conjure no distinction
between vision and solid

to those who move downhill
forever struggling upwards
(masking desperation
with a body of excuses)
these janus-beaks are ruthless
ripping open gestures
to expose ancestral scores

the debt for deepdown dirt
must be settled or admitted
before the human house can be
taken for what it is


xi.
the ship has come to port
my stomach stays uneasy
land has a rocking motion
that continues the sea

old battles cry their wars

explosions come later
a gush of ill-feeling
uses the sea-shaken pores

a new rush of suffering
batters real lives (symbol
at reality's throat)
the sea slumming itself
in my own swilling deeps

bile rolls over the grass
(offhanded by nightfall)
lamplights hurt faces
their teeth set on edge

i am at it again
a dealer in thunder
a digger in minefields
friends blasted to craters
who were loving the evening


xii.
my alchemy is
turning gold into sick
in the hope of refining
more gold
lacking the grace
to be satisfied with
water left lovely as water
i must extract the stars
or primal mud or seeds
doubling as coffins

so i've been on the sea
my prophecies outrun me
seagulls in the ship's wake
float over birmingham
(my inland desolation)
my symbol sea is still
a ship i force-follow
but dare not light down on
i am all wing and no
coming into my haven

from my mud can spring
none of that clear blue stream
from which the mud first came
(so i sing of its image)

death will extract me
a disappointed man

there can be no arriving

***

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