Winged Thoughts in the Age of Air

Month: June, 2014




On winter nights
they slide
underneath to
suck at iron pipes
which are nipples
cradle in the shadow
of radiators, warm
hearts to them in
January atmospheres.

Stretched full-length
beneath the maternal
heat of some huge
friendly thing
which purrs
they are cats
curled sleeping
under motor-cars
dreaming of mothers’
big furry bellies:
sumps for kittens
who suck from
lactating chassis
black oils which
turn white.






He used to roam
behind these walls
this was his honey-
coloured lunar
in the fog:
big round badger
on the prowl.

Now he lies
here on the verge
flat bristled doormat
reading ‘Unwelcome’
dusty pad over which
the transport passes.
Rapid winds
of the juggernauts
ruffle sensitive
whiskers extended
on tarmac.

He sniffs-out doom
far from his silent
black nostrils
part of asphalt.
Roll over him
as you cross
these frontiers:
here is the way
into the modern world.


Isle Joyeuse


Stretched out
on the world’s rim
hints of land
murmur playfully
‘Sail on!’

Following winds
blow lazily
toward her:
Isle Joyeuse
streak of blue

Dark blades
of desire
point to where
she fades
under a spell

Because she
is not to be
found at all
since fastest arks
lose way, lie

Then mark
sounds of water
kissing in
sides of ships

of lips
when madmen
know heaven
within reach

sailing with
no haven
of sleep

on the deep
called life:
silent, all

Little River Road


Running beside
the lighted window
heart of valedictions
you raced.

Desperate to lengthen
one second
you ran, victim
of distances, lost.

And when you followed
the small lights away
heart out of reach
you went down.

Cold heart
bluff of a liar
O then you
opened your gates.

In at your gates came
a wind crying out:
Open your gates
to the night.

Out of your vast night
came the one
only named

Easier with your
deep red churning
to race with him
than change the past.

And all that night
unbearable way
on broken stones
you ran.

Where is the road
for you, strange one
who would
outdistance light?

Try forever
to circle back
know that you
never can.



Suntanned instruments
that circled Europe
on summer roads
yesterday, sounding truly
into hideous corners of
tubercular cities
from the Steppes
down to the Ardennes
now hang high above
us, smoke-brown
bronzed and sunburned
like the old-time
troubadours themselves
removed from the world
completely out-of-reach
dead and gone to heaven
in a lute-shaped boat.



is a pleasant curse.
I went out in a
slate-grey afternoon
where had been all
dry land the other day;
and met my double
on his dusk patrol.

Along a yellow
ribbon gravel-road
in fading light
we travelled parallel
he, talking of
himself as usual
I, watching twilight
in a magic glass
dark sky inflamed
with scarlet areas, still
subsiding from the
great November blast.

We found the floods
along the valley
mirrors of silence
laid out in square-miles
vast sheets of mercury
over the lowlands
unimaginable paradise
of waterbirds: Earth
soaked to the core
with tears.

With difficulty
we two moved-on
reaching the point
where catastrophe began.
The low sky darkened;
a foolish saga ran
with the usual machinery
of all foul weather
triangular electric
storms, bad faith
the deadly north-wind
of age-difference too
plenty of thunder
in the dead zone rolling
a proud girl waving
a chain of skulls
a good man old enough
to know better
I said to myself:
Well, nothing really new.

In the distance
a white horse refused
to enter the brown ocean
down a slope:
his woman-rider
would not turn him back.
We watched, and it
occurred to me
this was the doppelganger
being whipped, goaded-down
to the perilous black sea
where royal pride becomes
one more refugee
half-drowned survivor
from the waves of love
Odysseus crusted
with hideous crystal.
Slowly, warily
the animal waded in
up to his knees and snorted;
then drank, eventually
almost cavorted!

I felt detached, aloof.
An identical story
gave illusory distance
some relief: such
things happened rarely.
Here was grief, the cry
of one condemned
to self-reflect
to see himself
(memento mori)
as most narcissistic slaves
worshipping that difficult
sadistic mistress, Art
great in his own belief
but without success
to chatter in his ear
that greatness daily
without the polished lie
of self-respect.

And the sombre flood
lay there as proof
dark mirror of duress
reflecting clearly all
the world has cried.
How calm it seemed
the violence done;
how like the heart
at nightfall when
the last illusion’s died.
We stared across
a thin film’s dirty tide
a pleasure-lake for
feathered navies
a six-inch ocean
spread out

Theseus: Black Sail


The sun winks
from an apple-tree
at sunset.

He hoisted
the black sail himself
but what made
him leave?
A quarrel with
his father
no doubt.

I think of Theseus
first freedom-fighter
who took on the fixed
night singlehanded
who killed the customary
dream outright
killed his father also
and not by mistake
the old man always
babbling comfortably
another fair upholder
of all known ways
a civilized man with
an unknown quantity
just behind the visor
hiding, who campaigned
for youngbloods, hotheads
to pipe-down, stay put
cool-out in quick order
let things run their couse
in the Hellespont:
‘Leave that non-existent
minotaur to its own devices’
(That babbling smothered
in a black shroud.)

And the hero gazes
into the glass below
broken paragon, fallen star
one moment of forgetfulness
enough to shatter
the legend of ages:
He stares at the sea
flecked with his vomit
great captain of freedom
from the early ships
that sailed the death-island
straits in terror
with black at the masthead


Black Passing


The black country
night of the present
time goes clinking with
silver down the land
small cries of newborn life
and the constellations
in the rocking dark
of late-August dog-days
when the near star rages
and Isis goes howling
for the body of summer
lately slain in rising winds
his golden torso

These early signs
of death in the year
and loss, the escaping
quality of life
show more brutally
the small divisions
ownership and loneliness
everywhere here.
The year falls stumbling
down, old hobo
landless traveller
across the earth
mendicant time
who wears tattered
clothes, whose hair
is matted and thick
with experience.

And the last
country-night of
the royal stars
sighs in a long
black avenue of limes
pines for the outcast
in deepening obscurity
who runs in his
exodus westward:
once-green messiah
of the bells and horns
hat full of rainbows
and coloured twilights:
crowned king of
imperious summer, gone.



Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace
at noon
Amazing Grace
at night
Amazing Grace
all day
Amazing Grace:
That’s right!

A madman
down there
someone wrong-
plays a penny-
whistle pipe
day-in, day-out
noon and night.
The lunatic’s
one song
everlasting tune
on and on
making me
lunatic too
to murder that
so strong!

Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace

I pray for him
to disappear
I pray for myself
in repetition
loops of fear.
I say: God
now listen!
I require
a decision
I don’t want
even a trace
of hellfire’s
so change me!
Yet mentally
I go downhill
suddenly, face
the monomaniac
start screaming
‘Your Idiot Grace:
This! See this?
Gold in your tin!
Find another place
learn another tune
earn more money!

Amazing Grace
all day
Amazing Grace
all night
Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace?

At last silence!
Today finally
fanfares drove
my mad penny-
whistler away
to find another
(Big buffoon
humanity with
its one tune
one repetitious
stupid dirge
of misfortune:
Enraged locals
with car-horns
at last, at last
hooted him down
tooted him out
with a group-effort
doomsday shout
Revelation stab
Saint John’s blast!
Now he’s gone
‘His Disgrace’
and I never
passed on
a good word
to his face.

Amazing Grace
at noon
Amazing Grace
at night
Amazing Grace
all day
Amazing Grace:
that’s right!


Apologies to the Wall St busker whose noble image is borrowed here.

A Tale of the Birds

snow birds1

Have you seen
birds in the snow
celebrating a holy-day
in flight? Against white
in eager flocks they stand-out
visibly overhead
more so than
against grey light.

‘Snowflakes are
feathers’, birds tell
their winged children
born from the nest
in the ignorant summer.
‘Snow falls from
the breast wise birds
know as heaven.’