Underneath this purple blossom,
The day on which we met was the greatest of my life,
Since then the better man I am,
So, too, one of those rare & lucky souls
Who realise the nature of true love.
Our lovemakings are symphonies,
Our conversations art,
Therefore, my only darling,
It would become my immortal honour
If you could consent to be my wife.
We are two white swans, you & I,
‘Gan gliding in the skyways,
Above this mortal lullaby,
‘Til Heaven ends our days.
“With elixirs of love’s resurrection
Dear Sally, let us live our love anew,
To dally in a clearer direction
Where deer-paths glisten in the crystal dew;
Deliver’d from the Halls of Correction
I sink my fallen destiny in you,
For thee my vassalage shall never err,
For thou art she who brings my life its myrrh.”
Her form is as the morning’s blithesome sun,
Capp’d by a lustrous canopy of beams,
Her face a summer cloud the heat has won,
Round which the sweetness of the starlight gleams,
Her smile the cloud that drifts a little on
& bares the breadth of beauty by the streams,
Where whispers, still, this ceaseless love for she
Who reels my heart from solace, royally.
“Song is existence!” Rilke said, & so
Upon these anvil verses I shall pour
Undertaken life-treks to the Arno
Via the Salish Sea, to hear the roar
Of heaving Pacific; beyond the Po
To Paris, also, perfumed pompadour –
A city fit to finally repose
The astral spindlings of this Silver Rose.
Thro’ all the Lothians by night we drive,
Parking at Cammo Hill; sparkling below,
In glittering Newyorkiness, alive,
An airport hums, as with an orange glow
The moon ascends, queen of the starry hive,
Distilling beams of silver, see them flow
Like warm mist over loch-face, as we slept
Dawn’s early glow-worms into spaces crept.
By sunrise we were up & soaring west,
When Sally goes off a little psycho,
Grabbing my palms she press’d them to her breast
& moist love-mound, whispering, ‘it’s my go!’
A minute later, rush’d, & half-undress’d,
We made the ‘Mile High Club’ over Sligo,
Then settl’d down, post-coital, with a beer,
In snoozy, huggy snugland, all cohere.
How fast our modern aircraft navigate
Sea-rivers where square-riggers heaving break
Oer intense ocean, as an old Ship’s Mate
Shanties sang, while the Captains pass round cake;
From Hudson Bay we hurtle state-on-state,
Below us, deep, the Angikuni Lake,
Excitement builds, with Sally on my lap,
We trace storm-speeds across th’electric map.
To travel foreign scenes, & there to write!
Truest exhilaration of the heart
Which drags its cavern-paws towards the light
& from the lizards sets its life apart;
Raineir rises to surprising height,
Lord of this fresh frontier post of mine art,
Like Ginsburg touring ‘Howl!’ in ‘fifty-five,
Our lives unhalted in these words survive.
Red sun sets in the navel of the sky
America, feet touch thy soil at last
Where Sally’s father waits with his wise eye
Intentions penetrating, holds me fast,
Him brought up upon whiskey, beefsteak, rye,
Me on John Smiths & Hotpot unsurpass’d,
Our hands interlock’d like docks take a ship,
‘Your daughter is my soul-mate,’ in the grip
Ye Cinnamons of tranquil Snoqualmie,
Thy lineage with famous blood entwines,
From Kirkcaldy’s Reverend Gillespie
To Colonel Daniel on the Rebel lines,
Whose daughter – Thankful – married happily
John William, then Cinnamon combines –
Unbroken branch of father’s sons, whose fate
In Sally’s father, here, dost culminate.
O Puget Sound! Our long haul’s patient prize
A Stillaguamish paradise, where on
Its silver strands, under changeable skies,
Warp-logs drift thro’ water-boiling salmon
& birds by the bazillion share cries
In evergreen communion; blue heron
Like pterodactyls, patter into place
Upon those pastel waters’ perfect lace.
As mostly modern marriages divide
Sally’s mother is now a Waddington,
Into Snoqualmie’s river-vale we ride,
To read awhile in Duvall, Washington,
Thro’ North-West poets; Snyder by my side,
With Stafford, Markham, Kirzer & Skelton;
Then breaking, stroll the Valley of the Moon,
Where Sally’s folks once ruled the Silver Spoon.
Three decades since, but still that beatnik den
Of laid-back men, with their better women,
Drive up to Lake Margaret’s Cherry Garden
For food & fun, & after for some jammin’
I join’d ‘em on bass for Robert Johnson,
With Sally & her ma’ in the cabin,
& by them, like a ghost, leant on a wall
Duvall’s most man beloved, Michael Ball.
Out to Seattle, Sally, at first light,
Drove us thro’ wild, high woods where birds rehearse
Songs for the noon, whose captain’s launch a flight
Of plovers oer Si’ahl’s herbiverse
To land on stunn’d & stolid skyscrape kite
Which swoops & soars oer steep streets of commerce;
Beside them sea & mountains blend in sense,
One vision, unrestricted & immense.
As working hours with dayfade must sour dim
& drouthy tongues urge us paint the city
Deep Redhawk red… we call on Sal’s pal, Tim,
Who dwells in the house where Edo Valli
Adored his Queen Anne’s Hill, whose bedroom’s brim
Was once the main bar of some speakeasy;
Where, as we danced, among Seattleites,
My tipsy Sally trips & splits her tights!
That flash of thigh, her smile & she supine,
Made lust-pool boil, twas time to find the bed
I’d book’d back home… old Highway Ninety-Nine,
Deception Pass prohibitive ahead…
On checking in we hit the Gallic wine,
As somewhere west of Holmes Harbour we led
Enmesh’d in love, flesh-lock’d ‘til breaking day
Threshes stars high across Honeymoon Bay.
‘Goodbye, my family, goodbye new friends,
Domani we two shall be in Roma,’
The first leg of our wed-adventure ends,
Sally & I sitting in Tacoma,
Watching the boys in Doyle’s Bar, as suspends
Our chronic distance, yon Oklahoma,
New York, Atlantic, Ireland & that sea
Where Ribble empties west of Bur-ne-lee!
A meteoric bolt in me instils
A city’s jazz, its booze, its free-from-care,
Soaring above Seattle’s seven hills,
A ptarmigant unleaden in the air;
As little portals of an airplane fills
With blue-sky brilliance, Rainier rare,
Below us fronds of maidenhead uncoil,
Planting our stalk of love in native soil.
Fanning the clouds, fresh from our visiting,
I felt as trav’lers do between the ports,
With past & future days inspiriting,
From molten rock we eke a living quartz,
When just to breathe air in feels riveting,
& every soul but ours seems out of sorts,
O what thing it is to sing in rhymes
& be a poet in such vital times.
‘We chose to live, dear Sally, you & I,
From fateful choice did meet, & forg’d a tribe!’
She smil’d, across her glass-reflected eyes
Cloud-visions in the Heavens would enscribe
Deep memories of Venice, & a sigh,
By clinking glasses slowly she’d imbibe
Her glass of wine, & as it down-throat swirl’d,
She knew right then she’d have to tour the world!
A thundercrack when poets meet their Muse,
When art & heartscape held in protection
By those fair willing never to confuse
Dreamy abstraction for disconnection;
To share a bed, to vivisect the news,
To lead life truly, without objection,
Are sacred to poets, as they settle
Like butterflies, on the cherry petal.
Adventurous, voluptuous, my heart
Beats with excitement, a delightful burn,
Affections pulmonary of mine art
Exploding at Italia’s return,
Too long my vision from thee set apart,
For thee & all thy fruits I still yet yearn,
In darker days when in the northern climes
Pale mists & mood do ruminate my rhymes.
We meet again, dear Roma, let us flow
Thro’ fair, imperfect streets, this time a gown
Of glories treading lightly in my tow;
I lead us to a pleasant part of town
Under the Piramide, place I know,
Temple of ancient death, there gaze us down
Upon the sod which bones & ash enclose
Of Keats & Shelley, in a sweet repose.
We spend an hour in Rome among the vaults
Of Papal saints & secrets never told,
Said Sally, ‘let’s avoid this crypt of faults
& fallacies, when faith is made from gold;’
Together, as the evening star exalts,
We trip into the Termini, we hold
Each other’s hands, we step onto the train,
We find our seats, we tender-touch again.
Tipsy from our happy grappa tipples,
Sliding up the rail-glide to Grosetto,
All at-a-once rain-drops burst in ripples,
Jagged arrow-storm; blazing inferno;
Chinks of blue; raincease; dear Sally’s nipples
Appear distinct, hair slick as water flow
Down canyon tract when crags drink deep the flood,
Enough to rouse the wild dogs in my blood!
Dawdling moments in that sphere of stradas
We sense Andrea’s ghost, whose consonance
Constructed linguistic apparatus,
Translating, with his Tuscan desinence
Moral treatises of Albertanus,
Inspiring Dante with his native sense,
Who gladly pluck’d that baton catalyst
To forge a tongue, a lyric alchemist.
Castellammare della Pescaia
Was where we saw our first Italic night
From the penthouse of the Casa Rosa,
Our veritable temple of delight,
Slicing salami sulla terrazza,
Watching the lip-gloss sun washing with light
The western skies, when under these the waves
A perfect path to paradise impaves.
As pleasure is a pleasurable thing
& love between two lovers yon reproach,
As into evening crickets sit & sing,
Our lips are warm, two moths about the torch,
With passions flashing on a febrile wing,
Her blushes fiery flushes in the scorch,
She yields that look, tho’ words were never said,
‘My Love, let us get naked, & abed!’
From wondrous lust to slumbers would we ease,
Woke with the sun up-thrilling from the hill;
On hitting twenty-seven sweet degrees
We pedal townwards on fine bicycles,
Thick cappuccinos quaff by yachtsman’s breeze
While shuffling thro’ our daily facebook stills,
Then looking up these eyes of ours did meet
As joyous as when Zeus roam’d loose on Crete.
The beach at last! When all my spuming thought
Besooth’d along paths old pilgrims send us,
Amazing scenes where swimmers beam afloat,
Unhassl’d by Rajasthani vendors,
We lay all day in luxury, & bought
Our wedding rings, like two young Eastenders
Shopping down Bow market for the marriage,
For cake kit-kats & taxis for a carriage.
Sundrunk & tipsy, sky beryl with lace,
Waves mulberry porcelain, with a twirl
Emerges Sally; body, legs & face
Dripping with sea-droplets, each a pearl;
Love forges as one, elsewhere from this place,
A breathless moment as I seize my girl
& squeeze her tight, & with one kiss demand,
We swap our silken bedsheets for this sand.
Sally, fashionista of the Bon Ton,
Undresses like a Duchess by the sedge
Of some brook’s forest bank; ‘Until Heaven
Finds a better sky,’ say I, ‘my love’s pledge
Is yours,’ with sultanas’ wept devotion
She smiles, sits down upon the quilted edge,
Patting down level space for us to be
Flesh unified in breathless ecstasy.
From morning bag-packings, very frantic,
We dash to catch the train up to Pisa,
Sitting in sweet relief while romantic
Scenes flash’d either side, spear-point chiasa
Thrust from hill-towns, sounds of Sally’s fan-click
Expanding conscious thought… O, how these are
Days of dreams, copses on a barren plain,
Full flourishing with fruit in summer rain.
With married life one wins a daily fix
Of love’s drugrush; a fish in Sally’s net
Of rarefied deportment, what a mix
Of sex & sophistication, & yet
An alluring & lascivious threat
To restful mind; but when I get my kicks
No vision of a saint, nor angel’s wing,
Could out-shine Sally as she wore our ring.
My Pisan streets, how I return to thee,
This time a wife fix’d sweetly by my side,
That like a muse comes merrily to me,
Or is she you, who gaylie deified
My youthful verse, turning to poetry,
Ye urged me on the world to wander wide,
From Tuscan marriage; Muse I sense ye still
About my mind, my woman & my will.
As step-by-step thro’ memories we trace,
I talk a tour thro’ all these youthful scenes,
My lover round my neck like fresh-cut lace
We sent a train thro’ hills of Tuscan green,
Passing thro’ Lucca at a carriage pace,
Then into Pistoia drew serene,
Molding new memories from molten gold
To remind us, to recite, when we’ve grown old.
Within a rolling ring of rising green
A city stands upright in sunlit plain,
Where once the conspirator Cataline
Did shake his spear at Rome’s eternal reign;
Into a weekend’s evening, with my queen,
I walk’d with gentle footsteps to obtain
Ambience, as Pushkin did thro’ Moscow,
Warm moments wash’d down with Casalbosco.
Thro’ shabby-chic, electric hub-hub wheel
Our feet to some fallen Contessa’s suite,
A casa with an antiquated feel,
With books & art & beds above the street;
This is the shrine where all past heartaches heal,
In all this blissful happiness & heat,
Where dressing well we hand-in-hand go out –
Pure love has bless’d us Sally, there’s no doubt.
We dine in narrow streets where market cart
Goes clunking thro’ still tables’ laziness,
With tender hand-strokes rarely far apart
We savour flavours with a shared finesse,
‘Thou votary of Venus that thou art,’
Sing I, ‘let us commence our coziness…’
Sally’s eyes, with candour unremitting,
Agreed to leave the seats where we were sitting.
With ribbons pink I hook’d her to the mesh
Of iron at the bedcrown; scarlet silk
Sheets aswathe naked skin, a Marakesh
Of tingling tongue-tips, spirits springing milk,
Her arching back, her tightenings of flesh,
The breeze of freedom; I, strong-antler’d elk
Above the glen her smooth, moist body made,
Where glisten sweatdrops in a faerie glade.
We slept tight-lock’d like gorse bush, limbs in limbs,
Then awoke in that contented glory
Which true love breeds; like cucumber with pimms,
‘We just work, dear Sally, mia amore;
Here in this land of artistry & hymns,
Where love & heart rhyme – heart is cuore –
& poet’s minds must focus on one thing…
His Muse who taught the Moon Goddess to sing!’
With vocab well-rehearsed I testify
‘Mia moglie e imbarazzato,’
I noticed Giovanni’s narrowed eye,
‘L’ultima notte ha commenciato
Sua mestruazione,’ paused I
For effect, a timely ‘Inatesso,’
&, ‘Adesso c’e sonno macchia
Sulla lenzuale,’ all said without fear.
Love blessing our romantic banishment,
Thought putting into motion, hitching trains
Without a ticket, no admonishment
Upon us pour’d, Bologna in the rains,
A flash of time, to our astonishment
We saw fair Paris sprawling oer the plains:
But overshot to Beauvais, quite aware
That’s what one gets for flying Ryanair.
Footfall in France, its foreign legion flag
Did hover high & over as we queued,
‘That guy’s got style!’ ‘How classy is her bag!’
We whisper’d, so as not to come off rude;
The coach set off along the concrete drag
Twyx high-rise environs, with joy we view’d
The city; as it swallow’d us entire
Our pulses thump’d with thunderous desire.
Paris, we love you, we do already,
More kudos than any earthly city,
Intoxicating wafts, ever heady,
Of melted, ethnic electricity,
Creating a certain soft & steady
Rapture for living life’s felicity
Sense I, but not think nor feel, as we march
Under the Arc de Triumph’s varnish’d arch.
Along the Champs-Elysees & then down
To a vibrant Tuileries, where strolls
Ms Baker, with a cheetah, into town
& Cath’rine de Medici look’d at scrolls
In which De L’Orme would consecrate her crown
Via this palace beautiful which sprawls
Beside the Seine, here Bouqinistes trade
Their antique trinkets tinkily array’d.
This busted land of sweet Lutetian airs,
Of charming boulevards & barges trim,
Of cinemas & parks, where in green chairs,
Parisians thro’ poet’s pages skim,
Thy searing beauty caught us unawares,
Like infants hearing first a holy hymn,
When most of all we loved the way plann’d we
To spend a future holiday with thee.
Somewhere in the Fifth Arrondissement
Our hotel stands, with one of Longchamps’ maps
Guiding our steps, we found the logement –
Hotel le Clos de Notre Dame – whose taps
Shone like seraphs; ‘neath timber beams, sat on
The windowsill we peer’d between the gaps
Of blinds & curtains – faces, fabric, feet –
Some champagne chandelier above the street.
That night, the best that I had ever had,
Turn’d operatic, but without a plot,
Wandering voyeuristic, golden, glad,
With Sally looking O! so fucking hot,
Where poet Antoine Houdart de la Motte
Once cast in French the early Iliad,
& Scotland’s Bonnie Prince did love to stroll,
In exile, with a mistress, in the Fall.
‘This is a place where people give a shit
About how looks their home, a fine antique
Which reeks of stories,’ ‘Sally let us sit
Awhile by Notre Dame,’ there cheek-to-cheek
We cuddl’d & kiss’d in a perfect fit,
Souls sensing, ‘c’est fluide et c’est complique,’
When every single second comes too soon,
The joys & sadness of one’s honeymoon.
Back in our chamber, touching skin, I find
Sally’s panties’ paradise, with a slant
I slip my hands between, a gentle grind,
‘Til thrusting finger pays the gold bezant
& lust delays no longer, in a bind
Of bodies, breaking silence with a pant,
Or she a squeak, or I the sunken gasp
Of climax, when we tight-as-magnets clasp.
I woke head-trembling, from better to worse,
With Sally slightly snoring, unaware,
With glass of wine & euros from her purse,
I waltz’d thro’ a city of love affairs,
Whose streets were sluggish as the Bolton Hearse
That trundles from Grants Braes thro’ silent stares,
& I the ghost of brother Burns, it seems,
A poet lost in Paris & his dreams.
I am the Silver Rose this purple morn
That clambers over roofpeaks with set poise,
This Seine, this celebration, seems reborn
In me, a poet feeling first her joys,
But amplified to grandeur by the horn
Of mankind’s pearl’d advancement, what a noise!
Shaking tremendous force thro’ vaults below –
No! that clatter was in fact the metro.
I took a seat upon the Pont Neuf Bridge
& paus’d there like a panting cicerone –
Sat in a semi-circle hermitage,
Laying my Silver Rose upon the stone,
Hard summit of Parnassan pilgrimage,
Thro’ which profound philosophies have grown
Into this verbose effigy of me;
This whimsical, immortal nominee!
For future bards & artists who have felt,
Their passions with my poetry entwine,
Then find themselves in Paris; as I’ve knelt
By Shelley’s tomb, with music & with wine;
Into this seated moment let them melt
& place a pair of roses as a sign
To passing people, centuries apart –
A poet’s quill still feeds the hushless heart!
I lived before, but now I live real life,
She waits for me beyond this easy stroll,
She’s destiny, she’s perfect, she’s my wife,
The one thing that I can & can’t control,
Who seems, sometimes, sharp as a shark-tooth knife,
Sometimes as tender as a suckling foal,
With she, the need to roam the world withstood,
Her heart my home, her happiness my blood.