Category Archives: Sonnets

The Return of the Rose

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L’INITIATA

I am the Silver Rose & in these words confide;
Far better to have lived than to have died,
& lives of highlights, which we poets lead,
Preserve them in soft pots of molten mead.

This is a selfie for the Facebook Age,
Catching its zeitgeist butterflies in nets,
Psychean constructs waltz across the page,
A blog gone viral… want to read? hen lets!

To thee I leave my sonnetrie in trust,
Dear reader, as in these I am alive,
Tho’ most of them must join me in the dust,
Perhaps the better handful will survive.

When, tho’ my soul in this no longer grows,
While we share this still lives the Silver Rose.


 

L’AMFIPARNASSO

There is a setting of the Summer sun
& in that setting Summer’s glory gone,
Progressing slowly through my younger years
A kind of British poetry appears,
A project on whose ridge I’ll stake my name,
My future reputation, & my fame,
Clear words conforming an authentic song,
Some metaphysic symphony among
These epic sagas of our mortal kind,
When poetry doth eternize the mind;
Form terse bouquets of ambisonic verse,
All closeted within the airy purse
That is this book, this box of words ye hold,
To gaze on when ye’re young, gush praise on when ye’re old!


 

MILLENNIUM LIFE

At this stage of Mankind’s devolution,
We live in an age of air pollution,
Fat-cats & taxes, taxi fares, faxes,
Serial killers, silky leg waxes,
Condoms, modems, gimmicks, gadgets, gizmos,
Two rubber ducks & comic book heroes,
Football… rock & roll… catwalk… movie stars,
Recession, depression & wonder bras,
Four packs & prozac, pylon countryside,
Anarchist daughter, schoolboy suicide,
Just-add-water, slaughter of Mother Earth,
Demise of religion, pagan rebirth,
Not one inch left of this globe to explore,
The whole world itchin’ for its third World War!


 

NOW THAT I AM TWENTY-FIVE

Now the landlords shouted, “Sup up!” at some jam night down Camden,
Time has come for me to sum up some cool shit which have done;
I have had mi share o’ ladies, & some of ’em together,
Played football round the counties proudly for mi Lancashire,
I have caught the Tallin ferry, composed poesie midst Pompeii,
Trudged through muddy Glastonbury off my nut to see Brown play,
I have master’d Fare Evasion, troubadour’d thro’ all my crimes
(Except fer one ‘boitelle du vin’ they reported in the Times),
I have watched my team at Wembley, been a champion at chess,
Dodg’d the workplace prison mis’ry, nigh six years free now from stress,
I have writ a wicked album, formed a company of kings,
Chased romantic ghosts through Belgium… these, &many other things,
For I’m flush with understanding what it means to be alive –
With a spirit so demanding now that I am Twenty-Five!


 

EXHORTATIONS

If the world that you live for is noble
& to do yer damn best is yer dream,
You must train through the pain & the rain, son,
Then you might just get in the team.

When its time to alight on the beaches
For your captain, your country & all,
When yer passion turns into yer duty,
& yer name might just hang off a wall.

Aye, c’mon, lad, you know yer can do it,
Digging deeper than you’ve dug before,
With the grace of the Gods in thy favour,
You might just win one, no matter how sore;

Yes, you might be a true bloody hero,
What the hell are yer waiting for?


 

COMMUTER LOVE

She shivers in vain under the old clock tower;
Drizzle spate, lover late, fizzling date…

“The 17.17 from Dover Priory
Has been diverted via Bat & Ball…”

She morbidly walks into Unwins,
Buys a bottle of cheap red Chianti
To take home to its depressing glass;

Tonight she’ll romance Albert Square
& a fisherman’s pie from Tescos –
Laced with white-hot jalapenos.

Then, the EUREKA knock at the door
& Terrence will stand there, slick-soaked hair,
Saying,”Sorry, Daphne, I’ve had a total nightmare!”

“Drive next time!” she’ll whisper, kissing him prodigiously.


 

ON A BUS

I step on a bus
little fuss
few passengers
watch me sit
a black woman
a young punk
old man twiddles his tash
& in a flash
the bus sets off
planes wing over London
& as we reach Holborn
my brain
pretends to be elsewhere
dreaming of mysterious fancies


LONDON

In London …
… every person, £vri person,
everí person, ever the person, evri person,
Beverly Beeson, £very person, (every person),
everí person, every per$on, iga inimene,
every person, ogni personne, Ava’s prison,
evrí person, evil curses, weather is worsening,
heavenly verses, devlish curses? chaque personne,
everí person, e^ery person, Eva’s aspersian,
£very person, <very person, ev{ry per$on,
everí mason, clever wee person, every person,

… is a passing thought!


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POET’S CORNER

Mine art estrang’d, yet beauty breathes in me,
Paints tangible dreams to adorn the page,
Illuminous thoughts to mark this dark age
Of souls laissez-faire!
Feel me rise freely
In triumph, as my song’s resplendency
Shoots a lucid star ‘cross an opaque stage,
A spirit releas’d from its mortal cage…

O! How I would die for thee poetry
In raptures receiving the sacred states
Of an enlighten’d mind, virtuous heart
And resurgent soul!
I follow the fates,
Rejoice in the exstasi of mine art,
To champion Renaissance, join the brave
Who sought the greatest glory of the grave.


 

WESTENDERS

Twas a quintessential English evening
All about town & the capital’s core,
On my arm a wonderful flutterling
Perfectly amenable to the tour.

We met in a wine-bar off Trafalgar,
To delve within a cosy eaterie,
Then took our places at the theatre
For the Mousetrap’s befuddling mystery.

O! the night brimm’d a goblet romantic
& our spirits, yes, they sparkl’d as the stars,
Rosie was a gentle alcoholic,
Floating, flirting, thro’ her favourite bars’

When to the chimes of Big Ben’s booming bells
We jump’d the last train down to Tunbridge Wells.


 

THE GENTLEMAN’S ART OF GOOD WOOING

Sir, just as sea-galleons need proper manning,
To act like a stallion needs dapper planning,
Ride out in the morning, find snappy new shirt,
Fine wine & fresh watermelons for a private desert.

Whether up in the Andes, or by the Atlantic,
Reserve a nice table with view quite romantic
For love in the city seek art, tho’ not too much,
For sitting still together allows two hearts totouch.

Well sir, to get the best out of screwing
Try the Gentleman’s Art of Good Wooing,
For a woman well-wooed in her bloom
Is a vixen when moved to the bedroom,

There kissing her neck-line with thrilling caress
Ensures her bloom’s plucking… her petals’ undress.


 

AMORETTI

There is nothing like a writhing woman
Astride the throbbing member of her man,
When both of them – in panting unison –
Upclimbing to a symbiotic scream,
Surfing all florid energies between
That first flesh-lock & silence satisfied.

Her bosom bouncing & in full control,
She rode my phallus to its full climax,
Verve of man’s primal sin, lust & romance
Express’d in its most physical conjoin,
While thrusting cunny subtly pleasures both.

Thro’ clench & kiss we learn to fall in love,
‘Til wondrous woosinesses of spent lust
Endows us both with drowsy sweetness sound.


 

ROSIE’S SCHOOL RUN

OH MY GOD! I’m having a nightmare,
Fuck, look at the fucking time!
“SHUUTTT UUUPPP!!!”
The kids are doin’ my head in
With their school-stuff everywhere,
“Here’s yer shoes, here’s yer socks,
Heres yer fuckin’ sandwich box!”
“MUMMY… don’t swear!”
OH MY GOD! Its ten to nine now,
& my car-keys JUST AREN’T THERE!

Will it rain, will mum call,
Will I end up on the dole
O MY GOD! Its five to nine now
& the traffics hits a WALL!


 

THIS IS MY COUNTRY

Good Morning Great Britain
Still great, still Britain
The sun is shining, 10:45 AM
£296.26 pence in my pocket
Time to bet it all on black & hit the road again

If time is a mere scratch & life is nothing
& nothing that occurs is of the slightest importance

From Aberdeen to Birmingham, Arundel & Deal
From Dullis Hill to Rotherham, Bristol & Peel
From Inverness to Liverpool, Leeds & Palmer’s Green
From Lewisham to Padiham & all the pubs between
From Badminton to Twickenham & Barton-in-the-Beans

‘Til my bardic breath expires

This is my Time,
This is my Rhyme,
This is my Country!


 

BRIGHTON PROMENADE

Less than an hour’s ride from London wind the bustling Brighton Lanes,
A plethora of vests & T-shirts, oriental eats,florists, flatcaps & funky beats,
Further still the shlinky streets were buzzin’ with bookshops & babes,
Clocks, calendars, creams & rings & everyone flitting around like schmetterlings….

…Thro’ the exotic Pavilion Gardens I walk, deeper into narrow streets
Past vinyl hives & vespa mopeds, botanical lives &electric threads,
Flea markets, & duvet-dappled beds as to my ears swept the sea’s dull roar,
For Brighthelmstone’s a jewel perch’d upon the rocky English shore…

…Onto the beach I tarried, where waves crashed inonto the wet, stony sands,
Today just gulls at play & a grey-haired old geezer with scarf & beret;
This is why I travel, for moments like these, melodic music & a warm seabreeze…

…I’m gliding barefoot along the promenade unto a skeletal relic,
Where barefoot on the stones, quaffing beer beside the Pier,
I watched the gull fleet sail the spangled wave.


 

TRAINING IN THE ART OF FARE EVASION
The Fader Code

1 Remain alert
2 Always keep your cool
3 Trust your instincts
4 Never show your money
5 Know your stations
6 Another five minutes won’t hurt in the loo
7 Know your enemy
8 Know your postcodes
9 The train’s going there anyway
10 When in doubt, clout
11 The train always comes when you’re skinnin’ up
12 It is every Fader’s duty to baffle & confuse
13 Always remember your free cup of tea
14 There’s no need to rush – unless you’re being chased


 

TIP NUMBER SEVEN

Pantglas Primary School
Perch’d under the Shadow of Death
Without a breath…

Morning assembly
Half-term imminent
Tsu-Na-Mi of slag

Sludge, mud, rubble,
Miners & mothers
& their mothers, clawing the sludge

Cries of babies dwindling
Just ten dug out
The rest broken-bodied

Entombed under the Shadow of Death
Without a breath


 

CAMBRIA

I enter’d Wales along its southern shore,
Pass’d many breezy towns of prime bereft;
Like Newport, Port Talbert, Haverfordwest,
Then, as I saw Saint David’s ancient spires,
The Irish Ocean met me with a smile,
Whose coast curl’d north; ghostly Aberystwyth,
Aberdovey’s dream, Harlech’s stoic stones,
Dolgellau’s mellow stream, fair Machynlleth,
Portmerions bejewell’d masonry,
Delayed my days, for this is wondrous Wales,
A David to the Saxon Goliath,
But prouder than each English heart I know,
Where, as I stood upon Glendower’s keep,
Cymru’s grey passes bash’d the flashing skies!


 

OVER GWYNEDD

I tackl’d Snowdon from the low Rhyd Ddu,
Infinite furlongs from her summit view;
The little cluster that is Liverpool
& mountain masses rustic minds enjewel,
The twinkle of the distant River Dee,
The rising lion of Aran Fawwdwy,
The quaint domain of old Dolgellau grey,
The epic sweep which keep Cardigan Bay,
Dinas Emrys & her sleeping dragon,
The castles; Flint, Harlech & Caernarvon,
The isle adjacent to th’adjacent isle
& yonder, Wicklow’s shadowy defile –
The British Isles have wrapt me all around,
Though in the heavens I still touch her ground.


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BURNLEY BOUND

Poised almost home we hiked up Kinder Scout
In early April when the branches bare,
Or glittering with leaves just starting out
Upon their quest to fumigate the air;
Away, below all mysterious moors,
Manchester rises from a distant plain,
With all its red brick misery & laws,
Its vehicles, its vapours, & its vain,
Whose city craziness I here dismiss,
For Burnley’s beddiness a day awaits,
Where first my spirit felt its mother’s kiss
Entangled in the fibres of the fates;
But now… a moment settled on a stone
A breath of wind, the heather… & alone!


 

DEERPLAY MOOR

Foxglove & thistle empurpling the trail
That modern man in motion wide discards,
It was time to return to Lancashire
Across the heights that shadow Calderdale,
& I, their poetical passenger,
Orpheus pressing hard against my sail,
& yes! It seem’d his song had form’d a gale,
Why else allude to mythic Thracian bards!

Across the fields I find the Burnley way,
Lit by those little yellow birds & bees
That lead me onto Thievely Pike, among
Such scenes of rugged beauty greening grey,
Those Pennines sweeping distance by degrees
& fading far as bards conclude their song.

Lancashire Rose

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HOME

You must know Burnley to see it’s beauty,
Twix’ Hameldon & Pendle where she lies,
Thou fertile region of the North Country,
Of bingo halls & market stalls & pies,
Of cobblestones & Bovis Homes & lanes,
Of working men & the working men’s pride,
Of balmy days & snowy greys & rains
& blatantly the world’s best football side.

You must know Burnley to see it’s beauty,
The arches & the chimneys & Turf Moor,
The stately halls of Gawthorpe & Towneley,
The station & the bus-stop & mi door –
You can keep yer New York, Delhi & Rome,
At th’end o’ day, pal, there’s no place like home!

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MI MUM’S

I breeze in, kiss mi Mum, butter some bread,
“A phone call, letter, we thought you were dead!”
“Mum, chasin’ destiny, I do great feats,
But you treat me like Abbey treat Keats!”
“Yer no son of mine get a proper job
Yer nowt but a no-good, bone idle slob!”
That same old twitterin’ in mi ear lobe,
I shit, shower, shave, raid mi Dad’s wardrobe…

Down Burnley Miners where men dodge their wives
Best bitter’s well cheap & bonhomie thrives.

“Oi thats mi shirt!” “Owdo Dad? “Owdo Son!
“How was London?” “Funny!”
…when we were done
Back at the ranch Mum’s cursing lotto numbers,
Dad’s snoring through his twelve bitter slumbers.


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MI’ DAD

Yes, I’m really glad yer mi dad, Dad,
Yer the best that a young lad could have, Dad,
Far better than the king o’ Baghdad,
Yer mi dad, Dad!

Aye, I’m really glad I’m yer lad, Dad
Cos I get to crash in yer pad, Dad
& chat to yer when I’m all sad, Dad
Yer mi dad, Dad!

Yer always so bloody well clad, Dad
& make the best eggs that I’ve had, Dad
But yer brews, bloody ‘ell, they’re so bad, Dad
Yer mi dad, Dad!

& better still, yer mi mate, mate
& I love yer, an that’s fuckin’ great!


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FIRST KISS

I was a six-year-child when first I felt
My soul entwining with the fairer sex,
Em’rald-eyed neighbor, who, one starry night
Said, “Have you ever kiss’d a lass before?”
“Of course!” I yelp’d, but grandmas do not count
& as we kiss’d she giggled at my lips
Closed shut & clamp’d by frigid innocence,
& said, “No, not like that, ya kiss like this…”
& show’d me how my mouth should act a fish.

Soon sprinting home, embarrass’d at the deed,
That never was repeated I believe,
For looking back, I was, in tender days
Contented with the kisses of grandmas
& nee-owwwwing with little Corgi Cars.


 

GANNOW TOP

I learnt to swim right at the top o’ Rosegrove
& got a ten-meter badge for mi speedos,
I was seven or so, & two years later,
Went off wi’ mi class to the baths, n’ that.

So, as I’m sat down wi’ mi mates on the bus,
A poo started moving, a real turtle-head
& instead of rushing straight to the toilet
I thought that I’d get changed first, n’ that.

Then, lo & behold, on mi cubicle floor
That self-same poo plopp’d down all goo & stinkin,’
So mi teacher made me clean the buggar up,
Then sent me to sit in the stands, n’ that,

Where I waited mi teasing classmates with dread,
But never, to their credit, was one word said!

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LOSING MY VIRGINITY

One night I saw her bra all pink & soft
& underneath, a bosom good & large,
& I began to kiss her on the neck,
Lips bobbing like a robin in the snow,
A dilettante before a women’s walls,
She commented upon my tenderness,
& led me to the lands of the undress’d,
Slipping a condom on me, & aspar
Her legs invite me in, a thrust or three,
& we were lost in rhythm, groans & gasps,
Until I came & there a man became,
Up standing before a full-length mirror
I gazed upon my body, athlete-lean,
& knew, right then, I was for fucking keen.


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ARRAN STREET

As a poignant time-lapse of the soul
Removes my child-hood street-by-street,
I brood upon an artificial meadow,
Where recently dilapidated terraces
Were brick-by-brick demolish’d, levell’d low.

Once, with life, these districts resounded,
But all is fading now, like fallen flies;
Grandmas, Grandads, Cousins, Aunties, Uncles –
A generation bounden in photographs –
Back then they laughed & cried like me & you.

My own street seems to have survived the cull –
But for how long? If others of its ilk
Were deemed ungodly, surely snobbish time
Shall banish mine beneath some grassy mound.


 
PENDLE

With a vigour that hordes the squirrel stores,
Fair sommer’s morning drives us to the moors,
Twix’ scatter’d wracks of industry’s decay
‘Tween Leeds & Liverpool made fair way,
Then to some heathen sentinel upwind.
Treading rough fields, forgotten roads behind,

Shelt’ring from northern breeze I lounge supine
On whale-back’d peak, thou solit’ry pennine,
All in the misty vale an entity;
Those auld terraced rows of Pendle City,
Whose galaxy of lights shatters the gloam,
With one of them the hearthstar of my home,

Forever, there, my spirit shall abide,
Fair feather’d by this precious countryside.


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SIR NICKY STOWELL

Nick, ‘diddliddling,’ my bestest friend,
Do you remember our eighteenth summer,
It felt that the good times would never end
& Barry Island the only bummer.

That Ynnysddu flat, weed, laughs & wimmin,’
‘Blowin’ a reefer on Salisbury plain,’
Seven chicks in Newquay, soapbar, swimmin’
Our first Glasto – you gotta go again.

Saw… Bjork’s Debut, Newport’s Supersonics,
Peer Gynt down Stratford, Burnley rule Wembley,
Massive crowd in Brixton for the Manics
& that mad, May night near Monmouth, where we
Sat with the Roses and their album new,

“Don’t think it’s as good as the first,” said you.


RIKKI DEE’S TABLE

Dick needs a table
Over the tops at Clitheroe
& its car boot country sale

Prams * jigsaws * suitcases * mothball suits
Settees * lawnmowers * crap coats * comics
& finally, a three pound table

On a wood to coinage ratio the real deal
‘Made in Czechoslovakia’ stamped underneath
Looks a bit like a bench

We bus it home, the smash & grab complete
Walk up to Healy Wood, steep from the station
Chillin’out frequently, perched upon our ‘bench’

Gazin’ on Burnley, & Townley & Pendle
Then finally home to a perfect fit!


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AMSTERDAMINNIT

We trawl the long-haul of the motorway
& pick up more pot-heads past Birmingham,
Jelly wobbles on the waves to Calais,
Mojo pukes in the lowlands near the ‘Dam.

We rush to relax in the smoky cafes;
Try Purple Haze & buy Sensemelia,
Each stella & space-cake skanks up the daze
Of a mushroom-gilded psychedelia.

We tram through ‘Dam to the sleezy district,
Pluck up Dutch courage for ‘Sucky Fucky,’
Crack head whores slink at doors, wink’d to be pick’d-
Its a shame when you pay to get lucky…

Skunked-up, smashed to fuck, zombie bus, bongtubes,
Grass stashed up Nicky’s ass, Richie’s itchy pubes.


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CLUBBINIT

“Reyt, where’s next?”
“West Bams on at the Orbit…”
“…Nah man, too late…”
“…TheHac’…”
“…Nah, the beers shit…”
“…Sankeys…”“…Nah man, it’s closed down…”
“…Wigan Pier…”
…Nah, man, their stellas are well properdear…”

“…Lets hit Blackpool, find a cheap B & B,
& pick up some chicks from a Hen Party…”

“…Nah, bin there, worn the crap hat, c’mon team,
Let’s go unleash these libidos down Cream!”

Razzin’ the freeway, babblin’ ‘bout the Dam,
With techno bangin’ Bam-Bam-Bam-Bam-Blam!

“Mint mix, Richie,” “Yeah, Angels ninety-six!”
”…Ee-yar Damo”  “…Ta Mojo, Oos next”… “Nicks!”

We park near the nightclub,
“Owdo lasses!”
Floozies cruise by,
“Hey cuties, nice asses!”


 

SAINT PETER’S FIELDS

Twyx Peterloo and Amritsar are passed a hundred years,
Islands of violent massacres, from oceans made of tears
They rise on rocks of dignity:- love, liberty and pride,
When desperate humanity despotic thugs defied,
When blunt and drunken yeomanry shed mothers’ blood, with child,
Saints of seditious tragedy society restyled,
Their murders ever worship’d in the wake of centuries,
Deep fervours hangin’ off the walls of holy galleries.

Not Shelley, even Ghandi, ever had our age foreseen,
When strange evolving tyranny still keep the laymen lean,
When opioids are funnel’d in to feed the phrenzied rich,
When soul restraining mortgages wounds struggle us to stitch,
While poverty’s addictions yet afflict the wider world,
The masses work is not yet done, let banners be unfurl’d.


 

SALLY CINNAMON

Its High-Midnight… Dirtytheivinscouseland,
We swagger four abreast, wild North-West band,
Slip to the front of the coach-loaded queue,

“We’re extras in Hollyoaks!”
& slink through.

Bass boom, big beats, laser lights, neuro-surge,
‘She’s fuckin gorgeous!’…satyrian urge
Sails me thro’ a sea of juicy bootie.

“If I said you had a sexy body….” *

Fate plays a Soul Mate, our ships run aground…

I smile,
She smiles,
I touch her silky hand,
Storm-lightning crackles, at long last we’ve found,
The key to life, in this we understand
The machinations of the Gods above….

A kiss, & in one moment fall in love.
*… would you hold it against me


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ON COMING TOGETHER

I’ll never pass another night
As sweet as ours was yesterday,
When all the world was set aright
& Angels play.

Tingling, romancing, dancing tongues,
Went tender twisting, while your eyes
Contentment shone, we heard the songs
The Seraphim devise.

When like the running of a race
We reach’d the rope, there souls unpent;
& stroking trembling thighs, your face
Show’d passion spent!

Aye, lass, we set the world aright
While Angels play’d.


THITHER THE ABOVE

O knightly lights of heaven, star on star,
You never shone so beauteous, we are
The work, perhaps, of some astral being,
Or am I him now I am the all-seeing
Acolyte of the lost art of the skies,
Painting Orion & the Geminis,
Musing upon those long, eternal days
Soar shooting stars, trailblazing my amaze,
Mix’d with the phantom-llumin’d Milky Way
I saw, I swear, the Seraphim at play,
Dancing between the planetary kings;
Lord Jupiter & Saturn’s eerie rings,
Venus is beaming streaming dreams of love
Sweetheart come hither, thither the above.


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LOVE’S DAWN

My love, as our love is spreading wider than the morning
Together, with waking day, in the wake of night
Let us settle in silent ecstasy
Observers of cities below                           Watching
From this high advantage                         Developing
On heath, up hill,                               Enveloping moments
As one                                          For like a flight of swallows lift
On ocean winds, above the isles                                     We touch
Soft spirits sail higher                                      Eyes committing
Pleasure beckons                                       Mercurial kisses
We smile                     As kitten paws a mellow mouse
The lion roars inside these feral souls
& we are born again, the music of the morn
Accompanies these energies love’s mysteries supply

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The Rose Goes North

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ON RYDAL MOUNT

There comes a time for mental reflection,
When a man turns forty-two, forty-three,
Burning brazen youth to circumspection.

I wander’d as a cloud with wee Daisy,
Thro’ Grasmere, on a January morn,
Just me, her, & Dawn’s first fell-top fancy.

Those moments saw a memory reborn
Of Wordsworth strolling gaily to Townend,
Dreaming of Mary & the Matterhorn.

A little later let the world ascend
Up steep-slop’d Rydal Mount, in thought enshrin’d,
Above the waters, as the clouds suspend,

Eternity has won us in a bind,
With snow-hoary King Norse sky-flung behind!


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CALEDONIA

Sing the sonnets of a nation,
Famous in her rightful station,
First mistress of Britannia’s face,
Where Pictish clansmen merge in race
With Viking, Angle, Celt & Scot,
Forever kept in tangl’d knot,
That such a spangl’d nation fills
Beyond the three-prong’d Eildon hills,
Thro’ Stirling & beyond Orkney,
There is a stretch of endless sea,
Where only Shetland parts the wave;
Brave men nam’d thee Scotland the brave,
Of ancyent race & noble kind,
More than a place, a state of mind!


 

PAISLEY

I’m cringing every time I see a garish Paisley tie,
I’d just popp’d hungry into Greggs a hottish pie to buy
& chose a steak & kidney offer’d up for ninety pee,
I took the pie, she took the change & said, “It’s ninety-three!”
I said, “Love, that’s false advertising,” stormin’ out the door,
But never mess with Weegie Birds, they’re all fuckin’ hard-core,
& leaping from her hum-drum she pursued me down the street,
Looking as if an earthquake were shaking a slab of meat,
& panting now beside me squeez’d the pastie from my hands,
Smugging with satisfaction at her petty jobsworth’s stand
& turns her tail in triumph, as back to her shop she skips,
You coulda balanced ninety-three bridies on thosefat hips,
Then looking down on what was left, my skin all bruis’d with mince,
I thought I’d catch the first train out – ain’t ever been back since!


Glen Coe.jpg

GLEN COE

Before Glen Coe’s ghostly & ghastly peaks,
Lost Merlin lochs of savage Rannoch Moor
Move the soul to tears… what challenge surmounts?
Inviting topaz slopes, we park the car,
Pop a wee pill & begin the ascent,
An arduous climb, at first with no fear
& then with no choice as danger fills the way,
Soaked deep to the bones, soon greeted by our aim,
O perfect precipice, perching beneath the clouds
We pause a fine moment, eyes keen to the skies,
My love, these are the days of our lives,
World-keltering vista… East… West… breathtaking
But rains closing in now, lets begin the descent,
We bare-chested hill warriors in the breeze.


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SALLY’S SILKY KISS

What is more beautiful than Knoydart in the Spring?
More lovely than the thrill, dawn’s wee Storm Petrels bring?
Dancing, perchance, along to sylvan seraph strings?
Perhaps, or sat among wee faeries in their rings?
Deeper than heart sublime, tender than all of this,
I fade & pass the time ‘til Sally’s silky kiss.

Ah! Sally’s silky kiss, the taste still lingers long,
A surge of perfect bliss; of lips & teeth & tongue,
Feel Cytherea rise as spirit centers meet,
My Danae in disguise, how can life seem so sweet,
Complete, & in my mind, behind the half-closed eye,
Fair waters as I find forever passes by.

Tho’ sun & moon eclipse, tho’ flowers fragrant petal,
By Sally’s silky kiss, what is more beautiful?


 

SKYE BY NIGHT

I found myself on the edge of civilization,
Not Tierra del Fuego or frozen Archangel,
But Portree, place to be, ‘metropolis’ of Skye,
Two thousand Highlanders sheep dip high,
Europe’s second highest suicide-rate amang
Those young & blooter’d men.

The port seems far too quiet as we are drawn
To a clishmaclaving ceilidh at the Gathering Hall,
“Can we have a drink?” “I’m afraid ye cannae!”

Sally hands me the flyer
18th annual Isle of Skye
Alcoholics Anonymous gathering –
Tonight’s theme… Tolerance

…& the place is heaving.


 

SKYE

As Kestrels surf the mountain-fringed spaces
Road twists between saturnine gargants,
Romantic mounds of monstrous magma,
Marvelous munroes of aulden minstrel-song,
Lost in the moment, eyes keen to the skies,
Hard traveling unravels, sailing above us
Silver-fire mists of the sylvan alpine rise,
& beyond, entering the stunning scope
Of another planet, another Jupiter,
Sodden expanse of treeless waste,
But beautiful land, stupendous Cuillin hills,
Seats of Titans, where thrusting solar shafts
Induce startling notions of timelessness
Here there is no time, only milky flowing waterfalls.


 

NORTHERN SUNSET

As times have swung again to strike the road
My eldritch muses glean a glint of gold
Perhaps a mile away, perhaps abroad,
Shall I be searching still when I am old?

How gorgeous is the red sun as she sits
Upon the haunch of Hoy, the Pentland Firth
As glass tonight, no epic pitch of wits
Twyx oceans girdling all this happy earth.

A bannock moon hangs over John O Groats
& Dunnet Head us summons to a path,
That leads down from this pinnacle of sorts
Along the sea-bashed coast to wylde Cape Wrath.

Aye, let us seek our rosaries once more
Tomorrow, yon the dreich Duncansby Bore.


 

FINDING FOCUS

We were strolling thro’ Thurso hunting for food
When I had one of those mad moments,
This black dude brushes past me talking Japanese
On his phone, & I’m like what the hell,
That’s incongruousness incarnate, innit?
Then, from behind, this guys’s peddling his bike,
Wobbling about like a right proper nob-head,
& every five seconds his bike went <CLICK>
& I’m like, fer fucks sake, what was I thinkin’ again?

There is no such thing as matters of abject slightness,
The smallest drop of rain can feed a bush,
Bushes feed a shrew, shrews make falcons’ feast…
…and so on, until man begs at the conference of angels,
Squatting under tables for scraps.


 

BALNAKIEL

Eurasia, Eurasia, from tip to toe,
Men may wander thee forever in vain,
From the sensuous sierras of Spain,
To the towers of spangling Tokyo,
Men have stumbl’d thro’ Siberian snow
To the jungles where Ganges parts plain,
Enough to send a troubadour insane,
For Shangri-La a myth most never know.
Yet, here lie the shores of Arabia
& the fjords of the Skull-helms of old,
Here, an angel-throne’d high Himalaya,
There, a castle of Prince Leopold,
For here be defining Eurasia,
Reminding us with weathers manifold.


 

WHEN HONEYPAWS MET SYLVERMANE

Let us scamper under Munroes
As the rivers thro’ them move,
There all this love for you girl
‘Midst the mountains I shall prove.

Lets us skip along the loch banks
Where the coupling salmons leap,
In the heat of highest summer
Lie two lovers sound asleep.

Let us waken with the moondrift
As she shingles thro’ the glen,
Energizin’ haelan’ songsmiths
For a fireside tale or ten,

When, love, we’ll wander onwards,
Under Munroes, once again.


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THE HIGH ROAD

The sun has set as steer & stereo
Accompany the roads to Samarkand
& I sing back, renewed lothario
Opens a page, pulling his pen to hand;
Enough light is there in this lovely glow,
Lighting the mountains of a clansman’s land,
Some stoic slept, some capp’d with blocks of snow,
Being a region ancyent eagles spann’d,
The muse now omnipresent as we go
Past Inverness & Perth, as paths were plann’d,
Soon moon-diffusing clouds pale lights bestow
On epic structures looming gloom & grand,
Where through these rough sea coss-winds all ablow,
We cross the Forth for fair Queensferry strand.


 

MESOLITHIC CRAMMOND

Twelve thousand years ago Crammond was swept by a higher sea
Where on the beach our ancestors eked out a winning existence
Living embodiments of the migration of intelligence
“The proof is in the pits of nut-shells!” mutters archaeology
Paleolithic, Neolithic, whatever they may be
Flint tools were used, stone arrowheads flew, so they must have had some sense
More for practical eventualities, not to please futurity

Mankind is older than the dust of lost forgotten cities
& the monkeys & the dogs & the lizards we all once were
There is a wondrous common-ness to which all creation must answer
A pond of ancient memories, you can hear them in the ditties
Sung by blind bards, & in the Spring when deep down we remember
Being those plants gasping for life across thirsty, frozen tundra
Like a baby turning towards the milky breast of his mother!

The Lothiad

CALTON HILL

I am the Silver Rose,
& with these streets shall fuse,
To etch my gift in rhyme;
For as my starbreeze blows,
This still provokes the muse
To join us, for a time!

She, for a time, shall serve
My lines twyx every wynd,
Thou heart-pulse of the realm,
Swan flight of Scotia’s verve,
By Eldritch dream design’d,
Some hell-witch at the helm,

In dragon’s furnace born,
By faerie fingers worn!


 

EDINBURGH ZOO

When Noah’s Ark left two-by-two,
They’d hurry back in if they’d knew
They’d one day end up in a zoo
For all the fucking world to view;
The Wolverine, the Kangaroo,
The Lesser Spiral-Horn’d Kudu,
The Chimpanzees in pirate crew,
The Turacoo of violet hue,
The coarse-quill’d, stiff-claw’d, casque’d Emu,
Flies flocking to the Rhino poo,
The Pygmy Hippo, & what’s new
The Ocellated Turkey too!

I climb the walls, midst human herds,
An Alcatraz of Beasts & Birds!


EDWIN MORGAN AWARDS

A gift it is to leave a legacy,
Decanting lipless ghosts into a room,
Who wander with rapacious clemency
Among the pearl-eyed maulers by the tomb.

Drawn to this fabric garden of the North
By soft retiring voices on the green,
They sing to me, this sextet, funnel’d forth
Thro’ judges sate admiring, smiles serene;

They speak to me, these paragons of youth
In lyrical semantics, midnight-hewn;
From dreams they fashion’d poems, born from truth,
Unfetterd by presaging Lady Moon,

Her bauble gleam… thro’ dark, serrated skies…
Thro’ hearts endors’d… words vault aerated eyes!


 

PORT O’ LEITH

Swamp’d in a sea of impedimenta,
Scuzzily creative,
All classes of late-night characters converge
For what can only be call’d an UBER-RAVE,
All watch’d over by the diligent eye
Of the indisputable Queen O’ Leith.

What magic myst’ries in her mistress eyes,
Puzzlingly elated,
Still sumptuous in style, Scotch Lady Ga-Ga,
Like a mixture of the new Leith & the Old,
Better than Bet Lynch & Betty Moss put together
& a lady to be serv’d by;

Pamplona to Napoli, Galway & Colne,
It’s definitely the maddest pub I’ve supp’d in.


 

OLD TOWN

t o                         o t
r *          f                  l       * h
a            *         m   d        *             i
e                       *       i        *                    a
h                             *   to  *                           n
h                  17     *     llboo     *     36             n
e                      *             th             *                   a
a              *                                          *            i
r      *                                                   *   h
t                                                  t
o                                   o
f                      l
m        d
i

 


 

RABBIE BURNS

There is a certain knack to becoming an immortal;
As Orpheus’ heartbeat passes thro’ Pluto’s portal
& Burns arriv’d at Baxter‘s Close, by Lady Stair’s fine house,
Singing of reeking haggises & a wee tim’rous mouse,
When, even on that first mad day, he copp’d a‘gardy-loo,’
Went shit-caked, wand’ring city streets, without a bloody clue,
He knew if he could sing his songs the world wassure to hear,
So, as oor sweet Sordello fell on Johnnie Dowie’sbeer,
With enough space for a fiddle, him just like theArgo’s cox,
He beats enchaunting rhythm thro’ his native tides &rocks,
Eftsoons, at Mrs Carfrae’s door, his destiny wouldstand,
“Your little book of poetry the gossip of the land!”
That night the muse came calling as oor bardie’s pen address’d
Verses to fluff his new edition, both Edina-bless’d.


 

ON HACKING OUT THE GODODDIN TRAIL

O for a walk along a printed line!
Remove the vagueries of random paths,
For when we from the city disincline,
Reach for soul-peace away from public baths!

There’s so much pleasure in a trodden route
That stays unhidden in the memory
Of generations, perrennial fruit
Ripens afresh ever-exemplary.

With each footstep a sort of hypnosis
Descends like manna on the pacing host
That enters into cute symbiosis
With nature, rills & forest, hills & coast,

And history! The ghosts go with us too,
Enacting deeds, phantasma in the dew.


 

VALIDATION

A diamond in the Dawn that clears the rains,
I early woke in scintillating sun,
By Yester drove… Carfrae, then Garvald Mains…
The only man alive in Lothian.

By Morham blossoms mingle with the greens,
By Renton pigeons play daredevil games,
Then drop into most favour’d of field scenes,
Of rapeseed tips lush-flipping into flames.

On Garleton ridge, by gorse exploding gold
I choose to think eternal, we who choose
To store zeitgeist, ghosts raise, futures unfold,
All for that rose-raked token of our muse;

From Fate’s outstretching fingers all comes clear,
Good lord! I am a Silver Sonneteer.


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A DAY IN THE LIFE… OF LOVE

We talk’d last night
& after we made love
I read to you the Lao-Tse Tung;
In my voice rose ancyent chimes,
Funell’d thro’ the Jiayuguan Pass
In elegant simplicity –
Lass, after we made love, I cherish’d thee!
*
Night comes again,
The drift of day deserts us,
The dusk is all that matters now, my love,
The light is dimming, but thine eyes are bright,
As cradl’d in these arms
You smile to me once more,
Love, let us talk again.


 

TRAPRAIN LAW

Elevated by the Votadini,
We scrambl’d up the Laccolithic side,
Found picture frame three-hundred-sixty wide,
Elating vision to a sweet degree.

Under rocks of volcanic pimplerie;
Dunbar, East Linton, Haddington abide,
Fields reach the Forth, soft beaches spread beside,
Or lonely Lammermuir where thought soars free.

I cast mine een along the Garleton ridge
To settle on a far-off Forth Road bridge,
Little with distance, misty like a ghost.

This is the length of Roman Lothian,
A noble home my roaming soul hath won
To recollect when Britain miss’d the most.


 

HEATHER LODGE

There was a time I felt compell’d to race
Round London at a hundred miles an hour,
Hopping twyx train & bus, but now my pace
To footstep slows.
Fuell’d by pureself power
I’ve noticed, here, the needlessness of car,
Walking between East Linton & Dunbar,

I feel so… so alive… fresh country pile
By Whittinghame, beyond the Baro gloom,
For zephyrs bless me with a certain smile
Erewhile fate blows!
As cottage smoke-curls plume,
Tho’ yesterday craved I city bustle
I just heard a gnat’s wing in a rustle.


PRESSMENNAN WOODS

Feel the feeling on the edge of summer,
Hours before your first foggybummer,
April, perhaps, or March on a good year,
Out on the tracks with the shy pregnant deer,
Wearing that hat that you’ve worn all winter,
Skimming thro’ Plath or the plays of Pinter,
Warming each pace in your courdoroy clothes
As petals do abud before the rose.

As all at once we lessen from our haste
& cardigans are tied about the waste,
We soonest feel, upon the naked arm,
A zephyr-waft; so soft, so cool, so calm
& I shall follow them wher e’er they will
Free spirits, ‘til the first Autumnal chill.


 

SUMMER VISTA

Upon the steep slopes of Spott Dod
I sat, observing as a God
Surveys creation, all below,
Thro’ fields sunburnt by summer’s glow,
The London train creeps past a car;
The wavy mane beside Dunbar
Grew angel blue, no northern sea
In glassy, grey conformity,
But more an Adriatic Bay,
Ecstatic with this cloudless day
& I above it with the sheep,
Some rustic Croat half asleep,
Dreaming where men have rarely trod
Upon the steep slopes of Spott Dod.


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The Thistle & The Rose

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HOME

This land so very different from the map,
Whose shades of green & grey fail to divulge
The beauty of this place I now call home
I now call home, these words unreal to hear,
How many times I sing them to my mind,
If this is so, I must now be prepared
For all eventualities life keeps,
But balanced in my years let fear subside,
My body following its shining soul,
For she has led me safely here thus far,
Where now I feel a Caledonian,
Sent here by love, by love deposited,
Sensing a while yet I have to remain,
For in this place & time three things converge –
An art, an artist & his heart’s ain surge.


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DEAR SALLY

you         are
poetic     clever
sensual-amusing
sweet-sassy-sharing
warmhearted-caring
adorable-decadent
funny-joyloving
inspirational
kittencute
o baby
I love
you
so
!

 


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ONE THOUSAND KISSES

How much do I adore thee?

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A thousand kisses worth!


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IMPERFECT LOVE

You’re not perfect babe
But I love your imperfections
I love the way we’ve been fucking all day
& your orgasm is lasting hours
& I’ve just found a last ounce of strength
& you say, ‘O Darling’
I just can’t do it anymore,
& I’m left listening to your dream-breath
Thinking of fucking you
Instead of fucking you
& I love that
& I love you
You’re not perfect babe
But it’s your imperfections that I love

 


GLOOMINATIONS

There moves a motion within every artist’s life, irrefutable,
Hauntingly beautiful, as when Tommy Wiseau dreamt his ‘Room,’
Mine came with Sanskrit measure’s entry into conscience cosmic focus
One evening’s peace, observing brown bats pinging from Heather Lodge,
Like stormbolts from an Indian god – but of these gods knew nothing,
Tho’ sensing them summoning me, some spirit beyond religion…
I gaze at Sally glancing me on the sails of transitional meaning.

Bats came back at Dawn, woke me with a scratchy chit-chat,
So off to purple Lammermuirs I go with a thousand thought-strands;
All passing place pepper’d, White Castle’s wind-blasted eminence,
Spartlelton, Whiteadders wind-waves; salubrious Longformacus…

As I met Sally down Gifford I pain’d for a love now different,
And I could smell Cupid’s dark agents sharpening knives for tortures –
Thus blows the balance deferential betwyx love, muse-love, & ambitions!


WHAT BLEEDS FOR FIVE DAYS & DOES NOT DIE?

She moans about her hormones every second week in four
Goes clattering the cutlery & slamming every door
Like when we yearn’d tranquility, then found a paradise,
But she was full of PMT & said, “It’s not THAT nice,”
Yet women are man’s reason, so when swings the pendulum
Put on your safety helmet for the fireworks to come,
She sulks & yells, her belly swells, her paranoia grows,
Now fear the snarling werewolf where you once could smell a rose,
Cos’ women synch up to the moon, thats just the way things are,
So never say “irrational,” or let her drive the car,
& if you feel frustrated in a very vocal war
Letting your lady win will just infuriate her more;
But when the fun is over, son, there’s one thing you should do –
Embrace your woman, kiss her lips & whisper, “I love you!”


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LOVE’S REPOSE

Ah Sally! Sweet Sally Cinnamon, hear!
Even now, after all that we’ve gone thro’,
From halycon highs to those awful lows,
The fact we chose to share together
Repose in Scotia’s fertile land; where fruit
Grows wild; remember gooseberries were found,
Where Falcons vie with Crows to claim the sky,
Where vista-on-vista splendidly glows
Before eyes remember them when they close,
Where Whittinghame Water flows carefree,
Free as these souls of ours; suppose they met
When they were sleeping, as windy fate blows
Life grows, so rose us from dim city streets
Like poesy from prose, come cherish this truth.


 

YESTERDAYS

“Do you remember the good old days?” asks Sally,

“The good old days were SHITE!” I reply,

“Just four television channels
The pubs shut at eleven
TV over by midnight
ZX spectrum games taking ages to load
& all that poverty & austerity
‘We were happy,’ people said
But we weren’t really,
Just ignorant & oblivious to progress!”

“I meant me & you,” says Sally,
& I think I see a tear in her eye.

“I do,” I say, “I do very much!”
& hugg’d her as a lover & a friend.


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MOODY BLUES

The spirit of romance is with us,
A man a woman & a dog,
Listening to sea-girt, violin concertos.

The weather turns unsettl’d by Tintallon,
Globs of gallivanting gulls, dancing waves
& this single black eagle…

Senses shatter’d by a drunken Seattleite,
I mean… Sally + PMT + alcohol
Equals hell-sent banshee hell-bent on fury.

Relationship psychobabble pierces our nirvana
“We could have stay’d at home to have a row!” say I,
But she keeps on scowling.

I slink to the tent, leave her staring out to sea,
A fisher-widow searching for her long-drown’d love.


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LOVE’S TRUTH

As chemistry glues people together,
However great or toxic love may be,
Relinquishing the flight of the feather,
Let us ride this stormy weather, you & me.

As like that lone fuggazi on the sea
Which saw poor Shelley’s galley torn in two,
Its pilot haunted by the memory,
Oft fled in fretful thought, like me & you,

To troubl’d shells our turtle minds withdrew,
Where I observ’d thee when you were withdrawn,
Searching your soul for something bright & new
& with that search a chance to be reborn!

If that is so, my love, I shall depart,
& rest these bitter testings of this heart.


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Linkey Lea festival

LEAVING LOTHIAN

I came, I saw, I ceilidh’d with the Scots,
Veni… vedi… a private victory,
My lady swooning to wild lily-knots,
Oor homestead settl’d in serenity,
Soaking in Scottish sensibility,
Itching beyond mere whistle binkie bards,
I strove for all that’s good in sonnetrie,
Woodwound, museyon the New Town boulevards,
Seertitle shining thro’ the teller’s cards,
What Lothiads dolphin’d across the stage,
Sturdy as Napoleonic grognards,
Peerless as pioneers upon the page,
As with a host of sonnets safe in store,
From Rydal Mounts must makars take their tour.


 

DEPARTURES
 
As planets, in their stolen orbits, sway
Enfizzl’d by the sun’s eternal day,
Thus so the dark emotions of the heart,
Tis best two broken lovers cleave apart;
So, let me go, some Rama far from Seeta –
On second thoughts, maybe I’m yet to meet her.

As Autumn’s vegetation makes decay,
Down Goldenacre-Warriston’s pathway,
I see the sun rise up on Arthur’s Seat,
To silhouette the city’s spinal street;
This is, I think, a hint of things to come –
Like Sufi’s singing Sindhi to a drum.

What joy it is to hit the roads this morn,
Rejuvenated, soul-spruc’d & reborn.


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ODE TO SCOTLAND

Well I’ve been here for years, but it’s time to do one,
I’ve sank a load of beers & I’ll thank ye for the fun,
Spinnin’ thro hootenannies with a bonnie halean howl,
Purrin’ with pretty pussies on an m-cat prowl,
I’ve driven round Loch Lomond, walk’d five hundred miles yon Tain,
Gone roamin’ in the gloamin’ wrapped in midge-proof cellophane,
I’ve organis’d four Jock Stocks with a need to make ye dance,
& scampered up yer Cuillin rocks as mountain mists advance,
I’ve mused thro’ an Ediniad of sonnets Reekie round,
The best nights that I’ll ever have with best friends that I’ve found,
But something in a poet’s soul must sail his craft abroad,
To leave behind the rock n roll, when lightening the load
They’ll furrow forth down foreign streams, forgetting never they
Those places full of god-sent dreams, like Garvald & Carfrae.

La Rosa D’Argento

IN AEREO

Tis a fabulous day to be soaring
Over England & her summer-bronz’d fields,
Her towns & cities shaped like knitted shields,
Then… over the Channel’s kitchen flooring.

Old Antwerp passes under in a ring,
With Amsterdam a pleasure to behold,
Huge cumuli glide under glinting gold,
As Europe’s plains bytrundle under wing.

From cloudy masses rank & file emerge
In polka dot procession to the Alps,
Stones tumble upwards ‘til their snowy scalps
Upstrain to touch us with a granite surge,

When… all at once… our spirits flurry free
Above the orange rooves of Italy!


 

LA SCALA

There is a way to make a poor man rich,
Bedazzle him with beauties, to distill
Life’s quintessential essence, without which
Drouth drains the inkwell, uncouth cracks the quill!
Yes, set him free, some large & open hall,
Where from the soft & guileless rise of strings
Both passing urchins & the wealth-set stall
Rais’d on adagionic angels’ wings;
Then let him listen synasthesean,
Turning to worderie those mimesi,
Which bubble from the orb’d empyrean,
Wall’d-workshop of a makar’s primal eye;
Where listening to some lush-string’d Quartet,
The Mousai bless him with ae fond bousette!


 

ADRIATICA

Serene afternoon… the streets of Rab are quiet, the stones
I step on as smooth as silk – the sky cloudless, deep azure,
Collar turned up I begin an ascent, the terrain
A plethora of white, jagged, quartz-like stone.

Half-way up the yellow, flower-trumpet dotted peak
I gaze back on an island, evergreen forest-realm
Silky-still lagoons, snow-capp’d mainland mountains
& Rab’s marble township jutting out like luxury liner.

My ears strain for noise, relieved by buzzing fly,
& bleating phalanx of sheep, led by rustic Croat
Whose rocks usher stray ewes & lamb back to the flock.

As the sheep disappear I resume my scrambling climb
Up this lizard-strewn gully to the stony summit, & feel
Some mighty wind thundering across a thousand islands.


 

LETTER FROM LORETO

O Sally if ye’d come to Italy,
Some honeyfly upon a Tuscan eve.
Beneath these happy stars we could conceive,
Join life-threads in a living tapestry;

Then to this Papal shrine our love I’ll lead,
Where Lord God’s salvific omnipotence
Shines thro’ this Black Madonna’s soft presence,
Where pleas of budding mothers angels heed.

How quiet are the walls of Nazareth
Beneath Maccari’s frescoed dome sublime,
Here let us two entwine our hearts, our breath
& ask for little life to bliss our time.

Where pinning sacred ribbon to thy breast
Our triduum, we hope, by dio blest!


RECANATI

Into Gagliole the ticker-train drew,
Scenes full of secrets fresh vistas renew,
Poetical delight!
Citta del molto chiase ahead
I have hope, I have wine, I have shoes, I have bread
& I have appetite!
Siamo amiche, Guiacarmo Leopardi,
Vedo la sua mura, gli archi e le colonne,
& belvedering bliss!
Where, desiring infinity in an astro mirabil,
Il pensier del presente do race & reel,
As amorose kiss!

As nationhood creates its native forms,
Into my mind new predeliction storms.


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MEMOIRS

I was an eight-year-old Burnley boy when I wrote my first lines,
& the next lot would not come until Carlisle College ten years later;
So, full of song, I went to Barnsley, to leave a budding poetaster,
Perusing Byron under pines in the pleasant parks of Portsmouth,
From there I found the Silver Rose one glorious sunset over Portovenere,
To return a spirit dedicated to the ancyent art of poetry.
Explorations of my nation followed, all corners of England’s garden,
Finding myself directed by the driving lights of Calliope & Clio,
Who open’d up the sonneverse of grand sequanza galaxies,
Fourteen clusters of sequanzas each made up of fourteen stars,
Every stanza is a planet, every line is musical terraforma –
Twas strange to sense the harmonies between poetry & physics,
Epiphanies that paved the way for exhibitions of epic sonnetry,
Before tripping here to Tuscany to crown these youthful years.


CAMPALDINO 


Across the sheer Consuma Pass the Papal Guelfs did steer
To permeate the Poppi plain, the Ghibellines appear,
Noble Swabian lineage with rival war ensigns,
Amplified by Catenaian Alps & spangling Apennines;
The sun had risen muggy on Saint Barnabas’s day,
Where over Verna, Francis of Assisi’s hands did pray,
Dante Alighieri, far beyond his metaphors,
Stood in the first line of the Guelfs, the fearless Feditors,
Facing the dancing enemy, & yes he was afraid
Protected by Apollo many mortal parries made
As now the Pavesari wrap around the fading foe
Who drop their shields & fled the field, splashing thro’ the Arno,
The Guelfs did claim a victory & furthermore the pride
‘Come Dante,’ said Boccacio, ‘Let us to Florence ride!’


 

CASALINO

More tranquil than the murmour of a rose,
The piazzas of Pratovecchia,
Bethlehem-twinned, harbour a sweet repose,
Calm cluster shepherds call Casalino –
Here Dante mused upon his fifth canto,
For Paulo & Francesca tears did pour,
Mixing with the streamlings of the Arno,
Flowing to ev’ry Italian shore –
A place to set poesia in store,
Where sacred sisters break the ancyent bread,
There, summoned by the grunting of wild boar
Into a place where feet have seldom tread,
Not life nor history shall help mine art,
Just fragrant music of the valley-heart.

Pui tranquilo del mormorio della rosa, la piazza di Pratovecchia, Betlemme-gemellare, rifugio una villagio dolce, amosso calmo il pastori chiamato Casalino – Ecco Dante meditato il suo cante cinque, Lacrime versate per Paulo & Francesco, Mescolato con il fiumicello giovane del’Arno, Scorando a tutta la riva d’Italia – Un posto per consevara la poesia, Dove les suore sacreto spezzanno il pane antico, La, convoco presso il gruniri dei chingialo selvaggi, Dentro un bosco dove un piede ha calpestato raramente, Non vita ne storia auiteranno la mia arte, Solo musica fragrante del cuore delal valle.


 

GRAN

As Dante found himself in some dark wood
My soul has been tormented since ye died
But holding back time’s tears, my weary flood!
I waited for your light to be my guide.

As Virgil took step with the Tuscan bard
Thro’ Hell’s inferno to the face Divine
I travel’d far & tho the way was charr’d
I climb’d a peak & waited for a sign.

About, the bells of church & cattle sound,
As I pursue the dry bed of a stream
My sad heart breaks! An ickle trickle found
Lit by the leafy sunbeam-dappl’d gleam.

These highest headwaters of the Arno
Scatter’d her ashes in the flashing flow.


 

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VALLOMBROSSA

D rawn to Florence I found myself alone,
A rch-festival, Savonorola’s fame
N umb’d parch’d senses, searching for quietude
T here came to me a lane & little church –
E scaping to the reign of Beatrix
A n apparition clad in priestly robes
L ed us to Vallombrossa’s skiey pines
I nstinctive, as when the Sacred Poet,
G od-adulating, mused to abbey-bells,
H oping for glory, since those soften’d strolls
I talians forever taste his tongue
E ’er tingling in his song-like harmony,
R oseate, or rising to royal pitch
I n sermons of Savonorolan flame!


 

A REPLY TO DANTE

I reckon it was not love that you saw
But manifested images of soul
For when a muse first to her care dost call
The bard, then rise dreams, vivacious & raw.

From vixen Beatrix such pictures draw,
That blazing heart, thine art set to install,
That weeping man, emotion’s pensive squall –
Then rave about these as is natural law.

Back when you ask’d us you were but a boy
Basking in your quattordici versi,
Probing excitedly for life’s answers.

In such love unrequited you found joy
Indulging in a world of phantasy
Not touchworthy realness of romances.


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ABOVE PORTOVENERE

O sacred summit has it been so long
Since last we prosper’d high on clifftop tall,
The sea’s papparazi pleasing our song,
Lush lullaby!

Late years on dovewings fall,
When only slender pocket-books of rhyme
Truth-honouring the passages of time.

I delve back thro’ this lovely life I chose,
When rennaissance poeticals renew,
These esoterics of a Silver Rose
Deft make me sigh!

Unto this place we drew
Thro’ all my twenties, as I linger here
The zephyrs of youth’s musings re-appear.

The Italiad

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ON THE VERGE OF THIRTY

I’m strollin’ tall on the verge o’ thirty,
Still feelin’ fine, still foxy, still flirty,
Losin’ weight on mi tour of Italy,
Stick that up yer middle-age spread!

I was gonna write a ‘look-at-me’ sonnet,
About the things I’ve done since I was twenty-five,
But sack that! Shelley had died by now,
Mi best mate’s got married at the same age
& Dante had barely finish’d his Vita Nuova!

So a new life it is, & the past is past,
‘Cos I’m still thinkin’ o’ sonnets
& I’m still drinkin’ mi wine,
Give me life, & get me on it,
Now that I am twenty-nine!


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VAGABONDO

Solo, sono stato viaggio,
Dalle complessite senza vita,
Di villagio a villagio,
Panarami di vista a vista –
Oh! sospiri del Viarregio,
Oh! scheletro catta di Calcata,
Solo, sono stato viaggio,
Dalle complessite senza vita.

Stelle quando sono campaggio,
Pensiero sulla passagio,
Oh! isola balerno di Ponza,
Oh! piazza confortolvelmente,
Oh! bellaza di Portovenere,
Oh! Non complicato mezza-vita!

Alone, I went wandering, from complexities without life, from village to village, panoramas from view to view – O! sighs of Viareggio, O! skeletal cats of Calcata, Alone, I went wandering, from complexities without life. Stars when I am camping, thoughts upon the path, O! whale-island of Ponza, O! comfortable city-squares, O! beauty of Portovenere, O! uncomplicated half-life!


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OSTIA

Different Ages, Different Eras, Different Lives,
Different People now, but in us still survives
Those secret, tender memories of you
& I in love, I know you’ll feel them too.

Such happiness comes to a lucky few,
Yes, you & I, we shared such taintless joy,
Nothing felt a strain, the world wax’’d true,
Like Paris sweeping Helen off to Troy.

But, as that city earn’d Achaen wrath
Our love fell too, a crumbling citadel,
Upon which ruin stands our cenotaph!

& yet Aeneas found Ostian sound,
To beach his ship amidst the sand & shell
So may my broken heart find solace-ground!


ON A TRAM

Conversazione
Temptress in tights
Stop-start stutter-tracks
Roma Termini
Linea Cinque
Forte Penestina
Graffiti tags every wall
My naked legs
Sprawl’d on orange seats
Thro’ Iambic meditiations-

‘Opulent papal palaces of Rome
& yet so many hovels peasants flock
A priest ignored me once, lost, far from home
When I ask’d for directions, what a cock!’


NINE A.D.

Thro’ the Teutoburger Wald went the arms of Varius,
Arminius of the Cherusci made his excuses
& soon a ghoulish baritas surrounds the sons of Mars,
Chaunting for Lord Tuisto & Odin amidst the stars;
The chiefs fighting for victory, each fighter for their chief,
They set their swords for slaughter, quarterless, with no relief,
What storm of dark sound rages round the javelins & spears,
The fallen Goths are carried off to dry the widow tears,
Three days of rampant carnage in the dark & marshy wood,
A roman gen’ral cuts his throat – begurgles on the blood,
Some lads cast off their armour, kneeling under lethal blows,
Only a lucky handful reach the Rhine’s far-drifting flows;
Such news reaches Augustus, flying thro’ grieving regions;
“O Quintillius Varius, give me back my legions!”


 

THE NAZARENE

Gethsemene
Judas rope
Archmagus
Sadly maintain the scandalised Sanhedrim
Leaning their wills upon the Roman whim
The Pilate’s orders murder the son of Him
To Calvary
A Crucifix
Sanguinus
Human sin
Son of god
Devils day
Pious fires
Epiphanies


 

REQUIEM @ CASSINO

On the day my mother died I went up to Cassino,
O! Tis a place of death if ever there was one my friend,
For six hard months the Gustav Line murder’d thro’ an empire,
& the Poles who fought for Warsaw in a country far away;
In the day’s fading lights the abbey gleam’d ethereal,
Into a dark cathedral driving on my stumbling steps,
I found two shawl’d believers praying at an altar,
Backs to a tumbling organ by goblins hewn I’m sure),
Kneeling before a painting of a young Mother Mary,
Who posed uncanny likeness to my mother when she young,
Syrupy emotions flooded thro’ me, wailing for an outlet,
& as the ladies left I knelt & pray’d for that sweet darling
Who brought me up into this world, & gladsome I am for it
Writing this sonnet ‘neath the moon, in this still mountain air.


SALENTO

I surf’d a bicicletta thro’ Supersano’s north sierra,
Cycling olive groves via lizards, snakes & a sacred peace,
To pause beside two colonies; one Cacti, one red grapes thriving
Beyond their cultivations, wildening in bauble hosts.
It was a holy moment spent, of solitude & scenery,
Of tipsiness on local wine ducking flailing branches,
When an otherworldy wisdom penetrated ancyent senses
Like artefacts of golden guilds drilling deep for fortunes.

I pass a shepherd tending goats, a gatta guarding the strada,
To gust Scoranno’s empty streets into her spacious piazza,
VITTORIO EMANUELE – sipping icy, lemonade soda,
Explaining to curious locals my international heritage
‘Sono mescalato – Algerino e Inglese,
Pero, nel mio cuore senso sono Italiano!’


 

MEMORIUM TO THE PASSAGE OF TIME

Shelley has somehow made my library
& instantly I muse back to that time,
Far from these heady days in Sicily,
When Tuscany enthubulised my rhyme,

Remembering that perfect Pisan clime
When Kapitano drank thro our brief fling
By Arno side, & as I sang sublime
He pluck’d our lira like a beggar-king,

Time passes sweet siestas, composing
Pretences of dining with Byron’s crew,
Now summer rises from the finest spring
& nine years on those dreams I had seem true,

Wintering in Sicily’s hinterland,
A palace & a pen in either hand.


 

BELOW SCOPELLO

To become, to belong, bohemian,
So many miles my smitten songsmith sent,
Striving for prospects paradesean
In an immortal moment’s monument –

Time carves us this vista Tyrennean,
Tranquilo corner of a continent,
To become, to belong, bohemian,
So many miles my smitten songsmith sent.

This rocky cove, this tower, this mountain,
Blend in an often prophesied fusion,
Sweet Sicily! Sat silent & content,
Recently have my dreams increasing seen
Visions of places I had never been,
Where I should sit a songsmith & invent.


 

SICILIAN SCHOOL

S icily! orange-fresh Sicilia,
I n Frederick the Second’s timeless time
C astellos court the Magna Curia
I nspiring young nobility to rhyme,
L ocal, to the King of Sardinia,
I nternalizing scenery sublime,
A ll in a soft-stone precious sonetta,
N ear god their mellow, mellifluous rhyme.

S onnet! puritan storm of poetry,
C arv’d from the syntax of a shepherd song,
H appily driving sensibility
O ver verses, hurrying minds along,
O r losing us amid the mystery
L entini, Inghilfredi, lift among.


 

MARZEMI SUNRISE

As all the sky grew lighter at the change,
With pastel arms, from rich & vivid heart
Emboldening & merging with god’s art,
The peach of dawn reach’d round the ‘risons’ range,
As sea, milk-white, caressess waves to shore,
Which kissing rock, bow gracefully, takes leave,
Uprising from the lands of make-believe,
This red, all-seeing eye that I adore.

Tho’ you are far away in outer space,
All other visions crumble intodust,
Filling with feelings more than love or lust,
My humble soul enters that special place
Of two spirits conjoind by nature’s hand,
One omnipresent, one a grain of sand.


 

THE BATTLE OF THE AEGADI (241 BC)

Tween Trapani & fair farfalla isle
The fleets of Rome & Carthage meet at last,
The captain of an age the day would prove,
As tides of noisy battle ebb & flow,
A shepherd hears the furious phrenzie,
At fall of night his flock led to the shore,
The deads’ crude stench uprisen with the sun
Heart-wrenching was! A sorry scene of war,
Who is conquer’d, who is the conqueror?
He could not tell, a sanguine sea bestrewn
With floating corpses, men condemn’d to die
In hopeless sacrifice, this crimson cove
Could never wash the bloodshed from its rocks,
Like rich red wine adance white, cotton sheets.

Marching on Parnassus

GRECIA

During the long course of this poethood
My songs I have prepared for one moment,
At last! to Grecia by my Muses sent
& in my heart I knew they always would!

Upon Italic plateauxs have I stood
Hoping to glimpse her shores through mountains bent
Between the mists, that shuffle innocent
From peak to peak, as only phantoms could!

As we are sailing to antiquity
Some laurel wreath to fix unto a brow,
Where oranges hang every second tree,
Antiquity seems almost here & now

As Greece, in rustic beauty, like a bay,
Before us spreads as breaks the cloudless day.


 

IONIA

The sun is setting gold on Zacynthus,
The breeze is blowing freedom thro’ my hair
The waves at the beck & call of Phorcys,
Have dragg’d us ever closer to his lair.

O Cephalonia, Byronic isle!
Such promise holds mine animated mind
Beneath thy peaks I’ll spend some happy while,
Sensing, already, sights to stir my kind.

Am I some Telemachos coming home?
Or Eumea drifting in from Elis?
Or Phaecian vessel spurting thro foam,
Where in the hold slumbers Odysseus?

I am these things, & many more beside,
For they shall live ‘til poetry has died!


 

HERMES

O! God of scholars, travelers & thieves,
I pray, lord, watch my labour
& all success & grace which it receives
Offer to thy favour

O keen-eyed giant-slayer, never old,
On sandals mountain-skimming
Vvarnish’d with an untarnishable gold
Heed my mortal hymning

O son of Maia! if one hundred eyes
Yearn to hurt me dearly
Grant me bad weather or a clever guise
& I’ll vanish clearly

Lord, find me antidotes when I ‘m grown ill
Or cloaks & tunics when comes winter’s chill


 

KEPHALONIA

I stood upon the old Venetian bridge
That nordic Argostoli now lagoons
& hitch’d a ride to Sami, slept a night
‘Neath canvas in a vacant camping ground;
Another ride, next morning, I’d alight,
A ferry-boat to tramel sound-to-sound
At whose sharp keel I sat, the wild sea-spray
Fresh spirits energizing for the tour.

Last night we camp’d under wonderful stars
& today, what a day, what adventure,
Breakfast by the beach, a warm morning high
With the sky never-ending above us
& the sea full of islands where tip-tops of mountains
Rise up on the swarms of wild olives.


 

DEPARTING THE SANCTUARY OF OLYMPIA

Until we meet again, Olympia!
When I shall raise my daughter to the height
A toddling flame
& as the morn-pink roses, would show her
The very scene & in the very light
I chose her name

My love, as I sit waiting for a bus
To Tropea or Pirgos, either way,
I think of thee!
Wondering if the future holds for us
A glitter-girl to please us in her play
Our bouncing bee

Who, when she’s sleeping looks as sweet as you
& laughing, me!


 

STERCA HELLAS

Where Autumn-tinted peaks rise glorious
I hitch’d a lift, a lorry-load of bales
Whose little houses sing their hearth-side tales
Old stories of this hoary, mountainous
Region, of most hardy handsome hunters
Fed by their ever-fattening females
Where taxidermy, of the arts, prevails
& portraits hang with pride for ancestors!

The Mornou Dam sits like a precious stone
Heart of a highland chain that god-like rings
This world where only poets dare to chance
& each of them, I sense, was once a throne
For spirits older than Olympic kings,
Where Cronos dined & Titans loved to dance.


 

TO DELPHI

As careful steps & aiming for the post
Must bring us ever closer to our goal,
Thro’ sharp-barb’d thorny burnett hack’d my feet,
Urg’d on by robins perch’d on pungent spurge,
Along an ancyent path of broken stones,
Which Idomenus trod before the truce’
I mountain-goated past four snarling hounds,
Stone-showers scatter, man’s best friend or nay!

The bravest follows at a wise distance,
A fine black bitch, til gladly I arrive
By Delphi’s walls, the troubadour no more,
Strange tortoise, with a home flat on my back,
Ready to rest, & write, & relish life
Upon same rocks where Orpheus once roam’d!


 

LIDORIKI

Post modern haiku
World-nomadic sonetteer
Photos in stanzas

Village football match
Slangful insults friendly flung
Scratching cinder feet

Wow! Superstar goal
Next morning while buying bread
Him humble baker

Perfect piazza
English football every scene
Tables skimmed with cards


 

CASTALIAN SPRING

So, this is the heartbeat of poetry,
From holy Parnassus, uprising sheer,
These magi-waters of empyrean,
Pulse down from such a theatre of stone,
Them pouring thro’ the depths of my studies,
Where in a sketch I see gargoyle faces –
Perhaps by Hobhouse in Lord Byron’s ‘Life’ –
Who came up, too, to taste this ancient spring
Upon his very famous ‘Pilgrimage,’
While mine is ended here… I sup the mead,
Faint hint of minerals, revitalised,
I swear to all my Muses I shall be
A poet still, & if they ride with me
To Scotland, I shall build them temples there!


 

THIRTY STIRLING

Thirty Stirling from Thessalonika
I paused a moment with my golden race
One of those places no-one ever goes
Where only true poetry can take ya

With a two-litre bottle of rose
& a view, & the sun, & the moment
When mounting Mount Parnassus has just leant
A certain special magic to the day

I dream of more fresh roses to be found
Across the world in sites yet to be seen
& of the children I am pois’d to ween
& buy for each an island & a hound

A terrier for most, but for the best
A spaniel with silver-splashing chest!


 

THERMOPYLAE

Napoleon, in Amiens, the crown!
Wrested from papal clutches, his own hands
Placed steel upon his brow, Corsican clown
No longer, but an emperor of lands!

I came upon a plain of dreams & steam
A spartan in my body, duty, rhyme
Where Leonidas & his polis cream
Defied the best of persia in their prime

On noble Kolonos a monument
Topp’d by a laurel wreath, I gladly felt
That thro the muses it was sent to me
As I before phoenician letters knelt

Bending the branch into a perfect ring
& crown’d myself, at last, a poet-king!


 

ON THE SLOPES OF MOUNT OLYMPUS

Zeusian eagles hover’d oer the folds
Where I collected firewood, meanwhile
Immersed in poesy’s pristeen reverie,
Of lofty pitch & classical alludes,
The constitutions of a younger vow
Lay fully realized, a windy day,
Tho’ again, no cloud on which to ponder –
Of any poet’s life I’ve known no par.

Above us rose Olympus, tree-green gorge
Echoes mine epic chauntings to the gods
With ghostly, half-minoan bursts of joy.

Far from the heavings of society,
I cook wild stew in Castalian mead,
Flavour’d by mountain herbs, & cared for naught.


 

EMAIL FROM THESSALY

As every maid Odysseus posess’d
Pinn’d Telemachus, home, hard to their breast
I want to wake beside you every day
Tell you I love you, ask if you’re OK
Give you a kiss if you’re going to work
Or hide if you’re menstrual & going bezerk
For ye are the one thing I crave here the most
Ycamped on the crest of this ocean coast
Where under me sea-nymphs whisper your name
& above glitter stars with your eye-light’s flame
An eagle glides by me as deft as you do
All these & this singing reminds me of you
For you are the music that livens my drumming
Be patient, my love, I am coming…

The Indiad

THIRTY-SEVEN THOUSAND FEET

Across Europa we have both progress’d,
By foot, by boat, by tram, by bus, by train,
But this hour, from a cool & pleasant plane,
Sees me sailing air on a grander quest,
The scenes by cyan skies & soft cloud blest,
How seldom seen & varied the terrain
Of ashen peak, urban sprawl, verdant plain,
Gleaming sea, wastes of sand & wylde forest.

As soon as we abandon Europa,
I could already taste the eastern scent,
The sun was setting west of Syria,
The starry heavens singing its lament,
As somewhere yon the grey Arabia
My pilot was beginning his descent.


 

MUMBAI

Our plane approaches as the ghostly wraith,
Thro’ nights black regions steadily she falls
Into this lab’rinth of a billion souls,
Vast myriad of language, race & faith.

So, I am come, come to this sultry shore,
First diamond of the crown Victorian,
Earth’s epicenter, an empyrean
Melting pot of empires to explore.

By eastern flair was western thought inspired,
I am recently led to understand,
With me I have fetch’d a mind of England
& all my love for beauty there acquired.

When, swooning ‘neath an infant urchin’s, “Please!”
How many times would I see sights like these?


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KERI BEACH

I watch’d the reaching out of Dawn’s arms red,
Both wrapp’d about the beach on which I led,
Saw little twitters skip the zenith crest
Of waves flung shorewards, falling foam abreast;
Ahead, the full moon gave the waves good gold,
Behind, deep-banded amber branding bold,
When starry rays made way for planets three,
They, too, into the blue illume did flee.

As round the moon rose-fingers floating meet,
Morn’s cyan-curtain’d opening complete,
As fishermen & dogs began day’s dance
Still on the sands I lay, a man entranc’d,
For as full moon thro’ blinking cloud distills,
What flaming sun-chink winks out from the hills!


 

THE EAR CLEANER

Stepping out one golden Goan morning,
Drowsy with the sunken sun’s adorning,
Content was I to be in nature’s hand,
Soul-freshen’d as bare feet sunk into sand,

From out of nowhere stept a wizen’d man,
“Sahib! cleaning your hearing well I can!”
Shows Western praises in his little book,
Black blocks of wax from both my ears he took

I shook the hand that scrubb’d my hearing clear
Said fond farewells & watch’d him disappear
Round red & rugged hill flank’d by the view
Of Konkan coast careering into blue,

When first found I the profits of his fee
I’d never known how sweetly sounds the sea!


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THE INCREDIBLE INDIA CODE

1 Book your tickets in advance
2 Expect the unexpected
3 Never trust a tout
4 Keep tabs on yer tabs
5 If they say they’re a masseuse – they’re not
6 Murder all mosquitoes before bed
7 Never trust a fart
8 Anything is possible in India
9 Check your room thoroughly before leaving
10 Picking up stones scares off dogs & monkeys
11 Eat with your non-wiping hand
12 “I was an Indian in another life!”
13 Plenty of change for journeys
14 Ask five different people for directions


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FORT COCHIN

Come share a second with serenity
Up in this lake of European rooves,
This crescent lamp’d oer th’Arabian sea
Lulls me thither, I hear the sound of hooves…

At once a sacred chime grows on the breeze,
Some teller of a thousand ancyent tayles,
Some from the world’s crop-fellers overseas,
Some cross the Karakoram’s lofty trails,
Some were seekers of immortal glory,
Some content to be husbands, to be wives…

Tho’ the vision all clutter’d & hoary,
With me a single memory survives,
Being extras in the global story
We are stars in the movies of our lives.


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KARANCI

I took a breath or two of night time air
My heart not knowing why, my legs not where
The starry skies obscured by gremlin cloud
I headed for the hilltop temple loud
Where rattled such a throng of Saivite
Songs echoing thro ‘Niligrisian night
Seeming another Tuscany to me
For India oft felt like Italy
& all was silver as a Silver Oak
For searing thro the deep & astral smoke
I found there was a full moon pulling clear
Are these the moments poets hold so dear
Thro selene scenes setting dream-trails in store
When ´morrow morns may pass these ways once more.


 

INDIA

Nation of nations, hot & happy land!
With spicy dishes morsell’d by the hand,
Being a valourous & graceful race,
Thy universal mullet firm in place,
Despite taking three men to stamp a form
& creative corruption Laksmi’s norm,
A fanaticism for the rupee
Cements this secular society
Of power-cuts & cripples & bazaars
Beneath a pristine panoply of stars,
Of swastikas & cricket in the streets,
Bounteous crops & oversugar’d sweets,
Ashrams soothing riot-torn religion
Where always blaze the rays of Asia’s sun.


 

KINDERGARTEN HINDI

1 eak – namaste (hello)
2 do – ya happa hey – (where is the)
3 teen – kitana whoa (how much)
4 char – bo d’achah (very tasty)
5 paanch – kitana baja (what time is it)
6 chay – jana (see you later)
7 saath – apa nam (what is your name)
8 aath – no me england kahun (I am from England)
9 xxx – kaha ja rahay ho (where are you going)
10 dus – teek (yes)
11 giara – nahee – (no)
12 bara – dandabad (grazi raggazi)
13 tehra – ap kesayhen (how are you)
14 chowdah – pulpit (full/enough)


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INDIAN RAILWAYS

I found myself waiting at this train station,
Not for a train, it was just to buy a ticket,
Not even for that day, but eleven in the future,
The next one available from Cochin to Calicut;

& I´m waiting & I’m waiting & I´m waiting nit-pick longer,
& the guy behind the desk´s on his third guy in an hour
& I was fourth, but the seventh guy´s hand starts waving
His reservation form as the third guy was about to finish;

So, I warned fifth, sixth, & seventh they´d be foolish for linecuttin,’
After all, I’d bin in the sun all day like a mad English dog
& my legs felt like lead & I was definitely, definitely, goin’ next…

So, the third guy finishes, & just as I thrust my form thro’ the window
The fella behind the desk decides he needs the fuckin’ toilet…
Then, when he’d finish’d, the scoundrel closes the window fer lunch!


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KANYAKAMARI

I stepp’d onto Vivikenanda’s rock
There paus’d, of situation took full stock,
Before me, some vast fan, India spread,
Behind, lay endless ocean, grey as lead,
Above, & to the side, a statue rose,
Some noble poet in his noblest pose,
& as I gazed I swear he winked at me.

Into my mind th’Orphean frequency
Sang, ‘Boy, wherever in the world ye be
Remember me!’….
‘TisThiruvalluvar!’
Says saddhu, startl’d by me, who had seen
Or sens’d a dream twyx poets, inbetween
A butterfly thro’ silver sea-spray flew…

…The boat-bell rang, I sprang to join the queue


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BASIC TAMIL

1 Woner = Wanacum (hello)
2 Render = Nan-dray (thanks)
3 Mooner = Yevolovum (how much)
4 Nar-lee =Rumba Soo-aye (very tasty)
5 An-jer = Time Enna (what time is it)
6 Ah-roo = Poy-too-varen (see you later)
7 Air-lee = Oon Pair Enna (what is your name)
8 Eh-ta = Nar England (I am from England)
9 Umbodoo = Nalla –kay (tomorrow)
10 Pa-too = Ama (yes)
11 Padi-nooner = Ill-ai (no)
12 Panander = Nunbar Nan-dray (grazi raggazi)
13 Padi-mooner = Nalamar (how are you) –
14 Padi-nar-lee = po-dum (full/enough)


 

THIRUVALLUVAR

As I rested on a fine, empty beach, by the Bay of Bengal,
In a soft second of existence I was alerted to a flutter of birds,
A mile or so along the coast I kenn’d a distant figure approaching,
An old man swathed in white robes, sporting a thick, black beard,
I expected him to pass, but as he came to within a few metres
He veer’d slowly towards me, leaving nor footsteps in the sand,
“What is your profession?” he curtly asked, “I am a sonneteer, sir!”
His magnificent eyes burrowed into the heartlands of my soul,
“By any chance, are you carrying a silver rose?”
Astonish’d, I shew’d him the bloom around my neck…

…After humming an Upanishad he said, “I’ve been expecting you,
As seven words a kural make, seven kural form a sonnet!”
This was for me high epiphany to the hidden depths of sonnetry!


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TRANSLATIONS FROM THIRUKURAL

As ‘A’s announce alphabets
Divinity initiates existence (1;1)

Rain’s continuance preserves existance
Speaketh, then, ambrosia (2:1)

Falsehood conferring faultless fruitfulness
Nature’s truth contains (30:2)

Kingly fame fades forgotten
Without righteous government (56:6)

When soldiers fear bloodshed
Kings cry destitute (77:1)

In miserable poverty’s train
Many more miseries (105:5)

Her jewels perplex me
Celestial? Peahen? Women? (109:1)


Indian Butterfly
Indian butterfly & wylde flowers

NALATIYAR

Her :
O lord of fertile land & everflowing waterfalls
O lord of cool sunshine warming ocean´s running waves
O lord of good country with beautiful ebony mountains
O lord of flowery hills with lush & sparkling waterfalls
O lord of honey-bearing woods in the good country
O lord of long seashore with fine, unfailing salt-pans
O lord of the hills with lovely sandal groves on
O lord of cool lagoons & bays brimming with water
O lord of prosperous vineyards & huge gem-studded caverns

Him :
O beautiful lady with breasts like budding flowers
O lady of beautiful hair with fragrance of musk
O lady of long-eyed spears & bow-like eyebrows

Him & Her
O lord of bewitching victories bring these beauties to me


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DEPARTING FOR ANDAMAN

Gazing across exotic ocean stream
Shamrock musing drifts to distant Burnley,
Where for as long as breathing there shall be
My family, my friends, my football team –

So far away, for following my dream
I am a stranger in a strange contree,
Though slowly hook’d upon its cup of tea,
Darjeeling serv’d up with a Devon cream.

The sun has fallen & the ship has sail’d,
The last lamps of the mainland shrink & fade,
A momentary notion has prevail’d,
As Vagu & Varuna soft notes play’d,

Next time by solid ground my feet regaled
Into youth’s fleeting heart I shall have stray’d.

 

CASTAWAY

Down southern Andaman lies Jolly Bouy,
Thick with bright coral & of snorkling joy,
I spent an hour lagooning in a laze,
& fell astoned… then woke… to my amaze
The boat had left me… deserted, alone,
No rizlas, samosas, water, nor phone!

A mile or so across the sharky foam
A trail of smoke show´d someone was at home,
I built a brushweed raft, but that soon sank,
So off I swam, my goddess I should thank
For showing me this was a wild riptide,
Young muscles haul´d me back, I´d nearly died.

When, waving to distant boats, at sunset,
I was the strangest fish they’ve ever net.

The Raj & the Rose

AVATARAS

At the back of the ship, at the height of the trip,
Drawn by the harmonies of Lord Vishnu’s call,
Navel-rooted lotus soft floats ‘cross the waters
Absorbing the beauteous Bay of Bengal,
Transcending to milk, pearly seaway of silk,
Thou lavender cushion of infinite white,
Surrounding the foetal spirit centripetal
Sucking upon toenails painted starry bright.

“Rider, thou art return’d to India,
Saraswathi, I see, has smil’d on you,
Thy mortal aura bless’d in her prayer,
Thine energies hued in a rainstorm blue,
Come drape thyself in the Himalaya,
For there, thy Rose of Sylver shall renew.”


TRIVIKRAMA

I sup sweet Soma-juice Vishnu to praise
O steed-bourne lord who stands on lofty hills
Let us witness these three Earth-measur’d steps
Three widely-striding paces thro the spheres
& laud him like some wild, steep-scouring beast
For midst those steps all creatures must abide.

Give vigour unto Vishnu, many-hymn’d,
Who sets himself apart & carves three worlds
Three sweet & imperishable places
& holds aloft, alone, all elements
His mansion to attain midst happy gods
Let us up to his highest footstep strive.

Where down on humblest oxen in the home
His bull-light showers joyous benefits!


 

THE TURNING OF ASHOKA

The year is 261 BC/ Following the bloody battle of Kalinga at Dhauli,
King Asokha is riding beside the River Nadi

Ashoka
O blessed day! What glory gain’d, the battle still pounds my senses
& in mine ears still echoes the cries of battle & death-yells loud
Those leonine roars, those clam’rous shouts, the din of drums & cymbals
& what sights – great elephants renting each other with bloody tusks
& great chariots exploding in shorn limbs & wooden splinters
But what is this? a worn woman weeps by the river running crimson
My goodly lady why shed thy tears on this auspicious of days
When I am flush with the victory & feeling very generous
Whatever on this Earth ye need my attendants shall see to

Woman
I hear you, Chakravartin, in thine armour as white as clouds
& yet, ye are a hypocrite for thy palms bestain’d with blood
& yes… there is one thing I crave upon this Earth above all others
To feel my husband’s loving warmth, but his body as cold as snows,
Some broken corpse – if ye lack power to make men, sire, why kill them?


 

CONVERSATIONAL ORIYA

Night fell on the many, many tranquilities of Chandipur
As I embark’d a stroll, astride its epic, crab-fluttering beaches
I heard a distant disco boom as if I near’d new Glastonbury
So thro’ the trees I darted into the dark village of Mizapur
Quite power-cut mysterious, & came upon a cavalcade
Of young endancing Indians, surrounded by prancing fireflies
A perfect place to practice phrases I had pick’d up on the road;
Tomorrow nar kono – they ask’d my name – mor Damo – I replied
Sundoro millano – I said – Apono komiti achanti
Mor bholochi – he answer’d & then offer’d me some turkurry
“Bhollo swado,” my compliments (for the sauce was very tasty)
I ask’d them – ke ta tonka – but they did not want one rupee
Ho donyobad – I thank’d him & then off like a prajapati
I moved on, musing to myself – mu Orissa Kuhalapay


 

HYBRIDABAD

Give me Saint Andrews with sea-views & putter
Or take me to Ascot to big-shot & flutter
Give me a hot-pot with good bread & butter
Or if not, just give me Calcutta

Give me the morning’s stroll ‘long the Maidan
Give me the games grand Garden of Eden
Give me the Hoogley’s green glide Thamesian
Whenever I yearn for my London

For as she was once the pulse of an Empire
& Edinburgh the mind that built the Raj
Then surely this great city was its soul

Where men would recreate their distant shire
Carving an architectural mirage
From native rocks, where hungry coolies crawl.


 

KATIHAR

There is a certain sadness in this land,
The handicapp’d are heap’d upon my heart,
The twisted feet of those too low to stand,
& me, all in their midst, yet set apart.

I wait all night to catch the midnight train
So many shudras spread about the floor,
A spell of blessed respite to obtain,
From drudgeries of being born so poor.

As grunting swine from meal-to-meal subsists,
Therein lies the archaic chaff of wheat
On which this young democracy insists,
‘Caste is caste & never the twain shall meet!’

Here, even dreams, which all should equal share,
Combusted by some tannoy’s constant blare.


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KANGCHENZONGA

I came on Pemagangtse in the night
A leopard passing slowly in the snow
Awaiting precious pinch of silver light
Announcing phoenix day in foetal glow

I gazed across the Kabrus unaware
That to these climes had Calliope come
Slopes glooming greys, as sunbeams fill the air
They turn the burnish’d burgondy of rum

Savitri’s spell impells the Sun to strength
Red turns to orange, orange burns to gold
& as all shadows shorten in their length
What summit sparkles white, where, very cold,

My muse sits, singing, wisest of the nine
“On Nanda Devi waits my sister’s sign!”


 

GOD

I march on different minds in different ways,
A force beyond all knowledges combined,
But let it now be known to each on Earth
I have a single name & that be God,
Tho’ splintered by the tangl’d knot of tongues,
When, as a man in Orchaa callas me Ram,
In Qadian as Allah am I praised.

Now reconciling all these diff’rences,
To every race a prophet have I sent
& filled them with the milk of mine intent,
A source of common good, a common source
From which this well-font of my message springs,
A clear soul-song for all who wish to hear,
Thro’ U find Heaven & in Heaven, Love!


 

LUCKNOW (1857)

General – My, how hot a day this is!

Reverend – I cannot agree with you sir,
There was a lovely breeze this morning,
The hour was three I think,
& if you ever had visited Stuffcote
You wouldn’t dream of calling this hot!

General – Stuffcote! Why, I have been there, sir,
Was there, in fact, for three years, sir,
It is one of the coolest stations in India.

Reverend – Poppycock! In August! What nonsense!

General – Yes, sir, especially & most particularly in August,
I have felt positively chilly all thro’ the month!

Reverend – Chilly? In Stuffcote? In August!?

Servant – More champagne, Sahib?


 

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NANDA DEVI

Up to the world’s rooftop I slowly rose;
Checking upon the progress of the soul
Appears a mountain prospect a la snows
Of Austria, New Zealand & Nepal.

I left Almora for the Kashyap Hill,
High commune of fairest tranquility,
Fresh dawntint drew me to the lofty chill
Of this monolithic Axis Mundi.

It seems for me the lips of Laksmi smile,
No sweeter place on earth to greet the sun,
Here summon’d by the lyrical lifestyle,
I whisper a gentle dedication;

“Until my feet have circuited the globe
My thought & life with poesy I shall robe.”


 

PHONE CALL FROM AGRA

I was staring at the back of this rickshaw driver’s neck
As I dragged my bags thro’ Agra, the Taj now just a speck
Of love dust immemorial, my mind’s eye to recall
Whene’er long life yearns deeply for some sheer uplift of soul;

In that place grew pure poetry, man-made & yet divine,
A funerary megalith whose Mughal marble wine,
Endrenches human spiritus with splendour thro’ its form,
All races & all nations round its majesty must swarm.

As I depart for Gwalior I think of absent touch,
For she was like a queen to me, I loved her love so much,
& haunted by her happy smile I’ve wandered far, alone,
Til mental peace has found me all my fuck-ups to atone.

So I shall get my mobile out & make that magic call –
Her voice was soft & happy – back in Sally’s love I fall.


 

RAI PRAVEEN

Beside the bonnie banks of Betwa’s stream
A beauty dwelt, beholding her a dream,
Whose reputation to great Akbar flew
By regal claws she to his throne-room drew,
But noble are Bundellas & their Queens
& so played out the wondrous of scenes
As with a poem she made devlish dig;
‘Hello King! You are King, not dog, nor pig,
& I am nothing but a plate well-used…’
Lord Akbar gasped, & gazed on her, confused,
While shell-shock’d audience grew hushly sure,
Such grave insult His Highness shan’t endure;
But no! Life’s nobler motions to protect,
He sent her home, alive & with respect.


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OVERTAKING LANES

Two saddus stood by the side of the road
Staring at a truck that had spill’d it’s load;
By that, an old wreck that just would not start,
Laugh’d at by a man in an ox-drawn cart,
& faster still; first a cycle rickshaw,
A dirt-green tractor from the days of yore,
Auto-rickshaw belching smoggy black smoke,
Mud-red moped missing many-a-spoke,
This lorry’s weird siren psychedelics,
Busses driven by mad alcoholics,
These, by breezy motorcycles bypass’d,
Then… an Ambassador of Rajput caste!

While gangs of robbers lawless highways stalk,
Y’know, it’s a nice day, I think I’ll walk.


 

POVERTY & WEALTH

Two goddesses bickered about beauty,
Prepared to start a second Trojan war,
Srinava’s wisdom thunders crore on crore,
‘My Jyesthadevi, my Laksmidevi,
There is a young carpenter of Bundi
Who is so very honest to his core,’
Soon goddesses were standing at his door,
“Who is the most beautiful, she or me?”

Our humble cobbler thought a mortal while,
& says ‘Laksmi most lovely on arriving,
Yet Jyestha gorgeous more when she departs;’
This answer made each goddess equal smile,
& he, celestial wrath surviving,
Learns flattery woos e’en immortal hearts.


 

JAIT SAGAR

If India can make a man a man,
More than the veshyalay of Amsterdam,
If thro the chaos he can make a plan,
Respecting Hinduism & Islam,

If he can give the beggar his rupee
& tip the tout that charges o’er the odds,
If he can read his Rajput history
& choose a god but still bless other gods,

If he can sleep upon the railway run,
Find fresh, clean waterfalls amid the dirt,
If he can wonder how the Raj was won,
Then pause upon the horrors & the hurt,

If he can haggle down & know his daal,
Then does he need to see the Taj Mahal?


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CREATION

As thro’ Mumbai I took the rickshaw home,
A great prostrate cow seem’d to be dying,
Guts on the pavement where she was lying,
But no… close by, lay her hour-old daughter.

I watch’d the wee one make her falt’ring first
Steps in the world, like an ambitious teen,
Thro’ her mother’s dung, slippery & green,
Then in the hot noon felt an earthly thirst;

Went looking for something, nuzzling half-blind,
She suckles on her mother’s rough larynx,
Who stands up, motionless as sandy sphinx,
& with a lick acknowledges her kind;

Who creeps now forwards to the golden teat
& clamps down hard as angels swoop the street.


 

DEPARTING INDIA

A decade pass’d since that piazza
Where first I flirted with the myrtle muse,
Now knoweth I a new peninsula
Whose galaxy of monuments enthuse
The spiritus, where all Earthly aspects
Have form’d a microcosm of the sphere,
A foundation for when I travel next,
Days of endeavour drawing ever near.

I spend a moment, musing on the wing,
As oer the sea of Araby we sail’d;
Around the Raj was flung a faerie ring
& all it’s channel’d poesis regaled,
I have succeeded in my soldiering
Where Ghengiz Khan & Alexander fail’d.
HOMECOMING

At last my gaze is cast oer English skies,
The thrills of one’s homecoming multiply,
Bursting through cloud we claim a poet’s prize;
Big Ben…Tower Bridge… & the London Eye.

I’m back at last, back from my epic tour,
Ten rupees all that furnishes my purse;
Scraggly & tann’d I call upon the door
Of compassion & an NHS nurse.

“It weren’t easy… I gush´d out dysentry,
Wee mozzy bites became massive bags of puss,
Salmonella, concussion, entwisted knee,
Neuropraxia… love, just look at us!”

“It’s lucky you survived”… I smil’d a smile,
“Dying,” said I, “It’s never been my style.”


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KARMA SUTRA

The city streets were alive with neon,
I knock’d… Rosie answer’d there delighted,
My favourite more-than-friend down London,
Her stairs were excitedly alighted.

I cook’d up a couple of samosas,
Chappathis, biriyani & paneer,
Making out to the Stars & the Roses
Over charas & charlie & cold beer.

I show’d her a book bought in Madurai,
The Karma Sutra’s esoteric scene,
“So, babe, do you wanna give it a try?”
We did & at a later hour serene;

My mistress asleep on my missile chest,
I felt that fragile bliss when East meets West.


 

SOUL KISS

What is a soulmate but a bud of love
Which flourishes & blossoms every Spring,
Ordain’d to weather, when Fall’s leather glove
Pale petals plucks & flings them in a string.

If these were lesser flowers then the frost
Would crush fair colours flush’d off by the melt,
But beauty’s higher darlings never lost
When destinies by deites are dealt.

Let us adore, once more, the white lily,
Those rows of dark-eyed poppies in the corn,
Let’s climb the long Lammermuirs all hilly,
‘Gan hand-in-hand with clemency reborn,

For when two souls from fluid form do gel,
They’ve rooted truth wherever they do dwell.


 

MY PENELOPE

As now I make that tender step in time
Back to my heather’d hearth of happiness,
She stands, the essence of this will to rhyme
Aloof, alone, in all her loveliness.

‘My love,’ I said, ‘back then I buck’d so blind,
But now I see you, Sally, soft & pure,
You are the only star that moves my mind,
For heart’s dull sickness are it’s only cure!”

Onto the airy, pinnacle of pride
I stepp’d, there Sally ask’d to be my bride
She with a searing smile bright-answer’d yes
& felt I then England’s Odysseus

When, with this won proposal, I propose,
To press the petals of this Silver Rose!