Day at Clevedon Pier

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She went swimming.

Suck Inhale

Fluttering inches drop

Hands moving unthinking in old habits and rituals

Into cobalt coiling inwards, rippled fluting like arched prototypes of cathedrals,

with seaweed crested shade pink lucent nails diving through

the feet cutting an arc leaving stunned silver limescale

Like the boards on the walk submerged in air, the lights shining dully in a row into

links drawing down in pointed wake transporting the glisten of

the surface to the shadow lattice at the bottom,

pale smoke colours the light-like ink twisting again, hair misting through jade scattered and glinting from the neck of an aunt lost at sea

Still the eyes search for old spaces or spaces never been but should have been, ice-creams uneaten, sandy paths untrod, the voices raised and not raised running over endlessly

Pale bumps, hair standing, Grey, green and legs limp White eyes, swing swinging From far away sky green people hugging and feathers singing through the air to sink themselves into cork all the things known dull in panes of refracted light but with a coiling twisting around the thing that knows, not from not breathing but not letting breathe and

SHUDDER as the glossy headed flock flies past in the spaces undisturbed and a vaporous hand rests over the breast alone

leaving no trace but in memory and mind and in the record of each mad moment all flow and ebb in this dense sub terrain

with tender panels with trembling walls with the floor arching in a caught breath under eyes like planets and head inclined so

Like a poor plaster of David sending up wet flakes inscribed with the veins of leaves, Unspooling the face faithfully for the lined bud beneath

Upturned to watch blindly, up at the airy eaves

She is in the water alone, collecting her scattered sand

There is a moment twisted, constricted, the heart caught up in a hair’s breath, snug as the oar of a longshoreman in water Coming up weightless

and she half curving, prickling with the remembrance of other eyes looking across the distance Smoothly lined, from the back of the hall gazing out willingly at her willingly supplicant, stark like dew; holding caresses the frisson of movements delicate as dance bending in unison over the longing spine

Taut

discarded,

escaping in a small sigh, carried forward, Outstretched, close by –

And then the beat has passed, she lies suspended, arms akimbo,

a life-long breath escaping shades of regrets

but she is pulled back up, saltwater on her face

sand in her eyes, here, back again, here

looking at the stick pale boards of the pier

mud from shoes wiped carelessly,

a half eaten pasty fat and leaking into the water,

dull in the moonlight.

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Hey Doll

Take it off.

Take it all off and show your skin.

Peeling dried

smooth cheeked

sun-bleached fringes of dull jaded fern

You hate it, I know,

You hate the limits that your skin has an end

That air touches you and makes you real

That you watch so many things from a window

Orb of yellow, pool of spite

Light in your eyes

distorted with layers of temperature and current

You are not real you are a vapour trying to keep its form

What form will the spaces give your face now

Will you be pious?

Good little girl, brave face

Sliding down in beads of water

Hardly seen

Coming up again in a cloud

Hardly seen

You have no touch you are painted over

Hello, doll.

Trauerblumen 1917 Painting by Paul Klee; Trauerblumen 1917 Art Print for sale

From Space to Nothingness

Open that green door into the house

 

A flutter, and my heart with its visceral beat

Blackbirds and fowls running amok

Between the walls like antler velvet

Old oak beams groaning in time to the cobwebs’ string

singing black glossy feathers like comfort and warmth.

 

Come through the battered door, if only I could

I have everything to give, everything shaped

By you, unknown you.

 

The trees are silent in a gnarly golden wood

Floating above a beaten silver water’s edge

melting to sky,

 

And the blue paint chipped pots

Wait on the wooden table

pockmarked with soft red circles in a smoky whitewashed kitchen

I have dreamed of places to fill

And to be

 

It must be nice, it must be nice

To have a landscape loved pooling around

It reminded me of the burgundy shawl flapping

 

Bat like, bad omen, the moon rising steep,

Smoke rising, Vaughan Williams in grey skies, a false note on the river Dee

I see you, Haven.

 

I see myself, too.

If only I could

come home, finally, to pitted wood and

Sweet walnut gravy with caramelised onions

burnt in warm voodoo fires and old ersatz friends

 

The nut filled aroma of pleasant dusk and spat-out violet sparks

And light shining through the foggy day

Into unreal domesticity

It must be nice to have a thing loved,

For I will love you well, even the dead.

 

I have everything now

And all I am is waiting.

 

Flight

There was a shape on the grass

A tree rising over it like the skin line of smoke

Smooth gloss rub and

Nacre black feathers

With vanes like blades of water

lying by the tar soaked edge of a beach.

The eyes were of shifting metal,

Melting and dropping and reforming,

What or if they saw

They saw madness

I put my hand on the crow

Not crow, not alive, not beak, not black

But mine.

Faint webbed skin lying against sleek feather

kneeling curved over small crumpled body

Dotted black on a flat spread line of green,

A strand of feather against the billowing blue sky.

And the grass russet against the head,

Rushed away from the body

It rolled green towards the edges

Ran into stalks of gold swaying warily

And then down, down into the brown earth sinking into purple.

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Day

The street by the house is a frame straight line,

riddled with gaps and fixes filled with water

between now and then and now and when

these puddles lie reflecting rainbow sheen.

I forget nearly always, I forget how it felt

In the spiral of it all, the close coupling of routine,

I forget the lines beneath the skin and the flash of deep sea

The blue lines lying underneath with red

And I find it infinitely easier to remember

them as buildings and objects,

that silver foil stuck to that bench, for instance, that’s you

That red bucket upturned over prickly grass is you.

As darkness falls a memory of suspended water and light

I begin to chase the fog, down the street past the restaurant,

I chase the fog, I run

holding head above water hoping I see clearly

I run through the sky winding flutes, I don’t know where or when

Perhaps happiness breathes its breath in a lifelong meal,

strands dissected and held together over pockmarked breath

But somewhere a burning sun

now, then and when,

surely somewhere a perpetual red burning sun.

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Augury

Donald Trump is a great man.

He has been elected, so he must be a great man.

We believe in Democracy. We believe in electing our leaders and building strong governments. We believe that, ultimately, the popular vote will be the right vote. We believe in things so long as they aren’t inconvenient to us, we believe in truth, so long as it is our truth, and we believe in the Other. Imagine Susan B. Anthony dreaming of a day when women could vote, imagine the first African-American President humbly looking back on the gaping wound of America’s history from where he is now, and imagine raising children in a world where kindness, accountability and conscience have been deemed unimportant. We shall no longer be nations of minorities, we shall no longer be nations of many meanings, and we shall no longer be ‘weak’ and politically correct. We shall be tough, we will build walls, we will bring swift justice upon people who are different, whose only crime is to disagree.

But Donald Trump is a great and wise man.

Globalisation has brought everything forward in jarring detail, and our ability to comprehend all the conflicting different realities is limited. We are frightened because we do not know. Something has gone terribly, terribly wrong, but we do not know why or how. So we react in archaic ways in a frantic effort to go back to a world where everything was simpler. We cannot go back. You cannot make America great again. There is no ‘great’; we are but a collection of mistakes and we live our lives and push our civilisation forward by muddling through. We do not know anything. Confronting that fact and recognising that diversity and the need to respect other opinions and other humans is not weak, but bravery indeed.

We have been exposed too soon to the whole world, we don’t know where to look or what to believe because the world is not an easy place to live in. Life is not easy. It is convoluted, complicated and obeys no rules. We feel as if we are losing our place in the world, we feel as if all those heroes of our pasts, those bastions of the norm, have been lost. But there are heroes among the seaweed and diamonds in the dark, and the ‘other’ is no longer the other, they are one of us. Throughout the history of the world the Other, the women, the LGBT community, and people of other races have struggled for their rights; the right to vote, the right to work, the right to love and marry, and now, with the Black Lives Matter movement, the right to breathe. The temptation to turn towards an out-dated brand of fire and brimstone populism for answers is shockingly powerful, as we have just witnessed, but this kind of change backed by hateful rhetoric has always been the dark augury of horrific authoritarian regimes. We are capable of great and remarkable feats of bravery and sacrifice, we are an extraordinary race which builds its own realities. We have fought, over and over, for what is right and fair. Why have we suddenly forgotten the lessons of history? We have sunk through the rifts of partisanship so that we no longer know anything to be true, and the only things visible are fierce and irreconcilable divisions. Our anger and discontent has seeped out of us in a black, foul smelling mass and has erected a steel tipped icon of populist anger and rage.

The uncertainty and fear caused by the shock of this American election will have unprecedented and far-reaching changes, the disregard for facts portended by the Brexit has culminated into embracing a reactionary charlatan who cares only to win, and who has demonstrated his contempt for everyone, from the LGBT community to women to the disabled.  This election has been a repulsive feat which has disowned the Presidency of the nation’s first African-American and all the efforts of the women and men of whatever race or sexuality who helped build the country for everyone. That Secretary Clinton, the most qualified candidate for President in the history of the election, should lose to a man who boasts about evading taxes is despicable and has confirmed a worrying undercurrent of misogyny and deep distrust of women and minorities in American society.

This is us. This is the mirror. This is the spectacle of politics. This is show business, and this is sensationalism – facts and truth are fast becoming subjective and easily discarded. This is the age of the internet where people hurl racial and sexist abuses at each other under the garb of anonymity, where common decency is laughed at, and where opinions are increasingly divided and retreat further and further into extreme corners. Now is the test of our times, and we have a responsibility to uphold equality and tolerance and everything that the voiceless and the underrepresented deserve. That a man who so blatantly espouses the misogyny, racism, xenophobia and hatred practiced by dogmatic bigots should be elected is a shameful and resounding warning.  We were supposed to be smart about this, but we like being right too much. We like putting the other side down too much. They’re backward bigots, they’re weak liberals – we love disdain and feeling superior.  This is the cruel, contradictory truth – that even as we despise President Trump, we have helped create him.

This is happening, and we will not give in to it, however strong our divisions we must bridge them now and stand united. We must uphold the things we stand for, we must ready ourselves to be unafraid, and we must stand by our beliefs. Be ready to be principled, be ready to be virtuous, and be ready to be everything Donald Trump is not.