For she was loved

And all the angels will bow their heads
And form a guard around her bed
And heaven's light will split the ground
Throw silver lining on grey cloud
For she was loved

And tears will spill from weeping eyes
When poor souls learn of her demise
And we will gather and hold tight
The ones we cherish most in life
For she was loved

And every creature, great or small
Will mourn the passing of her soul
And animals and men alike
Will thrive in her abiding light
For she was loved

And those left to pontificate
Will chart her path to heaven's gate
And she'll reside with smallest fuss
Forever watching over us
For she was loved

             (2017)
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Saoirse dances

Saoirse's dancing on
the thundercloud above my head
sylphlike across the
confused mist
her agile footsteps anticipating
the summer rain

Saoirse dances every Tuesday
from morning to evening

Sometimes I watch her
through the keyhole
a nimble shadow flitting between
courage and despair
spinning cartwheels of
forgiveness and threatening
paradise in shapely
arabesque

Sometimes I watch her
from the window through the
tunnel of light
which separates our flesh
her limber body twisting and writhing
in unbridled devotion
unaware of my tortured gaze

each desire is affirmed by
the straining sinews that guide
her defiant grand jeté

Sometimes I watch her
through the fissures in my
crumbling ceiling
my sorrows falling with the
shafts of sunlight
like rotting fruit beneath her
tumbling form

her pointed limbs tracing
mandalas across the painted gloom
obstructing my perfect vision

My eyes are opaque
stones constructing mysteries
in her movement
thrust from side to side
in empty sockets and
mesmerised
by the gentle turn of hardened
ligaments in adagio

Saoirse's ankles hold
the wonders of
restless mornings, driving
weary muscles through endless
pirouette adventures

kicking free from the confines of
twisted bedsheets and seeking
deeper meaning
behind each graceful step

Sometimes I watch her
from the floor below, my
cushioned flesh the canvas for
her ambitious routine
withering rose
petals
spread beneath her calloused
soles, compliant to her
delicate weight

thrilled by every tenacious
spring and soaring leap
concealed in deceptive ballon

a vessel for her shattered, misplaced trust

at the very moment in which
I feign to grasp
her guarded intricacies
she turns her face to darkness
and the joy I spied in a
fleeting caress of the eye is
eclipsed by shadow
as she strikes perfect posture

arms raised in exultation
above her bowed head
hands poised like
fragile autumn leaves trembling
in anticipation of
their storied journey to the earth

so my taut skin
stretches tighter still
to welcome their arrival
falling further into rapture
scored by her enchanting
lullaby

and then the drums

bellowing percussive strikes
gathering pace and
rattling thunderously through
my unconscious
mimicking the exertion of my
faltering heartbeat
in
perfect harmony

and without hesitation Saoirse steps
from statuesque
gliding in simple artistry to
the rhythm rippling
through my eardrums

Sometimes I watch her
from behind this
wall of mirrors and I become
her reflection, my skeletal frame
in thrall to her
evolving musculature

and as she moves, I move
she steps, I step
and now I soar, no longer a
corporeal entity, ethereal
in my faithful imitation

floating dreamlike in our mutual
suspension between two
separate spheres

entwined in one another and
whirling devilishly
we descend through melancholy
condensation and soft, pale
flesh winds its way around my
confused form
suggesting an unfamiliar contentment

my graceless fingers find
solace in the slope
between her narrow shoulder blades
and her breath upon my cheek
reawakens my
frustrated desires, for so long
dormant in the
tormented abeyance of loss

and so we plummet ceaselessly
through thunderclouds
and grievous rain
bound by our impotence and
falling farther from our wanton
ambitions, into darkness
into life

and Saoirse's skin no longer
comforts me
my groping fingers can no longer
find the protection of
her shoulder blades

and Saoirse dances now
in the dissipating light of a
million fractured suns
shifting in every unseeable direction
in eternal retreat from my
searching gaze

Sometimes I watch her
from this capsule of forced
silence and I see her bruises
spread out
like rapacious flames across her
frail shoulders and
upper arm

I force my sight upon the
furiously dark
purple epicentre of her trauma
and I plead and quarrel
in vain
with a congregation of abstract
deities
to take her place and
absorb her pain

but the bruises remain
in a painted wash of
violet and blue, yellow and grey
over milk-white skin

I trace the line
of a scar
down the length of her breast
to the apex of her heart
and wonder at the beauty
bestowed on her form, by my eyes
or the world's

and Saoirse dances on

slipping provocation and
disregarding retribution
she proceeds en avant, in spite of
mirrored reflections, and
finds satisfaction
in her breathless movements

a determined glare
forecasts
glory and tragedy, and
shuns my loudest cravings
with a gentle hand
igniting forlorn passion and poems
not meant for eyes to see

So I watch her
from an empty bed in an
empty room
her twirling shadow barely
visible on the greying walls
dissolving further
in the intrusive sunlight of
the imponderable passing of days

I sketch frantically on scraps
of paper
beneath my thundercloud
trying to recall
the perfect contours of her figure
and capture the essence
of her art
but all these dancing
charcoal outlines strewn
across my carpet could never
trace the curiosities of this
immortal ballerina

Saoirse's ghost sits beside me
on the passenger seat
of my car
her slender legs pointing
towards some inconceivable destination
as we accelerate
in perpetual motion

she draws back her shoulders
opening her chest to me
leaning across
an imagined divide to
whisper sweetest songs

I watch her
through the windscreen and
I am that fateful collision

her lips are flush
her eyes are bright
her words are soft with saddest thought
and my screams
of farewell are muted
as we collide in slow motion

tragedy has never known
such a compelling conclusion

sunlight dances between fragments
of broken glass and
flashes off polished metal and
Saoirse's voice is strong and clear

Saoirse watches me
from her station behind the
looking glass
beyond thunderclouds
locked in equipoise
and she is my reflection

I cram volumes of charcoal dancers
with bleeding hearts
into leather-clad folios and stare
at bare walls where
her shadow once fell
resentful of Saoirse's ceaseless peregrinations

                  (2017)

Woman

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

you recognise mountains
placate towering peaks
with embellished awe
and reinforce
neglected foundations

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

you inflame senses
imbue sombre mornings
with sensual mist

deafening
thunderstorms
with life-giving electricity
and soul-cleansing tears

grey imagination
with endless
colour spectrum
vibrant deliberation

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

you rise as oceans
moving freely
in infinite pattern
orbiting my static form

caressing
careless shorelines

forgiving of
stubborn solitude

understanding of
self-induced frustration

assuaging innate human guilt

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

you reward loyalty
with delicate
concentration

injecting fresh oxygen
into coagulating
bloodstream

firming wary muscle
with confident assertion
and gentle affirmation

shifting tectonic
plates in
patient manipulation
and thoughtful persuasion

you raise fearsome
rugged elevation
from flat, dormant rock and
impotent, desiccated
soil
to dominating landscape

illuminating darkness
offering fecund invitation
to thirst-quenching
precipitation

carving fertile valley
through lush, rising
forest
without reservation

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

you command forces
beyond comprehension
wild and free
and unattainable

of wind and cloud
and solar connection
raging wondrously and
constantly

temperate in your
celebration
of my self-declared
individuality

you project community
selfless
awareness of invisible
binds
tying flesh to flesh
in fantastic ritual

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

you paint impressionistic
portraiture
of many, varied faces
void of definition
promoting growth and
self-determination

you conceive glorious
flowers
in your own image
potent and receptive
provoking
self-conscious longing
I extend as homage
to greet you
in timid exchange
for knowing touch

You are strong
woman
you are my strength

You are strong woman
you are my strength

You are strong woman, you are my strength

                (2017)

tiny claws

heard tiny claws scuttling
across loose roof tiles

rogue thoughts rattling
on the cages of my brain

brazen feathers fluttering
a shadowy scuffle over skylight

myriad voices chattering
in the hallways of my mind

mocking moon squatting
on his perch between dead stars

lousy lovers fucking
in the bedrooms of my fantasy

dark night disappearing
in a haze of coral clemency

soft feet shuffling
towards the exits in my conscious

welcome morning whispering
its daily incantations

nimble fingers turning
off the light switch in my head

leaping robin tapping
lightly on the window pane

wakeful mind retreating
to the anguish of my dreamscape

              (2017)

Faithful to the better man

If you are the lion then I am the lamb
 come to lie in your cradle of distress
 come to tempt your teeth with the willingness of my flesh
 to make my bed in the dirt and straw
 and ragged feathers of your confused desire
 like some resurrected martyr happened upon your manger
You
 who takes my longing and straps it across your breast
 with all the sympathy of one who has loved a thousand men
 my longing
 the suit of armour you wear for each embrace
 my longing
 the blood-soaked cloth that turns their eager greed to addled fear
You move towards me with long
 perfect fingers outstretched
 reaching out for me
 and I manoeuvre my body
 to welcome your embrace
 but you stop just short and run
 the perfect fingers of one hand
 slowly down my chest and pause
 at my stomach before retreating
and I am the lamb
 I watch you in reverse
 and you teach me about loss
 and I am the lamb
 and you teach me about loss
 as I watch you in reverse
and I crumble on the marble floor
 like sand caught between
 the crevices of your perfect toes
 particles clinging to delicate flesh
 and I hunger for you
 and my desires consume me as I would consume you
and I am the lion
You come to me with blood on your hands
 you come to me and offer up
 your womb as some kind of sacrifice
 as proof of your commitment to another man
 a better man
Your womb
 torn from your stomach and cradled
 in your arms as I was cradled
 in your bosom
 lost in the grey soil and marble
 features of your flesh
Your womb
 the last vestige of a forbidden love
 the final trace of my cunning plan
 your womb
 cradled in my hands
 with this gift you erase the text
 with this gift you bury the pretense
 that you are the lion and I am the lamb
 and I devour your generosity
for I am the lion
 and I feed on your sins so that you
 may no longer feel the burden
 of your guilt
for I am the lion
 and you must leave now sweet lamb
 while my belly is full
 and hunger is suppressed
Leave now while I dream in lazy satisfaction
 leave while your saviour awaits
 your return, and the beast in me
 is prone to distraction
 make your escape to that perfect future
 which is your past
for I cannot deny my nature
 I cannot suppress desire
 repress desire
I am the lion
 and I hunger for blood
 I hunger for the blood that roars
 beneath the pale flesh of this delicate lamb
 whose perfect fingers collide
 in the palm of her powerful hand
 which she holds out in anticipation
 of finding the better man

                    (2016)

A moment of levity (after the funeral)

He walked straight over
to the empty bar stool and
dragged it across the floor to
the window

'Just watch,' he said, raising
one finger
to cut Billy off as the
question began to form in
Billy's throat

'Just watch,' he muttered
again, this time more
to himself than
anyone else as he
trained his eyes on the
sidewalk outside

Billy stepped into the broad
shaft of sunlight which
streamed through
the low window,
rubbing his eyes as though
the daylight had caught
him by surprise

The thick, black lines cast
by the bars of the window
across the parquet flooring
lanced the tips
of Billy's shoes
as he edged closer to
the bar stool,

prompting him to swat his
hand impulsively
at the encroaching shadows and
create a miniature dust cloud
in the midday sun, visible
only to himself

The beginnings of an amused
grin had begun to creep up
from the corners
of Billy's narrow lips,
into his eyes and forehead, when
his reverie was interrupted by
another hand
waving in his peripheral vision

'Here, here,' the waving of the hand
growing more frantic as the
anticipation appeared to build,
'here she comes,' Billy's
colleague
almost sang, finishing
his observation in a tone of
hushed reverence

Billy's attention followed
the arc
of the flapping hand
towards the window,
where his eyes continued to
adjust to the brightness

He drew closer in, his right earlobe
almost brushing against
the polyester shoulder
of his friend's cheap dress suit
as he strained to peer
through the glass
to the sidewalk

As the eagerly anticipated
limbs swept into view,
Billy was conscious of several
pairs of eyes
now trained on the scene outside

In four purposeful strides
she was out of sight,
unaware of the dedicated
audience she had briefly enthralled
and now left behind,
overcome by a studied silence

'There's a fast track
to heaven for pins like those,
and it's lined with angels clamouring
to catch a glimpse,' Billy declared
rather loftily, unable
to hide his pride at his own
poetic delivery, which lifted the
reticence

until his flash of delight
was flattened
by a derisory snort
emanating from the dark corner

Billy spun from the window
affronted,
aiming his piercing gaze
at the corner from which the
humph had come
but his eyes, now fully adjusted
to the sunlight,
could not locate his tormentor
in the darkness

The hostile concentration of
his stare was broken
by the sound of another snort
from farther along the wall,
this one more gleeful
before breaking into a full-
blown chuckle

Billy's head swung instinctively
to find the source
but the offensive chuckle was
interjected by another
and then another

until the whole barroom
was filled with
uproarious laughter
and Billy could not
help but
smile at the absurdity and
soon joined in,
slapping his thigh with a whoop
as he doubled over in delight

'It's a thin line between a poet
and a fool,' Billy grinned
ruefully,
fighting to regain his breath
as he traipsed back
towards his seat at the bar,
and a few heads nodded in
agreement

'...but what about those legs, huh?'

and the barroom lapsed
into anxious
silence once again

              (2017)

To an absent muse

I love you now as I loved you then
in an empty room with an empty pen
I love you still, though I do not know
if you loved my grief before you let it go

There's a gentle breeze on my cold skin
and I do not know how it wriggled in
I closed the window, I closed the door
I don't know who I'm closing them for

Though I cannot bear that dusty smell
I fear what the fresh air might expel
You closed the book, I closed my mind
and all those memories were left behind

I tried to sweep them from the floor
but that playful breeze wouldn't be ignored
it blew them all across the room
so the empty pen replaced the broom

I thought I'd start another book
to store the memories we overlooked
the room is empty and the floor is clear
but there's no space left for memories here

and on an empty page I'm sure to fit
a thousand words, or close to it
but a thousand words just can't contain
a single memory in their sad refrain

So I tried to write a thousand more
but each memory fell back to the floor
and no matter how brave my writing was
the empty page was not the place for us

So I closed the book on my absent muse
though I'm not sure who I'm closing it to
and I kissed the room with its vacant chill
because I love your breeze and I always will

                    (2016)

 

It was in this place

It was in this place
where leaves come to die
and birds fly in jilted patterns
through the sky

It was in this place
this narrow space
between the branches
where life's opportunities
threatened to spurn my advances

and rotting carcasses
of rodent ancestors
feed the soil
where knotted roots
descend into the earth
like unholy bannisters

It was in this place

It was in this place
where nations divide
and races disperse in blind fear
for their lives

It was in this place
I saw the face
expressionless yet pleading
to don the mask of revolt
for life itself was fleeting

and latent menace
or brutal thuggery
teased the mob
as they burnt the trees
to appease the gods
and their blatant demagoguery

It was in this place

It was in this place
the earth erupted
and nature bared her brilliant soul
naked and uncorrupted

               (2016)

 

It has a certain name

It has a certain aim
this seed of hatred sown
and history has shown
it has a certain name

It has a certain name
this rhetoric of fear
and if it isn't clear
it has a certain aim

The pseudonyms abound
liberty is one
Its mantle is the gun
a less than subtle shroud

The truth of liberty
is until each one can abstain
from the weight of sorrow's gain
then no one can be free

Equality stands high
on every single list
that ever did exist
and started with a lie

and made itself a myth
perpetuated through
the considerate me and you
for caring is our gift

Not one of us alive
can truly stand and say
we greet each one the same
and love without bias

Colour, class, religion
sex or sexuality
the authors of our reality
the architects of its vision

It has a certain name
it mocks the disenfranchised
latent or unrealised
it has a certain aim

It has a certain aim
to promote individual need
consume us in our greed
it has a certain name

                (2016)