Brimketill, Reykjanes

Why do they let it go, the sea
Back to its roil and tumble
The clefts, the nooks, the craggy 
Holes can’t seem to hold on to
The rushing blue and white the
Blackness of the rocks darker
As they let it slip through
Their fingers, tears down the faces
Of cliffs. Why do they not keep
The frantic waters sheltered in
Steep hollows, shallows with no
Traces of the deep, silent
Holding its grief in sleep. Why would
The ocean crash into stony
Arms if its heart was not bent
On seeking its keep.


Rocks Seen From the Edges of Cliffs

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Last night I dreamt my body was in revolt again
That I had never learnt to be afraid of spiders
And they were attacking me again. That the fear
Of hissing noises and hanging from cliffs
Had never rewired my brain and now I was
Falling, reaching for slithering vines with
Venom in their teeth. And I think how billions
Of deaths have not taught us what to do
With grief. So many, I had not thought death
Had not taught us so many truths and ways to
Go on living. No phobias, no thicker skins,
No recoil from the hiss and bite of grief. How has
Evolution passed us by, I think. Maybe, as usual,
I have the wrong end of this writhing mess. Maybe
It is grief that keeps us human in the face
Of so much ugliness.

Homeward Bound

I saw lightning fly from
Cloud to cloud etching arrows
In the sky. I saw the edge
Of dawn sketching thunder
Silent and black. I saw the moon
Stand guard high above; an act
Of faith. In truth, our descent
Traced its arc, a crescent of
Returning. Let lightning
Follow my flight, I think, let
Each arrow be a burning. Let
The glow of day be born in pain
Each shade a stroke of learning.
Let courage be an act of faith
And rain, the thunder’s yearning.


Is sometimes the rushing
Of a green river, carving
Stone pillars in the crumbling canyons
Of my Heart. Driven apart.
The riven highlands offer the years
A pebble at a time. A rock here
And there standing when
All about broke into dust eons
Ago. Today is a bridge under
Which the rushing waters sound
The deep, a thing to stand on
When all else seems tumbling
Past. To not have to leap. This
Bridge will not be
The last.

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Dear Sir,

I wish to apply
For mercy – I have committed
So many sins that come under
Crimes permitted, a column
That is not included in your
Many paged form. I
Would also like to apply
For the right to breathe
The air of conference rooms
For the right to unsheathe
Words, driven to the hilt
Into conversations. My application
Includes a petition of
Guilt for arguments built
From scratch. Dear sir,
Or madam, as the case may be,
I’ve never been to your esteemed
Country. If you wish to scan
My irises you will see,
Into my soul, no doubt, and
My fingerprints will vouch
For my political integrity. I
Could provide you further
With a colonoscopy, but I feel
In my guts that you’ll brook no
Ifs, ands, or buts, and so
Dear Sir, please feel free
To take imprints of all accounts,
-Banks, permits, degrees –
I make no confession to virtues
In my possession. Visa granting is
Really all that is wanting.

The family portrait

…is always taken by someone else,
Have you noticed? Pictures of
Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters,
Children, husbands, wives, can
Always be taken by wives, husbands,
Children, sisters, brothers, fathers,
Mothers – as long as one of them
(husband, wife, brother, sister, child
Parent) is missing. Why is the one
Taking the picture (boy, girl, man,
Woman) never seen as part of it?
The one who sees when she’s
Looking pensive, or catches him
With the sun in his hair, the one
Who sees the kids in temporary
Truce, just so. What is absent about
This taker, this stealer of moments?
The family portrait is perhaps
Overrated. Posed for a stranger. Its
Importance overstated.

To write of things

… that touch us, is
To touch those to whom we write. The
Sign on the street, the girl on the phone,
The moment on the terrace, the ache
In the bone, the rusty gate that never
Shut, the clothes that she’s outgrown,
The silence when you wake up, the
Peace they’ve never known, the kids
Among the rubble, the indifference of
The drone, the bride, the widow, the
Grandmother, the witch, the virgin, the
Crone, the brother that we laughed with,
The father we heard groan, the sisters whom
We fought with, the longing for the distant,
The wild, the unknown. The grope on the bus,
The leer on the face, the staying after dark,
The quickening of pace, the sea that feels like
Panic, the getting out of the place, the job
That goes to someone younger, the
Hounding of your race, the knowing that
The ageing body puts you outside of
The chase, the lines along your lips
That touch your mouth with grace. These
Things we touch as we write them, those
Readers who see us revealed, seek out
The words that hide them,
Covered, covert, sealed.

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

Some stories need stones
To tell them since silence
Best speaks them. Some
Stories need eyes to hear them
When speech is given
To ghosts. Some stories
Need space to write them
Footfalls to walk them, steps
To trace them, falling as
Leaves and floating in
Sighs, caught in beams
And shining in shadows
Some stories are best told
In open places where the blue
Sky watches the tree seed
Escape your searching eye.

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