Today I went to Kleifarvatn again
I’m not sure what I wanted to see.
The mountains around it bulged with
Strange colours, ochre and rust, bent
As only hardened lava can be. Even
The sandy shore reared away from
The whipped waters, blinding the black
Shores brown. I let the hair blow into my eyes.
“Look”, I said. “How astonishing, the ropey
Ground. How it rippled as it flowed.”
The mists hid almost everything, but I saw
The water’s edge, white-frothed and clear.
“I’m so glad you could see this,” I said to my friend.
“I always bring everyone here.”


An Invitation

I want you to come see where I live
To be familiar with all the things I see
Every day – the view from my kitchen
Window, the loft-space in the garage, the
Way the sun comes in on a late night in
The summer; see in a new light all
The things I brought to this new home
From the old. If you see it, old friend,
It is possible that it will end this terrible
Feeling that I am far away. Maybe it will stay
In your mind, sisters and brothers, nieces
And nephews, cousins, family, all the pieces
Of who I was and where I am, joined this way
Will go from this home when you visit my old one
And then maybe we will have done
With the alienation of distance and time
And this foreign land will be a little more mine.

As ever, my last poem of April for Anannya

I’ll spare you the metaphors of flowers, we
Are all April phools after all. And I’ll desist
From images of gardens and blooming and
Other such, because this one is for Anannya
But also for all of you – all of us, who resist
The stifling of words, the impossibility of
Poetry. To all the pictures of loveliness
That we have sent each other, I add this,
Of lilies. Because they so proudly proclaim
So shamelessly confess to their beauty.
Like trumpets, each head, triumphant
In its glory – and yet, you can close
Your eyes and breathe in its story. Each
Unique, each like its other, they are a
Cluster of gratitude, a world together.

Fanfare for all the helping hands

The lilies, like a brass band, march across
The living room, trumpeting their deliciousness
In brazen tones. This year the arch of
Seduction spans seas and souls, bringing
Love in pressurised litres, texts, and zoom – no
Lyrical love songs, no dulcet tones. I hear
The amaltas like a choir over a billion strong
Thundering in my heart, and in my ear
Blasts this unprecedented song, this
Unbridled declaration of the sweetness
That lies at the core. Louder than hate
And evil and maliciousness, prouder
Than the sentries guarding death’s door,

On letting my kid go to the volcano from which she brought back fresh lava

It hurts you when you hold it. Resentful
Of your thin skin your nerves that scream
Your wondering fingertips wincing
Along crevices. Not ready to take its place
As a hard sharp thing. Birth is difficult, the clean
Hot liquid womb a descent full of forcing
Out. And however cautiously you brace
Yourself, children are so hard to set
Free. Distrustful of your squeamish care.
So beautiful it hurts when your forge it.
In this almost-Spring, a hammering out
In the smithy of creating, a laying bare.

On reading Yeats suddenly

I don’t much mind grey pavements. The sun
Is not the fiercest of my gods and I have many.
Alters abound about me where deities of various
Hue are summoned and when my prayers are done
They cluster about me. You might call it my
Bee-loud glade. Obeisance paid and worship due
Are the quiet desperation of battles hard-won.
Unmoored, deep-mired, sweet-sung, self-sired,
You are the way and the wayfarer and the tired
Kindness of strangers is sometimes the only boon
Granted. So we could arise, we could go now, but until
Peace comes dropping slow, perhaps some goddess
Of fire will rain yearning upon these pavements
Grey and in those pooling lakes we will build
Our cities of desire to guide the way.

 What do the Icelandic do without their pools?

When things get tricky the Icelandic aren’t too picky

They stay indoors, line up at stores,

Do their chores and mop their floors,

Report their symptoms if they start feeling peaky

Work from home and stay out of schools but

What do the Icelandic do without their pools??

Rumour has it they can’t live without them

They’re essential for the locals to be able to

Keep their wits about them. Babies and mothers,

Athletes, newly wed brides, and nuns, among others,

Philosophers, doctors, farmers, and fools 

What do the Icelandic do without their pools?!

No soaking in the hot tubs, no water-jet back rubs,

No gossip with swimsuited friend, no kids splashing 

In the shallow end, no lobster-hued legs as you go

From the forty degree hot pot to sit in the snow

No cloud of steam on shoulders bare, no dipping

Underwater to melt the icicles in your hair. No 

Resolving your traumas by having a good soak,

Pandemics are one thing, but is this a joke?!

Do  they raise their arms to the skies and stare

Wildly about, smother a scream and stifle a shout?

Do they refuse to eat, put down their tools? I feel 

Their stress, their anguish and tension, and thus 

I seek an answer to this most pertinent question:

How do they stay Viking strong and keep their cools?

What do the Icelandic do without their pools?!

Courage #8: An Easter Poem

Like a false dawn, the late winter snow
Beckons and seduces, shaping itself into
Leaves, coyly clinging to dry branches too
Embarrassed to admit to their saplessness.
See how the melting snow, like a lost love,
Shines the timid light, the brittle lace of
It chasing the gaps into glimmers of
Haplessness. Just for a moment, as you
Pass it by, it holds its dying in mid-air,
A newly shaped bud, unleafed and bare.
Courage is not the coming of Spring;
It is the promise of grace late winter
Will bring.

Walk me a night

Walk me a night
When the chill is on the trees
Walk me a night
When no words hang in the breeze
Stroll me a winter where
The snowlines light the way
Draw me through forests when
Bark skins sing the day. But paint
Me no pictures of landscapes brown
And green. I have no faith in colours
That my heart has never seen.

Let It In

You leave in the winter and return
In the spring – a week later, but the
Burn of ice has given way to the wing
Of blue that blazes the day – and a bowl
Of white tulips is on the table. They
Wave in all directions, as if to say, ‘whole
Snowstorms have passed into these blooms.
The seasons don’t really change. In a way,
Spring is a price Winter is willing to pay,
To finally gain entrance into your rooms.’