Katabasis

No army marches faster.
Having beaten us, the clouds
dropped their arrowfall into the bay,
blessing our deepest failure.

News reached me on the wind.
Yet more ranks of salt and hate
but there I was, sharing a mind with water
after months of hard dryness.

Stars gleamed like arrow wounds.
There was great, roiling joy
in leaving this land under darkness.
We carried our corpses across waves

to meet the gale and what lived yet
of the lives we could have had.
The further I looked ahead, the further
storm and suddenness looked into me.

 

 

Candles

Wax colours the grate and floorboards
as the candles stream away. Two matches
burn in a caldera. Their heads are charcoal.
Their bodies, black along their length,
anchor the flame to a melting derelict.

Gone out, they are broken columns
where temples stood, cluttered with burials,
votives and valedictions to gods who’d
raise used kindling from ashes
coercing it to wick the light again.

 

 

 

Poets’ Corner

I dream of London’s buried waterways,
how the Tyburn crashes through Westminster
trammelled by culverts, a ghost of a ghost.
Bury me somewhere nameless. Let the days
settle underneath leaves. Open the ground,
bury me deeper this time. Let me fall
down where the rivers meet so I can feel
the current without knowing. There’s no sound,

no marble echoes to remember me,
no evidence of parting nor that place
where we are told the waters surface.
I’ll be there when the stream becomes a sea
composed of driftwood, pauses and intent:
beyond the shore, where the waves are silent.

‘Poets’ Corner’ was shortlisted in the 2013 Live Canon International Poetry competition.