A paranormal Sunday morning,
the streets all but deserted
save for the wind sprites kicking litter,
pigeons bobbing round the speed bumps
and the Hang-Over Fairy trying
and failing to travel
invisible, dressed in a blamanche pink, lace tutu
with a scalloped hem and goose fleshed
arms and midriff, her plastic tiara grasped
in one mitt, a glitter wand dangling from the other
as she hobbles on high heels that worked fine
last night but don't today.
How she's wishing for a jacket or a cardie,
but fairies don't wear coats in this town.
She's doing the walk of shame under a painful frown
of low cloud and high hunched shoulders
after the fall from the top of a Christmas tree,
too pissed to flap her filigree wings,
all of a sudden too heavy for the bubbling laughter
of Angie's party to keep her afloat
and out of reach of Pete,
whose not a bad looking bloke
after half a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon,
and who snared her with the promise
of a quiet spliff of White Widow together in the spare room
and a sneeky peek of his Prince Albert
underneath a poster of Che Guevara.
Cnoc Na Carraigh
Hiding in a skirt of barbed gorse
its trunk furrowed thick with lichen blooms
and pale hairs of green-grey moss
the ogham from the lost kingdom
of Dalraida has almost worn away;
the still stone still stands, leaning
like a canine tooth upon the mound.
I touch it with an open palm,
try to imagine the life of the carver,
recall stories of the Tuatha De Danaan -
another squall is sweeping in from Islay,
a black bullock lows,
a gull glides by, climbing the wind
that strokes my cheek,
white mares leap ashore,
brambles ripen, sunlight,
the first few spots of rain.
Nothing mysterious occurs,
no entrance to a Sidh appears.
I breathe with intent.
The world turns.
(The Taste of Arabia)
Hold the manakish of the holy month
Between the parched lips of dawn and dusk
Seek the oasis of spices
In the street of false gods
From a shisha pipe’s gleam in the corner
A nomadic coil of rose-smoke asks ‘Who are you?’
Among minarets and arabesques
I have forgotten my name
Should I wear a fez, spectacles
Grow the grey moustache of a learned man
Become a bird of paradise
Grooming its plumage before morning song
Am I the caterpillar smoking on a mushroom
Dreaming of an emperor-dreaming of a butterfly
I could be the falcon on the glove
Of the Queen of the desert
Loosen my tether, let me fly
Over the jangling line of the caravanserai
Through the drapes, across a bridge of one hair
Kwiksave’s auto-doors yawn bargains-in-trolleys
She has set me circling shared homelands
On the dark wings of a prayer
(For Gail Henderson)
To vegetate on the moist earth,
my eyes closed and on the inner lids
floats a new birth - stalk growth,
tears that are the spoor
to some half remembered treasure,
hidden by a hedge of thorns, curled
like lashes of a hundred years:
drop, crumble, decay
grow again with kisses.
Slumber in the spiral of a snail's shell
bleached by salt, its trail a glimmer
in the shadow of a spinning wheel
like unspun thread, Theseus holds
between his teeth in a quiet cave mouth.
Midsummer and hungover
on endless sunshine.
The wind skims the lake's skin,
bubbles rise, evolving ambitions
of grinning pike to a creamy sky
I would tear apart, rip and score,
make a mosaic of French paper.
Dandelions sway - the marching,
fragile heads of guards in white bearskins.
Seed wishes drift through open windows,
land on pillows, breath in, out.
Lung trees blossom and a small black bird,
about the size of a dust mite,
whistles for autumn berries.
3. A Desire Span
Peacocks watch with their tails.
Their shrill shrieks stretch like catgut
in the night. I am allergic to feathers,
and their screeches lash like a whip.
Their eyes watch my every move,
though I try to vanish chameleon-like
into the background. A hydra waits
with its many heads, in dreams I dare not go.
There's something out there.
Fungal creature in mould and moss,
with external stomachs that digest
motes of dust and small black birds
in forest gloom. Tread lightly
if you pass this way. The woods
are thick, the paths wind back
to where they start.
Fronds unfurl like tongues
to taste the sweat of your fear.
The final frontier, somewhere
in the labyrinth is the treasure.
Here is the self you sought
coiled in the bed of a bud
about to burst, or is there,
after picking away the last layer
with grubby hoof-like hands, nothing
but a pile of shed skins at your feet
and the light beat of a wood pigeon's
wings disappearing in the shade?