Tag Archives: loss

Exorcism

Exorcism

​It has taken until now to begin;
for my throat to form the sounds,
my mouth to mimic
the shifting shapes of sorrow
and release them into the air.
 

I am an infant, grappling
with the birth of language;
each word connecting
and disconnecting me
to and from myself.
 

Love letters crawl from the
tar pit. Black, sticky,
coated with grief, they slip
beneath triangles that
no longer tessellate.
 

As the banshee leaves
all that remains in the
blonde light of morning
is a girl, so much stronger
than me before you.

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Y Ddraig

Worm's Head

I’ve looked at it from many angles,
this two-headed serpent that the Vikings
named ‘dragon’.
 

A thirty year gaze from my own quiet shores
and then briefly, lovingly,
from yours.
 

I turn it often in my hands;
some days a smooth, silver sadness,
others a jagged saw
 

that drags at my skin
as a sharp wind claws
at Dylan’s ‘slipping stones’.
 

I watch it now

from the safety of the West,
the sun sinking behind me,
 

and as the tide begins to fall
I realise that I have never seen it
from the sea.

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The Boatman

Henry

For Henry
 

In the rise of the sun and the fall of the tide
As the little boat slowdrifts away from the quay
Hold steady the rudder as he pulls alongside
 

As our sorrow and solace begin to collide
Amid fragments of light his new course we now see
In the rise of the sun and the fall of the tide
 

Though our hearts are still heavy, our tears undried
We loosen the reef knots and accept what will be
Hold steady the rudder as he pulls alongside
 

On the warm breath of summer sweet melodies glide
Over waves in the cool shade of Van’s Redwood Tree
In the rise of the sun and the fall of the tide
 

Let our arms release him and our tongues be untied
To sing Hallelujah, set his happy soul free
Hold steady the rudder as he pulls alongside
 

New horizons to chart with fresh hope as his guide
On his last voyage out on this tranquil blue sea
In the rise of the sun and the fall of the tide
Hold steady the rudder as he pulls alongside

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The Snowman


 

For my friend Liam
 

Standing between pews,
flanked
by unfamiliar pillars,
I peel back
a late night conversation
we had
about snow;
 

the way flakes
soften and yield
the moment they rest
upon warm flesh
leaving only a moist remnant
of their tender brush.
 

Three years on
I cradle
crystal memories of you
in frozen hands,
while you, pristine
in your chocolate swirled youth
melt
into a starless October night.
 
 

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Wake


 

I dislike funerals,
but the Celt in me
loves a decent wake.
 

Not the
polite,
curly white
cucumber sandwiches
and cups of tea
you could stand
a corpse up in

type of wake
 

or the sort
that forces those
wrestling
with a harrowed,
rawbone ache
to shake hands
with an averted gaze
and sympathetic shoes,
 

but a proper ‘do’,
a celebration
of a full-span life,
mottled with its share
of strife and scrape,
peppered with purpose
and lively liver spots,
 

where the skeletons
are more interesting
than the closets
and the china is chinked
like battle-scarred armour.
 

So, let’s skip the cemetery,
the shallow grave speech
from the unfamiliar preacher
while we pick worm-mulched mud
from beneath our nails.
 

Let’s save on the heating,
cut the cremation,
the lip-synching of hymns,
the scattering of ashes beneath
the sapling limbs
of a strategically placed yew.
 

The phoenix is a fallacy;
nothing ever rose,
scented from the pyre
but the stink of crisp skin,
the wraith of desire
as it whimpered unnoticed.
 

Let’s lay this body
down in the meadow,
on a table cloth
of butternut sunshine,
squashed between cordials,
bathed in a changeling breeze.
 

Open that bottle of Merlot
we were saving,
let it breathe the scent
of campions and daisies
that thrive
beyond the dried bouquet.
 

Allow the sun
to slip smoothly
down the neck of the sky,
instead of wrangling
with darkness
as it steals the day.
 

Unwrap our picnic of
cherished remnants
while Bacchus
opens our throats
and we lace our memories
with melodies and verse.
 

Let’s sleep,
arms wrapped around it
in the dewy night air,
beneath a blinking coverlet
of unknown mischief,
until it’s time to wake.
 
 

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Taylor on Burton


 

He came;
swaggering incendiary,
Celtic virility dripping
from his rim,
gravelly timbre
raking each glassy breath.
 

Vows lost
amid wedded shards,
freefall shapes blown
of our own viscous chaos,
twisted stem highballs
splintering
amid unstable natron flux.
 

We poured ourselves
into a decade, oblivious,
lolled
in hot, sticky carnality,
sluiced scotch
on cut-glass rocks
scooped from cold crystal
to tranquilise engorged
fuck-heat fingers.
 

Scorched,
fire-cut and ruined,
we retreated
to misshapen solid
states, mixing virulent
cracked lacquer cock tales
of medicated misery
and miscast lovers
 

until blistered and bloated,
clasped in the cold grip
of the parison,
he bled into the Céligny night,
 

leaving me to languish,
crushed,
ribboned red,
marbling centuries of loss
on blue-glaze Portland,
clutching his script
in death-wax hands.
 
 

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Burton on Taylor


 

She came;
violet eyes brazing,
hair liquid black,
after-birthed
from Morfa’s glutted seam.
 

She blessed and burnt
my summer daze,
a crucible of white heat,
her gleaming teeth
cursed, dispersed
the icy hellions
of my bleak winters.
 

We raged with it,
the horn-ridden beast,
hollered as we let it claw
our clothes, rip ecstasy
from our throats, gouge
our eyes with the taloned
beauty of idolised youth.
 

Ten years we burned
between the sun and its
mutant reflection,
amid lust
and sallow loathing,
quaffing piss-amber
liquor between
fighting and fucking
 

until molten and wet,
she snaked from my
volcanic mouth,
left me spent and spewing,
to roam the sodden streets;
livid, raw, weeping whisky
into soot-filled gutters,
scuttling the gulf
of snot-drowned grief,
 

an ashen shadow of a man
bearing the red welt
of a life half-lived,
without her.
 
 
 
 
 

~ Bit of a departure for me. I’m fascinated by the relationship between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. They had a passionate, tempestuous marriage between 1964 and 1974, remarrying 16 months after their divorce, the second marriage lasted less than a year. He likened their marriage to rubbing two sticks of dynamite together.
 

Burton died of a brain haemorrhage in August 1984. He was buried in a red suit, a tribute to his Welsh roots, and with a copy of Dylan Thomas’s poems, many of which he had recorded to great acclaim. Burton wrote Taylor countless love letters over the years, even when they were apart. His last was delivered to her home three days after his death. She died 27 years later in March 2011 and was buried with the letter.
 

I’ve tried to write this from Burton’s point of view after they divorced in 1974. You kinda have to imagine his deep, rich Welsh voice to get the full effect. If you don’t know what he sounded like check out the link – hands down the best reading of Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle.
 

Richard Burton reads Dylan Thomas

 

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the secret life of trees


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

nascent honeysuckling babe
catkin velveteen murmured ripple
rosehip nipple
 

naive milk-bathed melody
harmonic lilt of newborn crush
 

crushed
 

broken, rooted, steeped in scraith
charred, scraw-clawed ascent
scraping cobalt canopy
 

corkscrew willowed silhouette
seeking beams and
warmdrench summer rain
 
 

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Drowning Kittens

After days of clawing
the same wet wound,
we emerge;
 

encased in the fetor
of a hessian tomb,
pus-drenched and sodden,
 

to pass wraith-like
in cat-tailed corridors,
shrinking from contact,
 

slinking into tired,
tissue-thin walls
until the mewling ceases.
 
 

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Blunt


We woke early the day spoons fell from the sky,
rubbed gritty eyes, sleepily unaware of incoming metal,
left home to muddle through the mundane.

Early March, dark by six when we returned,
seconds through the door when the shower started,
startling the air with ring and rasp.

I barely recognised her voice

The first hit me blunt, brought me to my knees,
freeze-framed millisecond before the second hit
bit into my scalp, pinned me to the ground

while silver rained around. You dragged me
from the deluge, covered my head.
I fled, bled, remember running the stairs,

aware of the screams, dead dead dead
beneath the clatter, hammered-mettle matter
that left me bludgeoned and bleeding,

surrounded by steel that scooped me hollow,
left me to wallow in double-dense days,
weighed down by the hebetate chemical daze.

Narcosis that left me scrabbling for sharps,
searching in drawers for whetted knives,
anything to feel the edge of the blade.

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