A Gathering Of My Clan
Time for voices to melt like sighs,
Though I smile at the happy banter
Caught between the camp fire flames
And scaly stencils of small leaves.
Each year they come, so I learned,
Father, cousin, aunt and suckling babe,
Guarding their blood with a tented nest
Reunion of thin nose, rake people.
Sat alone by my own spitty wood
I swallow a teaspoon of whisky;
Shake drips that make the embers snarl.
The bark of a griping ancestor
Those gone from me, vaporised, eaten
By the earth, given to the sea, swarm
Like the live, thin nose, rake people,
Generations gathered to bicker;
A swelling tide of discontent
For the feckless, repeated weakness
Of the living family, witnessed
From some celluloid flat gaze that burns
The back of the real world’s head,
Causing an ear to listen for a dry soul,
An intake of airless breath,
Where camp smoke bows and flames buckle
Late Summer Sun
He was a small plant once – tender,
fresh to the thrill of white probes winning
a fumble through the wet crumble of ancestors.
His leaves were a flowing cut above the others,
even though he flowered briefly
in the milky light of May’s uncertain clime.
Petals the color of blued glass
made you smile in summers past.
Your heart skips were noted then.
“Ah,” – short gasps rose from your lips
as you turned, bent on full hips
to see his erect stems with blooms
in the ripeness of perfection.
“Interesting foliage,” another said.
“He has such leaves – mottled texture,
the chlorophyll dark with rich abundance.”
“He’ll not flower more this season,” she scoffed.
A breeze caught the weighty folds of her sky skirt.
She dusted soil-dried hands and never turned again
to his mound of age grown clumsiness.
Instead, she looked with bitter eyes to the sun.
“Not this season or any of the future.
He’s used this land, drunk from it, seeded it.
Now the soil is wrung.
We’re all a little tired – dulled,
But we’ll smile I guess, and drink some memories
While his last flowers make fake dry fruit
Beneath the wry smiles of a late summer sun.”
Luis And The Tourists
We came bearing gifts,
Gunpowder, coca leaves,
Whisky cheap as water.
We would find you sunk,
Deep in your chilled stone-worm holes
Bored in the rust breast
Chipping her, metal on stone
In kerosene light,
Shifting like larvae
In earthen burrows, red eyed
Drunk in the shadows.
Your flaccid cheeks bulged.
Mashed coca stemmed the same pain
You felt yesterday.
Yet somehow you smiled
At more tourists, whose soft eyes
Peeped in your black bowl.
He called you Luis.
At fifty-three the eldest
Still able to suck
The dead air inside
Bolivia’s rich mountain,
Where God never goes.
For forty two years,
Crouched deep in Pachamama,
You searched for her gifts,
Feeling only weight
And sharp jar of her hard bones,
Pressing you closer
To a pointless end,
Like your father, grandfather,
Drunk, poisoned before.
We were born the same,
Same year, you and I; our lives
You grew with dark stones.
I was born to those who would peep
In your black bowl.
Where Do The French Go After Dark?
At four pm – at five and six they pour from a damp hole
Beneath the cold wires of metro tracks. Le Vesinet.
In the northern dusk, frowned on by poodle-pruned rows of spring trees,
They run, fright-eyed lest they should suck on bad air.
Some duck behind the glass doors of cafes and fragile shops
That refuse to draw their blinds on mid days and Mondays.
A slight man normal in every urban sense
Opens a silver scooter like a sandwich plucked from a lunch box.
He scoots - the pavement winding him with gathered speed.
He draws no other face intent on fussy cakes,
Baguettes, cut flowers and well-chosen wine,
Bustling to fit it all before some Cinderella time
Leaves them stranded, alone in the open grey
Among the puddles and bruised market leaves.
At eight, yellow lamplight stains the early rain.
The phosphorous sheen the only dance.
The soft groan of a weary pigeon lifting from a gutter;
The labour of wing beats, the only sounds.
So I pick a silent path to Cinéma Jean-Marais
Walking a film-set fantasy myself,
Leaving behind a slug trail, an English scent
To be sniffed, curious in the new morning drizzle
When cars bunch with irritated parking once more.
When the high-heeled and the well-heeled run,
Mindlessly tumbling into the damp hole
Towards the ghostly metro hum.