Ketley

Ketley was a burly man, and because of our differences over the years, he and I stood at the end of an aching pole; his muscled arms were bent on pulling in that monster.  He often snarled mid heave.  I was sure, at times, he would have loved the head on that line to have been mine.  I may have been wrong, but I had chills that morning on the river; strong notions, dare I say it, that I couldn’t cast aside.

He froze my core with his backward glances as he caught me reminiscing.  I knew how wrong, but at the same time, how tantalising my dalliances had been with his shapely fair-haired, sassy woman, whom I did love with all my heart.

Had I been altogether spoiled for choices, I could have kept her, instead of being plainly faced with death’s place underground.  So, I kissed her farewell and braced myself for the wrath of Ketley, but why we had to meet here of all places  was not a curiosity to me.

His sights were held firmly on that there bleak as hell’s charmed water, and god knows what he thought was underneath it all.

“Give me that small hook, will you?” He growled at me with a threatened animal growl – that low noise in its throat – usually, it meant it was angry.  He looked at me hard, and that always made me go cold.  He was angry.

What he called a small hook could have suspended a small calf.  The cold steel was sharp and grey,  and it looked like it could pierce three men at a time – and I was just one.  Still, I had trusted him all of my life, and I didn’t necessarily want to stop now.  Also, I had an escape planned.

I handed the hook to him as I recoiled involuntarily, and at the same time, I watched my sweat be flung into the Four Corners of a god-an awful night’s sea swell.  He swung the steely crook over the boat’s edge and it soon took hold of the hellish, glistening creature he had managed to draw alongside us.  It was magnificent. It was huge!  God almighty, it could have been the devil.  I’d never seen a catch that size.  Heh, in my mind, he should have rode off majestically then and there on that critter!

But instead, he started talking, and not in the angry voice I’d anticipated for most of the night; he was too watchful of the water, and seemingly, any possible onlookers.  I sat back away from him just in case.  He seemed calm and collected as he (just like that) asked me if I felt confident enough to run his livery, and that he ‘knew for damn sure’ I could take care of his wife.  But what about his three kids?

I stammered for quite a while, both inside and out – the words just would not come.  My mouth?  Well, that giant fish from hell was looking mighty interested in its large space as my jaw got wider and wider.   Despite the abundance of torrid sea water, my mouth just plain dried.

“Just as I thought.”  His creased to bust eyebrows all of a sudden burst.  He savagely continued with,  “Thinkin’ with yer groin, but with actions of a jellyfish.  So, yeah, meet yer maker, squirt!|

Plunging into the freezing dark perdition of my predicament, I felt a hitherto calming warmth, as if hell froze for me all that was bad.  Ketley saw wrongdoing and acted… and  I, at the time, only saw curvaceous smiles, fear, her desperation and a hallelujah heaven awaitin’, and so, I indeed acted.  But who was right?

By now that great creature of a fish was as damn inconsequential as one might get.  And me?  I was a goner, but also didn’t altogether mightily care two hoots.  Ketley went home, she froze as she always did and turned for warmth to another, who soon joined me in purgatory for cosy chats and fishing and good times.  I knew just by commons sense, she would soon be joining me.

In Remembrance

160714125244-9-11-memorial-exlarge-169Roses were placed by the mother of an architect who died during the September 11 terrorist attacks

 

Their darkness has no end
or majesty,
and when visions,
blurred by hatred,
cloud our judgement
or ability to heal;
there creeps still a lonely
dust.

Dreaded Whispers

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Cotinus Young Lady-SmokeBush-writingasitcomes

Been gardening again… love this plant.

Strokes of moonlight smother
the inflorescent
whispers of the smoke bush

wavering against twilight’s
ghostly dreams
while pondering the water,
pondering depth and death.

Subdued, hushed panicles warp,
subtly interwoven
inside black steel ripples
made by water splashed sedge warblers
flung across the sheen of bleak, black,
stretched canvas

where streaks of my childhood run
wildly ‘til they bleed into the perfect wash –
disrupted only briefly by daubs of
my more morbid notions –

a thousand indigo butterflies
dotted like inky death
become pinned to the eerie flatness of water
and of life –

finally, my drowning memories
are absorbed by stagnant fluid –
the whispers are hushed in the black, dead air
where mosquitoes live instead,
and for the first time, I begin to thrive.

Broken Windows

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Did you see too much –
get woken up again
far into the night?
Cascading,
black, inky dreams’ shade
hides thoughts that
sneak into the white chalk of daylight –
deftly wafting to mingle
with the sad dust
far from settled
since she died that night.

You still see too much
now you’re alone,
reaching far in the night
to hold her hands, soft,
and warm until all those tender
thoughts
warp and realisation
stabs your heart.
I still watch you inside her dreams; sleep’s
invisible games throw
you from the bed.

Now you try to close your eyes
to sleep at night –
and dreams the dreams
before she died,
frantically scratching open
windows long since jammed
shut to breathe
the outside world’s hollow air –
the air waiting for her when she woke up –
all just to suck up
this fucking mess?

Inside, Will the Sun Shine?

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I wish it was possible to live
without a heart,
and walk inside a head
without thoughts
and dread.
And as I was walking in my head,
the lighting wasn’t set –
good moods left me at the lamppost –

its metallic flavour permeated my tongue
as I wrapped my cold arms around it,
while your taste
and the taste of blood
brought me darkness and tears.
I had hoped reinventing
the sunshine would bring me
memories like ham rolls,
and hot mustard
spilled onto a tablecloth of time
where I’d lay out my choices;
of meetings in the square,
casual and attentive,
awash with shadows
when they came to serve the daylight,
and with more than enough warmth
to dry these morbid tears.

I still walk for hours and hours,
but never venture out.

Bring me sunshine,
bring me laughter,
bring me love.

Racism’s Green Thumb

Racism

Should we
smell so sweet
in tolerant nature
when within its walls
lie death and victims’ cries?
To scent this growth would be criminal, yet
we do, and we douse it with water – the flame
that gives it fragrance –
and when it blossoms wide enough to flourish,
we are as doomed as a black thumb should be.

 

Chamomile Tea V Coffee

Coffee Cup Coffee Foam Coffee Cup

Dusk settles like fine dust
when streetlights escort
evening into hallways.
Nightfall has attached itself
to the shoulders of ordinary people
carrying stories and news,
usually exuding on inhalation
of ritual warm kettle steam
through herbal nostrils.
Tonight is different –
his eyes still have big, black
dark circles underneath.
Just write poems for me.
Don’t tell me about your day.
She knows he’s secretly
hoping cupped china
will somehow soothe the aftershock
of his news as it wields its blows
like sledgehammers,
nailing her heart against the chipped
plaster ceiling;
its throbbing veneer draws his eyes
which bear cross-hatched shadows,
subdued and worn from penumbra tears
that fell only a few tea breaks ago.
What kind of woman is she
to make you want to do this?
It was by the coffee machine
that the sun began to fade
on all their stories
and memories; yellowing pages
turned into ghosted
fragments when shot to flames
under florescent tubes
only to dissipate with the aroma of coffee –
meanwhile, her aroma happily swirled
inside lipstick and white froth.
She sips her chamomile, redolent of betrayal –
Don’t tell me about your day.
Don’t shed the dust.

Learned Behaviours are Treatable

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Could we plunge our hands
into damaged sinews’
frayed blood vessels
and find warmth in hidden spirit?
Have a tug of war and pull out hatred,
intolerance, indifference and anger,
to find the stuff we possess
but which remains hidden – buried
with the goodness we were born with –
tucked inside our own medicine chest.
There are things there to help us heal,
bind wounds, accept and love,
even force untainted  oxygen to
cancers benign at birth
but which grow steadily malignant
once fed from the mouths
of devoted kin and a world rapidly
oozing its centre.

Love is on the Brink

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I thought all love was the same,
except maybe with time,
the thicker the blood
the stronger the pain.
Then I thought love was to blame
when your hand,
which was once so gentle
while it held my heart,
became the ledge it teetered on.
I was too frightened to breathe,
afraid to fly from that cold stone
where one push could send me falling
and falling.
So I stopped breathing,
but you were always there
in your various ways,
I could feel you
slamming on my chest,
pounding and pounding –
you would fool me with this love,
massaging until you brought me back,
and like a fool I came back
only to stand with jelly legs
looking down into the abyss of you.
I thought love sometimes ended.

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