Thrown together in perfect distance

Under the sun so distant people do not believe it exists

With a face pale like morning sickness and

Invisible frozen veins of purple blue

we’ve been thrown together into perfect distance.

Somewhere in England, lovers walk side by side.

But not us. We are two dots equally far from happiness.

You used complain of the cold weather in March

and I said that March was two thirds winter.

After all, they do not call them snow drops for nothing.

You have gone darker. I saw your pictures on Instagram.

I didn’t think you’d ever put colour on your hair.

But it wasn’t you, I guess.

Your wife must have painted your hair.

That was a few weeks ago cause today you’re ashen.

We have done many Marches together

some in the car and some on foot.

The motorway splits the Sandwell Valley in half

I am 15 years older and I annoy you. We’re no longer lovers.

The trees are still bare, there are the cows and horses and you and I –

we’re breaking the Covid rules and for what – this measly walk?

‘Look at the sunset’, the couple behind us says…

Beyond the field and few crab apple trees, the orange line has revealed itself

like lava trapped in marble

like the letter I have never sent,

a love pill buried in time.

This strange March

In Memory of March 2020 Lockdown

Not a month, but short for Martha or Marjory perhaps.

Her frosty lips touching the petals of daffodils,

soaked up the hail from yesterday

and I say ‘Hail, Mary – the March is on its way,

hurling down from heavens.

Water and wind confusing each other in one sick dance

getting bolder, entering living rooms, whispering strange songs

whizzing around ears, sneezing into eye balls.

Ghosts used to visit in but in 2020, they’ve stayed until spring.

The bony fingers reach for a pack of cards and out comes the Joker.

Lost in the middle is us – all of US, waiting to be summoned;

Where’s the light? But wait, not yet’.

The phantoms are rummaging through cards,

the old bones in charity shops have not been this busy since 1991.

Their eye balls colour of winter grey

and the teeth silver foil.

The cards are getting bigger and bigger

and now they’ve appeared on TV.

Tangled graphs and dancing nodes

to the tune of Spring that stalls

and Death that strolls,

stopping everything.

Doing February like Tom Eliot

February two years ago…

Not a migrant

South Kensington is white washed against February sky. We step outside as if we had done it before – this is our street for three days.

Sun kisses our hats.

The mews stretch into cosy distance where window plants dance in morning shadows.   ‘I could see myself live here’, you say and I say ‘ the bin men are more frequent than in Birmingham.

Our sons walk shoulder to shoulder.

St Stephen’s Church appears in the corner like a turtle with a medieval shield. There’s the backdoor Tom Eliot used to escape from his wife and there’s the key hole through which she spied on him.

Sun touches railings of the basement flats.

Tom Eliot was a church warden. Keys in his pocket, he visited Virgin Mary when no one was watching: ‘Please forgive me that I had left Vivien in mental asylum. Please forgive me I hadn’t been to see her for ten years. Now that she is dead, give…

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Turn on the stars

Switch off the lights

their dirty tails dragging the day into the night

moping around torchlights for empty souls

Ban the TV flashes

Netflix series taking the minds on trips to nowhere

Make way for indigo

Soak in the darkness of the skies

Big Dip, Orion belt and the planet Uranus

where I had put my heart on ice

to give its beat a rest.

Where do you dwell?

On a ball of dust and its cold.

Where do you hide?

In Milky way with Maltesers for crevices.

Listening to white noises

I am watching the fireworks of upside down

billions of candles wondering the skies

my fellow creatures.

No lights tonight please, I beg you!

Let me count my tears

When the task is done,

let me count my tears –

the wet ones for my children

the dry ones for my parents

the ones for my youth that turned to crystals

kicked to the pavement like the times long gone.

Let me feel my tears –

the salty waterfalls that build in my bones

for the lovers that would have made good fathers

for my brother miscarried by my mother the year we saw Chernobyl.

And today’s tears,

for the mothers of teenagers who lost their path

headaches and heartaches that evaporate on the dawn

but stuck to window shutters they linger ever more.

I beg you –

when we’re done, just let me count my tears.

Image by Unicadmo79 on Pixabay (one of my favourite ever found on this site)

Souls at dawn

When all the faithful seemingly departed in November, some long lost lovers meet again…

Not a migrant

You must have been a beautiful woman entered his mind.

Families were gathering on the hill that mounted tender bodies of their relatives. She always loved elevated graveyards, their stones silencing the world that moved – children, cars and occasional tourists.  The barman handed two cups of Turkish coffee the way they drink it in Slovakia. They both watched the ‘mud’ gather at the top but he slurped it without stirring, catching the grains on his moustache.

Anya never cared for men with blue eyes, yet there he was, studying her profile in the poorly lit saloon. ‘What brings you here?’, she asked.

‘All Souls’.

The door curtain moved, bringing a whiff of rotten leaves inside for a moment but no one came in apart from a cat they didn’t see. ‘It’s been closed for years’, a woman was overheard outside. ‘Have you more burners?’, another one shouted. Several feet shuffled under the…

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Death to this summer

The MIST

Conjuring sailors’ dreams

brick-a-bracks from the shores

long gone.

The CLOUDS

painting the mood

led astray by the hills

heady heathers’

purply hair

going everywhere

at the same time, the WAVES

sirens’ of the wind,

crossing the waters

borderless, mapless

drunk on breeze

feet on the brink.

The MARINERS

ears to the seas’ end

muscly men with salty eyes

leaving toddlers behind

with their toys bouncing around.

The SEA RUMBLERS

polishing the rocks

with their boots

in sturdy clothes

killing the sea campions

as they kiss, they kiss

never mind

choppy waters

onto the world’s display

they make love

to the sea.

AND ME

no flowing skirt

no locks of hair

that foam away

into the Cornish mist

just a dream under a boot

squashed

like an overripe plum

dark damson

puce death to this summer am I.

Taken inn by a waiter

The stag above the door.

I’ve never noticed him before, today, I keep looking at him to stop looking at you.

We could be in Switzerland or Carpathians but no, this is Sutton Park.

I peer into my book and glasses chink in your hands, but you serve no one.

I have been your only customer in 100 days.

In my book, the plague started during apple season.

What used to be a cheery harvest, turned to rot.

You, it seems, have harvested your apples – chalked on the board’s  ‘pick your cider’.

Sun is still high at the edge of the lake but my window is dark,

the curtains haven’t been drawn in months.

Owls stir in their deepest sleep, their wings fleeing in the sunshine.

I blink. Do you ever think of owls, I wonder.

I sense things these days, the forest smells of aftershave,

all the city people taking showers before their walks.

I see things, like your veiny hands hanging wine glasses upside down.

One of the drops has trickled down your temple, you let it slide.

I hear things – birds cawing as if they were inside with us.

A flock of ravens is an unkindness we don’t need reminding off.

We need good omens – you and I. Perhaps, I could blow you a kiss into safe distance.

Across the pond, fat fish are exposed now that water has cleared,

You look across and say: “storms never last long in this country”.

Image by fkabay on pixabay.com 

Evening at Priory Woods

The sun goes down over Priory Woods and we stop at the ruins of the South Chapel.

The blanket smells after laundry orchids, and in the attempt to avoid alcohol, we drink Sweppes Tonic and no gin.

M5 cuts through the torso of Britain, driven by fear of viruses.

This was meant to be an evening of birdsongs and elderflower breeze.

Instead, the humming of the cars hits us from the left and barking dogs from the right.

A women is playing badminton inside what used to be the monks cloister.

‘Davaj, davaj’, she says in Russian and our eyes nod to each other in unison.

Every time we come here I tell you: ‘I think I was a monk in my previous life. No, not a nun. A man monk. A hermit’.

But, you stopped listening.

Low flying insects speak of a nearby pond and my kindle has just turned on a night shade.

Geraldine Butler’s Year of Wonders lights up but I can’t read.

There’s so much we could talk about. What did we do with the 17 years of our lives? Why are hawthorns still blossoming? Why are we on M5 and not D2?

You scroll through your phone again and again, just like you would have done in our living room.

This evening, Sandwell Valley is our living room, because we’re sick of our real living room, when we’re living in it.

‘This is where the monks played Nine Men’s Morris’, I say into the blanket that still smell of orchids.

You smile and I know it’s time to go.

Another day is nearly over and we don’t quite know how to spend another and another and yet another that are on their way.

‘Or are they’?

 

 

Hope chests

Chests.

Golden chests,

embossed,

oak chests,

hope chests,

with linen and wedding oaths,

futures tucked away

with smell of jasmine

and laundry

and furniture polish…

But today,

I am thinking of billions of human chests,

breathing chambers,

givers of life,

invisible lanterns,

chambers of tender souls,

keys to self,

entrapments of hearts,

crimson butterflies,

warriors against plague,

fumigating torches

scattered around hospitals

in London, New York, Bergamo and Birmingham.