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Viking Breath

How does it feel to be the Cultural Attaché
for the North Pole, the ice
of the voiceless?
No encyclopaedia will give you shelter.
As life drifts by, the waters ache
and pallid faces stare from every porthole.

Winter is inside us, it’s tasty
like a sea onion.
Who will get the first bite?
Crunchy things surround us:
the shore, the bleak frosty sun,
the clouds glistening like Santa’s beard.

Amundsen has sailed into a greater crispness.
Penguins are chanting defiant slogans
outside our red tents.
What are we waiting for?
What is sprouting up
in our hoar-frosted hearts?

(First published in Rose Red Review No 15, 2015)

The Ninth Count of Monte Cristo

swims across Lago Maggiore
into forgiveness.
His revenge, a flooded village;
his harem, oysters.
Italians excel in retrieving deadwood,
so hope is always behind the next
wave crest.

Scientists crave simplicity.
In every lightning, there’s God,
in every smile, a sea flag.
Clemenceau surrendered to the wind,
De Gaulle adjusted his sails
but the swimmer avoids a rendezvous
with his rippled soul.

Meanwhile, the opposite bank
is slipping farther away with each
passing hour. Air currents
spell the art of decay.
The Count’s old watch is dead.
The time it’s been gathering for years
comes gushing out.

(First published in The American Journal of Poetry, Vol. 1, 2016)

Marinetti Talks

In the vineyard of language
he lives a second life
as a scarecrow, well-dressed
and admirably arrogant.

“For gods and poets, nothingness can be productive”
he lectures to coming generations of ingenious
narcissists. “Thorough reworking is a sine qua non.
Think cities. Think swarms.”

The future world stands naked
before his eyes.
The tree of possibilities
is flush with blossoms.

“Leave modesty to the modest”
he sleeks the straw of his speech.
“Let people appropriate and use
the best parts of you.”

Symbols of space assemble themselves
into battle scars.
He is at war
against his words.

“Be the loudest mouth on Earth”
he addresses the vultureful void.
“Only then will they stop
listening to you.”

(First published in The American Journal of Poetry, Vol. 1, 2016) 

Lost in the Flow of Time

(For Tomaž Šalamun)

Names and butterflies flutter around
while the literati picnic on the grass.
Oblivion oozes its way through

black holes. A few centuries
drowned here. The civilisation theatre
closes shutters and cuts off

the last sunbeam. From a time-warp,
out comes the centennial dusk and shapes into
the words: “In fact, the world was a dwarf.”

How many millennia
have been missing?
Are we living in phantom time?

As we wave the cerulean flags
of everyday, volumes of poetry
gather dust on the shelves

in the library of unwritten books,
into which unborn authors
are exclusively admitted.

Our boats are nearing the mouth of the
great river. Only the dents on their sides
can tell us about its headwaters.

(First published in The Missing Slate) 


He slurps the blue sky jelly.
Crickets chirr in his beard;
a little ugly planet swells inside him.

He unrolls the scroll that reads:
“If you give birth to pebbles,
they will grow into mountains.”

Tin whistle music sprinkles yew trees
with silver. He’s the world’s broken rib.
He’s alive. He is.

(First published in Shot Glass Journal) 

Dream House, please keep out

It‘s an empty house,
the house that once built a family
which is no longer a family.

in the drawing room
desert life
in the library
Gurdjieff’s music
for distorted piano

Broken stairs were
impossible to climb.

in the kitchen
canned oblivion
in the cellar
an extinct volcano

They were stuck in the upstairs rooms
and had to use a fishing-rod
to hook out some food
through the kitchen window.

in the bath
mirror fish
in the bedroom

There was only one chair left there,
and they were taking turns
sitting on it.

for a foundation
Rock of Ages
for a roof
an open book
turned upside down

(First published in Ken*again) 

Bunin: Portrait with the Person Missing

In the mirror behind his back 
recent times are floating
red flags and standards of the Cossacks
his reflection 
a hollow silhouette 

into the space he left
a man is being squeezed 

he can''t go in

than somehow manages - 

and the framework of parallels and meridians 
cracks all over the globe 

(First published in ''Cyphers'', Ireland) 

Four Poems in Otoliths

Three Poems in The American Journal of Poetry

Two Poems in The Honest Ulsterman

Three Poems in Shot Glass Journal

A Poem in Rose Red Review

Prose Poems translated from Russian here

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