Tag Archives: tattoos

Poems

You can read other poems in The Island Review and Stride

The Census of Seamounts

Everything is falling
silent
in a deep history
where plains are noduled with shipwrecks,
upended submarines
and skeletons.

Canisters, chains, tanks and bullets falling
at the same speed the sea falls from the sky

to a bed lined with silver, gold, nickel
visible only in someone’s dream.

Another dreamer swims through a rerun
of themselves discovering
a sunken truth in Planet of the Apes.

Elsewhere a hermit crab
takes an aspirin bottle for its shell.

Not newborn, not dead, there’s life unaware
of the wind above pressing these currents

this way, that, they fall
a slow synthesis into dark, sucked closer to the vents
where heat crushes
the last flecks of sun from memory.

featured in Sea-Creatures


If You were Walney Lighthouse and I Cockersands

At dusk we break open the loneliness of night,
hold steady on each muddied tide
and fix ourselves; keepers of light.

The gulls and boats of dawn blot you from sight:
you’re far further than the Bay’s northside.
But at dusk we break open the loneliness of night.

All I do, you reflect back at me, at times too bright;
a warning sign, you stand a quiet guide,
fix me, keep my light.

My wood, your stone; as such, we’re unalike,
cut by this channel that keeps us tied.
At dusk we break open the loneliness of night.

Closer when water’s at its height,
a flooding shoal of silt as shores collide
we fix ourselves; keeping our lights.

Throughout the long dark, we transit white,
our worlds made one: two-eyed
at dusk we break open the loneliness of night
and fix ourselves; keepers of light.

Published in The Rialto


Hold Fast

In readiness for the rising seas
he roped all his fears into one final tattoo, a bicep piece
of lightning forks astride a girl whose flesh he’ll never touch,
a dagger through the blossoming rose of Lancashire
a compass with no marked cardinals.

His skin disappeared in the blur of rain,
low wind. The propellers on his back,
the shoulder scrolls of lovers and family,
protected him from anonymity.

Shrinking as the Atlantic swelled, he couldn’t resist
and ink-anchored both feet,
insured the buoyancy of his left knee with a pig,
a rooster on his right.

Then hung another coil
on the LoveLoveLove necklace about his throat.

Published in issue 32 of the Ofi Press

 

Hammock

swings
the outdoors in
——– oceans dry
—- latitude a spine
———- shoulders to wings
—–tomorrow today
———– an open shroud
cumulus low
that pause before

published as part of the Burns Night Celebrations in Dumfries, Windaes Project, 2012

 

Migration

Compressed between chalky light and sea,
the lowest island is glacial but
for the dimple of footprints.

—- Elsewhere bladderwrack redefines a land drifting east.
—- Children’s eyes wink from the shale.

The channel cutting that and a third
slips so slowly
granite is doubled, reflected block cut below block.
A library of stones, lettered in algae.

—- A shoreline of limestone pleats.
—- Here, birds are white,
—- and skin flakes like ash from a volcano.

Two miles south, and chimneys unbrick gradually.
Clay exposed where potatoes once grew.
At low tide fossils swim another cove.

A different, although equally treeless, skyline churns,
lumpy as the bedbound, facing dawn.

Across the thinnest sound,
slowly widening,
a kelp causeway foams,
knitted by eddies and fish into empty Sunday suits.

The long dead, buried under firs on a windward shore,
wrapped in oilcloth, reel with landslides,
dipping closer to each tide.

Published in Poetry Wales 2013

 

Lost, with all hands

Winched pewter and perry at Archangel,
hauled flax and hemp onboard,
weighed anchor, hoisted sails (crew);
tilted sextant over Hammerfest (Captain);
pumped bilges, hitched rigging, oiled mast,
tarred the hull, grasped at whisky (crew);
plucked poultry, cut cheese (cabin boy);
stroked thighs, sealed lips, clenched at floggings (crew);
gripped helm, plotted past Shetland (mate);
scrubbed on deck (crew), filthed (Capn’s wife);
snatched at sheets, slackened sails (crew);
dropped the lead (mate), prayed for once (crew);
jabbed at Seldom Seen (all),
shifted cargo (crew), clung to rigging (wife and kids),
tore at railings (crew), slung the whisky (Captain),
combed the tide, kneaded mud (all).

Published in Under the Radar