Biography | Poetry | Greeting Cards

 

LA BREA

I am the tarred and feathered stork
Who flapped its limbs until they stuck.

I am a tapir ancestor
Who came for water, swallowed tar.

This is the asphalt killing-ground,
A lake that thirsts. Beware. Be warned.

His trunk a blowhole out of reach,
A mammoth trumpets liquid pitch.

We are a pack of dire wolves
Who scented death and mired ourselves.

I am the grief of a giant sloth
Who drank the waters of black death.

Lion and lioness salivate
At bison ready trapped to eat.

Coyote, jaguar and puma
Die for a taste of dying llama.

A squirrel bleating in distress
Allures a rattlesnake to death.

The tar immobilizes both
The short-faced bear and sabretooth.

The water winnows skeletons
Caught in a trap of sun and rain.

I am the skull of the only human,
Anonymous La Brea Woman.

The sump of ancient swamp-remains
Swallows the battles of old bones.

The eagle and the condor drown
In liquid nightfall underground.

 

BLACKBIRD AT DUSK

Visible only as orange beak
and not so much for its dark physique,
a blackbird sits in a sycamore tree
and sings what it's like for him to be.

It sings of earth and sings of sky,
of water's depth and the fiery eye,
it sings for life and the love of leaves
as words rejoice and music grieves.

 

OLD MASTER

God took up painting again.
It was more difficult than ever to create a masterpiece
and where should the oldest of masters begin
now there was also the problem of belatedness,
as well as the new techniques and the critics?
Painting is Dead. God is Dead. They said, they said.
Well, he would prove them wrong himself.
Look, look around at my installations,
the kinetic verve of my constellations,
the videos of my action paintings,
the fluid sculptures in the clouds
and watercolours on every ocean,
but all the self-portraits shook their heads.
They wanted to be the gods instead.

 

FULL CIRCLE

When forests breathe
and fibres drink
they preconceive
no printer's ink

Inside the rings
of growing bark
we speak our lives
against the dark

Long afterwards
foul papers know
two singing birds
on vanished snow

 

SONG

dear friend
much missed
long time
no see
let's end
this fast
while I'm
still me

no time
like now
while we
exist
to sow
the seeds
get pissed
and how

in end
no sea
no time
so long
no me
no friend
no wine
no song

 

A BETTER BERRY

Doubtless God could have made a better berry,
but doubtless God never did.”

Dr Boteler quoted by Izaak Walton

Reach down between the green serrated groves
And feel for berries' ripened crimson selves
Wearing their seeds like buttons on a sofa,

Twiddle the six-point star of Bethlehem
Between your pink forefinger and your thumb
To reinvent the wheel with leaf and stem,

Then with some Amaretto - just a splash -
Taste at its best, sun-ripened and picked fresh,
The veiny brainwork of the sweetened flesh

With caster sugar crystals by the spoonful
And cream poured in a languid waterfall
Onto the waiting strawberries in a bowl,

Then savour both the shape in the saliva
And that infallible midsummer flavour
As if you were in love and it your lover,

Moving the proof from lips to uvula
And swallow, swallow till the fever's over,
As if in heaven and an unbeliever.

 

 

  

Books are available from Enitharmon

For information on poetry readings,
Email Duncan Forbes

 

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