FESTOON (Poems 2013-2014)



we search for crimes in others

to fuel our anger, have it resonate

in us.  one embraces politics,

picks sides, fakes righteousness

resentment is a spiral, a snake

devouring its own tail, scaled,

defensive, ear pressed to ground

to measure danger, proclaiming

no good will, only the weal

of victimhood, of misery

and martyrdom, all history

venom in the victor’s speech

which battens poor unspoken men

upon the selfsame dirt,

defamed and torn apart, spoiled

by nothing less than vanity.





close on, the boy

has had enough

of violence,

tear streaked cheeks

his body shutting down

such tiredness

to die as young as this

cut to

an empty room, curtains

search the vacuum

for any sign of life

track back in

to describe this scene

once more,

a woman dying

spread on the floor

across her face

a grimace of disgust,

pearls, lustrous,

her breasts,

full, pendulous, surge

of music, blast

of light, emptiness




to which i said

i know what I’ve seen

but the objects crowded

seemed lesser things

being touched by light

seeking less there came

to mind a symmetry

expressing total love

difficult to judge

deprived of speech, my skin

spilt diamonds

acquainting us with violence.

does such depravity

provide a truce?  absurd

as stern and loveless

the wings of moths

sprinkled dust

your breast

seems murderous

your eyes

a visionary path

painful for the novice

they work in darkness

know what is therein

touch is traitorous

none of us

certain what we find

were absolute

best termed wrong or tenuous

always posit doubt

do not say there was

such and such a thing

we cannot know

but step inside this other thing

disturbing to sight

its being inscribed

by habitude

unfeeling to us all

but this trial


dark eclipsed final

then pain

equals what is done to you

food of foods volumes

vials full




what is done is done


boarded up in sleep

our derelict heads

split open

riddled with guilt

and memory

may any more be done

to heal this slight

between two friends?   assuage

the general torpor

of a day’s events ?

if cruelty were more a friend

with a clap of hands

dusted and forgotten

the world could be absolved

into the beauty

of an argument







tides your muscle

waves your teeth

take what you need

seize it gently

your depths weigh heavy

on me

if i am a wreck

don’t remind me yet




picasso said

the monumental

belonged to ages

which believed

in glory, his age,

he said

might erect

a monument to despair.

puvis de chavannes

in the boston library

murals no one wants today

but his synthesis,

we are told, inspired

the fin-de-siecle artists-

painters like picasso

the glory is there,

though hidden,

it is a ripening, not hollow

but solid with intent

this is the meaning of glory,

not the impetuous blaring

of emblematic stress,

but the quiet conquest

of knowledge and power,

personal or otherwise,

under particular duress.

may one divine a place

for public usefulness,

or must we all remain

domestic curates

or otherwise public fools,

i.e., professional?

certainly, whatever

can’t be listed

in love’s almanac

is spurious.




the best way to proceed

is to reject possibility

no one really

gets to hunt

the perfect mind

but in his spume

you’ll find

the air 

to charter fear

let me warn the few

still listening

there is no breach

the world you hoped

to reach

was never

is never

will never

be there




‘life given you in trust,

offered out of love.’ 


in fluorescent light

he spits:

‘i am an effigy of shit.’


(the trial of the apostate:

man in a lift)





i am after a place, some point

where my soul is not diminished,

the locus from which my energy

may be projected, not wafted listless

through this tide-land of indifference

if you listened you would hear 

the argument of patience, where 

what is said is equal to its origin.




the company has now

conditionally approved

the terms of your release.

you have agreed to cease

your smear campaign

of certain members of the board.

you have assured us, in writing

and given your word

you will refrain,

as of today,

from any action which would prevent

the implementation of law.

you agree to submit to law;

which is to say, you honour

our commitment to the truth.

in short, your freedom is granted

on strict condition

of you keeping your head down

and being a good chap.




a fox stood

in the middle of the street,

gleering at me.

i say gleering,

as the fox made sure

i saw his gaping

maw of teeth.

then he hissed at me

this fox !

though not much bigger

than puddles,

my jack russell,

i knew instinctively,

it was him or me,

so i scurried home.

i crept in gingerly

and when i reached

the bedroom

you were waiting

up for me

there you were,

your full credentials

on display, gleering,

just like that nasty fox!




who is writing this?

it strains with artifice

i say it and it is

fills the page, exists

to invent a tragedy

requires a parody

harnessing, against will

a confluence of action

the ripening of time

strains a character

to such a point of crises

it is said he dies


the writer

brought us to it

he contrived

the spectacle of death.


but to have us live

eternal yet

went beyond his skill

he must kill 




as you are announced

be sure to bow

when the valet coughs

unhand your petition

accept the champagne

pretend to listen

while the king relates

the history of his campaigns.

the shrewd politician,

he’ll remind you of a pledge

you’ll be too drunk

to think upon

he will then excuse you

you will be taken

from the room

into a waiting carriage

do not then

what ever moves you

look above

where you would see

lost in the finestra

her majesty

her gaze as deep

as history.

gentlemen, remember

you are, whoever you are 

but poor excuse

for her lost son

who, in her days of youth

she bore, like the sun,

a force of plenitude

which conquered us

with love




this thing of a leg:

its smooth extence:

its vertical function,

the bladed spar of the shin

the power of the thigh,

the gentle protuberance

of the knee,

your delicate feet

spread gracefully,

with effort

we discern a lever,


of the bodies gravity,

able to leap or walk

great spring to manage force




my body is still strong,

but my mind is almost gone

there is a dullness

in my eyes

they are watery

like the white of an egg. 


whats this ?  


a picture of your children.  you remember kay?

and pina, your youngest, she looks happy


i’m pushing her away.


every spring

you would measure them

against the doorframe in the kitchen

set a ruler on their head

then with a pencil

mark the measurement


i can’t remember doing that, but you have a nice

way of putting things.  i have trouble remembering

just now i forgot my name i hope it comes back

i never had a love of certainty though now

I would be grateful to have any. 


the sunlight is nice


my hands are cold.


i am surprised it is still me

sitting up in bed


to face another day


there was nothing but poetry

nothing but the music

streaming in my head

making me better

making us better


please stop


you’re crying

i know i am dying  


stop now please


oh my mind lacks usefulness! 

i have only

snatches of goodness

to offer you.  no manliness





friendships possess

a propensity for contest

beleaguered friends

try to comprehend

our personal bent 

even though

they may not

in the end

perceive us

the world is too mysterious

to insist those nearest


our spirit

love is empathy

not necessarily

the comprehension

of a soul.




the night is over,

but this new day

has brought no change

in you, staring at the wall,

sifting through your thoughts

for traces of the one you love.

but all your silent care

cannot yield the spirit

of one gone, and yet

last year, you shared

this bed, your happiness

mirrored, loving hearts

embraced the mystery

which love creates.

as daylight fills this space

even as the shadows vanish,

you are anchored to your place,

emptiness is constantly replaced

the day’s ambition is erased

you let the sunlight trace

your sad, expectant face

staring at the wall forever

hoping tomorrow when you wake

you will wake together.




here’s the scenario:

how do we confront the ex?

not personally,

but how is it expressed?

how do we convey

our emotional history?

most of us bear love

as a trophy or a scar;

compare perhaps

the way things were

with the way things are.

the memory of sex:

how we are still possessed

with how once we were obsessed

with her body, her scent,

the way she dressed; the way

her confidence encouraged

a lack of awkwardness.

you did your best

to open up, to speak about

the rarest thoughts, express

what was deepest in your soul.

how can such happiness

be controlled, or told to stop?

how can two souls intertwine

but then drop off?

it happens every day.

i knew her once,

but just before,

she came sailing through the door.

you look very sad, she said.

no, i said, i’m bored.

i didn’t mean to be like this:-

i even liked the way she looked

there is something good

about the way a woman looks

when she has done her best

to impress their beauty on us.

what beauty they have,

what beauty they miss,

how they enlist

the main lines

of the composition,

as a painter will employ

the play of colour

to indicate the form,

until only the form shines through

and you forget the colour.

it is a subtle show:

subtlety is show, a play

on simple things told differently

to keep the game interesting

and to stop us feeling old.




the swag, or garland,

this is the first étude,

the rough beginnings

of sacrifice.  The festoon,

a hanging arch

strung beneath an altar

to inaugurate a feast.

a monument to plenitude:

flowers, fruits and leaves,

the effulgence of the season.

for whom was it offered?

what offerings do we bring

knowing we know nothing,

or pretending we do?

what tinsel of the intellect

to decorate immensity! 

at the center of the feast

a smiling god sits-

or a toothless gaping void

but to break apart the seed

as that old brahman did,

one grasps the only certainty:

that which is, is you

to speak of the festoon,

is it safe to assume

to be generous

is the most productive

form of doubt?  To give

or even at the last, forgive,

is to interpret the prodigy

of things, to acknowledge

the inexhaustible.