Late Harvest Wine
This is the edge of a brown beginning,
slow corrosion of colour, light turns amber and the planet dangles
from the hinge of the year.
I’m wandering barefoot among the vines,
last summer’s Riesling held to my lips, an edge of lime and gunflint
on my tongue. It’s not quite
midnight, skies are varicose with stars, and
old Orion’s buckled up tight and reaching for his sword. Those
wily sisters still run free, but
I’ve ceased running since my blood stopped
hungering for the chase. The vineyard’s heavy with autumn fruit,
the grapes bulge pale and foetal.
Long ago I laboured here, under a Cancer moon,
planting hope in row on row I trellised to the seasons. From tiny tendrils
straining for the sun came the vines
which bore the most. I learned to pick the grapes
at night, how its cool preserves their ‘harmony’. Last year’s yield was low,
yet worth the work just to drink
this green young wine. Now when I walk this
dendrite maze, past wizened arms spread wide, there’s a warping in
their attitude, I suspect the crops
may fail. Late harvest wines--
they may be sweet—yet in the past I’ve feared them. Couldn’t bear
the unpicked grapes to fester
past their time. But now the noble rot’s
set in, my fruit will husk and shrivel. Mould will ash the wrinkled skins,
drain moisture from their flesh. Yet
I’ll still make a rich terroir, though I’ve seen
many moons shake loose. Now let each grape gestate the taste it was always
meant to make. This vintage is my last--
let’s raise a glass—of ‘too late’ harvest wine.
published in Rabbit Poetry Journal issue 12
I surf cloud-break, wings
sweep stars, brush dust
off the moon. Small scare
far below, in grass, parting.
Tiny pink feet, flex
of backbone. I eat
with the lens of my eye,
hold ready for swoop
and clutch, wet of earth
and fur. Kids carp loud
tonight—one kill will not
suffice. Wife is out
on a girls’ night, won’t
be back till dawn.
Head of the family, me.
Feathers heavy, carry
the weight of the rain.
published in Afterness: Literature from the New Transnational Asia (After-Party Press, Hong Kong)
Heart Shell (corculum cardissa)
this at your
ear for when
will you think of me
around the con-
vex of your back)
will you hear ocean
published in Poetry d'Amour 2013: Love Poems for Valentine's Day selected by Dennis Haskell
I am the voice of the hive, of the Mother,
I am goddess in a violence of gold.
No lover survives my carnal flight –
I tear seed from their bodies
and make victims of them all.
Only the chaste are ever safe.
We dwell in the abbey grounds, my children and me
cloistered among silent trees, but we
are never silent; we throb and ebb,
we have a collective breath, and the world
vibrates with our purpose; its petals fall open
at our dance, at the psalm of our song.
He thinks he keeps us, this quiet man,
this murmurer of prayer; but he is our acolyte,
kneels to taste our sweetness; serves us with devotion.
He comes to tell us one of them is dead,
his fingers toll three times upon the hive.
He whispers soft as wing brush,
asks us not to sting the passing spirit.
Why does he not talk to his own god, this holy Brother?
Has he lost the language of his own kind,
forsaken his belief for the gospel of the Bee?
Too many nights he has chosen the skep as his altar,
kept vigil by my side; ignored the swerve
of the bell in its tower, the hushing of sandaled feet.
As the sun burns the day to death
he is with us now when he should be at prayer.
In cells of honey-filled dreaming
my children wait, their work completed for the day.
He offers them benediction,
a lullaby to stroke them into sleep.
It soothes them but it does not me
for I can sense the odours of his flesh,
the nectar of his longing. This man desires
the wild flight, the fatal communion; he craves
a different church. Has he not learned?
The wounds will be mortal.
Deep within the honeyed shrine
I have birthed another to take my place.
Still virgin, she grows fat on adoration
while I grow matronly and stale with age.
I must quit my cell for the sacrament of night,
the plainsong of darkness, the choir of stars.
My children will find another keeper,
someone pure to harvest their gold
and worship them for their industry.
I have flown for the final time,
grown tired of gold, always so much gold.
Now when the moon opens up her eye
I welcome the absolution of silver.
published in dot dot dash journal 7 and The Weather of Tongues
The Before & in the After
Dying wasps crawl into shoes, settle and curl
Lavinia Greenlaw, ‘Snow Line’ (from A World Where News Travelled Slowly, Faber and Faber,1997)
The year before you leave, dying wasps
crawl into shoes, settle & curl, the garden
puts on armour, becomes a fossil of itself,
birds sing through night, the throttle
of the magpie marbling the darkness,
& I lie face to face with the waning,
a circle of bones in a scraped edge of skin.
The year after you leave, the fret begins,
summer becomes swelter, winter too wet,
while autumn and spring, angled in between
act crazily & spin about each solstice.
I do not care. You are gone where I
cannot reach, but even in the friction
of my dreams, I still hear the shape
of your voice before your body collapsed,
before its swallow dive. Your lunate voice,
like the corpse of a wasp, curved in
on itself, like one I’ve just found
in the heel of my shoe, & I’m shaking
the shoe by edge of its tongue, in case
it can tell me how to release you,
take back those moments, After &
Before, moments which settle &
curl, which won’t stop stinging.
published in Westerly 57:2
A Season of Dryness
The Disappointment of Dreams
Digging Up Persephone
Ode to Manolo