Glutton’s Punishment

 

In whichever Circle, the gluttons

Feast on both themselves and nothing,

Are chewed and gulped and spat

And starve. And there’s you, squat

By the table side, squandering

No time on sickly undoing

The bird before you, torn to flays

Of former flesh. Rapt in throes

Of flavoured relish, you fatly feast

Until the belly’s fit to unfasten,

Belt-tight, swell-sore, gut-rotten

Weight of the food: makes you a glutton

Glorying in unpleasantness, love

For a glutton’s punishment.

 

When some people “pig out,” they really go for it. 

Moth in candle wax

 

Drawn as if by smoke, I drifted

Through the colonnade. At the altar

Rose candlelight, the perfumed mists

Of incense, the aftermath of vespers.

I beheld the ancient candle, melts

Down itself, stalactites, forever

Layering the ritual, sediment, silts

Of centuries’ faiths: over and over

Our Ave Maria. And at such sights

I doubt: drawing darker, drawing nearer

There proved to be a lonely moth

Preserved in the landslide, wax as clear

As ice, lost in faith’s aftermath:

Like a widow’s ring, a fly in amber,

Trapped by art and layers of white belief,

Preserved in faith like bones of ancient martyrs.

 

The tragedy of a living creature, quietly beautiful, caught in the creeping devastation of candle wax – lava in the avalanche of ritual – was just too lovely not to write about. 

Thou from this land, I from myself am banish’d

 

King Edward II had a favourite, Piers Gaveston, on whom he doted and gave generous wealth and titles. There is a vast body of literature examining this terribly intimate relationship, one which inspired outrage and bloodlust amongst England’s elites in an era entirely different to our own. Marlowe’s tragedy also examines this incomplete yet fascinating history, of a king and his disastrous love. 

 

 

I am a prisoner to his appetites,

My appetite in him. See, by some whim

Music and artistry are his delights,

Lascivious shows, theatric fantasies.

And so I, sleeping, tremble more for them:

What’s worse, my trembling, waking miseries.

 

By day, see how he tortures me in jests;

By nights, feel how he crowns me in gold fire.

My Gaveston I would anoint in lusts,

And beg him be the ruin of the realm,

Sell my reign’s sceptre for a lover’s lyre.

His siren song directs the Argo’s helm.

 

They call us cursed: our very loves reviled.

I, soul-sick prince, must rightly be deposed:

Yet in your exile, so my heart’s exiled:

A king is man, licentious, not divine,

Yet to your open touch I’m never closed.

In this brief peace, that sovereignty is mine.

 

I’ll shed my robes, if you shall not forget

My cold skin, this white rose Plantagenet.

 

Rose-Print Sheets

 

Abed with bruise-lipped roses, we felt a quilt

Of orchids: and desires dreamt with me.

Soft sheets to fall through, memories to melt

Clandestinely.

 

I play to dress your lips with fine rosewater,

Anoint thine eyes with starlights til the dawn,

Midsummer Night’s lotion, careless of no other

Blessing shown:

 

Your hungering potion, kiss of lover’s wine,

Craze-rending taste of rich earth’s luxury.

Forest’s boy, share this rose bed, tear wide

Serenity:

 

Let’s snare ourselves to grasping vines, before

The silence chills our breaths: while there remains

Shadow in their branches, while there’s air

For moonlight, and for us.

 

For Blair. Fairy forest prince. Jester and trickster. Moon-blessed creature. 

 

Speaking for fears

 

Some fears are best addressed, kept in their place:

Worried perhaps that they’ll reveal that you

Are panic clinging to flesh, a thing of fear

Hiding in personhood: you must resist,

 

Deny all cowardice. That is the mark

Of bravery, to be frightened, and to try.

In the dark, the match knows one word only,

And it speaks it once, forever. So must you.

 

Sometimes the cause of terror is best ignored.

For certain presences, an exorcism

Only lends credence to the incredible.

Glancing behind the door will make it lunge.

 

Speaking for fears, I know at times that they

Reserve their efforts, awaiting our turn.

They tell me, play your part. And so the art

Of hide-and-seek, a child’s game, is brought to us.

 

If I cannot dare to check, I close my eyes,

Awake, bed-bound. Clouds drown the moon: night rolls

Relentless, darkening. And I am left

With grasping sheets and restless dreams of horses.

 

A Prayer from a Deathbed

 

The murdered sun leaves our accursed sky

To makes its mark. As I set, so shall I.

 

Even as I cease to be

I beg you, while you can, be as you are:

You will miss it when, at your brief hour,

Both this and you are gone.

 

The last dance, at the floor-stained, teary

Death of the party, is always a slow one.

 

So while the music plays, dance playfully,

For there’ll be quiet enough once this is done.

Malibu

 

In the pure surf, her pale feet are seen

Slipping below. Warmth cascades around:

Against sirocco, sunglasses shield you from

Discerning glances alone. So much so,

That the men parade past, quite unknowing,

Themselves half-cut, and also wearing sunglasses –

They saunter by as perfectly as years –

Before you know, it’s time to go, so soon!

You had hoped to watch them longer, languorous…

That flush now passing, you know you’ll miss that sight.

And soon you ought to shawl yourself, beach towel

Sole comfort as the lights roll darkening back

Chill as the air: cool as the waves, who kiss

The pale feet of your forgotten, drowning daughter.

 

The alternative title for this was going to be “Bad Parenting on Holiday” but I thought that would ruin it, a bit.