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.

 

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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. 

Rock – 2010

This poem was written at the end of my time at university. That does mean it’s practically adolescent, but I thought that, seeing as I am now married after all, it is quite interesting how very few years have changed my perspectives a very great deal. 

Clear cold heart of you, most careless diamond,

hard, unbeating and unbeaten heart,

fire in ice, the skies in stone preserved,

sharp as only words are,

unresisting weight, indifferent,

reflection of a thousand gleaming lies.

Most prized grain of earth, feeding no-one,

mere conductor of light,

beyond all value, and so valueless;

soot made pure, pearls made from extinction,

a perfect thing from such disaster, just

carbon in definition,

plaything on the ring finger of mine:

by ways husband, translucent, pure fiction.

I did say it was adolescent. Oh, the folly of youth. 

Labyrinth of the Faun

 

In the original, “The labyrinth of the faun,”

The daughter is asked, before the Revolution

Takes her, why she carries so many books.

She does not answer, not in words alone.

 

There once lived a princess, who delighted in

The world without pain or death, deep underground

Where the sounds never wake us. But she read

Of the paradise above, its wide, cool skies,

Its wind-like music, and its beautiful suffering.

She dreamt of the life, which turns bright in autumn sun.

So she closed her book and, holding her breath so tight

Not a trace of her remained, she fled her palace;

The King was too late, to keep her from her flight;

And the sunlight soon did take her breath away

To leave her, not belonging, in a stranger kingdom.

 

The books she takes with her, now, are but memories

Of fairy tales. And so she carries them.

 

Inspired, of course, by the exquisite Pan’s Labyrinth.