After the rain had washed the last tourist’s feet
and the people who lived here
were living their lunch times inside,
I climbed the hill again, this time above
the fourteenth station that lays Christ in his tomb,
and higher — past the cemetery, to the rocks.
I am sitting on this rock, a rock among many,
drinking Coca Cola from a crimson tin
and not minding the pine tree that blocks
my view of the sea — where memory has the sea —
in this world of rock, cloud, mist and me.
I watch Altea’s blue-domed church ignoring me.
Dogs bark hoarsely, hidden in the valley.
Daredevils ride cola-black mopeds
down slick mud hills that hours ago were dust.
I empty out clichés and am astounded
at the space my life enjoys. Nothing’s free.
I would join the moped riders. They’re too far.
I read The Outcast, bringing Cowper with me
to sip the cola, look down toward Altea.
He takes me with him in his ancient language
and we drown together — apart insanities.
Eyestrain, homeless sans computer screens,
deserts me; I see all I’m meant to see:
the blocking pine tree dripping spring-bloomed cones,
the clouds that coalesce from air and sea.
The yellow flowers’ petals count themselves
and yell their totals to me as I note
how masons set the top stones in their wall
with points straight up, a sharp and visual moat
to stop me stepping up where I might fall.
My cloud moves off and sails above Callosa,
across medlar nets and rows of almonds.
A sun bolt sizzles clouds and lights the dome
of the blue church in Altea. Here stays grey.
How did this root get here, get torn and burnt?
It lies with silver foil two feet away,
on a jumbled jubilation throne of stones
that could be those a church is built upon,
or those Iranian judges order thrown
at bound offenders staked waist deep in dirt
and stoned until the blood comes through the bags
in which their heads are covered, praise their lord.
I let a found cracked gutter tile
serve the rocks, and root, and wrinkled foil as a tray.
Is Robin Cooke, Tehran’s guest, treated well?
Are popes religious? Will they speak of oil?
A gargoyle’s life is pleasant for its view.
I sit on stones that I, gargoyle-smiled, distress;
all of us move so little while we look.
We stir nor sky nor wind: we fear to mess
around with aether signals bringing news.
I wonder whether the gargoyle Giles still hangs
head down, tongue out, tail up upon the door
where I first met him, living in Callosa.
I can see Callosa’s hills from here, but not its streets.
A helicopter vision is a bore
when Lucinda’s on the beach
and you want more.
Sniff the flower while you may, and learn
its Latin name.
When April comes we’ll march away
and spread its budding fame
across the press, the Internet
and into deepest space.
We’ll only show its name alas
and not its pretty face.
Altea’s outline dissipates. The sea
appears behind the city. Rain clouds move
from downtown up the valley towards me.
I pack Cowper up, I bin my cola tin,
I leave root and foil and stones for what they are.
The rain comes down refreshingly and cold,
and cheers me, from my aeons as a fish
before my recent evolution into wish.
I steal a moped, slalom down the hill.
The parts the pointy rocks don’t find, the devil surely will.
Do you often catch yourself living in the third person?
When you think of others, do you include yourself?
Is the reservoir of black thoughts in your background
internalised, so much so that it goes
all invisible when you look at it? So what?
On the outer banks of looking inward, magpies
imitate emotions. This can be confusing.
I watch myself as if I were not blind.
I watch as if the extras in my film
were not all me, or were. You ask, ‘So what?’
So what is a lot to ask. What I believe
is that I believe is this, I think, right now:
I believe the answer often is to forget the question.
Is that so? we ask. We answer, or we would,
but we remember that the question was so what.
Cheddar sharp enough to bite
my tongue off helps me in the night.
When the bitter wears off and the hours
awake alone take on such power,
I give up sleep, get out of bed
imagining if my devil’s fed
a sandwich he will let me sleep
(or take my soul he wants to keep).
I stumble down the servant stairs.
Once in the kitchen, my knife pares
the cheddar’s rind. It slices toast
before I toast it from the most
mould-free bread I can unearth.
A steady cutting hand is worth
two fingers easy in the dark.
(Ave, a V then, midnight lark.)
Saluting, I turn the oven on,
admiring how the bread gets drawn
up at the corners by the weight
of centred cheddar slices laid
thick to make my devil fat
and draw his claws in like a cat
I watch cheese slide
around in the oven. I make fried
eggs and eat them with grilled cheese.
I drink pints of milk, hope they appease
the wake-up devil till he dreams
and lets me too, or so it seems.
musing on a park bench in Valencia’s Placa Dels Pinazo
Oh the edge of death not sure which side is safer
I partake of wine and juju, chew a wafer.
The titles of a million books to read,
the half not written yet, pass in review.
The half of those, their authors being dead,
won’t ever be. I try to buy a few.
The cold that passes understanding calls.
I hope my bold not answering to it stalls
the inexorableness of history so far.
I am wishing on a nonexistent star.
In pointy shoes, the smiling dancing mother
and her husband and her mother praise her baby.
They are happy as they should be. Life is blooming.
The baby’s laughter lights the universe.
Where are we? I don’t know. I have no map.
I buy a map. I learn that I am lost.
An urgent call to action makes me nap.
I dream about the chances I have tossed
aside so often they have scars embossed
on every surface. Centuries elapse.
I warn heroic actors, ‘Mind the gaps’
but no one listens. All of them ignore
advice from ancients letting loose their clasp
on everything. The way I did. Before.
‘We lived in the woods,’ he said as if that mattered.
Perhaps it did. To him. But not to me.
He gathered thoughts that I had liked better scattered.
I answered I had felt more for the sea.
We watched each other at and through the mirror.
We blinked and shook our heads. We still were there.
The waves outside grew mountainous. The nearer
grabbed our attention. We took to the air.