4. In Camera

Ferret & Featherbird

Time has come between us:
in the passing months I’ve felt you slip away
as your words and mine came like nursery rhymes
till there was nothing left to say.

Distance came between us long ago,
as our memories faded away…
over the miles I ceased to smile
because nothing felt the same.

That’s how it seemed a week ago,
far off in time and space.

Time and distance are between us now,
they form a bond to make things sure.
Nothing ever shatters,
you know what happens:
time and distance make a love secure.

No More (the Sub-Mariner)

In my youth, I played at trains: now all steam is gone.
In my dreams, brief shelter from the rain,
I try to catch the fireglow….
With Dinky Toys, I thought that I was Stirling,
with cricket bat, I saw myself as Peter May;
now, with all these images returning,
I wonder who I am today?

As a child, I refought the war
with plastic planes and imagination:
I sank Tirpitz, blew up the Mohne dam, all these and more,
I was the saviour of the Nation!
Oh! To be the captain of a ship of war!
The pilot of a Tempest or a York!
To hold my trench against the Panzer Korps
instead of simply being one who talks
and reminisces of his fantasies,
as though life was nothing but to lose…
these only antecede the knowledge that, eventually,
he must choose.

It’s a hallmark of adulthood
that our options diminish
as our faculties for choice increase,
till we choose everything and nothing,
too late, at the finish.

In my youth, I held belief: my faith and thought were strong.
But now I’m stripped of every leaf,
and it robs me of the sight of right and wrong.
Oh! To be the son of Che Guevara!
One unit in the serried ranks of black!
A Papist or an Orangeman, a eunuch…
then doubt would never cast the dagger in my back.
Oh! To be King John or Douglas Bader,
Humphrey Bogart or Victor Mature!
Which one is false and easy,
which one harder?
Of that,
of this,
of me
I’m really not too sure.


When I was a child they made me read
word-daggers of quiver and squirm;
now in the stumbling dark I see
I am a worm, silently fruiting your garden,
my sister ,my child .
Night casts ominous meanings on the purity of my soul
I feel devilish leanings I’m beginning to lose control
and the vortex sucks me in.
Steeped in sin I die
but am reborn.

I want to see the cosmos slip,
planets and moons collide,
feel gravity lose its grip…
it’s all inside
All the dead husks are shattered,
my life-blood, my world ripped apart
in the laughter of space
it’s all chaff blown out and lost.
Now I am making the pace
although I don’t know what tape I’ll cross…
maybe catastrophe.
When I cross the line
I know that I will find myself
or maybe you.

I am a man from the country of destruction,
I am a man a woman and a god,
I am my own weapon of kamikaze
and will one day cut through the
hidden knot

Feed me honey and watch me rise
to the bait lying on the knife;
if you let me I can hypnotise your life.
It’s all really so simple,
my lover, my twin.
Hand in hand, sprinting down the highway,
running over the edge,
on and on into our doomsday;
there is no saving ledge
nor outgrown shrub.
Is this the way?
Out in a blaze of glory?
Some day I’ll find the answer
some day I’ll
end the story.

Again Przekład

I stretch my hands,
clutch vacant laughter
in silence and sweet, sweet pain;
without demand,
but with a longing
for what will never come again.

I smell your perfume
on the sheets in the morning:
it lingers like the patterns
on the window after rain,
a past that lives,
if only for the present,
but which is gone and will never come again.

To your sad eyes,
turned away, mine say
'Do you? Did you? How?’
As the darkness
slides away the day
shows what was
and makes what is now.

I see your picture
as though it were a mirror
but there’s no part of you
outside the frame
except the change that you gave to me:
this will never come again.

I am me,
I was so before you,
but afterwards I am not the same.
You are gone
and I am with you:
this will never come again.

Faint-heart and the Sermon

With my face drained of colour
and my brain of blood,
like Billy Budd
I’m lashed to the grating.
With senses growing duller
and with quaking heart
I make a start
at temperature equating
and my lungs suck useless air.

Like paraplegic dancers
in formation team
my understanding seems
hidebound in its movements,
contemplating answers
that could break my bonds –
to be half wrong
would be, in me, improvement…
but my comprehensive faculties are impaired.

And it seems absurd, but now all I’ve heard
fades in empty words and is worthless
as the Human Laugh rocks the cenotaph
but the joke is half-true, and mirthless.

Trying to trace a reason
from the spinning words
but all I’ve heard
seem at odds with their meanings,
phonetically pleasing
but delivered in such haste
that in their place
my mind commences screaming.

On the verge of belief I crash onto the reef
and a cynical thief steals my senses.
So I cling to the pew with dimensions askew,
and recognition refuses present tenses.
All the lives of the saints demonstrate that my faint
is a minor complaint, but the end is
nowhere in sight.
Why can’t I find me a way to go?

I don’t want to die in the nave,
but I know it may be with me some day
so I’ve got to find a way I can save up
my energies, and find a cause to pray
to something for something
to which I can give my creed.

I’d gladly succumb to the wave,
if I thought the water taught a way to light;
I’d gladly succumb – I’m not brave,
and it’s easy to believe what the preacher says
except for the conflict raging between my head
and my brain.
I don’t want to die, but just the same,
some day….

Waiting for a moment
that I know will come
when I’ll have to run
and find another sermon.
Everyman and Norman
and the talking priest–
still, I am at least holding all the doors open.
Inside me all outside is shared.

As the cracked bells peal it all seems unreal
but the seventh seal stays unbroken
and the Offertory plate tenders no escape –
still I refuse to scrape up a token
of esteem for these false
alleyways of the course;
I must try to divorce sense from sensing.
Tell me again,
tell me the way to go.

So when I talk to myself
although I take good care to listen
my heart grows ever more faint,
there’s something missing?

The Comet, the Course, the Tail

They say we are endowed with Free Will –
at least that justifies our need for indecision.
But between our insticts and the lust to kill
we bow our heads in submission.
They say that no man is an island
but then they say our castles are our homes;
it’s felt the choice is ours, between peace and violence…
oh, yes, we choose, alone?

While the comet spreads its tail across the sky
it nowhere near defines the course it flies,
nor does it find its own direction.

Though the path of the comet be sure,
its constitution is not
so its meaning is possibly more
than the tracing of a tail
in one brief shot at glory.

Love and peace and individuality,
so order and society are man-made?
War and hate and dark depravity,
or are we slaves?
Channeling aggressive energies,
the Death Wish and the Will to survive,
into finding and preserving enemies,
is that the only way we know that we’re alive?

In the slaughterhouse all corpses smell the same,
whether queens or pawns or innocents at the game;
in the cemetery a uniform cloaks the graves
except for outward pomp and circumstance.

There is a time set in the calendar
when all reason seems barely enough
to sustain all the shooting stars:
times are rough.
I’m waiting for something to happen here,
it feels as though it’s long overdue…
maybe a restatement of yesteryear
or something entirely new.

And the knowledge that we gain in part
always leads us closer to the very start,
and to the founding questions:
How can I tell that the road signed to hell
doesn’t lead up to heaven?
What can I say when, in some obscure way,
I am my own direction?


Some call me SATAN others have me GOD
some name me NEMO…I am unborn.
Some speak of me in anagrams,
some grieve upon my wrath…
the ones who give me service
I grant my scorn.
My words are
'Too late’, 'Never’, 'Impossible’, and 'Gone’;
my home is in the sunset and the dawn.
My Name is locked in silence,
sometimes it’s whispered out of spite.
All gates are locked,
all doors are barred and bolted,
there is no place for flight.
Will you not come to me
and love me for one more night?

Some see me shining, others have me dull;
gun-metal and cut diamond -I am ALL.
Some swear they see me weeping
in the poppy-fields of France…
in the tumbling of the dice see them fall!
Some laugh and see me laughing
down the corridors of power:
some see my sign on Caesar and his pall.
My face is robed in darkness,
sometimes you glimpse me in the shade,
All friends have gone,
all calls are weak and wasted,
there is no more to say.
Will you not crawl to me
and love me for one more day?

Some wish me empty, others will me full,
some crave of me infinity – I am NONE.
Some look for me in symbols,
some trace my line in stars,
some count my ways in numbers:
I am No One.
Some chronicle my movements,
my colours and my clothes,
some trace the work in progress
– it is done.
My soul is cast in crystal
yet unrevealed beneath the knife.
All wells are dry, all bread is masked in fungus
and now disease is rife.
Will you not run from this
and love me for one more life?

Magog (in Bromine Chambers)

In Bromine Chambers
there can be no mercy,
no bitter flagellation for your sins;
no forgiveness and no sackcloth
can cease the dance
of ashes on the wind.

Too late now for a wish
to change all wishing;
too late to change, to breathe, to grow.
Too late to smother out the tell-tale footprints
which mark your passage through the greying snow.

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