From Darkness, Deeper Than the Wells of Time
On that dark thread of sadness, which is time.
Before the night's cold anchor drags us down,
a blood-red sun delivers up the day;
as shadows seep from coves where bare rocks drown
so, life revives and wallows. In the bay,
who knows if dawn brings bounty, or reclaims
those benefits which yesterday bestowed?
When light ascends in all her many names
to harvest more than any man has, sowed
somewhere a storm accumulates and writhes
in furies, where the leaden oceans heave.
In blades of light, as razor-sharp as scythes,
illuminated moments blaze then leave
the bay awash with sorrows; born on brine,
from darkness, deeper than the wells of time.
From darkness deeper than the wells of time,
incessant seas advance on baffled shores
where muted creatures trawl through wrack and slime
with crisp serrated pincers; moon-wet claws.
Unnamed, distorted constellations blink,
confused among the fractured clouds which roam
the frozen, mildewed sky of dusted ink
above a margin hemmed by raven foam.
But every empire crumbles in the end;
usurpers plot, the malcontent rebel,
jet-kingdoms rot as rule and rite descend
in lightless edicts while the rabbles swell.
Then, when the night has nothing left to say,
a blood-red sun delivers up the day.
A blood-red sun delivers up the day,
its crimson stain disturbs like upset wine,
defining dawn, diluting stars; each ray,
a blasphemy, dissolving night's design.
The fracture on the edge of time yawns wide,
a wash of blue betrayed by smears of grey
until the doubts of night are set aside
and daylight folds the canopy away.
Yet as perfection licks the shallow day,
infinity is pared, a fraction lost,
brought to account, a measure of decay
as time pursues its stop; the hidden cost.
For now, unblinking, day's lone eye looks down
as shadows seep from coves, where bare rocks drown.
As shadows seep, from coves where bare rocks drown,
retreating waves expose the curve and rise
of sands drained white, though speckled with a down
of spume, already heavy with black flies.
Regurgitated; remnants of a life,
lived far beyond the breakers line the shore,
worn clean of former memories yet rife
with ragged scars inflicted by the maw.
Beachcombers pillage all the tide consigns;
their plunder mauled, gnarled characters migrate
along the narrow strand the ebb defines
and as their fading foot-falls imitate
the sucking slap and slither of the day,
so life revives and wallows in the bay.
So, life revives and wallows. In the bay
some slight half-shapes resolve out of the mist;
heat-cracked, worn by attrition, an array
of shipwrecked flotsam lean-tos yaw and list.
As billowed sails of written sheets are aired
while child and man compete to be first fed,
again she finds salvation is deferred,
finds sleep was merely practice to be dead.
But, careful what you whisper fisher-wife;
the fish-gods grant by whim as much as prayer;
mermaidens lust to claim the fisher's life,
to plait sea-salted souls in kelp-green hair.
Your question goes unanswered, but remains;
who knows if dawn brings bounty, or reclaims?
Who knows if dawn brings bounty or reclaims
far greater than it granted yesterday?
God's mill grinds on and turning murmurs names
of souls to be accounted in the spray.
Unladen craft are shouldered down sand vines
while callused hands work hook and tackle free;
caught up in cluttered webs of weathered lines,
grey fishermen engage an iron sea.
They slide across the bar; reluctant sons,
aged, aberrant amphibians, adrift.
As day casts-off from dawn a keen breeze hums
the rhythm of their nets. They haul and lift
unconscious of the debt the sea is owed,
those benefits, which yesterday bestowed.
Those benefits which yesterday bestowed,
forgotten now, mere ashes, wasted, white;
accumulated, yesterdays erode
each other without friction, without light.
The octane-sky refuses to abate,
continuing its slow-burn magnified
one thousand-fold, the ever-present state
insinuates till shrivelled, shadows hide.
Poor slaves are these, who worship at her feet,
who court this sun, attendant at her side;
cruel mistress she, her heart is incomplete,
and absently she fritters life—heat's bride
who squanders all. What little time remains
when light ascends in all her many names?
When light ascends in all her many names,
the lash of day bears down, set to assail
each flogging-back. Exposed the earth complains,
diseased by heat it smoulders parchment-pale.
Day's failing breath drifts inshore from the sea
to where crazed insects blur beside the brush,
yet fails to mount the dunes before the lea.
Horizons shiver under noonday's crush
while open books of gulls hang in the blue
and tongues of muted waves loll on the sand.
Thin rags of tattered rain-clouds blur the view
across the cornflower canvas, far from land;
out there, at sea, where fishers bear their load
to harvest more than any man has sowed.
To harvest more than any man has sowed,
the fisher-farmer ploughs a watered field
and toils across such soils as can't erode,
and wrestles, for the sea won't freely yield.
Yet nature, without charity or thought
rolls on without regard, without design,
and every furrow's rendered back to naught
as contours flex and tidal swells align.
In movement lacking noise, form lacking heat,
the power of the waters stir below;
the oceans twist, broad bloated arms compete
to spilt the seas, excite the undertow.
Out where, alone, the long-winged seabird thrives,
somewhere a storm accumulates and writhes.
Somewhere, a storm accumulates and writhes,
inverted dervish spires of rains deform;
slate-lined transfigured clouds assume new lives,
their darkness crowned. Un-anchored by the storm,
annealed, the beaten metal of the sky
reverberates with thunder, echoes fear.
A spiral of destruction 'round the eye
moves forward, unrelenting, driven near.
But though the skies are split, the fisher-born,
their senses dulled, distracted by the tide,
pay little heed until the day is torn
as storm-lights strike and cast the world aside.
Their fishless skiffs are caught as waters grieve
in furies, where the leaden oceans heave.
In furies, where the leaden oceans heave,
sheer walls of marbled waters fall and quash;
erratic, shapeless monsters which deceive
with each cascade and leave torn boards awash.
Unbridled, bloated steeds of angered tar;
seas rail against restrictions, toss and stun
and flail in dumb arrays beyond the bar
where riven, vessels fracture, overrun.
The knucklebones of masts are blown apart;
like matadors poised, shattered beams attend,
a frieze, an arabesque while each craft's heart
is wrenched and scattered windward. In the end
the wretched storm explodes; its brilliance writhes
in blades of light, as razor-sharp as scythes.
In blades of light as razor-sharp as scythes
the sky is sliced, the gouged-out sea is rent;
lost souls fall from slit decks, each body writhes
while life's last lust for air is rendered, spent.
Before their dying eyes are sapphires, pearls;
a treasure-trove awash with ruby stains,
now hidden as the cloth of death unfurls
till nothing but the coal-dark sea remains.
Omnivorous, the water's swollen jaw
receives the bounty of corrupted man;
degraded into silt upon the floor
where life in all its fertile forms began.
Above, from bloated storm-clouds fit to cleave,
illuminated moments blaze, then leave.
Illuminated, moments blaze then leave
torn blades of white tattooed upon his eyes;
blind witness as lost friends slip-off life's sleeve
and dress in shades no star may compromise.
Now no one may dispute the waters' claims
as life, immersed in time, flows into death—
all rivers end on fecund ocean plains.
Immune to all the vagaries of breath,
submerged, she waits alone inside a sun
and as his final cry folds with the sea
she motions to him, "Come, for we are one..."
Her words diffuse the tempest, he is free—
and all the while the storms' limbs redefine
the bay; awash with sorrows, born on brine.
The bay awash with sorrows. Born on brine
the storm matures while widows don their grief;
dry folds of harsh wrought pain like razored twine,
their loss unlined as yet by time's relief.
Alone she lies, unsheltered from decay
and falls into the open hand of night.
Like tainted ballast, all the shadows weigh
as thoughts drift-off uncharted, beyond light.
For here, the passage of the senses ends,
lost on a reef of darkness; each succumbs,
regrets dissolved in twilight, subtle blends
of dreamless waves on waves till sleep becomes
a buoyant sea; convinced we will not drown,
before the night's cold anchor drags us, down.