Spill

I can even find beauty
in an oil spill.

The pitchy glaze
rolling on the swell

inventing rainbow colours.
A sea bird, tar-black

hanging its wings
like a crucified messiah.

The boulders of the sea wall
dipped in ink

the fouled sands
that shall never
ever scrub clean.

Sacrifice

Jungle overwhelms
the sacrificial tower,
smothering a history
of carnage.

Now fire ants, termite hills
honour a sun god
who has fallen into dereliction.

Yet I can imagine the victims
splashed in blue paint
ascending the stairwell
to offer their souls

to a wrathful deity.
See the high priests’
scornful, chiselled faces

zealots who will surgically
hew into flesh, slice out
the pulsing hearts.

Skellig

Ascend the thousand stone
steps circling this wondrous
isle

granite spike
beetling above
implacable emptiness,
black Atlantic thundering.

Puffins fling themselves
from ragged bluffs

the beehive houses
are tenanted only by gales.

It is a place marked
by God. Monks flocked
to this outpost of heaven

to worship, until
centuries of religion
fled in a frail
cockle boat.

Abandoned to winds
the spirituality is breathtaking.

He never absconded.

The horizon is a medieval vision
wild surf performs absolution.

Scandal

By the snide eyes
you give me
I can tell you disapprove.

I’ve kept my secret
closeted it in darkness
for four agonizing years

before springing it
in a moment of candid
drunkenness.

I could see you sober
with astonishing suddenness

the lustre erased entirely
from your face.

Suddenly you clutch my hands
and say it doesn’t matter

I am your son.

Foxes

I’ve not seen foxes here
in a decade.

Once our dingle
sprinkled with snowbells
and abundant whortleberry

could rear a vixen
and her cubs.

I think they’ve abandoned
this sanctuary, since plastic refuse
and shopping trolleys
defiled everything.

Last summer I brought
a big spade and cleared
the fern. I dug manfully

before the choked brook
gargled into life. This spring

I hope the foxes shall be back.

Senile

Senile
incontinent

a battalion hero
who once made complete
strangers
proud.

Hiding his treasures
suspecting everyone
of theft

making lewd suggestions
smashing hearts

he cannot comprehend
his own children

he scrambles the present
into a dizzy mess.

Lucid moments
are rare now

the last glitter
of a heart-breaking,
broken man.

Huriawa

At the headland
flax pods shiver
rattling like a shaman’s
beads.
Cabbage trees

dwell upon the
ocean’s incandescent shimmer.
Smell the shellfish tang,

the musky campfires
now kicked out.

Our sea country,
coastline rippling away
in silhouettes,

whale snouts pummelled
by the swell

a scatter of beach stones
like bewitched eggs,
a clutch of sea dragons,

my country.

Marvels

The world is a place
of marvels.

The lustre of a sea lion’s coat
the hilarious industry
of small sand crabs.

I’ve sauntered these beaches
the tide tugging at my heels
for three decades.

I never tire
of the themes
of sand, sky, and surf
exploding, or an albatross

riding the swell,
immaculate archangel.

Shag

Of all seabirds
I would wage
that the shag
is a philosopher.

He can spend
considerable hours

mounted on an old spar
sunk in the harbour

immovable as a Rodin sculpture.

He will fan a wing
to dry, or with considerable
refinement, hang out both.

An imperative fisherman,
it is not his diving skills
which bewitch me.

It is his aristocratic elan
his incredible imperturbability

which places him above
all other seabirds.

Manuscript

In his impressive pince-nez
he is leant over
a medieval manuscript.

The latex gloves pinch
his hands;

gold-leaf illuminations
beautifying the margins
overwhelm him.

Turning a page
is an act of reverence

ten centuries
of culture balancing
on a simple bookstand.