Ludwig

When you realized
she wouldn’t come

rage exploded
in all your limbs.

You hoved in the
stained-glass panels

wielded a wooden chair
above your head

and crushed it.
Your hands bled

the hotel could
turf you out

for calamitous behaviour
or bill you

you didn’t give a fig.
Night porters pummelled

the manager was
summoned from his sleep.

When they burst in
you were sat scowling

on the unmade bed
your apoplectic face

scarlet with misery
calm pious music

a miraculous crucifixus
sobbing inside your broken head.

Spit

At the end of my country
a spit arcs widely
into southern ocean.

It is where sea-lions
brood
the salt shoal
lullabying their ears.

Early navigators
mapped it
an inky flourish
on their charts.

Men have come
and gone
their shanties stripped
by gales.

Now it is the provenance
of bigger mammals
pods of dolphins
for whom it is a warning

an exclamation mark
uttering out danger
and smothering death.

Loss

It is hard to recall
when he lost his joy
in living.

It may have
evaporated gradually
or simply leached away

into the soil
leaving no trace.
His head can’t disentangle

the baffling conundrum
it’s all a black quandary.
It must have been

when he stood on deck
watching the ship’s wake
and the white cliffs

recede behind him
the sun smeared
a sobbing red.

He’d grasped the rails
and projected his body
into the teeming ocean.

Hands

When you take
my hands

I notice how gorgeously
sculptured your fingers

are. An artist’s hands
moisturised clean

pinkened baby-fat palms
that’ve seen no graft.

My huge gnarly paws
my labourer’s claws

excoriated by the sun
are objects to be hid.

Whereas the world
should shout about

your angel-white
immaculate fingertips.

Disappointment

Mother always said
I could find poetry
in a manhole cover.

She invariably sneered
at my creative side
insisting it’d make me

no decent money
that it was an
improper profession

for any red-blooded male.
She was correct about
the pecuniary advantages.

Nevertheless I have felt
the compulsion to write.
Some indefinable urge

propels me. Maybe it is
Mother’s apparition
stood pouting glowering

waving a skinny digit
whispering that I should
never amount to much.

Boyfriend

Her boyfriend is
such a callous jerk

I never trusted him.
She however

is enamoured
even when the boy

bashes her.
They have that

rare chemistry
which transcends

physical altercations.
He has lured her

into small-time
drug addiction

and major alcohol.
I should be delighted

to learn they’ve
severed ties.

Because once I prized
her for myself

but I don’t yearn now
after second-hand girls.

Parenting

My Mother always
complained that parenting
was a thankless task.

We ran amok
while she drank
and generally frazzled

her mind. I did not comprehend
the extent of her unhappiness.

To me
it was acceptable
to see her

supine on the couch
spartanly clad
her full ashtray stinking bad

a bottle of the hard stuff
rolling near her bare feet.
She’d stir around lunchtime

plate up some unappetising
stodge and retire to her misery.
I never wondered if she cared

I was feral lean rudely healthy
she was the Mother
the world had given me.

Evil

Arguably
the most iconic symbol
of the twentieth century

is the swastika.
Most probably
the lone gunman

who slaughtered
fifty-two victims
in our small southern city

wore it as a tattoo
emblazoned across
his vile back.

I would say it remains
a potent emblem
of hate.

Chilling skinheads
contemporary Nazis
prize its pure evil.