the canals of Mars



I sail imaginary waters
On this other world,
Map your mind only,
and the avenues of western allegory,
But my craft is narrow, my way is clear,
And I am committed,
I believe in the artless unfolding of my journey,
Its logic, its unraveling, unerring purpose,
Of the richer, wiser man it’ll make me.

First Tharsis, the twin,
As good as any for departure
Ophyr, rock-strewn and stumbling,
Meninonia, lovely in remembrance.
Duedalia, twice Indian queen,
Icaria, bride of the fallen
Thaumania felix, oh happy, happy land,
The ignorant in bliss.

Argyre, the hungry, hopeful outcast,
Ophyr, beautiful-voiced,
Angelic choruser of otherworlds
Churse, the blissful unarrived,
Judas, cursed always.

Paradigm of paradise,
Long echoes of arcadia,
The ancient cast
shuffling past
the invalided clowns of
the masked unknown.
The passion and the Furies
Hubris and Nemesis
The forgiven and forgotten.

Clean winds over
green expanses.

And my cedar bow
bruises the banks of

The restless spirit’s
Journeys end,
Back where I began
prostrate with joy and tiredness
In the mind-straight highways
and the eyes emphatic deception,
returned at last
to lay at ease
by these,
imaginary waters.

here in the city of departed gods


Here in the city of departed gods
where the labyrinth only
leads us down into the
silence of the broken stones
among the incense
and frangipani
and the broken stones
that time littered down
like dry leaves
in the dry season.

Departed gods living only
in the hearts of the faithful
cross-legged smiling
benign and ancient
beneath the three-fold heads
the trimurti gods
that greet the warm
breath of wind
from the sleeping mekong.
Tie your threads upon me
ancient mother
and whisper your blessing
in your unknown tongue
into the sighing air
you and your departed gods
i wish you well.




Children of the emerald houses
draped in hammocks
curled up in corners
lying like thrown dolls
fallen immaculate
upon the bright mopped floors,
do you dream of your parents
and the lives you had before
you landed here
in the loving protection
of the one god’s home?
They are gone now
the sad flesh that bore you
to other lives
chasing the saccharine rainbow
dream of malaysian soaps
in country or countries unknown,
but they left the better part
of themselves here
when they stole away
in the dead dust haze
across hell’s border
and reset their lives calender
to year zero.

poipet nights


Tonight the midnight giant
coal-red upon the wall
in silent sleepless
soliloquies of dreaming.
The air whispers
cool around us
sifted by unseen hands
by the thousand
sighing daemons of
and evapouration
how quietly the processes
of life proceed
that keep us from burning.

Come to the window
sweet is the night air.

No sleep here tonight
in the midnight roaring
the endless churning
of dust upon the sea of milk
will not unwind myself
unspool itself back
upon the black
and bottomless
unconscious ocean floor
of sleep
not yet,
we small creatures
that come and go
shadow cats
slipping beneath seats
sliding around the careless feet
of strangers,
we come and go

at the end of decadence.

O love that will not
let me go.

And outside the great river
roars on
insatiable capitalism’s
carrying crushed shadows
and cargos of souls
out to the distant,
tail-backed night border.
Along the road
black Shiva walks naked
back to his home
beneath the burnt papaya.

fox covert

fox covert

Back where i was before,
Fox covert,
water emptying itself endlessly
into the blind brick cistern
beneath the brambles
and the lowering hill.
Twelve months have run me
turning, tilting astronomical
upon the solar plane,
riding the wave of time
at terminal velocity
to arrive me
crashing into this moment;
and here i am,
beside the echoing spring’s
restless content,
among the withered half-dead
regiment gathered, hiding
in the lea of the hill.
Here i am,
Janus-sighted, gazing
beyond and behind,
the marks i left still visible,
but ahead?
I dare not even look
And this?
the curve of my trajectory
is it the arc of the rising,
falling, setting sun?
a golden, shaken leaf born to fall?
Or the circling constellations
always turning
upon the perfect wheel of the year?

I listen to the water

merging the moments
one into the other.
i take its peace
in lieu of answer.


I should like to sail
with cargo of the dark-wreathed muses art
and come to that tree-shaded home
of sainted men…

– Simonides

You are my enchanted isle
my prospect of the southern sea,
light springs from you
like laughter from sweet water,
you feed me from dishes
of peerless vintage
among lustrous vines
in and out of season.
You call me in a voice like
swallows sailing in a summer sky
and make a place for me
among cool rocks for shelter
when the days eye burns,
when the night storms rage.
Your blooms open
in the ever-perfumed night
they will never pass away.

postcard from 1974


I wrote diaries
of holidays
in 1974,
logged every mile
of the long noisy progress
in dad’s overloaded
brown Maxi
Wimbledon fortnight,
past black-country pubs
grim cheeriness:
The Bear at Bearwood
where nan and grandad
joined us,
The Old House at Home,
home among the houses
of industry,
and gradually
into the green,
the greener,
’til magical
the mountains arose
Dinas Mawddwy
mountain of mountains,
last defender
metamorphic incarnation
of Owain Glyndŵr,
conquored at last
(though heavily laboured
and in lowest gear)
and over,
into the Welshness
of every stone-strewn field
and every green red dragon
flag flying,
ar werth signs selling
the homeland
to the old enemy
at hopeful
(but reasonable) prices.
Then the first sight
of the sea,
a shout of blue
among the blueness,
a deeper sky
where the holiday still resided
from last year where we left it.
Every detail i recorded
in an old green diary
gone now,
like even then i knew
this was too good to last
or to let slip by
The chalet among the many
on the hot grid of
holiday macadam,
the shop selling holiday things:
snorkels, comics,
sweets exotic and familiar.
But best of all
at night
the utter foreign,
Welsh darkness,
and the lane
just there beside us,
with the music
and the chipshop,
that led to the sand dunes
and the sea.