• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 11
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Dreaming as a silhouette of prayer

I.

dreaming is a silhouette of prayer. 

                                                    amin to the day i devour   

the river seeping out of night

                                            & purify my dreams from the jaws 

chanting with molars of bad news, 

                                                    of regret, of anxiety, of net, of all 

the tiredness trapped to my bones

                                                    i, a realm longing for a handful of light.

i, a dreamer in the body of a leopard, 

                                                        pull out this poem from the veins 

of the midnight clouds & baptize 

                                                   each line with metaphors that will f(light)

my sleep into anything beautiful. 

                                                 into everything glowing. into nothing 

smeared with darkness like the face 

                                                     of moonless nights. 

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1

Dream Is The Promised Land

Like yesterday, when I saw 
autumn leaves going upwards  

to claim what was their 
original place before the fall,  

the trees in the backyard looked 
happy and green again.  

In other words, dreams are 
what sustains and saves us 

if given in the right amount, 
like enough love to get through 

another day or a breath of fresh 
air to realize freedom is just 

beyond those barbed wires. 
It is stronger than hope 

because hope is a thing with 
feathers while dreams with hard 

claws. When the world kicks 
one with its many hooves, 

one has the option of going 
back to the comfort of sleep, 

to that strange land where love 
returns and chooses to stay,   

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2

Transitioning tonight

In this dream,
I have curbed the entry of
all that’s weighing me down,
all the hands that ripped the blooming
tulips out of my collarbone,
all the words from your mouth that
mistook the softness in my eyes for fragility.
I am no longer safekeeping
love from getting rotten in my human
heart tonight

In this dream,
I have curbed the entry of
all that’s weighing me down,
I am made of midnight clouds,
specks of thunderstorms,
claws that are blazing hues of the forest,
I have shed all that tired human skin
of secrets, leftovers of past and uninvited woes
but still the same old, same old dainty eyes.

In this dream,
I have curbed the entry of
all that’s weighing me down,
of comforting yellows that turned
shades unrecognizable, of lovers leaving
after days of nitpicking, of love and grief.

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3

Kept Up By You

Kept up by you, I roll over
and take a sip of the cold
coffee left over from sunset.

Lips daubed with scabbed
over saliva, salt granules, and
the inevitably splitting jaw ache.

Plucking feathers out of my flat
brown sugar hair by the window,
beating you down with snowy bicarb.

Between worlds I plan to fall, but
your goozle squawks like a baby bird;
all shoulder blades and no great beak.

Kept up by you, I chew the air,
folded like caramel, bleating on in an
effort to bore you into submission.

4

What we do, and what we don’t, in the shadows

In any case, I saw a headline only this week which preached the supposed benefits to be reaped from walking after dinner. So I did just that: I walked after dinner. There was a man and his dog, and I was drawn to the dog, as it was innocent and eager to explore the same grid it no doubt explores every evening. The man, less so. He was angular and broad, and his features were clattered and strobed by shadows. His skin looked sandpapered. I’ll be totally honest: something about him alarmed me, at whatever level, so I walked back past the old picture house and its intermittent red blue white flash red blue white flash. Nightwalking, it was hoped, would clear the mind and let the day’s noise percolate. And this happened. I mulled over the same faces which skulk around these grids. I looked up at the waves of tenements, and the dank, and the glimmer in the distance, and the horizon’s wire rising and falling behind it. 

Just a year ago, by this very picture house, a man and his dog were once again out nightwalking. Only this man did not make me uneasy. He was very friendly—the dog, it transpired, was scared of men. It shivered and whimpered and looked up at me with snout to the ground and eyes damp and fearful. For a few moments we spoke to the man; one hand nestled in pockets, the other holding a can of beer. I was excited and uneasy and unsure exactly what to choose: to shuffle home, up the stairs and the grime, and be alone together? Or continue to stall, and sip and walk and chat, and be alone together? The moon was—is—wide and white. In the end, despite what I wanted, something in me at whatever level was alarmed. The intercom squealed at the touch of the fob. Three men, tall and dressed in black, watched in silence. We sat in the courtyard and spoke and, ultimately, I went to sleep alone. This was not so bad. This is not something to be feared. 

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5

BROKEN SLEEP

Most days I wake
and drag this diagnosis
off the bed and over me,
a cloak of lead.

In grocery aisle
I fear the endless stacks of tins
are my refection;
my collection
of childhood scars.

School pickup socializing
depletes me.
Each word, each touch,
the other mothers
carve out their piece.

But sleep, though brief
is where I live.
Between the blanket toss
and unseen cups
are deep dreams;
sweet solitude
where the leopard leaps
in vast greens.

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6

Dream creatures

dream leopards pad through rain forests on broad-set paws,
know neither man nor road, have never heard a chainsaw’s roar

let them still be there when we awake
when we awake, let them still be here

dream whales slap pristine arctic waters with flukes and fins,
know the abundance of krill, have never heard a motor’s din

let them still be there when we awake
when we awake, let them still be here

dream coral builds reefs that jewel the fringes of Pacific isles
knows clown fish, turtles, wrasse, is never bleached to white

let it still be there when we awake
when we awake, let it still be here

7

The Tiger is Silent

The claws are empty
The paws are hollow
The canines are soft
For the Jungle has transformed!

Tiger rejoins the clan,
With a desire to dance.
Tiger shifts all the plans,
And drowns in romance.

Tiger touches the petals,
Eats candies in dreams.
Tiger feels the breeze,
With lightness in its limbs.

Tiger smiles like a child,
Greets elders bowing down,
Tiger looks at the stars,
Being beloved’s silver clown.

Tiger attempts to nurture,
And sow seeds of loving mind.
For the Tiger is wiser,
Wishing to be humane and kind.


Tiger stops the roar,
Boycotts war and violence.
Tiger finally acclaims,
“There is peace in silence!”

8

Extract from a compendium of advice given in dreams

Sunday. Two small objects in a thin khaki bag. The grandmother or grandfather is to talk about them.

Tuesday. Someone had painted the clockface, dividing it into twenty-minute intervals.

Wednesday. There is no other house on the land.

Monday. Complete destruction. When I asked him why he did it, he said ‘I was outvoted’.

Thursday. I am climbing a mountainside steep as the Shard. I have to bivouac to rest. When I finally resolve to do the last bit, it turns out to be easy, practically flat. Obvious.

Wednesday. D will find a way to make it work, he won’t give up on it.

Friday. Eileen can’t believe how badly I’m driving.

Saturday. Colour is the meaning of life.

Friday. It was only the trick known to every teenager – a bedspread thrown on top of a pullulating heap.

Sunday. Wooden stairs decorated, treads and risers, with pale pink foliage. Découpage.

9

According to Zhuangzi

On a palm leaf at the moment of the setting sun
a solitary common buckeye butterfly
opens the slim volume of her spectacular wings
to see on facing pages

the three familiar roundels like eyes
and reads there she might be of all things a leopard
sunk in her dreams of possessing wings
in reality a leopard she licks every rosette

on her own pelt nudging the black and tan blooms
to believe in their dreams of black
and tawny clouds patching a midnight sky
through which the wolf moon of January shines

more like a bursting dam suddenly that really is
no mere dream of the bank of virga cloud
transfixed by its reflection in the sea below
the billowing upper storeys and streaky stingers

hanging down and no library to disprove
this is not the stirring of a shoal of billowing jellyfish
each pair of nervous systems
in sleepy suspension beginning to ask if this

in truth is not the line of speech bubbles
uttered by a minke whale containing her whistles
and bells her downsweeps her clicks and grunts
winding up to her breeching the moonlit waves

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10

PRIME TIME

Dreaming in black&white
mixing fate&fantasy
in simple bites
sharp enough to pierce
the daily scramble
with photo-bombs
in public.

Inside my head
the private cinema
eschews sub-titles
favours speech bubbles
and narrator-special
intros in rhythmic sets
to haul us/me
into the dark
with magic lanterns.

All creatures
sing&dance
swim or fly… tell
screaming tales,
bring&buy.
Flash-dance is
the programme
embedded – there is
no possibility
of divorce.

11

Neither Here Nor There

I am solid
and void.
Sometimes things pass through me
whilst others bounce back.
It’s in the luck of where we meet,
not some tacky password,
easily forgotten.
No, I am a beast that might bite
and might not.
My ocean is air.
I swim this abyss
wishing to find you
or the one who took you from me,
yet truly hoping to meet neither.
It’s neater to be lost in a search
than to discover what’s ruined.
So long as I go forth,
I can dream.

12

Night gifts

This night only, pale as frozen milk,
the light condensed into two colours only.
This night only, the clouds carry
a quiet sound of purring.
They say that the Leopard of Three Moons
comes once in a single lifetime.
They say that the Leopard of Three Moons
brings no fixed pathway, but velvet-paws
routes through the night palms
and through the tiny blinks of stuttering whales
and through the frail white threads of waves.
Tonight, she breathes conch shells
small enough to fit under your fingernails,
breathes the sound of a silver flute,
the scent of lychee and damask roses.
Tomorrow, when you wake,
the sky will be full of colour.

13

In Between Black and White is Where I live

They told me what I was supposed to hear
from the time I rose from the calming waters, and
from the time when the black clouds touched the sea

I’m constantly fed the upset from moonlight to sunlight,
but I believe in the beauty and brilliancy that glimmers for me,
there is something that I can touch that isn’t there, something,
for you and I to see—Black or White, Good or Bad

I fell asleep-awake from the source of my perceptions that laid
dormant in my unconscious mind, and when the pulsating
mint, violet, and turquoise, fluorescent lights spotted the sky,
it awakened me

I see, now.

14

Antidote

In my very last dream, it’s me and my lover
sitting at an airport bar. The final time we’ve
anchored our eyes into the walls. A solemn
statue is crying eternal tears onto cold, cruel
steel, an inscription telling us: the discobolus
of Clapham. Dusting powdered protein, he’s
running laps in the common to minor songs,
lullabies for hikes, for brunch hats and pink
gym vests. Maybe we’ll transform into marble,
leopards from crystal seas. Under dying stars,
kitchen lights, the loom spins, shouting “you
are still free”. Metal has contaminated the air:
now I am freezing my naked fingers, only to
protect glasses from the haunting of orange
peels. Making crimson drinks like the hunter
drawing blood from dying beasts. Reluctant,
ultimate offering for my lover who is holding
sunflowers, the corporeal gifts for a sleeping
demigod. He did not give his neck the blades
but his lips carried the warmth of a holiday.
Now in the ribbons of the rain, he must be
immortal too. I forget buzzcuts, cloakroom
queues, I let the clouds take me home to you.

15

A Dusk of Reasoning, a Curtailing and a Quickening

The night is swollen and ever-present. Curling into my shoulders. East wind stirs my whiskers. I, padding, into a stillness of welcome, summon knowing. The babies of night unfurled stir twice, thrice, then hitch a ride on a hump-back dream into yonderland.

Where I too am headed. My quiet laughter turns into willing. My prowl, alertness of darkness. Eyes keen in the night, my brother goes hence. I feel his hunt in my knees, in the down of my belly.

Dare I cross the waters? I scent the carp, the hump-back dreamscape, willing me to surrender. But I know their ways, their wily tricks. They would take me into their waters and cajole me to remain.

Still. I know what to do. Wait. Until it’s opportune. Then leap onto the rocks that offer their footstool. Zigzag across the trickster creek. Make it just in time. Before their charm can spell me. But. I should find another way back. They’ll be cleverer next time.

No silence here on the other side. An orchestra of life. Teeming in the undergrowth, whispering in the trees. Only vagabonds like me know to be silent as we enter the new realm. Enter and take what we want.

There. The scent of my brother. Stronger than ever. He is heading south. I follow him.

16

DAYS IN A LONER’S DREAMS

Brisk waves at dusk's end,
A loner's company of faded gold,
Of seas dying of thirst and
the slurred speeches of tinted galaxies
– day one

The half moon of May
reveals that the sun was only painted
in red and bitter light,
then, the colourless sun scuttles bare
and behind my eyes is a dark-blue sylph
– day two

The land on which I tread
is starved of sand and foamy dust
cracks, holes, grey, yawns
and rocks assumes Land's sobriquet
All of nature's grace seems exhausted
and a loner is left with gold and
the misery of Oizys
– day three

Cover silk with clouds,
make stone out of rough sandpaper,
retrace the origin of Nyx in the old mount,
end…
voices transit into echoes
and eyeballs wear on the real as eyelids
– day four

Reality dawns as the morning and...
Alas! I've been dreaming for four days!

17

Shadowlight

I once read that within each of us is another, impossible to know. Like an embryonic twin absorbed by a bigger stronger sibling in the womb, embodied in the end by becoming in some way the surviving, full-term child. She visits us in dreams, this unknowable other, and shows us the truths of ourselves―the slick, black bellies of the old grey rocks unturned in the mud of puddles―but when did it become so very hard indeed to see with our eyes wide open?
18

Marmalade

My marmalade markings
rotate within midnight clouds.

I’m a fire in a grate.
An orange sun on a black pitch.

My heartbeat is freedom –
the sound of thunder
reverberating your soul
as handheld maracas.

I’m tangy sharp,
exotic as pineapple marmalade
in the hungry hands of a Tudor.

My thoughts are tumbled rice
churning electrical pulses,
neon-sharp, pincer-predatory.

I shake your hand,
inviting you to moonlit shores
where your body disappears,
floating in empty ether
as I unbutton your thoughts,
emptying them as caught crabs
from seaside buckets of sunshine.

They happily dispel,
morphing to marmalade murmurs;
once sticky mirages of the mind
dissipate as tidal ribbons,
lost in tiger sheen,
washed clean of purpose.

19

I haven’t walked on grass yet

Spotted excelling at the hunt.
Destined to be the big cat, always with eyes
on the prize.

Hardly needing the Club, the hedonistic red carpet
lay in wait.

A solitary inner soul masked by hubristic single vision.
Telling what they want to hear, call it what you will.

Hiding in full sight, clinging to the Fever tree. Scared of
humans, looking down on the Braying prey.

Busy with the last big spend and a donor-paved wish list.

Easily distracted by Mickey Mouse ears. Beware, beware
the pack of prowling painted dogs gathering.

Your character cannot be changed, you have been spotted.

20

Forecast for tomorrow

weather follows            tonight’s headlines
sound and unsound bites                        already 
archived                   bleeding news

my eye        draws shapes           into cloud

I watch them
            gather        
                                    break
little cotton balls
            the way my thoughts are
like litter            rolling round      the bin
before         dispersed            by a dangerous wind

is that Blake’s Tiger     burning bright            stalking      

my shadow        do I ride        Chesterton’s Donkey

has Zeus failed    winter        summer 
broken        where is a God to say     there will be
harvest        and survival          when on my couch
I sigh for days        of whales and roses    

an ant comes dancing       at my feet        the night
sings silver        I love        do not change    cannot 
change my spots          flit in and out of moonlight     

and if

I do not wake        
        or if I wake              there is beauty in

the living                                  the dying

21

Eternal Night

Think of a leopard roaming the fearful sky, treading amongst jittery stars and pearly moons, watch the leopard's spots dancing to the rhythms of his movements, trapezius, deltoid, triceps, contracting and relaxing to the murmur of the wind teasing palm leaves, think of the beginning of all things where red earth, yellow sun and blue ocean combined to black, black like Leopard's black rosettes imprisoned in his fur, dreaming of their future escape when Leopard no longer have need of their camouflage, when hunting grounds are receding, when his prey dies of disease before his jaw snaps on its neck, when the world is turned upside down.

Come midnight, Leopard dips his paw into rising waters, and with a relieved sigh, releases his obsidian specks into the flood, where they dissolved into molecules of carbon, carried away by currents. The river spreads black like runaway ink on your page, a painter’s careless splash of charcoal stain on his canvas, carps, perch, catfish, striped bass coated in black like warped asphalt roads, blowholes of whales and dolphins exhale soot from exploded oil drilling rigs, capsized by hurricanes, palm trees uprooted and twisted into blackened skies. Black is the mold on walls after a flood, black is the mood of a country divided by ideology, black is death of soldiers in an unwanted war, black is mushroom cloud, black is darkness.

Imagine Leopard wandering in his spot-less fur in a star-less, moon-less, never-ending gloom, listen to its painful cry as its soul lifts into the raven sky, his shape melts into the night as he gazes one last time upon everything that existed before the world is plunged into oblivion.

22

Dream Leopard

My cousins are much larger than me

Cousin Lion, sandy brown
Ruling the African plain
A corner of India too

Cousin Tiger, stripey orange and black
Prowling and ambushing prey
From Indian forest to Siberian snow

Cousin Jaguar, rosette covered coat
Roaming Amazon jungle
No tapir or peccary is safe

Cousin Leopard, covered in spots
Has the widest range of all
From southern Africa to Vladivostok

My cousins, fearsome hunters
Solid, substantial

I am not as they
I was born of dream
I was born of cloud
I was born of moonlight
I am Clouded Leopard
Dreamlike, ethereal

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23

A Golden Shovel After Omar Musa’s Leopard Made of Midnight Clouds

Today i feel so tired,
though the thing(s) i’m tired of
elude(s) me. Perhaps i’m tired of the
(non)selective reporting on the news
or maybe i’m tired of not being (re)tired

or maybe i’m tired of the incessant sounds of
traffic streaming past my place and along the

highway. Is it that superhighway—the net—
that i’m tired
of?
Is it my climate/Covid/comorbid anxiety
that i’m tired
of?
i cannot help but harbour regret

over having spent so
much time flying solo. i
keep thinking of that time i fell

in a hole & rolled my ankle. i strive to be asleep
right throughout the night and
struggle to recall all i’ve dreamed.

i feel good when i read books, view art or listen to i
Tunes or similar. i wonder: if i was
in fact a track about a
big cat, would i be RR’s ‘Fast as a Leopard’,
YYY’s ‘Gold Lion’ or RHCP’s ‘Slow Cheetah’? i once made

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24

In My Dreams

I live in my own world. I don’t have to inhabit reality if I don’t want to. In my own world I can do as I wish. In my own world I am a star. All that I touch turns to gold. I achieve, I’m a success. I have never failed at anything.

I have won an Oscar every year. People queue around the block to see my films. I have money, riches and love of people. I am THE national treasure. In my dreams.

In my dreams I am a friend of the Queen. She tells me everything, how she really feels, and she trusts me to never tell anyone else of her secrets. And I don’t. In my dreams.

In my dreams I play football for England. I am the star striker for the women’s team. A few weeks ago, I scored a hat-trick when we won the World Cup. I was chaired around the pitch by my team because they love me and know that I’ll never let them down. The crowd roared and cheered for me. In my dreams.

In my dreams I am a great singer. I write songs regarded as classics, songs that will be remembered through the ages and never forgotten. I play to thousands in sold-out stadiums. I can make people laugh. I can make people cry. I can play any instrument brilliantly. My music touches the hearts of millions. In my dreams.

In my dreams I have loads of friends. I am never lonely. There are always places to go and people to see. Parties, dinners, receptions. My diary is always full. I never have a moment to spare. In my dreams.

In my dreams I am never lonely. I never have to sit on my own. I never have a day when I don’t speak to anybody because there is no one there to speak to. In my dreams.

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25

I draw a dream

Lying on back
Thoughts aflame
Casting shadows over the ceiling –
A drop rolling into stream.

A dot on its journey –
Dancing the night lit by moon
Creating shapes, making rhythm.

Rush and quiet taking turns
Like a leopard in wait –
A world in faith
Of a leap, of coming together
What once began as one.

26

Astro Feel

It was a tsunami of colors one day,
And then the next those vibrant hues were gone.

The world had become devoid of color.

Like the Libra,
We lost what makes us kind,
Cozy,
And extroverted.

Like water it washed away,
And in came the water bearer.

It’s the age of aquarius.
We endure the chaos,
No excitement,
No enjoyment,
No hope.

We cling to the cuts of confusion,
To the fear of steep declines.

But what if?

We became the water bearer,
Let go of the veil that protects us,
And felt the pains of life flow through us,

Then let them go,
Maybe over time it might get easier.

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27

Leopards and Midnight Clouds

Not everything is black and white;
all it needs is a little moonlight

to scatter clouds at midnight
and set nuance and colour alight.

A leopard by a forest river,
where wild creatures drink together,

cannot hide its spots forever;
so fish swim keep swimming unaware

of danger, it’s ignored by deer
and monkeys – there’s no menace here –

until the fickle moon breaks cover,
and the hunter’s secret is discovered.

28

Quiet cat

In this, the wide tumbling wake
of suffering's ship,
there bobs the newsman,
with the machine gun smile,
and the net pot-stirrer,
whose manic guile
thrills to trigger and engage.
They have us beat our chests at dutiful pace,
while the wedge of woes they drive divides,
and turns both parted sides
to hate, and rage.

There is no respite
even in the velvet deeps of sleep
where, amid the churn of day-spun things,
we might yet coax the quiet cat come lay,
across our laps and, deep-vibrating,
purr our fears away.

Night-forest black, cautious, fey,
it gazes, curious, upon the fires,
and at the ghoulish dances of our kind,  
then turns its head, and stalks away.
None sees it come or go, but it's our fate
that all shall feel the void it leaves behind.

29

The Eighth Day

And on the eighth day
when it was all perfect
and worked like a clockwork orrery,

the creator
walking away
knocked the experiment from the table.

The gears were knocked diagonal.
New mountains rose from the oceans.
New trees sprouted from the horizon
                                       and the sky.
The moon triplicated
and the wind
a spirit of chaos
formed a proud
                 purring
                 leopard
in the clouds.

The creator set it aside,
and spent a week
making a new world.

But the creator learned a lesson.

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30

Night Journey

To become Other,
go still between the layers
and drift midst dreaming

toward far away. Be
the one who listens, who serves
to reflect what light

does not reveal. Play
music and dance the New Moon.
Be the shadow of

echo, beyond form.
What can never be known. Shape
shift mystery’s eyes

31

Nature Deletes its Social Media Profiles

One has to imagine

whale song between the violence
of traffic-bark and airplane-roar, one has to

imagine their oasis: the only soundtrack
the thrumming of nature against itself.

Let us be islands and may the waves rise
up between us, never to meet, never

to encroach our sour notes upon each other,
for we are unclean, unclean, with our smoke

and our oil and our artificial light
a fist held up to the starry sky,

threshing our desires against
the grindstone of survival.

May the cloud come in and preach modesty:
if we couldn’t see our mirrors, perhaps

we would stop creating our own suffering.
One has to imagine.

32

Surfing a different storm

Oceans of plastic flood my course,
at a switch careless devastation races in,
fires rage, glaciers melt, crops fail.
TV images keel-haul me – those children,
the wailing women, that odour of suffering.
Always the suck of tangling undertow.

Rough-beached I long to plunge headlong.
Icarus-dreaming, I feel fortune tremble.
As sun melts hopes, quiet futures unravel.
I grasp for the grit of raptors, for harsh talons
and pinions to gyre. Sinews stretched
I yearn to soar, desensitized, sated.

33

to hide in plain sight

the electronic eye in the corner
pulsates     red    blank    red    blank    
red    the air’s chemical     sterile
colour’s been sucked from of this room
the light’s licensed, there’s a secret zzzzz
of circuitry, otherwise it’s quiet, but

there’s the nattering natterbats  the squeak
of pipistrelles, taste the sticky on spider steel
just like salted caramel    night-scented
stocks     nicotiana    delicious cologne to distil      

you     me    we    can tango to the marching
beat of the red wood ants  or a yee haa rodeo
on shufflehuff’s undergrunt brood  take a moon
-ride         the fireflies will guide    

those behind the eye
     they see my body but
inside myself
I hide

34

A Friend for the End of the World

I had a dream I was holding your hand as we walked through a busy square on the way to a party—it was a Christmas party and I was dressed in a shirt with the colors of a Christmas tree and I couldn’t believe it was all happening: you, the square, the party, Christmases, holding hands, all these thing happened so long ago.

Before I fell asleep I was watching a movie about the end of the world. An asteroid was about to hit the earth and on the last week of the world the guy and the girl were taking a road trip—and there’s this scene at the beach where they just sit and enjoy the day and each other’s company and all the people around them who are doing the same—a happy group of humans, a family gathering of strangers who all just happened upon this beach; and I thought: what a lovely apocalypse, when you can sit close to and touch people and not be afraid of deadly viruses—and then I fell asleep and there we were, in the square again.

I had a dream you were holding my hand as we walked through a busy town square on our way to a party—it was a Christmas party and I dressed in a shirt that had the colors of a Christmas tree. We were surrounded by friends and strangers and people we will never see ever again, in a place that may or may not exist anymore, except in my mind, when I dream. We walked and you held my hand and said something funny and I laughed and I woke up before we got to the party.

35

MY POETRY TURNING GREY

I saw someone dressed in black
disappearing into the wood;
I saw my poetry turning grey
and promptly trampled underfoot.
Then the binmen went on strike,
and I saw the world a conflagration
of smells, curses and unalienable rights.
Lies were celebrated,
and the wind blew more holes
in my already-porous soul.
I looked at the Romaine lettuce
growing in one of my garden pots,
and measured the girth of the baby leaves,
to decide what each one was worth.
And then I heard wings flap:
it was a summons to court with a booby-trap.
I tried and explained myself
with arguments worse than anaemic,
and the jury laughed; and they smacked.
“Go and start learning again,”
the judge delivered her kindly advice
and dismissed my inconsequential quest.
The tiredness overwhelmed me, but I held
my exhaustion on the palm of my left hand,
pondering how the leopard chewed up the news
while refusing to change its spots.

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36

THE FLAMES OF HIS VERSE

The flames are not in his eyes.
He awaits a hum of verse
that can know
that the drawl of his
low roars
are the calls for
his dead mother.

He entreats
in his entropied silence,
a plea for mercy
to not douse our rationales
with hunter's ego,
brittle and numb
to terrestrial life.
His beauty is a construct,
an eternal flame
but
from his golden rebirth
among dwindling numbers
he wants to be put outside
steel boxes,
confiscating the imagery
that only claims his prowls
and burning eyes' blinding
blaze.

Can we not see
he's an overgrown child.

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37

Light Fantastic

Through the viewfinder the sky is black – the stars are missing. Nowhere to be found. She fiddles with the focus, takes her eye from the eye piece, scans the sky, making sure she is pointing in the right direction. There is only one direction and she’s on it. She hunkers down again, her breath carefully flumed away so as not to steam up the lens. Be patient.

After a few moments her eyes detect photons randomly finding their way through millennia through the barrel of the telescope. She sees stars begin to pop out of the blackness, pop bright like the eye of a tiger, pop like signals from a whale in distress. She wonders if the light feels weary after the distance it has travelled, worn down by storm clouds, frazzled by lightning strikes, and is happy to rest on the retina of her eye, happy to be absorbed into the swirls and eddies of her iris. Do they know, these errant photons, one blink and they’re gone?

38

Politics make me dream of drinking vodka laced with cyanide

Talking heads spew swill, until
my eyes glaze over with thoughts
of penguin guano and fields of shrapnel
impregnating wild horses and dandelions.    

Too much he said, she said, no one ever
pays a penalty for backshooting innocents
and my mind goes dead, tossed in a vinaigrette
of whipped up anger and blue state crumbles.

Monday morning comes with relief I can fill
my head with dust clouds of vagrant work,
unshrouded by dull hanky panky of the privileged
parading their excrement on once live TV,

After-five bars of wine-filled sporting delusions
preclude perseverating over voter fraud, grand
and not so grand juries of sneers, ignored subpoenas,
theories concocted in the minds of Madison Avenue
dilatants, arm wrestlers, and presidential thieves.

At night I fall asleep, sometimes, dreaming of never
land, where I never land, instead waking in a cold
sweat under a moon deluded, denuded of reason,
hoping tomorrow is somehow different, knowing
full well that truth and justice have died in a churning
vat of stuffed shirts and platitudes of dirty laundry.

39

Within a Dream, Another

A dream

about dreams
and the creature
that devours them

between curls
of glass waves

                        Flouncing
                        baby whales
                        and a shark moon

                        piercing through
                        shallow skin
       
                        till they drown

in the comfort
of pillow worlds

like feathers

caught
on a jagged
edge of the night
     

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40

A Case of Night Terror, and Tygers in Starlight

When this child was nine (let's call her I),
she carved them into the soft of her skin, like stripes:
the lyrics to 'Tyger Tyger, burning bright'.
Growing cause for concern upon
her fractured sleep: always rousing
into night in twisted sheets. Always sticky:
(like animal birth, though) never tired.

They thought it could explain,
(like pyroclastic flow once was by warring gods)
the fracture of a nascent mind.

The therapist asks me
if I know it to be sweat. I pause,
unsure, as I never thought to lick my wounds
to check. Indeed, I always thought it
to be blood. She asks me "yours?",
pressing down the slickened ball within its joint,
and I said in that way: it wasn't so.

It was from the carcass that was mobile,
even from back around the crown of my crib.
While I snore, a cascading 'drip'
'drip, drip': condensation from the Tyger's maw.
"Or it could be tears," I supplied.
It could be weeping.

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41

In Dreams

In the stories our ancestors told,
the giant star leopard defended
her children from the evil volcanic
golem. In the stories our parents
told the kindly old man delivered
gifts and spread cheer if we were
a happy family. If our family was
unhappy, then the stories were much
more visceral and unkind, eat your
peas, or a man will come and steal
your teeth at night. Pick up your
toys or the man under the bed will
cut off your toes and wear them
as a necklace.

In the stories our friends told
babies were conceived in strange
and horrifying ways that made
no sense but scared all of the
children on the playground
even if they pretended to keep
a stiff upper lip.

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42

I am not in this Picture

I am not a Leopard nor am Midnight nor a Cloud
I am a basis   illustrating both creation and belief
I wear its tropes            tattoo inside my left wrist

I wear as scratches soaking up     ink print's relief

You will see a special comfort in this narrative
You will be buoyed    evaporating in the black
I am not as lucky as those other           viewers

here               as inescapable              as lacked

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Three Of Moons

Mountains and waves coalesce, pushed along on invisible rails.
Clouds bloom from the mellow currents, white balloons drawn by young hands.

Gatefold skyline, the towering palms shake hands in the dusk.
Three of moons, this is not a home I know.
What was heavy now weighs nothing.

An archipelago of stars defend the night, holding back both earth and sky.
From the water, I was born and I shall one day return.

Formed from variations of wind, the night is safe.
You are not alone.

44

Filter Moonlight

"The bright moon shone through me" – Omar Musa

None of us are immune to environmental influences, including:
human interaction,
technological environs,
ecosystems,
and hinterlands in between.
Some people say
you resemble
the five people you spend the most time with.
Spend enough time with workaholics
and their hectic pace throbs in your veins.  
Spend more time with people
who notice the different ways clouds filter moonlight
and you’ll notice the tree roots finding chinks in concrete armor
on your walk to work.
I’d like to be someone who
filters moonlight.
Someone who slows down, observes, and reflects
on the natural world.
Someone who takes time to meet
others where they are at and
provide emotional support.
Someone who does
more than scratch things off to do lists.

45

Illusion

When you feel
Like a fish out of water,
Mired in the anxiety,
Overwhelmed by the news,
Tinged with reality,
When you regret
being trapped
In the net, of
the World Wide Web,
What can save you
Except, a celestial illusion,
a conjuring of a tired mind
Or one on fire,
One that raises us
From rabble,
One that floats us like
a gossamer cloud,
A leopard lost in the sky
Soaking the moonlight,
A thought beyond
The mundane,
An iota of magic,
For the strictly sane.
A palm tree strokes
The belly of night
And look how
it erupts in
Light of laughter.

46

In my night ocean

In the night ocean where big cats prowl,
in clouded grace and crowbird-clawed,
the stalky forest of blowy palms,
the kelp-frond sky is starfish-lit.

In the night ocean, a dolphin pod
with crescent apple-blossom smiles,
streaks phosphore dance steps,
curved as moons, in silver trails.

In my night ocean, I float on waves
of clouds of fronds of dolphin smiles,
and in my hands I gather the light,
rare and bright, of five-fingered stars

to weave a shimmered morning veil,
a winding sheet for darktime fears,
a flowered tree, a clouded cat,
a white-sailed ship of no return.

47

insomnia

TIRED to the bone but not sleepy, i stare at the moon
OFten she turns in before me, dipping beneath
THE ridge, sinking towards the sea beyond.
NEWS travels slowly on the backs of whales
TIRED reports of bleached reefs the color
OF sand dollars, another tanker run aground
THEse headlines get caught in my throat:
NETted gills, plastic straws, another degree hotter
TIRED, but unable to drift off, i’m a castaway   
OFfering up a constellation of soothing rhymes to ease my
ANXIETY while adrift on my mattress, a duvet sail,
TIRED oars battered by wind, by salt, by overthinking thoughts
OF destruction, ruminating on extinction, harboring a pit of
REGRET as the remnants of dinosaurs are extruded into molds
SO the once mighty land lizards become mini plastic replicas.
I tattooed a brachiosaurus on my leg beneath a scar from when i
FELL off my new moped driving it out of the lot
ASLEEP or awake, gasoline-powered dreams crumble
AND late stage capitalism rears its ugly head, Henry Ford
DREAMED of cheap cars for the masses
I dreamed of the freedom of the open road and
WAS determined to get back behind the wheel after
A hiatus, ending up in Europe via the jungles of Asia, you see a
LEOPARD does not eat hydrogenated fats, aspartame, ingredients not
MADE for its countenance and contrary to its disposition
OFf in the shadows of darkness, stalking its prey at   
MIDNIGHT, oblivious to the poachers camped beneath the  
CLOUDS that obscure the moon, all of the stars

Read more >
48

DREAM OF LIFE

I dream a black mountain puma
lounging in the crook of a leafless tree
as our train trundles west to east
into snow and a solitary
yellow larch appears in a wilderness
of empty branches.

I dream a life of colour, vibrant
filled with passion, children, joy
as we career together, willy-
nilly down a track appearing
straight only by turning,
turning and looking back.

I dream of sadness, rain and grey
mist cover in the valley
and the shadow, and the death
of hope, and a sudden spark
sears like a tongue of fire that licks
life back in play.

49

Moonless

from a winter window
an abandoned sky,
too dark for solace

black ice shadows –
a mountain
with no footholds

wordless trees –
nothing left to say
to one another

late white roses
stayed too long -
will never open

river,
after this long drought,
don’t lose your way …

quick – did you see
a silver kingfisher
pass by?

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