The red bucket

8:22am
Away from podiums where sand and fist and bottle mix,
as morning throws its fire on this eastern shore,
the sinner’s footprints set a northern path to where,
confessed once on that promontory,
he begins anew his craggy penance
over splintered rocks
on whipping paths of pandanas
past the mouths and shoulders of the land crawling out into the pacific.

Away from racketeers and white hats
who race their dogs and lean on crusts of concrete spires,
who program machines for maximum absolution,
who fail to hear the drum that beats from ocean floor and sky,
nor the whispers of the land’s intentions,
the sinner clasps the red bucket as a chalice,
holding steady in the wind –
a constant stream bearing witness to his condition.

8:34am
Between chortling gutters he turns both weed and rock
in pores of the pacific empire,
between folds of silken foaming sheets,
through shells, through cracks and snails
the drums beat louder, the swell retreats
anemones wave banners from crevices heralding the ephemeral tide.

A crab taps grim rhythms with a pincer made of bone,
still she taps as when she had two.
Her defiant tempo fills the red bucket
its brittle casing, the souls of fish and all which it contains:
a temperate blade,
a brine-stained singlet entwined with wire and lead,
the final memory of a dying flathead as it chopped and churned in hopeless breaths,
now overflows once more with songs of endless ocean trenches
ruled by beasts with fins and their deities harking hollowed in the ground.

8:55am
Across the anglers’ pole
stabbed in passing beyond the range of the frothing cyan styx,
the sinner takes a barb of splinters to his cheek (an offering as such)
scrambles up the jagged tabernacle,
thankful for the salty spit upon his neck,
then rests both hands and bucket against the crumbling mortar –
a bed for the dead lighthouse man.

Today he marvels at his own technique
while even gulls, irreverent as they are
squall in concert with the drums
and invite him forward to share their kingdom.

The tree on the hill

Have you seen from this fair hill, the coiling streets of Rome?
Walked the narrow lanes of rock and wondered at the dome?
Left a lover in the Paris rain,
found a penny in Trafalgar Square
or kept the girls in waiting ’til your journey took you home?

I reckon not it matters, chasing stories over shore
you who’ve paused for measured lifetimes, for twenty, maybe more!
Like light from distant stars
the rains betray their tales
and tell your grappling roots of famine, wealth and peace and war.

To be your branch, at one with land enduring through and through
I’ll carve my name into your skin and quietly join the queue.
What I’ve seen is with me
yet remains in constant motion,
let me rest a while with you and live it all once more anew.

The rainy weekend

(सप्ताहांत वर्षा के)

A tram scroll from Barcelona to Berlin
From around the world to this rainy weekend

Behold! How your morning is measured
by a thousand minutes to a bed tethered
by scratched skin and a reluctant shaver
whose very stare can blunt a razor
or strong coffee and small favours
over nonsense words like mankyshepard.

Until past noon when curtains rain,
and someone falls asleep again
and someone else when no-one looks
decides to open up his books
until she rouses, throws a hook,
and paper tears a thin refrain.

Evening plays more sombre notes
with runny cheese and chortling throats
over drole films and half-time schmoozing
and games that end when he starts losing
from simple desserts of her choosing
until she tires of anecdotes.

Song of a career bachelor

Tug of war, interminable dance,
of reason and controlled device,
of something here and nothing there
with sweaty hands and relentless rope,
I fear that if I take the chance
and release a grip I hold in hope,
I’d fall and interrupt my trance
and betray all terms of my advice.

But at the end this fraying cord,
braced through my neck and up my spine
the nothing here is now something there
with blistered hands and bolted jaw,
I know that if I fought unshored
my failing feet could take no more
I’d scatter all the strength I’d stored,
and let the flag across the line.