[ai] sniper [ɪ] lid [ʌ/ ʊ] sunk [ɒ] rock [i:] leaf [əʊ] so [e/ eə:] step

[ɑ:] charred [ei] plagued [ɜː] burnt [ʊə/ u/ u:] moon [au] now [æ] and

[ɔː/ ɔɪ ] hoard


A Northern Hoard

And some in dreams assured were

of the Spirit that plagued us so


  1. ROOTS

Leaf membranes lid the window.

In the streetlamp's glow

Your body's moonstruck

To drifted barrow, sunk glacial rock.



And all shifts dreamily as you keen
Far
off, turning from the din

Of gunshot, siren and clucking gas

Out there beyond each curtained terrace


Where the fault is opening. The touch of love,
Your warmth heaving to the first move,
Grows helpless in our old Gomorrah.

We petrify or uproot now.


I'll dream it for us before dawn
When the pale sniper steps down
And I approach the shrub.

I've soaked by moonlight in tidal blood.

A mandrake, lodged human fork,

Earth sac, limb of the dark;

And I wound its damp smelly loam
And stop my ears against the scream.


2. NO MAN'S LAND

I deserted, shut out

their wounds' fierce awning
those palm like streaming webs.


Must I crawl back now,

spirochete, abroad between
shred-hung wire and thorn,

to confront my smeared doorstep
and
what lumpy dead?

Why do I unceasingly

arrive late to condone

infected sutures

and ill-knit bone?

3. STUMP

I am riding to plague again.
Sometimes under a sooty wash

From the grate in the burnt-out gable
I see the needy in a small pow-wow.

What do I say if they wheel out their dead?
I'm cauterized, a black stump of home.




4. N0 SANCTUARY

It's Hallowe'en. The turnip-man's lopped head
Blazes at
us through split bottle glass

And fumes and swims up like a wrecker' lantern.


Death mask of harvest, mocker at All Souls

With scorching smells, red dog's eyes in the night -
We ring and stare into unhallowed light.


5. TINDER

We picked flints,
Pale and dirt-veined,


So small finger and thumb
Ached around them;


Cold beads of history and home
We fingered, a cave-mouth flame


Of leaf and stick

Trembling at the mind's wick.


We clicked stone on stone

That sparked a weak flame-pollen


And failed, our knuckle joints
Striking as often as the flints.


What did we know then

Of tinder, charred linen and iron,


Huddled at dusk in a ring,

Our fists shut, our hope shrunken?


What could strike a blaze
From our dead igneous days?


Now we squat on cold cinder,
Red-eyed, after the flames' soft thunder


And our thoughts settle like ash.

We face the tundra's whistling brush


With new history, flint and iron,
Cast-offs, scraps, nail, canine.