Laps of Honour
Pipe of Peace
The Grace of God
Can't Help it
Ceremony in the Rain
When the Pyrenees are angry,
and the clouds are down on the coast.
I like to stand on the spot where
Monsieur Jackie installed himself
to regard the waves break over
the lighthouse, and boulders rearrange
themselves when the Spanish winds
are up. I listen to the foghorn,
blindly remembering my old friend.
I’m a statue in this corner
for unsung invalides, a spot
on the belvedere overlooking
the Port. There is nothing sacred
about a stone-bench facing backwards
that one must stand on, except
it’s somebody else’s pedestal.
Monsieur Jackie’s, a hero
of an everyday life that’s past.
A cigarette in his honour
must be smoked even if it means
coughing just like him, a hack
I remember with affection.
I don’t indulge in the habit,
except on ceremonial
occasions. Now I contemplate
the sea shrouded by the mountains.
I return with my respiration
disrupted by the smoke to my
pied-à-terre above his basement
to watch on his behalf daytime
television with the sound down.
And lunch on a slice of pizza
washed down by a bidon of wine.
A feral cat purrs me to sleep.
Le Coup de Grâce
The black widow from the balcony
is being hoisted down by the pompiers.
And the neighbours watch for a sign of life.
At least they’ve not laid a cloth on her face.
Today was the day for feeding the flowers.
But they’ve grown too much. She told me herself.
I’ll give them instead a thorough cutting.
Water would be wasted on those gluttons.
So the street was strewn with cyclamen.
And the binmen lodged an official complaint
to the Pyrenees, who, in a bad mood,
cut the power and she fell. But she’ll be back.
The Gift from the Black Widow
The black widow gave me a cutting
which flourished in my jardin potager.
Red flowers with the cup of hibiscus.
The stamen is that of a lily.
Cut it back, she said. I hadn’t the courage
to interfere with nature, and so let it be
to blossom at will. I know I risk being cursed.
But it could not be seen from her balcony.
As the heads fell off, the stems sprouted
along the fence to invade my neighbour’s hedge.
The honeysuckle chokes with it about it.
The ligature is promiscuously wedged.
Old Moge shouts out, ‘It’s the serpent in Eden’,
for all the world to hear and that means you.
My game is up and yet I sit there reading
about The Fall of Man. What else can I do?
Trompe-l’œil for a Sea Burial
Pain is the undercoat
that bleeds through, but clots black.
Paint over it, the mot-
if of choice is a crack,
so when it seeps again
the surface seems intact.
You have suffered nothing
much that is of note.
Then overlay the pain
with the colours you lack
since burning your boats. Rote
repainting will regain
you the semblance of plain
sailing. Wind at your back,
you go with how it blows.
If against you, you tack.
Looking at the Stars
is that the knowledge
that terrifies us
may not be as true
as the details. Thus
the larger picture
is that what’s beyond
the beyond’s nothing
but a comparison.
(with what I’m not sure).
The idea takes time
and space to sink in.
It’s good to listen,
‘Where have you been all
these years?’ ‘O, just being.’