paul summers

 

 

fish quay fugues

 

i. doggerland

 

the old world is dying, and the new world struggles

to be born: now is the time of monsters.

antonio gramsci

 

& the way will be perilous;

black ice & shark-eyed smiles,

several heaps of hogmanay vomit,

a vacant pizza-box draped with hoar,

its palimpsest of feast & greed,

bleak litany of the new & old,

dog-shit & fag-ends & crumbling roads,

the hours’ lash, the pains of labour,

the endless cycle of peddled fact.

& then the sanctuary of frozen sand;

its confluence of salt & wind-whipped crows,

the hymn of a sea cathedral hollow.

kick off your shoes my love & walk;

due east, towards the burgeoning sun.

plough on through the grave mounds

of haddock-frames & listless kelp,

tread slowly on the pebble field,

avoid the triggers of its toad-back traps;

then walk & wade & catch your breath,

beyond the bar where codling lurk,

let swell becalm your troubled blood,

squeeze shut your jaded eyes & dream;

the rapture of tectonic plates entwined

in acts of violence & of love, the red raw

ooze of magma’s birthing, each push,

each jolt, each breathless force exerted

sees citadels emergent from these waves,

a glimpse of doggerland’s trembling plains,

its strongholds of hope re-rendered

now un-drowned, their beacons still charged,

their gates agape, their monsters slain;

each edifice an altar awaiting our faith.

 

ii.  the dreamers’ ark

(for tony king)

 

the oak is seasoned

the sawyers done

 

each board & beam

is shaved & steamed

 

rendered immaculate

in barrel curves

 

planed & polished

to perfect laps

 

the wrights slip-

glazed by noble toil

 

each limb in balance

each peg set tight

 

like lovers’ vows

immoveable in situ

 

caulked with hope

& dogma pitched

 

our lines are tied

the mast is set

 

beyond the lash

of briny rain

 

the sirens call

a kelpie chorus

 

in refrain beseeches

us to join them

 

on their barricade

of angry waves

 

then truths & lies

file two by two

 

the ghosts of all

our champions too

 

then faith & doubt

complete the crew

 

the flexing muscle

of a lunatic tide

 

will raise us off

our silt-kissed keel

 

our petards primed

the mainsail draped

 

we’ll voyage toward

some promised land

 

towards a haven

of our communion

 

this ark of gesture

& good intent

 

within the warp

& weft of oily sheets

 

the reek of sheep

the thrill of transit  

 

its canvas chest

heaved out in pride

 

repels the barrage

of this storm

 

its swell embellished

with gilded words

 

nihil nocent

do no harm

 

 

 

paul summers © 2017

iii.  the searcher

(for nev clay & walter benjamin)

 

the stakes are raised on days of hope

beyond a yard or two of fraying rope,

 

beyond the frames of flesh-stripped fish,

a sliver of a willow-pattern dish,

 

beyond the jet of wave-hewn coals,

the tumbled glass of mussel shoals.

 

today, an optimism demands of me

a fist-sized lump of ambergris

 

infused with an ocean’s sacred musk,

the blackest pearl, a narwhal’s tusk,

 

a celtic cross, a golden fob,

the trident of a nightmare’s hob.

 

through flow & slack, advancing with the ebb’s retreat,

i sift & scan the tesserae of sand & weed beneath my feet.

 

the more stringent my scrutiny, the graver the finds;

these bloodless hands exhume the crypts of clerics’ minds,

 

& beyond the silt bar’s radiant clarts,

uncover a hoard of wordless grief & splintered hearts:

 

the angel remiel’s discarded wings,

the aria of lies the siren sings,

 

the storm cleft tiller of a stricken barque,

the corpse of the ascending lark,

 

a font of black basalt fine-polished by tides

brimming with the tears of drowned sailors’ brides.

 

 

the age of mediocrity

 

it came by stealth                  

though some invited

it came disguised                  

as friend & kin

it walked right in                  

& crept like plague

through all the rooms          

we’d kept as sacred

each town consumed            

each citadel complicit

no cell immune                      

the cure redacted

all grace usurped                    

all hope infected

the mediocre’s                        

bleak contagion

each fertile thought                

remapped as fallow      

each mind re-drawn              

in bland enclosures

their promise stacked          

in putrid piles

bequeath the meek                

this palsied earth

 

 

 

paul summers © 2017