Room Recently Vacated
Enter the room again, note the following:
how, for instance, the air, it quivers still,
reverberating its particles, that quixotic thrill.
A kind of silent, undercurrent of orgasm
spilling and spewing and spurting.
Take note of the smell of the presence of
the newly departed, that stiff whiff of beauty.
The scent of skin drifting the air doused
in the salty juices of a body that breathes.
Sweat stains the room sweetly: inhale it.
Filling your lungs with dim arousal, look
down at the sofa where the body sat,
observe the feet marks pressed to the mat.
In its absence you can see the halo of the
being entire, burned into nothingness.
Sure enough, it was here, just there, there.
It reclined in tender splendour, it talked.
It gazed upon that which you gaze on now;
it looked at you and around you and through
you to what you see through now: ecstasy.
Reposed there, its body massaged the leather.
Subtle movements sent quaking shocks fast
to the nerve centre, gripped there to the last.
Then another move: another dip to the vortex.
The sofa even now pants hard, post-coital.
You can discern, quite clearly, the impression
its weight made, staid and denting. The leather
holds it in, determined, as you are, as the mat
is, to salvage every last second, every last
rippling lash of piety before relaxing, releasing it.
Now, finally, kneel at the leather: do it.
Put your face to that space of blazing body heat,
let it radiate your skin, your face: treat
yourself to a little obsession, a little desperation.
Turn your tongue to the hide stretch, lick it.
The Perfect Reason
The day is like no other we have ever known;
There’s a sudden coldness which swipes at us,
a stubborn wind east-bound and west-blowing.
We go about the empty house and
turn on lamps to shelter out the darkness.
Just then there’s a power cut.
I consider the dark to be justified just this once
and make no attempt to throw curses
out into the motionless sky, the cricket sounding
nests of the decaying garden.
We sit and drink wine.
We get through a bottle and a half before we realise
We’re in grave danger of making fools of ourselves.
In the depths of the passage way the cat stalks;
its black coat the colour of all our possibilities.
We have no way of knowing she hates the dark as we do,
the desperation in her thinning coat certainly no
object of affection; soon the fish scalar will be in
business once again and we will feel no guilt.
Out on the porch the birdbath sways in the wind.
A candle flickers in the glow of our faces.
We meet each other’s eyes in dull lighted moments
knowing we are meant for one another.
But we are not sure; as such only hesitation
becomes our new found glory game,
in the light shining like polished red apples.
We understand we have the perfect reason to be in love;
darkness, a void bridged by a shrinking candle.
I puff at the wick. A red smoulder leaves its cadence.
Into the air spirals silver smoke, the spirit of a snake.
We become one when we touch our lips together.
We have the perfect reason to be happy.
We have the darkness, followed by the light.
Feet in the Forest
Riding to the forest, entering there,
is an odd experience these days;
the wind cutting through, bark to bark,
rustling pine needles in a low silence.
I approach on an old mare, chestnut brown,
her coat ironed daily by the groomsman.
I do not ride horses. Have never ridden horses.
There’s this quietness, I observe it again:
a disturbed peace, teeming, crowded solitude.
I’ve decided to make the journey alone,
uninhibited, so that the impressions hold
and are not quick stolen by insincerity.
I am hoping for some transforming element.
The horse and I stop before a fallen branch.
There is a tidy, gradual acquaintance with a
splay of dying wood, all that falls and rots.
Somewhere the sudden screech of a violent bird
slices the expectant air and wings race
skywards, leaving us vulnerable, alone.
Now the air is thick and unusually heavy here.
It seems to drift down from tree-tops,
splices of light, sun-bright, through the
netted spires, woven, to settle on my shoulders.
I feel a desperate need to come clean.
The air I breathe encourages honesty,
I lower my head, mildly, sedately,
some illusion of a drug-induced sight,
so I start to reel from the anxiety of
the truth I conceal, the awkward bitterness.
But there is to be no more hiding from open roads
or peering bleak at street strangers, wanting them
dead, or gone, resenting the pitiless life they lead.
Here in the forest calmness rests;
an opaque seed pod floats aloft above
this fooling carpet earth, bottle green, plush and
luscious and full of verve and vitality.
Still, the peace is off-set by something.
Something, somewhere, somehow is not right.
The purity strangely stained and soiled
and the stiff smell of musk is potent.
Grey bark on towering trees is ant-bit and,
a sudden sense of enclosure, of being enclosed,
an unsure knowledge of unnatural bones
strewn deep into compost cover and soil.
Sitting on the rotting branch I put my
feet into the forest, the mare set free
to forage through the undergrowth,
her tail swiping across inquisitive insects.
The ground beneath me is firm, compact,
yet a dampness resists the surface of my feet.
The centre is dark, deep, entangled, over-powering.
Her heart lies there, I presume,
and a slow beat turns below the earth.
I see that now. The stillness, the hollow
experience, the unclear premonitions.
I come alone to this forest of ancient things,
where I can feel a connection between our
rhythms and spirits; small tree creaks and
occasional whistle songs from above.
Four billion years, if not more,
separate out our entities.
The thread is thin, and worn. My feet hold with
the union, the final meeting of ancestors.
They say my grandmother’s
ample bones lie decomposing here, full of sin,
muddied and brittle and the soils feed
off of them in this then skeletal forest.
But I struggle to grasp it all, anything.
It’s cold fighting off the wind, forcing me
to come to terms with translucent matters.
All I want is to feel at one with the forest,
to exorcise my fears and inhibitions,
to throw away prejudice and hatred.
But she offers no solution, no respite.
Even though she opens up a grave
in deep winter and takes my feet like
an anchor, disturbing me, unnerving me.
I have come a long way to feel this.
I have come a long way to know what I know.
There is now no new beginning,
no new start.
Tell the old woman I came to see her at last,
though she is covered up with trees.
I take my feet out of the forest, slowly.
They are numb, pin-cold. I am despondent.
I ride away alone. I had come after all.
Three Surrealist Poems
Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern – A Surrealist Manifesto, Editions du Sagittaire, by Andre Breton
i – Eyeless Door Seeks Companion
In the depth of summer,
in the last whisper of sour smoky breaths,
in the season of folly and grace,
we come to the understanding.
There were signals all along;
people strode deaf and dumb and mute
across concrete, feet deep in fog-ridden
mornings and the stale air embraced
their melancholic souls.
They were seeking the truth in rubbish
dumps, over-turning crumbling
rocks to poke at sleeping decay.
They found nothing along those
streets, or then standing at bus-shelters
where the steel coated orange
rusts in the nuclear blaze.
Now the eyeless door seeks a
companion. There is reason to believe
arch ambiguity is the cause
of all this mellow distress.
What shall we do? We look
scrunch-faced through key-hole to
saintly sinner posing as water-meter
reader. Friend or foe?
We do not know.
ii – The Passing of Moments
The round of a cat stretches out
against this dome, a coffered dome.
The angled rooftop slants, a gutter, then the
boiling blood of a newly slain rat, cat killed,
drips in a slow unsteady dirge.
Form corrugated iron painted red
beats a slow chime against the
heat of the noon day. A sultry pulse.
In the shade we gasp for air
we dare not breathe:
to inhale is to betray.
Below we couch on soft grass and with pride
sip at lime lemonade from a tall glass.
We pass on moments as they come and go;
scenes from our yesteryear
which we know as the fondest ripple of
the stillest pond,
or the keenest of green memories.
In the wind we know that the slightest hesitation
brings fear, we long for the coming climax
and then, at last, a rest.
And all the while we say how sad it is.
That it all had to come to this,
this distemper in the air.
This dead rat on a roof top,
this fat cat licking its bloated paws.
Every drop of blood that falls, that is funneled
down hints to our own distant demise.
Our moment of sanity breached,
the thin line crossed,
so that even the one of us who settles below
to sip at the hot dripping tap finds
nothing so urgently disgraceful with the act.
We lack the conviction to become hypocrites.
Our eyes are too wide open, our mouths too dangling
in the disbelief of it all.
In the cool shade we shiver,
yet the weather is pleasant and hot.
We sweat under our white collars and ties.
We forget we have not breathed in months;
we’ve passed on the moments of our lives
with an astonishing degree of simplicity.
Regret cannot be found even in despair,
and now the bottom of our lemonade glasses
show no signs of the lurking plague.
The rest is restless. Last is lasting.
Our blood pool dries up; the rat is brittle.
Our moment in time has passed.
iii – Tree Cutter
A man walks with a stark blade, electrified,
into my yard, yes right inside, and the
shock evades even the bulldog, muted cabbage.
The spaniel is asleep dreaming of pork fillets.
I drop Freud to the floor and ponder this invasion.
When he staggers to a halt looking suggestively
at my avocado pear tree, I throw a bucket at him.
But he only wants to borrow my ladder.
Bearing this in mind I canter his ambitions,
to the garage then to sabotage his design.
So he climbs it laderless, silently like an acrobat.
When he falls he lands on his feet
his grinning teeth spreading towards my awe.
So I aim an avocado pear at him.
He appreciates my gift and asks for pepper
and vinegar. And a cheese knife.
On a tray I laminate a plate with dish oil,
chilli-up the vinegar and butcher the knife.
He nods in appreciative gestures.
Tree-cutting man who are you, I say,
some voyeur of obstinate disguise?
Poised on ladders, camouflaged in
green trees, spidery branches.
Do you seek gratification from this
excellent position, your camera barrowing
into the panes of my pride-house?
Cutting away branches of my past through
your elevated stance, your prying guile?
Eventually, he gesticulates, hangs his arms
in the tense still air. When my power-line falls
with the summer rain, his revenge is born.
Back he will come with his blades electric,
wielding phallic perversions at my insanity.
The raft slunk in the river,
rain and reverberation of thunder.
Not the perfect start,
not a gold sunset going down.
The sky spewed us with moodiness;
we were apt in our unease.
The jabbing rhythm of the river
an unsettling gloom, an eiderdown.
No drooping sail lifted us,
no far-scented wind whispered.
There was a staleness, the wet,
moist clunk of wasted time.
And so we trudged from the jetty,
we pushed on, parting the foam.
We knew we had to reach a point,
this journey our survival, our birth.
It wasn’t an easy voyage,
there was hardship for a time.
But we forged ahead regardless,
something inside us had to break.
And then it did! Like the hull
itself, whipped and cracked on
the water’s face, as if, suddenly,
mystifyingly, we’d fallen into one.
Words flowed easily; thoughts,
desires, secrets, fantasies, wishes.
We sat baffled, basking in our
remorse. Why had it taken so long?
Now we’d waded the rough turf,
we’d survived the highest wave.
We’d be together forever, a dream:
the sun in the water at last.
So I always wanted to go to the Arabian deserts,
The Persian Gulf. Mesopotamia. Olives in Crete.
The Sphinx lit up by the bright moon.
And to witness the ancient art of the dancers
moving by the fire, their feet over the cool sands.
I want to celebrate the shape of their flaccid spines
winding like cobras enhanced by the opiate tones,
the harmonic syllables of the east. The chanting opera.
The dancer’s seductive drifts through the enticed
faces tilted to the glare of the beaded silks.
There is tradition cast in her. An art form. Culture
that that is not my own. I would be a mere spectator
drawing comparisons to the metropolitan beat.
The raving lights. The mad sounds. The loss of sensuality.
But there are those who only know the cupped hands
that this beguiler offers, her dark black eyes like the night,
the dripping ear rings. The emblem of the coiled
snake slithering the smooth confines of her brazen neck.
The thin silk covering the hides of her slender thighs.
The men, the nomads, are addicted to her flexibility,
her undeniable appeal, the athleticism in her staid feet.
They were brought by their fathers, long long ago,
to bask over the appetising ways of the flesh, the birth
of carnal instinct. Now they enter the canopy of the tent,
throwing coins into the bowl, one hand on their son’s
alert, tensed shoulder. And they push them away.
Towards her. An initiation. This stirring rite of passage.
©Neal Hovelmeier (Ian Holding), 2020