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Fate’s Catalyst

You were Fate’s catalyst and the moon roars
Out your name. The ground has shifted
With tectonic life-changes.

Autumn leaves now fall like guillotines.
Nothing here can move quickly.
Constant rain; perpetual drizzle.

Tonight is the climax of brooding sky:
A world in an arthritic cast.
I sink deeper into my chair

And into nowhere, remembering
Our epoch opening like an atrium.
I sit alone. Separating

The night’s black veil to watch
A rabble of stars slowly appear.
Submerged and drunk and melancholy

While you roll behind the darkness.
I think of you as though in séance
And our last night rises up from the air.

I have never heard a more
Honest and open cry
Than the rising howl you made that night:

I held your hand in the rain
And you held not just mine back,
But everything together –

And I never even realised,
All that time while I held you,
You were the fulcrum of a moment

That I let fall into nothingness.
You were the planet’s core; you were magma glue,
And that’s why the happiness stuck to us.

If it was raining then the sky did not bother your tears.

Inheritance

Guarding like a totem, as a remnant
His highlander-bottle keeps black watch:
The legacy of paternal inheritance.
The whiskey-hollow harmonic echoes

Ageless, though the neck is a dry riverbed.
The man stands tall, peripheral on the shelf.
A blind gaze as solemn as one last breath.
He attracts dust while his old notes nestle

In the deaf ears of the dead, captured
Only in the fleeting memory of ashes.
But together they remember, pulseless:
The booming, stubbled laughter; that gulping thirst.

Now it lurks within the veins like a vocation.
The path carved out in the family tree,
Repeated like a shared prophecy.
A relic from the early schism.

Only rose falls close the lifelong call.
Too soon we dull with Sunday bells tolling
And decay with our unshakeable faults,
Bearing them like gifts for an afterlife.

The Ballet

The light collapsed with the weight of dusk
As we went to watch the ballet.
We only ever went that one time.
A special performance. In fact,
I had never seen ballet before
Or since – it wasn’t me. But you,
You had. You loved it, lived it
Regularly. It was a childhood dream.
However you had missed your chance,
Apparently; “You have to start when you’re young”.
The opportunity had departed
Like a missed train. No second chances.

I remember that night because
It was the first time I found a bad evening
After weeks emulating honeymoons.
We had left the bedroom overturned,
Littered with arguments over nothing
That I can remember now,
But your barbs were like arrows
Craving the sight of strung-up martyrs.

Suddenly, you didn’t seem like you –
Or at least, not one that I recognised.
It wasn’t. The first of many.
A temporary distance between worlds.
Your face clamped shut to barricade you in;
Your voice hidden as a pearl.
You used to describe it as your mind
Becoming untrustworthy.

We arrived and entered the theatre
Quietly. It echoed like a church
Lacking crosses. Hushed voices.
It was already not going well.
We were always late and lost.
We searched for our places in the dark,
Repeating our seat numbers
Like the combination to a safe,
Relaying up and down the aisle
As though hunting for lost keys,
Until the right row finally appeared –
Somehow we had lost a letter
From the alphabet. We sat down.

The ballet teetered on the precipice.
The curtains quivered like lips
Of the Red Sea. We awaited Moses.
I tried to pry open the silence
But every time I spoke, I saw you
Shrugging off my words like air.
The lights dimmed further,
Then the music opened floodgates.

Dancers poured out from the wings,
Spilling onto the stage in a torrent
Of song-spun pirouettes and soaring jumps
As they blurred into more than humans.
Their black feathered costumes combining
As they undulated like returning birds;
Synchronised as though grown together
In the one womb. Each leap said words.

The room rumbled with awe.
The air swelled with approval.
The audience reinforced the grace.
Meanwhile, I didn’t understand a step –
Nothing more than childlike-mesmerised;
Open mouthed, as though held
By a magician’s watch.
Occasionally, I tried to whisper
Something meaningful, non-elevator.
No luck. Mostly, I blinked forwards.

Yet, you understood like it was home.
Awakening gradually,
With eyes like sparked coals.
The dancers pulled you out from the depths
Of you, and lifted you up
To the surface on a tide of red velvet.
Your face beamed. Sunflower joy;
Turning to find the warm sun
Just as you couldn’t imagine
That it would ever reappear.

Eventually, the curtains closed
And I found your smile, resuscitated
Inside of some clothes
That you didn’t usually wear.

Hawk

Nothing owns the air like this hawk
Before this kill. He commands the air
Like a sovereign would a subject.
The cloud hunter, outstretched

Feathered fingers holding back rotations
As he waits for the guillotine moment –
No thunderclap; an ominous cloud
Of silhouette congealing above.

Carefully hung from the sky,
Blowing in the breeze like washing.
This is his birthright,
Honed by a million egg-cracks.

A hovering executioner.
A sprawling of God.
Steady as a surgeon’s hand
And shadowing death like a drone.

He surveys his surroundings,
Flexes his eye like a strongman’s muscle,
And prepares to conclude nature
And roll away the world in revolutions.

Now he rehearses the perfect kill.
The evening alive with anticipation.
Heavens breathe in.
Seconds pass like tremors

While he toys with the memory of old murders
Between his toes, bobbing and brooding
On the sky’s surface like oil:
A black buoy.

He holds my gaze like prey,
Ricocheting against the wind
With the swing of a hammer,
And then plummets only to make skylines fall.


This poem recently arose after travelling through France when, during a petrol pit-stop, I saw a bird of prey (I believe it was a hawk, although I’m not completely sure) seemingly levitating out above a field in the near-distance while on a hunt. It was quite something; motionless, hung from the clouds. It was probably quite an ordinary sight, however the image of that bird, stuck on the sky, also stuck with me; following me over the next few days like a predatory animal.

Consequently, in this poem I tried to capture the suspense in that moment, the tension in that air of sky, the metaphors that lurked within, and the power of that hawk as it controlled the air like a sovereign would a subject.

Enjoy the poetry, and don’t forget to like and follow for more new poetry every Friday.

Luca

Our Winter

That winter looked too good on you.
It adored you, like a mother –
Birth certificate confusion.

The summer was almost obvious.
Winter was better. Lurking.
You could camouflage in the cold.

But it was also something more profound:
Months followed you, mirroring.
The skies seemed to shiver.

A world hiding in hibernation
While I watched your cheeks blister;
Dimpled red apples, licked by frost.

The tarmac crunched like rubble underfoot
As you spun away, plucking out the air
With the premonition of blossom

Concealed somewhere deep in your smile.
You knew the eventuality of change
And I opened each day like a gift.

God. You were gut-punch beautiful.
In the devotion of those short, dark days
Nothing could stop you.

But like the snow, tumbling
Down altitude’s umbilical cord,
It all soon would be fallen.

River Hymns

That evening was a special place,
Carried to me by the river. I hung
My feet in the water like fish hooks
And let the sun writhe overhead, turning

The riverbank the dappled colour
Of late July and the underside of leaves.
Heat blared on from the apex of the day,
Continuing to break records like twigs,
And so, the city stood still; an open oven.

But I had my transient oasis,
Caesarean cut through a concrete belly.
I had founded an emptiness, like Columbus,
And declared it all mine.

Leaning back, I was content as a lion’s roar.
No phone. No pen. Just my wet soles
And an orchestra of crickets and birdcalls.

The church bells tolled, soft and hourly,
Telling Time about the clandestine
In sporadic pulsars. Darker, water flowed
Towards entropy and sunset.

Light on the surface; the debris of day.
Twisting past, swerving wild through earth,
The river wrestled with its current like a vein
Of beauty inside the genius of madmen.

It was rare. A postcard perfect moment.
I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to change.
And so I repeated some lines like mantras
To prolong the mirage that poured past
As though lost and happy in a labyrinth.


Sorry for the brief hiatus, I’m currently enjoying my last couple of weeks in Italy at the family home in the Umbrian hills; it’s lovely, but also like a home for recovering addicts: no phone, no internet, no contact with the world outside the village walls. A good place for trying to capture some semblance of the Sublime and bygone eras, however. Enjoy the poetry.

You Sleep Between the Sighs and the Sunrise

You sleep between the sighs and the sunrise.
Scratch marks running down your back like train tracks,
Chasing the curvature of your pale spine
And the memories of moans in the black.
You wake each day with fresh finger traces;
Repeatedly healed in the night until new.
Different, distant. Slowly, you are time-changed –
A concertina of hands holding you.

But not mine. Meanwhile I stitch the remnants
Of what is left in the depths of my dreams;
Wearing your aftershocks as a pendent,
Oscillating wildly between extremes.
The doctors would call my love a crisis.
My lips condense heartbreak into silence.

Open Balcony Doors

Open balcony doors, flung wide like arms.
Not a cloud. I invite in the sun;
The kitchen plunged into a bright atrium.
An engorged sink, filled with daytime.
A sunbath, basking.

The curtains play in a breeze
As light as their white linen.
Hung like two tall nightclub bouncers,
They billow with world-breath
And flicker into happy surrender-flags.

The summer seeps into my bones
And heat steadily sneaks into the home –
An all-conquering fifth column;
The thick, gluey air, heavy like marble.

My throat becomes dry, slowly
Parched like a starved riverbed
While the room coughs as a dusty attic
Finally opened up to the ablution-sky.

This seasons eats movements.
Clears my schedule. Scorches it.
Mirage-like and doused,
The days become their mercury air

And outside, warmth beckons like a lover.
Unconscious footsteps. I plod.
Unthinking baby steps.
To the sun-calls, the light-falls;
Each ray like a siren’s lasso,

Pulling me out onto the balcony pulpit.
The crow’s nest. The pier.
My deep breaths emulating explorers,
I stitch myself into the simmering.

Immobilised in the season’s shadow.
Nature is held hostage, tied and left to yellow;
The grass dies, the trees blister.

I gaze on for months, burning slightly,
Mesmerised in the cauldron-bulb
By the flexing of the strong sun’s eye.

False Idols

I see you, hiding
As a face in the puddles
Of this street;
Dark and dense with wine
And ghost memories.

You look at me,
Full of tremors and echoes,
Like you are still a hole in my earth.

A wet murmur.
Bright craters, glassy imitators
Shine like mirrors
In the rare, rippling light
Of the urban night.

A cloudy veil around the moon;
A river of streetlights;
A semaphore traffic light
Illuminating you with primary colours,
While, beating your eyelids,

You jump from water to water.
Briefly disappearing like a hot storm
That remains in the muscle memory
Of the air, still twitching –

And similarly, you stay with me;
Accompanying, following
Like a sticky religion, like honey
Between your fingers on hot days.

But I should know
Not always to believe what I think.
To value conversions, clean hands.
This is not you. You were you.

You were once too human.

And this is just a drunk creation,
Nostalgic self-flagellation,
And thoughts like biblical arrows.

My imagination has remade you,
Summoned and raised you,
And I have created something new:

A love, worthy of a pedestal.


Falsi Idoli

Ti vedo nascondendo,
Una faccia nelle pozzanghere
Di questa strada scura;
Denso con il vino
E le memorie come fantasmi.

Guardandomi,
Pieno di tremori ed echi,
Come se fossi ancora un buco nella mia terra.

Un mormorio bagnato.
Crateri luminosi, lucidi imitatori
Splendono come specchi
Nella rara luce increspata
Della notte urbana.

Un velo nuvoloso intorno alla luna;
Un fiume di lampioni;
Un semaforo
Ti illumina con i colori primari
Mentre, battendo le palpebre,

Salti dall’acqua all’acqua.
Brevemente,
Sparisci come un temporale estivo
Che rimane memoria muscolare
Dell’aria, ancora spasimando –

E allo stesso modo, tu stai con me;
Mi accompagni, mi segui.
Come una religione appiccicosa,
Come il miele tra le dita nei giorni caldi.

Ma dovrei sapere
Di non credere sempre in ciò che penso.
Per valutare le conversioni, pulire le mani.
Questo non sei tu. Eri tu.

Prima eri troppo umano.

E questa è solo una creazione ubriaca,
Auto-flagellazione nostalgica,
E pensieri come frecce bibliche.

La mia immaginazione ti ha rifatto,
Evocato e cresciuto,
Ed ho creato qualcosa di nuovo:
Un amore che merita una medaglia.


So, this poem had a very interesting life. It started off in Italian with the first line, which I came up with and really enjoyed the internal rhyme, however I got around halfway through and hit a bit of a brick wall. I translated the poem into English to see if that would make things easier and fortunately it did, with the “path” to the end becoming much clearer and different language choices suddenly appearing. Then, once I was finished, I translated the final few verses back into the Italian.

There are subtle differences between the two versions, but mostly for language purposes. It was my first time writing a poem in this way and I liked both versions a lot and thought they both deserved publication – also I’ve been threatening to publish poetry in Italian for a while so this seems like a good place to start. Writing in Italian is much more of a challenge for me personally as it’s not my mother tongue, however I really liked the interplay between the two languages and testing my own poetic abilities in this way.

Milano

Suddenly, now I live on parallels
As a new city, country
Manifests itself around me
In a grey fog and a splutter of smog.

Milan: the Italian antithesis of Italy.
Lurking beneath the umbrella mountains,
Industrially beautiful
And incubating movements.

This city is like a whirring.
A buzzing, fast, metropolitan, vast
Push beyond a terracotta past
Into the unexplored, the not yet transformed.

A cityscape like cracked earth.
Buildings fissured by sun stained tarmac,
Littering shadows from the balconies,
Looming down like gargoyles.

And this is now a home.
I am concealed, unknown
And sealed away beneath the sprawl.
Alone, I piece together language like a puzzle.

But tonight, I stumble home
Through the night and wine,
When I turn a corner to find
An illuminated Duomo

Lit up like a petrified, white ghost
As a spectacle of statuesque marble.
This is the river’s source.
This is from where the city pours.

Rippling out across the map
In the shape of a bicycle wheel,
So that even when stopped,
Cast and halted,

It is still turning onwards,
Driving forwards.
Overflowing and spilling out streets,
Canals, tramlines and undergrounds.

A dynamism, truly electrified.
Swallowing up antiquities
And sweeping the ground clean
Into an international blank.

However, it can also relent,
Abruptly;
Like a cigarette and a slow cappuccino
Or a warm, green veranda in the rays

Of an unconquered sun god.
Opium air.
Golden hour.
When life slows to the speed of a deep breath.

Milano, you have chewed me for a year
And spat me out as someone new,
While I continue to submerge myself further,
Profoundly, like you are my baptistry.


Allora, eccoci, la mia ultima serata dopo un anno qua a Milano, e cosa posso dire? Lo sapete già che mi mancherete tutti. Durante quest’anno ho trovato tanti carissimi amici, veramente persone bellissime, e sarà davvero strano vivere senza di voi nella mia vita quotidiana poiché avete fatto quest’esperienza così speciale. Però lo so che ci vedremo presto (anche perché vorrei sempre una vacanza). Ma sono cambiato molto quest’anno, in modi accademici, personali e creativi, e penso che sia perché questa città e paese mi hanno dato l’opportunità di crescere come persona; sono più confidente, pubblico la mia poesia per la prima volta, il mio italiano è migliorato molto – e soprattutto sono più abbronzato. Insomma, non so come sarei senza essere andato all’estero, ma sarebbe probabilmente peggio. Grazie a tutti.