Inheritance

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

From the neck of a dry riverbed.
But the bottle-man stands tall, peripherally, on the shelf;
A blind gaze, as solemn as one last breath.
He attracts dust while his old notes nestle

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

He watches it lurk in the veins.
The path wood-carved in the family tree
To be repeated like a shared prophecy –
My birthmark from the first schism.

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

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.

Voices

I want dull, full-fat vowels
And my words like hammers.
I want to hit you about the eyes
With a broad Yorkshire birth-twang
And let it resound like a vow
In the inside of your head.

Nothing refined or polished.
I want real: I want earthy.
Not planned hendecasyllables
Or genome-mapped love sonnets –
Give me shaman-muttered rituals,
A world with peripheries.

And yet the acid-wash BBC RP
Clings to me like wet denim.
I hear myself slowly moulded
By a coca-colonisation
That restrains my conversation,
Suppresses a guttural tongue;
The inexorable pull
Of the next, wet rung of the ladder.

I reach for my Northern drawl
And find a voice that is air-locked,
Dolled-up, maimed and cut-glass,
When I want simple like cut grass.
My identity drummed down, beaten back,
Vague, beige, imprecise, unmoored –
Like a touch of gentrifying plague.

However the child-sounds are still there.
Like hidden birthmarks.
A lurking bloodline moor-wolf
Waiting to be found, nurtured
And drag me back down
To the autochthonous, muddy roots.

To the urban grey, the cultural downplay,
The howling wail of a sectioned city;
Sanguine heather, tobacco grass,
Crumpled-paper hills buckled at the knees
Sighing ice-white vein streams.
But now, it’s at my feet in a mongrel heap:
Decaying Viking grunts and growls: fuck:

Inject them back in, give me origins
In my throat thudding like a jugular,
Caustic verbs like errant sparks,
Burn down dry wooden shacks of poetry
With a pyromaniac pen and knuckle cracks.

Love, love, love.
Come, step back together –
Just to look, watch, bask
With our charcoaled hands like iconoclasts
As the house we built is engulfed
With licks of tongue-fire.
Let it all burn in a bonfire
Until there is nothing left but sulphur
And the stone heart on the pyre.

Smell the smoke. Hear the wet dirt vocals.
Feel the charred, ancestral gasps of the locals
And the low groan of forgotten gods.
Here I am. Hear – I am
With you, too. I didn’t do it alone.
You are with me like an accomplice;
It falls only because you give it sound.

You see, we need to strip it down
Until we have flayed the flesh pink
And hit granite.
Each page a flint, rocky outcrop
And each poem rediscovered bones,
Architectural bones,
Ajar like a skull’s open-mouth jaw.

This then is a reclamation.
And when the fire-fallowed lines
Have plunged down like mines
Reaching for something pure,
In the flickering ash and cinders
We can gaze at the smouldering
Words: ripe with original sin and true-raw.