Inheritance

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

Ageless from the neck of its dry riverbed.
But the 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 together they remember, pulseless:
That booming, stubbled laughter, that gulping thirst.

He watches as it lurks within the veins.
The path is carved out 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.

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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 words like blunt fucking hammers.
I want to hit you about the eyes
With a broad Yorkshire birth-twang
And let it resound like a flat vow
Around 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
And a world with a periphery.

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

So I grasp for my Northern drawl
And find my voice airlocked
Dolled-up, maimed and cut-glass
When I want simple and cut grass.
My identity drummed down, beaten back
Vague, beige, imprecise, unmoored;
A guiding, heavy hand on my shoulder
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 finally drag me back down
To the autochthonous, muddy roots;

To urban grey, 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, this is all at my feet in a mongrel heap
Of decaying Viking grunts and growls. Fuck,

Inject them back in, give me origins
In my throat, thudding like a jugular
And caustic verbs of errant sparks
To burn down poems like dry wooden shacks
With my pyromaniac pen and knuckle cracks.

Love, love, love
Come, let’s 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 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 is a reclamation.
And then, when the fire-fallowed lines
Have plunged down like mines
Reaching for something pure,
In the flickering of ash and cinders
We can at last gaze at the smouldering
Words, ripe with original sin and true-raw.