A Lexicon for the Fisher King

Lo Tsen’s Map of Lyonnesse

A double helix

The Geologies of Illusion

The Satnav Paradox

Forged Metaphor

The Range Finder

Within the Sun’s Wheel

The Dalmatian Queen

The Queen as Whore

The League Table

Did you want a seat?

A History of the Merlin Engine

A Sorcerer’s Fabrication

The Lancelot Equilibrium

 A Grammar for Love

 A Grammar for Lust

 Elaine makes it to Page Three

 The Great Rustic Paradigm

  Nearly a Happening

  The Galahad Entropy

  And did it ever matter?

  A Million and One Maps

  Not bloody Gawain

  A New Cartography of Logres 

Do you fancy a drink?

A Cup’s Circumference

Morgan le Fay: My Sonar Acrobatics

Morgana: The Echo of an Echo

Morgause: A Guide to Royal Incest

A Handbook for Mycologists

What you wear is what you are

A Diploid Algebra

Mere Manipulation

Nimue sees Darwin right

Making a Splash

An Allegorical Analogue

The Thigh in the Wound 






A Lexicon for the Fisher King


‘Somewhere,’ the wrecked King said, ‘exists

a language of transcendence, a dialect

to unwreck me.  Somewhere, an enigma speech

that is itself a healing will reverse

this dolorous stroke. Somewhere,’ he said,

are transactions beyond the sayable

where words cannot gain, that cannot happen

within the tightened knots of grammar.

‘Somewhere,’ the wrecked King said, ‘exists

circumference, a grail tongue that rides beyond

mere consciousness, beyond the waste

of Listeneuse. I seek that language.

In it, the bent light secreting Carbonek

 will be straightened, the one true quester

 will consume his prize. In this hallelujah

 lives my hope’s genesis. The wrecked King

 is unwrecked, the small streams of his veins 

 irrigate the land, the great arteries

 pumping within him become broad rivers

 bubbling with salmon, the waste flesh of his realm

 again sings fertility. I await,’ he said,

 ‘my unwrecking, the metaphor of my release.’















Lo Tsen's Map of Lyonesse 



    ‘There have been,’ (the girl said), ‘many maps

where maps tell only their makers’ minds.

Some called it Tir na nOg.  They mapped

no country for old men. Salmon bubbled

rich rivers, there were golden birds. The young

copulated freely. It was common knowledge

that all the certainties of age and illness

lived outside their map.

                                    Others charted it,’

     (the woman said), ‘as Lubberland, or some,

Cockaigne. They mapped a pleasure ground

of cakes and ale. Licence and disorder

were their good government. Nobody left.

All were too idle or too gross or drunk

to seek escape. 

                       Its more serious maps,’

     (the old woman said), ‘were shared by those

who dreamed it Lyonesse. Their mapping

displayed the proper balances of equality

     to shape behaviour. They knew that

to leave their map was to invite

the world’s corruption.

                                    For us,’ (Lo Tsen said),  

‘we mapped it Shangri La. It was

our refuge of culture.  Our arts flourished,

our science and philosophy prospered.

Peace and tranquility were the dominants

of our map-making. You see in my rot

the inevitable consequence of leaving...’





A Double Helix 


‘This first,’ he said, ‘is matters of war,

affairs of state.  Sortilege foretold it:

a star of magnitude, a globe of fire

blazing a dragon’s frame. From its left eye,

a ray encompassing Gaul to my command.

From its right eye, a beam of molten light

asserting my possession of the Welsh

and Irish lands.  Under these omens,

I danced the Dragon my device to serve

my purposes in future war.

This second,

is matters of war, affairs of state.

No star of magnitude saw it: no dragon frame

came near. A candle led me to her room.

I wore her husband’s shape a black art

stole me from Hell. Within her bed,

I entered her and spat into her womb

a future king, a son to dance my Dragon

and serve my purposes in future war.’




The Geologies of Illusion


Ersatz in fables’ frost,

arctic in story ice,

rock pinnacles affect a citadel.

Chance stone assembles walls

that melt to bare a camp’s rammel

of wood and clay. A never King

musters unarmoured knights

in nowhere’s petty kingdom,

to chasten and subdue

a clan’s barbarous intrigues.

                     Or, in romance’s lies of errantry

welds an interior journey,

frames a dream dynasty to contrive

swords still sanguine to roods

and disciplines of chivalric honour,

where ghost rallying of warlords

and mercenary metals ride uneasy,

congealed in henge landscapes,

gelid in warlock woods.










    The Satnav fails Camelot


‘I am,’ the mound said,’ mud.  My music

is infinitely fluid. No geography

refines me: no archaeologies fix

my state’s dimensions. My co-ordinates

dice in fabulous games. Hear my declensions:

conjugate my devices. I am bizarre.

I am mud.  I ferment a lost order’s harmony

and palisade inquiry. My invisible gates

lead only to the unfindable. I am

foul and celestial, a myth’s paradox,

illusion’s rainbow utopia.

I am the mind’s firmament haunting

ineffable galaxies. I am mud.’



     Forged Metaphor


‘I am,’ the blade said, ‘the seven braided.

I am made as poems are forged

in the arcane alchemies of metaphor.

I am the mind’s metal spun transcendent

and elastic within the helix structures

of my being. I am fused circumference.

I am shaped lexicon and logos

of the ores’ gift, am seven formulas

of conjuration’s speech. The Seven Sisters

of the Arch were midwives at my birth.

Earth word and air word, fire word and water word 

consecrated my forging. The sun’s chemistries

and the moon’s mysteries, the stars’ ache

and the spheres’ symmetries are welded

     within me. At my solstice making,

each swore and blessed. The first spoke Harmony,

the second, Reason and the third Benevolence.  

One promised Destiny. Another

hailed me Celestial. Then came Amen

and Omen.  Which among them knew

my esemplastic anneal? Who was it shaped

epiphany within the cauldron’s seethe? I am

seven banded. Seven smiths spelled my sleight.’ 







    The Range Finder


‘In the combustions of the present,’ he said,

‘how do I turn?  The old dispensation’s charts

lead to a waste land.  Where are the maps?

I would rule well. Do I then succour

froth galaxies of diviners proposing

arcane solutions from their fairy utopias?

Or those vinegar ascetics urging

a joyless heaven?  Do I sleep within

a pentagram or embrace a cross?

Is there no algebra to grease dilemma,

some almanac that might pilot my ignorance

through our ailment’s turbulence? I have learned

that the celestial and imperial city

has no sound foundation. We dither now

on a frontier of choice. There are no maps.’  


























Within the sun’s wheel.


He inhabits now a blown

sun’s wheel, broods on

his dynasty’s disaster and

the mess of things. He knows

his queen a whore, his table

shrivelled to barrel-top,

the Grail’s lost litanies now

no more than a myth’s toy

in a whirling world. The old 

insurgencies rear a wasp’s nest

of rivalries. He dreams

sorcery’s new struggle, a blade’s

scythe in sunlight to quell

an adder’s hiss where magic

augurs Mordred’s thrust,

Excalibur thrown to a wet den

and a ferry already decked

to tote a corpse’s metaphor

through uncertain channels

to Avalon’s other geographies.’ 

































The Dalmatian Queen


 She dresses black and white.

The romance assembling her

demands dramatic duality

to port the rise of kingdoms

and the lure of beds, someone

to carry the can for the rot

of heroic dreams, to provide

myth’s landing strip for pilot error.

Day gauzes her in sunlight,

parading Camelot’s mud

as restraint’s figurehead, always

at ceremony’s right hand.

Night clothes her nakedness in

a blackout curtain, to be

a vampire anarchy dribbling

order’s juice on bedsheets.

She arches the lie and truth

of matters and treads

a tragicomic tightrope wearing

under her skirts, between

her thighs, the necessary breach

of Arthur’s fief illusion.









The Queen as Whore



My love,’ she said, ‘how would your pleasure be?

Which way do you most desire me? Does a Queen’s

near nakedness erect you? Does my regal flesh

flare your lust? See now what my fronds

have earlier concealed from you, touch what

my silks have hidden. I desire you. Fondle me.

Set yourself now between my opened thighs

to have what you want of me. I shall move

royally to your thrust. Let a Queen’s quim

moist and imperial swell unarmoured

to take your sword.  Oh my love,’ she said,

I have long desired you. Take me now.’
















The League Table


    ‘Learn me,’ the table said, ‘I am the earth’s spin.

Organic in my marquetries are fixed

all myths, all maps, all histories. My making

crams every geography. All species

cavort my forests, every projection

of every celestial city finds its alleys

within my oak. Learn me.  See here

where shabby carpentries provoke Leviathan

levering: here squats Troy : there Helen weeps

a thousand ships and Achilles sulks.

Black astronomies are clattering

the vault. See here, in creaking joints,

unicorns bawl and Babylon blisters

suspended gardens: Nebuchadnezzar

reeks in his tomb: the suave Euphrates

swallows sand. Comets are spluttering

their maledictive omens.  See here,

in wrinkled veneers, Behemoth bellows:

Carthage droops beneath a weight of elephants:

Hannibal rots a thespian moon’s

cold ceremonies. See here where scars

and old distresses corrupt: Jerusalem

slithers to faith: a cockatrice screeches:

Judas palms new parables and stars

blazon a blank Golgotha.  See here,





    where woodworm churns my flank. Rome rises:

glib bestial heresies and heraldries 

strut marble: a Pontiff’s broken promise

slays millions where the Tiber

scratches its arse on sculptured stone. Planets

whirl helix in a helix universe.

Learn me,’ the table said, ‘the galaxy’s handmaid.

I am all charts, all projections. In me

are all co-ordinates and cosmologies. Endless space

twists in my magnetism. The zodiac

rattles in my celestial arteries.’





Did you want a seat?


‘It turned up,’ the curator said, ‘in some

tin tabernacle in Wales. It had been

one of a set. The others were rotting round it,

punk to the touch, a long-since finished feast

for woodworm, swaying or collapsing

in a manure of their own sawdust.

Perfect in every detail and undamaged,

rock solid and unmarked, just as good

as the day it was carved.  And that,’ he said,

‘is where our problems start. It’s a wood

we’ve never met before. The grain’s tattoo

has patterns that we can’t yet understand

or calculate the nature of its growth.

It’s not an English wood. Not European.

Our Indian and Asian experts tell us

     it’s one they’ve never seen. In the Museum

there’s been a tale of a night-watchman

who slept in it and never woke.  It’s true

that if a fly or any insect touches it  

it shrivels almost at once. Most of our cleaners

won’t go near it. They talk of static

and electric spasms. The daft ones think

it’s radio-active and one of their wits

calls it the Siege Perilous ...’





A History of the Merlin Engine


Magically rigged,

he builds a conjured face

to mask his features’ ambiguity

and dreams a stone, a Grail,

Excalibur’s enchanted blade

to shear the tangled chain that irons

the gates of elsewhere’s garden.

He strides a promontory

unknown to latitude and longitude,

that pricks uncharted seas

whose rival tides

wrangle and knot to blend

his blood’s equivocation



 A sorcerer’s fabrication


‘This cloak,’ he said, sings sorceries. It is

alchemy’s chart and calculates the rituals

of a simpler sun, the squandered northings

and eastings of the buried stars. It clothes

a once music of the soul’s million maps.

It shapes no known horizons, frames no distance

or scale: its contours veil an older code

of height and depth. No compass points

its miracle dimensions. It robes

every illusion, tells all myths and mysteries

in an arcane cipher. Few read it safely.’




The Lancelot Equilibrium


Such pilgrimages, haunted

dalmatian through a grail landscape,

document no door from boudoir

to Chapel. He jousts time,

skewbald in shifting weathers.

Arthur’s hired hitman, flawed

chevalier of curtained couches,

mantles his silver dalliance

in a queen’s flesh. But that

maradonna lance-hand falters,

scraping coarsely to misspell

ideal or honour on the idyll’s page.

Old photographs validate

his blemish where always,

outside the plate’s virginity,

a shadow stains the negative,

and always, even in snapshots,

the developer’s processes

cannot erase the death’s head

grinning pillion to his quest. 







A Grammar for Love


    ‘All things,’ he said, ‘burgeon the seeds

of their destruction. Knighthood,’ he said:

‘a cul-de-sac of barbarism for dullards.

Chivalry: a back-alley of pretensions,

a theatre for popinjays and fops.

Arthur’s table:  a roundabout for a failed

traffic of hedonism.  Even the Grail:

a motorway for trophy-hunters, a chaos,

an entropic highway for the legion

of baboons that quested, a delirium

and a device outside transcendence.

    Now let me mention Love: I have known

its deep diet. What did I learn from it?

How could I guess that love would be the agent

of disorder and rebellion, be a treachery

of its clean origin?  And even now,

she obsesses me, possesses me, haunts

my armour with her love’s circumference.’ 






A Grammar for Lust


Behind lowered eyes, her women

translate the minstrels’ code. It was

no simpering seduction, modest

between maiden sheets. Hard-nippled,

damp in the crutch and hot

for satisfaction, Astolat’s tart

undresses, aching to haul

buck Lancelot between her knees.


They know the unspoken dimensions

of tale and truth, the acreage

of chivalry’s cool whispering and

the eavesdropped gasping behind

knight-errantry’s curtain. She comes

shameless and panting to him.


 They know the squeal necessities

of flesh, the sorceries of lust,

that courtly gestures in a tale’s romance

disguise the buffet of arses,

the truth and smells of beds,

with a lie’s lacquer and confection’s

panoplies to costume a shag.  




Elaine makes it to Page Three



‘Those were,’ she said, ‘when I was young, my breasts,

upturned and firm and panting for his touch,

dreaming their fondle under his hand.

Those were,’ she said, ‘when I was young, my bright

and unbrowned nipples pointing their hope

of his lips’ suck. Such days are long gone.

I craved his soon arrival, his nakedness

lying beside my own, his pulse within me.

That day I saw him ride the long lanes

between bright barley fields. He rode handsomely

but never came. Not long afterwards,

I married. I never loved my husband.’




The Great Rustic Paradigm



A round table’s pretend

democracy begets a rustic,

a dung-foot treading equivocal

cowshit into court carpets, who

must make it nearly to the top

and by hazard win his spurs.

Errantry bibles a clod too daft

to grasp the Grail’s wound,

who blunders past the cup

and then, through divine gaucherie

retrieves Calvary’s spear.

Chastity’s parable evolves

 a virgin guilelessness to dodge

meat’s snares and, green chaste,

avoid sleek seductions. Then

Chivalry fine tunes his duality.

Too vegetable to squat

The Siege Perilous, he passes

Romance’s assault course and

naivete succeeds. Not by chance,

paradox grooms him to be

Camelot’s lurch visitor to grace.

















Nearly a Happening


‘Something,’ he said. ‘Yes. Something happened.

I can’t say what. No simple explanations.

Perhaps a birth and a death. I joined to fight.

I believed in Arthur’s cause and quests

were not what I wanted. But something happened.

Lancelot winked. Galahad polished his soul.

A circumference, an esemplastic something,

an epiphany. Everything changed. A new

dimension exploded where the impossible

became possible. Some curvature

in time and space. Only a glow? Only

a flash of light or some misunderstood

and radiant second? Did we go all that way

to find a broken cup? And was that it?

I felt an invocation of almost....’



The Galahad Entropy



Heaven’s harnessing strap him

tight from misdemeanour,

in unpierceable armour. He moves

visored to cross temptation’s

landscapes. White-haloed,

under a white sun’s aureole,

relentless in a sparer light

that eats the blood’s needs,

he scales rainbows to earn

circumference with marching stars,

withholding a face that denies

the world’s mirrors. The fist

that scorns the apple unsheathes

to slice the snake. He rides

unshadowed to that austere

appointment with a tin cup

in a glass country beyond 

Camelot’s prancing, outside

plastic honour and vows, beyond

Astolat’s shabby bedrooms or

Excalibur’s wet nest, even further

than Avalon’s sanitary mirage.






And did it ever matter?


‘Chastity,’ he said, ‘can be selective.

That’s why I’m here in Sarras. Did you guess

I faked my death? Of course I did. I hated

flags and banners, round tables, lifted lances,

Arthur’s ceremonials. His Siege Perilous

was  uncomfortable. Did you guess

I loathed it? Of course I did. And then there was

the business with the Grail.  Was it a cup? 

Most of it, I’ve forgotten. Was it a bowl,

or some Welsh cauldron? And does it matter?

They all took what they wanted from it,

saw what they wanted to see. Some of them swore

they’d seen the Host. One saw a potion promising

immortality.  The most hysteric claimed

it held the Magdalene’s menstrual blood.

Did you guess I never cared for women?

Of course, I didn’t. But here there’s no shame

and no hypocrisy on that score. Our tables

aren’t circular. John is my partner...’





A million and one maps




‘Of Sarras,’ the cartographer said,

‘there are as many maps as makers.

It lies flat with magnificent mountains:

it offers a sandy and accessible coast

where cliffs prohibit entry except

to the most experienced mariners. It is green:


it is a desert.  It is simultaneously

barren and fertile, benign or hostile,

honest and corrupt. Its peoples are fierce.

and also gentle. They are cultured

and savage. Its parables display

an omniscient but benevolent creator:

its myths suggest a cruel and indifferent

manipulator of life. Permutate

these circumferences and you may draft

a map of Sarras. Maps dream their makers.’



























‘We shaped,’ the knight said, ‘a map. But how

translate a quest into a mythic landscape?

Would we learn here some outcrop faith, or there

a river’s sacrament ?  Can there be charts

that encompass, in flat correlatives,

the uncopiable lattices whose grids

contrive a pilgrim labyrinth in dimensions

of the spirit, that have no northings, eastings,

the transubstantiating zones that spur

the soul’s rememberings?  I mean that map.

But by what magic logarithm can

a miracle be textured?  And how read a map

so integral that subliminally it charts

the questing self, where all the past’s

allegiances and sureties lie traceable

and esemplastic in its codes?  I mean a map

whose arcane undertaking is a parable

and triple parthenogenesis whose trope

is the circumference and Grail of its own making...’





Illustration: Green Man: Joe Burrows



Not bloody Gawain


‘Forget Gawain,’ he said, ‘that pious

prosody.  It was the god-lot squealing

for a piece of my altar. No go.

I keep my bucking feasts. My verse

parses outside their seasons’ hymns. 

I fire the green fuse yearly igniting

sap’s deep dynamite. Forget Gawain,

that academic envoy. The psalm-suckers

sang to usurp my rituals, to geld

my lust inside their castrate parables.

No go. Never a fair exchange. I don’t

dance monotheism and my cadences

won’t fit their rhythm. I am the enigma

impelling the tree to leaf. Forget Gawain,

that hallelujah heresy.  The anthem-boys

fancied my anarchies tamed. No go.

No frozen orisons, no sterile litanies.

I am the sun’s missionary. I blaze

barley’s ferment, the zeppelin swell

ballooning the seed, the underground

appetite of roots. Forget Gawain.’ 














A New Cartography of Logres


‘Taliesin,’ the land said, ‘limned my forms.

My metric moves lyrical to slide a bard’s tongue.

My maps are only sunlight: my only frame,

a poet’s making. How else render an essence

within fact’s borders? What customs posts,

what goods and traffic can congeal a dream?

My emblem is gaunt upland: my metaphor,

valleys of lost content.  I exist ample

as the mind’s abundant seasons: I lie fertile

as fruitfulness demands. I am


the unconquerable fief, a fiction’s

unassailable kingdom.  My only maps

are sunlight.  All my roads and routes

become the labyrinths that lead always

inward into a minstrel’s mysteries.’


























Do you fancy a drink?


No loving cup this,

myth’s blood-jug

for chivalry’s silly search,

whose enigmatic cargo,

thorn and whimsy ferried

sparks ineffable

in a new weather’s mists,

perching its aureole

untransubstantiated on

a void altar, its blood

a scrape of coloured ink

staining lost parchments,

its gold transmuted

to alchemic dream,

its jewels now material

as a conjuror’s fire.





A Cup’s circumference



‘My business,’ she said,’ is circumference.

I am mythical and complex. Guess at

my mistranslations: divine the regiments

of fools and sages who have hunted my grace.
I am oblivion: I am salvation: I am cash.

My million acolytes are drawn magnetically

   to an imagined lustre. Bran came: the Fisher King,

armies of knights and nuns, ascetics by the score:

dunces and freaks.  Did they learn anything?

Most found what they wanted to find: many

discovered the need of their need. I had

no hand in that. And did it ever matter?

Some craved healing: some sought cures

to salve their impotence: some saw the Host:

some believed that never-ending sustenance

would benison their dream. And you, reader,

will pattern what you expected and create

the pattern that creates your expectation.’










 Morgan le Fay:  My Sonar Acrobatics


Find me. I am unfindable.

Know me. I am not knowable. I

am amorphous black. I am

translucent. My form’s metaphor

outdances geometry. My mind’s

figure disdains quantities.

The algebra that spells my hand

is anagram, the calculus

of my being the acrostic

of ever and never, of lie

and truth. I am various

and one, my face the black halo

unfilled. I dream the dream

in which you dream me, mirage adept

of else’s bubble cauldron

that seethes or breeds the Grail. I am

plenty’s ambiguous mother,

enigmatic abbess of dearth.

I am the old magic, consort

of Avalon’s evanescence.

I am not knowable. Know me.

I am unfindable. Find me.








     Morgana: the echo of an echo



‘What metaphor of myself,’ she said,

‘does my cloak conceal? I am complex

and multiple. My being is circumference.

I am the fluid adept of illusion,

inchoate in the shapes and states of else.

I am compass. Do you guess the trope

of my amorphousness, the rhetorics

of my unstable essence, the apologues

of my soul’s labyrinths?  I am chimera flesh.

I am the tongue’s pentecosts. My sophistry

conjures annunciations. Find me:

I dance within an unreflecting mirror.

Hear me: I am the unreturning echo.’






























A Handbook for Mycologists



Under a failing sun,

treachery’s fungus spawns

in Camelot’s soil. Lace

miasmas of bacterial taint

thread underground to swell

corruption’s canker beneath

the roots and branches

of order’s tree. Dishonour wrangles

anarchic in fetid air

and the tribes’ resentments

fester in Arthur’s garden.

It must come to this.

Betrayal’s mildew bloats

               in defeat. Excalibur’s last thrust,

witched to a Judas-kiss,

is instrument of the wound

that catapult’s waste’s spores

into a protean air.







What you wear is what you are


‘A king’s skull,’ he said, ‘captains my mask. It is

my metaphor of power. Its features are

my features.  It swears my right to fit it.

I am iron within iron. The snake head

is mine. It masks a venom. These adder scales

are my intentions’ metaphor.  My eyes,

unlidded, to shock back the sun, are blind

to pity or remorse.  They stare my metaphor

of my resolve.  My black mouth’s tunnel

roars a locked scream of hate, its metal lips

assert a silent treachery, the stench bawl

of coming war and death. It is my metaphor

of my will.  An old order is dying:

a round table rots to punk and chivalry

is a fop’s game. The tribes are sick and need

a new healing.  I am that healing.’




Morgause: a Guide to Royal  Incest


     ‘It was,’ she said, ‘my  sister’s augury.

She dreamed a cauldron empty, old gods

irrelevant in a whirling world. A black sun

rowed in our sky, the great arteries

of our rivers writhed the strangulation

of a new magic’s tourniquet. My sacrifice,

her cantrip told, though it must breed

the beast of incest, would spawn the cure

to medicine our kingdom’s rot.

So my feigned ardour panting my brother

between my thighs. So in Camlan’s wrestle,

the incest algebra of a mutual blood,

a diploid wounder and wounded

the father-uncle and the nephew-son.

contrive the contingent prophesy

inherent in her sanguine logarithm.

But still the sun’s black asterisk rows

     its long apostasy: still no apotheosis

leavens the land: still neither epiphany

nor enchantment levers to liquefy

our viscous arteries. My sister lied.’










     A Diploid Algebra


‘I am,’ the beast said, ‘the Word. The Word

is incest. Incest spawns me, incest

my omen and amen. I am the incubus

of your lust, spat from and conceived by

your loins.  Can you believe my being

burns in your thrust between your sister’s thighs?

Can you guess my lewd conception

within her panting compliance? Chaos

surges my veins: my flesh is treachery:

dishonour propels my slime element.

Ploughing and seeding of a corrupted field

spews my infected crop. Already,

your kingdom rots: already, the twisted root

ferments a twisted seed. I hear

an adder’s hiss: I smell your bastard’s treason

for power: I foresee death and deceit.

There can be no renounce. I am the flesh

made Word: I am the Word made flesh.’



Mere Manipulation


Arthur’s Kingship embalmed

in Avalon’s cold storage,

she reclaims her doze,

shivering in the liquid drifts

of time’s nectar capsule,

once more pulsing pendulum

to the fluid mechanisms

of a conjuror’s clepsydra.

The sword lobbed and caught,

its enigma again wombed

in her jealous ownership,

she lies embryo, suspended

within the juice languor of

myth’s amniotic caisson.

Her legend usefulness

now redundant, Merlin broken

and Lancelot shrunk to be

a whore’s puppet, she sways

a bubble nothingness, slung in

the hydraulic hammock

of miasmic currents,

captive to the sorceries

and salts of fabulous tides.
















Nimue sees Darwin right


‘Tadpole,’ she says, ‘I watched you swim.

I am the world’s water-myth, timeless Nimue.

The ripples you dream my face are sorceries.

I am fluid and multiple, my alchemy sunk

deeper than Lyonnesse.

                                       Tad pole,’ she says,

‘I watched your clumsy grope to mud. Ask me

how many lives have bulged my sea. I remember

all my children. Faceless Viviane, I am

the green rainbow, submarine and cool.

My face you dream is a weed’s trick. No ink

corrupts my annals.

                                 Tadpole,’ she says,

‘I watched your lurch and hop to air.

 I am your mother’s mother. You left me.’   




Making a Splash


‘I almost believed,’ he said, ‘and I preferred

the old magic. Its gods wore human flaws.

We dreamed the everlasting cauldron to supply

our tribes with food, unbreakable swords,

Llew’s imperial queen the divinities fashioned

from birds and flowers. They were rich lies

to roister my mabinogian days. But

it was a hard time for kingship. Truth was changing.

The old maps led nowhere: the past’s cosmologies

were manifestly false: constellations

rattled a darker order.  Then with their myths

of a new magic, the Frenchmen came.

They dreamed a grail and not a cauldron, a rood

to replace the sword, a virgin birth unlike

our queen of feathers. When a black sun

rowed in our sky, the earth trembled. Dishonour

marched rampant through us. It had to come

to Camlan’s bloodfest.  All the false gods

were hovering there. When he told me

to arch his sword to the mere, the branch I threw

slapped a sufficient splash. How could I know

which magic I was serving, what myths

or mysteries march covert in this world?’






     An Allegorical Analogue


‘You must take,’ the island said, ‘the barque

Impossible. Sail for terrain that reaches

inexorably to Heaven. Set your course

to truths that cannot exist. Know that I am

a fantasy.  In me, the universe

packs intensified dimensions. How do you

conceive the stars, or hear a fugue or read

a metaphor? I am the bubble dream,

the never-never utopia that sustains

your undead, available only

to the oppressed, the disinherited.

Remember this:  I am a mirage, an island

of the mind’s invention. Be aware of this:

my ports allow no emigration.

Never forget: no drum wakens the dead.’







    The Thigh in the Wound


‘Your Royal Highness,’ he said, ‘I address

the state of the nation. Sadly, the cure

of your injury and ailment is unlikely

to be soon discovered. The Thatched dwellings

of villages and cities, rotten in their conception,

are ruinous and their architectures,

from the first corrupt, now stink in decay.

The poor, as we have always demanded,

are unaware of principle and properly, the rich 

lack conviction. There have developed

rituals for those who live as cattle.  In short

the falcon of order has fucked off.  The thigh,

female and frequently open and usually

titillatingly displayed, is now the wound.

The counter-eugenic follies and policies

     of our shrinking manufacture have borne

their inevitable and illegitimate fruits.

     Corrupted estates stretch in a shit-stained

bandage to defile the fields and woodland

where supermarket trolleys parcel

and cage the water-table. Foreign agents

have been successful in their introduction

    of an emin squalor into galleries and libraries.

Usury is rife, its philistines well-rewarded

and hygienically protected. Lust and envy

in their various fashions cosmetically control

much of what is projected or printed.

The gardens of greed and ignorance

are carefully nurtured, their deliberate soil

knowingly alloyed and daily manured.

Pornography and celebrity

in their twin cannibalisms swell 

a jordan inflation. We now need to recognise

that the construction and worship

of false gods has become our most successful

and profitable fabrication industry.

The change that might have healed your wound

has either frozen or fused. Since then,

the world turned upside down. A new beast,

so we are told, slouches somewhere,

but we have lost both bestiary and map.’