Driving through the Conwy Valley

It insignificates,
you say - nature’s reckoning upsides of
structural aesthetics: smooth green rolls
vye good roofing; but litter piles
the valley and we’re steeped in grey,
lung-cuffed; still gets us

and nature’s wrecking:
the roadside heather killed,

nothing like air, plants, through
the throatsoot - a little moor left

and down, here and there.
    I shiver
and breathe in the sepia dust.

I’d like to think, I say, the dinosaurs
were more brutal, that a bulldozer’s teeth
won’t bite like a T Rex into the earth;
but they’re hungerless chainsmokers,
carbon-stained after a full day driving
JCBs up slateheaps - a mountain gathers

our eyes into the thinning,
us together precipitated,
a sliver of breath, hinterlands in a sepia dusk,

but this earth’s bill
    gullies wide –
an invert mountaintop will;
slopes uplittered with discard;
nature’s guts; the easy scrape - I point
a finger from the backseat –
    the air turns bad.

We’ve had centuries to obtuse nature’s
irrelevant kalpas, to lose the rollcall
of old photographs'  hills and their older contours,
staggered by quarries.

Mutatis mutandi

The framework for the virus is always a living being. The virus is a burglar. The virus crowbars into cells and scavenges. The virus spreads by intimate contact. The framework for the virus is always a living being. Hence the virus is a rapist. But the virus is fragile. The virus needs appropriate cells within the host. Outside of the host cells, the virus dies. The virus crowbars into cells. City, give me my meat. The virus is fluid nearly a living burglar. The virus scavenges appropriate cells once within. The host crowbars. The scavenges the intimate framework the. Outside contact the virus the virus. Always a rapist. Being fragile hence zero appropriate. Host the virus cells the cells the virus. The appropriate framework.


These fur-stepped arms with red fist-mangles,
black on the bough and cherried.
The hub of growths and wombs
where cells make entrances and empty
with uniform speckle
            in crimson speckle.

He only
stands and waits to sow the threads with form,
then stoops a moment less and the knife
from its womb strikes and slops a place from its armoury.

And countries of cells disappear, lava-dowsed,
unquartered and quadrangled
sliced into strophes.

The background radio is crusted
with a lecture on growth and wombs
spindled in the crimson speckle of limbs,
as the stanley shapes each island’s edge.

Cells trace the speckle and spindle,
they bump and meld and here they will
discuss in a soundproof room how the Statue
of Liberty can sit next to Muhammad’s bloodline
without consuming itself, node by node.

He has mapped veins and this and that,
arteries, fire exits, speckled heat around
myths of Ui and Ubu, Homer and Wren.

He has taken cell by mean and median,
sketched a normal in a floor plan
and postured figures like bobbed apples
on X-ray tables and in nests of fray and damp mould,
quartered and drawn, where girders wait
for their crimson shroud.

His arms are hung with rivers, cells lava in his hand.
This god will fling his messages twice wrong around
the earth, having said:

            “I have done
with carpets and measure, done with the city
and the idea of land, done with the excision
of malignant countries within continents,
bricks and scaffolding, lava-filled or toxified,
and I have done with the channels of cells
and their crossing along the cut nodes
and I shall hang my stanley in the armoury.”

Dough-damp when he married the vines,
he drugged through the stonewall trailing
the harsher histories that come from taken names:
genes remember the river’s green fronding,
the sickle cutting cells from platelets,
fruit wassailed from the blood’s mimesis.
He permitted the city to shuttle to, into the soil
and registered his heart in the gavel echoes
of his stomach, the cavities excised from his bloodrivers,
done with the sharp superstitions brought on
by conspiracies, done with the rot along the sword;
and he left for the dry, crushed, important corners,

“Never cutting the wood
is hard and biting bread
so soft, like moss-stepping
after the thresh of winter.”

He found happiness pressed like an axehaft
in the bole of his hand, hardship always-sheafed
in the fields, but he carved his huge rock sideways
across the plough lines and furrowed
his middle-gnarled olive skin.
Trees dustied the shade into ridges
of half-finished deerways, only ever the water
bearing furrows. He wanted life like a rug,
a tunnel in the thorns, the lived-in here
for so long against the uncut mountain wall,
past what a loaf resembled inside cities
and even the cut cloth of patchwork rural,
the cankered enclosures on the unborderable,
trees planing the area of homestead

“The green coat all beyond
the plots of unlucky hardwood fat,
own from the more than anything
else, the river, the river over all,
spilling shade eventually entirely.”

It was no problem before him.
“Division still is its people,
my children, my walnut trees,
the thaws that come, the river bloats.”

Oh, it was no problem before him, but:
“People have such beautiful golden crusts.”

Icon of St. George

‘There is but one theme for ever-enduring bards;
And that is the theme of War.’
                                            --Walt Whitman

1. Dhrakon

I utter it as you ask: En-masse
     take ‘spear’ to mean Regime Change
call your shield alone my hearth’s contested embers.

Who fears this haft
     this missile?
How shall I carry this wood
     into the desert?
      Like Christ, lashed

Waves tongue the alien shore

O the black ships! O
       the fierce ships!
Red war fats our sails.

You have no need for time, now

On screens
      there are many names for dragon.

When I dream
     serpents concentrate
Democracy in my ear.

2. Underground

‘Blair anesti! Alithos anesti!’  *

Erect me in Trafalgar cast in bronze
so it is possible for me to be seen constantly in the act of
battling serpents.  This is my policy—

the pendulum of tides, time signified by strokes,
the fleet waves come to this shore like hounds

My spear is newly risen; O my bow – if I had it –
would unfold these clouds.  We’ll shoot the dog
when it comes to our shores—

But what to mine in the hills
in the dark? A lantern educates the mist

I make oaths of Christ’s wounds
as he sails for the desert
to make fat war.  I strike and—

χουντας crash to the beach at night.

* Blair anesti! Alithos anesti! – Blair is risen! He is truly risen!
Χουντας – juntas

3. November 17th

‘In all the dominions of the gods
only Death allows no place for sweet hope.’
--attributed to either Alkaios or Sappho.

You say this spear is paper in my hands.
How do I explain this: what blueprint
can I sketch for terror? The artist, only,
he clocks the first lines.

   Sundown scales the howling waves

O Patrick, when you sent your snakes –
those cords – to us, I spoke blood from the shore.
If I could move these hands would I
lay this spear down?
A lie howls behind my words

   Don’t tell the children this; don’t let them
           throw our voices like pebbles
         before the waves have smoothed them.

I wait on the beaches. My spear points out to sea.

4. Iskra

The lock of foes is silence,
the balance of hand to throat
on the pivot a spearlength long.
In that launch all sound was spent
except speculation: to be tough on serpents
and the causes of, the reel and sway of victimisation,
tongue-edit, counter strike, myth of the dead.

Two thousand eight hundred and fourteen since
and falling. Before the next explosion, mute
the American airwaves wash to an oblong
hiss: we watch what’s conquered, rent
the sky’s report; doctored tape drags on
past safe spectators: on one side fundamentalism,
the other throat dumb-glotted, myths of the dead.

5. Revolution

When Nature swallowed its tail
I painted a man in sheepskin
cutting his brother’s throat.

I clumped hair in thick white,
edged his olive arms
from under the cloak.
Beyond his shoulder
where the desert
reddened into the sky
I needed no motion to show
the stripe of the Dead Sea.

When nature swallows its tail again
I’ll film it on eight millimetre
grained monochrome.
My hands will shake
for that ‘home movie effect,’
I’ll digitally master a Dolby Surround,
trace in your favourite
cartoon characters to point:    
Look here, hey-oh           
here where the Dragon was slain
like any other Saturday morning, look,
the water doesn’t move without our
Special Effects.

georgettoouli  lives in England. He has had work published, teaches creative writing and is an arts administrator and freelance editor. He co-edits Gists and Piths with Simon Turner.

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