I guess at how these addictions turned
Into today’s stone mortuary, a cold world
Of daylight where everything is neglect –
My suburbia a reference point
Where the fences pale, and the way is bindweed
Heaped on a path running dawn to dawn.
I recall, by whatever stimulant,
Yellow lamplight on the unearthly presence
Of bottled ink, made a phantasmic
Diamond brightness, and how in a garble
Of half-chewed sentences I announced
All transformations were possible.
That mesmerising flicker shared its music
In the first dead hours when the city
Shut its eyes. Seductive chords, and a depth
Of basses voiced natural opposition
To the world of deserted streets, in a shade
Of sleepy blue in every blanked-out house.
I vied for instant sachets, the currency
Notes or IOUs, set in the same clutter
Of discarded poker hands, while magic
Particles, poured onto a vanity glass,
Assumed meticulous regimentation
Under a guiding hand with a razor blade.
I remember the disintegration
These hallucinations meted out,
Off-colour chords decaying into discord,
Pleasure contra dependency, the insane
Daily pursuit of the paradise
Prophets and poets had shrilled about.
Once, under the hard dead light of dawn,
I found myself in a neighbourhood
More angular than my own, and there pleaded
With a boy laden with newspapers,
Not entirely confident I’d understood
His directions home, and stumbled away.
Materiality threatened its return
In the brittle textures of twilight,
When I had spent hours after midnight
Afloat with the garbage piled in a hotel
Yard, lost to a soft delusional light
And a weightless elevation.
Now somehow I’m here,
In the ruins of Berry Pomeroy Castle,
In a cascade from old nightmares to new,
In a white ache, under a blue light,
Where a disembodied voice is urging me
On, with a ‘Follow me down’—
And I tell myself I don’t know how this happened.
First published in the anthology A Most Haunting Castle, ed Bob Mann, Longmarsh Press