unguent ambient (1st sketch)

flies in the buttersilk
oint the ointment,
enter antwise,
wing up yawing,
heavied and sleekened,
dripping gold globules,
murmur thickly
from clotted hairy legs
and dairied wings,
tickle ears
with smeary buzzings,
glossed follicle-tingle
from smooth nearness.

categorical blends
reap weird dividends.



Brother Mountain – Your Hidden Face, Your Secret Name (take 1)

Dedicated to one particular daybreak,
who arrived a year and a half before I did into the family,
and who was there when the internal mountains finally broke forth.


A vast rump humps up,
A score of furlongs long or more,
Rippling with grassy-rugged rock-muscle,
Though still, still as the ages,
Worn by wind and ever-rain into the terrain
We see from so small a person-body here
In delighted fear and humble awe.

The great green-mottled form is still, I say.
Still, it rises, or seems to be rising
Right now as we meet it with heart-wide eyes,
Nostrils flared in joy-terror at the psychic fragrance
That with mountainous flagrance flouts our small notions
Of small loveliness with vast blasting majesty.

The great green-rippled length looks still, I say,
But just about to move at any second. We small ones
Can feel the rock’s pent up motion in our small bones,
As if those stone ripples – massive shadowed dips really,
Miniature valleys and downs – as if those muscled curves
Might ripple forth and shift any moment right before our
Awestruck eyes, as if those ripples might rumble and slide,
And rearing up from the mountainside’s far side, unseen
Until now, a great granite head might turn to look at us
With a monstrous crag of face, two incredible deep-set holes
Of verdant luminescence for the man-mountain’s eyes,
Burning holes in our mind’s with the impossible gaze, a last
Happy-mad sight for mere mortals dying in deep love and satisfaction
At a mere glance from one of God’s hidden creatures.

So the mountain’s features make us feel,
down here in our smallness.

Maybe you’re not a man-mountain at all, but a
Beast-upthrust shepherded by some unseen Titan.
I know you and your siblings are mere foothills
In light of Himalayas or Rockies, yet no other range
Rumbles quite like your primordial morphology.

They are all kings and queens and sentries towering,
Where you are humbler and hoarier in your low crouching,
Ready to rise, to spring bestial and roaring; and yet
You are not only rough, but elegant also in the green sheen
Of your mist-slaked, sunwashed pelts, which appear
Nearly velvet, if they could but be felt by
Gargantuan coarse Hands rubbing and petting,
Accompanied by cyclopean Voice acclaiming: ‘Good boy!’

Or maybe you are the kind of beast, shy but fierce,
That is only to be tracked, flushed out, and wrangled,
A pursuit perhaps thought better of once attempted,
Resulting in casualties even among gigantic hunters.

But maybe your kith is not found above-ground at all.
Maybe you are an under-thing calling to our own under-ness.
‘Deep calls to deep’ in your emerald and umber swells.
I’m sure I heard at least one observer cry: ‘sea monster!’

Yes, that too rings true. Your great swimming shapes
Have hurled us into deeps. Maybe it is a massive
Fanned tailfin that will any moment unfurl from
Your unseen extremity, and a yawning maw
From the other end, a great seeking mouth agape
With such width as could only be oceanic.

Aye, we are sailors who catch a glimpse of your
Deep-sport: wave thrashing or ocean-bottom crawling,
either way capsizing our hearts and swallowing us
Whole in jubilant excess. Such depths in heights!

Whatever you are – man-mountain or beast-mountain or
Megalithic leviathan – you are one of God’s monsters
I am glad to know. I am privileged to have made your
Face-to-face acquaintance more than once, each time a shattering
Meeting, if fleeting.

I thank you for the meal you made of me (mere morsel at best,
I know – more likely a kernel or crumb) and I thank you for
The kind meal you gave me each time, each time a little more,
Nourishing me from weakness to strength to strength, still small,
But growing, growing, eroding and rising mountainous inside,
Until at last this pen could bleed a little blot in your honour.

Brother Crag and Sister Cairngorm, I am blessed to serve
Alongside you at the curve of our mortally wounded world
That in one day dying will rise again renewed and glory-flooded,
Knowledge-deluged, where your great folds and curves will finally
Shift and coarse in awful grace and you will at last lift up your
Glorious head and all will see

Your hidden face

And hear

Your secret name.


Driving Test

Weather: check.
grey ambient striated with echo-shine, a sheening mist
waving in on the wheeled capsule that contains me,
a dull ache in the car’s bones, prankster wind tapping
the car’s shoulder and hiding, shoving from behind,
then slamming with both fists the car’s face; sunshine is
the bigger prankster, like a dull child waiting it out for
hours or days just to jump out and shout surprise;
drivers beware the startling childish light!

Pedestrians: check.
uncle Bunk is cracking brains with the junk he sells
there by the petrol station looming up and flying by;
gaggle-girls are gagging on fake-tan fumes and spotty
choppy boys ogle the bleach and dye and overfilled fabric;
that one’s mind is a tree sprouting from his brain, so
obvious to everyone but him; this one’s heart explodes
in a scattershot of men’s eyes as she cries it out; dogs
are leading owners and little children circle in on their
victims; the timeworn old ease on at a pace unseeable.

Other drivers: check.
loud sleek muscle revving up alongside, booming the
system’s capacity for beats-per-minute, all that energy
and style useless and pointless in this little no-place;
crisp all-business success-mobiles proliferate, sharp new
family movers too, oozing class entrenchment, rusting
the rest of us; beefy beasts chug away in dogged bulk,
the rumble of modernity-maintenance felt through
every rolling tire in proximity, a comforting nuisance.

Awareness is the key. Stay alert!
things are all that they seem and so much more in
every pore and pock; in very contour a chasm lies
unplumbed, all portals are wide open and universes
are bleeding into every single object, the road is not
mere concrete, nor mere metaphor, but an unspooling
ribbon of existence that begins and ends in poly-ontic
swamplands of ecstasy and terror from which emerge
all beings that you encounter on your automotive
journey; open the apertures of your mind and of the car’s
skin or you will die in a rainbow of undiscovered blood,
a storm of gleaming bones you could not have guessed;
you have been warned.

Awareness is the key and its hardest part
is that you must,
with the same piercing sight as you give,
be seen by other drivers.

‘Where you can’t be seen, such as at a hump bridge,
you may need to use your horn.’
Proof that we are coiled
goring beasts
at the very least.

(photo by Flannery O’Kafka)

Palaeontologist Jones

I saw God’s bones.

We dug into the ontic ground
and found them there.

Whilst out shepherding Being,
we tripped over the tip
of the long submerged
jagged rack
of vast ragged ribs,
knowing not just what
that jutting upthrust hid.
And when we subsequently
did, post-dig,
we were thunderstruck
at their size and cried,
‘Thunder God!’

Dinosaur deity we deemed
him from the great beams
of his bones,
every man jack of us,
every Ali, Hsu, Zilliac,
Okafor, and Jones.

And all were awed
at the Shape
the bonework took.

with fear and trembling
from the globally scattered fragments,
some shattered, some close-grouped, some whole,
divine femur, tooth, ball joint, and skull,
every segment was pieced into place,
and our mysterium tremendum
only increased, for we faced
the unmistakable
poly-faunal skeleton
of Pan-Therion.

Rapt, we observed
that the lordly horns
and claws and fangs
were apt
for both predation
and protection.
Mega-organs and hide,
we surmised,
had been hot
with pumping life
and unturnable purpose.

The wingspan
wreaked us mute.

But no one could agree
the colour or contour,
the ‘look’
we felt
such meta-ocular engines of sight
would convey.
Would they blast you away
or ravish your heart,
tear you apart
or burn you crystalline—
what would it mean
to be seen
by such a Gaze?

We museumed, for fun and terror,
a full-scale model of the mighty Theo-Saurus,
whose head touched the sky
(open-domed the museum was).
It looked a lot like the stories, the texts,
the faith handed down,
the claimed experiences
(though competing sets of eyes
were displayed in alternation).

And some are now claiming
that from time to time
(the actual bones: the vacuum-vaulted
and camera-watched skeleton, not the replica)
and for an instant
they say
the deity rears up
in livid meat and mass.

And some claim a Voice
thunders from
the sudden-fleshed revenant
words of awful love
(heard crackling through
the monitor speakers).

in protective suits
have gone in—
some confirming the reports,
others denying.
They’ve set up tests
and some say these detect
and others say they do not.

You can visit the simulations
at the Museum of Natural Theology.

Some knuckle-draggers, of course,
have been cave-art worshiping
the primate-ive deity all along,
behind our backs
and in the cracks,
openly, and yet
we had shut them out,
embarrassed for them,
though tolerant.

Ah! Forgive me.
Though I speak in present
tense with the immediacy
of the memory, this was all
long ago and I know
you Young New Worlders laugh.
Don’t worry,
I do too.


Thus Spake the Zygoat… (excerpt from ‘Loretta and the pig’ story-in-progress)

A high shadow detached itself from the whole territory of shadows.  Like a tree of darkness felled from the darkness around it, the shape loomed out at them, gargantuan, ten Lorettas tall, horned and bearded in the manner of a goat, upright in the manner a man.  The distinct clop of a hoof, magnified to a boom, sounded as the form stepped forth.

The pig cried out the cry of horror-recognition, squealed and back-trotted, flinging the colour-emanations from his eyes in barbs and whiplashes.  Loretta’s fingers dug into the pig’s bristly nape with instinctual terror, yet with the urge to fight too.


The pig finally managed to articulate that monosyllable rather than merely squeal and cry, hooves back-clacking in the dark.

‘No, no, no, not you, not you…’

Something clicked in the pig’s throat and then he groaned.  The colours from his eyes settled into their cascade again, though he trembled.

Loretta made to sooth-hush the pig when the giant goat thing spoke.

‘Fear not,’ it said to the small company crouched before it and its huge wit-slitted eyes flamed a little in all that dark.  The colours listing out from the pig’s own eyes broke upon the dark goat, but illumined its vast form not at all.

The embered eyes of the goat descended and enlarged.  It squatted over them now.  The impulse to scatter was strong, but the basso profundo of the goat’s voice had spelled them to the spot, immovable.

The eyes turned themselves directly upon the pig.  He felt the heat of them and shivered.  It was the hotness not of temperature but of attention.

‘Your goat officemate, oh pig,’ the great goat said in an expansive and explanatory tone that surprised them, and they were held inside the cadences and scarce-guessed meanings of its subsequent speech, ‘he was just an impostor who got into your head and through your head into, and even above, the cosmos.  You saw his mega-parsec horns and eyes and teeth rising above the event horizon of existence?  He is a chimera of your devising.  I on the other hand, I am the Zygoat.  Yes, I am both embryonic and frisky, as my name suggests.  I am the jump-point to all ontic antics (for all quanta are alive and kicking in the end – do you not feel them bump you back?), butting and birthing as I leap.  I am not the jump off point into the abyssal dismissal.  No, I am not the destruction-goat, the Null-Goat, as you imagined when you saw me here in the dark, as your goat officemate pretended to be when he thought to casually murder a computer girl-ghost in his heart.  Yes, yes, I know of it.  But more importantly, I know of the third goat, the Scape-Goat, who has made the way for my frolics and seminations with his own throat-spilt blood, the way for all of us.  You are worried because you have heard that the goats go off to perdition, and it is true.  But those particular fauna-hides are only their parabolic guises.  (Recall that the holy Tabernacle was covered in goat skins too, oh you little-faiths!)  It was the same way with you, dear pig.  You were emblematic of impurity until the Scape-Goat Lamb-God bled on you and made you delicious, beloved, clean, included.  I, the left-handed goat, in the same way became acceptable and accepted.  So it is that I, Zygoat, am the archangel (each one of us is called the archangel, fear not for Michael’s glory).  I am guardian of embryos, individual as well as cosmic.  You have weirdly entered a weird back entrance into my weirded realm of fractal matrices.  You are welcome.  It will probably kill you to be here.  That is good.  We have only good-death here.  Should you be rejected, you will be ejected only into old-life.  Your good-death will then have to wait, hopefully not forever.  Pig, I will now take the colour-emissions from your eyes.  The dark will be its own light to you here, dear pilgrims.  But first, you must take and eat it.’

The pilgrims began to do so.

For the Bird

I started to dedicate it
to you, ‘my feathered friend’.
Are you? Are we friends?
I feel, I genuinely do, as if we are.

Whence this feel of kinship? As if
we two were fish-hearts caught up
in a kith-and-creel of familial ligature,
as if the whole world-boat were
a know-country for old kin
(bird-boy and ape-jay knuckling
through the undergrowth again!).

‘But as if,’ I can hear the rejoinding cries,
‘is if-and-only-if as applies.’

The morph-police are onto us, hide!
Their anthropo-mechano-allo-zoo
boss-embossed bullets bleed us
too true and in a bone-sickening instant
all our meta-tricks crunch phoric
beneath their see-through nightsticks.

‘What do you think you are,
indigenous?’ they pigeon us
(and you’re not even that bird!).

Ach, who gives a flying fact?
(I’d give them the bird,
were you mine to give,
but not that word, as I live.)

Look, friends or no (I speak
from a bleeding mouth and maybe
that’s the only way)
your motion, oh bird of my brow-
beating, maps me out
in topographic greeting,
now don’t laugh! Look:

the zag and tremble-flit,
controlled shudder of bones,
the riffle, the dart, hop and blur,
up you whir, touch down again
as you please, and with ease as
consummate as grift your ways
are out of mind most days, until
in a trice you track in front of my footpath
or group-wing across my eyes’ sky
and draw my blood up and out
in patterns I hadn’t guessed.

You, you, my feathered friend,
brought to gut immediacy for me
that I was on a gigantic ball winging orbital
through galactic expanses brimming
with just such dances as you
and your kind-kin exhibit ceaselessly
could we, the self-policing monkey bunch,
but trouble to fish-leap a flash
(bloody words a spilling) alongside
your kith-keel and feel with fear
the joint-not-joint akimbo.

How could I not call you friend
when you benedict me so?

(Photo by Flannery O’Kafka)

I hugged my wee daughter and this poem came out…

The soft-firm clasp
of flesh on flesh
(bones thunked
into each other
beneath those
with the warm force
of willed love
is a touch
of ontic bedrock,
below which
no greater
or more
—your own heart
preaches this
truth to you
in sermonic
eloquence I
cannot match.
And that self-same
heart buries
its own truth
like disowned bones
and disembowels
all diggers
with the slick-flicked
fangs of the
until you clasp
again and gasp
recognition and
shove it down
once more
in spin-glitch agony,
a wrestle-wretch
sucked out
sucked in
despite your best
or handed over
to bone-wearied
dog-day masters
exacting last pennies
ever after.
(One foot in
that down-hole
you feel
a bloody hand,
raked by your own
teeth, curl fingers
in your scruff
and tug up—
do you release?)
Real and everlasting
fangs at last
are ready to rip you
true and re-skin
the soft-firm clasp
of flesh on flesh
(bones sang
into each other
beneath those
with the fierce warmth
of willed love.