Nana on a Dolphin
(after Niki de Saint Phalle)

Oh Nana I want to be you
on your shiny crazy dolphin
in the central reservation
of New York Avenue
with your big hips swinging
in the wind of cars and taxis

Oh Nana let me be you
in your silver lamé swimsuit
you are orange, hot and boundless
on your harlequinaceous dolphin
your breasts like Saturn’s Rings
and your thighs like Costa Rica

Oh Nana you’re not hidden
behind smutty drapered curtains
you’re not in Mr Stafford’s
shilling-a-peep freakshow
with Jacob and the Angel
and foetuses in jars

Nana I want to see you
on your vexillographic dolphin
leaping minarets
and fronting at cathedrals
the vast heft of your arabesque
rocking graves in Père Lachaise

Nana I want to see you
and your shiny shattering dolphin
slicing into London
like a butter-knife on steroids
vaulting through Parliament
window to window

keeping your huge
immaculate balance
with your red ball aloft
like Venus on Viagra
oh Nana I want to be you
burning on down the Thames

(First Published in Canto Magazine)

The Balance

I understand it when you write to tell me
how Stalin’s Snow is sticking in your hair.

How boys in Sokolniki play fluff-roulette
with cigarettes, bald men gain flossy haloes,

and babies grow white beards. Your
coffee’s covered with a skim of down.

How pukh chokes throats. Machines wheeze,  cars
die in the street, hospitals are clogged with

struggling lungs. Sparks flare, the firemen
permanently on call.
                                   You write to me of how

it’s down to lack of balance: half a million
female poplars Stalin planted years ago.

Two thousand miles away, I plant my winter,
mask myself against the ache of trees.

Пух (‘pukh’ –  ‘fluff’): The unfertilised seeds of poplar trees which fill the streets of Moscow in June.  Also known as ‘Stalin’s Snow’.

(First Published in Canto Magazine)

If I were to write a poem today

If I were to write a poem today, it would be about the eyebrows of old men.
How when everything  is slowing they suddenly are rampant,
questing out of themselves with brass-necked fanfare.

The eyebrows of old men are horses galloping in the night;
they are brown dogs at the gates of large gardens,
they are furious badgers.

And they are Bibles, leather-bound, heavy with family names;
harvest loaves with string-tailed mice;
the oak-carved intricate burgeonings of Grinling Gibbons.

The eyebrows of old men bark like foxes,
sing Orfeo, catch fish.
They are the Carpathian Mountains.

My father, I would write this poem today.
Instead I sit
and hold your yellow hand.

(First Published in Canto Magazine)

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