Part One Dreams In Absentia (but) ‘All the yard-arms were tipped with a pallid fire; and touched at each tri-pointed lightning-rod-end with three tapering white flames, each of the three tall masts was silently burning in that sulphurous

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Raccoon

For Laura and Nick

Part One
Dreams In Absentia

(but)


All the yard-arms were tipped with a pallid fire; and touched at each tri-pointed lightning-rod-end with three tapering white flames, each of the three tall masts was silently burning in that sulphurous air, like three gigantic wax tapers before an altar.’
from Moby Dick by Herman Melville

But

(whatever possessed him moved him)


as

I

packed crosswords



he

packed Moby

and the rest was

this-story

.

.

.



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.

.



.

.

.



.

.

.



.

.

.



.

Watching The Weather Channel in San Francisco

(bouts of light flirt through blinds)


…what’s that she said?

forthcoming from the

bosom she heaved

‘a bountiful gulf moisture’

spreading from the south

yea upward

curving

munificence

lotion unleashed in the headwind

drifting slowly

to the four corners of my toilet bag
there she blows
here we blew
too northerly

too westerly

to feel the bounty brush…
…what’s that beneath my finger?

Lowly, longly a wail went forth…


Never Seeing Whales

(schools of rocks moved)


Walking beyond walking

distance without

a car

is how hard we tried



to see you:

we tried so hard

we saw

outcrops of



rocks

move


and

hump


and

spout

and

even if they weren’t whales

we sure damn got excited

about the rocks

moving

and


in

the low-glowing

retrospect

of disappointment

rocks moving is

even


more amazing

than whales

moving

even


if the rocks

didn’t


really move.


But Out the Blue Poolside Up

(not seeking sprouts a vision)


Lo!

h


u


m

m


i

n


g

b


i


r

d

! !



And

don’t


blink

oh


ye

eyes


of

mine


be

on

hold!



Celestial Grammar

(suck it and see)


When a world holds itself.
Oh periwinkle!
I cannot describe that

old moon


in the new moon’s arms

in Idaho


in rare desert air hung

a savage punctuation

in a too big sky

to dislodge from

my retina

a souvenir of speech.


Oh drupaceous damson!

But When Word Crew Jumps Ship

(doom-plummet of the heavenly orb)


New research:

new moons and full

relax and squeeze

seas


relax and squeeze

rocks


relax and squeeze

radon


killing us humans

disheartening our proverbs

ladening our dreams with doom

confounding our every last romantic.


Is there nothing sacred that is not out to kill us?
Oh pass the lethal sea salt for my deadly red meat ye murderous oceans!

Never Seeing Elk

(I eat your tender girder)

I looked everywhere:

on that rare fillet of Point Reyes

along the San Andreas Fault

at everwet-Evergreen

in clandestine skirting boards

under unpressurized skies

in the cymbal-clash of hand palm

under palm-crash of a tree leaves

in a sheaf of Alan’s hair

straggling white Egyptian

cotton sheets

in shadowesque

between frettings in netted clouds

and clotted lace curtains

none of these

not even in the patina of

Mrs Dash

scattered picante over

pottage

nor the whole

humdinging

coast road from

San Fran

to

Near Death:



Nada

But Something Nighed in Boise

(Cathy puts a pot roast on – we all have tea)


Amidships the veg

was


a three letter word

beginning with

‘E’

getting low



down & dirty with

laughing stock

I spy the irony

with both little

eyes staring back at

me


grunting from

the bathroom

mirror a

forest echo

of dewlap

& antlers.


I pack three pine cones

deep in bubblewrap.



Never seeing Mount Rainier

(we strain my eyes with cloudburst )


‘But that’s not a mountain!’

smiles Zoë gorgeously aslant

driving

with her L.A. knees

towards a big white peaky thing

which sticks an indignant finger

in the air at this casual abuse:

it was mountain enough for

us: little island racers.
But it wasn’t Rainier

those sweet Olympians

forswore what we saw was nothing

OoOoOoOoOoooo

those nonny


OooOzzZzzzz

cascading

before our over-keen eyes

were just a bunch of

hummocks.
We strained my high seeking

eyes onto lowlife clouds

cracking through another

chardonnay and

agitated stun-dance

downing chasers to

mildewed entrails

beneath the awnings

outcast smokers gathered

under levitating pelts

of rain talking up death to

guffaws


downing rounds of

dead baby

rabbits - cotton buds

achingly small

beneath

O you’re so big

invisible mountain

meaning nothing to me

without seeing your O

so awe-ing.
But Ever Exulted With Bare Necessity

(metal moves me)


a giraffe

in a


weeny

human hand

amid

mid-sized hummocks



was a spectacular of metal

languishing

in a thrift shop

to pin to

my

lapel


my

to-die-for

long-necked

lash-long

leggy-ah

all-time


big-on

best


word

ever


Never Seeing Raccoon

(I eat its words)


Forepaws
one who lifts things up, they rub, scrub, scratch

they rub and scratch

they take everything in their hands

they touch things, they scratch

they pick up things

graspers


they pick up things, they rub and scratch

one who picks up things

one very clever with its fingers

they handle things, they use hands as a tool

they handle things

graspers

they pick things up, one who touches things

one who rubs, picks up things with hands

washes with hands, they scratch

graspers

asban, ah-ra-koon-em

welkol, wilkol, wulkol, wutko

mapachitl, atuki, q’oala’s,

aasebun, aissibun, shauii

essebanes, wutki, eespan, wtala;

wtakalinch, hespan, nachenum, aispan,

sha-we, asban, at-cha,

aispun essepan, wood-ko shapata,

ethepata, swini, que-o-koo

k’alas
Face
painted one, blackened face

blackened face and feet

white bands on face

one with marked face


shiuaa, attigbro,

nashi,


macheelee, macheelee

cbel’igacocib,




Magic Thing
magic one with painted face

masked demon spirit

one who makes magic

one with magic, one with magic

one who makes real magic

one with magic

she who talks with spirits

she (little old one) who knows things

she who watches,

witch, spirit


weekah tegalega

gahado-goka-gogosa

macho-on,

wee-kah, wee-chah, wee-kahsah, wici, wicha

wee-kah tegalega, wici

mee-kah, mee-chah, mee-kahsa

macca-n-e

wayatcha


see-o-ahtlah-ma-kas-kay

ee-yah-mah-tohn

tsa-ga-gla-tai
Tail
long-tailed bearlike one

those of big-tailed (long-tailed) kind

big (long) tailed ones

ring-tailed one

big (long) tailed

big-tailed, long-tailed ones


siah-opoots-itswoot

ee-ree-ah-gee

gah-gwah-gee, cah-hee-ah-gway

shinte-gleska

kagh-quau-ga

ee-ree
Doggish


dog, of dog kind

doglike leaper

doglike one

tamed like dog

night doglike one

of the dog kind

doglike leaper
ah-ohn, mayuato,

agaua


wacgina, ausup

ah-ohn, ah-oon,

agwana

Feeder

graspers of crayfish

doglike leaper on crabs and crayfish

pulls out crayfish with hands

doglike leapers on crabs and crayfish


shauii,

mauyato,


seip-kuat, siep-mantei

aguara-po-pav


Pure Racoon

kaka-nostake,

guassini, guachini,

o’at


ottaguin, ochateguin,

tcokda,


patkas

kai-kai-yuts

klapissime,

va-owok,


pilquits,

pah-suh-de-na,

dEwu’si

roosotto


kanulo-nixa-niso

But Can a Seen Beast Be a Wrong One?

(other things move in the eternal intermission)

Tracking out

after dark

magic one with painted face

I saw deer eyes in

Zhang Er’s

searchlight

against

the temperate

rain forest

in her endless

backyard

sleuth


four-legged

shadow-beasts

moved a

thrill.



Another day

another scent

caught a budding dime of a

long-tailed, ring-tailed thing

not-dog-like leaper on crabs and crayfish

not-blackened face and feet

not-masked demon spirit

but a zip of bones and

ginger.
Here’s looking at you, wick!

Part Two
Stella’s Dream

And glory, like a phoenix midst her fires,

Exhales her odours, blazes, and expires.

Lord Byron

Stella’s Dream

(she danced it with astonished voice)

Stella dreamed a dream

and in that dream she

dreamt her mother’s

old Victorian

bedroom- she said -

she looked out the window

to the bottom

of the yard - she said

and there perched

three enormous phoenixes

(three?)

on structures

(structures?)

imitating hawks – she said

enormous like - she stopped -

(skyscrapers - I thought)

flaming mega-red: she started -

fire-ball bolt-of flame-but redder-than -


she grasped to pluck her wide-awake

redness from her dream –

desperate she was to get that red

(‘desperate red’ - I thought –

yep - that’s the colour)
not flying
backs turned away
faces turned away
from each other
turned towards the city

in different places.


Matt wouldn’t listen she said:

Listen! said Stella to Matt,

(with red desperation)

it was your three

British poets friends

friends


I’ve never met.
Listen, said Stella,

to us three

British poets who she’d just met:

it was you three!


Us three British poets

(err, English, actually)

stood wrung-out

dwindling

and downcasting fast

under New York’s

luminous night heights

each within reach of a

journey’s end

caught in a stranger’s dream.


Her urgency made us want to cry

after such a cold night

we hugged it.
Six feet of clay

six armpits dark in

woodland narcotic sweat

three faces facing:



is that all there is ?
unmythical

miniscule

unfeathered :

Peaky, Pinkie and Perturbed.


(Upstairs in the Gershwin Hotel

my unworn red-bolted skirt flamed

along the hem –

smouldering with desperation

sardonic doldrums)
Stella shines again:
not flying – (not sex

not flying faces - (not wet

not towards her - (her dream

towards her city – (not ours


each in a different place

perched huge and hawk-like

and magnificent –
What a dream to live up

and so dreadful to

be in’t

e-

volving.


(aside )


Manhattan frosts

steel-toothpick cold-cahoots


?

is it cyclical to

congratulate

?
sublime to

disparage


?
what’s that little word
?

at the end of the menu


?
beverage as bloodthirst
?
is it cyclical
?


They Gathered Like Cloud-Ragged-Rooks

(to a drum roll on bent spoons)


The three phoenixes

stood hooded

hawk-like

behind the lectern

each in the same place

each at a different time:

being in the city they

could not face the city.


Their antiquarian

wings flapped majestic

with melodrama

flindering under obdurate

silence.

Thrown out with the birdbath -

pecked into parenthesis.
Having lived so long was

a New World worth dying for?


What

after all

is so wrong with

death after death?


Life after death conjures stuffed

curios for the mantlepiece.

Such an ornate mind-folly

for the dispirited

coagulating on

outskirts of an

endless orbital

to nowhere

fast

without wings.


The mythical birds crestfell bigtime :

imperfect candidates for reinvention

flaring not a speck of red

between the three of ’em


desperation comes also in grey
being three feathered beings

in the wilderness of longing-time

they plaited fog and fumbled.

Stella was undimmed.


Fire-water all round!

she roared

vibrant with sanguinity.



A ruffling

of feathers

flying

barwise.

(Aside )

after motionless

the tick comes terrible

awaking the audible vocalist

in the next room

with big retribution and

flecking off

the dawn chorus

banning


hecklers in the outback

is what we all know killed

cock robin and

the desired shade of

flaming

redbreast



The Phoenixes Drink Deep

(stacking mythologies on flindered wings)

The three phoenixes perched against the bar

in a deeply unfashionable gaff

in Manhattan:

six feet under resting in the dark -

six eyes whelking in the wrong place

backdropping baseball.

Being oh-so-bloody-English

they hankered for the soft

background twitter of cricket

wafting home-sick out of India.


Hunched and awkwardly unhawkish

furtive words were

their furry quarry.

Being in a dream was not a

good career move

but the only place to be:

a hiding to nothing is

a blessing amongst myths when

perched against a bar

with no particular place to go –

in Manhattan

(Aside )
a spiel of

patter


claws these

highwire crossedbills

thrumming meekly a

trio of


off-peak woodpeckers

across the diaphragm

of dead wood and

bored


conifer

faces


pine

for what
(?)



One Phoenix Hives Off

(he tried to fly)


He walked away up

Broadway


bereft:

got bumped

at J.F.K.

an overnight stay

in

Ramada - he says -



isn’t a flaming hot

myth


when you’re not living

the dream

but a

splendidly morbid



night

of strewn desolation

and

totally


unreal spaghetti


devastation in the inauthentic.

(Aside )

The spiritual cashier

scatters our ethereal peanuts

in the wind

on the verge of

vernal equinox

dreamytimeblues

grows offshoots

of ass ears

pot-lucking at life

support

means testing longevity


even if we’re a-dying

from too much afterlife -

being eternal is

a big drag

on

tattered wings.


To see constellations

in New York

fly up -

look down –

for ever

and a night.



Two Phoenixes Hive Off

(they try to fly)


On our way to J.F.K.

Destiny Rides Again

in the back of

our shared yellow cab:

her unimpeachable desperate

red hair laughing

into mine so

close

we are almost related:



supernatural-gingerhood.
‘She’s a writer’

said the driver

after he’d

dropped her off:

‘She’s Destiny’



he said.
The two phoenixes upbolted

mock-hawkish

mortised-locked beaks

in-inquisition:

who was that

fourth one

a-flaming

besides


us?

Eternity poked a fluke

between

our starked-out eyes.



(Aside )
The grand jury of the mind is

shipwrecked

in the centre of a myth.

We fly on a wing and

a mantis dance

swallowing throatlock

with airfood

mulling over miracles.


The plane flies relentlessly east

in a face-off with the moon

above the Atlantic and

overflowing tea


a sea-smashed cavern
a head against

a boulder

is not a head against

a shoulder of

a loved one
even for seals and sealions
bouts of light

flirt through voices

unseen things

beat the urgent heart

against a warm forest of

girders.
A Phoenix need a point.


Stiffing-up earthling’s lustylife

lips flying into mortality?

Is that a good career move?

Being marvellous

is a thankless task

for the marvel.
Being a myth lumbers

nowhere slow.


Home to Roost – No Change

( no train today a bus is on its way – get in the queue)

Back in Sheffield

feathers shed from

ittered clothes and

a bunch of

Arctic Monkeys bought

for a song in

San Francisco echo

Fake Tales

through the kitchen

and we


don’t know quite the distance

from Hunter’s Bar

either

but it is far



too damn far
(kick me out, kick me out-far)
whereas Hunter’s Bar

is just down the road -

so near it hurts our

ghost-dream-wings.


We put down the handbook.
Stuff washing in machine.
Display the Bush-whack.
Sleep-long.
But not in that order.
After-dreams

are elevators

always out-of-order.

(Aside)
I squeeze

a tube of lotion

from the four corners of

my toilet bag

Kiss My Face’

it says

deliriously



smelling of

Whale


Elk

&

One-who-rubs



with-bands-on

face-masked

demon-spirit-ring

tailed-doglike

leaper-grasper-of

crayfish


kaka-nostake

recidivist

you

raccoon


And But Comes to And

(ultimate ember flutter)


The last

dream-phoenix

closes

Moby


and

abandons


a band on

Abaddon


the hangnail

cracked


from

Adam


but

that’


s

another


mandrake

story


after

all

.

.

.


.

.

.



.

.

.



.

.

Part Three


Flashback from Oregon
‘Some ghosts are women,

neither abstract nor pale,

their breasts as limp as killed fish’

Anne Sexton

The Portland Ghost

(sung to the tune: In Burnham Town)


In Port-land town there liv-ed a wo-man

thrown down a shaft

which creaks with shame

Ni-nah

haunts those rooms with



an-ger

she moans

nigh-na’

is how you sigh my

name.

Acknowledgments
Stella for her amazing dream and the telling of it.

The indigenous peoples of the Americas for their ‘raccoon’ words.

James Joyce for the half-line lime-lighted in Evergreen.

Everyone mentioned in these pages by name and those who weren’t but


were there – thank you.


:)


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