The Conscript’s Report – first published in Obsessed With Pipework Issue 86

I was on leave that day.
The mountain air seemed
to pulsate, as if
a multitude of wings
flickered – an altered state.
A cast off snakeskin
from a tree hung
like a warning.

I met a stranger on
the hidden way,
who asked me strangely
– with a sidelong gaze –
to take great care.
After our goodbyes
I turned to watch him go,
but he had vanished.

Noon’s a haunted hour.
I reached the cove
where streams slip icily
like eels into the sea.
Exhausted by the heat
I wanted to wade in
but I could not – instead
I stood transfixed:

what waves there were
lapped silently to shore;
and the distended tide
appeared to glitter
with a menacing allure
that pulled me in
but I resisted – focusing
on a white boat, far west.

Finally, I lay down
on the burning shingle.
I woke to find a giant
lizard watching me,
it’s face near mine.
When it retreated
to a broken wall,
I set off for my swim.

I waded in and pulled off
a panicked length,
avoiding shadows
cave and depths beyond
the shallow seabed;
picturing arms trying
to pull me under,
as I powered along.

Then, I sat on a flat rock
and cried, till nightfall.
The news reported
more drowned refugees.
Autumn gave the beach
its mourning weeds
– sea grasses, dark and bleak –
while gulls lamented.

This poem is also in my debut collection Wish (Maytree Press).

Roker Beach (first pub. by Obsessed With Pipework)

Powered by the moon
the sea loops seamlessly
waves dull the edge

– that piece of glass
everyone has at heart –
of being separate.

The way you or I remember
it really doesn’t matter;
past the bandstand

primordial waves erode and lift
the stones we walked on
tears and mist.

.

.

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Originally Published by Obsessed With Pipework, with thanks to Editor Charles Johnson; a version is also in ‘Wish’.