I am old, too old for this bright love,
and yet I am dazzling in its ardency.
The slight snow greys my green body,
and my law-burns choke their weeping
in a jumble of scree and dirty ice.
As the citric sunlight of February afternoons
fades to madness-in-winter,
hopeless piping, desperate picayunes,
the gabble of the steep-in-age,
so you walk in, evening-cloaked,
a swirl of velvet, a silent falling,
a brief brush of lips against mine
and – O gods of my imagined tribe,
how such things burn hard on me!
I am demented for ever,
caught in the cold flow of eternity,
made cold, hot, cold, hot, cold
by your bright and coal-red lips,
the only fire, the sole light,
the lone sun in a black universe,
the one illumination of lost souls.
I should climb the ridge of your cheekbones,
the savannah of your hair,
the tearpaths of your face, jewelled rhones
and channels of soft weeping,
the bays and bights of your arms,
the long strand of your scapulae,
the bitter wind of your nape scouring
your shoulders’ mystery.
At times your kisses are baked bread,
the truth of straight-grown trees
with their cones fallen brown-red
and their honest, grey-and-green needles,
their brown cone-bells rustle-ringing;
the surprise of sea-scents, your kisses,
the gentle knock of a loosely-moored boat
against a grey-and-green wall
where the mad moonlight comes walking.
This is the alchemy of my love,
the whiskey talking.
Welshday (you will need reminding) is a project I conceived in late 2008. It was to be some sort of verse-drama in which a fictionalised Irvine Welsh was conducted through a shadowy Edinburgh by an alcoholic policeman and a totally silent mime-artist, amongst others. Irvine Welsh himself gave me his permission (his actual words were “No worries – go ahead”), but since then I have only returned to work on it from time to time. It has been one of those many projects for which there are ideas but no handle to grip.
However, when I have returned to it, it has often given me a stand-alone poem. The one above is part of a planned section of the drama in which Irvine Welsh relates an ancient tale of Finn MacCool, Welsh and Rimbaud make punning variations upon the theme ‘mony a mickle maks a muckle’ using the names of sundry Scottish towns, Rimbaud rhymes endlessly using the words ‘Leith’, ‘Police’, and ‘fish’ to prove he is not drunk (whilst proving only that drink does not affect his ability to rhyme), and the Chorus reminds them where and who they are.