Poetry: Selections from David Hay
A Spontaneous Prayer
So at night, when his parents were in their cocoons of despair, turned away from each other, waiting for that sickening light and greying tones of Radio 2 to awaken them, metamorphosing into the ghosts will one day be unable to escape– the boy with his chisel, saw and hammer borrowed from his granddads, cobwebbed, dirt smothered toolbox into the garden to the oak tree, whose flaked armour was half-hollowed out by the lightning that brought heaven’s grace down to the smoking ruins of man – terrifying the child he was, with sinful retribution – black lies that carved up the night and brought fire to the tree that curated the centre of so many of his stories – he would live in the centre of that fire.
To love is to know infinity
With his pyjamas tucked into thick, terry-looped JCB socks and his school shoes, which shinned his freakishness into the diaries nestled under every teenage girl’s pillow – advertised in the collective wide-eyed raised eyebrow nod that narrates the despair of every boy, with queasy, tickling tash, never noticed, as mirrors hadn’t entered thought – that peado tinged tash that sends shivers through his skull every time the man remembers that boy, dangling like a spider from the ceiling ova turd-stained swimming pool, full of crow heads laughing uncontrollably at the peeping tom moon squeezing through the time-eaten buttress that help form the prison he and his nightmares compete to control – Prison Guards and Prisoners morphing into each other as the night-clock of stars, comet through the maze of preconceptions – acidic visions of sheep to slaughter blues – damsel spittle washes away the crust out of god’s eyes, infected as they are by the slow, hatching of each human sin.
But you were a man once, you walked below the infinity that once had been you body – you walked in the early morning light and felt the vulnerability of each snail beneath your feet and each heart domiciled around you, not yet hardened by coffee and the drowning stare into the mirror of the lake or sky, knowing that all your tenderness was but a spot ready to be popped by the broken men who chose fists to cure themselves of the grief of being born – so fragile, Crying round the collective tomb with candles, tears, and weapons tempered by blood.
The oak tree is my heart, so I bury myself in its wooden folds of flesh – let my teeth now cut cut at every splintered idea – only mad men can make the night their own and parents stirring in their single beds, side by side, clawing deeper into their ruts in dreams so grey council buildings look whimsical – so thick like pure cordial in a glass full, choking on its tartness – the only ones who can save them are, quite obviously themselves, and miracles, well, those exhalations from the being whose song brings the rain have no place here – I try not to be a preacher, deluded on the dregs of prophecy, but how much pain is being authored by us this second – my mid can’t take it – we are too much for ourselves.
To my niece
In my heart there is always a stillness that wakes the dead, mouths agape, eyes pressed against glass surface of the sky. Sitting on a train can be the saddest thing in the world. If you look hard enough you can see all the grief not yet given a name. The confusion of every second forming lifetimes. In that thoughtful loneliness I see myself reflected in every one of my fellow passengers. For now we enter the elongating horizon of limbo. We are nowhere and yet everywhere, as we were before bricks, glass and electricity saved us from the ever encroaching night. But this is far too regal; a kid, no older than 8 bangs on the window and calls the exiting man city fans cunts. The father out of some half-forgotten prudishness yells don’t swear. I laugh in that acceptable quiet way British people do, like joy and shame are the same thing. In each of us, a child was drowned. The youth know despair as well as anyone but they don’t know the true weight of years, for they can’t, but weight is not wisdom. Through time we have been led and now lead others down pathways mired by our collective delusions and the lost generations haunt every decision we make, good or bad, logical or insane.
When I think of advice for my niece who is 16 and so already knows the predatory loneliness of too many men’s hearts, every book, every lived experience, every inked word decays into the dust that birthed each thought. The only wisdom worth my aged brow and thickening belly has grown out of kindness. If you walk round any street in any city in the world, and look, look at your feet and wait, then look back up it becomes clear that all of it was built out of emptiness, and yet neither rich not poor feel whole, because madness was mistaken for sanity and the cult of common sense has made our cruelty, our hardness not just tolerated but cherished, if not worshipped. To my niece I have little advice, nothing is natural about this or any society. Man made god to remove his responsibility, closing the final door to Eden. When your elders teach you to be insane and reality hides in the shadow of each thought, few things flourish in a land cultivated by ignorance. Even with porn stuffed into your developing brain, hope always so fragile is given voice with your words. But it took us far too long to get here. When the floods and fires make the landscape alien to the one I see in the screen of my phone or the window of my rented house, and I’m just another statistic, and my voice, if you still think of me, is long gone, there will be a glimmer of chance to start a fresh. But just remember that you were raised on a diet of insanity too and I’m too full of shit to speak much of truth
I watch the lilac’s lips
suckle upon the sky,
like a wolf cub,
freezing into starvation.
I rest my head on the grass,
tiny thin blades,
like mother nature’s eyelashes,
bending beneath 32 year old bones and fat.
I let my eyes mirror the sky like the sea.
So much of us is lost,
so little remembered,
but is it right to fill the emptiness above
with our sorrows, so sticky and tangled,
so born of dust and dirt?
Even sadness cannot contain us.
Ourselves, ensnared by flesh
are as vast as the stars
veiled by light and silence.
Nothing can entombed us,
not even life.
I stroke the sun light curled upon my lap,
In the clouds I plot my own myth into
Always present horizon.
I tried to give heart to the worm,
Who knew me not by name,
But the weight of my feet in his dirt.
There was nothing new here,
But meaningful things connect us,
They do not separate.
After another cheap whiskey and coke
I ask myself, that hidden guardian
Of the last of my consistencies
Why are you talking to a worm,
The dog and cat were bad enough,
This might be socially unacceptable madness.
Well our naked bodies casus more offence than
People dying on the streets
Where our children walk,
And if I mention a citreous, semen, a period
Conservatives with rigidly trimmed beards
And wild pubes,
Will shake their heads and call me disgusting.
Drink in the morning’s liquid light
I open my mouth and let my tongue be gilded, but my hope, that I carry in a backpack, I’ve had since high school is so heavy, I am tempted to take it off and leave it. But knowing me, my wife who is as assuredly on my trail as a mother following the bloodied footsteps of her first child, through the freshly rested snow, will pick it up and curve further her already crippling spine. Is it possible for someone else to carry your burden of your hope as well as theirs and not have their tears fracture into two streams? The answer is obvious I shout at the still visible moon. She has been doing it for you for seven years and her eyes no longer hold the stars. Take Responsibility an old man on the other side of the road cries in earnest. I lot my hope and I lost my love. Only the dead know the true value of tears. Carry this weight and never relent. It is far too lonely when you have no person to call home. He walks in the direction I have just left. The past can never be absolved he says over his shoulder. I tighten the traps on my backpack. Men can make monsters out of saints, I say to my younger self appearing round the corner of a dark corridor in my mind. He retreats. You always get wisdom too late for it to do you any good. He tells me to shut up and keep walking. All you have is time, idiot. Make something new out of it. Fair enough but you have always been a twat I say. The first step and the last step are of equal importance.
David Hay's debut publication is the Brexit-inspired narrative poem Doctor Lazarus. His first poetry collection is forthcoming from Rare Swan Press. His debut novel No Birds Sing is schedule for release by the end of the year from Alien Buddah Press.