Sunday, September 03, 2023

On This Rainy Star

—Poetry and Photos by Tim Goldstone,
Castellnewydd Emlyn, West Wales


After the sprig of lucky heather in a
tin-foil twist
was handed to him by a nut-brown arm
with an intricately tattooed henna-
patterned hand
he had walked up the steps leading
away from the tube station erupting up
and out
into London’s hot human summer flow
and dry concrete-tasting wind
when twenty yards along
he realizes he should have given her
money and retraces his steps
to complete the ancient transaction
a jingle of silver handed to her
by his pale arm on a soft white palm
while her spreading grin at his
unexpected return
across a face the texture of parchment
and the incantation ascending from
her lips
turns the clatter and blast of an
approaching train
to the sounds of straining billowing
propelled by the oceans’ trade winds
(others hear hooves) and now
back out into the street again
his headache gone
the speeding van that would have
killed him  
misses by an inch.

(“Trade” was The July Poem of the Month
at Subsynchronous Press, 2018)


By now all I had left to wear
were my threadbare jeans
and a Union Jack t-shirt,
a prezzie from a mate as a joke,
both of us pale and shivering
on the cold Southampton waterfront:

I laughed, called him a monster,
we saluted with a vague impression of
the stiff upper lips
we’d seen in films.
Now from my room high up
in the hostel I am standing
in front of the window
squinting over a vista
of bright white buildings
all the way to a bright blue sea
the shimmering surface sparkling
with shoals of bouncing water-diamonds
under the strangely heavy dome of deep
blue sky.
I watch the backs of my now nut-brown
hands, resting them flat, palms-down on
the hot windowsill
where the breeze-block pattern shows
through a single layer of thin white paint,
and watch their warm skin become
covered in crawling tattoos while chicken
wire forms across the framed empty
glass-less air
as unbidden the drugs from the market I
twelve days ago begin to come on again
and this time I see
how far I am from home
dripping under the flares of a foreign
sun illuminating huge brown ants
crawling in lines up and down public
dexterously by-passing rows
of bullet holes pockmarked into exterior
walls while down in reception a black-
and-white TV is showing films I
dubbed into a language I don’t
and as I tread unsteadily past
the khaki-clad man on the screen,
he winks at me, salutes,
and blows up a bridge
along with himself.

(prev. pub. in Déraciné Magazine,
May 2018)


As The Soviet Union collapses
the swaying drunk serenades
boarding passengers with growling riffs
while armed police laugh.
Five hours later
the coach window unravels
a deep summer freedom of neverending
fields and sky, farms and wheat,
as the last of your bendy sticky black
hash places your eyes six feet in front
of your face
and you beam so widely your cheeks
while over your head
the hint of the smell of tyre smoke
filters in through the malfunctioning air-
vent as a shimmering border farm
whips by
soon to be belligerent and bristling
in the murderous tumult of changing

(prev. pub. in Rough Diamond Poetry
November 2001)

THE PROMISE AND THE SHADOW                         
Weeks since his bed was fit for human

If he was strong enough he would
leave it.

He would get up—
go now to get what he needs to stop
this in an instant
     but his shadow has caught him up,
and pins him down,

shaking him until he hurts and cramps,
would willingly die.

As she died she’d told him she’d outrun
her shadow—

but he must let his
catch him.

“Promise” she said.

So he lies here now, for her,

in the horror between sleep and dream.

He closes his eyes—

Conjures against his will a rotting
wooden cabin

clinging to a putrid swamp’s

spitting side where splitting skulls

chatter and bob on the sour stinking

He slinks through a syrup of acrid mist,

wades through a nest of waiting cluster

to his overdosed lover’s algae-covered

He is wearing filthy rags once his
mourning suit

over which a dripping lace of bile is

He runs under grey sky so low he must

until the muscles in his back squeeze
his spine

until tears flood his mouth

and he can no longer cry out.

Bent double he passes crumbling facades
where gargoyles of his face as a child

hiss appalling obscenities

and he bites the insides of his wrists

to still the manically bumping pulses.

In the slime his bare footprints scuttle
ahead of him

filling with rainwater that immediately
teems with squirming larvae.

He reaches a barn that clatters and
groans against the furious wind

spies on her through the heavy stale
incense drifting low where she swings
upside down

from a fraying hangman’s rope creaking
as it twists—        

the noose fastened around her ankles.

She is catching rats with her teeth by
their tails

as swifts flap by with unusual and ex-
quisite leisure

spitting on him.

She has put out her blood in saucers for
fleas and he laps from them so they can
be close again.

Clots in the blood make it bitter and

He swallows and retches.

She has attached a cat to a church bell
to prevent its creeping up on dragonflies                                         
on whose wings are tattooed ‘fuck’ and

and because only dead flowers grow
here in the permanent cloying gloom

he is wearing hawthorn as his button-

which gnaws at his clammy skin,

waking him on soiled sheets

where on a spool of looped agony

he yearns for the days 

when again and again, hand in hand,

their elongated shadows streaming out
behind them,

they ran across rooftops to score—

glamorous, ecstatic, invincible.

(prev. pub. in Anti-Heroin Chic,
May 2017)



On this planet, this rainy star:
big grey skies over free Stonehenge,
flags fluttering as veils of thin drizzle
move in from the east
and the first rumours of Hawkwind
travel from tent to tent and someone
whispers their witch-dancer is here.
Twilight comes drawn by two
brother and sister racing in gulps
across the mud. Their big hearts  
drumming through shoals of wind-driven
rain these dogs are releasing
The Between
where a nanosecond gap in this light
can haul in the past of different stars—  
and now, at last, where once
they burnt the snow-white corpses,
Hawkwind can begin, and Stacia dances.

(prev. pub. in Toil & Trouble,
February 2023)


In intense convulsions of nerves
she looks through a quivering
pulsing canvas
to light-years away in the distance
until a microdot containing
all the colours she knows
hurtles all that way
back to her at breakneck speed
through millennia
of millennia of infinity
towards the bullseye
of her bullseye
in the frame of herself
that spots its flying approach
just in time to prevent it
filling her entire vision for ever
and with a split second to go
her artist’s eyes dive her down
into an unfathomable  
gulping ocean
where she sinks
sighing with relief
at the abatement of the noise
of the storm of her thoughts above
and she comes to rest softly
in silence at the bottom
of a great welcoming calm
consisting entirely of her favourite
massively deep reds,
miles thick creams,
profound azure,
the doors open
she shoots back up to the gallery’s
quickly decompresses
swallows down her gasps
and offers her hand demurely
to each of the perfectly dressed guests
who fall upon her
emptying the bubbles in her blood
into their glasses of champagne.

(prev. pub. in Rhodora Magazine,
November 2021)
Datura, a poisonous hallucinagenic, is
also known as Jimson Weed, Thornapples, 
Devil's Trumpets, Moonflower, 
Devil's Weed, or Hell's Bells.


In Crete datura grows in public parks,
picking it and eating it is easy,
although the creamy flowers taste bitter.
I notice everyone outside the taverna
is at their ideal mating weight—
women in stilettos
walking on their hind legs,
a couple kissing,
probing each other for nectar.
Swimming in a sea
of fluttering human eyelashes
their waves swelling and flapping
I weep because I suddenly know
all the barrels from sawn-off shotguns
are stored in a deserted aeroplane
somewhere in the west of Scotland
where spiders tenderly wrap raindrops
in webs of dangerously fraying rope.
The sky is dark dark blue
but if I don’t look at it
before I lick my lips
it doesn’t taste too bad,
like candyfloss made from dust.
Glow worms begin to go on in harbour
in one I glimpse a deflated sex doll
plucking a double-bass… and in a
butcher’s window
a pig’s head winks as I pass… in another
a woman dips her brush into a can of
film noir
and uses it to paint a wall… in the next
a line of tiny children jump from a bar
stool into a jam jar of marsh water
emerging each time speaking the
languages of the peat bog nutrient pad.
At dusk a flock of Edgar Allan Poes
flies down squawking and squabbling
back to their nests
manically flapping their black quills
coating each other in ink
in readiness for a very particular night.

(prev. pub. in The Sparrow's Trombone,
November 2021)


Today’s LittleNip:

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.

―Graham Greene,
Ways of Escape


Newcomer Tim Goldstone has roamed widely and currently lives in Wales, where he says he lives “a few miles out of Castellnewydd Emlyn, a delightfully weird rural outpost deep in West Wales between the mountains and the sea.” His work has been published internationally in a variety of print and online journals and anthologies, from
11 Mag Berlin to The California Poppy Times… from The Mechanics’ Institute Review Anthology to The Daily Drunk, and numerous venues in between. His prose sequence was read on stage at The Hay Festival, and his poetry presented on Digging for Wales. He also has scriptwriting credits for TV, radio, theatre. Welcome to the Kitchen, Tim, and don’t be a stranger. (Tim loiters suspiciously in twitter @muddygold/.)  
—Photo by Tom Goldstone, Son of Tim
Tim sends us this addendum: “Thought you might like to know that our neighbours up the road have a couple of rescue pigs that escaped last night and were found in the early hours of the morning passed out and snoring thunderously under an elderly couple’s old apple trees. The consensus of opinion was that they’d gorged themselves on fermenting windfall apples and should be left to sleep it off. Also they are very heavy and this has happened before.”


Tim Goldstone

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LittleSnake’s Glimmer of Hope:
snoring amid
the apple cores~
rascally runaways
drunk on cider