Ashley Bovan
South Bay Anchorage
Tell No One
I'm not sure what this is
The Movement
Just this, blanking away to nothing
Mid Park
Everything that passes between us
Bus Driver
Cut through to Lacewater
One Year
As if we knew
She's Not There
You turn your own fortune
/squiffy /
Canopied Lovetales
Somethin' Else
Eye Shadow
Ford Prefect
South Bay Anchorage
From the harbour, up a short flight of steps
past lime kilns and flowering gorse
take the bridleway alongside a wooded church
then the wetland boardwalk towards the north coast
clergy and mermaids, yellowhammer, shearwater
kittiwake, tussocks of fescue windy
Follow the path around the peninsular
head downhill, cromlech and warren
shortcut through the quarry (disused)
a lowland track, cross an embankment, rugged stile
cattle grid meadow, livestock, woollen thicket
A gush of flight
colonies of guillemots set out towards heath and moor
cut diagonally across the settlement
the burrows, a ribbed, wicker fence
Stop, pay homage at the well
turn west, Porth Alun, port and quay
Pick your way across the rocky beach
crag and archway, chough, porpoises, puffins
Take heart a boat will arrive to carry you
across the channel
Tell No One
She has made her own tomb
from boulders, railway sleepers and turf
A pound of bone meal in a paper bag
a valve radio
and a black cat
are all hidden on the moon
From the attic window
a cottage cut into the hillside sea air
waves as high as Garth Mountain
She has painted the inside with red and green lacquer
beautiful birds, peacock, phoenix, eagle
the sky is pure gold
Ghosts walk the crater's rim
not stuck in webs man traps
Someone stops to watch the river
notes from a pre-war Gibson haunt steps and cellar
a door leads to path and footbridge
Songs never heard
turn enough to slip into fog
I'm not sure what this is
Stuck at the table
to listen
your drunken lines
drain me
no rest
It's not much of a dance
to wait
to feel
the sadness
We'd laugh and measure
take our dreams out
feel the sea
journey together
make maps
Nothing written
No contract
No default
I may take the hardened path
believe the picture you have
is my own illustration
but the blisters on my feet hurt
and I don't spoil for a fight
I just want to rest
You click your fingers
the sound of control
the smell of my extinction
You're indecent
a mule of a guest
a fragment bolstered to wholeness
Let's pull the curtains
sit in the dark
think back to before
The Movement
A fabric in me
you do not know
not a victory
to keep a secret
just an unknown
turns nauseous
grey sleep
Nothing gives peace
Breathe ghosts
like ether
A runway
Time squeezed
touched by curves
grey sleep
starlit sky an entry
no distance
freedom for together
is our friend
continual stuff
that's better fixed
when it hasn't nested
become part of you
or an irritating fly
that, sure, you have to swat
but if it isn't going to go
best not let it settle
I could stay with you all day
specks fly across our sight
just after we wake
crazy moon yellow amoeba
iron bedstead
but like the prisoner who re-offends
to get back inside
things happen
which you discover
rather than plan
Just this, blanking away to nothing
Maybe when it's warm we could sleep out in the woods
close my eyes, stand by the backdoor, smell the smoke
I know how this ends, shut my eyelids, love the village
sleep in the woods, no matter what, feel the smoke drift
let me go, look at people walk to work, the sky together
lift my head, see the moon, a couple bees feed out back
when all I am belongs to you, second skin, wait for rain
pull the strings, shut my eyes, feel it slip, make it better
stay all day, feel the water, forward back, I won't forget
close my eyes, see the moon, all the stars, orchid mirror
look round each corner, call this home, see how it goes
cross the river, wait for dawn, mix it up, don't let me go
walk past my window, the taste of air, not through time
swim in blue sky, take our dreams out, pull the curtains
describe each moment, close my eyes, don't sleep alone
feel it slip, I know how this ends, reach through the gap
just this, blanking away to nothing
Mid Park
In the middle of the park
free from car fumes
on a bench
near a flower bed
I saw you
from the train
Outer London
alone with pushchair and baby
you centre
in green no sky
Yes, the train goes backwards
not through time
not strictly
but more related to liberty physical
an excursion
but now it's late
& I'm not sure what to do
I don't know what is real
& when it might have been
The driver says
let it work through
don't be so hard on yourself
The people
inside us
seek bodies
to possess
and then walk in the shade
kick balls
push pushchairs
sit on benches
ride bikes
but then a damn crow flies in
how does he fit?
Wherever this was going
it's now not
It's the same part
that's the trouble
and who was I to think it was unusual
this script
all written out
never looked at
change the words
and if I could get myself
would I listen?
into the corner of a small room
ready for a good talking to
instructions, moderations
to make it better
would it make any difference?
even now this wet clay
is ready to break?
Everything that passes between us
did you ever catch the birth of morning
play a pastime of the rich
what did I want, what did I care
I paint a house
your face in the window
neatly framed by half the carriage door
you, with black coat, red rucksack
early for the train
did I ever belong anywhere
with anyone, anywhere
reach between the gap to touch your hair
first time you, with reserved
You & me wait for dawn, in deckchairs
back garden elastic numbness grey
make it special remember
rough shirt and Levis it was war
pick a line from a song
sing over and over
log it all, discover a pattern
don't tell the dreamers
we all dream
6 of them hold long poles
with spikes
stand around
lift me
by armpits, upper back, chest
a couple feet
into the air
it's OK
it's normal
we'd smoke in backrooms
almost friends
or old sleeper coaches
huddled in night rides
storms & wind
but it splits, missed connections
cheap wood
you find a seat
and keep it
don't know
where I am
when I see you
I rest my feet on the floor
Bus Driver
The bus driver parks up
for a break and a fag
hand in pocket
talks to the doorman
Park Plaza, Waterloo turn right for West End
Wind blows from the river
sharp cold bits of grit
from all the building
Sun hits glass
14th floor, Westminster Hotel
I'm wearing my second skin
or maybe 3rd, 4th
I belong here
with my cigarette and notebook
You can trace the current along Embankment
Ruts painted red on the walkway
Music of the city
old man kicks a tin
a happy Chestnut tree centre of Soho Square
Greek Street St Barnabas
The doorman paces to keep warm
I live downwind from the fog
although it is more of a breeze
and I don't know who to believe
all the stories I hear
from up there
with no connection
that's what the fog does
only memories and guesswork
Under the bridge
with pigeons and seepage
waiting for rain to pass
thinking 'bout alien
or some such
tubes locked in
to digestive
to night
stage managers
so unglamorous
that's what fog does
The wind irritates
although it is more of a breeze
Cut through to Lacewater
I was sat reading Warhol's Interview
in a little park near Love Lane
where I worked in the library
Soho is quiet at 5
fog from Hampstead Heath bonfire smoke
hold hands to cross the road
It's the season for visiting
and the season to sit in the dark
Room after room
I forget who they are
Wait for a cup of tea
a biscuit
drip drop of a tap
bevelled edge of wall mirror
a prism for moon
Someone big
climbs the stairs
rattles a lock
It's tough for me to forgive
put my face to the sun
I need some muslin a filter
tone everything down a notch or two
A crater in the chalk landscape fills
We did it all wrong
I'm stuck decades adrift forward & back
wind blows the train into my back garden
Accidents happen
and we make magic out of them
random pinpricks in wrapping paper
an espresso in the drizzle
on the corner of Frith and Compton
We had an arrangement that worked alright
for a few years
One Year
one year
the silence fell
mixed with terror
lift my head
out of dream
after nights in the corner
cold earth
for everything
by chance
to make its escape
like morphine & honey
no more centuries
where shadows
pull strings
songs never heard
to slip into fog
How can I dream?
when all I am
is a figure in your dream
If I slip to remember
and mix it up
this is not dream
How can I dream?
when all this quality
belongs to you
creates you
possesses you
If I sleep
without you
How can I dream?
We did think
call it a sparkle of magic
that someone would paint today
describe each moment in a journal
or that its quality would impress itself
into the ethers
something 3rd party
out of my headspace
wherever that may be
Of all the things
that might have gone wrong
none of them happened
The thread continues
You know as well as I do
where it is conceived
not on highroads
not underground
not even in shadows
I came prepared
tea light and a plastic saucer
Starlit sky an entryway
no distance freedom for together
is our friend
The candle floats
gentle, almost still, currents
little flame, so easy
At home, I broke a light bulb
left the filament intact
made life
from mud
As if we knew
Like a baby soft-skinned
I did not elect to see the heat and rumble
something other becoming me
I watch TV to know you better
it's got that bad
those circuits useless
invite your worst behaviour
sorry about that
and all for what?
Cross the river chest high
in abdomen from white light
played out dimension
talk dimension, abattoir, money
to line's end
they've run out of food
hooks and bullies climb the stairs
love the village love the view?
I picture Llanfawr woods beside the canal
promises on sides of trees
your words like feather grass
phrases of song skim the water
Some things I remember
through the smell of parkland
the sound of children
a powerpoint
light bulb in shadows
to plug into
warm locked up flesh
conveyor belt production line
not much to carry a beat a breath
kneel to pick up fallen petals no reason
flip pages free newspaper
sit on a bench in the train
knit to finish a row
step aside for the driven the religious
everyone is not quite all there
I will find somewhere to go
Cut-down trees, stumps
the soil now so dry
it chokes
She's Not There
I came to your city
and same as NY, your sky
was miles distant
hit with patches of ruin
You were dressed for the weather
layered, rough and smooth
I had an old donkey jacket
it hadn't aged well
They didn't have to tell me about you
I have no regrets
Let's see how today goes
see if the crowds help
Maybe soon I'll get to the coast
watch the waves
They built a bypass
through the middle of the cemetery
and a few council offices
which they later sold
as luxury apartments
but when it rains
the bones stick up
through the floorboards
and the skulls gargle
like a choir from hell
Does the light go out
or is it strapped to a bed
with tubes a regular feed
of who knows what to try next
and a dream
to talk in
Bedwyn Jones was relocated
100 yards away from his wife
Sometimes you can hear him calling out
to see if she's OK
You turn your own fortune
They won't listen so much you want to hit them
their words so old
fall from one cliché to the next
already combined in every possible way
suffer their designs
like you are so stupid you don't matter
finger the skin that's grown back over
constructed and dumped
intoxicated chemical preceptual
long toil
On a warm day
when it's good to be alive
you wait for someone to spoil it
never go back far enough
You shed layers
swim in blue sky
water snake to catch the little car
slow, turn right
a dog coughs scares birds
With an apology enough you leave
to gaze back
two hands in ribs
patterns of strange shadows
bob in the water go under, rise
Didn't you write it down?
the place you must be?
spell every word like magic
rock and roll with the ebb and flow
Magpie on the grass hops in time to your thoughts
a fly explores your ear stop listening
reach in your pocket a token
stumps of iron railings remind you of war
the wind irritates
Twisted bars, concrete boulders
dead trees, grey sand, shrubbery mass
follow the smoke sunless ruin
No one tells you, blood angel, twenty wonderful
You can't rest
go back into everyone else
More upholstery than frame
we sank into your floral print
with matching curtains
slipped on rugs
listened to your wallpaper
I wait for the doctor
who wants me naked
wants me to swim underwater
surrender pay up go
heal myself
but I belong on tarmac
walking a disused airfield
watching nature emerge
not a comfy sofa
nursing forgetting
My needs are small he doesn't matter
Your garden is neat
I count bugs and bitten petals
ditch all the photos
You could lie on the runway
but the wheels will keep turning
I found this 4½ ton iron bell in a back alley
and got this mate of mine with a truck
to cart it to my garden where it now hangs
and every time there's a strong wind
it tolls
a warning
like a Nosferatu movie, Symphonie des Grauens,
bloody chin, you know the score
I'm sure
red planet drops out of sky
bodies of dead soup indoor plants wither
chatter starts steals everything
I trust chucks it
just leave me alone, OK?
there's sweeter meat out there
and you'll enjoy that they don't know what you're like
for now
/squiffy /
A bedsit in Bohemia, Ella on the radio
cobweb on the wall a room
for sex self-reflection vacuum
Dark plaza splashing tyre-flash
cold pressed obscenity in blackness
pin-pricked one within one
Salt block circle line night line
dope wheel syrup of fortune
spins my nerves
Street rats old stuff things tried
keep time love songs
break charred paper
Danger is close to Zen
Menace strings into old brick
Wishes suck off into dawn
Something ancient & Chinese about your brushstrokes
Wide black lines that taper and fade
The feel of water on my hands
I miss leggy buttercups in meadows
Yellow and green
The taste of air as I breathe
A crow has found a crust of sandwich
Two old people with identical dogs stop to talk
Above the trees there are so many shapes of clouds
a volcano must have erupted
You had a style about you I won't forget
Two fingers together across my face
Canopied Lovetales
I get round the back path through the woods
ignoring dumped mattresses and bags of junk
the river down slope pat-a-cake gypsy
I keep the sun top centre
watch shadows and highlights
A squabble in the bushes
birds are fighting
The blood in my legs goes solid
they've cut steps into the bank
clunking knee-gripes edged with green oak
past castell limestone granite and flint
cold mud waist to village
I can't focus on these strings of coloured lights
patterns don't repeat shops are shut
Exorcist at Gaiety old café music
(songs from my mother's kitchen)
Her necklace reflects neon black
plastic leaves begin to show scratches
(radio tunes, lots of wood, pine, Formica
hazy windows boiling vegetables
we'd hang out washing it would rain)
It's been too long now way past hope
way beyond refusing to be pushed
I need to rest my eyes
I must sleep with nectar give up
Round the bend
wind cuts in from Park Valley
an old accordion plays singalong
god, burn the village
You see them moving
from stone to stone
if you don't look too hard
even now romance has burned away
guardians who know nothing else
long dresses & hair a dash from 23 to 24
trust nightfall no matter what
You'll need a satchel to carry the book
smooth the print your fingers, happy
nothing done can ever be taken
Did you hear that sound?
the crunch of gravel
the gentle smoker's cough
held in almost nullified
No wonder you turn
to yourself
and now it's a comic book
from the 50s
more of an annual
not a weekly or monthly
its frames map out the adventure
enough to last a lifetime
as good a path as any will suggest
hard covers
but you fold
betrayed by those you allow to betray you
they're the worst
guiltless, self-composed
they want more and more
any method they can think of
but it's all in the book
you thought was fiction
Somethin' Else
Tucked into your waistband
a postcard from Morecambe
six scenes from townside and countryside
Brushed cotton on my back
Shoulders shimmy the beat
goes slow quarter tempo
Do you remember the picture house in Oxford Street
mystery your organza dress
and how whatever it was that held the sky together
got ripped open
and the expected deluge was more of a rebirth
a heaviness from ground upwards, breaking
and at one of the funerals, how you wore my jacket
dropped earth on my coffin
became free from last lines
on pages of rhythm of tides
those splashes of sea water in your throat
I must have but I don't remember
mourned you frequently
back to back
never danced
back to back before
This time, the separation is hard
Keep in touch if you can help me
clear leftovers from winter
memories of memories that are now things
Make a date for June
Come round for solstice
We could share a drink or two
Eye Shadow
There's a trace of you here, I'm sure
a scent, a touch of eye shadow
Did you visit? I think you did
I could have left you cigarettes
or a flask of coffee, a salad
They say you can expand yourself to fill the night sky
twist the star map around
move time backwards or forwards
…sat in Hopper's Diner for breakfast
looking east window sky
your bodylight fallen from black rock
to venus star rivertide on edges
I don't know what I've been doing
spitting salt water maybe
trying to sleep in the sea
again the waveburst, wave after tremor
only home promising harbours touched portals
I climb back on board at sunup
watch the crowds eat and talk
They don't listen to my warnings
Half Forestry Commission half not
I put my fingers into a bed of dried pine needles
I know what I'll find
a beak bones gammy flesh
catch my breath
The song in the woods helps me rest
notice nothing in particular
must be good for the eyes
drop myself to dry soil
I'd call this home
if the trickle of a nameless stream
didn't pull me away
wash my hands
see the track descend to the village
walk again the meadow by Marford river
wet my socks touch the sky
centuries chain back this morning
Ford Prefect
I've been driving my Ford Prefect
three gears plus reverse
along B roads out of the heat
going slow to look round each corner
Just before noon visibility good
tarmac average, smooth enough
(someone's going to get me
sooner or later
you feel it in your bones)
I park in a lay-by
walk to Trethevy Quoit
open up to history
like she was my mother
(they'll get you first
for sure)
I want to run home
lapse in and out
I've been got by a gang
and now I'm fleeing
they're after me
throw myself on my bed
let judders of dark waves beat me
into mud, anywhere I can find escape
just wake when over
no need to stand, stomach this
I could choke with that wet soil in my throat
or just slip myself away
or maybe they will crash through the door
vent their savage cruelty
I don't know what is real
& when it might have been