Nigel Holt has lived and worked in the United Arab Emirates for a number of years. He has
been published in a number of magazines and journals, the most recent of which are London Magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Anglican
Theological Review, Crannog, Agenda, and The Raintown Review.
As the sun's last rays of rage abate, you stir,
cold myrrh amidst the chatter of a Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.
Now night begins the stoking of its soaking sauna;
flora charmed and fauna jewelled in the dusk.
Mercury rises, movement silvers the door in a lithe, liquid slide
of moonlight. Sweeps from the oleander, strike across
the knuckles of the garden wall, its black gauntlet
freezing for a second’s secret breath,
coalescing in plump-toed pools of shadow.
This viridescence, an emerald that glints, glistens
with dark’s dewed sweat under the bright night's
cool eye, sees heat invoke the magic of this talisman:
reptile that rebuts the ensorcelling gaze of cats,
who, dreaming in their patient vigil, feign
slit-eyed sleep in utter silence. Silently, as silent must,
a slink becomes a scurry in the blink of a green eye
to the hurried, havened calm of a hibiscus.
Deep, black and buried, deep in leaf and lichen,
it leaves the lidless moon: white sentinel; slaver; slayer
that etches fear on the dark’s murderous designs.
Under kohl-rimmed, black blood-limned dead petals,
a metamorphosis begins. Growth; transformation;
the becoming of a shade of thick-syrup, stirrup-cupped black
that waits patiently; patiently as death; unhurried;
implacable and invisible in the spent history of the day.
In that monument of moment, of statue-sculpted quiet,
there is only the staccato rattle of the cicada’s battle
with the heat—that, and the faintest breathing shudder of the trees.
Still it waits—waits for them to come, come to the slow-lidded
god in the quick steps of the unsuspecting soon-dead:
oblivious offerings, tart as crab-apple, snapped up vinegar-quick
in the flick of a fast, fat, viscous tongue. Out and up,
the baby-shrieking banshee calls of midnight’s waking cats,
seize the epileptic night and shake its frothing clouds.
A surge: a black splash on the hot drip of a scalding-white
villa wall; a climb and tempting of the eaves with the fruit
of flesh—there it hangs, hangs as it has always hung,
potent but invented poison; legend made myth;
myth made magic; magic made flesh, flesh made new.
Great evil; magus; djinn; shape-shifter; wickedness incarnate;
dhub. A quicksilver malevolence that spits in the drinking pots
of Pharaoh, Caesar, Caliph, Sultan, Sheikh.
But, it is innocent. This white wall, this is its threnos
God will not leave it hanging there, for when he took the Bris
to Ismael and cut, so it, in its vowelless yowl,
a call that curls a spiral tongue around the circled world,
it gives its tail in offering so it might live again.
Hew me a coat of a Moebius black,
and line it with celestial blue.
Through every buttonhole,
weave in an endless shoal
of your sky-strings of universal hue.
Sew me a hat of rivuleted cloud,
and line it with the roofs of the Yew.
Through each turn of the rim,
let the water cascade in
so your twelve-winds blow the high-branches new.
Thew me a heart of adamantine stone,
but steep it in trouble and in rue.
Through every beat it makes,
it ages with its aches,
as the world is an emptiness sith you.
Walking into Kirkdale
The stones are near the trees
whose toys still hang from branches,
black, begrimed and wet:
a parody of the child
who once kicked up their leaves,
but stiller now than mould.
The planes and plastic squirrels
are weary of the jackdaws,
come to twist the string
and take some solace home.
Ten years have seen this place,
this sandpit of decay.
To James, from mum and boys
another Christmas gone,
the mawkish kiss of crosses
runs in weathered smears
-- these children do not play
in the lichen of their years.
I read what I should not,
have read here in thick, slick mud
standing on his grave.
A start, jump back and stare
at daffodils, now limp
from morning’s melted frost.
Little Jamie Boy
and legacy of grief
that no-one dare set free
-- he split the Hoi-Polloi
when not quite even three.
Robert Thompson, one
John Venables, is two,
two names to set the mob
in camps, to kill, to save,
to out them in the street,
to blame their God, their lives.
But ten years on in Kirkdale
offers no peace except
to those long dead in graves,
or souls that lust for more,
to Monitor the pair
and the evil that they do
to save us all from vile
-ness we normal folk abhor:
all that’s in our power
-- it’s what we all deserve --
to be informed of where
they go, and who they are
When can we let him die?
When grieving isn’t news,
so then the legacy
of pain we wreak is written
off as past, and buried
with small boys not quite three.
The butcher’s shop’s still there
where his mother bought her meat;
its notice advertises
kangaroo rump steak
seven-eighty a pound.
Bootle is still grieving.
Two and a half miles up
from CCTV that saw
the act, a small child died,
led away by hand
to places where suicides
just what we do not know
. Why would two boys,
for boys they were, drag up
Stanley Road, Breeze Hill
a frightened cry and stream
of tears, fill his eye
with Humbrol paint, mark
his cheek with metal tags,
and drop a fishplate on him
to crack him like a seed?
What anger made its mark,
or, frightened desperation?
They’d had the usual stuff:
abuse at home and school
like the four who found him dead
-- three are now in jail;
the thirty-eight that saw,
refused to get involved.
The weather has returned:
the cold and wet are here,
and tears for all involved
are lost in the black clouds
of an empty Kirkdale evening,
and toys that hang from trees
are wet, and black and dead,
strange fruit that bears no seed
-- for that grows in the head.
2004-2011 the Dublin Quarterly--to see familiar things with unfamiliar eyes!