For months it was said
The land rumbled and creaked –
The deep reverberations
A stomach unfed, fretful.
The priest, brim-full with fear and piety
Seeking mercy, or sanctuary –
Scrambled up the crackled crest
Over sharp black rock
Edged with knives, devoid of life
Pock-marked with worm holes
From venting gas years past
In hemp and rope sandals
A hessian smock, scrabbling
To witness… what?
The Lord himself, surely
Rip apart the land
Pull it, lever it, break it, wrench it
Smash it. Smash his creation,
Swallowing farms, feasting on livestock
And the fields themselves
And then –
Volcán came.
The breath of the Devil
The spittle; the fume; the bile
An inferno bursting like pus
Villages lost, eaten whole, or throttled;
New rivers made –
Ash, smoke, dust, flowing fire;
Endless fire, endless.
One man did not run;
He beat back the bubbling river
With a bucket, and a straw shoe;
Three hundred years hence,
They will not forget, surely
What happened here –
What he witnessed –
From this chimneyed eyrie
Soot-pasted, choking,
The breath of a Cuban,
Dry, acrid, pungent, dusty;
Yet now they play like kids
Round – in! – the crater
Mark it with stones, and crosses
Build their cairns; make their names with rocks
Oblivious it seems
To the dormant power
The impassive evil
That lies here, sleeping.


The rivet

I tramped like a hobo
Across the rock-littered moor
Outcrops of stippled, lined rock
Stacked layer upon layer
The folds of the long-gone puthering lava, still evident
Blancmange blobs of plaster on the builder’s hawk;
By myself, alone on the lonely moor
Except for the litter of life all around,
Heather alive with sound,
Tufted grasses, antennae twitching in the air waves
To catch a water droplet
Or a Russian broadcast;
Glossy gorse needles set to stun,
And Cotton Grass nodding its disapproval
As my careless feet print their way
Through the sucking sphagnum.
A mere glint, a visual tripwire, made me look
A winking jewel, eyeing me suspiciously
A coin of sorts, misshapen by years, curved
Like a claw or talon,
Old? Perhaps a Ducat or Sheqel – priceless?
I briefly dreamed that I had the knack
For spotting Dollars, Dòngs and Dinar
But, no
It turns out I was Talentless;
It was a rivet, misshapen, deformed by age,
The friction between bridle or stirrup maybe
Or the broken connecting-rod
Of some Knight’s plate-mail,
Snapped by the pleasure-less frottage
Of iron upon iron, year upon year.
Like Bilbo’s ring, the rivet has a new home now,
Nestled amongst the broken crumbs
Of low-fat taste-free rice cakes
Old Kleenex, shiny with the dried slug
Smears of weeks old snot
And the rustling chrysalis of unused poo bags;
When the pocket of my old coat
Finally gives up, the rivet will fall
To a new place; amongst the leaf litter
In a lime-lined park; or on the floor of a charity shop
Sold as seen
Or maybe in that strange circularity of life,
On a rock-littered moor, hidden amongst
Outcrops of stippled, lined rock,
The folds of the long-gone puthering lava, still evident.