That farm was well dead.
A sheep-shit, heather death.
But enough remained to imagine, while between decrepit walls,
Of the lives once lived there.
A lone tree did its windbreak bit.
Must have shielded them from the wind of winter months.
How did they survive the wind
And under the solid door?
Imagine the farmer’s day.
Up at four to a darkness that had silenced the birds.
All silent save for the beating heart
ii) The Hanging Sheep
Over a moorland beck, a real dead sheep, hanging by its own horns,
Swung between two branches, like a child in swinging heaven.
The carcass was decaying.
Intestines open wide to summer’s sweating air,
The hawks’ bloodlust
And bluebottles en masse.
All the while the rotten stench, at the fullest volume, pummelled our nostrils.
Take me, take me, it could have said.
There was no full stop to this picture of life, death, and all the rest.
Off the carcass went to the nothing-world – the sweetest nothing.
We stared voyeuristically.
Stared at the thing.
Rapt and trapped by the concreteness – the absolute reality of this particular, real death.
A death so actual, and in front of us, that we poked it.
We shuffled around with its once-mortal coils - till quite unsure of ourselves.
Then, and only then, did we leave death alone.
Its lambs were all alone.
Their bleats infused the moor as we eyed with ears the surrounds.
After watching True Mother swing to death in the wind, they looked for proxy ones.
We felt for the brainless beast. What a dim death!
Just one moor life claimed.
There, death is part of life.
It’s not made aesthetic.
It’s not made holy.
It’s not veiled in backrooms for folk to poke and pry at.
The carcass is left where it drops.
It is dropped to rot in the greedy earth.
That, like a moorish Shylock, exacts its spoonful of flesh.
And the flesh rots.
And rots as it should rot - by blending with living peat.
iii) Prayer to My Landlord
Landlord, you live and breathe money.
It is the cardinal point of your life.
You squeeze it like blood from your tenants.
Wealth - the haemoglobin in your veins.
He says his own nightly prayer:
Tax-free deductible savings account,
With a minimum of surcharge on the premiums security. Amen.
Then masturbates with a ten-pound note;
Feeling its crisp coolness gently tug at his prick.
Soon he sleeps, snug and satisfied.
Ahmed Aktar, Lord of the Manningham Manor,
I’m nothing but your humbled vassal.
But I hate you, landlord.
Hate your contrived cordiality.
That small-talk - that void between door and wallet.
Yet I still get tales of his hard times.
I still shed a tear or two.
Oh, poor Mr Landlord, please take some more!