Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Cheating, leaping, time
Destined now to be a second early
I am reminded of a one-second time machine
we saw once in a film. We loved the way
it seemed plausible at first, but going forwards
turned into prediction, and by definition,
was wrong. The presumption of this second
has left me lagging in my year, wrong-footed.
Some try to tell me that the earth isn't slowing,
that it's us who are fundamentally wrong
but time is so slippery nowadays that it feels like cheating.
I haven't changed my own clocks, but long to hear
the pips on Radio 4 as infallible again.
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Resolutions for some other year
A sharing of bodyweight, and just in time.
Eating breakfast, heads on knees.
A restoration of flexibility. A record of time
and the plunge, taken. Not just the one
and no more bruised toes. Some dancing.
A dog lying down when you tell it to.
The nature of things, firmed up, and kings.
A quantum understanding of the sewing machine.
Monday, 29 December 2008
The inevitable fade
I am wrapped in a pink blanket and Shakespeare
is on the telly, making love in cream cotton
with a cross-dresser. It comes upon me like this:
there is nothing new about the way we love
and lose love, only I have work to do and am glad
for my suspension through the inevitable fade.
Sunday, 28 December 2008
Between holidays: a sort of limbo
There is false movement across the valley tonight.
I am waiting for a new beginning and I have one on order;
bigger and brighter, faster and bluer than anything
before it, and more than half mine. For now, though,
the noise of the old is comforting. In a chorus
with phasers and warp speed it could be taking off
itself. I am tied to a history that is recorded
as someone's noisy vision of a future
but my present is still lights, red and gold.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Some Christmas eve
Pastry cutters with handles; a homemade white dove
on a silver string; a leaf-green metal tree-stand.
The tree we walk past in the forest with a bauble;
forgetting any of three stockings I have; sticky spoons.
Skyward bells; a golden fairy playing saxophone;
remembering the words to a distant fairy tale.
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
In the vain hope I have pinpointed the reason
Tonight I have been laughing alone
at the television, analysing the noises I make
for air-disturbance and toning it down.
But Simon Amstell has been doing his usual
and waving his silly head. And when I run through
old texts at the same time it's almost like much
hasn't happened, and I have my chance over
to impress with my laugh, just on the right side
of cute. Still, I practise inflection. I think I am improved.
Monday, 22 December 2008
Teddy anonymous will have to have his eyes replaced tomorrow
with baby-proof stitches. Christmas takes an awful lot
out of everything, but my sewing machine is repaired and
snow on the telly counts for more than the imaginings
we usually make do with. The cat was sick yesterday
but he missed the carpet; there is a guinea pig losing weight
back up north; my own self is shedding pieces as we speak.
I am steadying images as they rush through my head.
The tree this year is the greenest green
and the lights, like berries, catch the pine cones just right.
It has taken this many years for me to see what you were getting at
when you bought so many of those. It has been dark for hours
but those cones still sparkle and the green, oh, it is relentless.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Watching you in the night from across the valley
I am singing here but my own words come back
to me from windows. It must be a sight
from where you are, lights flickering
off and on through open curtains. It is the sky
I see most of, but if I'm thinking of you
all I ask is that I fill your thoughts too.
You do not search back. You look to me like you're reading
but perhaps it is sleep that fills you.
That would be your only excuse.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
A lesson in flirtation I am trying to learn
You have bought the same watch four times,
you tell us, and four times given it away.
It is only cheap, you say, and not worth
worrying for the loss of. They take them,
though, which is more extraordinary to me;
fasten them quickly on their own loose wrists.
Friday, 19 December 2008
Loss. Perhaps Stupidity.
I recount my steps to here twice;
try and be on the safe side. I find nothing,
but reevaluate everything I've packed
until now; shove it back in bags;
mourn the loss of something that hasn't been mine
for long enough that I should even know I've lost it.
There one minute, in another
it wasn't. My failure
is not to be able to pinpoint the change.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Overdue and sickly, words find it hard
to escape tonight, and I am trapped
without them. It is cold outside and the wind
has taken a stance against us;
rocking doors and chimney breasts.
It is supposed to be yesterday but I am trapped
in what that means today. And all this wind.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
My hands tonight
My hands are cold-dry, and the patch of skin
missing from the peeler on Sunday will not let me forget.
I can always tell where I've been from the soap-smell on my hands;
now, though, there is only ginger and jojoba
whatever that means. I'd like to think it was home;
but the soap has changed, and I've lost track.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
I enjoy washing up, seriously.
All the aches still ache and sleep is still important
but at least there is another day done, another
fakemas eaten. Pork and chicken fridge-cools
alongside foil-covered bubble and squeak, and excess
is a state of happiness we all aspire to. I can't face
another mini roast dinner for my lunch, and tell you so.
To your credit, your face doesn't fall at the news.
I dread to think what the sink will be like tomorrow.
I have left it hot, soaking, but still nurse my own wrinkled fingers,
Monday, 15 December 2008
The aftermath of an evening of craft
It is an ache that will take days to get over.
There is no escape, and even good posture
has its limits. I am hunched and weighted,
my back is bearing the brunt but it is not
the only casualty of love. Last night my cheeks were warm
and through duvet openings into dreams I witnessed
what it might actually take to get to where I'd want to be:
by your side, but underneath. Giving just to give
and always being for you. Too much.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
He tends to the water all night
And you, you sleep with your fingers
in bowls of water to soothe the blisters from the oven dish,
worrying about needing a wee in the night
if the water gets warm.
I am not there, but count the plasters the next day:
sure enough, there are ten.
One for the worry, one for practicality,
and eight to remind you of love.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Glossed with rain we walked
from Haymarket to somewhere else,
our brollies in our left hands, right hands
softening in pockets. You told me
it had taken all your strength not to ask
the question that morning.
The soupy road swilled round my yellow wellies,
glistened with all the things I must have said
to persuade you to delay.
Even now, slightly on the wet side,
I am dreaming of the words you might have said.
Friday, 12 December 2008
A night after a film I should've loved
With my left hand I'm holding on for vibrations,
but my head is waiting for ends of sentences
which never come
in songs I must know inside out by now.
It's two-duvet deep, this warmth,
and wholly necessary when the wind whips up
snow like that. There are gaps
I don't know how to fill.
The answers will arrive in my left hand,
because that's the side I favour
for good news. My right hand closes
the duvet round my back.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
The gift of giving
The whirr of an intrepid sewing machine
is stitched into my heart tonight,
and I have given my all to you all.
You will not know it yet, but wonky lines
are endearing and the odd dropped pin
is just transient, just one little pain in the toe.
This is nothing compared to the holes I've pricked
in my own thumbs, though there's been no blood
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
You try for silver alone
But it's supposed to be crass,
all-colours and tasteless. Eclecticism
is a strength at this time of year.
We drape sparkling expressions
of extreme opinions all over the tree.
And there are caged men on the telly pumping up,
pumping up; and a little black cherub presides
over pinks and golds and greens;
and that balding bit of tinsel left over
gets unsubtly wrapped round the standard lamp.
Monday, 8 December 2008
A Knife, a Fork and a Plate in Still Life, 12/9/01
The sudden calm of cutlery:
you can't see the gaps of air
between the pieces as they fell the forty feet
at different speeds, or the sound they made
on impact. It's impossible
to note the time it took for the crash to subside,
before the ripples of clatter faded into air.
It makes the layer of dust that must have gathered
slowly seem impossible as if
it absorbed the sound itself, a softened world
where every step is like a moon-landing
in fast-forward or reverse.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
Self portrait hanging somewhere
The moments of detail take time to get right.
To catch attention is to hold them by your own hand
for as long as it takes. Sometimes
that's a lifetime, as they read the sway
of a fingernail, your following eyes, or the beat
of your heart in conflicting 6/8 time.
Sometimes, though, it's seconds.
It's these attentions that will
make you, fill you out:
when the moments of detail blur
and curve to imprecision;
when they smooth over doubt.
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Big hands like a mole
It's strange what sticks, and this
is a description with staying power.
This and your eyebrows, pale
and quite unlike the rest of ours.
Friday, 5 December 2008
Let it hang, hairy and heavy
We have lost track of what it means to be alone.
You explain a discomfort with how it is,
hanging so permanently there. I have long since
lost a taste for whatever it would take
to get rid. I don't think I know what you mean any more,
its hairiness is legend but outside of regular experience.
I'm sure it is a metaphor for something, the unsaid
or the ignored. The lack of love, the colour of my bruised big toe.
But it is un-pin-downable, and does not give in
to any sort of pressure or persuasive technique.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
It feels like I have you here in my wardrobe with me.
You can be everywhere when you're like this,
distilled. But I can see you now, there you are
through gaps between strangers who smell
like my wardrobe; who create an intimacy
that could never really exist. But here I am
observing your face at a moment in your life relived
with everyone else. They see you like I do, I'm sure,
but perhaps they also see whatever else is going on
and that is where I have the edge,
alone, with you, in my wardrobe.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
Advert for a Poem Like This
I didn't know that pain only stops
with an application of beer. I didn't know
the limitations of wine, or that a smell of flowers
in your armpits could cure problems so deep
they are woven in like stains.
Games we played as kids turn
to gambling with snakes; classic songs
are hacked to fit a time-limit; you are told
you are too old just now for that: it's then
you wish you could have that crunchy breakfast
for your lunch, or that your world could only bend
a little bit to fit you in, or break your fall.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
You fell into the heart of yourself,
even with all that yelping.
Here was charm in a lazy extension
of paw, a sideward glance.
I see allowances being made.
The sudden lurches are just a reaction
to a cacophony of jealousy, the smell
soon washed, scabs circumstantial.
And the money is always worth it,
with a free ticket for a snip. You say
there is plenty of room in the boot
for a new piece of yourself to travel home.
Monday, 1 December 2008
I'lI look you up later in a Collins book of birds
You are not fooling anybody
and we know you cannot fly
from there, despite your showboating,
wingspanning the waves.
We watch you a while, cannot settle
on cormorant or shag, but know
you are trapped by your own feathers and the tide,
and there is nowhere near enough sun
to un-ink your blackness into greasy fluff.
The oystercatchers are wont to taunt
with pupeeps and legs ablur; they flee
dogs sent into waves for slaver-thick balls
but it is not dogs you fear, spreading your thin wings
high, chest tilted. I have you in my sights, record
you and your burnished fearlessness as equals
bright against a great grey sea.
Sunday, 30 November 2008
Out into the frost
It is the tickle of each hair pulled taut
for the fraction of a second it might take you
to see me in this light; or your ribs on my cheek
or your dressing gown against my own,
both naked underneath. I imagine you here
but so often you are not, or not yet, and really
what is love but hope? I watched you
through hoar frost on my window today,
not looking up as you walked to the bus.
I hope it was because you hid a smile,
and in that smile, love. But I've heard nothing
from you since; I don't even know if you're okay.
Saturday, 29 November 2008
I keep a herd.
Welcome to the moment of pure creativity.
I used to approach it with the latest laptop
wherever the mood might strike;
words lashed out unthinking.
I bought a desktop, it was unmoving.
I thought it would make things harder,
make me watch my fingers. I resented
that. I bought a typewriter. No 'delete',
but a monumental waste of trees as mistakes
built up – I bought a pen, wrote to here,
biro then fountain then pencil, quill and ink—
it's easy to get stuck on the smaller steps, delay
the inevitable. I slaughtered
my first goat, stripped its skin,
dipped my finger in its blood, used my hand.
It took time, but time enough to consider
what I wanted to say.
Friday, 28 November 2008
I don't feel the power of god
in this place, just people's
intentions in stones,
though they’re not buried there
but in unmarked mass graves
in the garden. Those
who laid brick by brick
the might and lifted it up
through air and light
to the sky. Who groveled
for it at feet draped and dripping
that didn’t know how to walk the slabs
level with a firm and steady weight; only how to shuffle
Thursday, 27 November 2008
The ATM alone is enough to set me off.
The angle of the screen is designed to exclude me,
I give away crucial numbers with a sweep of my hand
I stand with my forehead pressed against the top
where the long list of colourful jigsaw logos brag
freedom! accessibility! I wonder whose skin
has left a calling card of grease.
Perhaps it was inadvertently mine.
The lines of the cash only, balance enquiry
never match up to buttons that dictate
an abstract nature of wealth. I'm not designed for these machines.
I stare blankly each time at the numbers and think
what would happen if I wiped the lot
to zero, cut and run, took the money home and counted it
out in fives and tens; but I know. I'd take it back
to my bank in an enveloped wad, thick as my sweaty fist.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
I prefer to go unblessed.
You tell me it says a lot about a person,
depending how they sell it: I prefer
to internalise, and though I am not superstitious
I close my eyes, cover my mouth. One posey
short of something from playground rhymes.
There is plenty of drama to be had
in the experience, and even space for words
if you have warning. I know some who do
and even you have anecdotes
of the noisiest kind, of violence unleashed.
Mine come upon me as quickly as the sun from clouds.
We sneezed into light from dark together once;
it took days to convince you that the odds
hadn't changed; that two in six was just the same
as one in three, the way you'd always been.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Old corner-shop with more space than stock
I am sweet-shop counter mad for you
and take time to recall what it was
I came for. Mildly unformed jelly shapes,
or silk-smooth chocolate cigarettes
wrapped in edible paper? It is an old cabinet
I peer through, its thin dark-wood frame
barely enough to hold the weight of my hands,
of my nose, smearing their consideration.
I am chewing yesterday's gobstopper
but it is absent-minded. The magazine racks
are behind and I do collect stickers, but
this is not why I'm here with my own stash of money.
No, I am sweet-shop mad for you.
I take my time. I make my choice.
Monday, 24 November 2008
In one room, such silence
and blamelessness. Our clock
has not stopped but reversed,
sucking seconds out of air.
Heavy curtains absorb; even light
betrays itself in corners.
All else is off at the root;
even my blinking has slowed.
My hips ache to sit like this but
I cannot move for fear.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
It is hard not to read anything into this, but truly there is no connection to be made.
A man guards his truck
of equipment wearing a hat
fashioned from a bright red scarf.
The same day, a man stuffs
cider down the front of his trousers
which are tucked into his socks.
Later, a man rests his eyes whilst eating
and creates work for someone
by depositing crumbs on the floor.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
Nerves bottled into muscles you didn't know you'd lose
so soon, and so much hiding. How I remember you then
has nothing to do with this, I know, but it helps
me to get here, to get to you, to get to the end.
How silence conjured us into each other
never fails to amaze me, even with all that music.
I miss your contours and finger weaving
on hot days. Sweat mingling on our palms.
Friday, 21 November 2008
Because it transports me back to times
when it was only sudden flies I had to fear,
and fire through the night. Because
irrational attachment is a given for anyone
to something, and I'd rather have this.
Because it sends me to sleep
by making me forget everything in that moment
just before detachment. Like you used to.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
The Intercontinental UFO 61 by Viscount
The only other place was by internet auction
where hoards of them gather in Italy
collection only. An ideal proposition of itself, this one
had its whawha button still, its solid wooden box.
It had rained outside the Baptist church
but still it worked, still it begged your organist fingers.
How strange to think of notes of ceremony
drifting from this and your long-gone double,
the marriages it must have been a soundtrack to.
How strange to see it here at first, and the glee
it still had power over in your attic room.
The precise square of sellotape
you used to keep a constant C
is bequeathed with all the stick gone out of it.
Sometimes I put on your song and play along,
conjure you into this thin air I breathe
so high up here without you
and your skilled eclectic fingers.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
A gift of place and purpose
to fill with my own slow stroll,
he tears it off a pad of similar ideas.
He hands me my day drawn in biro
and I am in awe of the simplicity
of here to there.
I follow his uncertainty, retrace my steps
where there's a double line; walk it twice
and look for something new each time:
graffiti, or a familiar face, or moss
between the cobbles, or the sky
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
I come home to stories of light
and photographs, all packed away now.
I have no experience of flame-less candles,
but can see how a robot is mimicked
quite easily with them for eyes. And when I try
a string of blue lights on, I see the appeal.
Every photo is a profile picture now,
every moment repeated all the better
to capture it half-decayed from spontaneity.
But these lights, yes I see they are different.
How you positioned them, so precisely on her eyes.
How the others caught so tightly in her hair.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Herding as metaphor
I hear your worry for my farm animal preoccupation
over lists I'm making of sheep, cows, goats.
I say it is herding these wayward animals
that could really set you free.
I reckon I'm too manic for you to see
that the whole metaphor would be wrong
in relation to cats, and though I laugh
I hope you never think of your negativity as that.
Sunday, 16 November 2008
Saturday, 15 November 2008
A tyre, a bumper, a shoe
Even though each object curbs speculation,
when we find a shoe stuck in mud
under a barbed-wire fence it doesn't take long
for theories, like footsteps, to settle. Especially in the presence
of a thunder-cloud farm, and storms escaping
from the very ground we walk on. And those horses
who wear leg-warmers and bristle our outstretched hands;
and that bridge only fastened at one distant end;
and those questions that ask themselves over again;
and those donkeys whose feet look like Persian slippers
that we swear we'll report when we get home
just in time for a nap, for a pizza, for the dark
to settle round the car like sleep.
Friday, 14 November 2008
The hairs on the back of my neck will not lie flat
I forget myself and am in love.
That rare feeling that creeps up spines
on the words or first touch of a lover, here
captured by voice. I am surrounded
by scrolls and interval theorising
but the hairs on the back of my neck will not lie flat.
I want for better positioning but it is rare
to afford it. From up here I can see
exquisite dust in the folds of velvet curtains.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Long-awaited expulsion of ego in real-time
Waking in the dark I am obsessed with seeing.
I hunt for a corner on where I stand. I stand
for long minutes trying to open my open eyes;
trying shut eyes, blinking ones; trying
rubbing eyes, slowly.
I raise my hands to where I should see them,
seek cracks in curtains that have been there
for nights and days. I am obsessed with how
I have lost sight of my own eyelids that blink
and blink against the dark.
And so it happens: I wonder
what has happened to my window
to everyone else to the sun to the universe
I have never looked upon enough?
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
I shield my eyes in the attic room from clouds
that are plastered with sun. I am in half-sleep
and just-yellow trees are meaningful but not yet
beautiful. I have lost perspective, turned
into the smallest amidst the experience of children.
Later, I feel naughty at the bar; drinking coffee;
at the metal-detector entrance of a county court;
waiting in an interview room painted
in the colours of the sea. Size is relative,
it seems to me, but I only know that now
after seeing what I did: at midnight,
a single orange underneath a parked car
in the rain; its orangeness lit by headlights
one way, by brake lights another.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Amidst a drum beat fast as rain
there is skill, and amidst that
rhythm, and amidst that, a need
for white noise, or an equivalent
experience, like babies
who cannot sleep without a hairdryer on.
There are cars filled with it,
and dark rooms that steal your shoes,
but also bright and breezy ears
that cannot pick up the subtleties
of a tearful voice but find a tune
in tuneless noise as a matter of course.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
It's hard to run out of bitterness
and she is trying to wear it thin
like marmite on toast.
One day she will open her mouth
and there will be nothing
but good, even through milk-breath
or the whiff of morning through the yawns.
But for now, it is enough to say
that insulting is not
the half of it.
Saturday, 8 November 2008
I am small. And you would think
that this means lots of things
I am not about to name. But truly
there was perspective missing
that I find corrected now.
I know precisely where I am, but
have no idea how far I am from home;
or even whether home is home
from down here.
Friday, 7 November 2008
Six hours and it is dark outside.
I am in a predictable fug of orange,
though not Strongbow twitchy
like the chap next to me, and
I would like to say that here
there are shadows of us, following.
But it is without light-source, and context,
that I sit feigning knowledge
of the next stations, waiting
in my purple coat, like everyone here,
for the next stop in light from every direction.
There is only reflection here
and I am in it just like everyone else.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Sourfaced, even the firework-light
is not enough to brighten her. But
they bang even louder this happy day,
this historic day, and whether she stops
our sparklers or not the sky reflects
the green like colour means something.
It is the mist, they'll say in later years,
that makes them vivid like that.
But colour means something today, and
even the pink of the sparkling showers
is enough to make you dizzy with it.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
After-hours at the Fenwick christmas window.
They are not puppeteers but still
they control where we look. Stringless
we are manhandled.
We only tell a small part in a tale; rock
back and back, smile on an oversized
bridge, chase an ill-proportioned mouse around a lamp.
They are trying not to be seen here;
they wear black, and black shoes.
They do not look at you who looks at them.
Monday, 3 November 2008
An absence of counterpart
I have cleaned for you
the whole weekend
when you were not even here
to see it. Now crumbs
have settled on the surfaces
you could've licked pink yoghurt from
and a whole life in Mariokart
and snoozes has happened
to the front room.
Sunday, 2 November 2008
It takes us longer to die
down here, as others fizz
danger like shark teeth.
Long enough to see the shimmering beauty
of the sky through a surface of water.
They say the brakes weep here, but all I hear
is metal on metal and a precise lack
of haunting; then silence. How could this resemble
Saturday, 1 November 2008
A contrasting experience of vultures divides us
It is for me the breath of almost-touch
peculiar to feathers; you describe burning and blood.
They are stooping grey greatness, magnificent,
and yellow desert is a given; desert with an edge
of captivity. I have a panic-lack
of photograph, though there was a camera poised.
My memory does not contend with experience
and the darkness of beating wings around your head.
It is for me the breath of almost-touch peculiar
to feathers; you describe the talons in your back.
Friday, 31 October 2008
It is the bloodcurdling scream that comes after a knock on next door
that makes me realise how context changes everything; and just how sweet
fake blood is always surprises me. Three layers of latex and a hole picked in it,
some maroon nail varnish, or syrup with red, coffee and a drop of green.
The verb zombify, or clothes torn anywhere but the seams. The obvious disdain
at obvious costumes and sudden admiration for two-faced makeup and a real-life raven.
All of these things make me decide on a costume I've already worn once,
with a concentration on blue and lack of fangs. Though it would be cool,
to have temporary fangs like that. To pretend to sap sugary blood.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
When the birds squawk
It is much as when a fire alarm goes off
at 4am and you're standing outside
in your pyjamas and a coat and you can only
dance along. It is amusing at first
until the deaths begin; waving tragedies.
The world is not a controllable beast
much as these birds will not shut up
because it is your morning.
When the squawking takes over the sky
there is little to do but shut up, or sing along.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
And we begin to draw up an inventory of all things excellent
in newspaper margins. It could be anything, really,
a collection like this, but we resort to making it up.
It turns out we can't decide what was true
and what was not. Suggestions fly.
There is always awry, or meticulous. Someone
thinks of the longest word but we do not write it down.
It is hard, when it comes to it, to think of things to say.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Where there is no door
I think I am awake but the logic
of how I got in escapes me. Perhaps
this is one of those moments of wakefulness
that eludes wakefulness, the time of day
as irrelevant as what I'm not wearing. Either way
it takes time to locate the lightswitch and
feel my way across the floor. I can't remember
where I left myself, or my shoes, and dread
the trip that reveals them, but no.
It is the door I miss the most; its easy use
and reliability. I check for the logic of it,
but find the whole room wanting
in no other way but this: escape.
Monday, 27 October 2008
It was a green as spinach day
the day I meant to tell you.
Your hair was sprawling and
the toaster had just popped.
We could always see the street name
but today it loomed large
from the kitchen window.
Something stopped me. Perhaps
it was the butter
I was just about to spread
or the clash of colours
I was dressed in all of a sudden
coming clear in the sun. It had risen
earlier, but I only just noticed it then.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
You have sent me a postcard of you as goodbye.
Something tells me this, but it isn't you
who stares placidly. I can only see your contours
and nothing of your colour.
You are younger than I remember, with your arms like that.
Perfect. It's been a long time
since I touched you; but you know that of course.
You are not looking at the camera, or me. I note this
as an exercise in delivery and take heart
that the stranger is a woman which goes to either
prove or disprove a point. The t-shirt you're lifting
is one I bought you. That memory must stay now
as I am; an exorcise in black and white postcards.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Self portrait as an object of thought
Yes, I am
pretty, but only because you say so. I may be
fat instead, but why should it be either? I am
this, and that. I am next door and moons away.
I have hair like that one off the telly, I am mean
with my smiles, but only for you. I am a tease,
half-dressed, on my way, at the end of a long
long night. I am good at it, but rubbish
at what I should be doing. And now I am changed,
but how would you know
from over there?
Thursday, 23 October 2008
You wonder where he got to, with a bollock like that
The memory you have is of its outline on the chalkboard
in your form class at school. But I remember the hilarity
for you; how he pulled his trousers down, weighing one
against the other with sweaty hands; finding one wanting.
There was a darker side, of course, how everyone turned
their heads and kept shtum when the teacher came in,
his head framed, when sitting, by the shaky chalked line.
No-one embellished the picture with wiry hairs, or legs.
No-one suggested a visit to the doctor, assumed
it was under control. But where is he now, with a bollock like that?
How long has it been, for the swelling to fade?
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
My mother and her sister watch their children, Scarborough 1990.
Not one of us was dressed for the summer wind,
all hippy skirts and billows with our hair caught in our mouths.
They weighted the blanket with their own selves,
secretly admiring body parts and underwear
in sudden flashes of sea wind.
We were genetic opposites, this cousin and I, and well aware
of our mothers' shame. In a moment of doubt
we turned the distance from our mothers into an excuse
and tucked our skirts into our knickers. We got our whole selves
wet in a rocky stream-slide, stopping just before the waterfall each time.
Walking up later, our dresses wet through, only the dog
was still carefree in the breeze, her fur parted and flowing
at her flank like fields of rape. Our mothers covered us
in towels with their own skirts firmly tied. We ate eggs
looking out to the wind-tossed sea.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
You were right there
The night was something to remember
if only for the lights, colourful and on our faces
like emotion, unbridled and clear. I tried
to take pictures but the red light left us blurry
and the purple too dark. And you were
right there, but far enough away to be elsewhere:
smiling but not for us. We could touch you
but you never stayed still. The lights
lit you up and they kept shining until sweat
was everywhere and every word spent.
Monday, 20 October 2008
The Golden Fleece
Drinking coke in the oldest and most haunted pub in the city
we sweat in the heat of over-compensation and await the chill
which does not come. And even when the quiet fades to quieter
whilst we sip through lime and ice, other people's attempts at fright
are not enough for fear. It is all far enough away
that we do not plan a return for psychic evenings and ouija boards,
though the myths and scratched black illustrations on the walls
resemble stories we have told in the dark.
Sunday, 19 October 2008
Your Facts of Bracken
Smothered, I see the mountains now
enduring coolly; occasional sheep do not eat it
but gather ticks from it into their ears.
It glows russet, casting its death already at the height
of summer: comes back green, like I do, year after year.
And you have recast Scotland for me,
where carcinogens become the only colours
I remember, the only texture of countless walks;
walks that now, I find, I can't recall.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Someone has to do it, but only she proves the rule
in her striplit first-floor office with a perfect view
of York Minster. She wears a navy pinny, does not glance
up, avoids the window and contemplation.
Or perhaps she has had her fill of the history
that must follow on from this; she is more in awe
of the technology for suction than the brick on brick
that brought God to such a city. I think I caught her once
sweeping the wide stone floors inside, walking backwards,
her navy pinny next to lime green and golden robes. I looked again,
and though the floor was clean, she'd left no trace.
Thursday, 16 October 2008
Environment conscious, my rubbish is sorted by strangers.
A man in a fluorescent coat sifts through as we pull away
and half my life is spread out on the skip edge; the chef
puppet I used to not play with catches the breeze in his hair,
the Don't Be a Mug mug cracks as it's thrown in with the ceramics.
I am not sad, but there's something about the way they smile,
these men, as they pick up each thing and consider it
for itself. Half my life, context-free, and all I can see are the reasons
diminishing through the wing-mirror with an echo of hilarity
over the sand-filled lizards I used to weigh things down with.
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Sometimes it's all it takes to express a moment;
your knee is unconstrained and wild. It aims high,
and gets there. It gets us there, in time and
distraction free. It is the only part of you that is the music
though the rest of you creates it. You are nice,
on the whole, but your knee demands otherwise:
sharp, sexy, in control. But you are nice, and your knee
is just a means to a beat; and errant.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
It is late, now, and I should be sleeping. Again.
There is sleep in my face and it is shaped
like the bed my head enjoyed for a while, deadweight
on a pillow built for support. There is nothing but sleep
in my head for much longer than is necessary
and I am finding it difficult to focus on any of this,
anticipating, as I am, the next time I can lay down
and surrender all sense to the dark and the radio.
It is World Service by the time I am ready, and sleep
is shaped like the perfect yawn just before it's time.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
You have had me about as much
as you've had this view, and in as many ways.
There is only one viewpoint but we
have never been there together,
and there was no-one watching when it came to us
I think. I remember you here
as I gaze out, flowers behind
and mist in front. Two facts that obscure
the truth of it.
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Rag & Bone
There's a time I would rush
from the other side of the house
just to see the horse walk past,
blinkered and dusted with graft.
I envied the boy, dressed in shorts
and a white shirt, riding up front
with his legs dangling as cars shined past.
I envy him now, as I'm sure he does
his past, for I haven't seen a team like that
in as many years as I can think.
The rags, the bones, gained worth
and the pony's services too risky
in the cloying fumes of summer.
I would find something for them, now,
if I were to hear their holler.
I would offer my own bones, perhaps, as something
they could try and sell for profit
from the back of the wagon.
Friday, 10 October 2008
Every time I turn my back on myself
I have gone and changed state again.
Something is tense and now
something else saggy. I have lost all sense
in my posture and my toes are bent.
My fingers know more about typing without me.
My hair is all curls
and in my face, but before long
greases again. I am relaxed but my arms
are too floopy, my chin to my chest.
Even my shoulders are all wrong, at once
a definition and structure of self.
Every time I turn my back on myself
I am changed. It is all in the showmanship.
Thursday, 9 October 2008
It has worked; sandstone
emulates beach that we aren't walking on
and the benches look like boats.
Treat yoursel' love suggests a man
with little tubs of fish on offer,
before he sees the greasy paper bag I carry,
with a 60p donut cooling in it.
A man with a walking stick has icecream
smeared all over his top lip. Further up,
on the harbour wall, a woman lies in the recovery position
on decorative gravel that emulates pebbles.
The distant Fantasy Forest plays us four types of music
to ignore her by. Her friends
seem calm. The ambulance is silent both ways.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Portrait of a train-rider in coversation
And soon scabs will form
on his right-hand, and the conversation
he isn't having with me will
stop. He isn't bleeding
at the moment but his palm is swollen.
He tells some other traveller
of his daughter and no worries there
and it could be me, except this dad
has his eye on his bike. This dad
is not invincible when it comes to fine rubble
and a corner. This dad was fascinated
by utility vehicles set on checking
telegraph poles, when he should
have been looking at the road.
He had forgotten about his hand, but now
he tries to use it for his coffee
he is reminded.
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
By the time I return
I am not me and before long
I am gone again. The nights are longer
and they take their toll, even
when the sun is bright and my cheeks
take the brunt of it.
Idyll is unattainable, but respite
is not. I leave the dust to its gathering
again, but without my skin to form it,
what will it be? The gathered storms
of housemates; even my own dust is not me.
Before long, the smell of something else
will be where I was, and my clothes
will not fit. I am not above growth.
I carry something with me that is changeable.
Perhaps it will deliver me from where I've gone.
Monday, 6 October 2008
Self portrait taken from a mobile phone
There is nothing of me here: only
response and request; times and places;
an odd draft of something, long out of date.
I do not keep everything I should; you
are long lost, even that photograph of us with
the Tyne bridges glowing. It is years old now. And gone.
Anything here is loose in its understanding.
I do not keep sent messages, only those
received. I am blameless, and absent;
a bundle of thoughts towards me
that almost converge, except meaning
is lost. Ah, but there, see? A photo, of me in red.
I am trying to find my way from a field to
somewhere. I don't recall where from,
or my escape.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
Self portrait in Legends's toilets
For ignoring someone once I find myself
reflected in their makeup here. My skin creeps
to meet my eyes; they are hollowed and smudged
black. They see me harder looking back, meet
my surprise with sheer disdain. I understand.
I wait for a cubicle, lock the door and force my mouth
fish-open with a long silent laugh, ugly and grudging.
Mirrors are not on me here. I keep my trousers
out of the piss on the floor, watch party-boa feathers
swimming in it. I hold my pants, and laugh.
My reflection disappears as my composure
settles. Too soon I am dancing again. Pink
feathers fly from my feet and clipped explanations
from my smudged-out eyes. I have left
everything somewhere, and somewhere it laughs.
Friday, 3 October 2008
A man is singing everything to me,
from love to enclosure, but I don't watch
anything sad. I spend my time
whispering nothings, unsweet,
into the ears of those that don't care.
Those like you. I don't watch anything
sad, but I like to test my sensibilities.
I envy your broken television, aching,
as I do, over the tear from it.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
There are no mountains here.
Except I build them myself and drive them
down from the sky. Everything has turned
in the time it's taken to return and hat weather
has begun. I have unpacked, it was
the first thing I did without you. I have washed
everything I own, removed the dust of my absence,
cleared my inbox. And so the lists
begin: to do, urgent, remember. I have torn up
any hope I had about forgetting. I forgot – I
always do – and yet survived, only pennies poorer.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Monday, 29 September 2008
A young boy chasing gulls and other birds
A distant woman winces at every step, a test
of the muscles she made unknowing
which grow and develop a memory
of stairs right before her eyes. These
are treacherous times and the oystercatchers
know it, fleeing his golden curls
with pupeep-pupeeps; and the gulls know it,
in and out of flight as easy as the concrete
steps will be for him in years to come.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Saturday, 27 September 2008
Friday, 26 September 2008
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
I am absent
There is blank space, an empty bed.
No toast toasted in the mornings. My heart
does not beat here, but is mellow
wherever you find it. My toothbrush
has been removed, my lights are off,
my washing awaits its watery spin alone.
I have left mostly everything, including you.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
…and so away
is a state I am unused to, find myself
preparing for the worst and forgetting
that it could be best; forgetting everything
essential to the task. Packing is lists
and compliance in place of sense;
putting off fixing until a return of sorts
becomes imminent. There are things to miss
but they are few, and memories that fit
into pockets. I stuff some bathroom into bags
and hope for the car's room on motorways
though we are not going far. I listen
to music that could help; or it could hinder.
Monday, 22 September 2008
My shadow looms beside him every time we pass a streetlight
It is not the habit that makes it attractive
but losing himself on the street he is aiming for.
It is not the whisky, wrapped up
in a plastic bag from Morrisons, but the way
black silk clings to his shoulders and hides his ears,
even as his head tilts back to nearly catch me
staring. It is not the perfume, necessarily, that smells
so good, but the opportunity to ask; which I turn down
thinking better of it. It is not the accent he has
but the use of it directed past me
to some other strangers on the street.
Saturday, 20 September 2008
In my image
This is face down in a nightclub, knees to the floor; this
is mascara that needs to come off; this is
the time it takes to acknowledge an obsession; this is me
coming to terms with your choice of shirt; this is
mirrors and windows and reflective doors; this
is skirts that come below the knee, above the ankle;
this is an itch I can't reach; this
is a tattoo that will never be designed; this is
underwear chosen to be shared; this is holes
in my shoes I patch with gaffa tape; this is
a lack of money, or priorities wrong; this
is photography for the sake of something;
this is words everyone can understand; this
is behind; this is
an itchy nose that won't go away; this is me
missing something that resembles you.
Friday, 19 September 2008
Coming of age
It's the hole in the road that does it,
makes him test the ground at rest.
It seems firm but no longer can he know
the impact of his weight or the weight
of the sky. He clings to the fence that holds
him back from falling in; anything,
he thinks, to make this day something
more. A revelation like this, though,
takes time to settle. It will be years
before he remembers the fury of his own
ignorance; how he cast it off with the tethers
which no longer held sway tied to anything
upon the movable earth.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
My parents taught me the word procrastination pretty early on
It is late and the cold is creeping
past my pyjamas and the shipping forecast
is on its way through Sailing By and
I am trying to think of excuses.
It is late and I am told again what I am listening to
while I listen to the one-note whine
of my old laptop and
tick off to-dos.
It is later than I think and my eyes
are telling me what my immune system
already knows: too many
It isn't stopping, this clock, and still
I have things to do and time
to waste thinking
of reasons not to.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
It was not her hair but still
something about the choice
conveyed a sadness
that was more than a wig.
Her coat was buttoned up
to her chin, and fell
to her knees, past a skirt
or something unseen.
The shoes she walked in
were built for strides,
not steps, but all
she managed were baby ones.
Mascara did not run
down her cheeks though
it was raining quite hard
and she wore it openly.
She looked straight
into my face, and told me
something with an expression
hidden by each of these things.
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
A woman counts alone in flat 33.
We have exhausted all the usual explanations.
Too fast for days, hours, minutes, it is not time
she measures except in her own ageing face, bleating
numbers back at her in the dark mirrored window.
There is no click-click of an abacus, but what abacus
could fence this in? How does her mind remain on track?
Maybe she's the world's swearbox, earning millions while
we speak carelessly on. It has become a lambswool comfort,
slowly humming numbers. We can all detect the change
in tone when she reaches a significance. It could be
a quest for infinity, or that we have all been allocated
a number in her scheme. We do remember
a time when she wasn't counting. We do not like to think of her
in a version of hell, that she's ticking, unable to stop.
We sleep now but notes of panic are rising. Sometimes in my dreams
I see her counting the end rather than the beginning,
forging her own kind of immortality by denying us ours. Is this all
Death would do? I have my suspicions. I think she is obsessed
but not possessed; that she adds one onto the last onto that
and cannot stop. Even her dreams, I'm sure, count for her
when she can sleep. I bet she wakes with a new
beginning, carries on through toast: One onto the last onto that.
Monday, 15 September 2008
Cry in the Street.
Turn away from any friends you might have
or run towards them. Overemphasise the dramatic
version, but do not wail. If you wear glasses,
remove them. Refuse all help;
demand a taxi home. State your intention.
Do not let them get away with it. Or
let the tears fall and walk home
briskly, head held high. Either way.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Plait her hair.
Each hair you touch will tug her scalp
and cause a chain reaction reaching
to her toes. It will be longer than you think,
and softer. The smell will stay on your fingers;
accents of Essences, hibiscus and peach.
She wants to look like a sister
from Pride & Prejudice – make it happen
but only by the third arrangement. Fasten
and unfasten until then. Three styles for love,
three for care. Three for the touch of another.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Portrait in a series of moments
She eats a plum: it is easy because
they are in season. The string of the flesh
gets stuck in her front teeth, but that always
happens. She waits until she gets
to a mirror before picking it out.
When she mixes paint, she only uses
one brush and aims for shades that don't
necessarily work with orange. They usually
come out brown, but she doesn't worry
because she likes brown anyway.
Applying mascara, she uses even, curving
strokes to accentuate her lashes.
She doesn't mind if it isn't black, or that the tears
will wash it away later. She doesn't count
the hairs, but clumps them.
In the shop she chooses a yellow umbrella
because of the grey day it will be used for.
It cheers her face. She opens all of them inside
the shop first; affirms her lack of superstition
by fretting other peoples' into leaving.
She slams a door, gets it out. Only once,
and with no preamble. It feels good
but seems lacking after Albert Square's.
She does not look a fool by going back
for seconds. She answers no questions.
Friday, 12 September 2008
Sashaying home it is the sugar
from the homebrew that has filled you
up with glee, you think. It is glee
that will last you another twelve hours
but you don't know that yet, and test
each street for its home-feel, settling
on two before the numbers don't add up.
Your sashay has turned to sway before
you realise you are home, finally, and we
are waiting, so pleased to see you
smiling in a way that says it'll last.
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Aftermath of adverse weather conditions, III
We are all dressed for it, now, see downpour
in every cloud that lopes across the sky.
Today is weather enough to leave your umbrella
and forget you ever had it with you, no matter
how appreciative of its colour you are. Still,
we sceptically eat outside, with heaters angled at us
under a tent without sides and cross our fingers,
sweating over tapas in our wintering clothes.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Just me and thee.
It takes me to add and everyone else,
except it is all about what we don't have
and have lost.
The radio is staple because they talk
of abstract things that remain
unimportant and we all pretend
we are listening to music and radio plays
instead of thinking
about an unknowable end.
It is cold, but I do not remember that
until later. It is only the wet of things
that is normal for a while:
your jumper; her coat; my pillow;
endless tissues. My eyelashes,
gathered and dark.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
Your wrist was whisk-loose
from the whole tub of double cream and
there was far too much glee when it came
down to it, with regards to the Amaretto.
I would've preferred the crunchy biscuits
but the soft ones will do. I heard you
making up another fact about the syllabub
just so you could say it again: syllabub;
with an ending like an kiss.
Monday, 8 September 2008
Aftermath of adverse weather conditions, II
The only water that hasn't made it to here
is the stuff we have caught in tubs
in the bathroom. All of the sky has fallen
only to be muddied and gushing, carrying
itself with itself in a roar of acceleration.
It is this water that killed you, then,
and this water that saved you in the end.
The sound of it fills me to powerlessness;
despite towels and sandbags and plastic bowls
we are unable to hold onto ourselves.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
Aftermath of adverse weather conditions, I
The conkers have been rained off
their branches. They remain
unclaimed. I pick one up; its spikes
are soft. I place it beneath my foot
and bear down. The muddy shell
splits to reveal two conkers, naked
and uncooked, still attached
to their umbilical cords. I collected them
years ago, treasured the conker brown.
I never could let them go; even when
they shrivelled and left only memory of
my own face in them; leather-brown
and beaming. I toss the raw conkers down
with the others I hadn't noticed
until now: a graveyard of the milk-white
unborn. A feeding ground.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Friday, 5 September 2008
A woman counts alone in flat 33.
We have exhausted all the usual explanations:
it goes too fast for days, hours, minutes; too slow
to be seconds. It is not time she measures, except
for the lines on her face. We assume that, as none of us
have seen her outside of what we dream at night.
Perhaps she is counting her lucky stars; or her chickens;
she must have many, all hatched. There is no click-click
of an abacus, but what abacus could hold these numbers?
How does her mind remain on track? Maybe she's
the world's swearbox, slowly earning millions while we
speak carelessly on. It has become a comfort now,
slowly humming numbers. We can all detect the change
in tone when she reaches a landmark. It could be
a quest for infinity, or that we have all been allocated
a number in her scheme. We do remember a time
when she wasn't counting. We do not like to think of her
in a version of hell, that she's ticking, unable to stop. We sleep
now but notes of panic are rising. Sometimes in my dreams
I see her counting the end rather than the beginning, forging
her own kind of immortality by denying us ours. Is this all
Death would do? I have my suspicions. I think she is obsessed
but not possessed; that she adds one onto one onto one
and cannot stop. Even her dreams, I'm sure, count for her
when she can sleep. I bet she wakes with a new
beginning, carries on. One onto one onto one.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
A sudden inability to navigate in my everyday life.
Blame my empty wheel-expectant hands.
No-one responds to threats
out here and I cannot force you off
the path. I do not know how it is
we are supposed to overtake except
to force retreat. At least I cannot be
shrunk out of contention and actual
oblivion does not lurk beyond the curb.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
You insist it was your fault – a mistaken docility
meant laying your own face open
to the kind of teeth that shred on impact.
I know a man who has recast his life
so that everything is reversed: whole
swathes of time and imagination gone.
I am not so sure about you. I consider pictures
of your steri-strip trust as it dawns on me
that blame is not a mantle you can claim like that.
He did not bludgeon you, or me, but
by association this is true. He cannot save himself
this way; the blame remains immovable.
It is fierce in its steadiness around the decision
as it was made. The man-in-reverse does not deserve
your pity. All this blood takes it out of your hands.
How do you give empathy for someone to use
who has never had the practice?
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
The stationary taxi-driver mouths the words
through his open window. He is not looking at me
but at his book, which yellows so that I can almost
smell it from here. He is not for distracting
even when a man, perhaps a customer, approaches
and shakes his whole body in emphatic conversation.
Perhaps the taxi-driver is obscured to me
but I get a sense of his impatience, so much so
that his position has not changed when I can see him
again. The novel is perhaps a King, perhaps
a Conan Doyle. It is not, I think, a Herriot
with a typeface like that; in a city, so far away, like this.
Monday, 1 September 2008
I have been in the fridge for days now.
My blood has slowed in the folds of lettuce,
which have contained so much in the way of
water, of time. It has all slowed. I have lost
all hope of taking back my normal life, exiled
as I am from the cropped fields, the gentle
rolling earth. There is not a scratch on me.
As soon as I have the legs for it—yes, six,
all there—I will choose a cubby-hole
nearby and head for upside-down, mothblood
will gather in my mothbrain. I wonder what it is
I've missed. I have been dreaming cold
in the depths of full fat moons and irresistible
light. My dreams have not been of terror
but of chasing, my thrilled mothheart beating
hard against the window; my wings through air.
Sunday, 31 August 2008
It has been chained to the lamppost
for two weeks now. Manhandled from standing,
from lying, to standing, it still has its slip-on gel seat-cover
and shine in its silver despite the weather
we've been having. I have considered slipping it off,
the seat-cover, and more: its handles are a shape
I prefer to my own; the reflectors in the wheels
are much more glowing. Clearly someone has parked it
and forgotten which lamppost gleams its frame
from night to night. I feel sorry for it,
though it hasn't begun to rust. I can see it
from my bedroom window. It is a new constant in my life
but I could be mistaken. Its owner, perhaps, leaves
and arrives before I do; unlocks and locks the chain.
Keeps the saddle clean, like a neighbourhood cat
whose feeders ignore the number that isn't theirs on its collar.
I almost took the brake levers today
and have had to take myself in hand. The lock
is sturdy and besides, I have no cable-clippers to my name.
Saturday, 30 August 2008
A woman bribes me with a free SJP umbrella to buy Paul Smith perfume and sample Stella McCartney
Names do not worry me – you're laughing – but
packaging is everything. And how to reconcile
a love for umbrellas with the fate of the planet.
I smell now like a tart's handbag and am considering
bathing in the luxury of petals it would take me
years to grow. I can hear my mother. I can't tell
whether she's delighted or not but either way
I am powerless in the hands of a saleswoman
who smiles just like her and expects, just like her, a yes.
Friday, 29 August 2008
I have left traces of mascara
on my arm and have been curled up
waiting for something that could match
the stories I've been told today that are not mine
to tell. And there is song after song
of Radiohead, and it is weather for staying out
of duvets, and I am nearly away with the cool breeze
that drifts in with the moths and knocks
my lightshade. I have hiccups, but they will fade.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Caught in the moment of saving the toast
There are four things worth saving
in this situation, all of which are worthy.
The choice you make says everything
I need to know about your priorities.
In the long-run it turns out you are not
after money, possessions or comfort,
but temporary satiation and this is where I'm at:
ethereal and everchanging; satisfying;
never wholly yours but wholly consumed.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I meet a fashion mentor on a bus-ride to town
I have sewn pennies into the hem to weigh it down. It has pockets
that often catch on handles, it is torn and fixed at two seams.
It is brightest orange and this is the detail that catches your eye;
makes you stare until I sit next to you and smile.
Thank goodness. Now I can tell you that I wasn't really staring:
that it's just your skirt, it's beautiful and matches the green you're wearing.
I am taken aback by that and your name, which I don't find out
until you're up and leaving, your own bold skirts swaying in the aisle.
Rushed introductions hover and mingle with the journey's facts:
that you're tickled pink for your tutee's standing ovation,
that she was dark-haired and starved by her parents,
and her dresses—oh her dresses—are divine.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
You won't know who you are before long because I myself have lost track
When I moved in here the smell of paint had
moved in before me and taken root.
Bathed in egg-splashed light from my bedroom window,
I woke up to the confession that you'd given your parrot
to the gas-man. The only impact left
to me is other people's reaction to the news. I keep
moments of us still, hoard the stuff you gave freely
from over the road once, countless minutes ago.
The city is alive I said once alive with everything at 5am except
chicken fried rice and that's the only thing we want.
I haven't seen you since but always consider you
when your birthday comes round. You must be dreaming
of elsewhere in America/Manchester/Edinburgh
/Brighton by now. Never anywhere I can trust.
Monday, 25 August 2008
We are heading for the black that makes us less
likely to take risks. It is not until he knows
precisely where to go that we stop. The car
cracks and fizzes in the cold beach-quiet.
Lying down, looking up, there is no eye contact,
even after sighting our only shooting star.
Filament bright and bigger than we could have known,
it flashes through the gap in blanketing clouds. We hang on
for a while, but it's pea soup and hopeless past eleven.
There is only the unseen sea with its whooshing whooshing.
In the car journey home he keeps on Stars Compilation
but sets our hearts on different dreams in the dark.
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Look down; Don't look down.
Stranded here we are halfway
to the end and there is a decision
that needs to be made. Always
the decision-maker you are frozen
with no fear of falling just a beating
in your chest and time
silent and still until you know
you are allowed to go down.
I am trapped by indecision but phobia-free,
and study, in this moment, each bolt
for each step that suspends us
over the likely outcome. I find them
strong and immovable. I find
no need to cease my own breathing.
The decision, I realise, was taken
out of my hands before I realised
it existed: I had stared through the gaps
on every step up. I was only surprised
by your reaction to the smaller world.
Decisions made, you retreat to where
your weight is held only by your own legs
on the earth, and I keep climbing
to my own struggles of perspective.
No postcards to reminisce, no photographs.
My descent is unremarkable, but fast.
The earth reappears through the gaps
in the metal. You are getting bigger,
concern in your eyes, but your breathing
is back to normal and your knuckles
are pink with fearlessness again.
Saturday, 23 August 2008
I am not Madeleine Smythe
but I have taken control of her emotions
and they weigh me down now, dripping
water through my cotton-thin skirt.
The interflora van drives off, gives me
no reason to believe I can ever get caught.
Still, I snip and separate the stems into three
vases: one for tragedy, one for love, one for guilt.
I am not Madeleine Smythe, but maybe, in pretense,
I have saved her from this: Dear Maddy,
I am sorry for your loss.
Friday, 22 August 2008
CCTV makes you cooler than me
We hear it whizz in our direction as I flash
all sorts of images through my head for it to see.
I skip ahead to the final conclusion
of whoever is watching: harmless. I think
of all the things we could've done to persuade them
otherwise. All I can muster is a furtive glance,
straining to make myself look shifty. You stop;
turn slowly; look it straight in the lens for
an age. By the time you look back to me
I am walking again and you are smiling.
The camera remains and I don't know why
but I wish I had thought of it first.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Dr Woodbridge, Assistant Deputy Coroner for the District of Cherwell
You won't remember the weight of it held
in your soft gloved hand. I am going to ask anyway.
I suppose this is an inevitability, dealing
with death as you do. I don't necessarily want
an answer, or if I do, I want a lie. I don't want
it to have been as heavy as mine, nor its beating
to have stopped because of a misplaced sense
of defiance. Perhaps it beat on, bloodless and baggy,
but I want you to say only that it weighs as much as
you'd expect; no more, no less. That a heart is nothing
more than chambers, holds nothing more than
blood. Beats for nothing but itself until it stops.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
I don't love you like the heartbeat
I can see in the tear in my eye
in the concave spyhole drilled through
a solid wood door which is the only thing
holding my weight pressed against it
that leads to the world where you
sit in the car ringing her
or your brother I can't decide which.
I don't love you like the hug
I approached you for when we stood
awkward pavement-bound while your car
engine hummed and indicators blinked
in the moment you unlocked it as a hint
that it better be quick though you sat
in the driver's seat for an age
after I shut the door on your back in your face.
I don't love you like the muscle-memory
that made me want to play footsie with you
even though I knew rightly you
wouldn't play back having trained your own
memory to ignore me in favour of her
who talks more meaning problems
like this are sorted out so much quicker
than we ever sorted out ours.
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
A lesson in stuffed toys
Polyester, cotton, nylon—they all stuff the wardrobe
at my dad's house now, piled in boxes avoiding dust or
played with rarely by a youngster I won't relinquish ownership to.
In a box in a wardrobe in a house it is all contained
and rarely frisked: except when one comes out they all do,
and there's no escaping the old-smelling dust.
If you pack them right, they disappear to almost nothing
but when they're opened, they're allofasudden back.
They take up much more space than you remember.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Today I avoid another's eye
A man who is balding and wearing braces
talks to me of directions we were over here
and now we're over there and we were always
over somewhere and I realise I think he's crazy
now but actually I was too engrossed in today's
news (as good as it is bad) to even know
the beginning of his sentence, never mind recite
to you the colour of his hair. Later he is talked at
about police and motorbikes and warrants
for arrest but it is hard to glean useful information
from two one-way monologues conducted
in the style of a conversation. I ponder the skill
of this as I consider doing the crossword
of a communal paper. I am not strong enough
to hold onto the sense he's lacking and do not catch
his eye when he roams the room for an escape.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
The way they catch the light is almost beautiful
I'd like to say that the silvering is a way in
to loving what is already mine, but it is not.
All it means is a lack of blood supply,
cut off at the root—no way back. It is too easy
to trace their expression as a map,
or the sadness of learning; the distance
you have to come. Really they only lead
from themselves to themselves.
They do not make routes, or define me
except I know where they do not appear:
my fingers, my ankles, the front of my legs.
My lower arms. My face.
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
my hair's the wrong colour; I don't want to risk
a disappointing friendship; I prefer to point you out
to people knowing fine well you'll catch them staring;
speculation is a sensation I enjoy; no-one
deserves these complexes; I'd miss ignoring your friends;
you wouldn't suit hats; someone you know once
hurt someone I used to know; of the risk; I miss
someone else; it shouldn't always be
me; I'm not hung-up enough; my life is risk-free;
I am accustomed to time alone; your name
is something I would never have come up with; I prefer
not to believe; you're too good for me;
there are dreams, of course, and there are excuses.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
Hoping along to stars compilation our dreams
for clear skies are decreasing in magnitude.
We are heading for the black that makes us less likely
to take risks. It is not until he knows precisely
where to go that we stop. The car
cracks and fizzes in the cold beach-quiet.
Lying down, looking up, there is no eye contact,
even in the excitement of a shooting star,
filament bright and bigger than we could have known,
flashing through the gap in blanketing clouds. We hang on
for a while, but it's pea soup and hopeless past eleven.
There is only the unseen sea with its whooshing whooshing.
In the car journey now he takes out stars compilation;
sets our hearts on different dreams in the dark.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Lecture on a book I've never read.
The astrophysicist speaks encouragingly
of many things. I have no control
over my muscles which twitch wildly.
It takes this man—no English lecturer
at soft-hearted 18; no poet-philosopher
at hardening 20—all upper-class education
and lack of meaningful eye contact; all
power-point slideshow and brogues,
to make me see the attraction.
Perhaps, I wonder, it is the Eagle Head Nebula
he has on in the background, its cock-eyed
angle in American Frontier golds and greens.
It is weightless and directionless, but altogether
non-existent now, he tells us, despite its shape.
He points to a shockwave in the picture
that struck, sure as eggs, 7,000 years ago.
How does he find space, I think, to care?
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Instead of dreams she finds a bowler hat
all felt and black as hollows
in the ground, matt and matted. She tries
it on, tucks it all the way down
round her ears and instead of dreams
she hears the muffled world as if
in sleep. She wonders where
the black crows sleep, imagines
uneaten crumbs abandoned
in the light of dusk, wonders if
they take some home in beaks
and sleep on their food for softness
in the dark; wonders whether they have dreams
to miss. She looks in a mirror,
but instead of dreams she finds the black
shouted back and sees herself whispering
at the crows she knows are sleeping
in the sky. She lights a candle, wax tumbling
the curve of a figure carved in heat and light
and it leaves shadows on her face that chase
her thoughts that could be dreams if caught
in daylight. She crosses her legs, feels
a loosening of self and pushes
her finger through the hole in her pyjamas,
admires the creeping darkness of a felt
black rim above her eyes. She closes her eyes,
and instead of dreams she tucks her hair up
in the hat, reminds herself of songs sung
Au Clair de la Lune and hears them rolling from
her tongue like crow breath. Instead of dreams she lies
on quilting with the hat cocked over her eyes
and thinks of cowboys until morning.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
I have been trying to write of your thumb
but I am failing; I keep slipping into the status
of my own which has been crushed and sucked,
jointed and double-jointed, sliced with glass
and loved in equal measure. I am forgetting yours,
and how far the top joint arched back. I only have one
picture, the one with berets. I am envious of a time
when one photograph could sum up a life on the road
like that. My thumb arches back a little, too,
but not enough. I am holding it up: if someone
passed by at speed and only had my thumb
to go on, how could they possibly know? How long
did you find yourself stranded on wide roads in the sun,
even with the exaggerated curve you bragged about?
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Dear the disappeared,
I am still here, in my old office chair.
The desk is the same. My hands
are the same. You never had my number
but that is the same. My email address,
that ethereal creature we always relied on
too much, yes, it remains. I am writing
you this because I can't believe
you're not there. I know I said I wouldn’t,
but there's only so much silence I can take.
I don't know what you think I might say.
I don’t know if you know me, but here I am
again, and my words are like summer
downpours, drying off quickly.
I'm sure you're still eating olives,
their grease keeps them fresh.
You must have less of a beard
by now; those jeans you wore
still fit, I'm sure. I remember the details
you never did mention. They squatted
between us, silent. Still do. I remember
the camera you were too scared to use.
I've heard you're still out there, working
and playing, always just round the corner
from here. I've heard you don't talk
about anything now, that you're the same
and disappeared, writing bad poetry.
I don't know who to believe, or how to beat
Did you ever want me? You don't know
what it means, but I won't wait any more
for our worlds to collide.
I'm not yours, but sincerely, —
Friday, 8 August 2008
Long-awaited expulsion of ego in real-time
Waking in the dark I am obsessed
with seeing. I hunt for a corner
on where I stand; where I left
my shoes when I undressed. I stand
for long minutes, trying to open my open
eyes; trying shut eyes, blinking ones;
trying rubbing eyes, slowly so as not
to rub myself out. I am on the line
I am still obsessed. I raise my hands
to where I'm sure I should see them,
seek cracks in curtains that have been
there every other night and day,
letting the influence in. I still cannot see,
am now obsessed with how I have lost sight
of my own eyelids that blink and blink
against the dark. I cannot be blind.
And all of a sudden it happens: I wonder
could I fall asleep with my eyes open here?
What has happened to my window to
everyone else to the sun to the universe
I have never looked upon enough?
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Some dogs are cloned in South Korea and shipped to their new owner in California, USA.
It was a picture to match a thousand others but a face
that could only be one. She'd lost her hand but waved
its reconstruction proudly clutching five carbon copies
of the dog that saved her life, once, from savagery.
Five times rescued, she was also five times caught:
Once with a chastity belt; once for bondage games
she never knew she played. Once as a nun
in the Appalachian mountains – where else? – and once
bare-breasted in a glamour magazine. She tops it off, now,
with this: soaking up chips all over as yesterday's news.
The cloners, they're today's and have bigger fish to fry.
Their sights are on camels in the Middle East.
It is where, they hear, the money is.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Be not afraid to vary and change the life, after all all becomes to the best.
Don’t doubt, miracles happen. Maybe
it's classy minutiae that will change
your life. Stop being a loser.
You are living in the worst
city; grow a horse's tail and become
the unicorn of your neighbourhood.
Find out what really matters.
Your happiness is much closer
now. Don't get ripped off
by fakes any more. Seduce her
like this. Deflagrate. Be the neon
light at the red light district.