May 28, 2008

Two hundred feet below the high rise, and soon,
the cars will loose their horns at everything.
Celine Dion offends the French with her Canadian accent –
she’s there on the TV, in a dress like a mirror ball;
you are with me, drinking champagne.

We squeeze lemon juice onto oysters
who tremble in their shells, pale by candle flame.
I am sipping flesh from a crescent moon.

The hours embrace, then expire without protest.
You sit before me, latte skinned
on tight North African curves,
talking to your friends in language I am free of,
relieving me both of silence and the need to speak
though sometimes I do speak, when you stop,
lean forwards on your elbows and explore
or we worry at translations like meat caught in teeth.

Yesterday, Reims cathedral looked about to awaken –
encrusted with statues of the beatified
carved in stone the colour of dirty mustard,
their eyes watering with piety.
Now, at midnight, spirit blows through the walls

like a god cooling his food,
pulverising the shells around them.
Awakened, they must be sounding the horns,
or else it’s city folks begging to be saved
from saints’ swords and angels’ tridents.

Our eyes flicker in time with the candle flame.
The door opens; metal reflects decor and digested skin.

The army of heaven can’t believe that on this day, of all days,
we’re having a dinner party, rather than praying
or gouging out sin with a rusty apple corer.

I smile over my gateaux, tell them:
that’s the trouble with the living,
but the living is good.


summer of love

May 22, 2008

The stained-glass saint has a beard
and behind his head is a tendrilled sun.
He thinks he looks like God. They all do.

I think of the cross
how its wearer’s blood dried to ink
then black wire.

The sky is fierce with clouds.
Angels turn to silt in their guts, cast themselves
to the pavements, the gutters.
I move to shelter through my thoughts

of America, wishful,
imagining a pulsing bag of chrisali. At Beltane
a girl wove me a circlet of twigs and flowers
and I dreamt I was a summer of love.

when hell froze over

May 22, 2008

Pale blue angels

paused in falling.
Tatooed name

rank, serial number. Wings
bloodied as damascus steel.

They fought like samurai,
between science and dance;

God watched a pageant of mantids
devouring in his name or its negative.
Attention seekers, He sighed
and they heard the ice.

There are golds in the ruins;
I hear delphic voices leap
then submerge in revelry. When I step back
they are breathing, breathing.
But the dancers have gone.


May 22, 2008

I am not an absence of rib, nor am I clay
infused with anemos. I am not an emergent pattern
of patterns upon patterns

oscillating like harmonics…
or an intertextual meme; I do not,
like Prospero, raise storms by brushing
or clipping wings.

I am not the words or the thoughts
or the void, the emptiness; I am not Buddha’s neither this nor that,
nor the unbound, nor the probabilistic causeway that giants like Heisenberg

cast upon the waves they saw. I am not the sea of consciousness,
nor do I lack existence. I am not my name.
I am not a number.


October 26, 2007

A soldier is lost in a library. Between page and eye
birds are forming from coloured honey.

The soldier thinks there are so many answers, but mine must be
the prettiest.
The birds are fountains that swallow themselves.

They are all liars, but they sing well and pretend
they exist and are sane. The soldier juggles with them,

clings to them, entreats them,
wrings them till they spill

ink over continents, thinks
that if they are mad then the world is mad.

The birds shed themselves empty.
The answers are not colours and sweetness, the soldier

is pleading, is pleading, is pleading.

My Lai Massacre

October 15, 2007

I grew up in a village too;
horses across the road, black and chestnut.
I remember the weight of their galloping bodies
learning me that life could be like hammers on earth,
landslides. My father would tell me

I was the little boy in the old rhyme,
the boy promised the last bag of precious wool.
I was cocooned in it, and I grew.

Now I am trying to thread a nerve
between my life and yours,

but the spark voids to pain. No soldiers
came one morning, with tools

of a craft more ancient refined
than the long records of the dead
through which I am sifting. No soldiers came
to carve their company’s name in my father’s skin
and prise me from the swaddling.

My Lai Massacre

magic words

September 17, 2007

Agapē: charity, love. Accords our coloured sands. Becomes
the English agape: wide open. Mouth of ocean. These are magic words.
Anemos: wind. The Greek alpha

is spoken like a lover’s hym. Anemone: wind flower:
so called because its petals are easily scattered. Formed when Aphrodite
tended the open wound of Adonis, gouged by jealous Ares. Blood and nectar

became flowers. In Latin, the word becomes
animus: breath, spirit, soul. In English: animate: breath of life.
Sea anemone: stinging petals. Animosity: breath against breath.

There are words that can poison apples:
the prettiest: kallistēi. A nymph, poor Callisto,
raped by Zeus, hated by Hera,

who turned her into a great bear. In remorse, The Cloud Gatherer
gave her to a lovely cage: Ursa Major. Callisto
is a moon of Jupiter. We did not free her.

Magic words weave spirit in ink.
The Greek alpha; close to the open vowel in mars, and art:
both sweet and dark in becoming.


September 5, 2007

In my mind her peoples’ past holds flooded hollows
graced with rays that part or bend through salt water.
Now is a bubble that rises like a gaze. Thirty years
before my bubble was blown, there was war, and worse.

Today I tell her we are not different;
she tells me our souls are. A cruel covenant?
I see her in Jerusalem: a jewel under dawn’s sun.
Her soul hovers and pulses like amethyst turning.

It is beautiful enough to be true. Or perhaps all she knows
and all I know is memory, on no shore.
This brave old world is too big for stories,
they whisper to each other

like the condemned. They are tired of knowing
and of being birthed into the wide hollow
that love leaves. Yet somehow she shields
their words for this, like fruit, or keys.

shells (see above)

August 18, 2007

A well-known scientist (some say it was the philosopher Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the Earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?”

“You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”