shell

May 27, 2008

We moved to the countryside. The nights were silent.
You dipped your hand in wine and coloured your belly.
We came, shivering. The moon was pale.
We took it in turns to talk to,
to caress. The moon was white.

Seasons shimmered. The telephone
began to look out of place, then later,
like a shell. No one came to stay.
Our house sank a little each day.

We covered it up with turf;
the foundations hit bedrock
and it stuck there like an egg in a pork pie,
and we were a raw yolk, viscous,
sloshing round in a bubble
as the crusted earth turned and we were rocked softly,
while everyone else was kneading and dying like flies in pastry.

The moon was the colour of buttercups,
jeweled fat by a cooker, cratered amber,
a wash of saffron ink on old canvas.

We had a window in our roof,
and we watched the moon for hours,
felt it dragging tides of our bloods,
imagined ourselves shrunk as small as cells,
ebbing and flowing with the circadian spin:
two happy, drowning voices,
conducted by a sweet, fat lunatic,
and we folded our selves into the fabric of the land like haiku.

We kept paying the line rental. One day,
we were phoned by a fax machine,
and it felt as if one of H.G. Wells’ tripods
had hovered above the window
and brushed its nasal death ray past our eyes.
Once we got over the shock
we tried to talk to the machine, we tried to explain
why we couldn’t come back,

as if we were Gaia talking to the human race
or as if we were love trying to apologise,
trying to explain why it hurt and what the easing of it was –

to a fax machine. And it listened carefully,
but we spoke the wrong language,
so it was frightened, and did not speak
or later relay our message to anyone of consequence.

So the days suffered like they always had, but more,
and that beautiful bastardbitch of a moon drew great tides of blood,
and waves crashed and threw up great gouts of it that splashed on our high window,
soaked the tiles and the wars went on and on and on

and no one told anyone;
no one told a soul
that you can only see what’s real once you realise you’re dreaming.
No one told a soul

or they screamed it from the rooftops
then the beacon hills. And maybe we did
and maybe our house never sank
and we died with you, as you, screaming for you,
as we pinched ourselves, each other,
harder and harder

to wake others up from their dreams,
to live in ours, which was not a dream –

and kept pinching till we were crabs
shuffling and duelling, shuffling and duelling,
shuffling and screaming for beheadings
as flimsily as we turned against the wind
to be spun and scattered like sycamore down
into blood and the dizziness of spirals.

So we never moved to the countryside;
we talked about it for a few months
but your tests kept showing negative.
I got worse and worse and the meds
just made me fat and slow witted.

But the wars were real
like nothing else. Unless pieces of shell.

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
icecapped,

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.

free

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.

no-doctrine

May 22, 2008

I tell you to think of onion skins furling
or rainforests like faces. I tell you the heads of pins
swarm with angels, and we are everything
that is neither metal nor Elohim. I tell you the jewel of the dance
is a pearl that everyone is running on
and one must not slip.

You ask what is life’s substance, its shape? I say
quicksilver or sand, labyrinth or symphony.
This tapestry tangles smooth, weaves past anew
as present glances by. Storm and eye
or not I and form no new words please

for what we cannot describe;
such words labour breath into barbed wire.

I cannot hear myself,
I will not listen, I do not desire to grasp the philosopher’s stone
or the unifying theory of hearts.

I must take these words to the river;
the water will make them its own.

mockingbirds

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

hollow

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.

horizon’s snapped

August 2, 2007

We lived in silver thimbles, deafened by taps
that were to us as loud as cymbols

and when the fireflies came to hatch in our dream
it melted and sluiced into the sea
like ice cream from the fist of Liberty

and glued the feathers of American seabirds
and vultures painted the sky.