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.


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.

precious stones

May 22, 2008

I am eating nuts in sugar.
I see a pile of glass chips,
brown-gold: scab pus glistens..
Pain. My teeth feel brittle.

My beautiful face is crunching
in the glass at home. Before
I come to its aid the guards
prop bones and mop the blood

their precious stones were squeezing.
Lord God I am sick of poems
that nuance violence like swans.
Lord God I am sick of mirrors.

If poems are swans
and if you are stuck
under glass below
take your pick
to them. Good luck.

In Eden the cycles
are ouroubus ripples.
Will I be alone
like the mirrors in rain?

how to boil an egg

November 20, 2007

If the egg is too fresh, then boiled,
it will not peel. If you drop the egg
into boiling water, it may crack.

I cannot tell you in minutes
seconds, beats of phoenix wings,
burning or emerged

or of cicada hearts,

how long your egg will take to set in the centre
or the soft ceramic white. So many things
will be brought to bear upon the outcome:

the pressure of the air beyond the pan,
the diet of the hen, her mood,
the moods of the gods,

whether a witch is whispering
outside your window, whether a black cat
furs your path in the morning

as the unbound yolk of sun
divides dawn clouds.

Whether the stars were pale the night before
or shifting through all the colours. Whether
you watched your body dance amongst the northern lights

like a flame seen through an insect’s wing.
So many things. But you can know,
and this I cannot teach you.


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


October 4, 2007

I will learn autumn like a harp,
forage it for soot swelled blackberries
and sweet chestnuts to caramelise;
I will sweep the death colours into sweetness, the reds,
the endless reds that rain past the throats of flowers
who wring their plain grief like widows
as frost tombs the sod, and the shadow hangs like crows.

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.