A Last Grave

For H.B

If you’re there, then now would be it
the time to let an autodidact rise
with the dreams of his grandchildren

And as I say this, to myself
Under the graveyard tree, who is,
I think, nourished by the dead,
And yet lives, a breeze softly stokes
the leaves, each a red flag, and green.

A pile of ash keys against the wall
turns to dust, and the rain begins –

touching a white poppy in the field
but under the ground, under, waits
something, a crowd. A mass,
that moved once, and will move again.
For we know what happens,
when we bury a seed

Vague

Behind the facemask of my mind there isn’t a lot happening. The dullness of disaster has arrested complex thoughts with its neutralising swarm, experienced as a blank mass descending over everything like snow, or asbestos over an old factory. Which isnt to say I’m having a particularly bad time. After all kids would play in it like snow, and were presumably happy for those moments, even as the traces of later pain knitted themselves into the depths of the lung. Although I do have chronic pain of a kind, it’s really not anything to send letters home about – I can still enjoy the bubbling steam of the coffee machine that cost me £4 in a charity shop. These cheap, or at least notionally cheap pleasures help us in the mornings as they grow darker, colder, here in the north. For the best skill in life is to hold on whilst letting go, and knowing when. The chances of death are still certain etc. etc.

Stranded on the immensity of the ocean, I am treading water. The giant fish-object silhouette hovers in the deep, just on the edge of the dysphotic zone. My eyes are sliding off its almost-imperceptibility as the water laps around my ears, as the waves pull me up and down. My stomach is turning and turning to try find a way out, but of course there is none. Dread is with me in the cold water, amongst the water, invisible. My eyes are wide, and cold and I am in constant tension waiting for the attack.

Then something changes. I relax, see the surface rise away from me in its liquid glass transformations of the grey clouds. I take a mouthful of water and taste its saltiness before I open my lungs and breathe it in. It is light and cool inside me and I now hover, buoyant as the water, breathing the ocean in the dark. And moods are like this, aren’t they? I suppose.

V.84

When the angels heard an old one wake
A black supernova, eye crack
deep in the centre of the ‘verse,
trained on earth, and dreaming dead dreams

They made sure Dave got a guitar.
The birds stopped singing for a week,
just to listen, but he was kept
rapt by the way his fingers swept

chords it seemed from inner spaces,
unleafing. He joined a band, and
they did okay. But that was all
just celestial practice for

The time he was needed. The cloud
of darkness was drawing near – felt
in quarrels in the studio,
in breakups in the near future

and the slitherings of money.
The angels watched with bristling wings –
here it came. The moment planned for
so long ago. The room was dark.

At the first solo, the beast wept,
but ploughed the stars for earth still –
at the second, it screamed and tore
apart, raining down. Dave just smiled.

Aphorisms XIV

Pronouns again – A teenage girl bought the airfix. “Did she?” says my friend. But here is a place where I would say ‘they’ – uncertainty again being the aspect relevant to explaining why. I don’t know them…

*

Can there be a superlative without the disgust of the ordinary? Yes. In fact, that is a prerequisite. It’s not the difference from the ordinary that makes something superlative, but a superlative relation of that thing to us, experiencing it. And the disgust of the ordinary often slides in surreptitiously at the back. It may seem stupid to say that the best film has no relation to other films by that fact, but it is stupider to say that any film could satisfy the language game of suiting the squirly set of conditions for bestness taken in the tool like sense. The best tool for the task does that one job better than the others. But a film without an adjective, has no one task. I guess it’s a classic example of language going on holiday.

*

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V.83

I am one with all the insects
that will one day eat my body
When I have stopped, and am resting
In a sense, when resting is gone

I am one with the plants that grow
of me, in my head, in my trunk
I will give to the cold flowers
what they once gave to me: a hope

I am one with the air I breathe
that will burn me and dissolve me
for aeons, my skeleton rests
until it too crumbles like cake

I am one with the diseases
that will grind me down, as my mind
flares and splutters like a damp flare
in the faint waves on the dark beach

I am one with the words of things
the vast and tangled forest where
nothing can change without changing
everything. My paths will go on

I am one with the small beings
that fizz in and upon my skin
with legs and arms and carapace
made of me. I will be made free

Sylvia

Your face is golden in the sun,
Your body glistens wet –
Your fifties swimsuit draws my eye
I dream of its caress.

Sylvia, if I could be
A bather in the past,
I’d lift your head and kiss your cheek,
If you’d permit me that.

I’d draw your darkness with my tongue
from your deepest place,
I’d feel your heat, your grasping hand,
I’d notice in your face –

The genius of stranded souls
upon a crackling beach,
then words would form upon your lips
of poems you would teach –

the lighter horse, your latter ride,
and walks upon the crags,
some peaceful versions of your life.
Your death was such a drag.

Aphorisms XIII

Though it’s had a rough start, I think that social media will end up making us more dialogic, willing to consider other points and views. The same patchy start was true of the printing press, of books and pamphlets, I suspect. It will take hundreds of years having all the impact it will have, and may never finish impacting us. Has the printer finished with us yet? Probably not.

*

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Heaven

In this place the rain has fallen like this forever – a mist, the monsoon downpour and its white noise. Then the forest, the edge of a forest where blackbirds call meekly and woodpigeons shelter on the curved branch.

Lightning cracks through everything in vanishingly small moments. And thunder unites.

Spaced along the eternal border are houses, backing on to the woods and in each, the back door is open and swings slowly since the wind is slow. Raindrops fleck the glass, and wet the mat.

In the center of each garden, one of the risen stands, staring into the swaying woods which moves with the shifting intensity of the rain. It is warm, and their clothes are wet. They never look away. They want nothing except to continue to look. They are granted this.

The lord’s prayer dances on their lips, but it changes nothing, and means nothing. Still they call it, whisper it, softly. Its sound is completely lost in the rain.

They seem still, and at peace. And they might be

Kew

It’s as hot as the sun
can make it here
where water forgets
its natural direction
of downhill, & hovers

That is apart from the salted
water on our brows,
your smooth and pale back
your classically refined
tanned toes

seeing plants everywhere
on tables, panels, hanging gardens
in our eyelids, lashes –
my mind loses place
arborial beauty hangs together

with the small and hot haired
nymph of the sweat water
I see before me. You
smile again an evil smile
at my fear of heights – & I

see your eyes glitter
organically
small sticky rust grey seeds
which lodge in my mind
and breed