V.121

In the city, the Christians
grew accustomed. The empire war,
which had been waging for long years
had its opponents. Casualties –

always fighting, giving leaflets –
learning unaccountable truths –
no concept is safe from the earth.
Boys carry little flags, and gurn,

dragging the flags on the damp stone.
Empire and humanity, age
and mix, as womens’ hair is caught
on long lines of dancing metal

tearing it from their heads. This world
– this economy – transfixes
the human, tears it. Dresses it up
in uniform, in dead structure

We soon turn back, to watch its path
when only we remain. Staring
as images pile up on streets
that are dragged through the shifting dust

The city filled with glowing points
like a lost tangle of string-lights.
We try and unweave it, but soon
crackle and break, changing something

V.120

I brush gently the leaves, and dust
pushing it from the dry black bricks
of my brain, and of the real street –
Its holes, gratings, posts, back alleys

stand in the bright cold above this –
the leaves replenish their yellows
and I breathe, letting life happen
despite it happening loudly –

Under the pavement, centipedes
slip around corners and thin pipes
cupped with silt. And wires web the town.
If you listen here, carefully,

place your ear against the drainpipe
that sinks beneath the street, you hear
like a half-forgotten dream sound
the far off ocean is breathing

and phantom children laughing – us,
but from a lighter, freer time –
the beach reaches both horizons
the one on the sky’s edge, and then

the other – where the wave’s instep
glows green or blue – glass in the sun –
I brush new sand from the black bricks
and then place my hands on the dunes

V.119

A laminated floor with chips
is cold when you place your hand there –
to pick up a dirty foam ball,
and quick throw it at some classmate.

The same floor is in the deep past
in the badminton hall where squeaks
happen and the thud and the thud
of an unknown body’s collapse

and blue face. I watch him dying
flanked by dark angels as I say
“It’s gonna be okay”. You lie
but do not know you are lying.

How can a floor, the floor you learn
collects grit, as your palm feels it,
with the rubber face of a doll
designed to resuscitate us

How can a floor, where I once danced
with my ginger haired instructor
whose smell made me blush, not knowing
why. How can a floor give resource

A blank floor. The sound of running
gets through the headphones. Electric
resources given by Four Tet –
in the gym I think of the past

Aphorisms XXIII

If you put all your eggs in one basket, you’d better not drop that basket.

*

So often in anxious times you see your own internal features expressed in silences, gaps and tones in the speech of your friends. Your own face glares back out of them darkly and says, you’re not enough, you are guilty. But, as it often turns out, they never meant anything by it.

I long for the truth of a myth of a messianic moment where understanding passes over us in a sweet rapture. But it won’t.

The most we can hope for is to taste it, from time to time.

*

Continue reading

Joan Miro by Paul Éluard

Sun-prey prisoner of my head,
rub out the hill, rub out the forest.
The sky is more beautiful than ever.
Grape-dragonflies
give it form so precise
that I disperse with a wave.

Clouds of the first day,
insensible clouds, that nothing authorised,
their grain burns
in the straw-fire of my eyes.

In the end, to cover itself in dawn
the day must be as pure as the night

V.118

The future never lasts for long.
And is there something stirring here?
On the drizzled streets of Skipton,
a voice comes, offering leaflets –

not as I might expect, or think
important, knowing the stories
of the humanity of God –
but this – “you think we’ve been to space?”

In these words the future falls dead
and deadens the damp atmosphere –
Will England march across the world
ex-nihil again, destroying

any trace of a satellite,
repurposing launchpads to use
as metal to build – what? Nothing
or a ladder to test the sky –

find patterns in the crystal dome
there where the stars are set by God
Where comets bounce off and vanish
back into the void, or heaven.

These people cannot feel safe, nor
accept the realness of defeat –
if they take power, death may come
and our souls fall off the world’s edge