V.96 nightingale I

In the fume of the late world, I
lie in bed awake. Two o’clock
I turn the light off, finally
to end another day, and sleep.

A whistle, I hear, a trilling
out at the top of the north town –
The air is mild at autumn’s end
and a nightingale is singing.

I am opened up wide by it
I think of waking the whole house
Shouting to the street night, get up
a soft event is occurring.

Open in the window, with cool
air playing on my back, I hold
the phone with its small ear outward
Hoping to give my tired parents

sign of a small brown bird, city
bird now, or lost. I am awake
due to anxious spurrings, a world
that is inexplicable. Sleep

had it taken me, I don’t think
would have had resource to rival
this surprise which is beauty, and
banishes fear. If for a time

V.95 BABBLE

The language engineers at work
in caves, at the timefall, at work
tending herds of grammar, culling
precious words. Tapping flints on walls

patiently guiding neurons through
submerged caverns, through pinching caves,
seeding fields in the deep. Alas
memory is weak and falling

And the dark is never ending
Scathing eyes and reticent laughs
fill the blackness. Babel was made
here, by someone, alone. The bricks

to build towers are clay and hay
which pour from loners’ joyful mouths.
like wildfire a new word comes
and burns the village to the ground,

No, it says. I have caught this fire
I climbed the black mountain alone
and god spoke, spoke in flame to ME,
PROMETHEUS, MOSES, but fire

is fickle – do not expect much
The terrain is rough, and fools rush
to smooth it out. I build, I sculpt
a language which must crack and fall

V.94

Hold your fist in the air. Support
the sky by leaving it there. Pride
of the world, you say, with your hand.
This elbow node of the culture,

bent at its soft angle. As if
to say, we are both atlas, and
if we fail each other, the sky
may break into pieces and fall//

Hail hits the windows, rattles vents
and the game console cools slowly
and out of the pattern of snow
on the window, and hot plastic

something forms. It’s an odd meaning
that shifts and cracks and congeals out
of the air. This passage of heat
towards the cold. In sheds, remains

of the past sit in the chill air
and spiders die among them. Peace
steps through the door in the shape of
someone who cares. They nudge you out

of a rut you slid into when
time disjointed. One day, the earth
will cool to a black lump, but still
we have lived and learned together

V.93

Silence at night is a blank hex
something never meant. A ragged
breath was meant to be our white noise –
our cousins holding each other

The grass (which I imagine long
and paper thin, the pelt of earth)
is carving the air into noise
under the hectic stars. And we

lie rumbling and vibrating each
time the sun collapses, and all
the other times as well, our beat
and breath the bellows of our heat.

Our hearing is still a tension
that can hear. The walls just standing
in their cold brick heart, we have called
tinnitus. The whine of our gears

and the ruckus of our machines
– the fingernails, the comfort rub
of a duvet against toes, as
the delicate attention bears

upon the slightest thing, leaving
reams and reams of analysis
of the breath’s passage in the nose
and the roaring brain in the dark

V.92

Come to me now, being of dark
body, smooth and night sky-like. Come
being with a galaxy head
and lie with me under the moon

The night is passing too slowly
the clouds ensure a tempered glow
My window is fluorescent, dull
and shelves stretch to the roof above

But I have no one to work it out
come, body of the supple stars
touch my skin so I may feel you
the softness from which I am built.

You have lain in the sky too long
The moon breast, and the other, sharp
sun hidden under the planet
veil, I draw you back for long hours

The stars are the hair on your back
and I smell the warm air which climbs
up, having held your body, now
in my lungs, I hold your hot scent

and the metal in my fillings
melts, draining down my throat. Come now
sex of the night with the landscape
achieve your end with me and sleep

Aphorisms XIX

The hatred of brutalism and modernism is a kind of prolonged hate, by the children of imperialists, of something that was made by or at least sometimes for, in a really important way, us, the children of the workers who held the empire for them. These buildings we built, when the people were in real power for the first time, just worry those with that shrunken ideology that would go back but can never outline where to, beyond that road where we slaves were strung up, on the way to the senate. They are a too forward sign that the new did happen, and could happen again.

The fact that they are disliked, helps us to remember their importance. The first mass architecture stripped of everything non-secular, not taking the temple or the church as its model. Not a castle, but a standing commune. You don’t even need to look up who said ‘each Englishman’s home is his castle’. You just know they had a big house, and a big garden, and probably a servant or two.

*

Continue reading

V.91

The green dawn never came. This land
sank under the sea. We might have
been a new Atlantis. No more –
Now dark ships, tossed on the black sea

clash by night with our rabid guard.
A wall surrounds the island, seen
from the water as grey cliffs are
seen. So. Let everything old burn

that is after all, what you wanted –
was it not? You had rather seen
an old England, where car horns blare
nine coughing blasts and then we drown.

Enough of these childish things.
we can barely breathe. Let flames rise
and cast their shadows on the sea.
Each of you who brought this rank fate

will meet your avenging angel
in your dreams, burning and the sun
burning, burning. You take Blake’s name
in vain to sing Jerusalem.

Blake sings with me. Your hope was not.
And now as your voices raise up
in panic, I can only smile –
a great red dragon smiles in me

V.90

When you read an ancient poet
and find yourself or part of you
becoming-drift with ancient sands
always enfolding each other,

it is not something of success
or failure – to be the great soul
is to draw all strings into one
cord, and feel your sudden failure –

everything has its ancestor –
unwind one thread and say of it
this is my colour, my tenor…
It’s all a scrub with tiny blooms –

stone, shell, what more? Repetition
is never quite exactly apt –
this courtly poet whispers through
eleven centuries to tell

me of my love for you, clearer
than the scarcest cut ice, trekked out
across the sands and wrapped in palm
to impress the caliph. My song

is an alm on the tree which grows
and falls and grows again. Years pass
and the desert widens, but faint
movements stir the clacking branches

V.89

Pain in my hands as I hold them
grasping a book, obsolescence
staring me down across thirteen
futures, just those from that second –

Le Grande Chartreuse chants ply away
in chorus across the copper
and fibreglass, a chant of years
of imaginary journeys.

I can hear imaginary
thoughts of those who would use oldness
to justify anything new
they fancied the look of. Silence

for example. A lost image
which is strings of words and phrases
and none of it uncreated –
it was sung in old emotions

we learned (and we is a loose term)
in ages past (every term is)
when we were openings among
the trees. I mean to say that no

singer can by their song undo
hope, though the lost hope may argue.
No dice throw can abolish chance.
The new world will come regardless