V.110

I’m stood in front of a hedge maze –
there are three doors and each is locked
with a different kind of black lock
whose keys aren’t quite biting the pins

There are thirty keys, so varied
in shape and their material –
the silver key seemed right but snapped
ejecting a tiny blank scroll.

I knew that here, invisible
was the map to find the lost key –
but I tried to heat it and see,
a lemon juice script darkening,

when the whole scroll just exploded
into a tart lavender dust
(I’m sure I can see lavender
through one of the keyholes. But which?)

I bend down to look again, then
lean unthinking on a handle
and its door swings sweetly open
with the sound of a barnyard latch

I step through quickly and so, fall
through a trapdoor into a pit
and that’s what loving you is like
goddammit! I must brush my teeth

V.109

Sylvia lies on oil-cool sheets
She breathes in shudders, (or smoothness?)
Her lover ponders with no heart
the burnt out sun of her bedroom

Their children are playing downstairs –
he gave them journals for burning
They tear out pages and watch them
shreds that jump up into the sky

This one says “I was loved and then
my lover’s brain smoothed quite over”
and the embers crawl along it
a gold wave that doesn’t come back

but just keeps going and going,
or like an event horizon
He knows that by sealing her mouth
with a sweaty palm, a quiet

encloses his act in reasons –
how could it have been otherwise
with a man that covers the tracks
to the death with an ashen snow

Who spends evenings in the city
learning new sex techniques, to try
and recover something, sad crow.
But marriage does not live in the past

V.108 Moth, after Rebecca Elson

Sometimes something someone says (light
of the morning through the canvas,
warmth of bed and skin) fails to hold
and the problem deepens, and fire

holding me, like a massive frog,
begins to crisp the edges of
my mind. Don’t worry, this one has
a good ending, a small firework

let off in a quiet district,
a single man, gathered to watch,
in the November fog. Happy,
watching the fire-flower unfurl –

a man who has been reborn, fire
leaping into the past, gently
to wrap its warm palm around him,
and give him life again, a chance

for a son, a friend, a wife
to ask, why. That happy. Silence
falls upon me apart from sobs
and whimpers which I cannot place

(they’re mine) (I make them whilst I think)
(think through this problem we have posed)
(you could say, like a moth with a flame,
your brightness has me befuzzled)

V.107

In the nightmare world, all love fails
not spectacular and justly
but just by being out of sync
and slightly too slow. Blinding love

takes hold of you a few days late
and this is the eternal law
– declarations unmutual
and your world is a roaring wind

where reeds wave under a grey sky.
In the nightmare world, your polis
ostracises the honoured ones
and your politics fail, not quick

but slow and janky, as love fails.
Your worldview is cracked and you sit
comfortable and quiet indoors
playing videogames. Easy,

the world begins and begins and
in the nightmare world, chronic pain
undercuts any coolness, and
people you don’t know are complex

as puzzles unsolved since Ur fell.
In the nightmare world, horrified,
people slowly forget their lives
and we stub our toes on the curb

V.106

And the hand stitched top you wear
and the thin cotton bag with leaves
and the boots with the yellow thread
and the twisted rings in your ears

And the velvet skirt, its crossed legs
and the top of your pale shoulder
and the nose ring on the pink skin
and the golden field within you

which is also all around you
and there is another person
for whom I would write this poem
but to do so would be a sin

So I have chosen you, my darling
in the queue for the walled garden.
I would walk to an old music
and blag my way through a doorway

to sit with you on the felt seats
as a band rehearses. Listen,
until the steward kicks us out
we can hold hands and whisper things

Let’s buy a memorial bench
and people will murmur our names
with sadness as we run across
some sand, skimming laughs off the waves

V.103 Antipoetic

Heat without respite stills the voice
and dreams of redemption arise
stood microwaving a pizza
halving a scone, after a day

when digital ends, achieved, bring
a small smile and the motivate
gaping. Help me, I can’t stop plans
from forming out of computers

Better stop this hot dithering
the real does not suffer the fake
to install itself here for long
always some half muttered question

And scared of the voiding of life
I remember the hanging sun
at midnight when you were married
The drive to the naked ski slope

The stumble on the rocks. The week
of trekking with mosquitoes, bears
Hiding out in the empty, dark
forest of the distant image

Mounds of pine needles and their ants
You crying at intensity
of feeling, of the days that passed
when time became saturated

V.102 Apophenic

The path is overgrown and I
am lost – the way ahead is full
of ferns and low branches and moist
air. The sun flies off the grey lake

to dance in the trees. I am lost
which cause can be drawn from these facts
and the quality of sunlight.
It’s changed since I was young. Not me

I remain the same through all the change
my beard lost, my hair cut, my strength
curtailed. My gender uncertain
my sex with those others behind

the red curtain, on the neat tiles
means nothing when it comes to me
– the clean statue hidden inside
the flesh like a glacier mint…

As the leaves from last year engrain
and worms eat them, this certainty
grows – nothing causes anything
anymore, the cause sails silent

among air packed with miracle
More can be said but the dawning
of meaning on the word has gone
there is no duty to call it

V.100 Loki

You know what to do, in lastness
you feel the god of steel growing
you pray that all will fall away
as hesitation corrupts us

Our time is lived but once, and yet
that doesn’t seem to move us much
But what can we expect from voices
peeling the skin of older gods

The courts of law arranged behind
the gate, behind the projector
screen, where the greyscale mouse dances
and buried viking chess sets crack

A hedonism ramifies –
you don’t know that you’re born, they say
Response: You don’t know that you’re dead –
building great towers in the west

exactly like giant gravestones
and in memoriam to what?
Allow us talk, sir. Allow us
our fortresses in the dark air

Something is dead and its absence
thickens through non-acknowledgement
The engines of capital burn
as particles plot against us

V.99

The world is not a game of chess –
A game of chess is not a game
sometimes it’s something more and less
When a world turns on an evening

When rain churns upon the roof tiles
and rain sounds dance inside the ear
and rain worlds are raised from the red
depths of the mind, a damp childhood.

In an oxbow lake three kids act
in a pirate film, and leap out
in the rain, to feel the warm depths
and feel roots in the dark water

touch their legs, and shiver. A fish
a dead fish bobs among the reeds
Its unused eye staring at clouds
dark with the shadow of water.

In a film a neat cottage stands
by the sea, and an old man gives
advice that, being trite, this time
because of something deep, and past

returning, brings with it a roar
like the sun checkmates the dark sea
and castles on the sand, kids hands
had made, are washed away. I love you

V.97 Nightingale II

It was probably a sleepless
thrush, or a lady blackbird out
In the morning to center me.
Later in the week a green tree

(green, you remember green, a sharp
asset, a zone) is filled up
by a murmuration. Words fail
to register all of the ways

that words fail. Over the next months
poetry leaves me as I hold
my black plastic controller and
curl up in bed as the womb hurts

curl up around an old and new
goal, to have the numbers raise up
and buttons click neatly and soft
as the shots of unreal guns sound –

As the game becomes my home, I
hold myself in the vibrant light
and lines cut to suit the dull eye
and suspended in a rest mode

I wait until the suspense that comes
from restraints, as in chess, or love
is suspended in turn and light
of sun over the river grows