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.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

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

The Field

An itinerant worker returns from a civil war that never quite happened, back through time to their partner, and on their way they see things in England and Wales that cause thoughts to occur. In sequence the field repeats, each one slightly differently. In each field a different voice, a different group. Maybe a village, or a city, or a bird

Continue reading

V.88

The lake surface is dusk-white noise –
Just so many cut paper gulls
and silhouette ducks – then the dark
cuts across this inner distance

I sit in the greying evening
reiterate a dead song-form
– that of assuming the stances
of nature. But nature is gone

and what remains is a dammed stream
and what remains is a lake house
– people moan and run from nothing
and wheeze. I can’t reach beyond it.

There’s only the monotone lake
whose forms insulate nothing from
nothing. An image of a false
image. I make my offering:

In the morning, a red dawn comes
and fixes the sky in crystal.
Intergalactic prison ships
revolt and institute the new

through law. But for now, the moon hangs
in soft focus, and swans are fed,
by fallen branches whose mirror
in the lake caresses the sky

V.87

The love of blue should not eclipse
the love of green – of mossy tiles
of algae bloom and ancient trees –
but then – culture does not feel pain

The sky should remain blue, and far,
so we needn’t worry to breathe,
its empire dissolved, its currents
tamed – culture does not feel pain

Whelks and shells of oysters bubble
on the beach and drown, and white flocks
of turrets spoil the darkling coast
and yet – culture does not feel pain

Cinema screens in a bleak world
play empty films to empty rooms,
sound whispered arguments about
light swords – culture does not feel pain

The stadiums of the still world
are filled with the crowds of the past
and sportsmen fight against hunger
because – culture does not feel pain

The boats upon the sea that leave
bodies scattered, should now be raised
cenotaphii to float above
white cliffs – culture does not feel pain

Calliope

I want to receive you like the bed after becoming so tired I cannot sleep and odd things run through my feverish mind

I want to sit stunned cross legged on the covers and reach over to catalogue you mindlessly at first, but then knit all of you together with my tongue

I want to hear your voice collapse like, in the grey fog, immense waves in a storm collapse on chalk cliffs, I want to collapse

I want your gaze to become decentred from the locus of your self, allow the sun to become everything of you, scattered over you on the forest slopes in the snow

I want you to think of all of your best lovers whilst we recall them by knotting together, and it becomes hard to untangle from the past to go make coffee

I want us to forget each of us which gender we are, at the moment of climax when all there are are damp surfaces and depths and the universe achieves its end smiling, I want us to sweat

I want you to feel your dark hair rise all over your body, feel it grasp everything like snakes as I become statuesque

I want it to be like tearing the book of your life in half from that moment each time, each time you look at me and laugh or sigh and the rain pelts jealously on the window

I often think of collapsing with you on the floor as soon as we cross the threshold, with a little ceremony and incense, the censer swaying back and forth over the carpet. I often think of you

Silence of the Gospel – after Paul Éluard (1926)

We sleep alongside red angels who show us the desert without microscopics and without soft, sad awakenings. We sleep. A wing breaks us, escape, we have wheels older than flown feathers, lost, to explore the graveyards of slowness, the only luxury.

*

The bottle which surrounds the cloth of our wounds gives in to the slightest want. Let us take hearts, brains, the muscles of anger, let’s take the invisible flowers of pale little girls and tied children. Let us take the hand of memory, let us close our souvenir eyes, a theory of trees liberated by thieves hits us and divides us, all the fragments are good. Who will reassemble them: terror, suffering or disgust?

*

Sleep, my brothers. This inexplicable chapter has become incomprehensible. Giants pass by, breathing terrible moans, giant’s moans, moans like the dawn wants to push through them, the dawn which can’t complain anymore, after all this time, my brothers, after all this time.

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 teeth to snag me from behind.

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.