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.105 Loss

Simone Biles dances on the beam
and time is waiting for something
Time leans on us, and our actions
are heavy under it. To come

and drink the steeping tea, and talk
or pass the time in myriad.
Years go by in minutes, seconds
flashes of fire along a fuse

a dark cardboard twist to ignite
nothing. The blank air, its thinking,
delays us. And here is the knock
upon glass, at the door. Or bell

ringing out, as Guan Chenchen
stumbles into the Chinese flag.
And truly the most intimate
subjects are the hardest to reign,

to string into a net they cut.
That we balk at the idea
of putting fingers to the keys.
There is so much dead energy

cracking and cascading in us
Oh what a strange day it has been
as the brown sky receives a bronze
as the night wears on, and the night

V.104 Cinemagoing

Seagulls plot arcs over the door
over the hot cars. Here memory
is so thick it feels like human
history has culminated

Pearl and Dean a mythologic
aspect. Kids leapfrog the bollards
like I once did, like I know my
kin will manage to do again

for the end of times has no grip
in ideas that build themselves here
Like popcorn in its cabinet –
which is hot with old emotion

Or the tickets which are paragon
of what exchange could be – given
a projectionist with a just wage.
Here shines paper, now go through here

Here is the event, the dark room
where people wait, quietly pray
and laugh, and then titles, silence
Materialism of light

And after, that feeling of loss
of what has been gone through, firstly
then the door with star shaped handles
The carpark night’s warm gradient

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.101

This author will still be read, when
the sun has enveloped the earth
in a stifling embrace, and rock
again attains its prevalence

It will go down in history
down into the land, under it
with the rust, into the magma
where the planet forgets itself

The nation’s glory shall ring out
through the debris field in deep space
as comets impact planets, dull
armadas in the dead empire

They will still talk about today
when mouths are a thing forgotten
and the only concept is cold
Cold that stills the slowing atoms

I will remember you until
I lie on the linoleum
watching the inlaid glitter blur
until a galaxy appears

I will remember you, my love
breaking the law of the poem
We will forever have been us
There is nothing that can change that.

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

Aphorisms XX

My guitar teacher used to say to me – learn the theory, learn the chords, learn riffs and learn songs. But try your best to forget it all when you need to write music.

The same goes for advice on writing. You can’t have all that rattling around in your head when you’re trying to get something done. When it comes up, it should pop in like a friend to remind you you need a cup of tea, or better, bring you that cup, with a biscuit.

(This fits into the probably quite voluminous category of meta-advice.)

*

When you play a videogame with gestural graphics, that don’t quite add up, you bring a kind of supplement to it. An ideal space opens up on top of everything on the game and adds materiality, similar to when you’re reading a book and you bring images, material from the memory into the book-image. It fills in the gaps, making the whole painting pop. At least, it did when I was a kid.

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