If I could steal her again, my bright
breeze, give the air means to move again
I would, I would set my brother’s word
in ice, bury it here and see it gone.
What lesson was there to be learned?
Once you are trapped in yourself, no gleaning
can offer you worse, can free you, so…
She flees from me and I can’t read her
despite these most constant assertions.
She sits at the computer all dressed
in that soft cotton striped playsuit. Damn
I wish I could rearrange the world
so that I get what I want. A world
where the geography itself would mean
desires satisfied and grown hectic.
And where the words strung out would thus lack
all connection to this or that – no
resistance, just me as every law.
I am tired of all the hot buses
and misty windows in hell – and words
I cannot cut at the joints, chatter
of all ghosts ever. But am I
any better? I just wanted this:
a person to lie in a warm bed
who would wake me up with caressing.
I would ever try again – but here
in Hades, desires undermine us
Small and naked tormentor with barbs
of vague and undisclosed ideas
that, unlodged, send the guts sprawling out;
fire shot after shot into my head
Bang bang bang and I can never move.
This time I was just trying to read.
The flight was close range. I had no chance.
In the bookshop café you leant out
from behind a fake pot plant and fired.
Her eyes caught mine for a bright moment
I couldn’t breathe I thought this was it.
then the poison hit. I couldn’t stand.
A shiver of lacks that drained inwards –
stalling, the child burns and falls seaward.
Lessons learned and unlearned, still I dream
of the conversation of bodies.
Still, in her blue eyes I sat and shook
and found some half-lost moment of peace
How it was that Cupid arranged this
I do not know. That little fucker.
But you know when you wear a jumper
you only wear to bed, and feel it –
the softness of all mornings hanging
there in the cathedral of your sleep.
You feel it brushing against your mind
the way that dry grass blows in sunlight
on the warm hillside, silent morning
over the city? Well quelle surprise
Cupid weaponised it and bullseye –
I was on the bus, tired from walking
I was barely thinking, distracted
by a handful of small cares and time
that had nothing in it. What a shot.
Ricocheting out the café door,
it blew my mind out my eyes. I stared
as this woman sat there in that light.
She was eating green soup, and talking
on the phone. And I’m damned to suffer
yet again this fear that I’m a creep.
The bus stopped there for moment and
the world froze. I watched her spoon moving.
I felt at peace, with my brains dripping
off the stop buttons and commuters.
My day was ruined. Goddamn Cupid.
The bus moved, time resumed. I slumped down.
I hate this slow moment most of all –
the jog down the pylon line pathway
swatting the damn flies which lick my neck,
which never land the same place again.
In the moor gloam either side of me
run streams and flow pools I could never
taste – trust me I tried. Where lignified
weeds and deep bogs block my sly attempts
the world chuckles – and I can’t stand it.
Each time I reach the rock’s resting place
I breathe deep, smell the old and empty
concrete garages of my youth-time.
Hear in my head the forgotten words
or wordless voice of the long deceased
and this directedness towards tools
– god, with no element of purpose
even then. I never learned to build.
Now push, again unsure how I feel.
My hands lost the rock, my god, the dull
rock which propagates each night within
my skull. And it flew down the incline
of this humid and reed haired hillside –
to the point where I can find no sleep
except when walking behind me, I
see me, with nothing else to guess at –
I hope, god this is not some new thing
some terrible newness they would add.
Life is an infinite sided die,
containing within it dice to reign
over all the realms of being me.
But every single throw shows up ones –
I am used to this – may it go on.
Between searching for the dull boulder
and pushing the damn thing up the hill
I think I may have got things just right.
I’ve learned to love it. Let it not change
It happens sometimes, this odd feeling –
that things aren’t quite what I thought they were.
For instance, now, on the morning bus
I sit and watch her hair making greased
marks on the windows, and feel the warmth
and the gentle rocking of the seats
this sleepy morning. And I reason
that I am happy, and that nothing
is lacking here as we cross the bridge.
But I used to want more. I used to
feel singeing terror that I would reach
this dull moment. That I would give up
wanting to murder the next lion
rampaging across the rainy hills,
or that simply seeing the Hydra
with its roiling whipknot of sharp heads
would make me feel such fatigue, make me
lie down in the darkness and wonder –
but then one day I woke up. Something
had changed, and all my possibles
were scattered around me in pieces
on the mosaic floor, the old kline couch
the wicker chair, and their blood was all
I could see. That was the beginning.
Immense strength is not just for blasting –
now I make cups of tea, get biscuits
for my colleagues with a cooling ease.
I used to know I would rather die
than live like this – how often this life
shows us with what smallness we think.
It’s really not so bad once you’re here.
The muses, grown old and decrepit
fuss around my head from time to time
making sure I’ve done this or that task –
immortality is truly real
when only the same small things repeat
Led into halls of light I wandered
from here to there in the aisles – til the old
Aesclepius behind the counter
gestured. There were forms to fill and when
the pen broke I asked for another.
They rummaged in pockets, then brought it –
a small pencil with two worms entwined.
I signed my name, and paid. Then a girl
took my hand and brought me softly through.
The room was frankly a bit smaller
than would be comfortable. Panacea
took from me my rain coat, grey jumper
and I turned my weaker side to her
trusting absolutely her manner
her disconcerting eyes and warm hands.
Panacea – I said – sometimes I faint.
She looked at me, and from her dew touch
I felt an absolution pouring.
The hypodermus twitched – and with that
I received her in, with a faint squelch.
My muscles parted to house this clear
and salient organ amongst mine
and very soon, sent off without word,
I found myself in the cold, walking
to the barbers, musing on this debt.
These days we all owe a tithe to them
To the Old Ones and the working nurse.
In the smooth dark the faun first arrives,
stepping from the skin of my best friend.
So much support has gone into this
and now we’re dancing and all call out
which classic films had taught us to love.
Things swim before my eyes, and I too
swim in these moments as I placate.
We are far from home and soon will leave
for those far shores again. Oh soft time.
Drinking whisky they dream or don’t dream
as is their need. The old bottles pall
as their blood is drunk. And the sober
watch on at the loud speeches and song
and the night becomes long. And yet still,
in this time and place where we cannot
get precisely what we want, and feel
pain, the smiles around us float on streams
of lesser darknesses and heat to boil
that pool of life’s worth again. We hear
Sigur Ros sing as we change places
again. And sit in the darkening
moments that fade, and look into eyes
we shall not see ’til other ages.
Silenus sits and watches smiling
before he scratches an ear puzzled.
Something seems not quite right to his eye.
He is wrong. There is nothing wrong here
The surface of the water opens
and the raising dome of hair splits,
a smooth plug of water draining off.
The dewy skin of the nymph is blue
and sets trails in my eyes like the sun
bursting through clouds over the dark hills
and mountains over the cattle pass.
The lymphatic system of the rock
shows its pale blue in her, in small pools.
Just as her body breaks the water
so it breaks me. The heather and moss
and the golden reeds in the damp sun
for hours as we walked up the falls are
no protection. I look at my friend
sadly, and my foot joins the stream floor.
My boots fill with water. I shiver
and again I shiver as her smooth
lips touch my ear and pour in water.
Soon I am naked and my skin numb.
The valley’s and lochs of her body
are mine for one short play of white light
in shifting nets upon the cave roof.
Then I notice the half eaten girl
with her heart hanging out but pumping,
just. Her deep eyes are dead barnacles
and they stare at the bone covered floor.
I play in their water like a child
Slipping through like a needle through silk
comes cupid’s static shock of a bolt
except the silk is me, and this slip
is only the beginning. My heart
is the target, and this tracer shot
soon followed by a sly and silent
shockwave that strips all trees of their leaves.
And the silence isn’t lasting – once
hit I can’t hear but for this ringing.
BOOM. I look over to see cupid
smirking slightly, his manic eyes wide
and stunned at what he has dared to do.
Then I look down at my blackened heart
steaming on the floor, pumping its last.
I go to pick it up, try to force
it back in my chest. But my hand meets
a hand. My stomach drops out now, too
and I start sobbing as I look up
“God damn it cupid, you f*** I don’t
believe this not again already…”
But it’s too late. Her eyes are soldered
into my brain before I can gasp
or change where I’m looking. My limbs shake.
Oh – she says – I thought I’d just help you
pick this up. I try to form a smile
but instead collapse into a heap.
Oh of course. You don’t know what you’ve done