Grange-over-sands

The quicksand and sea of mud
and the sea itself, running
with cold skies as long and deep.
Trees step out from cobbled banks
and the train’s rumble stirring
the café in the pale house –
I cannot escape from this

barbaric lyric’s enclave –
with the way that the world goes on
why can I still find this peace?
Maybe I should have chosen
to be the gull, the shaggy
dog in the rail underpass
whose soft songs betray no-one.

Aphorisms X

The problem with a generation declaring literature to be basically over is that it deprives the following generations of the thought that their lives and thoughts might be worth novelising. It results in the experience I’ve had with Ben Lerner, Luke Kennard, Sally Rooney, suddenly recognising myself in the books, thinking – ah, so this is how novels shore us up. But then on the back cover of The Topeka School I read Sally Rooney’s comment – “To the extent that we can speak of a future at present, I think that the future of the novel is here”. And I feel strange. Does each modern novel writer think they are entourage to the last writers? Do they always feel the door shutting after them?

*

The extravagance of poetry is this contention that it deserves the amount of space it takes up. If done unconsciously, it can underwhelm, but with great confidence it shines. Like a single acorn sat in the centre of an small warehouse.

I imagine a solid gold maze hung from invisible wires in a large room, undulating under the diffuse light. Although for some it is not a luxury, poetry is luxurious speech.

*

Continue reading

V.70

Oh please please please let me not step
on snails any more, it provokes
moments of panic and questions.
Like what makes a snail the lesser?

We all squirm and have our dark shells.
Entire belief systems are crushed,
just like that. By small accident.
If the snail doesn’t matter, then…

My hopes and dreams bypass the snail
and I can live in a dream world
beyond, where political talk
never betrays anyone. Where

good men are honoured. Good people.
There once was a world where good reigned.
The demons got bored and planned coups.
Death meant nothing to them. They ran

in the streets screaming slanderous
screams that cut the good buildings down.
They wrote newspapers and chattered
in their odd logic, disregarding

tears, emotions. They thought little.
They rolled around in little shells
like a physical process, then
I knew. I was better than them.

The Letting go of Crow

Across the courtroom, Crow sits
His black feathers litter the floor,
a hearse of mahogany boards.

Arraigned by the universe, he is bound
to try some old tricks – but Dove,
his opposite and cancellation, now

stands with a sigh, coos and points.
On the projector the horse’s dark body
whose beautiful and terrible hooves

are tied. “Did you create this nightmare?”
Crow’s mouth opens, and out pour stars
Books, portents. Series of things fleeing.

Crow feather-bunches up into fists
little tight handfuls of blackness.
He parrots back “Nightmare, nightmare”

Dove sighs again, changes the slide.
A schedule for housework – “and these,
your claw marks but I see…

Crow your name is not here.
Do you think a horse deserves
this kind of torture?” Oh bright Dove.

By this point all Crow’s feathers
are out. He’s a plucked little terror.
Dove just looks sad. “Sweep that up, please.”

They work, while Crow is croaking
“god’s nightmare. god’s. violent…”
But it’s too late. I’m leaving.

Walking past the curled up
wormlike bird on the stand, and out,
I drop my copy of the book in the dullness,

hold open the door and Dove walks with.
Her feathers’ pearlescence gallops across.
We talk about her day, and I make her tea.

Parent/Guardian

When the parent cries – don’t
leave us – to the child – calls
to life’s dull ear, a pure
burst or depth of feeling
pours, tears and distances
And when the parent speaks

from hope in a moment
when all hope just popped off
the map like a rusty
paperclip – leaving us
with a torn old damp map
and the coming storm dusk

When the child lies wounded
and they have stepped in – now
aware or not, they give
help as if it were breath
at the end of all things –
when they build love again

from broken pieces – when
the glass was so shattered
it seemed impossible
– they build a cracked mirror
which is just good enough
and we see ourselves smile

And when the parent says
I can’t carry it for
you – but I can carry
you – up death’s dusty slopes
at the end of all time
I can stand here and know

You who brought us here – you
who spend each moment with
the careful thrift of love
You who listen, who stand
who let us go; may you
sing in soft new bindings