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

I Would like to Pay for your Chips, by Cécile Coulon (2018, Le Castor Astral)

It began at that so particular time of the night
where the end of one day bumps up against the start of another;
I went out in the rain, I was hungry.
The storm unleashed its warm hail on the flapping shutters,
no one else was walking in the streets
which were slick and seeped down to the square at the bottom
where the fountain overflowed.
Normally bony dogs would be having a bath there
but now, no barking, no whistles.
The night, the rain, the heat.
I crossed the road. A guy waved from the other side:
two fingers and a mouth ajar to ask
if I had something to smoke, I threw up an open hand
flapping, like the shutters, to show him that no,
and I went on, face buried in my oversize hoody,
hair full of the smell of a day
that wasn’t quite done.
By the sign, a young girl in a pink skirt and a guy
with a haircut that recalled the best moments
of Agnés Varda, waited their turn to order a kebab
with extra cheese.
The girl looked at the mounted flat-screen
on the wall showing clips of american pop,
the guy threw and caught a plastic bottle behind him
turning it over skilfully.
After they’d paid, the owner said
“Sorry for the wait”
I’d only just arrived, so that made me smile;
“a box of chips, with ketchup
okay
you can wait
inside.”
So I waited, standing, leant against the fridge
in front of the empty salad trays.
It was then that a man, soaked to the bone, came in.
I pushed myself aside to let him pass:
his clothes gave off a smell of cement
and cheap alcohol, his hair cropped short, grey,
held water
like the surface of a field at four in the morning.
He ordered.
At the moment I went to pay for my chips, he fixed his eyes,
eyes rounder than the beak of a Flemish rose,
the weak mouth of those tired men who drink
a bit too much and who accept it,
he looked at me for a while,
and stammered:
“I don’t know what to say to you.”
At first I thought he was winding me up, but all the same,
his eyes, his eyes!
“How’s that?”
He took a great breath, as if each word
tore from him half of a lung:
“I don’t know what to say to you, Miss”
The guy behind the counter listened with one ear
filling the industrial chip trays.
“You don’t have to say anything to me”
I responded, shaking my jumper.
“I don’t know what to say to you because I know who you are.”
The rain left lightly shining grooves, falling
from his skull to the bottom of his nose.
I didn’t know what to say either:
midnight wasn’t far off, I’d come looking for what to expect til morning,
and this guy, perfectly drunk and sound of mind, seemed
about to cave in on himself.
“I know who you are, you write books.
How do you do it?”
“Well, however I can.”
He gave himself a tap on the knees, and then
in one go,
tears, sweat
of the rain which comes from the inside
something humid and sincere came over his look,
already drowning in solitude and the bizarre night.
He turned towards the guy
who folded
the orange trays
with the precision of a dental surgeon.
“I can tell you that I didn’t get soaked tonight for nothing, no way!”
At my back, the fridge hummed.
A light smile installed itself, naturally
between my dimples.
On the counter, my chips were ready, well packed.
I took out my coin
a two euro piece and the drowned man said to me:
“I would like to pay for your chips, if you don’t mind.”
I sighed and left my coin between him and me, then I offered my hand.
He shook it.
“Thanks, mister”
and I left, my bundle of chips on my wrist.
On the way back, the characteristic smell of chip fat
invaded my nostrils, my hair, my clothes.
I will probably never see that man again, or at least, not like that.
Since yesterday, I’ve wanted to write about him, because I wonder
which of us in a few months, in a few years, will be betrayed
by the image they have constructed
of the outside world?
Will it be for others to shake hands
at that hour of the night
for a box of lukewarm chips and an iceless cola?
I would like for poetry to be as natural to those
who surround me as the emotion
that sprang forth that night, before that square
with the improbable ease of moments that might not have been,
but that happened all the same, poorly thought out
overflowing with grace, and impossible words

V.73

Above the black wool of the clouds
zoom out. Towards the star’s viewpoint
and see, the landscape draped in blue.
A few blankets to help it chill.

That weight of the atmosphere helps
the city to relax. That sift
of wind down the blocked up chimney,
over the rooves’ angles and plains.

The heavy sift of planet size
shifts in the air’s fabric and tress,
the definitional smoothing,
the abstract results of great mass.

The whole hill that house is built on
rests on a plug of congealed land
in the throat of a giant. How
easy it is to see that now…

Whose teeth ring it like oak and ash
trees in the shifting darknesses.
If I were down there I would fret
the whole thing could be swallowed up

with the slightest movement. How quaint.
The giant has been dead for years.
I would worry about that other
threat, the one creeping behind stars

V.71

Waiting to explain the contrast
between the blue of the night sky
whose soft storm tufts sail past the star
and the crisp orange of my lamp

and it’s now midnight exactly.
Trying to avoid the back pain,
I describe the warm oranges
and defined black shadows against

the world outside which is not crisp
and rarely defined. Then, onset
of paranoia regarding
that star. It slipped into the text

with no fanfare, but its crisp haze
zeroes in like the silence when
almost deafened after a bang.
It’s watching me, from across space.

Maybe it’s trying to warn me.
The specifics of range and tone
doubtless contain enough data
just to fix this pain and be done.

On the shores of the white star, sand
pours and dreams around blank oceans –
a lone deckchair waits for me there
and a coconut with a straw

Dark Dogs in the Morning

The darkness fell onto me like a fever
stirring – stripping and dressing in the cold
I picked up my phone, and wiped breath from it.
Weak coffee. I left the house, slid doors,
the dogs pressed against me – flickering
buzzing, sparking – something was up
but I didn’t know what.
            I set off

seeing the shoals of mist swim
in morning dark where day is forgotten
and the choral synthesiser drone of stars
shook me, made me shiver – I drowned it out
with my headphones. Walked out
with my pathetic torch across
the wood and farm-land in the mould black
morning – marvelling at the absolute lack
of magic, there in the dust-clump wood.
I glanced around me, saw nothing
thought ‘but wolves, but wild boars’
I smiled, took a fast pace down
the bend to the flood-plain
where I imagine the flesh-fade
of dawn began to apply itself to night

***

Later on return – I left tracks
in the forest frost grass from the mansion
to the servant’s quarter –
my breath was even more eager than I
to get to the house, it ran ahead
but stopped suddenly – a dead deer
half, half-eaten, eyes open
as the ground is open to the falling
sat there, on the cold patio.
Poachers only want the hind-half
I later learned – I felt the cold fur
brush past, long hair of the black dog –
thought; you were excited for your find
I left you behind. I’m sorry.
She took the skull between her teeth
and cracked it. From the cavity,
the night came flowing back…

V.44

Coming home on a long warm night
where the air takes the noise of keys
and holds it cupped in its hand like
a ladybird which alighted

on the hand, and is climbing up.
Coming home after mild concern
has flared in a blank stare forward
and later a stratified phase

of conversation while the feet
hit their warm rubber on the path.
Coming home after talk of trade
and politics and other large

and uncontrollable forces
which fluctuate like black storms do,
hung waiting behind the buildings
on your right, and seen between them.

To say power is power just
raises violence to a law
and that seems a dull reversal.
There are as many reasons to

do a thing historically as
there are to do a thing today
at least, and as reasons densen
a cool breeze blows over the street

V.38

Do you ever get that feeling
on a late spring day, at noon when
the sun bears down amongst vile blues
and undecided clouds, and yet

it’s night? When the high pollen count
and the feeling that everything
is just an instanciation
of old recycled days, textures

the graphic engine once used on
bricks, are now reused for the spilled
potatoes on the roundabout,
these things combine and you just feel

mad? And you aren’t sure you’ve ever
been awake? and the flagstones see
your shadow with an evident
disgust, fall upon them.

That its night with a veneer of day?
Your actions seem to multiply
without ending or beginning.
And sometimes it’s okay. Squirrels

pace around the garden of my
adolescent dreamscape, bouncing
off each other, the bird feeder
and their black eyes watch me, eating

V.35

I fear the dark, like anyone
that grows along the surface like
moss. Dear friend, I fear I am done
writing outside of fashion

and that is life. Lichen grows in
me, letting out its frost tendrils.
I am clean and clear throughout when
I have the better understood

moments. But to reach those I need
suns and locales I am far from.
I am out beyond the long range
of the beautiful. Juxtapose

this evening, alone, and unpained,
with an evening we knew by sea
where I had pain, yes, but also
peace. I live, now, to reach that peace.

Moss, you will note, is oft unsung.
Though it arrives first, and fastens
black rock for the later aeons
who soon forget it. I lie here

reaching for soft Erato’s hair,
or the bend of her ear, to breathe
whispers and promises of things
she wants me to do for her yet

Sun Paean

Gracious sun who flies
freewheeling
without weight
being weight
and light itself

Generous sun, who
with patient defence
has mechanised us
from the infinites
with infinites
with immense patience

Great sun here is my appeal;
It is not enough that you should set
do not be so humble!
Shine all day and beyond –
erase the night so I may
awake and fall sleeping
to your light through
the thick blinds in soft covers
in living blankets
of sublime furriness

These warm nights
which feel so odd, knowing
you are close
the air rings with tension
while the bins are emptied
with rhythmic trundling

Giant sun, please!
simply ride the horizon
like a carousel
bucking up and down
on the plastic horse of the hills

Your twilight is gold
I purchase lightness with
Oh gracious sun

The Darkness Metaphor

Vessel:Morticia:Loc:Crossing-Centauri-Gulf
Ledger:Captain’s-Poetic-Communication-Allocation#23

++So you talk to me of comfort/my friend
and darkness/well I’ve this- –
if the endlessness of our darksky
were placed against them/I
would mark it as a grain of dust
hanging in their beam of sunlight
on a summerday’s comfort/
gleaming ironmetal to its rust++
They are as darkness to me/how it flies
curving out at equal speed to my light
as we lie together sweating sparks of touch- –
they are my eclipse/my thunderstorm
my oceandeep gloom, my envelope++
They are the stranger standing in the room
who disappears on waking++
They are my dark/they are my gloaming ++
They are not sound/but silence/after chatter
shook violentwise the eardrum and composed
a mindset to accept the wind and void++
They are not caress/ but lack of touch
on a breathless day under unfeeling sun
when all the cares of our space burn into my skin
in noise and fury++You see/Gomez/
You grade things wrong when you throw this out::
We measure all things, and give them measure++
It might be right to prefer the finale/and doom
To the end of the connection/holding in storm
The weatherfronts of myself and them++
They are my welcome gloom++