Victory at Guernica (after Paul Éluard)

I
Quiet world of rundown homes
Of night and fields

II
Good faces ready for fire faces ready for full speed
For refusing the night, for injuries, for impacts

III
Faces ready for anything
Here comes the void to fix you
Your death’s going to be an example

IV
The death overthrown heart

V
They’ve made you pay in bread
Sky earth water sleep
And the misery
Of your life

VI
They say want good intelligence
They ration the strong judge the mad
Make charity divide one penny
They salute dead bodies
They barrage themselves with niceties

VII
They persevere they exaggerate they are not of our world

VIII
Women children have the same treasure
Of spring-green leaves and pure milk
And of legacy
In their clear eyes

IX
Women children have the same treasure
In the eyes
Some men have defended it if they could

X
Women children have the same pink roses
In the eyes
Each one lets out its blood

XI
Fear and courage to live and to die
Death so difficult and so easy

XII
Those for whom this treasure was sung
Those for whom this treasure was gashed

XIII
Those whose despair
Enrages the desolate flames of hope
Let’s crack open together the last bud of the future

XIV
Outcasts the death the soil and the disgust
Of our enemies has the dull
Colour of our night
We will defeat it.

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 attack.

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.

V.83

I am one with all the insects
that will one day eat my body
When I have stopped, and am resting
In a sense, when resting is gone

I am one with the plants that grow
of me, in my head, in my trunk
I will give to the cold flowers
what they once gave to me: a hope

I am one with the air I breathe
that will burn me and dissolve me
for aeons, my skeleton rests
until it too crumbles like cake

I am one with the diseases
that will grind me down, as my mind
flares and splutters like a damp flare
in the faint waves on the dark beach

I am one with the words of things
the vast and tangled forest where
nothing can change without changing
everything. My paths will go on

I am one with the small beings
that fizz in and upon my skin
with legs and arms and carapace
made of me. I will be made free

Kew

It’s as hot as the sun
can make it here
where water forgets
its natural direction
of downhill, & hovers

That is apart from the salted
water on our brows,
your smooth and pale back
your classically refined
tanned toes

seeing plants everywhere
on tables, panels, hanging gardens
in our eyelids, lashes –
my mind loses place
arborial beauty hangs together

with the small and hot haired
nymph of the sweat water
I see before me. You
smile again an evil smile
at my fear of heights – & I

see your eyes glitter
organically
small sticky rust grey beads
which lodge in my mind
and seed

Sun 1st July 2018

I can only think of
your blue bathing suit
over the brown sands
with their holes and emulsions

I can only think of
your legs lit by crystal shallows –
of the bruise by your knee
and the flat beach you gazed at

I can only think of
you at different intensities
as if a shell sound lodged in my mind
and the waves of you repeat

I can only think of
you, and your sunburnt lower back
you shouted, it was so sunburnt
I almost evaporated

When I try to think of
other things
you come riding back
on a standing wave

Duck

Does any animal float as well?
Resting on this peel of thickness
pedalling slowly, and honking

Duck taught the angels
how to fly – see them now
by the barrage, watching for tips –

just put your face in your armpit
and hang there, careless –
that is how to go about it.

Lessons such as that.
And how to remain calm
in the face of such rain

After duck stands up, wrings out his coat
he waves to the angels, who nod abashed
and calmly floats off into the sky

V. 82

“All this usury really fucks
me up” he said to the door guard.
“It makes me itch? You understand?
“When I was in that cage, oh yeah

“I could feel it crawling on me
like ideograms.” The guard smiles.
Unstuck in time, he has one task.
He’s met a million like this –

Bad money driving out the good.
“Hey there fella, could you get me
water?” How easy to just leave.
But the aesthetic demanded

A more apposite fate. The guy
held the glass and slurped, with a grin.
“I can’t believe I did it, wow
“I’m finally getting out. Heh

“I really fooled those old suckers
“worthless cunts who couldn’t read me
“given half a year and the books
“I cut up.” You’re very strange, Pound

said the guard, later, down the path.
When the poet tried to salute,
the visitor grasped his daft hand
and firmly held it down. Justice.

*

The apparition of these blood spots on the path:
Petals on a wet, black, bough.

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.

V.81

Sunlight pours onto the woods like
a proprietary logo,
And my movement changes, I am
now able to jump slow and high,

The trees are so crisp, they are cut
from the woods and become assets –
a simple tap and hold of A,
and the wood, leaves, something would be

mine. How well the code works, how well
the random terrain generates –
seeding nettles and cow parsley
over the seasonal bluebells.

How smoothly the particles fall,
how elegant the light engine,
how quirky are the NPCs –
here comes one now, out on a jog –

How quaint! I begin an event,
someone talks and I miss the prompt –
failing the conversation. I
activate my door and head in.

Congratulations! You have found
poplars today. The next level
begins tomorrow. One percent
completion remains an odd myth.

C to M

Unbelievable. Words are meant for pages,
not to echo over the fields behind houses
disturbing the moths in their evening light.
Words are meant only for games
and this is not a game. I said stop.
You need to speak now, we’re here.
I’m here, you’re here, we’re here.
What are we playing at? What just happened?
We had an ice-cream together
and it was like the last ice-cream piece
of the ice cream puzzle. But it’s gone.
We were like two intercity kiloton trains
that missed the crash we could have been.
Ignorant that all of us crash, it’s life.

But our verdict is not stayed by vague gestures.

You are like the frame of everything;
I’m like your cracked painting.
And you’re mine. You’re my painting,
my nude by Georges Braque, a person,
but unlike any person they know.
I could never have said this til now,
it’s like someone is speaking through me,
my voice is no longer my own,
but I’m going to take this chance to say
I love you, M, I’ve said it before.
But I don’t think we ever got through
to a precise entailment of that statement.
You are the thorn in my side that I need.
You are the constant pain that lets me know I’m alive.
Or am I that to you? I’ve lost track. But that’s it;
If they tried to unweave me from this world,
they’d have to take you too, otherwise
what’s left would not make sense.
You’re like the light by which I am seen.
Without you I am not me.
We evolve together like the beetle and magnolia,
But who is which, changes.
Stop, let me make you a statue to yourself.
Let me be your pedestal. Let us hold us.
Stop, let me punch your enemies in the nose,
and redeem all your relations.
Let me become something that we become together
Let us realise that we become together.
Stop, let’s lie down here in our hole, our glass bauble
And work through everything in glorious variations
of sex, like we were carved by the ancients.
Things are going wrong all the time
And we aren’t owning it. Let us own it.

When we are hurt, we are the uneasy angel,
making uncertain vows to save us.
Now Editor, Stop. Allow us this
Of course things happen in unlikely ways,
Let’s not be melodramatic about it.
Leave the future to those who live there.
We are our fate.