V.110

I’m stood in front of a hedge maze –
there are three doors and each is locked
with a different kind of black lock
whose keys aren’t quite biting the pins

There are thirty keys, so varied
in shape and their material –
the silver key seemed right but snapped
ejecting a tiny blank scroll.

I knew that here, invisible
was the map to find the lost key –
but I tried to heat it and see,
a lemon juice script darkening,

when the whole scroll just exploded
into a tart lavender dust
(I’m sure I can see lavender
through one of the keyholes. But which?)

I bend down to look again, then
lean unthinking on a handle
and its door swings sweetly open
with the sound of a barnyard latch

I step through quickly and so, fall
through a trapdoor into a pit
and that’s what loving you is like
goddammit! I must brush my teeth

V.109

Sylvia lies on oil-cool sheets
She breathes in shudders, (or smoothness?)
Her lover ponders with no heart
the burnt out sun of her bedroom

Their children are playing downstairs –
he gave them journals for burning
They tear out pages and watch them
shreds that jump up into the sky

This one says “I was loved and then
my lover’s brain smoothed quite over”
and the embers crawl along it
a gold wave that doesn’t come back

but just keeps going and going,
or like an event horizon
He knows that by sealing her mouth
with a sweaty palm, a quiet

encloses his act in reasons –
how could it have been otherwise
with a man that covers the tracks
to the death with an ashen snow

Who spends evenings in the city
learning new sex techniques, to try
and recover something, sad crow.
But marriage does not live in the past

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.99

The world is not a game of chess –
A game of chess is not a game
sometimes it’s something more and less
When a world turns on an evening

When rain churns upon the roof tiles
and rain sounds dance inside the ear
and rain worlds are raised from the red
depths of the mind, a damp childhood.

In an oxbow lake three kids act
in a pirate film, and leap out
in the rain, to feel the warm depths
and feel roots in the dark water

touch their legs, and shiver. A fish
a dead fish bobs among the reeds
Its unused eye staring at clouds
dark with the shadow of water.

In a film a neat cottage stands
by the sea, and an old man gives
advice that, being trite, this time
because of something deep, and past

returning, brings with it a roar
like the sun checkmates the dark sea
and castles on the sand, kids hands
had made, are washed away. I love you

V.97 Nightingale II

It was probably a sleepless
thrush, or a lady blackbird out
In the morning to center me.
Later in the week a green tree

(green, you remember green, a sharp
asset, a zone) is filled up
by a murmuration. Words fail
to register all of the ways

that words fail. Over the next months
poetry leaves me as I hold
my black plastic controller and
curl up in bed as the womb hurts

curl up around an old and new
goal, to have the numbers raise up
and buttons click neatly and soft
as the shots of unreal guns sound –

As the game becomes my home, I
hold myself in the vibrant light
and lines cut to suit the dull eye
and suspended in a rest mode

I wait until the suspense that comes
from restraints, as in chess, or love
is suspended in turn and light
of sun over the river grows

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

V.95 BABBLE

The language engineers at work
in caves, at the timefall, at work
tending herds of grammar, culling
precious words. Tapping flints on walls

patiently guiding neurons through
submerged caverns, through pinching caves,
seeding fields in the deep. Alas
memory is weak and falling

And the dark is never ending
Scathing eyes and reticent laughs
fill the blackness. Babel was made
here, by someone, alone. The bricks

to build towers are clay and hay
which pour from loners’ joyful mouths.
like wildfire a new word comes
and burns the village to the ground,

No, it says. I have caught this fire
I climbed the black mountain alone
and god spoke, spoke in flame to ME,
PROMETHEUS, MOSES, but fire

is fickle – do not expect much
The terrain is rough, and fools rush
to smooth it out. I build, I sculpt
a language which must crack and fail

V.93

Silence at night is a blank hex
something never meant. A ragged
breath was meant to be our white noise –
our cousins holding each other

The grass (which I imagine long
and paper thin, the pelt of earth)
is carving the air into noise
under the hectic stars. And we

lie rumbling and vibrating each
time the sun collapses, and all
the other times as well, our beat
and breath the bellows of our heat.

Our hearing is still a tension
that can hear. The walls just standing
in their cold brick heart, we have called
tinnitus. The whine of our gears

and the ruckus of our machines
– the fingernails, the comfort rub
of a duvet against toes, as
the delicate attention bears

upon the slightest thing, leaving
reams and reams of analysis
of the breath’s passage in the nose
and the roaring brain in the dark

V.92

Come to me now, being of dark
body, smooth and night sky-like. Come
being with a galaxy head
and lie with me under the moon

The night is passing too slowly
the clouds ensure a tempered glow
My window is fluorescent, dull
and shelves stretch to the roof above

But I have no one to work it out
come, body of the supple stars
touch my skin so I may feel you
the softness from which I am built.

You have lain in the sky too long
The moon breast, and the other, sharp
sun hidden under the planet
veil, I draw you back for long hours

The stars are the hair on your back
and I smell the warm air which climbs
up, having held your body, now
in my lungs, I hold your hot scent

and the metal in my fillings
melts, draining down my throat. Come now
sex of the night with the landscape
achieve your end with me and sleep

V.90

When you read an ancient poet
and find yourself or part of you
becoming-drift with ancient sands
always enfolding each other,

it is not something of success
or failure – to be the great soul
is to draw all strings into one
cord, and feel your sudden failure –

everything has its ancestor –
unwind one thread and say of it
this is my colour, my tenor…
It’s all a scrub with tiny blooms,

stone, shell, what more? Repetition
is never quite exactly apt –
this courtly poet whispers through
eleven centuries to tell

me of my love for you, clearer
than the scarcest cut ice, trekked out
across the sands and wrapped in palm
to impress the caliph. My song

is an alm on the tree which grows
and falls and grows again. Years pass
and the desert widens, but faint
movements stir the clacking branches