All is quiet

A dog barks
the moon pulls over a cloud
watches

Then a gate is closed. metallic. steeling. a man
in a uniform closes it and
now

the sound is everywhere gates and uniforms and men
and that sound of gates a
long
sound, deliberately loud

the women have their eyes only
sunken
cried out eyes, dry, thin again
holding, unheld
hearing only cries born
or unborn

A particular burden

the whisper of passing things:
a limousine, a clumsy metaphor, a posy of
   truths,
falling

headlights fixed full
because no-one
ever
travels the other way

If bleak had been the intention
I’d have worn black
and let the fire die

Let me just
work up a little sunshine
to smear over these filthy panes
and put on some music

There is a pause
isn’t there always a pause?
and some movement
in other rooms
a passing fear of voices

If all these words mean nothing
what then?

The mirror is hung too high now
I can’t share
this false smile

I can sit at tables I have made
and look at books that I have read
and books that I have yet to read, but

One I now recall

I sailed with him once
when it seemed possible,
probable, almost certain

alas
my timid dry feet spurned the sea
from this rooted shore
I neglected to steam and bend the wood,
the toil was lost
in the imagining

Now all that’s left of this unseaworthy hull
is caulking the leaky seams
with Slocum’s solitude

There is no fucking
light
in this country

The odd moted afternoon sherry
when it’s almost allowed
to slip a cardigan
is not enough

Grey trudging people
trading bile
growing to look like
their hateful dogs

Where is the blue?
Tasted yellow unravelling corners
and stamping shadows?
Ochre that sounds like it feels in your hand?

Give me hide lipped smiles beneath eyes that twinkle
punched through with random yoghurt teeth

Not toxic brown and grey or the slash of a dull vein and then the
pitter patter pitter patter
into stainless steel or porcelain

If you lift that broken glass to
another evening light you’ll see it is
webbed through

fibrous, caramel

something beyond

(on the occasion of her fall from grace at St Paul’s)

no promise
of a retrospective

this, as all marble
is cold

    stone of the dead
    head stone tomb stone

it will neither welcome nor deny you
whatever you give to it
can’t be received
or returned

what of the fall?
what filled that graced unseemly void?

that last dance

were all your thoughts..
was your thought..
was there
thought?
was it lost, as you were?

I know I should care
I wish I had a howl in me for you
history and lies brokering
some stupid story
as we worked that day
with mops and buckets
toiling against uncanny gazes

I shed my own tears, all for me

such a joyless carnival
sham and shame
bent backs and old
still enough to hold these bloodied fancies
above the truth

Leonard came to me
one night
in a dream
saying

why do you pretend not to know?

I averted my eyes
a little taken aback
at his brusqueness;
not giving me the chance
to welcome him
and to say the things
of the heart

I shook my bowed head
feigning ignorance

you see?

he said, pulled long
on his cigarette
turned
and was gone in smoke

This is who we are
Mondays
trying on Saturday’s clothes

A year lasted
and
another year
and so on

The mysteries of the blueprint
have not been revealed

Not to me, anyway

Waist deep in the hostile sea
waiting for a wave
or the cold dark rip
as seasons change

More grey than blue

The scudding froth
at the wind’s lips
is toxic to the eye

and likely all else

nettle, thorn, razor wire
hand about the throat
such are the goodbyes

you opened your case
on the bed
and light spilled out
making the air wet
with colour
and poetry in a tongue I’d not heard

later we coiled then tore apart
skin bruised, skin peeled
skin from skin

silence rolled into the
space left empty
lowered eyes and the unseen drops
turn this no man’s land to mud

with nothing but time between us
we turned, and looked away
one trail dust
the other ice

The lights come up
only so far, mind
rain on the pavement which is called
sidewalk in another fiction

“Look at those fingers!”

they’re incandescent lamp bright
the skin all comic book topography
and little stories at
the edges
of
the nails

cut

The lightshade swings in a correct arc
out of the light is torture (hear it?)
in it
there are hats, and cashmere covered cones:
breasts beneath
brake lights red stab and rain steer
between stories

On a screen
a bulldozer in black and white
piles bodies

Ha, we danced about these notions
when you were called unformed
bouncing, twining, falling

spinning a live yarn

In shadow or bulbed I watched you
never hesitating
entitled to your light

held breath over years
quick, deft movements, limb and lit eyes

key being shaped, heavy and heavier, yet
without weight

          a filigree

ornate

purposed

From the valley it seems another realm, but
the path is there, it can be followed, or made anew

why is the air so thin?
is the air thin? have your clutched lungs been bound?

From the top of the Hillary Step you could see it
is it gone?
are the clouds so close?

Now that Lama Geshe is folded in prayer flags
you must look to yourself
find your own blessing

please look up

Thinking about love
drugging my lungs

Love in a cup, song, a smell
tesselate
peer

It starts with a flat Einstein

The pups roll and roll in the ocean
we fall into love if we fall

The universe stretches and there
there is gravity and time
in a kiss

Fixed the fence
there’s
wind coming

Clouted and clouted
long, galvanised
rough-shanked nails
through the wood
through the dead wood, into the
living wood

The old wood burns, so I
hunch by the fire of it

Displaced oddly literate squaw

Burning sounds like pain
claws, scratches along the fibres
listen
raptured final transformation. liberation.

Impossible now to conceive of nucleii
stranged quarks
and the illusion of containment

You should dangle a hook
for fish
glazed eyes
pretending you know the water

I have come back
to measure you

Not for your works, your public deeds
not brick or paper
or formula’d cell

I came to yard out the smiles
and held hands, soft words
close warm breaths in darkness

I have come back to pace
the flank walls of your caring
to ladder the gables of your giving

I have come back to remember
I have come back because you called me

did you call me?

I have come back to say sorry

I have come back

I came to be measured

the filthy rooks cawed and shat
their ammonia laments over
this gentle dawn and the spell
was broken. They want revenge,
or at least justice, and every
swallow, swift, finch or wren
reminds them and us of what
might have been. And that is
why they cloister in the high
branches and plot.

She took pencils
into the
ring with her

and a sword to the park

I am beautiful
blind lover

and

I smell like your dreams

hold me with those gloved hands
as I arch my back
let me tell you

in infrared light my skin
is tattoed with clichés
dancing with truths
unwelcome

in sunshine a tanned narrative
thigh, neck, breast, eyelid

but only darkness sustains

listen
if you will
for the length of a heartbeat, to that
quiet sob
just as long as it takes
to kneel, and
take your hand in mine
making ungloved promises

I am sponge you
can push your
fingers in I will

not scream. I have no tongue

i made you. you made me. we lied

leaves fall

you lost me. i lost you. i made up loss
you told me. you lied. and i lied

you missed me. you lied. and i made you

i made you miss me and you made lies

branch

you missed lies and i made lies and you
i lied and you missed

snow

you are nothing
it is white and dark you make
no footprint and cast
no shadow
i lied

Every window open in a
Stupid Jesus moment
All the curtains clap for Judas
All the blinds remain the same

You dandled your baby
over the fall
rubbing salt into the eyes below

this would always be beyond
their knowing

before you escaped
the note said
follow me
and gave no clues

I burned your note
and laid out a mattress
for the baby
this is no longer
my home

The shades, mud echoes: rat/trench/rifle
their services on poles, plates
in prayer
we stencil them against
our future

but in amongst the dust
forgotten cascade of brick and the bone
fragments
bits of blood and tooth, skin scraps
hair congealed
lay those who stayed
who stay, disseminate
who have no choice or voice
no poppies

the countless wombs
the wide eyes
skirts and shorts and sticks
the bright the beautiful
the sick and the old
the unstoried, breath stopped people
forgotten
because we neglect to remember

mortaring the rubble
with their spent flesh
uncounted
uncountable
in time

the returning hearts only are left
to list loves lost
to pick amongst the peopled stones
building sticky cairns
for the ones who could not be
the heroes we wished for

This is not sadness
this is melancholy

the tears have a different shape

You wake up
you go on
it’s tomorrow and
yesterday you said things
and now you go on

forget or forget or ignore or pretend
and you just do it again
you go on

and you said you’d be x
but you knew you’d be y
and you wanted a smile
but you just made her cry

you go on

and she goes on
and you do the stuff you do

sometimes it rains in the night
and you wake up hearing something
the air trembles and she walks past
she’s tall and elegant and she’s you

you breathe
you stop breathing
you hold out a hand
she’s gone

you go on

In Natalie’s head
there are two poles
though neither
North
nor South

she magnetises animals
and can stand
in levitation
on skateboards, manhole covers,
dustbin lids
if they can be found

I once saw her push a car aside
and the child lived

but she wouldn’t touch us
ever
she wouldn’t touch us

I remember when I lost
the sparked sight of her
spinning and dancing over the glimpsed wires
of pylons marching North, my North

everything became a shade or so darker
only for us
and she shares, as ever
her light

Two hares today

dust cut a dry field on
being seen
arrowed puff to shelter

split guttered
paws pleading

our choices hunting
time is all

A hundred good reasons
to wish for winter

so it comes

and you’ll forgo salt, sand and the
blisstouched skin
to pull yourself through another night
clung to your
never agains and
never happeneds

the pelt still warm and the fur
smelling of blood

there’s scant heat left
in the fire

Outside

stick figures, you know who they are,
dance closer
so that when the wind dies a little
you can hear their chopstick chatter

and the question you ask is
will the fire hold until morning?

riding the red eyed stallion
over the dust trail of love

bellied down
mane-plunged hands
hoof and heart beating tempo

sat on a Spring cill of adolescence
far too
far too long into Autumn

are those clouds building?

legs swung over an unknown
the wasted knees numbing

           come in

from time to time
          join us

muffled bleats. drawn glass. steamed
cling film skin and flounder eyes

lines too deep to fill or cover
turn, knuckle the stone

the sun slips behind the wishing post
maybe it starts to rain, softly

all below lost in shadow
unknown, appropriate