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The gears grind

My breath

You turn and the earth axle is seized
spin
and it rolls
back and over to when

and I catch you in my hands

but I don’t catch you it is smoke
and the gears grind

when is then and now is nothing

Like a visit from a dead friend
unexpected, welcome, macabre

The Birthday Meal

Screwed up ball of grey paper over there
That’s my mother

Frightened child eyes
Skin balloon with all the blow gone from it

She’s plucked the teeth from her once handsome face
Now fleshless and chinless as an addict

I shuffled her, bent legged, down the road
And wished myself away
On the day the old man died
Twenty two years and a lost hope ago

KRB

Sorry mate

I rode past a stubble field
peppered with rooks today
it was raining
and I was thinking of you

“since Keith died”

I wasn’t ready for that one

Behind every twisted smile
There is a shadow in shirtsleeves
Working for your soul

Conspiracy

Clear evening this.

All those stars. All that pathetic light limping across
space in an effort to testify that something bigger than
you and me exists.

An extraterrestrial perspective conspiracy.

I like that.

Laundering

And who shall remember them?
the launderers

and the poets

I once was a poet until I was washed
clean of it
and
now I find myself
laundering

Time enough to put my
clean hands
back to the pen and let them
be grained with it?

Bees, oceans, ends

Pulling a half-life
doctored
(sweating and balding)
decaying
(blunt, hacking, clumsy, ignorant)
uncared for not dead yet corpse
through the purple fleshy drapes
of another poisoning
I wonder

How was it that I picked the grains of sand
from our feet
and rested my eyes from the sun for so long
so long
that I forget the hot fat slap of it?

Tell me in which box of so many boxes
have I left the words I didn’t use?

standing on a dark beach in the wind
of a southern sea under strings
nothing until the ice

If that journey unravels to a third,
a fourth or fifth glass and
my failing eyes smeared on the spines of books
what of it?

There is no debt or purpose and when
as they surely may
the bees all reach an ending
so shall we, in a cough

Threadless lament

I’ve lost the sew of it now
a finger and an eye short of my best

My best,
when my skin leaned in and
point pierced as the
surfacing steel, a tiny porpoise
took air and dived again

hem button pleating cuff collar and fly

there was a satisfactory dance
in the loop and pull through of it
and the spotting of knotting
unravel or be bound
the wearer carried me with them then
into the ripped world

And now?

I’d sit all night, eye thrashed
if I’d let me
stabbing the scars and dreaming
into a bloodied waistband

Shelf dreams

Down your gathering smile

An adventure, a moist fall

You had a taste of me
when the clocks had mostly stopped
and it seemed all the books
that needed reading
had been read

From the place you left me
high on this shelf
I watched your back and your hand
on the light switch
not turning

I wondered if an opportunity could have
been written? Or was it done
before?
And suppose I resented that scripting?

I guess it doesn’t matter
the door will open again some time
to someone, so maybe I’ll just
doze here between the read books
on the high shelf
and dream some different words into them

Scent, breezed

Hefting cudgel hands
over gentler tasks and
spilling, dropping, breaking the shells

it’s not how I’d thought, so best
curl quiet when I can bear to, and
make paper promises not to remember
before these rutted fingertips lost
their taste
for skinned light
tiny hairs in the eye’s gather
or in warm tar dark and gentle
moist
all that is unknown, felt and believed

strummed on pain and beauty
before I was wise enough, now wisdom
is a shade
taunting me with a maybe life
uncalloused

WSG || C || & me

Percipient nibbed skitter
over the blotting page
has held me leaning in
gleaning
long enough unbalanced and oft
to totter and overboard myself
in your jasper sea

Bobbing upsprouts of veinous named
fancied fragments
lyric syllables drifting from
the knowing of your smoked hearthstone
in the keen slope of the wind

Elizabeth and the boy

Library of weathers and words
hauled down from one craggy land to
another and once more set out on the rock

If you’ll but shrug and blind to me
in these tired drying steps, soft
as the light folded horizon
I’ll follow, some leagues behind
your coarse cut marmalade lilt
onto the the first flight
of
that thermal stair

Breeze

Was it last year
Or this morning
That
We woke to hear birds singing?

The breeze through our same window
Shaped curtains into whispers

Some other time than now wondering
How it might end
And
Missed its passing

I watch cats prowl beneath birded trees
Dampening forehead pressed against the
Closed window

Wall

Take off your clothes
They said
Where no cars were, by the big wall

I shivered and they shone a light
Right through me

I watched you curling up
Where my heart would have been

 

I watched until it went dark and later I dressed

Tyto Alba

field flash
ice in the air
blurred branches
dancing

earth to sky
once and only

this heart should rightly have burst
but beauty, but beauty
cold, hard beauty
oh
the slow beat of it holds me

from my claw cradle
marvelling
those beats
impossible chews of air
casting before behind
mastering the unseen
in colourless unblinking scorn

I am given, Tyto alba
I’ll be that crimson cry
on your pale feather parchment
unknown, but knowing all in
awed assent
feeding your cold white fury

Silent

I am not old by years but often I feel with mountains. It began before I had memory and will end so.

My son looks at me stupidly, seeing only a hollow cough.

Wasted.

The rot within me will conquer; I feel it sucking even now, now when I know it can never conquer, now when I know I have conquered, now when it ceases to matter. Now.

No, not wasted, that much I know, of that at least I am sure. I have been where the moon only, where beyond and into life the moonlight shines. My skin, dying, but alive there under the moon on my hands, my face throbbing under the soft lapping of moonlight. I have held the moonlight in my cupped hands.

I used to walk and climb among trees, grazing my pale skin on the deep bark of trees, my blood flowing, mixing with the sap of the trees, my arms hanging on the limbs of the trees.

Also at sunset. The sun. I remember now. Walking to sunset I laid the taut skin of my soul before the sun, washed it in the dew blood of the wounded day, lay it again before the sun, warmed it in the heavy breath of the dying sun, clasped it to me, my soul; my sun soul.

There are no others. She has always been silent.

In the mountains I could sit now, folding myself among the rocks, in the snow. I could press my face to the cold snow and push my fingers into the rocks; my face and fingers closing with the mountain, my soul buried in the mountain.

I have no fear of dying. Or living. Only of ceasing to live. But that is spared me now.

I know what it will be like.

I should tell her what it will be like. Even in daytime the stars go out and a deeper blue than the ocean or the night sky has come blistering and frothing out of the sky below me till I am lost and alone in the depth of the falling blue and roaring of coldness as it hisses and plummets away from my shores and I know it will not be this time.

Soon it will be this time.

I cannot leave her my sun and moon. She has always been silent. To me. Always.

If I give you my sun, my sun soul. If I empty my cupped hands, spilling moonlight in your lap, you will only smile at me.

My sun and moon. Mine.

What is it that you are saying with your smile? Why are you silent with me? Why do you smile at me? What right have you to my sun soul? My moonlight? Why do you leave footprints in the snow on my mountain?

In the dark blue that is coming now I will no longer need my mountain, my sun and moon.

It is I who have always been silent.

There’s morphine in your kisses
There’s cocaine in your smile
To taste your deadly blisses
We trudge in single file

The boy wakes on the beach
Morning
His hands clutch at the wet sand

He is alone
Gulls cursing at an empty sea
In grey

Behind him
Tall nested cliffs
Are exultant

The warm sun finds him
Alone there
Digging

I don’t give a fuck for your future mate
I don’t give a fuck for your past
I’m living in a world of make believe
And I’m going to make it last

Made up days

It’s only this hard
Against easy imaginings
When
All the scents on the scented breeze
Were sweeter

I looked and moved against glass
We were together in the light
Something chill
Pulled at the hilled hairs
On your bare arms

A door opened and then slammed
Spat music at us in scratched chords
A monochrome cat paused

Paper romance
Those were the years of cigarettes
Telephones in cold places
Made up days
Waiting for breezes
Hissing at cats

Henchard

Broken man
At bottom of my empty cage
Lies a dead bird

On quiet roads
I pass from echoes
To my last sleep

Footsteps and laughter
On green years
Fading
In my final sleep

Death in Venice

The sand
In sun the sand
And water lapping
Slapping on sand under
Silver water with orange and blue

Dark narrow streets
And streets with high walls
Damp walls and pavement
And damp shadows
Hanging in heavy air
Sickly sweet stench of decay
The harsh and lonely sound
Of fading footsteps round corners

Footprints in sand
Flash of running feet
Dancing voices
Splash of broken water
Silver and living in sunlight

Orange burning and purple
Of dying sun
Quietly yet heart beating
As slow rolling over sand
Comes the heavy dank breath
Of final sunset

A

Those are birds on the wing
You follow

Taking the high arc
Leaving
Red rust, rutted and a slow road

You knew my door was always open
And some cup or other
Laid over a cuss
At the kitchen table

They pulled a grey blanket about you
And made you sleep longer
Than the light in your eyes could fathom

Mule

Sometimes you get so down
You feel like your mule just won’t budge
And all you can do is write

Fuck

Somewhere people will see

The smile

When Gibbel returns

Out of this muck gardened
yowling bin dead grassed bog trudge
there will be a way
there will be a way

If I have to carve it with my
bleached bones or the
unpardoned edge of the words
I chose to leave unsaid

Look at yourself and your
tiny needs
look at yourself I have I have I am I did

We were at the very centre of the lake
when a wind came up
as it always must
and then you began to smile

refrain

Melancholy saxophone refrain
Comes creeping through my window once again
I don’t need illumination
To perceive the situation
In the morning
I’ll come yawning
To the blues once again

Sunset

Saying “sunset”
He said “sunset”

Alone
With the pipe half empty
And great worn patches
On his shirtsleeves

“Sunset” and the moving of feet

As the hands fold about heads
Shuffling
Off they go to sunset

Off they go
To the setting sun
The sunset

Off they go

Off

The book

Today I rode down
between birds calling and the yet unmelted snow
in dirty arches
over busy ditches
arcing sludge droplet tangents as
tyres waltzed around the shit and standing water
to where they empty their ashtrays out of car windows
and
on days when hope seems infantile
those deliberate monuments –
mattress, microwave, monitor and beer cans,
the endless waste of babies

There, beside the gaudy discards of those
best unmet,
spine upright as though in defiance
a burnt black book
blistered at the cover
fanned leaves fire shred edged
a smoulder of sentences risen and freed from stops

Lost of all meaning
except at that eyed moment, when it seemed
reason gave in to
the flamed despair of immolation

Fishes

We dined by the river
I passed her a sliver
Of my heart
On a plate silver tray

She graciously took it
But blindly mistook it
For salami
And threw it away

I passed her another
But just like its brother
She ditched it
Despite all my hints

I should mention two fishes
In spite of my wishes
Have followed me round
Ever since

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