smothered and sweating1 she is all around me
and i open her up like
the sun, unfurling the helix night
a new day inside
always ending and a prophet on a hill counting
down each hour by a bus timetable
measured against the northern stars-
2 a prophet on a hill
waiting for the sun to rise, i spread my bare arms
into winter and find her, for now,
all around me
ice crystals in my hands and bitter
coughs of frost that sing against my skin,
toss my salad thoughts- here skyward, there
3 worn and weathered,
a weary traveller, tumbling into this
she is all around me, the caress of the sea or fleeting
terrified sand hugging the jetsam on the shore;
embracing the jagged edges
until i am untroubled, smooth
4 for now
she is all around me
and we kiss the soft fur on each other’s shoulders
before we part to say for now
that goodbye is not goodbye.
Victoria StreetVictoria, on your scarred witch body we build
palaces to celebrate what has been broken and look out
from inside the chest-bones of our church
to the radiant yellow eye of God until it winks below
the lowest horizon you have ever seen in paradise we
have taken the lawnmower to the garden you planted
left the starry heads of agapanthus splayed
to rot on the ground and the magpies warbling
gun-shy in the trees we have torn the pages
from every book you put to print and stopped
time in the clock tower we have this small power
why still do you struggle against
this unquiet revival beneath our feet, jackhammer hearts
bursting up like flowers into a blur of motion, fragments
of window glass regenerating the notion of ‘city’ and ‘jungle’
remembering our gardeners’ hands, we bury
our fists between cracked concrete slabs
to see what will grow.
drawing a picture of a girl i metsmoking outside the bar, wondering
if this is how men remember women;
i do not recall her name, only
the sly curl of her lips as she said it.
old waves unlock their gatesold waves unlock their gates for him to enter
humming the splittersplash tune of desolation
he turns his back from dawn;
each step on the crest of concrete above the sand
somnolent, mind pressed to lowering the tide
of his own all-swallowing sea even as it longs to eat up
and climb the cliffs of the shoreline. he is
trying to grow away from want
while the land, unwoken, curls brutal fists
in its slumber like a child. the port hills rise ahead of him
these cold monuments
of majesty and valour bearing blind witness
to the fluent exchange of beaming light
between water and air which leaves nothing hidden
but gives nothing away
from surface to churning surface,
refracting the idea of morning
deep into an unheeding dark that has never heard of
a clinging oil that sinks beneath the water,
remorseful and unmercifully silent
he can feel it under the waves- this grandiosely bloated darkness,
older than he will ever be, is no more distant than his skin
from his c
cat songyou are so big and I ask you are we brothers
you are a lot older than me so why didn’t I
you know a lot and I don’t know a lot
can I help you be happy
if I help you be happy will you help me be happy
I’m sorry I’m so small
are you listening to me
when I bring you the small prey-bodies with feathers or tails like string
I know they’re not much to you and you think I’m showing off
(here matted fur, there the bloodied beak and still-blinking eyes) darling
it isn't pride, it’s love, I care
and I care that
you are a lot older than me (and much wiser I’m sure)
but nobody ever taught you to hunt properly
(I’m sure that if you knew how you could catch much bigger things than I could)
so please let me teach you if you’ll listen
please I cannot let you go out into the world being
so big but knowing
The Scavenger KingWho crushed these grapes, judging them sweet or sour?
When I was king I had a crown of gold.
Stale wine spreads silt and ashes in my mouth,
Sharp fogginess spreads quick into my bones.
When I was king I had a crown of gold
-en thorns that snatched for my brain 'til I bled;
Knowing my children lived just to grow old
I wept, and marvelled, pulling at my beard
Thorns snatching for my brain until I bled
While my hair, silvering around my ears,
Tangled itself into words left unsaid-
One knot for Hope, another there for Prayer.
My hair wisps silver lies around my ears;
My children do not speak their mother tongue.
These offspring show less mercy than the years.
The world's not how it was when I was young.
Descendants do not speak their mother's tongue.
When I was King, I had a golden throne.
Now if I try to talk, my voice is numbed
And when I manage sleep, I sleep alone.