Hot Chocolate Nights (April 30)

For is there a better name
for what follows dull, marching rain-a-days
licking pavements sloppy-grey
with their greasy ointment,
when curtained skies
end all performances at intermission?

When a second act lingers in the wings
until the actors are bid enter again
under tomorrow’s spotlight, refreshed
(or so we hope, and hope):
life’s boards sponged clean
with new dawn’s sweet unveiling.

And morning steam wafts up to
cup foggy eyes with its hurried tendrils.
And cocoa’s tempestuous froth and foam
is like
a madeleine
drawing you back infinitely.
And though it passed your lips
as pure confection,
still you pause to savour
that impressionist’s lingering smudge.

And then you see her (28 April)

Legs cycling
backpack jolting
up down
blinkered dash
plunging strides
chugging breaths
flushing cheeks
concrete paddling
pinball fury
never stopping
even without
any medals
coloured ribbons
drink breaks
cheering fans
just pursuing
single goal
joyous promise
to make
the start.

Not Coming Soon (April 27)

We sketch invented futures
constantly erasing borders, shading
as we puzzle over
a single fraction of
unmet time
hastily rearranging its contents
while the orchestra’s players
cavort fitfully across the stage
pausing to play a few notes of this
single variation as we
shuffle the piece
recomposing until we beg
for the first draft to return
but they
and we
like us all
are stuck in intermission.

What pen or pencil exists to
transcribe these inner workings,
to diagram spinning cogs, whirring
lights within this private cinema’s
ephemeral reel of wandering thoughts
playing constantly in limited release?

To be overlooked (26 April)

Like flipping dials on plastic clock
or tumbling barrels in a lock
keep track, count this next rotation
twenty-six and indignation:
another month quickly bolting
rapid passages controlling
with lockstep march of even gait
enraged the hours will not wait
relentless forward motion bends,
compresses and then surely sends
spinning, diving, floating, falling:
twenty-seven with no warning.

Struggles Retold (25 April)

The details always come first: carved
attentively, ornate features inevitably
rubbed and worn matte, held level on
solid, unimpeachable base that pivots
incrementally, nudged fractionally
at each sitting until one day the
carpet’s tender burn shines through.

Standing still it must be dusted,
each flick a turn on the potter’s wheel:
rounding, smoothing, swatting away
imperfections: unsightly angles and
minor variations until all sides cohere
into a prefabricated style to be
constantly reproduced.

Lives are built on heroic truths flashed
discretely – medals, scars and half-humble,
winking smiles seeking head-tilting
recognition, understanding, acquiescence:
as a thousand repetitions wipe a story clean
all that remains is a whittled-down fragment.
Yet still we try to make our own epitaphs;
more than a single chapter retells a life.

A Visit Before the Lunch Hour (April 24)

Falling paper plane: unleashed
mathematical and living regression
soon to intersect with fate,
life’s unbecoming end as surely
as a sentence’s final words
must meet their period.

Objects carefully folded contain a
certain gravitas: each bend, crease,
and measured line condenses and concertinas
grand stories into finite shapes,
reducing momentous epics to notes
more easily transported.

Trace back their creation slowly as you
unwrap them and depress the creases,
smudging and caressing life into
an Homeric form reveals only the
inevitable downward spiral
careening toward an end.

False smiles, frozen stares are deceptively
entombed in glass cases, tributes to
bygone days standing guard behind locked doors.
All adhere to timetables now, grand
and small; this is a far way
from Byzantium.

Float gracefully as you descend:
Eventually, all flights must land.

Ode to Eggplants

(With apologies to Pablo Neruda)

plump eggplants
dusky shadows
and firm,
squeakily bulbous
awake in
their lethal
deadly ovals must
be guillotined,
sent to untimely
ends by
treacherous knives
on that
rocking fruit
to reveal
supple, slippery,
milky flesh,
teases garlic
finally nestling
the tomato,
itself an
pool with
bumps of
and bobbing
and then
we call
night comes
we eat.

Fading to May (April 22)

The bus’s walls vent menacing droplets as we
swerve hard, taking right angles that force us
to brace against days of closely-warn coats
and Gothic, fog-blessed scenes where
nature’s lush life is stripped plain.

Soundlessly, liquid enters to explore each
open surface, painting plastic and metal alike,
flat, grim lines and utilitarian design
suggest endless corridors, a morgue
transplanted from a bleak Nordic procedural
shot with little light, less colour.

It could be an airplane descending through
the all-engulfing smog or intoxicating cloud
at dusk, revealing a city in fragments,
a teasing join-the-dots puzzle,
hinting at its existence only in outline.

But it is just April.

Pedalled thoughts (21 April)

Beginnings crave endings just as
autumn’s first Moleskine leaves
huddle together in suburban cliques
patiently awaiting your footsteps
to strum candy-foil-crisp strings.

One smile-evoking note to sustain
an unbroken phrase, a quavering
sky-bound bridge upraised for
the briefest passage inflecting a
fickle bard’s unfinished symphony.

Secondary Thoughts (April 20)

Stop where you are
for a clock’s single beat
that we may drift,
at least in mind,
through wordstorms and
past wind-swept sentences
with their frost-coated lines
seemingly cracked dry of
punctuation, pause or patience.

Literary submariners housed
safely within our bubble,
tilting a periscope up to peer
out and upwards above the
stream of language or perhaps
consciousness, and we cannot
tell which immerses the other
for there are no boundaries
in stolen pauses that come
unstopped as that leaning hand
arches forward to claim
its applause.