If I were braver I would (September 26)

Don night’s shades, or thereabouts, as I adopted the necessary disguise
Which would include wrapping firmly up my eyes, Zorro-like,
To take advantage of a still-early moon, its framed moment
A perfect pause before evening’s adolescent hours descend into
The regular, monotonous, teacup slumber of its lunar middle age

When, adopting careful pose, I could mimic the fence-line
Tracing a slow path against its grey, decaying teeth
Until I reached a point previously determined from which to
Launch this delicate operation and, confident of my success,
Discover a toe-hold on one rail, grip and pivot

Now finding myself in enemy territory, crossing the shadowed yard
Pace by careful pace to find that chained victim, voiceless, all alone
Conquered by the ruthless forces of human savagery,
I bend down after carefully adjusting this wretched cape’s straps,
Untethering the Jones’s dog, carrying him to safety

Here on hallowed ground, rescuer and rescuee would celebrate this
For at least a moment, long enough to realise the futility which
Sun’s fresh rays and daybreak might expose as surely as the
Inevitable barks, growls and sudden influx of pet-related
Accoutrements needed to sustain this sudden jubilation

Casting wide the net at once summons forth a veritable bevy of
Potential advocates and assistants, brave warriors for humane ends,
All Tweeting or Instragramming an implicit willingness to serve as
Accomplice or accessory for any number of noble causes
Aimed at restoring or retaining the Greater Good

Now, fleeing time means choosing the most practical (read: the closest)
And after settling on an animal liberation group whose mission statements
Seem admirable, a flurry of messages lobbed back, forth with little
Pings and pops foments a disbelieving rendezvous, pre-dawn,
In the parking lot of a local takeaway

There we meet, eyes first, I knowing nothing about her ex-flame the
Moody biologist whose name she will slip in and out of conversation
Through coming months, a cudgel flapped with accidental force, yet
Her protests in the simmering final days lambasting my supposed
Obsession with costumes should, in retrospect, hardly come as a surprise

But in that single halogen-encrusted moment that lends a sweet,
Albeit vampiric, twinge to love’s emerging wings, when imagination and
You are sealed within one new-born stanza, all we can hear
Are the soft sounds of night music, or what is actually Felix’s
Relentless growling as his claws and drool reduce my car’s upholstery to mush.

Taking flight (26 September)

Like the placid moth
Wintering on the narrow frame
Dancing, shuffling sideways to
Escape this questioning finger
Through open window’s glow

Their drifting faces betray a
Knowing resignation
Cannot cloak the
Misery of downcast souls
Revealed in half-mast eyes.

World weary, cannot countenance
More of this same-turning, unyielding,
Labyrinthine, winding, puzzling,
Never-ending forward march with
Half-cocked heads drifting, falling.

Who provoked this war? Who formed
Platoons from their numbers,
Assigned stripes, designated lines and
Bound wings against rebellion
Thinking sunken lips would not rally

Shared stories, screamed endlessly
On mute, whispered eye-to-eye
In the huddle – we know – listening
For cloud’s brief deflection
When light will flutter in.

The table, again (23 September)

Plunging through the slanting doorway
Into open arms and customary greetings:
Lips grease stubbled cheeks and vice versa,
While open palms meet firm backs,
Shoulders are vice-gripped amidst
Easy monosyllables and nervous laughter.

Trying to beeline for the lounge they are
Interrupted by the usual diversions as
Reunion transforms into museum tour,
Strangers reviewing this curated inversion of
Familiar walls, spaces, faces
Blanked and redecorated.

Cautiously, each sentry resumes
Their former place as added chairs
Accordion old order into new formation.
Question, answer, nod, pause.
Again, but with more hesitation
As fingers form unseen knots, trace time.

Coffee? No, the other one.
Bag drifts, slides into the cup:
Drowning, sinking, rising, drowning
Like some bobbing body coming unstrung.
All the pieces now arrange themselves
In three-card monte played sotto voce.

They wait
Concealed within the mist
For the first misheard word,
For mistake or miscalculation,
A chance to pounce with vicious claws
On suspecting prey.

Settling steam condenses these windowed lives
Admitting storied stains, dusty residue and
More double layers than a Tim Tam
Not in this house!
But instead they sip it in,
This new civilised, suppressive brew.

Knowing the centre cannot hold
And all that
Blah blah blah
Back and forth, back and forth
They push friction aside
With small talk, small words.

A slow exhale across the water’s surface
Skims heat off the top.
From the yard a black dog rears up
With jolting cries, a Lego figurine
Assembled from a million fuzzy fragments.
A toast!

Before waking (11 September)

Gazing light shears through
This peeking gash

They seem to be multiplying
These murmuring goblins

Unfortunate that I,
Gouge eyes in their fabric,
Distraught menace piercing
Tired sentries.

Each careless slip raises
Memorialised regret, self-spoken
Promises on certain accidents
These sprouting holes
Appearing like some sleight of hand
With unsympathetic ease
At my touch
Pulling, testing the integrity
Of these fickle bonds.

Self-doubt: tempting to peel
Away in a single gesture
Hold tight the reigns
Bullish matador:
Seize, grip, swish
That singular unspoken breath
Before darkness is stripped bare.

You startle at these little fears
Parting gaps and loosened edges
Threading thoughts together.

Doubts first start coming apart
At the seams.

A reunion? (6 September)

between parcels of time

fading apples return to
kowtow before their roots
wizened, withered

how many weeks, months?
before, since, next

here some brusque negotiation
seeming scripted tango;
he doesn’t lead
just occupies the floor
treading notes

between Pinter

he sips between words
she eyes his youth

how life divides and figures itself
into requests, returns and reversals

he: greenhoused to want
would escape
returns to inherit the remains

she will offer
blood and bone

The Game Plan (4 September)

I still believe it isn’t over
Until the final siren
Until the whistle blows
Until the lights are dimmed.

At first it seems as if we have
Fallen from alignment,
Diverging orbits plotting
Unzipping paths and purposes.

Still I grip tight to hope
Until those last seconds expire
When time’s stampede forecloses
One last Hail Mary.

Ah me, our lines never really
Crossed but blurred
Unfaithfully for a brief moment:
One of us was misled.

I will settle for valiant defeat,
Would prefer small victory
Where you would snatch a stalemate
Through a heart-piercing grind

Snatching pieces and sweeping pawns
Dismissively, chipping off their gloss.
Our game plan is different:
We begin by restoring them from loss.