Old dances, new dancers

Pirouetting towards greatness really
is a kind of dance if that’s how you see
shifting one leg over the other
splashing a scarf-tail over the shoulder
performing with well-rehearsed contempt.

In fact it’s the dance where performers
flaunt their pasted scowls as smiles
grown in the coldest months like
vine-reared tomatoes born
for the acidic majesty of their bite.

Eventually tributes will pour in from
the footlights, column inches admiring
the devotion of others glaring upwards
a soiree tossed and sipped success
a life reworked for gaping crowds.

Peak over the curtain because if this
is just a dance, a game, a ploy
for the conquering its players seem
unaware. Laughing, the curtain drops
as they disappear beneath applause.

Serpent Stories

We make a dish of serpent stories,
take the taste and repentant
shock, averse to the look:
that twin propeller spinning its thin tongue
one way, then the other.

Like some amuse truth
if you pardon the look,
pink paste piped and waiting for
a trip of the tongue,
(yum yum).

Much more taste it turns out
than a tangled mass of
myth and memory.

Nestling in the silver light,
under the blackened cityscape
back, back where a thousand
dazzling dots and night gusts
outside this blinkered room
and this was real for
who you were then
and this was and is fear
for all of you now.

(These nights deceive us all
even as we recompose them,
even as we invent them.)

A single offering to your past
and future
so salty.

All while the propeller’s tail rotates
and flaps its tempting truth
knowing a reluctant taste
leads onto taste and another bite
will have you leaping back
never realising it breeds
that craving:
more, more.

When nibbling again on that tale
over and over gnawing its root
you find it so smooth,
delightful the way it crackles
on your tongue
soft and sharp without suspicion,
too much like butter
how easily it melts away.


And so we score and sing our lives
Not from scratch but the innuendo of the stave,
The stars, with little hints

Those dials suggest.
Or else, or else take brash breath and dispense
With treble, bass and moon entirely:

Notes scuttle out from surrendered places,
Sound wings in from unexpected spaces
Out of the yearning for sound.

If only to make verse shudder
As truth of laughter and proof
Of the constant, unyielding encore.

The words of others


Afternoons queue up
Releasing human waves into these sudden days.

Mislabeled intersections whose signs
Reveal what is removed and slips
In translation, that frictious plane
Between language
And us
Where metaphor
Slips and slides
From imagination until departure
Unto a ceaseless flight.
A dozen flavours of thought and us
Lunge against a string of questions and
Eyes jut awake,
Delighted to delight.

Others’ words now are more than gifts,
I realised only recently.
Admitting one to the sealed amusement park
Of unobservable solitude
Whose precious chambers guard
All the gases
Condensing and preserving sacred life.


In the distracted hours
I can create
Coarse impersonations
Of the dream worlds of others:
Water-lilies or jutting, bursting haystacks
Fog-pretty, autumn-rich.

How strange this picture bends,
So far removed from light and sound.

When I can only summarise the years,
Scare their outlines up,
Thrust colours at the frozen palette
Hoping that a single moment sticks.