Sleight of Hand

Where is all the light-born music,
easing in with its mementos,
momentous at four and five

yesteryear’s vast, song-littered universe,
impossibly gigantic?

What used to stand here
solid glass of the magic store
behind half-parted curtains,
its swishing, galactic font sounding out
a cave of jiggling puzzle boxes,
cabin of daring comic book tricks
for uncanning laughter.
Delightful little alcove with your
middle-aged owner, whose face
proves as elusive as his top-hat,
worn or not, ever or never.

It’s like a prayer to Saturday mornings past,
more than a trick floating over
afternoons spent inhaling lemonade,
VCR tapes, chocolates and music cassettes:
all would reach
their inevitable, fizzing end.
Much like the worship of nostalgia.

The facades and frames still stand,
they must, replaced apace by the creep of day
after day. I leave them be, leave them intact.
Try as I might I remain subservient to
scents and sounds of youth, echo and promise.

If you tap lightly enough, with no one watching,
three times or maybe four,
you can still hear yesterday
come rippling back.

– 31 July 2016


Heartfall and windside and daybreak
and the sudden absence of light,
or just shadows peeling quietly away.

First to winter and a boulevard,
veins quiet before cyclists come flaring
upwards against the wind,
screaming morning into life between trees.

Or there are no trees there like here,
only unnameable sketches of buildings,
their order interchangeable.

When just before nightbreak that same backdrop
settles under fogbreath
and misting mouths clatter
between nods and frowns.

The notion of sky is the colour of sky,
its aching magnitude
a reminder that you have been transported
into a world not of your mind’s making
whose matchbox frames and peeping windows
gather another people’s birdsong

but all is still sky, earth and
pulsing days between.

(“I assume you still write poetry?”
“Only when the heart rises, the wind subsides,
and the cross-hatching of memory appears.”)

In any order other than chronological,
a single moment feels like echoes,
sings like wheels in motion,

a kind of endless question and answer
not unlike tomorrow, today’s fresh-brewed child
dropped into all our lives at once.

Then the crossing light clicks over, ready for you.
Even its different tone should not be
different, really, only second or third, like

the unfamiliar rumble of a stranger’s face
known except for the darkening years
whose dwindling chasm spells out
bridge and length of your heartfall.

– 9 July 2016