For the lonely

who wander line-stopped,

breath-taking valleys
tourists grazing at the ridge
conversing apart
soft-cheeked, open-eyed
and watching while wondering
at losing them
as the elsewhere train
the rain-dark sky
invents demons from dreams

soil, like stories, remains the same
composition changes
so too of air, questions and these
crumbs beneath the limbs
of the quiet tree in rain
holding dry the hollow
and outstretched arms
bearing up
the salt-stirred sky

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Magnesium days

Writing to be read, not read into,
a sleight of hand that glimmers sweetly
up in a whirling test tube
caressing quick-burn dreams in its sight
then dispenses into chemical days.

And time-bound, it feels like
yesterday’s ferment, soured, sweet
a busy chef stoking the feast
and genuflecting in our direction
so we might barely scrape the glaring bright.

This would be magic, not only awe,
in other ages, other lights.
Instead this elemental world asks nothing
though we reassemble its toy-kit parts
into misery and dreams and approval.

Complaining, over coffee

Oh and I suppose there should be another,
an again? Lest they all turn out the same
we might add a scent of difference,
an impression of bowing into the wind
as it hoops its unseen lips and slips back
the resolute umbrella, hand behind it.

Send summer’s citadel, even knowing that it too
might become part of the living loop
of dragging feet and vacant bodies
pushing sullen minds through their distractions,
peasants and aristocracy slipping
into houndstooth and herringbone,
crests as much as their ancestors smiled on.

So truly, there will be others
glancing through solace and regret,
perching on the smoke-edge and finger-turn,
pushing back the could and would
into a corseted acceptance of something
we embrace behind a nagging should.

Popcorn

Here’s where I see blisters in the air,
when hunched over the popcorn machine
the kernels whizzing like lawnmower seeds, frenzied,
it was summer, short in tooth, long in smile
and their skin burst now,
only you realised that it had reached
its white-faced end in minutes,
that growth of time,
pushing pain until then,
the irony of release.

In that long youth of night,
when minutes might well be
the strange, unseasoned cousins of days,
adolescent in turning themselves over,
this is the machine, conductor:
heat, darkness, pressure,
treading down their soles
as the trek turns.

In your own words

We traffic in words
their fuse and pop and darting light
the mad electric parade
becomes our mind,
a
reaching out as we revel
in making thought from old
with the scrambling hop of fingers
pressing into the grease-proof clay
always springing back and forth
between new, never and timeworn delight.

O, how we revel knowing words.
Touching, they merge
to trip us beyond,
and even meeting at the intersection
of silence and confusion, staring
blankly
distraught because the lights haven’t bloomed
again and all our moves are governed
by the same recursive loops
drummed into us,
no matter. True enough.

No matter these,
when the boundless sky swirls here
and there at once
enough that you know what I mean
in your own words.

Creatures of habit

“When I was young” becomes a catch-cry for knowing another room,
walls smothered grey, where someone now sits
craning their mind towards now’s never, where we always meet.

The breathchain leading nowhere, goodbyes proffered as interludes
hanging in the chill of life’s mimicry line and shadowdance
where the divisible left and right come limned

in twain and entwined, panting, fleeing, carving the hollows,
smoking out commands, chatter lines and indelible strings.
If there is a pattern, it is always knowing patterns

were once there, with someone to recall them before words
and without more movement than the drag of blue tomorrow,
what skies smells of, because the blue of rivers

reads the earth and its solace and sighs.
Something about the dust falling to the beat of stories, like us,
serving pulses and masters and days, we creatures of habit.

In strange unison

In strange unison the stray pieces fall
no matter how you turn at keeping still
appearances. For those who’ve seen
the salt-stained isle, more pain than use.

Blurring as plaster and stucco could, cracking
time should cast no say, should sink no smiles.
Pinched tight as her voice feels bright
leavening her face and returning a melody

of mirrors, less right than the ebb-tide descending.
If I might speak without words and in another script
still her eyes moat off a silent world, unreachable.
I learned a little, enough, in one empty, helpless hour

of speech spilling forth, not meant for sharing.
But being there, spectator and guide, to hear,
know how the artist has rearranged and pocketed herself
behind a soft tattoo of nods, faint drip of elastic isles.

Riding the carousel river

Do we create rivers or follow their bend,
and does the mind hibernate, intentions end?

Pulling at questions, ratcheted and unwound
embers drained from the time-seasoned ground.

Each half-way fall cleaves in half until
you spill over though you’re moving still

Towards and away, on the carousel,
when the music clams, how will you tell?

Little corners

little corners of little cities
are bounteous enough
that you can paint and scrape away
at the closed rooms
of open worlds
pulling your eyes up the ledge
with you – falling in

faster than the wind allows
is how you cycle through days and shades,
left hand offering the right
agreement and consolation

when you had reached
a place above you
whose handle you would decline
but you mean only a sliding door
from memory, not a metaphor

for these little corners tantalise
and dance to their own tangents
not you, left, right, aquiver
the way a gaze tilts the question
unexpectedly, mapping for answers

Earthspine

Had pictures had their way, archaeology
might have been my calling,
but the world leaves nothing undiscovered
by chance except tomorrow, yourself
and others’ intentions
like scuff marks and grazes
and hollows as yet uncarved.
Yesterday the washing line, the swing set and slide
while still small in grass that’s jungle high
brings giants reaching down to hug you
up into the soon world,
which can never really become itself again,
entirely, even if you wanted
a return to before words cemented their meaning.
And in the same way, chasing headlights
flying along power lines
believing that you have stumbled
on electricity spreading its arms
and following the leader will take you
into some Aladdin’s cave, eyes widened to wisdom,
always we return home.
Once picked up how hard it is
to abandon gifts and burdens both,
letting go of everything or enough:
songs and faces and scars
having become the spine that pins you
to the earth.