Finger cartography

First select a truth to uncap, pressing
its nib into finger cartography:
gears, grooves, scars, burns.
A snow-globe eruption, too little trust
in the caution against reaching out
grabbing silent, raging Pyrex.

My middle finger stays a prima donna for days
climbing a full octave, higher, higher,
clamoring for applause.
History again, hissing “jamais vu,
from out behind the curtain:
encore, encore,

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The world refuses sleep

Tide and time have laid their dust on,
seeds beget vines and the garden
turns full with waylaid words
as reckless and sugar spun as ivy
yawning its way up the three o’clock sun.

Scraping up the humus and knots and
cross-hatched pulleys gathered over months
it is easy to believe this is a second story.
The world refuses sleep
dreaming in bursts of ever and always.

Hours yank themselves free and
a thought you had
tilts its head and flees.
It will come back, you know,
or some other seed its place.

Wild things

drinking in wild things and light
everything the colour of cymbals
urging winter into memory ground

ink of the first geranium
anthem bursting in rhythm
of sweeping daylight

rituals from the roots
of melody born
in vines the shape of longing

enough to hear the shade
pressed between quivering leaves
thoughts still wild and ripe and free

All the things we could not do

We went only as far as the shallows before summer
days backed up again into the trunk, yellow raft and
damp towels and life wrung down into a pronoun.

We stepped no further than the curling foam where you could
safely wonder at the planetary curve, bulky panoramas
edging their way nearer understanding.

Quick, that fusion of taunt and terror shivering
down hot sand, though we did more than skim the edge
holding back the primal seas within.

For this was morning and it would be long dreams breaking before
our endless rum-lust for fear snapped asunder
with all the things we could not do
carefully and not at all.

Moon quartet

Each time I try to write a verse
I make a carnival of the lines
because what I want to convey,
such awe – that pendant, silent

and pensive in its scarf of night
cut from the cloth
of every night and every moon
and every eye.

It doesn’t matter.
Holding the same horizon up
to the rattling of fingertips
unfurls such joyous song.

It is the sound the tide makes,
the glow of a restless tomorrow
stitching lines of memory
into shadowed, sleeping ground.

The bounteous, glass-blown sky

1.
They have come to preach
poetry on street corners, stealing
apple-gloss skies for a smile and
borrowing marshmallow nights
with their star-draped nets.

So often have they erased the past
we might believe
they are discovering
stories that have always existed,
making them heard for the first time
believing they are happening only now.

It’s fortunate that the language of the universe
is infinitely renewable and endless
like air or rain
on the cusp of memory.

Land-dwellers and sky-tossed
magicians who ripen the earth
while each of us can heft moon, star,
hope with the ease of a word,
simply spin joy into a whispering foam,
sandbars all the way to the horizon
whose hollow holds a shared imagining
with their would-be reader.

They are only longing to spin thought
into song
and hearts on their axis.
So the tune spills out
rushing like the globe’s unending light
rising like verb whose infinite syllables
strike the mind with each rotation
offering a new glimpse of a hidden world.

Even if somewhere an endless library
has already collected this
before it formed
on a porous skin of cellophane,
everlasting and invisible.

Everything is something already said
in the moments between words

and still the sky need only touch its ink
to shapes dull against the dawn
until the firmament pulses with light.

2.
That’s how the poets stand, waiting
rapturous and dazzling as the wind does
its trick where you somehow feel
the soft print of its fingers
more in the ebb-calm
and the day lives itself out

until night arrives blossoming
its million lantern tricks.
When it turns grey in the hush, fades
for the slow drift of myth must pour out its wax
making a quiet marvel
of the bounteous, glass-blown sky.

Underfoot a rippling breeze

Over autumn and the moss-drunk earth
where trees describe trees,
parched days invent their own music
festooned with leaves.

Soon a lunar dance
across the star-ranged skies.
More delight for the earthbound
dreaming of gravity

amidst wind-kissed branches.
Between arms twirling and quiet
days lapping into nights,
underfoot a rippling breeze of hope.

Sand dreams

Here is where I retreat,
under yawning bark and view

releasing a tiny, forgotten universe
held together by lashings of memory.

I imagine owning the fabulous adornments
of a reckless youth, brittle inventions

or useful battle scars, the bright ferment
giving birth to aged sighs, a slow release.

To sit and sift through novels of a past
that feels real by its invention

with old rocking-chair men poring through
dusty tabloids of shuttered, bygone hopes,

cursing and loving the past in lamentations,
possessing it again in monochrome

under cover of roofs, hats, denials.
Devotion in this place takes no shape

dissolving out of reach and view,
though the past is always underfoot.

Or we invent it without seeing, without knowing
we have pinned all our hopes to its mast,

much as the earth astounds the castaway skies,
bracing the stars, the dream’s quiet music.

Pursued

Palate of silver winds and shades too slow
to tame the stretching vectors,
birds we scrape words across, like Zeno
inventing a puzzle of the entrancing sky,
draining its unclenchable mystery.

Until even in the woods of thought
under the wide-brimmed canopy of metaphor,
conversations become homonyms
for each other.

Inhabiting that small cabin of quiet history,
pursued by the flushing snow
of restless thoughts tilling rooftops,
with the morning carving its diminuendo
a familiar shape of day
whirring everything into the self-same shape.

To be otherwise, to be other
in words to step
beyond mere echo of that forest
outside these walls.

Voices I have read before, I shelter under
your steady frame, dreaming instead
how new colours will slide out across the tongue of time,
how leaves will split across their horizons,
spilling out new verbs
that we can taste the unmade universe.

No more than this, much more
we twist to escape the comfort
of everything we have already read,
and steady paths known by ripe grass
that swoops and waves and tells
without knowing why,
other than that it must.