Peeling the rind

Is this how painters try and plunge the world
into line and shade and hesitation
committing themselves to the ineffable,
unerasable and solid flesh, a slow appreciation

that builds a moment piece by pace
with a surer formula than luck?
So the circular becomes impassable
each lush hint seems to duck

behind the moon that captures still
a scene for monumental time
ripe rind, globed fruit more edible,
its egg-white glaze sublime.

Knowing it isn’t art but metaphor,
that life leaps not on nor off the page,
still I’ll hold a single second back
and allow mind’s fruit to age.

Maybe you know

the fat, constant sweep of the fan
blades my mind, stopping it from flat-lining
into those meditative valleys

that swing and blow and dream, cold and ripe,
beyond the pale dawn, cast in white,
where they’re sawing down fresh metaphors of the flesh

for the tailor in his absent humming
and sharp cologne knits lips and words together,
guiding his needle in to make new light

where I am here for a single blazing moment
taking tea with the muse
and the daemon, both and all marveling

at tomorrow’s more, how gusting magic unsettles
one word from the next,
where any suggestion becomes a supple text

to lean on, wafting, like this one
a sudden spear of fresh-sewn language
blooming from a rough-tossed seed

thrown outwards with a single fanning need

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.

Hot words

Slather the walls in silence

you will not blast clean
the history of this hothouse,

mote-rich Colosseum, slant-lit
wreaks of phone numbers and phalluses
that would stand beside gladiators,

O slaves, caveman, secret delinquents:
walls were only ever built for naming.

Slapdash conversations and snide declarations,
remnants of these conquests won
in toilet hours

where constipated voices
prize saintly pens from bags
admitting their most hidden thoughts
to all and none.

Smacked by a bigger brush
a stronger hand adds another stripe,
another stratum to this confessional

white-washing verbal filth,
disinfecting moral outrage
humanity’s desperate cries
to the moon, to mankind
to the unwritten places
with the swash of a brush.

Even this, surely, is history.
Even this expelling of voiceless words
and inner furies

unites with history
someone’s history

The Leaves that Fall on Dreams

It’s how the light falls
On picture frame or dark glass,
The potter’s floss of words
Or memory’s discarded stash.

A sudden glimpse that fracture makes:
This is where I try again,
Where the leaves that fall on dreams
Sway on instead, enjoin their soundless song.

Day-talk breathes less than promises.
But it’s how the light speaks
Back to us instead, between breaths
Of endless time.

(16 March 2016)

After Goya’s Giant

He stoops to madness:
Minds hunching within minds
Under moons of scratching doubt
Carved out on restless days
Like the artist whose muscled form
Surely leaned over to
Peer out over his subject
In the solitude of dreams
Night on night
On night.

Oh but his eyes turn and gaze,
Eyes eyes eyes
Obscured within the sneering shade
To wade through horizontal night
Smeared black and white across the
Soul-etched map as minds are
Slivered, charcoal-grazed
By sudden shock of sanity.

Lost in his turning, or we
In this eternal night of
Questioning grey,
The descending lamp of thoughts
Awakens the hushed abyss,
Seething with a knowing hiss.