Frowning for his wallet,
right and left
the hand sorting
as if this were a billiard slot
in too-blue denim,
the mathematician wondered
of and on, gravity and love

who was kind or wise
or punch-drunk enough between courses,
while the sleeveless waiter
subtracted plates for laughs,
that easy substitution,
to gift the children the hours
so they might name intervals
of light and dark and space.

Fingers tickling the harmonica slide
of keys while standing struck
in freckledark, passing from quietsmile

he thought of strained tomatoes
seeds and pulp twinned and unmeshed,
passing through the universe’s sieve
of strange music, before and after.

They would be gathering up themselves,
presents, papers and steadying
towards their adult cages and nods

for the journey into well-thumbed nearenough
and its additive spell,

  less lemonfrost and more humdark.

He would buy them a chemistry kit,

or whatever best suited
its notyet shape,
that they might create
or compound metals and numbers new,
something to turn the world over
and inside out again,

the word for it
just out
of his fingers’ fumbling grasp.

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

Sounds from another life

We need new myths instead of these recycled yarns,
not just re-imagined bodies of the old, where Achilles
will always crumble, Troy will always fold and we are enjoined
from entering. Because if every story begins on the second page,
it carries the weight of the past in love and hate
and most of all in knowing how déjà vu skitters in
to tell us how it must end.
Pull me out of that place where things lack names, where careful weavers
have already stitched their nouns into all our suspicions.
Steer me down the Thames or the Styx while I pretend
these neat streams possess for us both the same sound.
Like the stone’s many arcs across the pond’s skin
(while Narcissus reflects while almost falling in)
we can never truly begin from scratch when someone,
somewhere and sometime has etched the constellation,
gripped at the same boundless flesh and given it language.
Only now we share Sisyphus’s itchy sameness, knowing
a single point rolls itself into many conversations
until enough of this universe holds its shape
because the same stories flow through us as if our understandings
were preordained. Even the mythopoetic has a purpose,
if only as the string between teller and listener,
granting us an elsewhere to tell skin from sky.

Empty space

As the eye wanders – what of it?
What of the curl of lip, cheek and eye,
spurring invention of plot, snapping at vision’s edge,
out of some irrepressible need?
That need unspoken, with space enough
in the inbetweenness of not knowing
anything outside this moment
where the pollen-scent of tears
and the heart’s unspoken dialect
become instead a silent film. Impeccably
smooth, this substitute for life, story.
Cutting the day on the bias allows
for stretching, stitching in enough
that the mind, brewing in all directions,
can tell itself that it has reached
the circle’s edge and understands,
when it has only drawn close.

If I were braver I would (September 26)

Don night’s shades, or thereabouts, as I adopted the necessary disguise
Which would include wrapping firmly up my eyes, Zorro-like,
To take advantage of a still-early moon, its framed moment
A perfect pause before evening’s adolescent hours descend into
The regular, monotonous, teacup slumber of its lunar middle age

When, adopting careful pose, I could mimic the fence-line
Tracing a slow path against its grey, decaying teeth
Until I reached a point previously determined from which to
Launch this delicate operation and, confident of my success,
Discover a toe-hold on one rail, grip and pivot

Now finding myself in enemy territory, crossing the shadowed yard
Pace by careful pace to find that chained victim, voiceless, all alone
Conquered by the ruthless forces of human savagery,
I bend down after carefully adjusting this wretched cape’s straps,
Untethering the Jones’s dog, carrying him to safety

Here on hallowed ground, rescuer and rescuee would celebrate this
For at least a moment, long enough to realise the futility which
Sun’s fresh rays and daybreak might expose as surely as the
Inevitable barks, growls and sudden influx of pet-related
Accoutrements needed to sustain this sudden jubilation

Casting wide the net at once summons forth a veritable bevy of
Potential advocates and assistants, brave warriors for humane ends,
All Tweeting or Instragramming an implicit willingness to serve as
Accomplice or accessory for any number of noble causes
Aimed at restoring or retaining the Greater Good

Now, fleeing time means choosing the most practical (read: the closest)
And after settling on an animal liberation group whose mission statements
Seem admirable, a flurry of messages lobbed back, forth with little
Pings and pops foments a disbelieving rendezvous, pre-dawn,
In the parking lot of a local takeaway

There we meet, eyes first, I knowing nothing about her ex-flame the
Moody biologist whose name she will slip in and out of conversation
Through coming months, a cudgel flapped with accidental force, yet
Her protests in the simmering final days lambasting my supposed
Obsession with costumes should, in retrospect, hardly come as a surprise

But in that single halogen-encrusted moment that lends a sweet,
Albeit vampiric, twinge to love’s emerging wings, when imagination and
You are sealed within one new-born stanza, all we can hear
Are the soft sounds of night music, or what is actually Felix’s
Relentless growling as his claws and drool reduce my car’s upholstery to mush.

Two seconds, or three (17 July)

Uprooted memory, a transplanted cut-out:
these few trees, this sudden light.
All that’s missing is the haze
and the fog of unfamiliarity.

And as time splits I could be there
seeing that unbroken tree-line
where Northern hemisphere blue is
cloaked in unbelievable flatness.

Were I not aboard this silent carriage
both then and now
we could be in Yesterday
awoken from ancient slumber.

In this double mirror is the untangling
of a million inhaled moments, scents
flasked in opaque, corked containers
whose uncapping sloshes forth some

old cologne, musky breath, undated,
knowing you are their brewer,
you stirred the pot and distilled their
forgotten essence.

So branching off on routes unseen
this single patch of brown recalls
half-surrendered hours and these
two seconds, or three, seem limitless.

Child’s Play (19 April)

Where every break can be healed
with sticky tape and
time accordions ever lengthways
until squashed tight and congealed.

No Olympiad will see such firsts
nor count as many scrapes, cuts,
falls, bumps, and close escapes,
with each so tenderly nursed.

Suspicious, we pictured secret
manuals, instructions for
growing a human Tamagotchi
or your own life-size Chia Pet.

Still you search for sessions unrecorded:
Improvised performances for which no
Thin, black-ribbon tapes exist or else by
Quick and unseen hand have all been hoarded.