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

Collected Stories

Gather close by my voice.
Be at ease:
Undrape your coat,
Remove your boots, heels,
Fading mocassins, grinding sneakers,
Relax your soul and
Listen.

For what wandering days reveal in
Loose-lipped splashes, careless as
The lingering rain’s rolling fingers
Tapping out small city stories.

Just for you have I collected
Word-drops as I might once have stashed
Gumballs, marbles, cards,
Spinning tops, dreams, snow domes,
Magazines, cassettes, fears
Or any of nostalgia’s leftovers in
Abandoned stacks.

These, now, are my curiosities,
They entertain me.

Being mine, I suppose,
They are perhaps too easy to dispense with,
Possessions too cheaply given
That might be better preserved until
Cob-webbed and removed from view
I have amassed enough of
Yesterday’s neglected treasures.

Yes. Yet.

Here we are among the words
You will not write
Nor I speak
While fire turns to ash.

We are at odds while we
Dabble in telling silences,
Choosing to gather our
Unwritten stories.
(20 April 2015)

At the glass (May 11)

Not for the first time these
fragments leech from your hand
leaking through darkened grates
forgotten in murky traps

where that first spit-shock smack
of invading mint against your tongue
sets in motion a dozen night-lamps
clicked to dark, launching

countless nocturnal journeys
back to first night, bordered by
permanent hum of pulsating
electrical breeze that amplifies

your tick-tock inhalations
metronomic rise and fall
teasing out the timeless hours
before another fading fragment.

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.