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.

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.


Hail the latter-day Columbus, mastering the angles
for the voyage. And as quick as the pencil turns,
darting through solution after wave,
as peerless thought glides in and wills
a course, destiny and destination
are somewhat intertwined. We admit,
at least in the mind, that daydreams
belong to those inclined to dream
more so than those whose years
have greater certainty, guaranteed
without life’s need for uncharted hope.
Look how before life’s film embroiders
dust from silent motes, a passenger
beside you speaks darkly of glittering days,
devout tomorrows already knowing
ending and plot, her laugh shutters into the wind.


The fidget man I’ll call him,
a name whose sense will hold
for this today, a fickle increment,
spins like a heady dial
as he sells
to the ravished crowds
exhausted and impatient
the nail technicians slump
their frowns
into laps
of grey armchairs
between waiting on hands
and the angry drunk woman
taking a break
from her free hours
upbraids the pigeon-taunting man
who was only delighting
at the giggling
of infancy’s
easy cruelty
and two teens decide
to stand
for a picture
of themselves
because without it
this minute
would just slip by
like any other.

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.

The Lotus Box

whenever I latch onto the words
having taken the long view, telescopic,
I’m always seeing their double duplicated –
hearsay’s echoes draw us close
before meaning does more than halve
instead of staving off a rhyme
that falls off mountainsides
pretending to echo.
there’s no meaning here, I should warn you
I’m mustering deception and its breezes,
lest you step too close to the sucker punch.
ego has its own ways of eating
echo chambers and projections,
offering an impression of bitter defeat
when hope is replaced with honesty
but these turns, like my mind,
realise a lotus box, sliding
away from the suggestions of a monument,
means acceptance of the exaggerated past,
not the failure of fable
nor the silence of tomorrow.

Her mind wanders, distracted

Play on, you would,
if not for the feeling
someone else has been here already
or her already
with the momentum of the windborne
planned out, or not, uniting sight and line.

How: in a moment the hand flutters between
tenderness and treachery,
fingers deciding,
gentle leaves can soon retake the muscle memory
and shout like bellows,
palpitating organ song.

Rise and surrender
and play,
play on or pause,
or breathe and huff.

Other have chosen before, little gods
scratching for toys,
this one quivering silently on the glass:
winged and wingless, ruled from above.
You could be choosing freedom, as you play skin
against hard skin, hand to life,
gambling whether it will rise
or fall.

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.

The words of others


Afternoons queue up
Releasing human waves into these sudden days.

Mislabeled intersections whose signs
Reveal what is removed and slips
In translation, that frictious plane
Between language
And us
Where metaphor
Slips and slides
From imagination until departure
Unto a ceaseless flight.
A dozen flavours of thought and us
Lunge against a string of questions and
Eyes jut awake,
Delighted to delight.

Others’ words now are more than gifts,
I realised only recently.
Admitting one to the sealed amusement park
Of unobservable solitude
Whose precious chambers guard
All the gases
Condensing and preserving sacred life.


In the distracted hours
I can create
Coarse impersonations
Of the dream worlds of others:
Water-lilies or jutting, bursting haystacks
Fog-pretty, autumn-rich.

How strange this picture bends,
So far removed from light and sound.

When I can only summarise the years,
Scare their outlines up,
Thrust colours at the frozen palette
Hoping that a single moment sticks.