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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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

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.

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.

A thousand dreams of blue

In a thousand dreams of blue,
over and over,
strummed by sandwiched sea and sky,
gull-clear and even-tempered
valves of light announce a melody.
Everything under-wing, this worship
of waves, whose art
is never letting go.
And somewhere, sometime
astir between despair and hope
plucks out the firmament
into a dazzling array
away from its short monochrome,
you announce yourself
the very definition of azure.

Camera obscura

When I am not so much strained, one day,
holding scatterings unsaid, when I have gained
and lost enough to let the truth of things
slip out like seaweed, what of the water?

The past gushing, the bough boiling,
a bag of almond meal never used for fear
at letting sweetness fall. Nor do they make
guarantees for the future, guides for how to take

yourself apart from yesterday. We are
outlasted and outdone by distant years, perhaps,
in their consoling way. Will I know? Crafting walls
whose doors we fear to test, not trusting

how to sketch space when the sudden moon subsides
leaving little room for seeing what silence hides.
You hold tomorrow up and take this pulse,
decant the sun, shy away, softly fading false.

Hungry

When I was knee high to here
before my legs could do more than crawl,
sugar dipped itself onto my lips and my brain,
and my smile was big enough to fill
the photo all the way up
like the hypnotic wheel of your mind twisting into spirals
after watching a TV marathon non-stop, persisting
in the vain hope that it will be
sweet in the hereafter
when it stops.

That was when I first tasted a Tim Tam:
damn.
My first sugar kiss
such bliss
and your flickering mind
wondering how did I miss
this
until now
raised on bread and water and smiles,
it riles to know they were keeping you
from this.

But without teeth bigger than milk-size,
fun-size me couldn’t ask anyone for an upsize
yet.
Couldn’t do more than suck and smile
for the while, this dummy wanting more,
thinking he’d discovered
that really all life’s meaning
was just chocolate-covered.
Somewhere there were secret codes and covenants,
preaching messages only taste buds knew.

They had me hooked and they knew it,
angry Oompa Loompas diving deep and free-basing,
loading up some molten cocoa river proselytizing,
just for me. It meant a decade and more
when only the gods could deliver those glycemic goods,
the mouth-stuffed joy I could clamp down on
and fix my jaw around
a dog with a bone
getting over life’s bittersweet after-blows.

Cause I was hungry,
I was a hungry Tim Tam,
hungry like the wolf preying on the moon,
like an Argonaut on an endless Odyssey.
And damn.
Damn you, Tim Tam.
This is not a complaint
and it isn’t a confessional
where I tell you I was unfaithful
to what I swallowed by the mouthful
even though I played the field fast and loose
and tried them all or enough, sweet and salty,
and not giving enough attention
to the lack of my intention
to get fat, big, large, king-size
because it was all in the eyes.

Or maybe I’m just making excuses
for the little kid who knew nothing but the fact
that if this was going to be how the cookie crumbled
then there was no faith that couldn’t be tumbled
if there were biscuits.

Glaciers

The young man should not look others in the mirror,
for some it means stretching down towards a fate
wizened or withered, bending as well as porcelain.

Or is it watching oranges and lemons plummet
from branches bending nearer autumn
as grey waves swoop away promise of distant lands?

But these are shores and drops the old man
lingering over the nectar of decades
has seen and known and stumbled over.

So the still young look on regardless,
towards tomorrow’s glassy valleys and Byzantium

much as the berg calves itself into the ocean,
the rift, so far, a thin hope for charting life.