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.

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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.

July

Swallowed with a gulp, the end of which
is still middle of somewhere,
going ebb over hands
with the silhouette of days.

Yeah, but it’s all gauze shadow-shirts
singing at the wind
trampling the fir
stirring up names for cravings.

Rushing one course again, what a mess
when it happens year-sure like this,
shooing the cat, a scatting tide
goes while winter, never.

Freckledark

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,

  tomorrow?
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.

Sea-spray

I have been reading the sea,
through one of its many windows, you might say,
if you knew the bliss and waft of foam,
inviting fingers of the waves, their willing arms
talking dust and detritus to swooning tips.

Hold the stain of these pages
by the spine of their dull watermark, sand-blessed,
up to the shade of youth,
faintly superstitious and quiet
to all the bellowing infinities.

The tide of days sweeps in,
soon and now.

A little longer we will sit here,
catching the near-far silence with wondering,
entrained on the here and soft horizon.
We will wait, still longer, until the mist
gull-high and dream deep fills the soul.

Andante days

Where are the andante days of spring,
where gone their watercolor glow?
For now all leaves pass maple brown
while minds run glazed by snow.

The lanes soon grey and smooth with noise
of gusts rushing in to break
some sediment of yesterday
that these chill months cannot slake.

And yet the year leaps on anew
as full heart-heavy times can’t last
more than a lulling interlude
knows soon these skies will have passed.