Breeze over the lake

With a stretch they crunch uncrunch and gasp
while magnet ducks lulled like toys nod through
ruffled air demanding you pirouette,
there a one-two, punch-punch-swift exhale
here she levitates that cooing child
by shimmering nebula’s pebbled paths
a pair arrives like Doppler waves
performing their two-step in unison
as city’s patient ‘scape drowns horizon
revolves and all is submerged, vanished
as erratic days erupt into emptiness
leaving a single inhalation of life.
– 20 August

The Annual Stuffing

All that chocolate decadence
Is just a red herring. See, you think
When you leave they feast on those
Sugared gifts you delivered, they’re all
Biscuits, bonbons, baskets.

Until you’ve left they make nice
With enough over-sized smiles for
A 1960s sitcom, so saccharine
You wonder whether you should have
Brought an apple, too.

They exhale your annual departure,
Draw curtains to study prepositions:
At, over, under desks and chairs
Engrossed in the very practical
Applications of chemistry.

Struck by the radical happiness
Of the sedate and mild-mannered
Alighting on untapped emotion
I find a wall, brace, bearing witness
To this swift descent.

They spin into raucous ribaldry and
Bitter banter, admit what’s best erased
Before the year rises to cleaner faces.
You smile and ask whether they enjoyed
The chocolate.
(18 May 2015)

To the Sea

We are libertines
let loose to scamper
over rising dunes
past beguiling horizons.

Fleeing we starve for breath
seizing loose air
we sing, we play, we sigh.

Misting heavens scoop
at stalling gulls
between rise and descent
a levitating carousel.

Air will not hold them
nor this sand us:
we long to return

(13 April 2015 – a combination of smaller sketches, recomposed, that I did as part of a workshop today.)

The table, again (23 September)

Plunging through the slanting doorway
Into open arms and customary greetings:
Lips grease stubbled cheeks and vice versa,
While open palms meet firm backs,
Shoulders are vice-gripped amidst
Easy monosyllables and nervous laughter.

Trying to beeline for the lounge they are
Interrupted by the usual diversions as
Reunion transforms into museum tour,
Strangers reviewing this curated inversion of
Familiar walls, spaces, faces
Blanked and redecorated.

Cautiously, each sentry resumes
Their former place as added chairs
Accordion old order into new formation.
Question, answer, nod, pause.
Again, but with more hesitation
As fingers form unseen knots, trace time.

Coffee? No, the other one.
Bag drifts, slides into the cup:
Drowning, sinking, rising, drowning
Like some bobbing body coming unstrung.
All the pieces now arrange themselves
In three-card monte played sotto voce.

They wait
Concealed within the mist
For the first misheard word,
For mistake or miscalculation,
A chance to pounce with vicious claws
On suspecting prey.

Settling steam condenses these windowed lives
Admitting storied stains, dusty residue and
More double layers than a Tim Tam
Not in this house!
But instead they sip it in,
This new civilised, suppressive brew.

Knowing the centre cannot hold
And all that
Blah blah blah
Back and forth, back and forth
They push friction aside
With small talk, small words.

A slow exhale across the water’s surface
Skims heat off the top.
From the yard a black dog rears up
With jolting cries, a Lego figurine
Assembled from a million fuzzy fragments.
A toast!