Smoke and silence

So let me tell you how it works,
or doesn’t, this surrogate for other things,
I try to hold in place tight as a pin.
Doppelganger, friend, foe, silhouetted stranger
I would have erased you two lines back for being
too close
to convention     and the truth.

And even now having reached out to revise
over thoughts of hope or despair,
both being at work somewhere,
this is always more than collecting the day’s shaking fragments,
that lifelong day I’m trying to rearrange into a moldable shape,

I will still ask whether these lines
are good enough,
or if I am,
– smile –
and doubt will laugh its crippling way
along this stream of thought
until I stop and ponder and retrace
and delete signs enough
where some edge of heart-map behind the narrator
saunter into view.

Here would be a good point to stop and take
the ceaseless river and turn it
back on itself, a coat’s padding revealed
or a harmless suggestion raised from a frown.
Even now and here I long to do it again,
to edge backwards towards the rushing river beat
and its parade of smoke and silence
longing to reveal colour without body,
washing over meaning until all you see:
glittering sunlight, your reflection,
hints without answers.

Whatever I do, however I turn the lens
close but not too close,
the twist-necked starling prodding at a truth
it’s easier to retreat from,
or keep moving onward to the next

but writing, even this,
is always the hope of discovery
saying something for the first time,
finally running towards instead of away,
their own freedom
and yours, too:


Two seconds, or three (17 July)

Uprooted memory, a transplanted cut-out:
these few trees, this sudden light.
All that’s missing is the haze
and the fog of unfamiliarity.

And as time splits I could be there
seeing that unbroken tree-line
where Northern hemisphere blue is
cloaked in unbelievable flatness.

Were I not aboard this silent carriage
both then and now
we could be in Yesterday
awoken from ancient slumber.

In this double mirror is the untangling
of a million inhaled moments, scents
flasked in opaque, corked containers
whose uncapping sloshes forth some

old cologne, musky breath, undated,
knowing you are their brewer,
you stirred the pot and distilled their
forgotten essence.

So branching off on routes unseen
this single patch of brown recalls
half-surrendered hours and these
two seconds, or three, seem limitless.