Sisters

Having penned me as an older brother
and all that entails,
point-of-reference for their sisterhood:
a segue, a footnote, an invention
like some ghostly shadow spurring the machine,
whose engine-name launches memory
again upriver or adrift,
a stop, a tangent, or a shift
in conversation,
this is how we relate.

This is how we relate in absence
by invoking shadowsong and scattertalk:
that time, that thing, that hour when
endlessness returns again, again.

Look, how easily we revive some slumber,
and past lives whose bedrock
leases clay for song-craft,
yesterday and endless life-raft

You cling to: spin, speak, slander, sigh
some spell and I am here again
in words and bends,
stories that make amends
or cast dim light against dark glass.
Recited or revisited as phantom figure
for whichever fluttering incantation
suits mood or mould,
(or so I’m told).

Who knew you could fold
it up and call on me again
with your pencil music,
conversant magic,
fantastic images where I am rarely me?
Never exactly,
mostly impression,
only as much as the tilt of light
on the cross-hatching of imagination.

Whatever sparks that flight and
your mind sketches form and face,
remember all you really see is
outline, shade and soundless space.

– 5 October 2016

What the spotlight hides (30 July)

You may take a turn at all the parts,
suit up for all the unauditioned roles
in this single-hander with you as
acrobat, juggler, clown, fool

but first of all
master the trapeze.

Your greatest foe:
who knew?

This angry gray wire threatens
always slipping,
each from the other,
your legs slipping as they
strain and flounder in this
tug-of-war with fifty falling eyes
you rather would see
baying, booing, saying
anything

than this indifference,
inclined to wander and drift
just as this thin line leaves you

dangling

With Improvements (6 May)

Circling pairs first at their station
break, prey on their own creation:
unbidden soon truth is showing,
bloody drops are freely flowing.

What wicked tango short begins
as quick we see that purpose spins
now gliding in a crimson flight,
vampiric etching breeds delight

with each dash, turn and madcap cross
exclaiming loud all work a loss.
Rewrite this dance, compose anew:
else this, and more, you’ll fast undo.

(Note: This is based on a draft for an old poem that I’ve largely rewritten. What started as a meditation on one topic has ventured off into something remarkably different. Though the idea still remains, I’ve transformed it. Strangely, I don’t know if I prefer this version to the original. All the same: publish, publish, publish.)