Earth, smoke, dusk

Years later it would spark and burn,
suspicions though from the back seat
mistook country murmurs for smoke
as the mountain road wound,
curved and never let you look
beyond a fraction of a minute.
Melways in your lap spoke signs
as the navigator peering out
sending passage from over the shoulder,
over straight ways becoming loud
as light scatters in slits and slots
cut through by holidaymakers out of time,
wanting to step out of time holding
aboard the few spare days
miseries like sour fruit, skin tight.
Little did you see, rattling by
through the pass because
the days depend on knowing
as you glanced ridge-wards
looking for landmarks
through the jagged horizon
that where there will be ash
the forest stands again now,
dark smear, twilight,
crumbs, leaves,
day’s sprout.

Advertisements

Tomorrow rises

It’s easy as uncapping the street to discover yesterday,
difficult as this time-worn patina, spore-seed grown
in the pollen breath of memory and expectation.
Worming into the silent, still canals of there and back,
Arches, shadows and bridges gather and disperse
according to rules of place and absence,
indecipherable as palm lines or half-known faces
a heartbeat away from empathy.

Here we are, could be, once more again
sipping questions against the mist-slung skies,
because every truth suggests something to hold onto,
every artifact was worth preserving, someone said.
Just as our galaxies might meet, their planets align,
nebulae brushing up against the rain-kissed glass.

All the never-yesterdays are gone,
never to have arrived, replaced instead
by all the nothings fleeing,
leaving behind these swarming infinities.
Something lingers in the trembling notes
like itchy moths rumbling the quiet cabin,
leaving while wishing to grasp those pulsing lights.

Look, below. How those palisades and ponds
conjured only out of mind, their continental dreams
retracting into a soft simmer, then the quiet.

In another life we are always
leaving things behind,
the dull remains
of misbegotten youth
with its rinsed out yesterdays.

Yes night, O night, with your nostalgic ebb and laugh,
turning over moods for greedy fodder
though you are here
even you must relent and close up show,
your library hours cease for now:
touching feet to your solid waters,
the street spills, and tomorrow rises.

[A note: this is something I wrote elsewhere first, but I’ve redrafted. Ironically the revised version is more melancholic and darker, an almost inversion of the poem that gave it birth. The narrator is fictionalised :)]

Heartfall

Heartfall and windside and daybreak
and the sudden absence of light,
or just shadows peeling quietly away.

First to winter and a boulevard,
veins quiet before cyclists come flaring
upwards against the wind,
screaming morning into life between trees.

Or there are no trees there like here,
only unnameable sketches of buildings,
their order interchangeable.

When just before nightbreak that same backdrop
settles under fogbreath
and misting mouths clatter
between nods and frowns.

The notion of sky is the colour of sky,
its aching magnitude
a reminder that you have been transported
into a world not of your mind’s making
whose matchbox frames and peeping windows
gather another people’s birdsong

but all is still sky, earth and
pulsing days between.

(“I assume you still write poetry?”
“Only when the heart rises, the wind subsides,
and the cross-hatching of memory appears.”)

In any order other than chronological,
a single moment feels like echoes,
sings like wheels in motion,

a kind of endless question and answer
not unlike tomorrow, today’s fresh-brewed child
dropped into all our lives at once.

Then the crossing light clicks over, ready for you.
Even its different tone should not be
different, really, only second or third, like

the unfamiliar rumble of a stranger’s face
known except for the darkening years
whose dwindling chasm spells out
bridge and length of your heartfall.

– 9 July 2016

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.