The world refuses sleep

Tide and time have laid their dust on,
seeds beget vines and the garden
turns full with waylaid words
as reckless and sugar spun as ivy
yawning its way up the three o’clock sun.

Scraping up the humus and knots and
cross-hatched pulleys gathered over months
it is easy to believe this is a second story.
The world refuses sleep
dreaming in bursts of ever and always.

Hours yank themselves free and
a thought you had
tilts its head and flees.
It will come back, you know,
or some other seed its place.

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Wild things

drinking in wild things and light
everything the colour of cymbals
urging winter into memory ground

ink of the first geranium
anthem bursting in rhythm
of sweeping daylight

rituals from the roots
of melody born
in vines the shape of longing

enough to hear the shade
pressed between quivering leaves
thoughts still wild and ripe and free

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.

Theme for Class

In school they never let you
pick the topic, especially those
secret and distant
worlds I once dismissed out of hand

offering no more
than mystery and flight,
fantasy filling hours on end
with its looping plots

the constant adrenaline tug
of knowing how chapters
were just beginning
to unlock keys to untold lands

where you already knew of ciphers
and suspense, how each dangling drip
begat an understanding
that peace would always be elusive

that the earth must tremor
and the seasons topple,
so all stories repeat their truths
in different lies.

Paper dance

sensing only the same tempo, melting
and reshaping itself

is how the dancers ended up
searching for silhouettes through the floorboards,

waging war against the constant choreography,
leaving the watchers waiting and the music

flailing, trying to meet
the riff, riff, riff

as legs speak in tongues
so that each adjustment and rise

becomes an offer and a pose
grappling with a set of parentheses

dangling like the open sesame
chanted to cleave the shade

and send the lamplight scurrying
into the twilight’s daze

though the show goes on regardless,
scenery rippling, wavering, dancing.

Magnesium days

Writing to be read, not read into,
a sleight of hand that glimmers sweetly
up in a whirling test tube
caressing quick-burn dreams in its sight
then dispenses into chemical days.

And time-bound, it feels like
yesterday’s ferment, soured, sweet
a busy chef stoking the feast
and genuflecting in our direction
so we might barely scrape the glaring bright.

This would be magic, not only awe,
in other ages, other lights.
Instead this elemental world asks nothing
though we reassemble its toy-kit parts
into misery and dreams and approval.

In your own words

We traffic in words
their fuse and pop and darting light
the mad electric parade
becomes our mind,
a
reaching out as we revel
in making thought from old
with the scrambling hop of fingers
pressing into the grease-proof clay
always springing back and forth
between new, never and timeworn delight.

O, how we revel knowing words.
Touching, they merge
to trip us beyond,
and even meeting at the intersection
of silence and confusion, staring
blankly
distraught because the lights haven’t bloomed
again and all our moves are governed
by the same recursive loops
drummed into us,
no matter. True enough.

No matter these,
when the boundless sky swirls here
and there at once
enough that you know what I mean
in your own words.

Little corners

little corners of little cities
are bounteous enough
that you can paint and scrape away
at the closed rooms
of open worlds
pulling your eyes up the ledge
with you – falling in

faster than the wind allows
is how you cycle through days and shades,
left hand offering the right
agreement and consolation

when you had reached
a place above you
whose handle you would decline
but you mean only a sliding door
from memory, not a metaphor

for these little corners tantalise
and dance to their own tangents
not you, left, right, aquiver
the way a gaze tilts the question
unexpectedly, mapping for answers