A fist of night

Trying to smear together the stars
detaching the made and stitching
is like excavating for new constellations
roaming your mind along a razed field

whose silent ears and tufts already stand
and sway much like an outstretched hand
turning its fingers and beckoning here
(how the nearness of things, in a way

is also a line, a plane, a reminder
that you are descending into forever sand
(the elsewhere city is here again, always)
speaking itself into a dust of atoms

that become again, and have always been)
through the backbone of all these yearnings
to take a fist of budding night
and clutch new words, new stars, new flight.

Between falls

Wait at the vacant drop
displaced from ocean home
and this taste for words, an obsession
in cataloguing kept thoughts
will some day expire from overuse

perhaps fiddling at the margins
trying to push every symbol and break
into place has meant losing
sight and preferring
the skin-deep difference

there’s a density to looks
and the way a smile smells
or the mind retreats
flapping towards the equator
when winter’s skin forms

instead it’s always line music
always edges and rests and rhymes
inventing a pleasure of gulls
shaking loose a patience of drops
until, between falls, we rise.

Peeling the rind

Is this how painters try and plunge the world
into line and shade and hesitation
committing themselves to the ineffable,
unerasable and solid flesh, a slow appreciation

that builds a moment piece by pace
with a surer formula than luck?
So the circular becomes impassable
each lush hint seems to duck

behind the moon that captures still
a scene for monumental time
ripe rind, globed fruit more edible,
its egg-white glaze sublime.

Knowing it isn’t art but metaphor,
that life leaps not on nor off the page,
still I’ll hold a single second back
and allow mind’s fruit to age.

Maybe you know

the fat, constant sweep of the fan
blades my mind, stopping it from flat-lining
into those meditative valleys

that swing and blow and dream, cold and ripe,
beyond the pale dawn, cast in white,
where they’re sawing down fresh metaphors of the flesh

for the tailor in his absent humming
and sharp cologne knits lips and words together,
guiding his needle in to make new light

where I am here for a single blazing moment
taking tea with the muse
and the daemon, both and all marveling

at tomorrow’s more, how gusting magic unsettles
one word from the next,
where any suggestion becomes a supple text

to lean on, wafting, like this one
a sudden spear of fresh-sewn language
blooming from a rough-tossed seed

thrown outwards with a single fanning need

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:

a jacket for its dust

a mountain ledge offers poses and position
on which to lean an easel
as one image knows another
in their easy friendship

suggests the moon stretching out a hand,
the fine-rimmed sun offering its cheek,
so to speak, while the earth waits
like a jacket for its dust

everything consumes like rippled cloth
unfurled over the cracks and rises
of a silent city, all-engulfing,
rhymes and myths and up-lipped cheeks

and down we go, valleying as quickly
as the mind permits
like dice with swift surprises
only the wind knows

those other sides our view reminds
we cannot speak each eroded peak

Sounds from another life

We need new myths instead of these recycled yarns,
not just re-imagined bodies of the old, where Achilles
will always crumble, Troy will always fold and we are enjoined
from entering. Because if every story begins on the second page,
it carries the weight of the past in love and hate
and most of all in knowing how déjà vu skitters in
to tell us how it must end.
Pull me out of that place where things lack names, where careful weavers
have already stitched their nouns into all our suspicions.
Steer me down the Thames or the Styx while I pretend
these neat streams possess for us both the same sound.
Like the stone’s many arcs across the pond’s skin
(while Narcissus reflects while almost falling in)
we can never truly begin from scratch when someone,
somewhere and sometime has etched the constellation,
gripped at the same boundless flesh and given it language.
Only now we share Sisyphus’s itchy sameness, knowing
a single point rolls itself into many conversations
until enough of this universe holds its shape
because the same stories flow through us as if our understandings
were preordained. Even the mythopoetic has a purpose,
if only as the string between teller and listener,
granting us an elsewhere to tell skin from sky.

This Other Voice

Has been burning away for months, or weeks and it refuses
to speak in neat lines, to dress itself in some cloak of mystery.
At least completely. It’s not dishonest, even now
to admit that I would retreat behind the covers, away
from plain prose truth. I can’t help this flight,
the way it tangles up and caps what promises bright simplicity.
But running from this other voice feels too much
like admitting futility, like knowing that these words
will always speak double because I need them to.
Because I refuse to hold the strings in place so you can
see the fingering as one tune begins, to hold them down
in place while the performance turns over.
(Because I want them to.)
If you cannot see the presence of hands, perhaps you will
forget the presence of hands, their pressing and producing.
Even as I try to bring this to a close, to escape this yearning
to not speak, I remember that here even this is a song,
that a stage, there the daggers poised, pretending.

Empty space

As the eye wanders – what of it?
What of the curl of lip, cheek and eye,
spurring invention of plot, snapping at vision’s edge,
out of some irrepressible need?
That need unspoken, with space enough
in the inbetweenness of not knowing
anything outside this moment
where the pollen-scent of tears
and the heart’s unspoken dialect
become instead a silent film. Impeccably
smooth, this substitute for life, story.
Cutting the day on the bias allows
for stretching, stitching in enough
that the mind, brewing in all directions,
can tell itself that it has reached
the circle’s edge and understands,
when it has only drawn close.