Finger cartography

First select a truth to uncap, pressing
its nib into finger cartography:
gears, grooves, scars, burns.
A snow-globe eruption, too little trust
in the caution against reaching out
grabbing silent, raging Pyrex.

My middle finger stays a prima donna for days
climbing a full octave, higher, higher,
clamoring for applause.
History again, hissing “jamais vu,
from out behind the curtain:
encore, encore,


Reaching outward towards some island
traced out in hyphens and hieroglyphs,

in lamp-lit hours, drifting shapes,
cinnamon-tinged mysteries of life’s arrangement.

How: inventing a story to fit that sweet desire
for how things lunged forward with or without us

into a Galapagos, held in distant regard,
some classic inched down, only a name.


The young man should not look others in the mirror,
for some it means stretching down towards a fate
wizened or withered, bending as well as porcelain.

Or is it watching oranges and lemons plummet
from branches bending nearer autumn
as grey waves swoop away promise of distant lands?

But these are shores and drops the old man
lingering over the nectar of decades
has seen and known and stumbled over.

So the still young look on regardless,
towards tomorrow’s glassy valleys and Byzantium

much as the berg calves itself into the ocean,
the rift, so far, a thin hope for charting life.

Sleight of Hand

Where is all the light-born music,
easing in with its mementos,
momentous at four and five

yesteryear’s vast, song-littered universe,
impossibly gigantic?

What used to stand here
solid glass of the magic store
behind half-parted curtains,
its swishing, galactic font sounding out
a cave of jiggling puzzle boxes,
cabin of daring comic book tricks
for uncanning laughter.
Delightful little alcove with your
middle-aged owner, whose face
proves as elusive as his top-hat,
worn or not, ever or never.

It’s like a prayer to Saturday mornings past,
more than a trick floating over
afternoons spent inhaling lemonade,
VCR tapes, chocolates and music cassettes:
all would reach
their inevitable, fizzing end.
Much like the worship of nostalgia.

The facades and frames still stand,
they must, replaced apace by the creep of day
after day. I leave them be, leave them intact.
Try as I might I remain subservient to
scents and sounds of youth, echo and promise.

If you tap lightly enough, with no one watching,
three times or maybe four,
you can still hear yesterday
come rippling back.

– 31 July 2016