Monday 8 April 2019

Poems, Spring 2019

The Sun is a Sweltering Drug

I think of the word 'prudence'
as a bird flutters up
from the square perspective of bars.

A phone rings
while a mattress is delivered by cart
up the cobbled streets.

Keys jangle
like cowbells
through fields of poppies.

The sun is violent.

                                          How I long for thirst and its quenching.



The pebble grazed my skin -
just an inch,
and the air fluttered.
I was not alone -
two legs in denim, one crossed over the other,
poking out behind the concrete cube
out of which grew -
a breathtaking vision.

My eyes, travelling up the thin grey trunk,
like reptile skin, scaling up,
and then it hits me
the thick blue sky
and the flowers -
like a surprise in the desert.

The other day I looked out the bathroom window
and saw the tall cypress trees
dancing softly in the wind
and I was not mistaken -
in their cushioned sways
I was reminded
that I am loved.


Between the Teeth

I can only digest complex carbohydrates,
smaller seeds fall through me.
I am a sieve,
life happens outside of me.
Patterns are formed,
gelatinous and caramelised,
is it my feeling that I am rot?


When the skin sticks between the teeth
it claims a space so tight
you never knew it existed.
On the ground – a feather,
plastic and limp.
The twangs of a practising guitar
twinkling like saxophone.
An old dark voice,
so much unfolding.
The rot spreads as if to escape the sanatorium.
Pebbles lodge, as if between the teeth.


Afternoon, Suspended

It became too much to bear -
the unreality
the suckling butterfly
the skip on stones
the coarse heat
the temples of fag-ends and styrofoam cut-outs
- democracy of mess -
the patterns of a quilted jacket
the ink dripping like a faulty well.

Did my parents know I would one day end up
in a purgatory
with only a name – half given, half made -
and an identity thin and snapping,
collocations like bitter spouses.

Runes etched on to all ancient feelings,
a solid brook trickling down
and fermenting.

Crouched down, the rock beneath me
gives way
so I crumble
so that it falls -
I relish insanity,
freeing me as it does, from illusion.


In Sickness...

The sickness was like a snake rising up
against the resistance of sharp slate -
silt and stone, and yet it rises -
out it comes, fluorescent bile in the saucepan.
The sun beats down like an anvil,
and what a hardened mess
it clangs into place.
I was sick
I am sick
I care for the sickness
I let it pass through me,
some wrenching guttural steam-train
through the tunnel,
the mountain.
Foundations shake,
rocks come out of place
and whole colonies cease to exist
As the sun beats down
you'd think I'd be happy.
I am happy with anything but – and this.
The leap over the dash – that speaks to me in miles.
I show up each day and grate myself
so that I am whittled down eventually
into piles of fibrous offerings
left there like firewood.


 A Scene on The Ice Near a Town - Hendrick Avercamp, 1615

Like God's first attempt. Like the blank space before Spring. Mist, solid as bricks. Open fire rising back to its beginnings. Home – now just an idea, evanescent and warm, the chill in the air serving as a reminder of friendly pinches awake, pinching fingers clasping small hands.

A town in the distance, submerged by Sunday, a spell passed over freezing the water, fossilising half-sunk boats. A red scarf tied around a woman's waist, a red shawl wrapped around a woman's head. Chipping away, faraway clangs of workmen and ghostly calls of children, bronchial coughs and woodsmoke, tangible only in passing.

There had been days like this before – days which seemed to stretch out in a loophole of logic, and then end abruptly, the harsh dusk descending like a clap of thunder, a parent's sudden reprimand - 'off to bed!'

There had been days like this and yet it defied all memory, all familiarity gliding off the ice, like the boots that skated clumsily on its surface. As the sky and the earth blended into white, so people's predicaments became diluted. One man's loneliness became oddly comforting – an indulgent gossip between friends suddenly adopting a futile, heavy air – What is it all about? - the thought came to many, yet it was too cold to vocalise these big questions, these existential ballads, best to wrap the scarf a little tighter, rub the hands together and nod the head towards that finickity neighbour.

The morning's sermon rang fresh in people's minds. It had been about the sin of wastefulness – 'Do not let milk spoil, for so too your gratitude to God will perish.' There was no danger of anything rotting today. There was no danger of waste or forgetfulness – the ice had halted any chance of movement. There they stood, a thousand eyelids forced open to witness the neutrality of winter.