Although the star was not the right one, it was very bright
and we followed it anyway.
It led us far from safety, the sound
of hot water expanding in the pipes and doe-ray-mes,
the golden pinnacle and the ogre’s teeth.
Where did they fall, those ogre’s teeth?
The cities piled up, the summer oozed its copper glory
in droplets from cisterns, the pick—pock of distant tennis balls
being hit on public courts with ragged netting.
It had no maze to check its progress
or make a game of its futility.
The lions it ate one by one, and everywhere
the traffic was appalling:
soon, we no longer believed in shipwrecks,
or trains when they halted at the end of sea-side lines.

When its brilliance burns inside my head
I sometimes forget I have no home, no country
to die for or deplore.
Messiahs cry for it and cool and reasonable people
try to measure that star in the shadows cast by roses or
light years or other stars but we
kneel and then lie face down not through reverence but simply
because we’re tired and know
tomorrow will be another early start, and today
must be consigned to ghettos and oblivion,
safes or crates for rotting oranges,
swallows flickering in arcs across
the blazing lights of the container port,
goods and freight.

Pick—pock, pick—pockpick
Like a dream, this
has no odour and at its core
the only law at all is the law
of the next moment,
which each of us and every thing must obey,
so-fa-la-ti-doe.
As I doze on a pale blue bench in a run-down park,
one morning perhaps again I’ll hear
the tramp and drool of the ogre,
find the others have left without me, and gone on:
I’ll be too old, will have fallen sick, grizzled
by the beatings of the streets and exposure
to the repeated radiance of a minor sun;
and suddenly in touch
with the gaping gills of sticklebacks
twisting like deformed sea-horses in a mist of fingers
I’ll try to remember the village bells
ringing in the hours of my childhood home. Until then,
the trail of lions’ bones and the still-moist pits of eaten peaches
and strewn wreckage of downed airliners
is unmistakeable, as are all the signs
pointing in every wrong direction,
their wayward shadows
lit by the star of your only journey.

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