Archives for the month of: May, 2012

And so every moment becomes a form of assignation.
You strip off at night with her
and try to coax from what you are
the things you will never be again
and never understand.
This is not your city.
Give back the words now.
Burning maps inside you is this time,
these days seen by wheat,
these great skies abandoned you cannot reclaim.

Something wonderful and close to miracles
seems to dog you.
The song of the sirens or of mosquitoes
tingling your inner ear.
It’s the call of last things and at the same time
of the unutterably mundane.
The ledge inside each instant,
and the other side of days.
Like those guys who just step out in front of trains
to dispense one afternoon
with the need for limitations.
The vision of a different state.
Her lips mixed with the taste of tangerines,
and the scent of her skin
a few instants after summer rain.

And will she be there when the next moment comes?
You go to meet her always
but if she is not waiting
you meet someone else
who will take you to her.
Restless, restless as the sea.
Squawking and lumbering like Galapagos,
a pointless, steadfast desolation.
Your fear of islands.
Rocks which float
with a weight of butterflies.
No end but constant motion,
no sleep to put your dreams.
The mystery of things rendered silent by distance,
all that was left behind when you walked away.
She leaves you with this.
Snowfall on the volcano’s rim.
Restless, restless as the sea.
And, as the sea, unmoving.


It was what we made of our lives.
We put ourselves into it, together.
Sometimes it was brash and noisy and brilliant
like a Chinese propaganda film on the building of dams.
Often it was more obscure, and soft,
like the shadows of petals on a path in the evening in spring.
And, oddly, it was not the dam-scaled things,
the overt, the towering and heroic,
which were the most difficult to build,
but the way the shadows of petals moved very subtly on the pathway
when the breeze stirred them, just before nightfall.
And those were also the most difficult things to bear.

But we could not stay in the places we had made.
Somehow, for some reason, we were forced to move on,
or we forced ourselves to move on, or to drift, to be carried —
in any case, in the end, it came to the same thing,
and I didn’t see so much of you in those later days.

What claimed our love? How did it subside?
Into what vanishing did it go,
like nomads, running out of land,
like a road addicted to horizons?

With some of the guys from my old crew, I watched a documentary
on the Graveyard of Planes. They showed a part
where they cut up the B-52’s, all my buddies
were silent, I think if each of them were alone,
they would have been crying.

You call me, and I wake.
Figurehead, my mind’s full of numbers past reckoning —
and yet I open my eyes, rub them, stretch —
and your two stones, thrown so trustingly towards me,
are enough to break down the bastions of any words:
sea voyage.

As if in a Giotto, a Duccio, those dainty, chunky towns —
much smaller than the gigantic saints or donors before them —
heart, haemoglobin red, stubborn, opaque, so small a fort,
and the walls with the little crenellations,
one glance can still take it:

Sound of young leaves, soft whirr of young waves —
these are the Miranda hours, april of the world,
and the neat, oblong grave, four Roman soldiers sleeping before it —
when God was sweet, perhaps 15, a shy girl —
or the morning of the first day, a morning all eve —
new eyelids opening on old eyes — are —

New rosebuds opening on old stems — coral pink,
tongue lit with a gentle flame —
you call me, and I wake.
Autumn and Jericho, the word heart forms,
jealous with light rain, an avenue of chestnut trees,
a pale green mine, malachite, a Medieval conker hoard,
or a crimson forge, workplace of the armourer —
beats — leaves — beats —
but you only have to look away, and you become

Upon their shields, in gold, the empowering initials S.P.Q.R.
I hear your voice, this melts away —
the whorled, sevenfold trumpets of ram’s horn,
circuits of the city, 20 000 herz, and the herdsmen of words —
even the physical dead, who must come to us for pity —
the silver of Troy ore, seived and smelted —
the needlework arrows of Bayeaux —
all this melts, like mist, away:

Tenderfoot, tinderbox: light, utterly serene, surrounds them
where they sleep, in altarpieces, painted lakes,
their toybox armour, dragonsblood and ultramarine,
worn upon them — to this, they must capitulate —
and in our stable and our fugitive colours
surrendered, each of us, unique petals from the head
of a single rose — in pollinating May — a wild rose — a dogrose:
breeze, again.

Jade — forest of conditions, forest of possibility:
fir trees, evergreens —

You call me: wake up Mick!
Dreamsleep. Thick slumber. Magically, you dispel the ancient day —
Vertigo sequoias — the whorling, sapping ripples of the past —
Agincourt and Magna Carta —and the habit of the cave is broken.
The verb is —

Tuscan Jerusalems — Gethsemanes and Dante’s sandals —
and Petersburg Golgothas — Mandelstam —
Frankincence and cedarwood — darkness, briars —
old footsteps on a new path,
and the gospel Trecento silver in Judas’ palm,
his dashing yellow cloak of formulaic tempera.
The reposed centurions linger by the grave —
new footsteps on an old path —
their breeches of rumpled mauve, robes of burnt orange,
tunics of moss green, the whole fanned out
as in a fresco by Ugolino, or by Duccio,
like a rainbow trousseau, or set like a theme in music
for some somber variations: the grave is empty,
and there is no Christ; the grave is full,
and there is — no christ;
the painting is empty, and there is no grave —
only the senses, voices, petals —

Defenceless one, benighted one, vulnerable one, hush,
there will always be pain in the city.
Midnight of the world’s night, it’s always with us,
striking, one half of the earth belongs to it.
Giotto di Bondone, Duccio di Buoninsegna, in azurite or terre verte,
wake the god from fleeting colours,
from the grave of painting,
but the soldiers are not dead, but merely sleeping.
Defenceless one, vital one, my beautiful alarm,
you call me — Mayday of the world’s spring —
and I wake, and peer through the branches and the leaves:
the English word is stirring — for the first time it is
love — rising, moving, being
new footsteps on a new path —
wishful, unlikely, absurd.

If I were Achilles, my heel would be your tears.

— But who’s that there,

We split. There was no way forward but breaking
there was no way back
to the lights of the spring.
I started to take photographs of clouds.
The sky was so beautiful that summer:
it was full of you, but not quite.

The bathroom was jewelled and historic, like a Vuillard.
I lay there scented with remains
of oranges and jojoba
and set out on the long slow task of forgetting.
Roses grew from your breasts,
your head sprouted branches,
I wound a single strand of you
tight on my finger
the steam came
obliterating the heads in the mirror
but some things have half-lives
longer than others.

The silence was deep as the film
on which the clouds developed.
In the car, wild horses and bears roamed,
there was forest in the headlights for days
and so we came at last
to the little signs
of a lost civilisation,
a place human beings once lived
but were no more.

You were laughing and running your fingers
archly back through your hair.
We’ll be late you said
and the music was ethereal Scandinavian pop
the splinters of it
floated in the air around us
the diamond has melted
and the walls were blown down
so slowly we hardly noticed.

When I saw the box she lay in
I thought how small it was
how tiny her body must be and how all those years
I never saw
but now I feel
she was lonely with grandeur
epic with landscapes touched by her let
fall by her
not contained but containing
the deserts and the gaping skies:
she carried the coffin
it was always inside her, all that time
and the ivory silk
and the darkness which will never know light.

It’s the gift you never want to open, but must,
he said ‘Gift’ is the German for ‘poison’.
When I play those old songs
it’s like the first scent of the sea
after years inland
I guess the older you get
the more you have memories
and the greater the space
between them.

Down in the nucleus where the engines run,
a daydream of neurons, Hiroshima and momentary stars,
down in the basement of matter, in the atoms
of the words, at the core where the power lies
our ordinary days go on
and we drift together and apart
slowly or quickly
depending on where you think you are
and how your time is passing.
Routines and trains have come between us,
all we could want and all we could fear,
a secret we keep yet ache to tell
Come closer I whisper
to no one
I have something to say to you.

After the dragon’s fire of parting,
when the sky seemed as still as a photographic plate, then,
I found you in cumulus, in cumulo-nimbus,
in stratospheric cirrus, in alto-cirrus,
and when you were with me,
I lost you.

It’s strange. I thought I knew what was inside you.
I believed we had an understanding.
Now I see you are full of clouds,
and go on, much longer than I thought you could.

We were listening to Kraftwerk as we drove over the Solinki Bridge.
The city looked so magical,
far more beautiful at night than during the day.
It shimmered, and it mattered, because I was in love with you.

People don’t go there anymore, it’s too dangerous.
But animal life has returned: I’ve heard
there are thriving populations of wild horses and bears.

You didn’t like to think of your childhood, you said.
There were things in it too painful to consider.
It became a place of fairytale grandeur —
neglected, over-run with chopping knights and great thorns.

I tried to hold you, but I couldn’t hold you.
How can you hold a river, or a wish?
It’s like a dream of Asia, a cat’s lapping tongue pink against the milk.
But you went too fast. You slipped away in a moment.

The truth? you said. Yeah, I believe there’s a truth —
but we’re not set up to see it yet.
It’s like trying to look at the sun with the naked eye —
you just can’t do it for long, you’d go blind.
But the sun is still there.

When I was young, I remember, there was sunlight on your arms.
It’s not like chess, there’s no conclusion, no final say,
like when you take the king, that’s the end of the game.
In love, I guess, there’s no king —
but still, you play.

Lost in an airborne maze of the days again
It’s not as if
you can love who you want to
And the summer a gold mountain
awaiting Mohammed
And the summer the young couples
at the DIY superstore
Goldrush, in autumn collapsing shafts of sunlight
pitfalls of memory
We grew suckers
and new limbs flowed
We slipped back into the sea
The currents took us

the ethereal geometry of jets
scrawling their vapourtrails
You can’t get out of this place
No one can
but they keep trying
It causes them pain
Cars take the pain away
or drown it in noise
And after all, forgetting
is almost everywhere
It’s almost everywhere
Almost everywhere
but here…

Was it all easier once?
That’s how it feels, sometimes,
and isn’t it what everyone says?
Things stayed in their proper place
cities were obedient
memories, too, and loyal like dogs: walk stay and heel
Now strange packs run through your dreams
wolves with eyes of china blue
You soar through your loneliness
a seat over the wing and the world topples as you bank
You try to get out of this steppe
with its skies out of Westerns
but you carry it all with you
It was put inside you the moment
you were born
As you grow older
it becomes more onerous and more beautiful
You have roads in your blood
Interstellar spaces where the meteors fly
it’s just another morning
A wilderness under your eyelids
Forests in the boot
You sleep running
and when you wake you are savaged by great packs
of snow-leaping wolves

Sometimes your children grow heroically still and their gaze
is as calm as a buddha’s
Where are they looking
as they look into the sea?
Where is the sea
in the gaze of your children?
When the years drift out like guests,
where are your children?
Where has everything gone
you put into your gaze, and held
so close?

You thought your life was something you built
possessed a subtle architecture
a certain logic
But the guests drift out drift away
the clouds take the stars
Out on the plain under vacant skies
the points of things are reduced then fade
like Venus in the morning
Your will is stymied by the graceful retreat
of the horizon before you
Momentum is lost
and direction grows mythical
And your life has no castle no keep no sturdy walls
it didn’t start here
but just came to rest for a while
where you stare at your children gazing
at pause from their play
out to the sea which gathers them
calls to them dazzles them and then
lets them go

Things tremble and roll, skeeter and float
glisten like thistledowns
The foundations are clouds
Your life didn’t start here didn’t start
with your life
It all came from far away
It’s windblown
Lie down though
and rest inside me while you can
In a moment
the wind will blow again
and we may be carried away
But don’t be surprised
It’s not as if
you can stay where you want to
It’s not as if
you can choose when to love

They promised thunderstorms
And if the light is so soft over the wheat
a spark is enough for fire, so are the years
You had just had a shower
your hair smelled of honeysuckle and peaches
The city was so peaceful
In flames

The weather didn’t break, God it was humid
Maybe the system was to blame but I loved you
There were cracks in the spirit
cracks in the bones where the light fell through
shadows slipped out
No one could tie the universe together anymore
so it began to shed stars
No one collected them
They grew obsolete at the bottom of swimming pools
on the backs of trucks
and the whipped top settled on its side and stopped spinning
At a touch
all the armour of all the princes in all the fairystories
rusted and broke
Stories didn’t have morals
They didn’t even have plots
Books didn’t need pages
I kissed you among tangled threads of starlight
in a meteor shower
It was something to do
It was a bit of a laugh
It was beautiful there
It was the feelgood hit of the summer

Then I didn’t see you very much after that
For a while I didn’t see you at all
Then I never saw you again
That night we took sunset like a pill
bliss on the tongue you know the sun slipped into the lake
the lake slipped into the past
Lucerne Chicago or somewhere
Like lovers with their pointless stories
It is like a dream you don’t dream
or like a memory you don’t remember

We had a spark but we never had fire
That was how it felt, anyway
Wars grew up around us like briars
but they seemed like other people’s wars to us
So our hair stayed golden and we slept on and on
safe in our sparkling white towers
the briars began to blossom
like strategies like napalm falling
There were cracks in us
cracks in ourselves where the others came out
They promised great storms
Then the great storms came

I never told you that I loved you
I never said the right things
Now time intervenes
or maybe it’s sloth
or recognition of some truth
or a kind of tragic apathy, in any case
I have become very confused
The connections between things grow more tenuous
then they fail altogether
Then there is just one thing
But it isn’t the right thing

Out there in the country we smoked opium
and time dilated a heartbeat took forever
or nearly forever
I nearly forgot myself
But we had to move on a few days later
Sometimes, I remember

The evening light on the ocean was almost monochrome
The water looked like rolling platinum
A single cloud seemed to focus the whole sky around it
heroic and futile
We’d been swimming and we had been young
Now we were beginning to shiver a little
I felt like it was time to do some growing up
to come down off my high horse
It seemed okay to be no one

A silent icy star took the place of the cloud
served to give form to the emptiness I mean
Behind us the city was beginning to light up
on the esplanade little purple trapezoids of neon
surf shacks and bait shops
while behind us the doomed radiance of the centre
throbbing and shimmering
performed its nightly seduction quickly
rendering obsolete any slight wish we might have had
to be good
You dried your hair with the old pink towel
cirrus strands of blonde for silver gelatin
We packed up our things and felt fine
tensed ourselves for the coming evening
drove into town like we carried guns
We felt so cool…

They say the data’s never lost despite the destruction
even when things slip into black holes
though stars may die or cars crash
It’s just energy changing shape
just stretching and switching
At that level, so they say,
nothing is ever destroyed
But that’s just physics
It doesn’t apply
to you or me
to a love or a memory

I guess for you my heart was like that cloud
impossible to keep its shape
or hold in the sky
I don’t care about the atoms or the deathless things
Though days pass the day doesn’t pass
we somehow seem to carry it with us
The waves move but not the sea
We care about the things we lose
some more than others
I sometimes recall the stillness of that evening
the sky like steel and the flat waves shadows and mercury
you drying your hair arm raised like a dancer
grasses on the steep dune motionless
It was as if there was a presence closing in on us
something real, something living,
something we get to keep
But then it moved off again and we kissed for a while
It’s the dream you remember, after all,
and not the sleep