Archives for the month of: November, 2015

Luvina | 81 | Winter 2015

Three poems, Dissolution by mercury, Bag of shadows and Map, not of Peru, have been published in Luvina, Issue no. 81.

Luvina is the literary journal of the University of Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Each year, the University holds the Guadalajara International Book Fair, which is the largest book fair in the Spanish-speaking world, and the second largest in the world after Frankfurt. Each year, the Fair features the culture of a particular region or country, and Luvina invites artists from that region or country to provide work for the journal. This year, the UK was the guest of honour.

The three poems have been translated into Spanish by Daniel Saldaña París

The poems are from the collection Distillate, which is in preparation

The journal in PDF format, here
The three poems, here

My thanks to the editors and staff of Luvina, and to Daniel Saldaña París, for their kindness and hard work


From the nursery of the moons and stars
to gilts and futures

is just an instant.

She closes her eyes and opens her eyes
and I don’t know
what lies in the darkness:

then the memories come back on,
and she answers the phone, she says
Hey, babe, how’s things?

Maybe in a turquoise light the plastic mermaids smiling.

Maybe the dog with the bad bark barking.

From the snowflake touching to the snowflake melting
on your skin

is just a life.

She closes her eyes.

Maybe the scent of the neck of the one she wanted, the lost lover.

Maybe the dead angels with the fixed grins gazing.

I’m gliding through the years.

Turning the light on at the beginning of the day,
and at the end of the day, turning the light off.

I’m gliding through the hours.

But there’s something wild among us,
reminding us of the way we came.

Like a power-cut mid-song.

Like monkeys on the New Delhi underground
invading the subway trains.

And were you there
when the first man walked on the moon?

Were you there
when the tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square?

And was I there
when I don’t remember?

I open my eyes and close my eyes
and in the darkness I don’t know
what’s left in the light:

maybe the floor of a vanished ocean
with a wind blowing the branches
of coral trees, their shadows
swaying gently over the dry white sand?

Maybe all the things we let slip,
the hands we let go, and the hopes we mislaid?

Maybe a Japanese lord of old
committing suicide by inhaling,
through an ivory straw,
the dust of gold.

Maybe there’s just a different darkness.


Re-post | Original post January 2012

Under the Aurora borealis
under the impression we are going somewhere

Outside on the hot steps the couriers dab themselves and idle
Shimano clickers rest and no wheels turn no
call is made

We descend from apes and then we pause
on 50 K in our chic apartment

We fought laughing over an old photograph of you
I keep thinking of that day you wore
a pastel blue sweater boots lined with fur
a strawberry beret and you were
standing and smiling in Arctic Circle snow
from the pines and rotting eaves
beads of meltwater were shining mercurial slivers of a burnished rain

From another epoch a few years ago a distant tumult
Different drugs different music different hairstyles
Everything so past, like Showa or fleets of silver bombers
from the Cold War

Now we’re not laughing anymore

We breathe hard

We stare at each other

Our gaze moves us

You come closer

Hold still you murmur

Re-post | Original post January 2012

We lay back and white seahorses floated over us
Tumbling waves, music, sex, the humid greenery of a sleep
we breathed like plants
A deep stillness, as if it pre-dated beginning
Before the necklaces of shells and the brilliant scarlet feathers
Then we woke soon we were back in the city
the bright jabs of car horns
cement dust concrete being poured
Caffeine neon and wits
We saw things differently and danced like crazy
and all the time argued fought held and fled
desperate to feel
life’s sweets and sting
We had to rest like sharks in moving currents or die
We were plants with the rhythms of plants
With the rootedness of plants

We were late it was frantic there was a scramble
we almost missed our plane
I kissed you how wonderful that felt
simultaneously as if I was in the only place I’d ever truly loved
and lost in a place totally new to me
Familiar yet inexplicable
Stable yet strange
We took off and we were in the air
a suspended republic
Below us, the peaks of volcanoes peeped up
like vast egg cups through low cloud
a memo to Genesis
We were scientists and mathematicians
auteurs and carpenters
We were blood type O
We were heroes and failures
lonely and life and soul
looking for parties,
we were lovers
We didn’t know each other
We were not ourselves
We digressed
We were endless

Vacant rooms where the air-con comes on at set hours
and then falls quiet
The dreamless wait of unused pillows
in the giant hotel out of conference season
Blasé carp in the pool, crimson and pink
Rising with a love and with a love falling
The void inside the ping pong balls
lying at rest in the darkened gymnasium
The couple at reception,
arguing, thinking they were robbed
calling security
Near-mummified figures propped up
or lying on their sides like brittle mermaids
in the care home
One moaned a few minutes ago
now she is silent
A few milligrams changed her mind
The sky was a dark violet
and the storm clouds clotted like a black cream
They watched the traffic lights go through their sequences
in the deserted town centre
They take a long weekend and they fly down to Rome

The mind is a vast grave
Impossibly luxuriant, with a liquid bedazzlement of fish
slipping among the coral
Our daughter laughed and we were happy
a mouth filled with light
Anemones bloomed, dead vampires lay sprawled in muddy pools
Rain was slowly filling the grave
and troupes of monkeys made their way through the swaying trees
The years were sliding into my thoughts of you
and the land slipped pulling down pylons
In the museum
among the great serene heads of stone buddhas
I thought of your mouth
the darkness of your lips
the inside of our kiss
of waves which rise
once in ten thousand years
I thought of flowers which open in the moonlight
I thought of flowers…

These things have no relevance to us
the gestation of mountains the architecture of stars
the dry discourse of rocks and cicadas
We are lushes for instants
Driving to the centre the lilac smoke above the ruins
the car turns to worms and charred petals
You lost your lipstick on the plane
and we grew bored
parched for mirrors among the stones
In the abandoned cities of the heart
the autos of Detroit in memory
you wander among crowds of the forgotten
unable quite to grasp you
are one of their number
You yearn for salience
but this was not your story
You sleep with her for one more night, and attain
the peace of minerals
In a rented house the TV on the sound down
you rest your minds
On the screen, a fury of heroes
a brightness of comets and of falling angels
and the lights of their ascent and their demise
flicker on your closed lids
Beyond the walls wind blows the powerlines
and there is an eyeless darkness
You murmur in your dreams
but no one hears the words
When you wake, you can’t see the darkness
and the wind doesn’t blow

Come inside me
There is room for everyone
for every thought for every movement
You lost a friend and behind you
your sorrow turned to icicles and steam
and on the scalded, inhospitable earth
ferns began to grow where you left no footsteps
in places you never were or will be
Letters were burned and telephones slammed down
and yet the words were endless
even those which led nowhere
were never truly resolved
A butterfly lands on what was once your mouth
The temple has no monks
lizards laze and play on its walls
The passengers remain seated in their airliner
on the seabed
the captain drifts at the controls
There is no end
And so, no judgement can be made on this
And, for this, no judgement is needed

Re-post | Original post January 2012

Tears in the Fence | 63 | March 2016

Two poems, Auction and Poised, have been accepted for publication in Tears in the Fence, Issue no. 63, due in March 2016

I have no home and no need of one
(and the breeze blows softly).
I have a lover, yet I am alone,
here in this room overlooking the water
in a town without a name.

It’s hot now, and the summer’s been long,
but you can feel the autumn coming.
The summer dies upon the stem
like flowers, and the dragonflies with them.

The light has been a great light,
and the sun has burned my arms.
I know little, and want to know no more,
but am content to write my words
rough and useless though they are.
I know little, but must know some more,
though I have already learned all there is to know.
Love? – well, it’s just like money and time:
there’s never quite enough.

Enough –
there’s never quite enough.

The wind blows softly, what else can it do?
There were bees among the wisteria
and the blossoms hung like empty grapes.
I am a lover, yet I am alone,
here in this room overlooking the river
in a town without a name.

She lies naked and her back is so beautiful,
strong, but who can carry time?
It’s hot now, these are summer’s last days,
drought has left the fields all dust,
and burned the flowers on their stems
and my words with the flowers,
and dragonflies…

A white butterfly dead beside
the statue of a saint
gold, and peaceful in meditation:
a white butterfly, with grey-spotted wings
on a wooden floor, beside a man
made of wood, sitting in zamen:
the insect and the saint
rest in the empty morning light,
made of the same stuff…

But Love? – well, it’s just like money and time:
there’s never quite enough.

Enough –
there’s never quite enough…

Song from Dustless | Volume 10 | Mask [ii]