Archives for the month of: December, 2015

Autumn of the beauty queen.

You want to stay here,
you never want to get here.

Azure pours down to the river:
it’s just stillness in October.
The river carries the sky.
So gorgeous, it’s boring…

Autumn of the beauty queen.

In bright light, things fade.

The burning skyscrapers fall:
they fall in bright light.

The river carries the sky.
The mirror carries your reflection.

I want to kiss you
until I get bored.

You’re still lovely:
with the willows in the background
marking the course of the river,
and the sky azure, etcetera.

You don’t want to leave here,
but you’ll never be here.

There is still time.

Autumn of the beauty queen.


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.

Re-post | Original post May 2012

Sun Tzu.

Nanking and Yamamoto.

The spines of the books gleam, bones,
fossils of geometry in artificial light

I feel you close to me.

And I look at the way light turns to shadow
inside your mouth and I want you.

Have you read Sun Tzu? You know,
all arts now are the art of war.
The world is at war. We are all of us,
all the time, at war.
We have all been called up.

You make me peaceful.

When I sleep with you, I’m calm,
like the surface of spilled milk,

a few tendrils still seeping out to slake
no one’s thirst.

Sounds of bamboo dippers, stone basins,

fishermen with furled sails and then —
right at the centre — near noon —
there is a second dawn, a second sun
rises, but this time in the west.

And eyes are not made to look into that light.

So we shield our eyes, and turn away, figures
in a tableau, something out of the Renaissance,
Madonna’s blues of Raphael and the pinks of membranes
turned to chalk, a saint
lifted to heaven:

you kiss me, there’s no armoury inside me,

for a moment,

my heartbeats aren’t weapons.

Wow, man, did you see that? Incredible! Incredible!
Oh, God! Oh, shit, man! Jesus! Oh, God! Oh, my God!…

Authors and ashes.

And God laid aside like a suit, like an Armani.

I want to be naked with you,

I want to be defenceless.

It’s too late for that. Everyone wears armour now.

Abruptly the shadows are sudden:
it’s autumn. I still thought it was summer…

And suddenly: I’m afraid.

I want to ring you.

I want to hear your voice.

A voice

wears nothing.

A voice.

Your voice…

Never look back, you said, smiling,
and running both your hands through your hair
lifting it up and away from the nape of your neck —
a gesture I always loved.

You’re beautiful, and you made me feel as if I cared.
The moments aren’t waiting for you now
striking matches from a book,
one by one: Steerskull Motel, Fate, Texas, with a longhorn logo
in white reversed out on blue.

We took a cab, drifting sleepily away from the event.
There were fireworks among the high rise,
pretty shock and awe, a glam catastrophe.
Lights reflected on the windscreen and in the wing mirrors
as we drove through the glittering ruins,
as jet-lag beckoned and another weather,
and my hands seemed to hold shadows.

No, I won’t, I said.

We don’t need another world.
And should one come, murmurous with a new people,
so that these words — of Constantinople — in this tongue
will be the sea’s far-off roar in a tiny shell
and all our vivid, ringing hours grow muted,
negligible — like the toybox towers of Ilium —
we would still have lowered our hearts deep into their hearts,
where they would drag along the salty, oozing bed:

Here comes another silence. Your eyes are open
and then closed. Here comes another vision.
The wounded Christ upon the cross — two legionaries
in canary yellow armour — the sea of people and,
to some, the figure all futures are nailed on —
or the dainty sailboats of the Commodore, and our idea of space,
the secret stretched canvas all journeys are painted on —
hush — she’s sleeping — cast loose on a nothing we all float upon —

Good Thief, Bad Thief; Heaven, Hell; Rhine, Neva, Tyne and Thames —
and don’t forget the Jordan, or the Tiber, or the Nile.
River with three banks, on it flows
dhaos or wherries or steamboats — milky streaming lights —
Byzantium — a carousel — round it goes
tinkling like the shimmering chimes of old Kyoto: rosebud.
This is the one-thousand-and-second tale,
though it will take an age to tell;
soon, we’ll have to rouse her again —

The heart is a bullet — why does it appear
to pass so slowly? It seems to glide
through the air, dreamlike, sometimes,
as if you could pluck it in, and hold it — fast —
in the palm of your hand. Speed of thought and
speed of light, like two cymbals clashing, we yoke
both halves of the world together in a single sphere,
such brilliant, liquid, egghead philosophy.
Pigments, mules — the painter prepares his cross-hatched Christ,
whisking up the tempera —
or gilds the letters on the soldiers’ shields:

The Emperor of Thought, the ancient angel of cognition —
sleeping, he lies on his side —
rip-van-winkle-ised. Apollo is born. The Eternal City rises.
Hiroshima — a sound of rushes by a shimmering river — falls,
then rises. God dies. Two children
are menaced by a nightingale. London rises,
then burns, then rises again. It all possesses
the depths of an eyelid — the Emperor of Thought
lies sleeping on his side. But why not wake him?
It only takes a single sound — the murmur
of a single child — of an unravelling crowd —
or the heart’s bullet, caught in my hand —

No other moment but this.

No other moment but this.

No other moment but

It’s where we meet.

In a restaurant, or an airport lounge.

You look older.

But you don’t look wiser.

On a concourse, by a left-luggage locker.

It’s where you wait,
settled on a suitcase,
for existence to come back in.

Tomorrows pile up, Himalayas and sugarcubes,
and life is mostly made of futures.
You’re saying Location is everything,

it’s where we live.

It’s where we met:

in a kiss, fingers sticking in the ridges of my spine,
and something moves in me like snow subsiding
melting from beneath by a gathering thaw:

it’s how I changed.

In a café. On a platform, or at reception.

Listen: I was there
when the ambulance was first called to Heaven;
and I was there, in the black neighbourhoods
in Detroit, in summer, when the sound of Kraftwerk
spilled out on the street from window after window:
it was me, and I was there.

A brilliant spot of colour
like the sunstroked sapphire
of the roundel on a butterfly’s wing:
you have to go now.

You turn and she says something small and calm,
the pine trees on the hill cast very precise shadows
in a light which seems to have crystallised
into a feeling softer than anything you have felt before,
yet something so vivid and so pure, which enlarges you
mysteriously, even as it happens you know
this is significant and it will haunt you:
you have to go now.

It’s where we loved.

In a day, or a few hours at least.

In a motel, along the main drag.

It’s the end, where there is no ending.

You try to live in the tears you cry,
but you don’t have the right.
Someone comes in and moves you on,

and the wheels on the bus go round round round.

It’s where we built.

At a rendezvous, a formica table:
little teaspoon symphony, milky steam from the coffee machine —
pyramids of boredom for desire to lie in,

tomorrows piling up,

but we are not in them.

It’s where we meet.

They clear out the squatters with torches and guns:
you have to go now.

It’s where we love.

In the stale scent of air-freshener in the transit lounge.

We have to go now.

A closing artillery of thunder a thud that shakes
sleeping alarms awake and they cry we ran
before the intensifying shadows of the clouds
I remember we dashed together the air even inside us
seemed to go still

then we were diving into a taxi
as the rain began to pour down connecting
all those who fled its coming
rushing for shelter and the driver turned and said
Where to?

We were looking at mirrors and wallpaper
the 50 most important people in literature lay on the floor
under the sprays of plum blossom and beside the sofa
The cracks were inside me
drifts of sky where the gold powder seeped out —
gold, and other kinds of powder
The earth was cracked where the water had receded
With no rainfall for months, people were on the move
Dragons, temples, clouds… enjoy a zen moment with a Chinese gem
the copywriter invited us
The walls grow stronger
and we need them to be stronger, too,
because the pressure builds
builds relentlessly
from without

I heard you were fucking a friend of mine
People loved your ornate fictions
the luxuriant details and striking images
like the embroidered figures on Montgolfier balloons
Your dazzling invention
Your ludic sensibility
Your hip style
Your strong walls…

I went back to the songs of my youth
Want to can’t forget you blues
After a cold winter the plants were just beginning to green up
like an oxidisation of copper
I felt this time spring would build strong walls
we could keep ourselves in
and there would be nothing like Hiroshima or autumn
nothing terrible or true
nothing which did not respect
the great barriers we had built to love

The launch party seemed to go on and on
It was full of open quotes cool closed quotes people
We listened to their narcotic conversation
The forty-eight-year-old former enfant terrible
the titanic ego of the man of the hour
I saw the ruffs and celestial blue silks of Louis Seize
and the words crawling out of people’s mouths
like those intent translucent insects
which look so fastidious as they eat their husbands
or their wives
or children
The ocean foamed on the edge of your eyes
and the only thing that could kill us kept us alive
feeding us doomed waves as the gulls go crying
and the rain is scented with salt
and the cold is really cold

You were bowed over a book on interior design
kneeling on the floor
a halo of lamplight on the wall
In the end we’d gone for the sumptuous austerity
of Manchu, at £33.00 a roll
Later you were crying
in a session that seemed to have become de rigeur
The cracks were still inside you
So much for plum blossom

For NS

When the music begins, all the buildings start to run.
Leaves are blown down the streets,
you shiver, there’s panic in November.
But it’s not because of the cold you’re shivering:
you shiver with love.
All the buildings are leaving you.
The cars, the trees, the people,
they’re all leaving you.
They begin to run when the music starts,
you watch them running,
then suddenly you begin running, too.

The train stops in the station
and begins to sprout branches.
Twigs emerge from the branches, and the buds of leaves
unfold like green wings from a chrysalis.
A baby stops crying, relaxes back on the bed,
exhales smoke,
stares up at the ceiling
with a gaze numbed by motels and nicotine:
how did my limbs get so old? so clumsy? so big?
how did I learn to stop growing?
What’s this heavy emptiness in my mind?
Is this the past?
Are these the years?

We thought the sarcophagus would hold,
but now the concrete has started to crack.
A kind of silence obtained for decades,
a silence which was also coldness,
possessing clear glacial mass,
and the silence had grown immense and obdurate,
resting unseen at the bottom of a well
or inside the metal of a padlock,
inside our lovers’ eyes,
until the silence became an axiom,
we were used to having it around.
But now there are sounds,
and the sounds fill things with a beautiful ache.
We assumed that death would soon begin,
we hung about, waiting for it
as if it had nothing to do with us,
but nothing happened, and in the end
we grew used to being alive.
Now, abruptly, rudely, unwanted, death really does begin.
It’s bad timing, I say
as I begin running.

All the birds as if with earthquake premonition
fly upwards,
fluttering on wings of violins.
Cars are blown down the street along with the falling leaves,
and the cars are rusting.
Kozo the dog whips out a pistol,
but Lolo the cat produces a bazooka
from behind her back
while the mouse reaches for a ballpoint hammer.
There are tweeting bluebirds of concussion
circling the dazed head of the victim,
TNT booms in jagged orange and sulphur,
smoke rolls in sumptuous, plump ripples of black.
Then the animals suddenly put down all their weapons
and flow out of the light
and into a pencil
like liquid sucked up into a straw:
the city rises to our lips in summer,
in darkness the skyscrapers are starstruck,
the cars fireflies.
Time — we need more
time, you say.

She strokes the hair out of my eyes,
stirs static on her fingers, it crackles,
and the children wander off into the wood.
We kiss, the trees begin moving, bending groundwards,
peering at the children, neither threatening nor consoling, but just
curious. The world is awake:
centipedes unwind in the trickle of clocks,
there are roots and earth in my mouth,
and the roots are growing,
moving through the soil, foraging
for nutrients as the young leaves above
skirmish for light. The rivers rise and the land slides,
in the flooded museum survivors cling to exhibits
floating on the muddy cocoa torrent
and the precious books, atlases and bibles, sink or bob,
seagulls shriek over the drowned streets,
and people eddy and drift, hanging on tight
to gorgeous coffins nosing out from under the exploding green
of young, summer trees.

You kiss and kiss again
until there is no stillness in you,
and the dead boy strikes a match
a firebug in spring
the cherry trees are lit but still you don’t stop kissing
and the dead boy is no longer me
but is running, running along with everyone else
and with everything else,
bison, newspaper man, front page, bombshell,
the whole panicked herd of things running
along streets which have also started to run
to the dots and bleeps of a subtle electro
humming on a suburban train at dusk
when the starlings swarm and make elastic shapes
like clouds of a cartoon night.
I don’t want to be left behind,
I run with you, run without you, run towards you
because the music has started
it’s what we’re all doing,
I don’t know why,
only we run when the music plays,

why do we run?
and if we stop running

will the music stop?

Re-post | Original post February 2012


Kajan said: If love is the centre of the circle,
then indifference is the perimeter.

I imagined an Emperor in a science fiction novel, someone immortal,
who knew that a diamond, if left long enough in one place,
would turn to dust.

I thought of you, all those years before.

Then we used to look at each other for so long and so deeply,
it seemed as if we must surely know an adolescent secret.

So the centre of everything is love? I asked Kajan.
No, the centre of everything is indifference, he told me.

With a seabird, perfumed movement, you dipped your chin
against your shoulder. We floated in the train,
the shower over the city at dusk,
all the lights wet, supersaturated, car brakes like blood,
and the pharmaceutical blues of a chemist’s…

I love you for sure, you said.

Around us, the city spread out towards the horizon
like a thousand years…

But I thought you said love is the centre?,
I pointed out, watching the translucent ropes of bubbles
sway in my bottle of beer.

Kajan grinned. I did. Love is the centre of the circle.
But the perimeter is inside the centre.
And indifference is the heart of love.

Re-post | Original post February 2012