Archives for the month of: January, 2017

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


from the unpublished collection, Static, c. 2006/7



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.


from the unpublished collection, Static, c. 2006/7

You disposed of me quickly, efficiently, one neat phonecall.
That’s cool. I guess you had your reasons.

Did you know, Yesenin wrote his last poem in his own blood?

That’s not my style. I’m more Zen, more detached.

I’ll never write a last poem.



Kinetic | Shearsman Press, 2007 | view


Nick used tungsten film the colours glowed in the darkened room
Such light as there was was full and lush
as if it was going out of style
and the greens seemed to bleed and wash over themselves
while Nick snapped away we talked
listened to the Czars and sometimes we were quiet
I thought of you
a fir forest at the bottom of the ocean, trees
frozen with the birdsong still in them.

Later the clouds brought snow,
and I thought of the cold air blown in a wind from Siberia.

Yes, they were graves, so what?

And I thought it was a long way into my heart
but when you came to leave
I found it was just a short walk, after all.


Kinetic | Shearsman Press, 2007


We made love. I felt at once tender and affectless.
We sighed and were no one, for a little while at least.

They were helicoptering people up off the embassy roof.
Reizan, reizan, reizan… The whir of the rotors,
the whump and cackle of the blades as they went airborne,
the passing quietness of the sky once they had gone…

I know, I said I would love you forever.
I wasn’t lying. I meant it at the time. I just didn’t realise

forever doesn’t last that long.



Kinetic | Shearsman Press, 2007 | view

Occasionally the evening light in spring is so soft and subtle
it seems to tremble as if it might open
and let us in
Love haunts the coming night and she’s calling you
Something immense and strange happens to be close
we may just be on the edge of kissing
It’s so quiet if we speak now
our voices would resonate in the superclear air
Like a shadow falling over our shoulder
we can sense it
but not see nor hold
a presence so tender
It drifts nearer
but its nature is in passing
like an airliner gliding above butterflies
the flow of empty ripples across a pool
a frog swimming among tadpoles



Kinetic | Shearsman Press, 2007 | view

At first, we arrive:
a subtle agitation in everything —
the ambient excitement of the young.
Details loom out at us, only
because we are who we are, otherwise
utterly banal. The cut
of privet hedgerows in suburban streets,
arrogance of the toys, genuine
silver in the teapot.
Fittings on taps and sockets,
different ways of handling mail and electricity.
All the signs, of course.
What the latitude does with the light.

How quickly we settle in.
Certain things, we think, will never suit us,
irritants of rooks, pervasive scent
of boiled cabbage,
the way they smile or don’t smile,
the asinine jollity of their pop music,
their sheer stupidity, obeying unjust laws.
Around the table, when we’re alone,
we laugh at them, but
decreasingly as the years go by.
Into the maw of daily life, we slide.
Concrete is everywhere, telephone wires:
children be children, just the same.
So far inland, the crunch and buffet of our shores,
the shattering lustres of the waves
still come to us, as sight sometimes
still comes in dreams to the blind.

They will grow to resemble us, or so they believe.
We drink their beer, intermarry, form bonds.
Their ceremonies we honour and perform
as we have been taught,
as if they are our own.
We notice more and more
how false the boundaries seem,
how prone to apathy and blur.
When the cherry blossoms open, we watch,
we see, as they do.
When the bombs go off, we mourn.

Trains claim our days; offspring makes us
confused about parameters and missions.
We put on affinities, take off memories.
How quiet the sound
of those petals as they fall:
how drawn our limbs to the limbs
of others. So long in place, are we sure
we know what we’re doing
observing these rituals
we have so struggled to believe in?
Sometimes we wonder
what we came here for, or why we stay,
at dusk, when the world hardly seems to breathe,
and we await the call.

If the past would stay still, we could find our place in the present.

Not stable or continuous, but the tap tap tap from air-shaft or hull, the last sound in the series possibly the very last sound. The air is running out, we did not see ourselves as rescuers.

The maps, having proved deceptive, also prove susceptible to flame and to the sudden inundation of saltwater. Not the beech trees, as was promised. Not the harbour. Not the gold.

On the moors, where we search for the children, mounds and tunnels and scree remind us of our forebears, activities, now moribund, that bound ancestors to this location, their evenings very short with such inadequate access to light.

Messages from forgotten legions, stores hidden in long-abandoned forts. Lonely guards on great walls, working their bodies after duty, bereft of family, posted for years.

In far-off cities, where digital spirits trudge the treadmill of flash and celebrity, dissatisfied crowds hide their emptinesses among each other, buoyed by vapour, labouring for fossil codes. The earth is running out, we still have time to find a new cliff.

Sense, intermittently made, permanently deleted. Abstinence from meaning. Putting bodies down at the end of the working day, the engines of neurons idle in dreams, the flesh dissolved to warped memories of Persia and Siam.

If the past would stay still, we could find our place in the present. Moments, though, each one, are tiny insurrections. The years, like fallen trees, gem with luminous green moss, rot and shard to the delight of ants, mush with rain.

As the drowned sailors float past, the children stare from the edge of the river. Eyes no longer see. Mother, leaning her back on the trunk of the soaring pine, enjoying the shade, murmurs lullabies. Elsewhere, politics happens, taking the mouthless and sending them on.

The enemies are running out, growing too much like human beings, too detailed with freckles and football and daughters. We must keep them as enemies, however, because what would we do if they became friends?

Under the flags we inherited, our special music plays. Will the emperor hear of our sacrifice? The Party has no one inside it: the law is made by us all.

Moments, though, each one, are tiny states, massive with established orders.

I have joined the Doomed Explorers Club. Piccadilly. Passing the port: click, crack, bump and ceramic roll of snooker, among languid talk, ghosts in cigar smoke of dervishes and foreign devils.

Arguments arise. First it is the wrong map, then the wrong place on the map.

Off the map, just here, a cat freezes. Stalks a white butterfly. Just off the word, there, a pounce and claws lash.

As the land dissolves into the map, the conquerors congratulate themselves, and History, behind the screen, puts her hand to her ear, and listens.

Tap | Tap | Tap

The myth was more stable than the truth