Archives for the month of: May, 2017

Larry couldn’t get high | Cut-up ships stowed in rooms | tarpaulins and buoys | stuck to the ceiling | a formalised wrack | forty years of sand | in stoppered bottles | and from a silver thermos | an acrid scent of brine | memories of beginning | of a watery love | in a white enamel bath | tiny purple starfish | pink diluted blood | a mound of scales | too much to fit in or to | take with us | so we throw it away | Everywhere an overboard | and the storms | tame, following us like pug dogs | In the eyes | compass needles | And the mouth has fragments of coral

Kidnapped! | Torch under the covers | A Barrett house | breathes | in and out | slowly | oxygen from a newborn typhoon | Splinters of shattered masts! | Crescendos of waves | the shock and smash and grab | chopping loose rope with crescent-headed axes | stoven barrels with a slew of limes | great upsurge! | Sleep and school | Street prices rising very fast | and his taste had changed | he found it surreal he had ever | admired Rimbaud | The ticcy-tac of their uncut claws | on the concrete | as they trot | Apricot fawn or silver fawn or black | clean fast strokes across the placid bay | the odour of pitch and fresh-sawn pine | At DECOR gallery, until the end of October


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)


Le Livre de Poche, piecemeal man, tatter cake,
left where the wind leaves me.
Rimbaud, Rimbaud, with the wind for your shoes.
Text intégral, a ragbag man,
an album of bruised stamps,
a sore visa kissed by a xxxxxxx ink
the colours of blood in an arse.

Milestones. Distance leaves them, makes them.
And the Rome all roads lead to
has walked away in stone sandals;
Lot’s wife has melted down with her salt
into the rain that melts in the ground;
and the columns that glisten, the pillars that stayed
are only a road’s kind of afterthought
whose genius whispers, ‘goodbye’.

Now we’re Bedouin with the Bedouin days.
Carry your epitaph under your tongue,
your grave in your eyes. Every footstep’s a pupa.
Rimbaud, Rimbaud, with shoes of the wind.
Paris is a ship of smoke, drifting at anchor:
the poets line up, they’re here
for the duration — they have their papers —
their passports for Eternity.
Leave them, still queuing up their mountainside:
having butted your head against Paradise,
burn your shadow in the snow
wrapped in a second-hand coat, only a pocket of holes
to set out against the peasant cold
on a road which only has one direction —

Drunk and unshaven in a shithole hotel,
on a broken handmirror, what will you see?
An alchemist among the damaged crucibles
of infant vowels, cracked ‘A’s, lopsided ‘O’s —
Omegas, like violet bolts, barring the way.
And you will see pure eyes. Childhood — like rain
when there are no clouds.
You’ll never get back there — now.
You’re washed up, marooned, in a glance
on an island where glass cannibals roam,
gnawing your gaze, your bones — the year’s idol.

A hash pipe is a phantom boat
docked to the world by cables of fire.
You book passage and are soon aboard
tossing on a little sea of your delirium.
Europe grows small with its priests and schools,
its courtyards and steeples sink away from you:
your keel drips with clouds melting
in the frosty reaches of the stratosphere
miles above the rooves of sleeping châteaux.
The pole star is dipped into the water
and slides below your heel as you sail on.

Rimbaud, Rimbaud, with soles of the wind.

Now you sleep between an ocean and a single tear.
Your boat needs no shores, not even sides:
your cargo spills to become the sea,
compass and rudder are useless here,
mute savages on island beaches watch you pass
towards terra incognita, and a space at last
beyond the reach of people and their love
where your vessel bears you to your own chapped lips
like cool fresh water you will never drink
or words called out in dreams you will never hear.

The sky has no clouds, above all blue, unmoored.
You float a paper boat
on a cold Northern pool,
dying leaves falling around you.
Rimbaud, Rimbaud, with the wind for your shoes.
Lima, Caracas, London, Port Said:
an atlas of journeys for you.
But the journey forgets its maker.
You wake, there’s only bald foam,
a trail of smoke, a scream of strange seabirds
diving from bleached cliffs;
there are only tusks and guns, schedules, agendas,
and a gargoyle of gangrene
peeping out from the bone.

Rimbaud, Rimbaud, shod by the wind.
You float a paper boat
on a black Northern pool,
and your mother is calling,
she is stubborn with home.
Rimbaud, Rimbaud, with poems in your pocket,
somewhere in Gaul,
trudging back across plough earth,
dreaming of landfall and Abyssinia.



from a.m. | Michael Ayres | Salt Publishing, 2003

Galleon room | hold dry to the bitter end | Numerous | striped pots, many with displays of lilies | and step ladders erected | black chairs, black tables | ceramic mugs, bowls with cereal | a bowline slung across the foreground | a cleat hitch melts into the rope | and wires, too, with pegs attached | moustaches, sombreros, wine bottles fixed | a half-eaten pear on a plate | of white bone china | Great drift and bank | of sand | and waterspouts and abrupt squalls | the delicate ticking of a beautiful watch | right in, close to your sleepy gaze | and a subtle, manifold creaking | of timbers and rigging | a jar of memories | with myrrh and oranges | tractor parts | tulips from the Netherlands | pungent | and brilliant | spices | seeds | or the machine’s unconscious of the super-deep crude | Footsteps, up on deck | and the peep, peep of a silver-tone whistle | A cheval glass, at an angle | and on the floor, a solitary shoe | and shoes | lonely shoes | tell the longest stories | Voices, shaven from a cloud | children’s voices, infants’, ma mère | a glittering near-weightless tinkle | of Christmas lights drawn against | the attic darkness | the dog’s bark lopped | from Tuesday night | the firm stride | of a distant Papa | and the terrible | heroin son | his laughter | going back into the cloud again | finding him on his bed | manacled to echoes of Messiaen | the ivory, with more wires and keys | softening the Lazuli bunting | or the Cardinal rouge de Virginie | her French accent was really | terrible… | These landlocked moments | slice the boredom and exotica | disguise the grandeur and the age | and though we do not notice (and even, if we noticed, would not care about — but | we truly | don’t notice) | still singing | its pure, wry, weary song | the solitary shoe’s no longer there | only tales of the freight’s journey | the hook that caught the loose pyjama sleeve | and tore us into | one another | and the sublime and all-consuming storm | our days become | fraught and sweet and slightly pompous | and the words | tingling in our eyes and ears | like the ethereal wreckage from a dream | and in that dream | a port


from the series fp2 (on-going sequence of poems, commenced 2016)

Building a fortress | around our enemies || (time and my heart, May | 2012)

Crack open a heart, that symbolic | container | An egg of journeys, wishes and ideals

that | monument, built of motion / gulls in a North Sea squall <Saltburn/Redcar | 1970s>

a beating compendium of effects, of thrown shadows | an animal, still | leaping

almanac of guesses

a toy | theatre | with a fine stage, forever | awaiting the star | The spotlight / flickering on and off / a Barrymore, or a Bernhardt / forever / about to deliver / an imagined soliloquy

The wind blew the sand along at our feet, and it was like walking through smoke | out at sea, the ships queued for port. I don’t remember the season…

That bloody vector, a sign | of vanishing memories

The heart, that act

from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)


“but instead of an answer, there came only intenser longing”
— Kawabata, Thousand Cranes

What is the boiling point | of honey? | Warmer these evenings, with a scent of grasses | across the veranda | moonlight eases its wedding shadows round, or the gaga | moon drops lumps of bone as it passes | Through the soft vent | we slip | asking for a single thought, arriving only where | it always varies | Hand slipping from the tiller | stars gape and beg for water | their silver cherubs’ faces like exhausted children’s | but we don’t | yet have children | So quiet here | helicopters circling over disaster states hardly | make the stalks of young wheat | sway at all | In this hot cell | know the wet flesh and caresses | so intimate as to grow confused | as to who belongs to | what, but | at the edge of the moment | still sense the snow’s flakes of dice | starting to roll | while the journey we beckon on | recoils but calls | endlessly, forever starting our only answer

Not enough | beauty to go round | not even in the wind | moving through May willows | therefore we want, therefore | we suffer | Brilliant as we are, what brings our brilliance | will not wait | to settle or to satisfy, it is | in the distance | Dry as we grow, dizzy | tottering where every | step is our first | we can’t | stop dreaming | or even for one instant | put down our thoughts | to quench with stillness | the ceaseless horizon’s gliding thirst


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

It was a brooding, dreamlike film, not entirely | to our taste | The search for a rare flower, initially | near the turn of the century | the black and white | lush, the noirish score | the lost expedition | Deep in the Amazon | upriver | days turned to weeks | objectives are missed | it seems strange to me to live in a world | without doors | The meal is somewhat tortured | you don’t say what I think | you want to say | I know | I don’t say what I want to say | We say other things | gentle, useless, irrelevant things | The brave cossack dies at the end, courage and honour lead him to do | stupid things | to sacrifice his life | tragedy | is stupid | And tomorrow? you ask | My desires | convince me not | to give a straight answer | she has elsewhere in her blood, perhaps | that is an attribute of her youth? | A succulent | restlessness | tides | simultaneously | ebbing and flowing | the lifeguards at their station | scanning the pointless, repetitive sea | the scalding white sand of the beach, too hot | to walk on barefoot by mid-day | he lies | on his back in the water | of the outdoor pool | his memories | suspend him | the sun comes and goes | the moon, too, of course | the pages turn | the plot unfolds | but the book | is not the plot | she thinks | reading | is not getting to the end | but delaying and evading the end | the end is promised, but even more | the promise is withdrawn with every further word | as the end nears | the purpose of the end is compromised | by the slow, prior | extension of the matter | that leads to the end | how pleasurable, in this arena — the arena | of the book — we find | the insecurity of meaning | He turned off the light | tired with the text | his mission drove him | perhaps everyone | I suggested | has a mission? — secret to ourselves | Or maybe life is just | a sequence of micro-missions | you responded | and the pearl | is accreted layer by layer | to arrive at last at some smooth | object of shining | though not at all | the jewel intended | by the poor old oyster | working in its mine of gloom | We could go, I guess | I said | a lifetime of mistrust and crabwise sidling | summed up in that one | non-committal reply | The steadily falling snow began | to mound up an impromptu grave | for the fallen cossack | flakes sticking to his hair and whiskers | his burka and blood-slashed | astrakhan hat | His death has no death | until he’s found | the forest will use him | the scavengers, microbes, bacteria | plants | perhaps | in his home, where loved ones | wait | there is grief, anxiety, an intuition of his fate | but his comrades | either missed his end, or were themselves | killed in the engagement | It sounds good she said | Coral grew on the hull | the guns fired a smoke of golden weed | which floated in the mild currents | and shoals of silver fish | swivelled and hung and shot and swerved | in the waters above the wreck | And the wreck maintained its evidence | of once being unmaimed, afloat | crewed | with motive power | her main interests | were in growing her business and increasing profits | she rather despised | idealists | Actually, dying | is not optional | it comes with the set | is part | of the operation — some might say | it is the point | Shall we?


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

Être française. Se retrouver, célébrer, s’aimer.
Et ne jamais renouncer.

Be French. Gather, celebrate, love. And never give up.
— Romain Bardet

Away from the memorial, pigeons glide to shade | The heat accumulates, rooms form white quiet blocks of chill, which gestures animate | there is a near-stillness of respiring plants | an unfinished glass of water, a tall cool column of solid clarity, the cat | warps through as it measures its connoisseur’s steps across the absence | only this very moment | created

On the day our daughter was born | I felt there could be no end to birth | and there she was — I thought: “Little immigrant” | soles too small for footsteps, so new | the first snow would not catch them | Wrapped the winters up to parcelled years | how time flies | the primitive thirsts fed from thaws, and the glaciers’ gifts of sipping | their reduction, reviving | She finds a way | of not coming home | by looking up, beyond even | alpine heights | where the fireworks drop asphodels and gerberas | into the parting earth | she has her style, a modern take | on Yves Saint Laurent’s “Le smoking” | She will always draw glances and affection | and in her open-minded elegance | attract processions, inspire spectacle | Once free, no one will recapture her, not even with love | Photos | map freckles in the sun, and a pale strip | where she wore the bandana with strawberries | around her forehead | so, from our apartment | a shadow of clapping sounds | the clearest refinement of an echo | will remind us for a while | of the full heat of summer | And so the service starts | the ad hoc | ceremonies we mount to numb the vivid | pain of staying | But then the disguise comes loose | In time, we hear | laughter among the graves | and the dead | throw off our hypocrisy | insisting we remain as they are: unfinished

The money slides away | it becomes like gas or mist | evaporates from accounts | and their homes | too | start to evaporate | the bricks and mortar | the roof over their heads | the streets come closer | the concrete | the bathroom and the | street comes closer | the money slides away

It was like | What am I going to do now? | For 15 years, it was like | living in a gigantic aircraft hangar | sleek and cool and cavernous | and I was working on that massive plane | The wings stretched out and almost touched | the hangar’s sides | and I kept busy, you know | the plane was so compelling, and it filled the space | and it took up my time | sometimes it was even | hard for me to move because | the plane was so colossal | we were cramped for room | But then one day | we finished work on the plane and | it was rolled out onto the tarmac | and it flew away | and then I walked back into the hangar | and it was so empty | I can’t tell you how empty | only, a word | even a softly | spoken word | echoed in there | now the gleaming fuselage | didn’t take the sound | and soak it in… | It was like | Jesus had left the building | like Lazarus had deserted the grave | and you know | a lot of people came and looked down | into that empty grave where Lazarus had been lying | the coffin broken and the litter from | other tourists and sightseers | around the mounds of earth | and it seemed to me that | when Lazarus got back from the commotion | around the grave | when he slipped into his apartment | put on the espresso machine | sat down quiet and still | on the balcony | overlooking the sterile | unfriendly neighbourhood where he lived | after he’d showered and removed any odour of the tomb | and put into his hair instead | scents of strawberries or jojoba | he might have looked up | and seen | very high in the sky above him | a plane passing overhead | and he might have asked himself | What am I going to do now?

The money slides away and | your knees graze on the concrete paving stones | when you fall | You couldn’t | carry the roof | from over your head | in your pocket | You had to put the temple down | put the aubergines and the organic | carrots down | the street came closer and closer | and there was no bathroom | in the street | no landline | and Mahomet goes home at night | and Rimbaud and Mrs Kelly | and Signor the cat and | Tank the beige pug | and Signor is fine-spun Siamese | if you look into their windows | you’ll see them all at night | the God of the Nine Monkeys, Atum, Baal, Zeus and Amaterasu-ōmikami | they’re all at home | watching Netflix | maybe old musicals | or documentaries | on Goldman Sachs or Treblinka | or the ecosystems of coral reefs | or they’re doing their washing | or dividing space up into | divine segments, with nothing | ever left over | and their homes are solid | the work done on them | was good | they stand and give off the comforting | aura of permanence and respectability | but let me tell you | o my sister, o my brother | they are not in the street | the street is | far away from them | the street where you | find the kindness | is running out | and the violence | is starting to flow | more copiously | and you see | no sign of Baal here | do you? | No sign of Siddhārtha | no small offerings of rice or rose petals | or the fumes | of incense of sandalwood or cinnamon | or juniper | although sometimes, perhaps, you might hear | the beginning of a question | like | What is the — or How shall we — | but you never hear the ending | to the question | and the answers | therefore | scatter even further away from you | but it’s okay | maybe we’ll get more work in | Moscow, or Southern California?

The accounts empty, the debt | slides in | and the buildings that were secure | start floating | The money glides away | it leaves the trees and the deli and the recycling bins | and goes where it must go | drawn away | to fire the furnaces | to fuel the research | to reinforce the walls | to collect | in gilded backwaters | where the tracks of the former railway | where the trucks of the former conglomerate | where the policy of the former administration | where the… and the… | and where | in the distance | through the fir trees | there’s a sound of hammering and buzzsaws and tractors | and with winter closing in | you wonder | as the carpenters work on the roof | and the electricians | work on the fence | What are they going to | do in this building?


from the series fp2 (on-going sequence of poems, commenced 2016)

A child of my era, I worked assiduously towards | questions, not answers

Evasive as always, you | hid your voice in a lustrous echo – didn’t you?


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)

Who in this world knows anything of any other heart – or of his own?
Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier

So we went into the mist | and it wasn’t figural mist, or symbolic mist | or ironic mist, it was just, you know, mist… | But that wasn’t here | We were just starting to fall in love, or at least | I was | Shoes fall out of the sky, shoes, coats, laptops | scattered over a wide area | paper and nylons | over 13 kilometres | if we didn’t know better | we might have thought it was biblical | What were other people | doing with their lives? | I could have been one of Noah’s neighbours, wondering | what was he up to, building that huge ship | in the middle of the desert? | I would have been puzzled | watching him every day | in that hard, dry, stony place | working away | on his project | I would have been tender, but superior | tender, though | in that nascent stage of love before | love’s paranoia | really took hold | three vultures in a tree nearby | might have squawked | desultorily | and Noah would have ignored me | just concentrated | on planing at timbers | scuffing curly shavings from the rough cedar | and I would have slipped away | towards my rendezvous with you | thinking of Noah, or of the pink shoe | lying on the ground | the laptops, the burst | suitcases | all the casual wreckage | strewn around | other people’s lives | In the woods it was cool, and damp | if anything, the mist | deepened | your fleece grew sodden | our skin and hair | visibility was poor | for some reason, I was afraid | to kiss you | already scared | I’d been mistaken | that you didn’t, really, care for me | that I would run out of petals | at the wrong place…

It could have been any one of many other | stories | We packed her Gruffalo, her little pink shoes | for her little pink feet | the brush for the hair she would brush | the books for the words she would read | She rose to be CEO | He contributed significantly | to the development | of the parachute | He compiled a list of all the | airline disasters… | You understand | In the meadow with the buttercups | in a world before nostalgia | was invented | or in a restaurant in the Shard | loaned those moments of godhead | money can provide | my ego | alternatively ballooning | or withering to a dot | She loves me: She loves me — | Drinking espresso martinis | forgetting the gist of my speech | the gentleness I meant | to show | Taking an age | to correct the face | in the sloppy mirror | Kissing you at precisely the right moment | meticulously | sorting the papers | Carefully, carefully | packing the wreckage


from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)