By the time we got there it had already changed | We wanted it to be like it was in the photographs | from the 1950s | Arriviste summer | spring overwhelmed and the green gross | blasé | Given head, it rushed and sprinkled | in its veins, it was its nature | a cathedral drowned in grass, butterflies | adapting to a drier climate | a camouflage of dirt and concrete | Winter gold was how it should have been | not with fruiting persimmons | lovely enough to drive the monks to burn it down | not a replica | Sure, it has its secret, but we feel | it isn’t the secret, anymore | not the proper secret | allure has spilled and leaked away | we don’t really care what it says, and perhaps | it doesn’t care, either | It made me weep | to listen to you on the plane | home | to feel the old pull | stupid and hopeful, as are we all | that should we go back | we would find | the buildings had flipped again, the mood | turned overwhelming, like a first sight of the ocean | that the day | had been carried into itself, once more | and had altered everything | to remain the same

Indifference massed around it | shaped in photographs and flashes | the sluggish yammer of guides and tourists | hiss of bag on slicker, plump | billow of stiffened umbrellas as the rain | (ageless and inscrutable) | gathered the temple into a thunderous shower | a pulsating bag of murk | with enough silver to betray | millions of gods and buddhas | A stick broken off from the main plant | somehow survives a long journey to | split out of its skin | first burgundy buds, then | green of the youngest and most delicate | of mayflies’ wings | Everyone was writing in those days, not because | they were any good at it, but because | they felt the pull towards | the notional audience | but there was | nobody, for the most part | just empty theatres in flatscreen | LCD cities (also | abandoned) | and the cruel | goblins of vanity | slowly scratching away at our spirits | making us more desperate, bitter, hungry in the name | of others and beauty | We made it a temple, but in truth | it was gold leaf and ancient pine | tile and bronze and teak | it trapped voices as it always had, though | dwindling numbers of them | and, oddly, we were either stupid, and stayed on, or | we grew less hopeful | it was a strange | time, given the wealth we had and the luxury | of hours and | resources to burn… | Sometimes, you do still find one | among the longer grass, at the woods’ | edge | near dropped nests | slumped in its own muteness | hurting itself to shine again | as if | nothing had changed, and words | still meant something more than | words do | as if | you could take it entirely apart and discover, at the end | a secret, perfect and intact | the significance | of the skies and rusting | prams and | weeds and tiny bones and scattered feathers at the heart

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

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