Archives for the month of: October, 2017

I’m writing this very quickly, as I don’t have much time.
He suits cafés perfectly, and wears them
like fine scarves or dapper mittens.
The sweet chocolate lichen on the surface of cappuccino,
getaway cars at the lights in autumn, revving ghostly fumes
on the way to a caesura, or a capping rhyme,
the silver spoon he clinks against his cup
like an orchestra conductor rapping his baton against the lectern,
demanding order and attention:
these are his accessories, after the fact.
His mind is poised, prepared for judgement.
Even in cold weather, he sits outside:
iPod, pen, notebook, phone, copy of Paul Auster or Verlaine.
He has important work to do, and a world to change.
He always needs the streets close by —
they are his allies, means of escape and inspiration.
He loves them. Interiors are too contrived — too staid.
At any moment, he may fly…

His style appears one glorious burst of aspiration:
a perpetual salvo of the pure ordnance of champagne.
Brisk and businesslike, with a military air,
he is a campaign general, marshalling his troops,
his poem a matter of logistics and requisition,
the compiling of supplies against the weather —
and is only, momentarily, almost in distraction,
a small squadron’s bivouac in a drowsy meadow,
hands trailing against orchids and cool drops of dew,
when dawn comes in primeval mist
and the whole of summer hangs in hush
around the soldiers, as if aware of them.

Yes, everything must be done at once, ASAP.
Rockets can burn up on the launch pad,
incinerate the astronauts alive inside,
strapped to their seats, who trained for years,
with a pale moon visible in the blue Floridan sky
above them, early in destiny’s afternoon…
As with anyone who works in words,
and understands their fleeting disposition,
he knows that all things are marked
with the brand of the ephemeral,
the sign of the most perfect and successful corporation.
He can’t linger in that meadow, or wait
to hear the cuckoo’s haunting, velvet WHO-WHO?,
WHO-WHO? — but must run: if he’s to fall,
he must gain altitude; and so he’s gone,
leaving the old walnut-skinned hussar
with savage moustache and girlish braids
to stand quite still in the waist-deep grass,
and listen.


Re-post | Originally posted August 2012

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A quantum implication of agency | Building silence or neglect | We travel to the place of our hands, our desire | sets the new mystery in motion, call them the flowers, call it the game, the sorrow | Adjusting translucent syntax, counting the numbers | laying out the integers, placing them side by side | with starlight and moonlight | The fire writes a very different biography | of the trees | The forest’s account of the city | never tallies with our own, how could it do? | Keying in the signs, arraying charges | an impossible phosphor sparkles in the darkness, taking the shape of your next order | Why do you seem to slip away, forever, as if nothing’s happened | and as if your quiet breath didn’t | disturb my night?

Relating the story of two things | Seeking some semi-divine harmonisation | The neat eggs of concepts crack and hatch, then reform | We never put the birds | back inside those shells | Their wings glisten and their flight is graceful | Other people come along and take up the smooth | eggs of the same concepts, crack them and | so it goes on || Relating the story of two things | Forgetting the story | and in the space between | as we seek a new harmony | from the street outside | look up for a moment | hearing young birds flutter and sing

 


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

Too tired to sleep | Too much in love to be kind | Soon you will tell your story of the nightingales | of the cold cappuccino | of the hem of Marina’s skirt inadvertently | tucked into the back of her knickers | in full view of everyone | soon | you will tell | it will be your turn | Privately, for me, it can’t be that way | night gnaws on Siberia | my Japanese girl | rolls out of her fantastic indolence | from one side of the bed | slaps to the fridge in sloppy flip-flops | chills her forehead against the cool tube of lager beer | as if, on the edge of a migraine, consulting an oracle | or gently, adoringly | butting her next | lover | out of their luxuriant torpor | slumps with all the mountaineering weight of a steep, humid summer | onto the other side of the bed | finally | deigns to glance at me | and by subtle manipulations of her body and | facial expression | economically contrives | to indicate she’s angry with me | that I am | a disappointment | and permits me to fear | or rather, to continue to fear | that I am on the way out | have long been | surplus to requirements | and so the afternoon | curdles for me | and I pass it like a suicide | fretting over my note | or a faded beau or belle | picking at a mirror | in a carefully arranged | twilight | By evening | things haven’t improved | Through the instruments | of silence and monotone, pout, shrug, gestures so | minimal they may not even be | shrugs | delay | monosyllable | I realise I’m being encouraged | to keep going | to take my place, my | time-honoured place | in the losers’ parade | the line-up of hopeless slobs | way down the billing | on a list consisting | entirely of crippled acrobats | With her slender | idealised fingers | Mariko plaits the exquisite | lengths of rope | I may use | to string myself up | conceding, as she willingly does, that life without her | must lose all meaning | that bathrooms | void of one of her stray | eyelashes | must be too lonely | too sublimely | anti-climactic | as if I’m an earnest | medieval minstrel | a dove-pure troubadour, or | at the very least | a cunning Metaphysical | who has become too engaged | in the maze of onanism and irony | plea and lament | that he has slightly lost | sight of the rules | of the game | But that’s not true, Mariko | Do you think my vision | has made me blind? | So back to Siberia | to the slowly immersing | Atlantis of memory | the streets near the centre | the truck near the Austria/Hungary border | with the decomposing | bodies of migrants | locked inside | The white plate, with the sweet | eaten | orange’s helix of rind | Later, we squabble | half-heartedly | and later still, make up | sort of | She begins to tell me her story | of the red crowned cranes | dancing in snow | And then, Mariko is kind

So, it’s your turn | Tell us your stinking stories | in your beggars’ tongues | Are there cathedrals in them? | Historical minarets? | No doubt there are childhoods | secret dens | obscure codes | repression | No, on second thoughts, don’t | We are, very precisely, from different places | how can we make them the same? | Everyone is playing | a subtly different game | acting in discreetly | dissimilar plays | or perhaps in separate productions | of the same great, global play, although personally | I doubt that | We talked for a while of Jan | and his plan to buy a Bianchi | and Hannah and her tarot, her Cups and Swords | and of course we talked about money | or, more specifically, lack of | and we drank iced coffee and bitched enjoyably | about Ray and Marti and Duane | and then to the drum on the awning and the view | of the polyps of brollies | sprouting outside | we talked about the rain | always back to the rain… | Was that a dam? | A hydroelectric facility | out in the wilderness | serving some unseen towns | the abode of anoraks and snow ploughs | among the rock, the wolves and the firs? | It was a life lived miles down there | linked to those strings of halogen lights | a life | with shelves stacked with cans | of wood preservative | fluorescent jackets | anti-freeze | battered copies of saints and murder mysteries

Last house on Holland Island, not a doll’s house | pelicans gather on its ruined roof, the door is still there, the door is | closed | no other | houses around, and soon | so soon…

There is a wooden church in the snow, its back is broken by light, a short | tower has no bell, hoar frost | grips the trees nearby | in jeweller’s pincers | when the light | has finished crushing the church | the trees will look different, and the plain | have fewer obstructions to its emptiness

Interest in the waterfall has declined, our hotel | pillows its head in moss | when we wake | slugs are gradually skating across their trails of ice | an intricate choreography | Jets pass over with their lofting roar, young lovers with dark eyes and gazes | so serious (if only | they knew) | sensing the taut | space | between her elbow and his fingers, and the battle of the alert and | sensitive | threads of mercury | fitted to slivers in greenhouse thermometers | are caught from their dream, as we are | all of us caught | and slipped into the vast “otherwise”, home for every thing that exists and does not | exist…

Last house in the summer, the other houses | have migrated in herds | they have taken our lovers, they have taken our children, but we | have stayed here | in the last house of the summer

Columns from antiquity, white columns, in the train station in disputed Sukhumi | are greened by ivy and creeping plants | We sleep in the promenade, our necks | develop aches, the war | scares all the trains and passengers away, so we rush | to the last house in Arcadia, last | beds in the last | house on Holland Island, no other | beds around, and soon | so soon…

They have taken our childhood, taken our beautiful sisters with the limbs | of naiads and ballerinas | they have dipped the trains in poison, the churches, too | and the fluttering, suffocating forms of fairies | in bell jars | their skin turns blue and the glisten of their wings | mutes and fades | browns off, shrivels and shatters

Interest in the war has declined, interest in the victims, the soldiers, the orphans, survivors | has declined | There is no power in the last | house in the war, no heat, no running water, and the lovers have fled | to the hotel by the waterfall, the mirrors | in their ornate frames of gilt | are huge, like hung lakes, so the lovers | are happy, they may always | glance over to look at themselves | their young bodies forever on the edge of | a muscular and angelic fudge | into the necks and the beating wings of swans, interest in the war has declined and the great | “otherwise” has come over the region, otherwise | people would care and would remember, which clearly | they do not

Last house in a moment, last house in the love, before the love | cools and moves on | migrates and mutates | last | chance to glance into the mirror before | interest in the waterfall declines and the hotel closes | the gas creeps in, the seahorses | are washed up and dry out and wither, last | house on Holland Island, the door is still there, a white door, the door | is closed

And Kolmanskop in Namibia | boomed for diamonds, otherwise | it would have remained a nondescript town, of negligible | population and status, but the diamonds | were aroused, the settlers | craved them, and Kolmanskop boomed

They have taken the diamonds, the diamond fields declined, Kolmanskop | was abandoned, the desert | came for the town, and the town | was mated with the desert, swilled with it | devoured, in part | consumed

In the last | house in Kolmanskop, sand like flooding seas fills each room, the light, the powerful | light of the sun | which only hours before had been | working in the north | breaking the spines of lonely and remote | country churches | warms the sand to a delicious gold, and tilts the dream | of diamonds back | to the time of boom when our greed was close | to ecstasy, otherwise | Kolmanskop is visited | only by tourists and photographers, although soon, so soon…

Last house in the forest, last forest on the ship | interest in the future | declined, interest in the tragedy | declined, the | yacht’s svelte hulk | under the water and the Arctic ice | declined, the | widows, the wounded, the street kids, the butchered, interest | declined | and the young fled | leaving Sukhumi’s train station | stripped of dalliance and flirtation | of tender hearts beating erratically | at the taste of breath, the utter | alien moves needing to be made, the clear air | intensely lucid and entirely | lacking in stage | directions, and no | young lady or gentleman | gazed into the bridal abyss | of the last | diamond in Sukhumi | the situation was otherwise, and all | the weddings are elsewhere

Last poem in the world, last world in the words | last roll of the waves, the dice, the waves | Last house on Holland Island, a doll’s house, and in | that doll’s house there is | a doll’s house, and all the dolls | are elsewhere, otherwise | the swatch of diamonds would be desired, interest | in inedible things | has declined, in | banknotes, in | the future, interest | has declined, and all the people | are elsewhere, making their kiss | central, their child’s | education | the cat’s | Chinese slumber, their orgasm | central, interest | in the future has declined, otherwise | why are the maimed and the broken | left to their wounds and their grief?

There is no | power in the last | words in the house | the fields | are depleted | and the gaudy, grand poem itself | is abandoned | left to the pelicans and the ticks and whirs | of a quantum clockwork running down, the rooms and the memories | are vacated, even the mirrors | with their eyebrows of slugs | glow only with a tide | of ebbing lust, and of flowing void | There is no | belief in the last | worth of the word, Look, look ahead, the poem | is otherwise, is over | and all the eyes are elsewhere

 


from the series bliss point | angels of disorder
(open-ended, 2012–present)

Collecting the ruins and putting them in place | a not ruined | place | Reading a page, looking in a mirror, examining | one’s conscience | — not ruined | places | Just add a little time in | a pinch of moments | A secret museum | in our lives | small, hidden acts | of curation | his lips | his fingertips | scented with lemon juice | her graceful | forehand | imparting copious top spin | enter these | into collections, and recollections… | He understood, at last, what they mean by “fall” | when they say | “we fall in love” | and the true implications of “too late” | Old age | permeated their thinking | He grew crotchety | but when his bitterness subsides | he is mellow | They waited for the supermoon | to rise | she heard the dust | blowing through her head | drawn along the veins | a pleasant sound | of thistledowns colliding | Reading a paper, looking in a mirror… | He slept with his feet cradled in her lap | But the sleep was too long | And this is not the place for the Persian miniature | The sun | should be to the east | And the sea | does not go here

He hadn’t meant to be angry | But the climate of his mood changed | without his really noticing | the light grew bloody | the corners colder | the shadows hardened | His study was neatly arranged | desk shipshape | pencils, Mac, anglepoise | papers assembled | as if on parade | in military formations | And the books ordered the facts | disciplined the acts of years | atoms, bound and bound, swarmed to zinc, or gold, or lead | The hot tap in the en suite was leaking | The crack in the ceiling reminded him (he was staring up) | of the course of the Nile | complete with | Blue Nile and White Nile | Down, down, down into the depths | slipped Atlantis | and in between two ticks | of the hallway clock | Rome fell | Why was he so furious? | Pieces from different | jigsaw puzzles | the years | spent forcing an impossible picture | onto the place | And now things were so terminally | fucked up | the head of a young Bacchus | on the body of Napoleon | and the hands of Akhmatova | on the wrists of the demon | barber of Fleet Street | He wanted to give up, but found himself | entranced by the light of the supermoon | on a darkened street | where autumn was somehow | laced with spring | Her fingernails | grew epic in the touching | No, it was too | complicated: the enemy of his enemy | was just another enemy, there were too | many enemies… | She was the only one who soothed him, although that was not | her job | Still, she was great with pity | and when he fretted over the set | piece | she let him know | It’s okay | That’s for the scent of the sea breeze, and for all | the young | growing more naked | That’s how the ships | came to anchor | That’s where | the sea goes

 


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

You have some emptiness now, which means space, time for the lost things maybe to | show you their ghosts

And the shadows of the big things, swept away, allow for a bareness of breath and more bareness under the breath, behind the breath, and of course room for the light to fall, enabling the shy, small things | to emerge and to | lie, shivering, awaiting the mercy of your eyes

I claim my spirit back, after the house is washed away, and the luxury of meanings is dispersed | It feels like a good time to begin the task of designing new meanings, fresh orders of being alive, as cool waves | break and shatter their foams on the uncomplaining coast

As the noise of excess is forcibly stripped back, our normality punished | we find ourselves with fewer things but those fewer things accrete greater value, like moments with those we know are dying but love, and the items that happen to drift | into our connection, often | they feel so welcome

All are calling in voices borne to be lost, but we have more emptiness now, permitting us sightlines of dazzling velocity, as | unimpeded | our views rush to their consummation, the vanishing point we | carry around with us always, each one different, none of them | ever quite reached

and we see how delicately the products of our voices | unfurl | their leaves and blossoms

Gently, the ghosts part and give way, and we are moved to watch | in the vast and spacious arena of the years | our children taking into their eyes | cities invisible to us | but also | so many tiny things, perhaps they will notice | where we did not?

Persuaded by upheaval, the more collapses into less | the many narrow into few | I ask them to | take back my ticket to a thousand illusions, I find | I remember you, and | hand in my ghost coat, shivering | and walk out, into a night so broken, all it can do | is to begin to grow

The fields were wreckage, and the skyline, too | and memories only a form of debris | With the way back denied us | for a little while, we were dumbfounded | forced to negotiate with ancient fires | to go on foot where we had no cars | to offer the wild herds of stars | the open range of our gaze | to gallop through and not acknowledge us in their passing | as regal as indifferent

Sometimes we build by mourning, and sometimes what we call ‘recovery’ recovers | not what was lost, but what | awaits us | that most enigmatic and unexpected place: | a future

••


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

Everything is made of loneliness | which may be defined as a particular proximity to death | a state of intimate estrangement with one’s surroundings and with other people | a sense that life is sterile, childless | If one is alone, somehow one’s voice doesn’t carry, and other people’s voices, even those of close friends, don’t quite seem to reach you | There is a shortfall, a zone of muteness, at once vague, occluded, peripheral, but acutely cold and clear, motionless, like bright sunshine on a landscape one early morning after heavy snow | Distance permeates each object | the sugar cubes in a café bowl are precisely sugar cubes, but in a calm and unspectacular way, have Samarkand in them, or Atlantis, the Sea of Tranquility | Paradoxically, they contain what they are not — they contain where they are going, what they have been, how, at a point in their past, they were not sugar cubes, and how, at a point in their future, they will cease to be sugar cubes… | Is loneliness lack of love? | Not necessarily, not directly | A lonely person can be deeply loved, and love deeply, but the same odd embargo on intimacy remains enforced | Indeed, a lonely person who is loved may feel even more lonely | even more childless | A mockingly precise relation to space is one hallmark of the lonely | but even more so, a fraught relation with time, a hyper-awareness of moments and months and years passing | an instinct for ephemera | that each thing is lost, even in the event of its approach, the exquisite | instant of its presentation | its brilliance lying, in part at least, in the fact it cannot return | it must go this way | it must change | it must pursue its natural path | into other things | even the dead | mighty as they are | still possess a butterfly delicacy | a flit and ragged lift | they evince | an inability to stabilise their meaning to us | (sometimes we think of them, sometimes we do not) | they are restless | pinned butterflies in cases whose wings | unnervingly | still occasionally move | A lonely person has a very poignant relation to monuments, and to the monumental: in Rome, you can be very lonely

Looking across the city, he felt as if the churches had cracked, the palaces slumped, statues lost arms and heads | As if a whirlpool of fluid stone and tarmac, brick and plaster | were turning slowly | and at the centre, a darkness, calm oblivion, drew the whole city towards it, and downwards | into nothing | His friends might laugh at him | flip a coin | angle a bottle of beer into themselves at jaunty café tables | mount their scooters and snarl away into the bright, warm evening | driving off somewhere into the intimate splendour of their lives | but what had they left behind, in the shape of the person they knew by his name? | His loneliness proved the whirlpool was there | Into his existence, silent and beyond blame or cure, the city stealthily crept and crumbled | moving, invisibly to others, but tangibly to him, with the seething inevitability of fresh lava | a whole planet on the move | heading into the hole in his head | where children lay | sleeping soundly | so sure, the previous evening, that they would never sleep again

 


from Semapolis | City of Signs
(series of poems, unfinished, 2012–present)

Imbued with such… | Infused, so… | You | Entangled, after all | Like salt hints, in wild strawberries growing in the dunes by the sea | Dots of scarlet and gold, lovers hiding from pursuit in the sedge | Travellers from the far-off Indies, and not | a doldrums claims all ships, your small dark eyes, and the hours we will waste | looking for each other in places | we’ve just left, or would simply never | reach | Very fine sparks by dint | of sudden hammer | elicited | life-force of peacock blue, hurt manganese, so carnelians, like eggs of polished honey roll | but | it’s the strawberries I remember, and the pedestrian tumult of the sea | the | scatter of cool raindrops from my hair | on your tanned shoulders, inklings | of disasters befalling lost explorers… | In its name by a hammer | struck, again and again, like a sullen genie | roused from a lamp, no | magic on its mind today, just | the heart’s ordered turmoil, beating and beating as the hours pass by | our sleep a creak of wooden gates | on neglected hinges | the children’s house astir | at the gravel’s crackle from the footsteps | of approaching strangers

 


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

After a long break, back | into the music | After chains hanging from the sky | Among children, a childish desolation | The milk is spilt, why must you cry so? | The music tenders | an orderly conduct of beauty | sweet work, the offer of a way | out of your self and into your spirit | when it bears you | you must take it | in this, I suppose, it is cruel | giving you no option but to go | to stand, to walk, to go | calm and adult where the children laugh and weep | no longer your children

Concert of working parts, fine as a young grasshopper | we are not summer, but the summer in us | and the primal migration, the first commands | to stand, to walk, to go | we feel them most surely | in the music | which, so gently, insists away all illusion | of staying here, of being together, or of being alone | The children are happy, the children are crying, some are screaming | their mothers and fathers | are lying down, left behind, of no help, now, and the music | drawing on the musicians | knowing more than our grief, and needing more | plays on

 


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

Somewhere sudden | Like a thunderstorm on no one’s monitor | failing to arrive | missing step | Too quick to make final arrangements | Leaving the airport through double | sliding doors into | a gasp of humidity | after the calm clinic of snow | feeling pressure from the flowers | tales of a god | shitting insects | getting into debt, and enjoying it | like watching a fool called Mr Reckless | slumping in a dripping greed | face wet from lying in moss | dying too soon | They will not shelter you, but beat you away | if you are lucky | you do not fit into their map of love, quite | the contrary | still they love their little loves, you must | see that? | Airliner | disaster | but someone walked away | from the burning spree | of wreckage | into green | banks of vegetation | towards a beginning, into | somewhere sudden

Dying on the battlefield | in a rush of blood | someone wanting you enough | to put an end to you | spear through the guts | sword blade through the throat | and this is a battlefield | what could be better? | Coward world | overcome at last | Not standing for anyone else | standing, entirely selfishly, for yourself | the cause merely an excuse | to bring a battlefield about | progress, right, good, humanity, whatever | Stage with actors for some | performance of honour, heroism, for others | let them | pontificate | what can they know of life | who only life know? | Weeds | straggling across sidings | seeds | airborne, a glitter, with the wind and sun | motivate | Sheltering from a sudden downpour | we huddled together under a shop doorway | rain draping the entrance | We laughed as the rain became heavier and heavier | it seemed implausible | a lot of people laughed, laughter was right for the rain, a kind of joy and mild hysteria, intoxication | because the normal confines of the weather had been exceeded | inside us, like a shy animal, we sensed a real liberty stir | To kiss, as we did, in the rain — it felt like a peak, first as if the rain was our audience | second as if we were adoring the rain | and at last | as if we were falling with the rain, falling and flowing… | An hour later, we were in a theatre, listening to a lecture on category error in Anglo-American philosophy

 


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