On castaway streets, the little windfall plums beginning to break again | making the pavement at the corner sticky and stained — the pleasure and melancholy of seasonal return | the familiar and ephemeral | my second turn around the island | To the tale of the tormented genius | with feverish finances and the unfortunate habit | of making bad marriages | so quiet in the provinces, one may sit and count the slow, lucid ripples | reaching this gentle backwater | elsewhere has become a legend | and her presence, largely, forgotten | Alcohol does not help | but repetition calls one summer from the last | — in this way | knowing happens, because it was, and is again | no more | The fervour of his delirium, the torture of morals | taken seriously | by a person essentially fickle | no wonder it ended badly | In the middle of the mental breakdown, pay at the counter and leave

I’ve noticed, the horse chestnuts are the first to turn | Autumn’s outliers | Gold and silver and bronze on the podium | Not hearing a human voice for the first three days | and then for another three | another fourteen | and twenty three after | and after | … | Ghosts are formed by habit, we do not notice that we’re dead | taking the books back to the library | Don Quixote and still at page 47 | becoming attached to a name | Old people sifting through the background | prototype phantoms | testing out the rings | somehow | inferno, limbo and paradise | become confused and leak together | to form a single, spiritual mush | My body has gone, gnawed by crabs off Toyama | I suppose the bones last a little longer? | Still keeping the diary, though with less and less to record | or perhaps only the same things | from last year | the windfall plums on the pavement at the corner | staining the flags black | though when they’re freshly fallen and broken open | their flesh is often a gelid amber | dust sticks in the smeared fruit | Also, I notice how slowly the very old woman moves | with her zimmer frame | as if inhabiting a film shot at different speeds | to the rest of us | a string of pearls on her breast | harder than she is | Familiar with repeated scents | with the first heat of spring | the first coolness in September | knowing these phenomena more deeply | and more acutely | with less time left to savour them | On a path at noon, out by the bay, a gory privilege | skin beginning to burn | and among my things | the meaning of life and a bottle of sand | and a cleft in the rock where a genie came out | and said “OBOCAMBABARRA!” | When you’ve used up all the known places, only elsewhere is left


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

The children had a secret base for their fleet, an island | in the long grass || A secret base is an important thing, like memory or a heart | a place from which you may launch your operations, or retreat to, if things do not go quite to plan | They had strategists within their ranks, and visionaries and engineers | Among their vessels were strange submersibles, which left trails of milky phosphor in their wake, and sported weapons as elegant and apt as those | of duellist swordfish and narwhals | ships | Verne would have adored | or tyrants | died for || They knew the land | and with intricate measures of reconnaissance | kept watch on the moving forces of neighbouring states | and devised | elaborate systems for sending messages | They spotted things the adults | overlooked | details | of a knee-high world | and read | their spies’ reports | coins gleaming in dirt, and | from the wasteland of the nettles | the jagged white butterflies’ | semaphore | They kept their knowledge safe, encrypted in special codes | cached in bottles and huts | scattered in locations | around their hidden island || Yet, for all of this, their intelligence was limited, and they did not foresee | the source of the catastrophe | that would befall them; nor, at their age, did they suspect | the threat that | impends above us all, and which | conceals itself in emptiness || Stunned, and open-mouthed, in the dust, the blades still wet, they stared and inhaled | the haunting waves of summer breaking | over the bared ground | and almost drowning them | in passing scents of new-mown grass

Basking in the ocean depths of words, sharks of silence | wait out the centuries and feel inside them | and their obdurate bones | a kinship with the dinosaurs | The day arranges its pieces, calm and composed as ever: the time of your next appointment, the svelte procedures of superconductors, laughter after the light-hearted demonstrations of my genius, and the snake’s tongue glimmer as the lightning | slips back to its secret base


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

At last the time for simple beauty comes | away from the immense distraction | of responsibilities | The walks through the forests | the spicy scent of pine cones | the children running along peaty paths, the girls in silk frocks | sleeveless | one in apricot, and one in lime | punctuating the quiet with squeals and screams, but then, moments later, with the grave | peace of their study | as we come across | fly agaric mushrooms | with their fairytale fever | their hectic | flagrant | drive to flirtation | The girls peer, fascinated, at these | deadly abodes | of goblins and toxins | Our lectures | are awed, but delicious to us, as we warn our children | of the poison within | such sweet | exteriors | The shadow of our fears | and hence of our | purpose | intensifies | Then we walk on | and the fairies and the elves | creep out | from under the trees and | watch us go || So, this is the famous “present”, a time we had almost forgotten: now we indulge ourselves, taking advantage of all its amenities, and those other, implied regions of time, the past and the future, we allocate to them | a condition of | sumptuous ethereality || Our love is a reasonable beginning, we are sure | a first step | a template | The failure at the edge | is not our | concern | quite | We deserve | some rest from the restless | quizzing of our own | spirits | Today, we may bathe ourselves in the most perfect and calming | oblivion | of them all | This day | is ours | and in its | heart | we may relax, and grow small: | we may forget | the others

They know that all the time, the armies of the god of silence are assembling on the plain, yet who can blame these innocents for their desire to escape SENTENCE’s “labyrinthine” web of responsibility? | Pull on the thread of a single word, all the other words | shift slightly | and some of those other words | lead to places, perhaps, we do not wish | to go || Yet is it not also true that we should honour the beauty of the moment, pay proper attention to the details of the life before us? Even though | the city is imperilled and the threat | grows greater with every instant, is it so foolish | to bend down and peer | at the frost in a spider’s web, or to tell our | serious-eyed children | how migrating swallows | sleep on the wing?

 

 


from the sequence, sentence (2012–present, in progress)

Washed up, in some corner of life… | Youth was also like this, there were such days / I stole the sun then, and would | give it back, quite freely, but now… | It is right to talk of ripeness and poise | dry leaves scratching on hot pavement | Lord | but, well, it’s wrong, too | Like everything, right and wrong | Do you gauge | the current of the poem run through | parasol and the odd | bright dings of bicycle bells, continual | sprinkle of phenomena? — all these details | incorruptible in their irrelevance | inexhaustible in their plenty | certainly, more than enough or perhaps | just precisely enough | to fill, quite perfectly | the space permitted this | Bank Holiday Monday | backwater of a life, autumn | lining summer’s jacket | pale | blue on orange | acute | melancholy for the flamboyant dandy, or is that | too much of a cliché? | Tant pis | Circus of atoms, and the horses dance | while in the hollow | tomb of a diamond | you find quite new ways | to waste your time | Frankly, I feel I have | got it backwards, or | badly sideways | partly | topsy turvy | just plain odd | My philosophy | bends the orders to a skew and rot | my art | is a massive | missing of the point | technique a shambles | a crescendo | where a muted | sadness should be | a fanfare instead of tears | or weeping bang | in the middle | of the car chase or the lustrous | shower scene | Dragging the ship after me | across land | when the voyage is over | hiding the map I need to | find my way back | or on | to happier days | building a fort in the desert | to protect a vanished | empire’s reputation | bowing to a queen who | dishonours her subjects | with her love of | facility and paradox and | clouds and | suicide… | Digression is the | true mode of life | not some | Nazi species with commands | an overlord | Conclusions should be | of necessity | aphoristic | Suffice to say | such years have passed | to render me | uncertain | avaricious for remaining | my heart a | cave for hibernation | a bloody | pudding, a putting | on of fat | even for August or the fresher spring | Is to know so much | to know, most of all, most | intimately | the triumph of | nothing? | In any case, tonight | I will keep the sun


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

I was meant to write | a poem among | the persimmons | in Arashiyama, but | the words never formed, and | I | failed you

Each year | the persimmons flower | and their fruits | fall around the house | of the poet, and among | the ovaloid shadows | they throw across | the ground | no one notices | the many | silences


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

We had assembled the tower | now, we waited for people to visit it | But the channel was wrong, somehow | time was leaking away | I was growing weary, chaperoning the famous diva | the “Great Voice” | who could imitate the songs of robins and nightingales | but who sounded less | imposing ordering perfumes or cigarettes | The guards in their smart uniforms | of khaki with white fittings | flat peaked caps | trembled with yawns | and gazed stolidly out into the timeless | void of the plain | What was in their eyes? | No one waited for answers in those days | everything was rushed | Silence was a unicorn | galloping through light snow | and the air was filled with the sound | of complaints or elegies | of barter and soliloquies | theories and insults | a stew | a bruit, which | perhaps | as you drew further away | might mute and dampen | down to a murmur, like that | of a distant avalanche | destroying a village, or a helpless | party of skiers | Hotels, travelling, the endless | shopping | the desultory | rehearsals | none of this | was my real life, yet | it took up | nearly all of my days | and the diva didn’t even sing | so often | the era’s | taste was changing | and soon, plague | would close the theatres, the meteor | fall and instruct us | on the necessity for a new beginning

No one’s fault, and no one’s story | But we were restless, and melancholy | so we tried to explain, anyway | Perhaps we were too attached to Reason? | Scientists set off the beacon, plotted | the demographic | yet whole generations went missing | forgotten by love and lost in malls | Two lit trains, passing in a tunnel | your face as I kissed you for the last time | a sense of opacity even in | the slightest detail of a | fingernail and a caress | as if I were one of Odysseus’ oarsmen | watching Odysseus writhe and weep | as we rowed past the isle | of the Sirens | Bemusement, then | the tapeworm’s | view of her gut | a racket inside the sapphire, a menu | of empty compulsions | and always | it began to feel | between us | as if we were trying to build a pyramid | starting at the tip | A landscape, dotted with suicides | dipped in brandy and cologne | the deer’s | understanding of the hunting horn | That was the day | I saw the unicorn

 

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

In a portable wilderness, we met | We had mountains, larches, snow in winter (and it was bitter cold) | There were reindeer, sharks | there was Mahler and great sex | and churches with the spirit in them | Of course, there were pinches of paradise, but these weren’t | too piquant | the naturalists with their toucans and marmosets | weren’t particularly | ostentatious | we still had time | for the railway stations and the long farewells | Then we fell out, and the wilderness | grew civilised | It was just that the meaning altered | really | all the other components were the same | but of course | the meaning was everything | You slept with the mountains | under your pillow | the new megacities creaked and groaned | spewed their cogs and bytes | but I was nostalgic | I kept yearning for the summers with the bike rides in the country | thistledowns | floating through the warm evening air | and the Giacometti shadows | and Jarvis with his fine | Jamaican lilt | The reindeer were toys and the sharks were weighed and their skulls displayed | and people wrote poems about them | the final | insult | We learned new skills | became curators of vanished peoples | I shifted product | you paid the bills | The wind blew the calendar’s pages | the years went 90, 91… 93 | What we saw, we don’t see | What we grew, we no longer sow | And if we didn’t have to keep talking, talking, talking | do you know, I think | there’d be no more to say

To crush the | skeleton of sleep inside | my body

A glamorous parasite | glitters and won’t | let me go | Moonlight fans / across the bay and / the trees are all / in blossom


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

Golden dregs…

{no one writing | the obituaries of | grasshoppers or | mayflies}

You put my body down | We have called to the stones for so long, and now they have come to us

Gross and gorgeous | I | roi soleil | across a room like a | sea | The sunken | galleons of my thoughts | drip and spew pearls as | they are salvaged | This is my Levée, you may attend, only | be quiet and | suitably | blinded | as I | rise

Do you remember when | waist-deep in ocean waves | we held each other, and the Pacific | urged us up and | down | so we | stood on tip-toes, and had no | thought of the snow?

Dawn’s lapdogs

Yes, unfathomable…

I can’t count the paths I took to get away from here | So how is it | I am back?

We put our | threads of | electrical | diamond fuss | between | stone |     and |     stone

{cobweb in the frost, February 2009}

Exiled to the past, and buried in those graves of words | which, for so long, had no need of sense | the childish legionaries climb out | and hand to me their stage-set stones | vouching for their innocence

{rifts of time between | moment |     and |     moment || grief of ego, thoughts of you in swirling snow}


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

On a concrete wall, just out of reach, the softening | is coming | She has left | her phone in Eden | he thinks he | can hear it ringing | None of the cars | are going anywhere | when the moon blossoms | they will not wait | how could they? | What could be easier | than falling? | She closes | he closes | they delicate | the space between them | with the contours | of their skin | Knowing | their way back | is not knowing | and is not going | they try to remember | if it is summer? | Just before, she wonders | will she ever | be this young again?

The cars begin to go | Abruptly, the world is full of destinations | Softly, the moon | puts out its antlers | a cigarette carton | is a light, golden tomb | (scrapes underfoot) | They sit and don’t know, much, of anything | the city glides in hourglass slump | towards a centre | that is falling | They feel the deer running | spooked | by a scent | Virginity | instils them | with the shimmering | of their limits, they cannot | be taken | until | they take | At the other | end of summer | the beginning | wakes them


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

It was never possible, and so I left | Writing was how | I just kept coming back | Dawn was enough | the morning followed though | noon | each day | built its own skeleton | When I touched the bones, I felt them tremble | as if | they didn’t want to be bones | On the clearest | evening of the year | they were not bones

Dropping out of school | joining the revolution | getting away when it all went bad, police to police | migrating | Tramp tramp tramp… | Making the road my lover, an excuse | to keep a greater loneliness at bay | Sleeping in an abandoned church | or factory | or school | it was the sleep caught me | made me who I used to be | and I left | no bones behind me in the morning

 

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)