It is not so much to mark as to erase | signs of suffering | any suggestion | that we are not in control | I flicked through your copy of Tess | and thought how far we’d come | and wondered about all the weight, the sheer | tonnage of pain and mourning — caring for those useless things, believing in those absurd gods | all that ludicrous passion | the furniture of heroes and heroines | and I thought of the lather and the chill blue steel | of the cut-throat razors | the mirrors in their over-ornate frames | of carved camphor or mahogany | magnetised and borne | from some part of the empire | into a study or a drawing room | to stabilise a glance or prompt to worry | in a puzzled self-doubter — Just amazing prose! | you had written, I guessed | it must a text | you studied at undergraduate, and I confess | I smiled a little at the breathlessness | evoked by that pencil scrawl | a naivety | long forgotten, or at least | set aside or | put behind us | You tapped away at the keys | scrolled through sites | checked exchange rates, and flights, and booking fees | we can call it wisdom if we like | what the years have done with us, and we | have done with the years | you know that I position you, I know | you love me forever | and if we could unfold | all the shimmering petals of our irony | we couldn’t grasp the flower at all | perhaps there is no flower | yes, there probably | is no flower

Like roses, but not real roses, more like the roses | of badly executed tattoos | crude, but graphic | with a certain naive power | and drenched in incident and anecdote | cyphers for passion and exotic life | a hint of the criminal | the sad, intent | enthusiasm of young children | learning to swim | their struggle with the pool | and their own bodies | poignant to an adult | watching on with disinterest | and with the existential distance | that comes with second-guessing death | or the weather | or even a direction | and then | the ennui that follows | the endless guesses | and knowledge of | the chronic | failure of the point itself | and a dandy’s | disdain for the cheap mystique | of signs | so the gaze | slips away and the splashes and the cries | fade into the spurious melange | of drifting, neglected sounds | the necessary wreckage | of another distracted day | but who needs real roses, anyway?


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