I am pretending to read a book | I guess you are, too | Then I am pretending to write a poem | It is like digging a grave | in the earth, cut worms writhe | form odd loops, pink or strawberry katakana | flip a cedilla | look again for the earth, and not the beautiful sunshine of mid September | we so love and fear | losing | It is the grave | for us | but not for the worms | the ceremony for us, but not for the gravediggers | they clean the blades of their shovels, park the excavator | round the back | it is all a question | of priorities | I roll the huge, dumb ball of the day | before me | its skins catch and tear off | You pretend to be sorry, but you aren’t, you can’t be | We pretend to meet | to converse, to reach | conclusions | But there is no body to put in the grave anymore | You pretend to cry, but there are no tears | falling from your eyes | I put down the book, or pretend I am | putting down the book | I pretend | to maintain my façade | for a while | I smile at your jokes, and you know they’re awful | so they’re good, really | The day puts off being a ball, and becomes a few folds | of darkness in the sleep | of your consciousness | there you see worms | glistening in the rain | so many, you can’t | walk across the common, they frighten you | For my part, I fall down the stairs | and damage my spine | and as I lie helpless, from the side of my head | out comes a little parade | of tiny goblins | squabbling and boasting and squealing | and they make their way | in a ragged line | across the floorboards | you see, I can’t | keep them in, after all these years | of pretending | I think my neck | is broken | what a relief! | Then we pretend | to take the librium | we read our books | and we really read them | we really go through the words | in order | sentence by sentence | para by para | we really are reading | and at dusk | just before we turn on the table lamp | the farm is suffused by a magical stillness | which is really precious | and we really | will store these moments in our memories | so that we are, in some way, justified | in believing that all we have pretended | is actually valid | our presence | may be imagined joining | some vast, enigmatic reservoir | of events | a place we are stored and somehow | come to again | like that pond in the forest | in childhood | Meanwhile, you pretend | to say my name | and out in the fields | of rich, moist loam | freshly ploughed | the goblins’ voices | diminish to a pretence | of vanishing | and I | pretend to finish this poem


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