Very gradually, it dawned on us | that things were not going to turn out | as we wanted | Dreamed of being architects or foreign | Dreamed of not hurting people | We were drawn to the derelict buildings, the remains of industrial giants | where they made cars or tools or wove textiles | now their floors | a blizzard of rubbish | But in between | we used to hang out at the river | where the rich kids went to pretend to be poor kids | We’d feel that sparkling vapour in our hearts | The white, cool, bittersweet thrill | The time — the time always short, but meaningful | and the drummer is giving it some | In our hand-me-down boots | we jumped in the snow by the railway tracks | Our epics were local, private, oddly throwaway | but no less epic for that — the twist of sycamore seeds into the drained pool, the first bourbon | the first time we heard Ornette | We knew we lived on islands | vanishing slowly under the sea | and it should have been desperate and futile | but somehow it wasn’t | we were okay | we’d survive, kinda | there would be boats | and higher land | in the meantime | a stillness under lamps with the sewing machine | and the papery flicker of moths | the scent of mother’s Dubonnet | were masterpieces of living | and we guessed they were important | because the artists so loved them | and nothing could be done to save them | they were too precious | And the clever kids | thought they’d get away | but they never did | and they never quite | saw how they were stupid | and I’m glad | who needs more pain in their life? | We each need | just exactly the right | amount of pain | otherwise | we’d never feel melancholy | As the quietness heightens | at night or on very calm days | the fridge speaks of pharaohs | the sheets make shapes | for languid bodies | stretched out | heads | spilling odd thoughts | was this, after all, what we’d asked for? | The fingernails, clipped from you | the moustache of milk | and the small gasp | of pleasure and lack of air | as you put the glass down | the stetson made of golden felt | Going away to school | Believing in much more | than the forgotten dead | the clubs we went to | the ties we severed | the dude | the Chevrolet | the beat-matching | Being new | with the brave jump | as the roads taught us | with all that was left | moving forward | with only the future, forever


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