Archives for posts with tag: Only

They believed they were lovers.
Into tiny worlds they fell,
terrains never mentioned in a syllabus.
In winter, the orange blanket graced with Buddha.
A yucca plant they neglected,
but kisses they brought home from the Alps.
Battling giant moods, ogres and typhoons.
Reading Neruda by lamplight, for days on end
clinging to the golden superstructures of their bodies.
Fascinated, obsessed, the lush locus of her mouth,
simply the movement of her lips
as she said the word “kindness”
sent his life to goosebump shadow
like a hushed eclipse.
In the mountains of their gaze
the moon rose and traffic blipped past,
and planes with the lifespans of insects.
They fought across their love, arguing and making up,
some days taking losses, on others amassing gains.
Always something to believe in…
The delicate teeming krill of thoughts, drifting across oceans,
or the pretty toys of equations.
The lines of poets with their moving stones and mysteries and birds.
Ah, yes, always something to believe in!…

And they believed they were lovers.
In her eyes he saw the centres of black suns.
His gaze, the flowing ants of genes
hauling off the booty of glistening sugar spilled
from beneath the picnic table.
The dense, inhuman jungle
haunted by the sad figures of poisoned machines
swaying to and fro with sparking limbs
trying to perform their tasks for no masters:
the servant hurrying nowhere in his blood-red cloak,
and the sentry with no gun
looking for a castle keep to guard.
The axeman with the slender silver axe
chopping down trees, stacking logs, then moving on,
chopping down trees, stacking logs…
The drunken robots in the forest glade
swapping tales of misperceptions.
In the summer breeze, how her thin dress
was lit through and her body was a shadow and her hair
flared upwards for an instant as if she was underwater…
Just the glide of stars they had forgotten.
Just the way she said, “kindness”…

It is only
shadows moving on water.

It is only
her hands stroking your body.

So forget about the moon, tonight,
and forget about tomorrow.

Perhaps you will think of the spring,
remember the Russians
going mining for helium.

Voracious wolf of the fire,
lie down in smoke.

And dress your children as fairies
in acorn hats of felt and tinsel,
dress them as noble knights
with cardboard armour and swords of tinfoil.

Maybe you’ll dream the same dream
of flight and the wings on your ankles,
maybe there will be no dreams,
and if there are no dreams
what will you bring from your sleep,
not even a darkness?

Voracious wolf of the smoke,
climb into the air
with your red-eye of embers:
not everyone can live here,
although everyone must live here,
one with the ashes, one with cold.

Here, with the conker opening on your palm,
bonce-bashing green spikes of the specific,
and the come-hither
auburn gaze and its lashes and the white.

Here, where tomorrow ends, always,
with the moon and waves in your brain,
and the new seconds, and the new seconds…

So dress your children as cowboys,
dress them as ballerinas,
with sixguns from China,
and crackling thistledown tutus.

They are only
your sons and your daughters.

It is only
her hands stroking your body.

It is only
shadows moving on water.

One evening you slip too far
out of yourself,
and you can’t get back.

So now you are too slender for a name.
Great hands of rain scoop you up,
the incessant flowers hammer you
with perfumes and bees.

Your body lies and rolls,
a husk of honey and smells,
all its pores are open
but you can’t get back in.

The power cables of veins in a horse’s neck,
the agitated flutter of a butterfly’s wings,
if only your hands
could remain your hands,
if only the leaves
would stop growing.

For a while at least
you must live out here
among the gigantic, thunderous crystals of snowflakes,
the lost crayons and rumbling thistledowns,
with the vagabond winds
and the drift of stars, pollens and spores.

She has made you into smoke and bulbs,
and all the castles of your bones have fallen.
She has brought you to yourself,
a creature always on the way to somewhere else,
forever turning to strangers.

The sea has cast you too far inland
and strands you among the driftwood and wrack
to swell and stiffen and bleach,
tiny insects port off your flesh,
you have to run quickly between your dreams
which glow like phosphorous,
touching her hand by accident,
dodging the mercurial showers of summer.

Memories crumble like abandoned farms,
whole pasts grow unweeded,
the sugar of your thoughts dissolves
idly in someone else’s tea,
they are thinking of Russia,
when you lie down with her
you are more naked than you have ever been.

One evening you slip
too far out of yourself,
and the shining current washes you away
through the ducts, the vesicles and the cracks
in hopes and skin:
somewhere, still, she is waiting for you,
but you can’t get back.

The atmosphere in the room was subdued,
permeated by that heavy, peculiarly masculine melancholy.
And the girls brought all their uselessness to show the boys.
The geeks and dopes with their models and dinosaurs,
especially the dinosaurs.
Robots and flowers, and the disturbing rumours about Santa Claus.
Oh, no!
But that doesn’t matter now.
All the things you accomplished, and all the things
you didn’t set out to accomplish
or failed to accomplish
lead to the lake. The lake is also where
the cherry blossoms are falling,
sometimes to become a name, Sakura.
Trying to make peace with the moment,
somehow my head is full of hours,
so many hours.
The robots are in the lake, too,
and the mountains.
Everything, basically — everything.

I can get the afternoon off,
maybe we can meet up, lovers’ style?
And get a little bit illicit for a while
before the giant TV comes home, and the ceilings drop down,
and the wasted life
with the simple rules to follow?
The poor boy, translucent cogwheels falling out of his eyes,
it’s the end of the world, again.
Oh, is that the time? Already! Well, um, maybe…
Maybe tomorrow?…

In the warehouse of the amygdala, where you store the gold,
and store, too, what happens to the cherry blossoms,
the rats of chemicals are gnawing ropes and grains.
Saint Valentine was working in a bar that summer,
rumbas and sambuccas, and mermaids and angel fish,
the light took an age to glide away.
And he was still patching up his wings with glue
when the mirror took him.
The gold, the Stukas, the copper,
the mountains of wreckage and lice.
Her lips and what she did with them.
An epic of hazelnuts and lunar phases,
the things that stick in your mind.
The room rises from the lake, meanwhile,
complete with venetian blinds and yucca:
the lockers are Davy Jones’ in time,
their tiny gear of plimsols and gym knickers.
It was only one moon you cared for, however.
A great, full moon, among the gold and bombs and debris.
All saturated with lust and futures,
the rest were anonymous.
Who cares for the bit part players of the universe,
the gluon taxis and the eskimo songs,
so many trilogies and trilobites, lite bites and terrabytes,
and oceans of dust lying still
in the serene craters of alien moons.
But not on your moon. Not the moon.
Rising, out the corner of your eye.
In the background of a trivial liaison.
Gigantic, numinous, with an appalling shine.
But that doesn’t matter now.
You go into the lake, with the others.
The lake is full of York and roses, wheatfields and passing trains.
You pack the lake into a suitcase,
the case is thrown onto a tip and spills apart,
and out teem the tiny regiments of dreams,
with banners and drummers and silver trumpeters, too,
who march into the lake and slip beneath
its cool, unfeeling waters…
The lake is by a fine hotel,
where the kings of thought stand in a line
waiting for succession.
The latest king is holding court,
his head is a potato turning green,
eyes are cultured pearls, nose rotten through,
he slouches on his seat
and shouts at all the other kings.
His cranium too heavy for his neck,
his body totters on spindly legs,
in ruff and mouldy doublet and hose
he chatters on and on about Shakespeare
or allozymes or algorithms,
but all the other kings go phoo-phoo!
and wave their handkerchiefs about and pinch their nostrils,
for his breath smells of graves and garage sales
and besides, frankly, they cannot abide his rule.
And soon, bewildered by the fractious ocean of his subjects
pouring around him, the king of thought is overwhelmed,
goes gaga in an instant
to be swiftly succeeded by the next in line.
The old king meanwhile is dragged away
to rot in the mysterious cells of senility,
wandering the gardens of lost illusions,
gazing out over the hinterland of a great and pointless city,
staring at the rusting crushers in the junkyard of used theories,
and smiling occasionally, when he remembers a dandelion flower,
although he knows not why.
But that does not matter now.
I know, you must grow weary.
No matter how young and strong you are,
when sleep comes, your own eyelids are stronger.
No time now to think of your ambition,
or to dwell on the latest heaven-sent love.
Soon, you will be needed no longer.
And the moment comes when you must move aside
and make room for your replacement.
It is the same for all.
Some think of angels, some of sex;
some of nirvana, some of vows;
some of poems, of course:
but we all think only of what time allows.
Perhaps you think of yourself at this moment?
But that does not matter now.

It is always quiet here.

The stately trees exude serenity,
they are full of years and past storms,
the horses stand entirely still,
their heads down.

You come to me in thoughts
and in glimpses,
in a phosphorous of neurons,
I will never enter the mine
from which they dug the silver
hanging from your ears.

And the moon rises so slowly
over the city with the streets and blocks
greened with watermeadows and rushes,
the ancient forests
abuzz with cars.

It is always quiet here.

So the students fall asleep
over their books,
sweet Johnny Keats and metabolites
and segments of the halos of lamplights
curve over the pages.

Everyone dies young here, and their youth
runs through them forever
with the hazy softness of a baby
just woken from dreams,
like mist among the grasses.

Even the lonely find peace in this place,
their loneliness deepens and fades,
like a kiss the crowds in the mirror enter
but finally no one leaves,
and the winter
tastes faintly of snow and the snow
tastes like the lips of a stranger
hunting lost silver…

It is always quiet here.


A poem not used for the pamphlet, Only [Oystercatcher Press, 2010]