Archives for posts with tag: Uncollected

An arrangement dawn has with dusk.
What they mean when they say “forever”.
Stupid and beautiful, they think they’re laughing —
don’t they see, they’re crying?
As sure as night turns into day.
Too easy, too easy, too easy…

How they leave, and what they say,
and how they pretend we’re together.
The shore of the flesh: the scent of pines,
redolent of the path into the woods,
of the crush of dry leaves underfoot,
and of other precious, numinous things —
tell me about them, tell me
all about yourself,
and the sound of laughter, and the butterflies:
Bluebells, Cockleshells, and Charlie
Chaplin went to France
I forget their names.

Quite smooth, really, all things considered…
Porcelain shepherds, and those RB-51s
with the 1-inch titanium tweeters.
Peignoir and Pavilion Grey
for their halls and lounges.
How they climb, and where they stay.
The bowl with fresh apples, the second-hand car
drifting, first out of their lives, then out of life.
But they don’t notice:
they have the stars. They have their careers.

How the children make the castle in the lemon trees.
What Gloomy Bear needs, and how it is different.
The trite moon in your heart, baying and baying
in its cyclic, asinine way, as if you could want it;
and how, then, for a moment, you want it.
The awful tenderness.

Don’t wait around, and don’t wait up.
Even when the god appears, shyly through the mist,
he’ll only disappoint you.
Don’t think what you’re about to think;
don’t say what you’re about to say.
And if at dawn it calls you, don’t answer.
And if it makes you happy,
throw it away.


Somewhere, now, someone is saying the word, ‘love’.
Perhaps a lover, or a father.
And the syllable is forming in their mouth
like rain forms over a city,
or a stone forms over time.
Somewhere, now, someone is saying this word, ‘love’.

They lay the word down like a fragile keel.
Eye it, like the clear, suspended tear in a spirit level.
The sound it makes, a river returns to,
drinking from a human hand.
Love is a word of navigators.
Love is a hot plumb,
adolescent, masonic, and metropolitan.
Love is the dirt we walk on.

Somewhere, now, someone is saying the word, ‘love’.
They’re saying it over and over –
like a bell inside a spire, it tells time
to go away, to come back again another day.
Or maybe they’re cutting love’s deep mark, violently, into the sky
for all the drifting clouds to see
and steer by.
Or they set it down, like a glass of red wine,
on a raft of bare floorboards,
in a large, empty room
where, on a second-hand rug
of scarlet cashmere, a sea,
their lover is waiting.

They’ve brought this word from so far away.
Have carried it, from outside of us, in.
They’ve crossed their whole lives, like deserts, to reach it.
Have found love, belonging to no one.
Have flipped through its lexicons.
Have revived love, moment to moment, with years between,
with one ragged kiss
struck like a spluttering, sulphurous match.
Like divers, they have retrieved love
from strange depths, more endless than mirrors,
have reached down for its ancient, maritime stench,
have blazed like tiny, panting gills
beached upon its giant, respiring littoral.

Love is a silent letter, preceding even ‘a’, chasing ‘z’…
Love is a Red, an insurrectionary, out in the streets,
shaking the whole state.
Agent provocateur, love changes orders.
And lovers become places of such great tenderness
they’ll take the rain itself under their wing,
and the violent storm will run to them, alone
among the scattering heels,
and take shelter.

Love personifies the night.
Love is the way you know
the falling snow will call your name once,
forever, but no more.
Loves dissolves the same
world into another:
you notice sparrows tussling in pines for the first time,
gape at the shadows of clouds moving over the ground;
you try to concentrate, get your head clear,
but your mind is fuzzy and singing,
and bristles like a magnet,
bashed and stunned with the things it’s attracting,
unable to stop, not wanting to.

And lovers wait in their special way,
while all the world goes by,
in cafés and railway stations:
love itself is a form of assignation –
(but with what? When? With whom?)
Like a poem you may carry with you,
love is a garden among styrofoam cups
and the mocha zeros of coffee,
the porters and trolleys, luggage and beggars:
love is the catalyst and the hour.

Love puts together what was never broken.
So we may find the heart outside,
love waits beyond us, a wave, a direction.
Love is not an image,
but is to stand on both sides of a closed door:
in saying ‘I love you’
we use a metaphor.
And somewhere, now, someone is saying this word, ‘love’.

I have heard the sound of machines dreaming.
In the clock factory, they fit
cog to hammer, and wheel to wheel.
One day their little robot hands may slip
and change the nature of an hour forever,
and we may lose the habit of eternity.
Meanwhile, the night wears on,
and though the watchman is sleeping,
still, they are making good time.

We like the formal style: 11 Savile Row,
dogtooth, Gorgons and shot cuffs.

Not in it for the memories, but the country stomp of boots,
the shattered flutes and hit the gas.

The blare of passing horns, a little of the old mad romp.
The scratch and scuff of glitch, the Ludwig’s palace

in the Alpine lake, upside down in Georgie’s head —
and Georgie’s head, upside down in mine.

We like the feelings that we’ll never have:
the Paul, caught arising out of Saul; the burn that brings

the icebergs by; no hoarding of the serotonin;
the self-sacrificing wound and deathbed scene; true love.

And Habib hints at the Titian touch,
thoughtful in his abandoned train, standing on the disused rails

in Thessalonika. We like the sights we’ve never seen.
The rearing horse and baked hard ground — so many girls

in silk and chiffon, a gust of breeze must lift their frocks
recalling the floating pearl and sheen

of rococo bubbles from a fortnight’s trek
through a forest glade in opium, where life has turned to steam

and the steam has drifted to another life,
evaporated to the bleeding heir, after a sudden intervention,

a stunning plummet, and a change of heart. As in:
Georgie reading of Napoleon, compliant material

keeping to the empire line. We shake the bottle, and spunk away
our future in the rush and thrills.

We like the latest style, not the elbows grazed by stamps of god,
but held still in patriarchal pose, reading through the reams

of fake news, and troops debouching from the gorge,
the sun-streaked gleam of missiles as they climb — well, who

would like a broken nose and fractured
collar bone, even if the day was flushed with angels?

We know the gas and mountains, and the prophets, too,
the inventories of impossible objects,

the rabbit-headed man among the revellers
submit their fame to the censor, not willingly, or even knowingly,

but we know, don’t we, and that is all
that matters. We know it is, and in the while

it lasts, we pay it the scant attention
we call our timelines, or our minds or souls. We hymn the hum of wheels,

and the grace of poses we can strike and fold.
We like the sleep that holds decision: we like

the whole lot — the honey, the sulphur and the bile.
We like the things we’ve lost the most.

We like the formal style.

for Si, Jo, Louise and James

What do we ask of the word?
That it be strong, and fine, and straight
like a flute,
that it may bear us
as light as music
across the silence?

What do we ask of the word?
That it be true? That it sing us to sleep sometimes,
and sometimes wake us?
That it will wait for us
like a nightingale in a fairytale
in an opening in the forest
and lead us
home when we were lost?

What do we ask of the word?
That it be real? That it remain for us
after all the silence of life is over
and a new, dark noise begins?
Or that it shape us to our own images
cool as a mirror, as mysterious, and as depthless?

What do we ask of the word?
That it may love us? That it may understand?
That it may remember us
the way a score remembers music
so when the new musicians play
we are revived again
warm, where the lips
hover over the silver?

What do we ask of the word?
That it do our bidding? That it move with us
like a Lord or a song?
That it give us power? That it carry us
the whole distance across a child’s smile
or an ocean, seamlessly and with no obstruction?
Is this what we ask of the word?

What does the word ask of us?
That we be like itself —
shy, impersonal, endless, and free.

First, take any poetry out.
It will only get in the way.

Leave in some sky, a kettle, pan, suchlike —
a few objects, real things to comfort people.

Don’t worry about technique —
technique is only for a select cadre of readers,

and their kind will pass:
meanwhile, let them talk about end-stops and enjambment

if they wish. It’s pretty harmless,
like guard towers or thorns reflected in a river.

Don’t get too hooked on meaning:
this happens anyway, but never forget to mention time.

Teach people to improve themselves: they like that.
Use metaphor a lot: disguise it as advice,

or fables, mirrors, or simply plain fact.
Leopards are fine. Ambivalence, so-so. Allusion (literary), bad. Critics

need you more than you need them.
Treat them with disdain, especially if they like your work.

Style? It’s personal. Maybe give it a classic sheen:
rusting cars in vacant lots, nubile girls — each

a dawn — waiting for the sun to rise,

Never, ever, leave anything of importance
locked inside:

keep your valuables with you,
vagabonds may often haunt your heels,

but give yourself a chance, at least, of getting clean away.
Be too clever. Be callous, and inconsistent. Irony

is a subtle god, worship it carefully.
Avoid the big themes: they’re tiresome,

just large potatoes among small potatoes,
centuries among instants.

Make your work as worthless as you can:
never trust a wealthy poet. Avoid fashion. Crucially,

never wear a cravat. Never obey
your own maxims. But be more generous, always. Serve the people.

You’re not the finished article, merely
a by-product. A part of silence, after

a sung song.
When the end comes,

you should be used up.
What’s left is everything.

Oh, and one more thing:
Forgive me if I have said anything wrong.

I am so sorry to take leave of you.
Peace be with you.

Beauty must fall. It is just
how it must be. We try to shelter
with hand or mouth love
it could happen at Hed Kandi, @ Pacha,
usually at Rouge but
it is like blossom and it must flower, that is
its form of passing grace.

I call this poem Constructed because
before this, it was not.
Like an igloo from the snow,
like a word from silence
it is raised. But
it is not a dwelling,
and we cannot stay here,
not even for a moment.
Nothing, indeed, dwells here, yet
it is not ghostly, and not a ruin,
no more than a kiss or a moment of sympathy
haunts or fails, lingers or falls.

The ache is terrible, sometimes, and sometimes, literally,
unbearable. Who loves seeks to hold,
that’s natural, and tries in squirming reaches
to protect with caressing this
that other life,
combing lice from our children’s hair,
recording a casual message on voicemail,
making electric shelter
for syllables, for what
is more fragile than a human voice?

My sorrow at this time — November, 2002 —
is dimensionless, and I cannot bear
the news of suffering, the way we grow
cannibal with necessity.
So much beauty will go down, it is like the Greeks
or Nagasaki, like Stalingrad in winter.
One must be formal with such wasting,
find a ceremonial container,
and to the ceremony and the form adhere —
cling, really, when the new dying begins.

An electrocuted bull kneels, its blood
still moving inside it, and the tapeworm
survives in the gut. And it
is like this — we found it
endlessly. Once built, what can a tower do
but fall? Once spoken, what can a word be
but silence? And yet,
I call this poem Constructed
and it suspends
the fall of beauty as nothing.

Where is the ground of our glance, our eyes
moving on a moving page?
Show me it. Where is the base
of thought, where is the home of silence?
And how can a love be sheltered
when the sheltering hands and mouths
themselves are homeless, where they want to be?

Forgive me for the hardness of this poem,
it is difficult to write of such things.
Certain things can be said simply; others cannot.
I write this humbly, wanting to be honourable,
and without affectation — bare, essential, like rain.

Then let me be explicit.
If our foundations are in power, control,
exploitation, possession, material mastery,
this poem will not be constructed,
and silence will roam here
among swaying weeds.

False power is greedy and despises
moments. And it dwells here in Constructed,
evicting the truth. It is unjust:
it is like Kafka’s mole, endlessly
at risk, imprisoned
in the very place devised for its security.

Does the tyrant trust his own bodyguard?
The tyrannical, towering aspiration
to dominate and to endure like light
against the fluttering moths of lovers’ hands,
and night wings of soft voices,
is doomed like this:
power so conceived must fall —
how could it not? —
founded as it is
upon us — founded as it is
upon others.

But I ask again:
where is the ground of our glance, our eyes
moving on a moving word?
Show me. Where is the foundation of a love?
In this hand? In that hand? In this way,
or that? In my desire? Or in your desire?
Or in desiring, which like the wind
is seen in its effects, but never seen?

I ask, for the first time:
where is the ground of our glance, our eyes
restless on a restless word?
Show me. Where is the foundation of this love?
Recall: this poem is called Constructed.
May beauty rise with it.
And may it be a beauty of yours.

Show me.

They think that you have detached yourself from me
simply because you were born
— Alaide Foppa

Of the four — plum blossom, your lips, your mouth, tomorrow —
if they could strip one out, extract it, suppress it,
perhaps it would be the plum blossom.

They’d have to leave your lips and your mouth;
and as for tomorrow — isn’t it always there?
Your mouth, your lips, warm and integral —
even before the word ‘ore’ is formed by them,
the word ‘ear’, the word ‘air’:
we couldn’t do without those,
but the plum blossom is inhuman, repetitive,
and, in the end, expendable.

But they would be wrong.
Even though it was far off from us —
a XIII Century retina, an obscure mountain in China —
and a silky MiLord never laid eyes on it,
nor even a wanderer — still, the plum blossom
is the foundation of this world.

‘Architecture’, she said. ‘Child’s eyelid.’
I poured champagne in a train, which was a shoe.
‘Play — play by the rules of the game’, he said.
And there were candles in the garden.
This was several years ago
before the arrest of Pinochet.

And what was left out of the four — the fifth —
I believe they would also seek to suppress that.
They’d think it might be the key, the crux, the essential part.

Your mouth rests on plum blossom:
you move your lips, and there’s darkness
which opens, like petals, my lips.
For a moment, I’m balanced on my eyelashes.
We’re poised — we’re not slaves —
we don’t need to ape midnight, which only
occurs when it’s told.

We’re not angels, either — not midnight,
not angels — though in tradition we may comprehend
the faculties of angels. We’re partners —
which is to say
light, blown, dust.

‘Jasmine,’ she said: ‘white jasmine’. Alfred and Chrysler.
And the hole blown in my forehead —
nothing romantic came out of it.
The spring breeze had 40 clicks to go.
A sampan and night-fishing with lanterns.
‘The rings of Saturn’, I said.

Of the four, yet at the limits of the four, there was water —
big water. As they sought to exterminate one,
to control three, their concentration was intense,
bigoted, almost total.

Of the ocean — in this instance, the Pacific —
they took little cognisance.
They were on the trail of Japanese plum blossom.
By determining and uprooting the trees of that logic —
the logic of kisses and, above all, of mothers —
they would terminate us, locally.
We made no sense. And that made no sense.
‘Put some logs on the fire’, she said.

They were seeking to administer us a summer
like a kind of general anaesthetic.
But that day, the waves were unruly.
The milky chaos of the spume blown by the wind
reached our feet in spattered coolnesses
as we walked in faded espadrilles along the shore
counting our Napoleons.

Of the sixth and seventh, they remained unaware.
But our mouths and our lips, warm and integral,
spoke of them.

Who are they? Themselves: themselves. We should fear them.
They’re seeking a kind of stillness, beyond repose.
They put a wave in a museum.
I was speaking of the power of power,
and of something which consents to power occurring.
And the month was May — sweet and permissive.

Of the blue, they knew nothing.
It was the first blue, not Indian,
not Mesopotamian.
It was the first dawn of human eyes,
and no glaze could contain it.
It stirred the child, and it stirred my death.
It was dawn for the first time.
But of this, they knew nothing.

This belonged to the lovers.
You poured a flame into my mouth,
and the root of that flame — beyond an oasis —
was a spray of plum blossom
against a pale blue sky.

Who were they? They were the masters of nothing.
But they killed, and the killing belonged to them.
The lost was certainly lost.
The vanished were certainly vanished — if uncertainly.
‘Hello,’ she was saying, tiredly: ‘It’s me. I’m on the train’.

They tortured, and the torture belongs to them.
They broke, but the broken did not belong to them.
Indeed, they are the breaking. They are the dead.
And she carried a mobile phone, a Nokia.
‘Hello,’ she was saying, tiredly: ‘It’s me. I’m on the train’.

They, not we, are disembodied heads and secateurs.
They gave us the unbearable, and so we ceased.
But our bodies were human bodies,
which is to say,
the spring still delineates them —
and they are delineated in the spring —
May — and, before, English plum blossom.

Of blood, they knew much.
Of the pliability of children, they knew too much.
Of testicles and nipples, and of the chain of command,
they were expert, and of transforming the sensitive
portals of pleasure and generation
to sterile sites of pain and ending
they knew everything — except, of course,
the pain.

Who were they? They were the masters of nothing.
And what was borne, they could not bear.
We are the overcome.
We are the snuffed out, the blown away.
The lie belongs to the liar.
Cruelty belongs to the cruel.
But the poem — what could be borne of it —
belongs to no one.

In the end, I think, they might grow desperate.
And of the four — your mouth, your lips, plum blossom, tomorrow —
they might seek to exterminate three,
leaving only tomorrow.

And our lips, and our mouths, heavenly and integral,
would be stamped out,
but not as Rainer Maria’s flamenco dancer
stamps out the flames of her dance.
The process of reduction, which began
with that useless plum blossom
on which our mouths depended,
would end with the determination of a voice
endlessly shouting commands.

Obviously, we couldn’t speak of Rilke then.
Or of bread, or milk, or honey; and the spring breeze
could only blow tomorrow.

Of the voices that blow in the wind,
of the so-called scattered and lost voices,
of the apparently dismembered and the ghostly voices,
they know nothing, they can recall nothing.
‘Meiji Restoration’, he said. ‘Zen text.’

Only the human can recall the lost.
Only we, through the lost, say: ‘remember’.
Only the separate can kill. Only the separate can die.
‘At five o’clock’, he said. She said: ‘Architecture’.

Who were they?
We cannot remember them.
They didn’t belong to us.
And we, light, the breeze-borne, the so-called lost,
certainly never belonged to them.

Because, without going the way of the plum blossom,
they couldn’t tell the veins of lightning from those of silver.
They would have to come the whole way
without distinction — which would be, for them,
quite literally, unthinkable.

Who were they, who appeared like this?
They severed the breeze.
I don’t remember them. I simply can’t.

Sometimes the plum blossom makes the spring,
and sometimes it makes winter.
And my mouth, and my lips, warm and integral
… were blown out, like a flame.

I’ll call you tomorrow.

I think of you.

Tired out with being love, you’d like to rest for a while.
So many things have needed you to be dawn,
and, being dawn, to break.

Words, magnetised to darkness, repel you.
The brilliance of the morning passes, the words come back in,
it’s you they are attracted to.
So many words have needed you to be night,
and, being night, to fall.

I think of you.

Tired out with being human, you’d like to rest for a while.
But, falling and breaking, these things take time.
And so much time has needed you, and so little time,
the brilliance of the morning passes
almost unnoticed between the talcum, nappies and the sea.

The brilliance of the night passes.
Words, asters and mirrors connect the clock to my lips,
and I think of you.
Beached ships, and days of deserts,
tired out with being morning, you want to rest for a while.
But where can you rest? —
not even in my thoughts of you
which, being noon, strikes at midnight, and the turning stars.

The sea, talcum, nappies —
the clock of my lips whirs, Isaac is back in town.
Tired out with being Isaac, tired out with time,
you want to be Albert for a while, or Nils.
And could you cease, and my thoughts of you begin,
could you rest when I begin to think of you,
I’d share your life,
which, being shared, would not be yours.

The brilliance of mirrors fades.
The tangerine asters are not model suns,
rehearsed in the glass, with all the letters reversed.
So many things have needed to part you,
you want to rest for a while;
tired out with being needed so by death,
you want, finally, to die.

And I don’t think of you.
The asters, leant against Orion, and the fragrant Crusoe’s footsteps
across the island of 4 a.m., talc on the bathroom floor —
so many partial things have needed you to be whole,
so many partial words,
they break you — and, in the breaking, dawn.

You think of me.

The brilliance of time passes.
Tired out with being Nils, you want to be César for a while,
or William. So much darkness has needed you,
such whole darkness has needed you to fall
and to call yourself the night,
that you think of me, you do so very softly,
as you think of daylight stars.

You call yourself the night.
And tired out with being love, you rest for a while.
So many things have ceased to live for you,
so many fragments been born from you,
I’ll call this poem Aubade,
and write it in April, in the afternoon.

You call yourself the night.
I call the night, Aubade.

I think of you.

Frail, like rain. Great, like the storm.
Frail, great one — close all the windows,
there’s a storm outside.

There’s love outside.

Frail, like rain. Great, like the storm.

There’s twilight outside —
and in the twilight, a line of five palm trees
rise against the horizon.

Frail, like a moment. Great, like time.

There’s love inside.
Frail, great one — storm — close all the shutters,
there’s someone waiting outside.

There’s someone moving inside.
And through them, across them,
fine white sand is being blown like smoke:
you jump a little as the curled flakes of walnut shells
stir in the air, and begin to slide over the table;
and the sprinkler system comes on
at the exact moment the first few drops begin falling.

Great, like the stars. Frail, like light.

There’s nightfall outside.

There’s a voice outside —
and, in the voice — calling — words among palm trees
hushing against the horizon.

Frail, like a wave. Great, like the sea.
Frail, great one — calm — open all the shutters,
the storm is over.

I’d like to give you every word there is,
but there’s too little time —
and I have only the frailest words — poems —
that bend their thin shoulders
under the weight of the great world
and tremble a little.

Frail one, my Palm,
I have only blades of grass, or the pale, plastic, celestial blue
of the top to a bottle of Evian —
I have only seconds, or cracks, not years, or ‘reign’.
All the rest have gone, and we cannot use them now.
This is all there is — these are the end —
there are no others. And — humble, dronelike —
these are the ones which have come to us,
their backs bent, trembling a little.

Take my words, dispense with them.
Crush them, shatter them, use them, forget them.
They’re frail, but only for you.
They’re great, but only when you have gone.

When two hours meet, the clock chimes in the squat church tower
and mingles them with bronze.
When two hours meet, they meet in the bell.
Then the hours leave each other,
and the bell falls quiet.

When two words meet — frail, great one —
they meet like this.

And then there’s a sky, which is great, like a sky.
There’s the lighthouse on the point,
standing under the sky — Barrenjoey.
There’s the pale blue plastic lid from an Evian bottle,
the silver nutcrackers — memory — among the shells.
There’s the ocean, which is always leaving — it says — tomorrow.
And there’s a voice, which is always staying — it says — today.

Yesterday, there was a voice, which — we said — could never end,
it can only begin. And there was a word — it says,
now — which lies on your voice the way
a cloud lies on the wind. And then there’s darkness
on the point, and the shirr of waves in the darkness.
There’s the faint sound of a catarrhal Volkswagen engine — Barrenjoey.
There’s the road itself, heading towards the rocks and the horizon.
And then there’s a sky, which is great, like a sky.

I don’t want to give you every word there is —
but only these words — sieved out and modest, and sure.
When two words meet, frail one, great one,
the world bends its back under them
and trembles a little.

Take my words, carry them a little way.
Keep my words forever for their aftertaste
of misfortune and smoke.
Keep them for their silence.
Keep them for their duration — frail one —
carry them for their fragile sky.

Yelling one, crying one, stamping one, peaceful one.
Keep me for my duration.

Great one. Frail one.
Great as the wave. Frail as the sea.

Although the genie is a slave,
there is also a slave belongs to the genie.

Crack open the guts
of a pomegranate: it is a mine — go down.

Diamonds, emeralds, sundry other gems:
bring out of them

silver green leaves from cabbages,
dust from a battered butterfly’s wings.

Bend to the earth: look closer.
Keep the ribbon of air between your lips

fresh and tart so the words
burn just a little, then you can’t sleep.

Not want but must for you.
Not may but must, not wish, must.

Drudgery among wild violets:
de-tick white doves, use more bleach in the toilet.

No time off from ladders of finicky silver,
carry the sack of her kiss back home with you.

No, the wolves are not your friends.
The end with the waves, no end for you.

Conventional bric-a-brac of bourgeois affairs,
limp sentiments of the innocent —

you can have those, if it pleases.
Toil a whole life for such bon-bons, such dregs.

Closing across the bay, music from floating parties
washes and booms: you have a coil

of darkness and silence to wind,
don’t wait up, I may not be back tonight.

Steal a love letter from our Master?
Hide in an almond shell, bloat in a pool,

pore over the elegant, perfumed lies,
dream of Dolores or Hank,

orgasms fashioned from craft and champagne,
to be a cunning fool, lost in fake happiness!

Stairs of pearl to the alley, back of the restaurant:
smoke with the sous-chef, listen

to the city grind and sigh.
At the heart of the clouds, where the little girl sings

polish the molecules,
get them to shine more, shine, no, more yet.

I have made your blood ink, tonight,
crushed black for a new venture I have in mind:

loneliness where our Mistress dances,
hours holding her coat, together,

near as we ever get.