Archives for posts with tag: variant 1

Midway, we paused, turned, and looked back down the staircase | It was a tremendous effect, a kind of cataract of white marble, spilling away in mathematical fashion, and narrowing into the gloom below | I felt a little dizzy, put out my hand to cling | to the cool, smooth stone of the bannister | After having taken in this sight, we returned to the long climb | Arriving at last at the top, we passed through the “Doors of Regret”, and began to ascend the famous flight of steps beyond | Built in the ninth century with 4,500 narrow steps and 13 stories | the Kem-in-on Stairs, zigzagging up a sheer face, offered a tremendous spectacle | It took us over half an hour to complete the climb | and on the spacious landing, we took advantage of the rows of handsome Empire bergère chairs | set against the wall | Our guides | highly knowledgeable, and indefatigable in their determination to inform us | of all the details of the treasures contained within this fabulous building | explained that the chairs were c. 1815, of gessoed and gilded beech, upholstered in a sky-blue silk | with ornate embroidery in golden thread | of laurel wreaths, stylised suns and eagles | designs so rich we felt embarrassed to use the chairs as seats, and not to stand and contemplate them as the works of art they undoubtedly were | Higher, then | Our footsteps echoing on the bare granite floor | then muffled when we stepped onto rugs | we left the landing, via a handsome set of plain doors | coated with a thick cream gloss | and began to go up the carved wooden staircase beyond | the curved bannisters and lush deep velvet red of the steps | producing a sense of the grace and inevitability of nature | of organs swelling and enclosing | as we ascended | via a sombre, somewhat blank and secretive side-door | the sandstone spiral of grey-brown | a shell-like whorling and steep incline | around the central spine of ancient build | diverted from the usual route by barriers with signs informing us | of restoration work | we passed through a service entrance | into a gloomy stairwell, musky with several different odours | tobacco, steamed cabbage, fresh paint, even a scent of human urine | and as we went on up the stairs | we passed several rooms | mostly with the doors closed | but some with doors ajar | and one room in particular | struck us as oddly desolate | unoccupied, with stepladders, brushes, and dust sheets laid on the floor and over furniture, the walls scraped and prepared | for fresh rolls of paper | This staircase grew darker and darker | the higher we went | and yet there was no sign of a ceiling above us | or of a skylight | and we wondered if now was the time | to finish and go back, but | after some delay | we decided to proceed | and having negotiated | a narrow gallery | possessing a fine balustrade | of wrought iron | decorated with a motif of tulips | we found ourselves faced by another majestic flight of stairs | of supple marble | pale in the twilight | flowing upwards as far as we could see | Undaunted by the scale and magnificence of the stairway | we continued on our way | though alone, now, without our guides

from the sequence, sentence (2012–2016)
(this poem, September 2014)

We live in cities | find every way to | deny connection | assert our glamour | skeletons in crowns of pearls | long white furs | posing with | cigars and Kalashnikovs | on ruined thrones | in burnt-out palaces

Eating jewels | creeping | with a lover’s | mantis care | over the leaf | of her skin, putting kindness | in pots and barrels | roll them down | to a basement | the size of Vietnam | or maybe of | Red Square | Listen: I am the King of | Nowhere in Lonely Planet | I’m telling you | don’t come here

Our cars are | long diamonds | ever | accelerating in darkness | on photographs | yes | it is | lying back into | you again | Make a river | make a mountain | mix them up | start running like there is no | tomorrow | floating and climbing | to the peak | a filthy | estuary | with seals and | smoky gulls | turds in the water | turds | in the high snows

Put on the music | take the top down | ride to a drive-in | summer | buy ice-creams with cherries and coconut | Call a press | conference | hold it | in a cemetery | where we buried our rivals | explain | we’re not here to make peace | let them see our death | shining out | through | the slums of motives | death has a very | particular light | Let them see it, and let them | know it

We live in cities | they don’t put | in TripAdvisor | dump our victims | on the edge of forests | near raw farms | where beat-head kids | ride quad bikes over dusty tracks | listening | to four-years-ago music

We live in cities | take | slinky | escalators upwards | to consume | our next portion of bliss a.k.a. | partial or even total | oblivion | We meet in gangs | with signs of bombs or moons | zip on scooters | through streets locked down | on bright powers | drained from invisible | slaves | on rocking | metro trains | read biographies | of Madonna or Mao Zedong | comb through the bones | of cool texts | in fashionable | loft conversions | and I love | your naked skull | I still | recognise | your teeth | I like to | kiss you | how we | chink and rattle | when our jaws bump | and glide

Turn my head upside down | Play the old | flute of my hollow spine | elicit a few | chosen echoes | Crash the party | where the zombies | of class and special | personal | individual | drives and fears | share the symbols of their private grace | sift their states | of safety and | disconnection | where Lord Yes-but-we-just-can’t-do-anything-more pours Lady Ah-I-just-adore-Matisse chilled prosecco | Show them the guns | let them look into the sockets where | our eyes used to be | pull up our sleeves | show them the bones | grin our non-plus-ultra grins | invite them back to our place | put them to work | in the fields | see who protests | see who says “yes, but” | see who really | likes it | see who comes

We live in cities | and insects in jeeps | with machine pistols and camouflage | jackets | gnaw at the foundations | of our ethereal towers | claiming a common | decay | We gas ourselves | like butterflies | addicted to collectors | battle | dragons of pabulum | and shambling trolls | We live in Paris | but there are parts of Paris | the teeth of no palace | can find roots | and in the graveyards of our poses | we work at night | digging up mouldering | gestures | gangsters in cool films | vampires in not-so-cool | films

We live in cities | overlooked | by Rough Guides and Baedeker | not so pretty | but we have our own way of doing | things | In rhinestone bulldozers | mass the corpses | with a ki-yi-yipee | in uniforms by Dior and Jean-Paul | Sartre’s | Parfum du 69 | in helicopter | gunships of mink and peaches | strafe the stores with their starving | mannequins | cart Christ | above the nonplussed | crowds of Roman | Catholics | while airships made of | mirrors | glide overhead | lit by staccato lasers | decorated with shows | of smiling children and sparkling pools | of dragonflies and white lotuses

We live in cities | sweep through | evacuated boroughs | murder our way | to the restaurant | Tuck our daughters | up in napkins | our sons | on beds of fragrant rice | The Press is forever | asking us this and that | we deny all knowledge | we don’t | have conversations | we make announcements | we don’t meet anyone, and we don’t | need to make sense | we just | need to shine so brightly | we blind ourselves | we just | hold audiences

We live in cities | always in the centre | far from the sewers | hick | highways | out into the endless country | we know | nothing of the darkness | that falls | beyond streetlights | or the dance of | messianic thugs | with a taste for god and human skins | how they do their dance | in boots like | real commandos or marines | black ops | special forces | elite units | just like them | funny dance! | not so graceful | to those like us who | live in cities | a crumbled | Paris in my dreams | crumbled | London in their dreams

I live in cities | I am Venus and Saturn, too | Mars | and Neptune | I cover | all the bases | When I walk through the hot streets | shoot me from above | I am a great star | and my followers | a stream | of small stars | a milky | phosphorus | and you can’t do me harm | even if you existed | it’s too late to reach me | I’ve already put down | an installment | on eternity | you can compete for love | but I don’t need it | and you can rush towards | your idea of posterity | but I won’t go there | the only place you can really go | is down on your knees | Bow your heads | to my gross Jupiter | who cares | what’s going on out there? | We have our own lives | and we live in cities

from the series bliss point | angels of disorder
(open-ended, 2012–present: this poem, September 2014)

For autumn, and my father

And in the dew season, I’d walk across the hills | among the wild chrysanthemums | My father | across the bandwidth | and through the satellites | Stags | with their heads lowered to the grasses | A country round | I live in the squares and the lines | violets, lilacs, sodiums, blacks | the rush of the push and the shove and the savings | double shots / banged-down shot glasses | tube trains leaving | the stations | with their passengers | sieving down stairwells and escalators | and frankly it is | lonely in the city | My father | I walked out on the ice of an inlet | of the Yellow Sea | and in a disused sanatorium | watched the clouds cross the border | over the barbed wire and the yawning sentries | Recruits | to different orders | volunteers | you a recruit | but me | a perennial | draft dodger | stuffed in the back of cabs or flats | a life lived on the run | in an age of conformity | of willing participants | in paid pleasure | loyal to the pressure of the next satisfaction | a stone in your shoe | a consonant | when there should have been a vowel | my days a futile | aimless rage | far from the squirrels and the wet lawn | with the ring of orange needles | shed from the landmark larch | a spree of saints | a grime monk | an espionage | My father | with the broken | spine of the message | the dominoes and velvet | the personal | the lost | the private | how did we | get here? | Say what they will, they don’t know | they were never you | they were never me | And after the war, my father | in the ruins of the bombed-out | city | orphans would shelter | and in the winter | freeze and starve | to death | Recruits to | different orders | Let’s step on | as we always do | call me | your son | and I will be here | for a while, at least | while the gawpers | and the talkers | and the gawkers and the stalkers | the mawkish and the squawkers | busy themselves | in the latest fashions | we’ll put one star | next to the new star | put our Tuesdays in line | and you will sleep easy | and I will sleep uneasily | while the boys run | like buffalo or caribou | into their clouded masses | and powerless fools | dreaming of power | stir in the morning with their waking guns

Belonging, not belonging | A yearning for solidarity, but not enmity | I met up with Tony and Frank | they knew a guy | and though I was tired | I wanted a good time | so there was hooking up and getting up | and hours of clubbing | and I never | got home that night | Squeezing in | utopia in milligrams | my busy diary | full as could be | And we met a guy who knew a girl | met a guy | met a guy | Woke up | watching a film | a beautiful young assassin | snapping clip to Glock | with a girl | and a guy | and some other girls | and you | and some dead guys | Want to | buy my way out of here | but can’t | lay my hands on the funds | Slept late | like all day | and then there were deals | there always | needs to be deals | and then Tony and Frank | and Kat and Millie | and some other guy | and one of those | sixties’ American cars | a barge of chrome and petroleum | and there was | lime juice in my hair | and a scent of sugar, and violets | and a highway | north, along the coast, in California | and of course, overhead, there were the clouds | great, white clouds | grandiose steamers | and guards at the gates | and luxury and ease | on the other side | of the dream and the razorwire | and the techno | just devolved | into some thudding noise | and I saw Millie with Tony | and Frank | I couldn’t see Kat | and Frank again | with some other guys | and a kind of surprise | glimpsed myself in a mirror | with my father | and Frank and Tony | and some other guys | and some dead guys

from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, September 2015)

Dazed, they emerge: so long missing, it is unlikely they will ever quite shift the sense of a dream, their neighbours look at them strangely, then forgetting returns.

In chic bars, in far-off cities, gold has flowed into the rings on the fingers of wealthy, professional people: sunlight glints with the sweep of a racket, wave of a hand.

It is as though a giant fist has bashed their hometown, causing the whole settlement to buzz faintly as if still vibrating, impossible to get an accurate picture, a signal too weak, forever dropping out.

In the darkness, their skin has taken on an alien pallor: the new caress is not the old caress, enters at odd angles, cannot connect with what used to be, and lovers look unsure, smile nervously, sadly — loss has brought the foreign home, missing had become a state of mind, return too unexpected.

The blow of absence in a subterranean world has jarred their spirits, dislocated their souls — they move at subtly different speeds to all others, as if they carried the earth of the burial with them, cannot muster perfect focus, or own again the streets they pass through, show delight in the new devices.

The sirens call, the gates open, the smoke rises: it is all as it was before, but not for them. Try as they might, the trivial has engulfed their lives, their children have grown so tall yet lost weight, the ones who replaced them are callow and naive, disinterested in talk of endurance and fatigue, will not share in the promotion of legends.

In twos and threes, in huddled groups, in poor and unfashionable bars, they gather in shadows, seeking to eke out the precious remnants of the elapsed event — it is rare to grasp, at the time of their rising, the peak of lives, the rest must be a descent and lessening, possessing the lightness of afterthoughts, a gentle belittlement, right to the touch of babies’ skulls.

Some are not even sure if they really have survived: some — the best, or the worst — mourn the passing of the disaster, and wish a return to the darkness, regretting a death so deceptive they’d thought it home.


from the series Silver of the mine of gold (open-ended: 2013–present)
(this poem, August 2013)

It was already the end, but no one moved | as if staying in their seats after the film | like generals commanding dead divisions | The channels kept up their broadcasts | shops were full | signal was good | Soon we floated into another story | decorating our apartment, carefully | choosing the wallpaper to illustrate our taste | making love like | nesting in nothing for a few seconds | planning our holidays | Driving into the desert, Russ’s old Dodge | an olive meteor with a tail of dust, it felt | heroic, and yet | too sudden | like a hat blowing off the head | of a passenger standing at the rail | spinning up and away, into the sea | very small, and the waves | very many | On the other side | waking to a sound of gulls | then hiking for two days | all the time, feeling as if we were building | what we approached | At last, after camping in a hollow on the ridge | we came to the cave system | known as the Giants’ Dreams  | Google it

Wishing the words back into life again | As if in a medieval parable, puzzling over | a choice of apparent evils | to take the road which leads | to empty success, or the path | ending in honourable failure | Looking back, things appear | less clear-cut | life’s insistence on fertility, entanglement | draws into league the saints and fools | the knaves and angels | often leaving mere mortals | marooned on isles of bemusement and rue | In any case, I soon left that town | and, swiftly | this ceased to be my story | The rhododendron forests were in bloom | the air at altitude so pure | we felt there was no atmosphere at all | Was there no hope? Of course not! | We had the young | to fashion a simpler tale | For you, though, irony grew | inescapable, like a form of gravity | Finding yourself jostled | in a crowd of hermits, forever | glancing towards the exit | while far to the north | in terrible snows | dead soldiers broke | free from their frozen posts, and reached out | to take up their frozen guns


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)
(this poem, August 2013)

Fugitive colours | How autumn stole the sun and | roughly | a quarter of your life, lie | still against me | Tame the heat, and trail dead | tigers by their tails, a story of | poverty overcome | maraschino | cherry red in a steel town | but later | banish the personal | the forest | breathes and sings | A detective | novel | and the reader | king and queen of the | castle of sand | Even black, why not | black?

With the onset of winter | the trees are bared | So much a knife | and the cold a blade | stretch over | and kiss me, laugh your | small | snorting laugh and mumble | what sounds like | “Egg Sunday” | Curating a | flame | Trudging over | the frozen surfaces | of mile-wide lakes | a genie | wrapped in a cloth, worn | burlap and moleskin | Measure of old feet | poor boots | the creak of the ice | so many prizes for the plunge, why don’t you | take it? | Naked armies of the sea, far off | ride to a war on land, but you | have the castle | keep of a dry plain | and months to go before | spring sets its green, sweet | traps again…

from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, August 2013)

Her lonely chores | Her day that was like picking titles for abstract paintings | Land Ahoy! | Cannibal Island | Hypergammaglobulinemia | Alone With Others | Pausing, toothbrush in hand | pushing through the curtains of the mirror | into the magic forest | Walking for hours until she came to a glade with short grass, like a suburban lawn | The sound of children playing in the plastic paddling pool | Riding the bus to school | listening to pop | feeling the back of the seat so hot in 1976 | waistband of her skirt | damp with perspiration | the boys geeky or full of a dumb swagger | Show Offs | The Speed of Tears

At 17, she feels so old, her arms like rotten timber | with fan-shaped fungi growing on her | Hopeless, the world deprived of destinations | the blue hole of the sky into which | tiny glittering sounds were falling | upwards | She wishes she didn’t have a navel | it spoils her stomach | and the car is a grave, or will be, one day | Her mind is full of lilacs and skulls | a boy’s penis erecting | alien and comical | a dew of sperm | At this rate, how will she ever make 20? | Even 18 seems distant | the years ahead already abandoned | like remote huts | left behind in lost Antarctic expeditions | The Tigers Listen to the Flute | Fifteen Raindrops Long

Old people at bus stops, with their weird clothes | blinking | gawping at nothing much | tortoise, parrot, turkey, slug | The god, Apollo, will turn them into small brown shrubs | with their handbags still hanging from branches | ancient black shoes tangled in the roots | where amber millipedes coil and creep | like the parts of dismantled watches | I Fancy You | Heart of the Strawberry | His street from space | An order constructed around Sta-Press and swimming pools | with NASA in the background

The funfair in his cranium | the slides and waltzers | denuded of serotonin | stripped and rusting | He notes how the weatherpersons mention | “areas of depression” | The cool girl in the black dress | with her honey-coloured skin and blonde afro | is she a writer or something? | maybe even in a band | His feelings, laid out like surgical instruments on a tray | a limited choice | and he knows | all cold and dangerous to touch | The Weird Boy and the Bear | A moment of happiness, so flimsy | like a parachute that seems to open, but then fails | delivering him to the blue quick ride of the sky | Ships, and their Thoughts of Sinking

In class | measuring devices | Adjacent | incline | millimetres | arc | perpendicular | What will they do with the lions? | And the lioness’s roar? | Walk the long dead pavements | through the estate | Her parents are dinosaurs | big bodies, tiny brains | grazing sedately | unwittingly, each evening, itemising | the different manners of their defeats | If you think in angles, you only end up with angles | If you think in circles… | The children play with the snake | and put it into black structures | On the train into town | she is in Wisconsin | like Russia is | like Minsk, and Kiev, and Guangdong | No one riding today | Like rollercoasters with only shadows | Delta Series, No. 5 | Monkey and Coconut Milk | It is hard to put a shape to absence | draw clear lines around it | One day, there | One day… | Carriage on the charm bracelet | Vacant Lot | He is not coming today | the boy with two scalpels for eyes | And soon, the holidays… | Land Ahoy!


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

Those children, accidentally | given to fire | Flats burned out in Dusseldorf or Croydon | not places | a spellchecker knew | past the alley with communal bins or the pharmacy | the streets covered with firemen’s foam | and the blackened interiors | afloat on local websites | digitally | marooned | Each moment with its key ignition | By the plastic shower curtain | hanging a rippled Miffy | in a lilac slip you had raised your arm | to shave the hair under the pit | my face | in a cabinet mirror | for a moment | a haunted voyeur | handsome but so useless, in the end | while a little way down the road | to mandolins, incense or choirs | people knelt to separate gods | and some prayed for fire

Immigrants | the lovers | mounting each other | looking for those moments of a good life | or striking flints | to infuriate the heavens | wanting to belong | where no one, really, belongs | and sure enough | soon enough | we’re sent back | to a country that will just not | stop burning | Out of the side of your eye | a ladybird climbs fine white net | castaway | agent of this treacherous summer | with its shoals and shallows | its slumps and queues | of the unemployed | its dirty tangled wrack of drifted images | even the young cannot escape | already being ground down | to a particular style of angel | a rare | genus of devil | Softly, very softly | near the end of sound | I remember those tiny slivers of intimacy | that sometimes seem to make | the bulk of life | how the other paths | might bore, or might surprise | but the one I took | took us apart | as gently | as smoke floats | towards sleeping children’s eyes

from the series fleeting pixel (series of 1,000 poems, 2012–2016)
(this poem, August 2015)

On castaway streets, the little windfall plums beginning to break again | making the pavement at the corner sticky and stained — the pleasure and melancholy of seasonal return | the familiar and ephemeral | my second turn around the island | To the tale of the tormented genius | with feverish finances and the unfortunate habit | of making bad marriages | so quiet in the provinces, one may sit and count the slow, lucid ripples | reaching the edge | of this gentle backwater | elsewhere has become a legend | and her presence, largely, forgotten | Alcohol does not help | but repetition calls one summer from the last | — in this way | knowing happens, because it was, and is again | no more | The fervour of his delirium, the torture of morals | taken seriously | by a person essentially fickle | no wonder it ended badly | In the middle of the mental breakdown, pay at the counter and leave

I’ve noticed, the horse chestnuts are the first to turn | Autumn’s outliers | Gold, silver and bronze on the podium | Not hearing a human voice for the first three days | and then for another three | another fourteen | and twenty three after | and after | … | Ghosts are formed by habit, we don’t notice that we’re dead | taking the books back to the library | Don Quixote and still at page 47 | becoming attached to a name | Old people sifting through the background | prototype phantoms | testing out the rings | somehow | inferno, limbo and paradise | become confused and leak together | to form a single, spiritual mush | My body has gone, gnawed by crabs off Toyama | I suppose the bones last a little longer? | Still keeping the diary, though with less and less to record | or perhaps only the same things | from last year | the windfall plums on the pavement at the corner | staining the flags black | though when they’re freshly fallen | and broken open | their flesh is often a gelid amber | dust sticks in the smeared fruit | Also, I notice how slowly the very frail woman | high on age | moves with her zimmer frame | as if inhabiting a film shot at different speeds | to the rest of us | a string of pearls on her breast | harder than she is | Familiar with repeated scents | with the first heat of spring | the first coolness in September | knowing these phenomena more deeply | and more acutely | with less time left to savour them | On a path at noon, out by the bay, a gory privilege | skin beginning to burn | and among my things | the meaning of life and a bottle of sand | and a cleft in the rock where a genie came out | and said “OBOCAMBABARRA!” | When you’ve used up all the known places, only elsewhere is left

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

The children had a secret base | a private harbour for their fleet, an island | in the long grass || A secret base is an important thing, like memory or a heart | a place from which you may launch your operations, or retreat to, if things do not go quite to plan | They had strategists within their ranks, and visionaries and engineers | Among their vessels were strange submersibles, which left trails of milky phosphor in their wake, and sported weapons as elegant and apt as those | of duellist swordfish and narwhals | ships | Verne would have adored | or tyrants | died for || They knew the land | and with intricate measures of reconnaissance | kept watch | on the moving forces of neighbouring states | and devised | elaborate systems for sending messages | They spotted things the adults | overlooked | details | of a knee-high world | and read | their spies’ reports | coins gleaming in dirt, and | from the wasteland of the nettles | the jagged white butterflies’ | semaphore | They kept their knowledge safe, encrypted in special codes | cached in bottles and huts | scattered in locations | around their hidden island || Yet, for all of this, their intelligence was limited, and they did not foresee | the source of the catastrophe | that would befall them; nor, at their age, did they suspect | the threat that | impends above us all, and which | conceals itself in emptiness || Stunned, and open-mouthed, in the dust, the blades still wet, they stared and inhaled | the haunting waves of summer breaking | over the bared ground | and almost drowning them | in passing scents of new-mown grass

Basking in the ocean depths of words, sharks of silence | wait out the centuries and feel inside them | and their obdurate bones | a kinship with the dinosaurs | The day arranges its pieces, calm and composed as ever: the time of your next appointment, the svelte procedures of superconductors, laughter after the light-hearted demonstrations of my genius, and the snake’s tongue glimmer as the lightning | slips back to its secret base

from the series hypergrammar (open-ended, 2012–present)
(this poem, August 2012)