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Monday, 15 April 2013

"Broken Clocks"

His head is full of broken clocks -
seconds hands move quicker than a memory,
but slow enough for anger to feed.
When the clocks are buried, he'll learn
that there is acute beauty in pain's wake,
that it just takes a few screws to re-hinge hanging doors.

In the next room his mum
sleeps with dead men every night.
Her love for him, supple as a willow sapling
and he's only ever addressed her by name.

He sleeps in an old, mashed bed. The sweat
of uncountable bodies that slid over the mattress
grips his skin, his hair, and holds him like the dying
as they try to out-linger death.

At night he spoons out his eyes with dirty fingers
and tosses them through the holes in the walls;
holes where he can fall, and nobody's there
to stop him.

On the stretch of summer days he stands
at his steel window and as the putty dries and cracks
he watches the other children playing.
The flies drop to the ledge and mound in the corners.

When he's older, when nobody missed him
his mum's words flap in his eyes
like digital bluebirds, back from migration
with nowhere to perch; with all the branches
already snapped and pointed, like frozen hands
on broken clocks, like frozen hands
snapped and pointed.

*note: this poem with a handful more will be published around winter.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Poem: Home(another pulled from the abyss)

Sometimes, you're as fickle as away.
I'm hoping you're not at the bottom
of some cheap bottle, because I don't get drunk;
I get bastard, and have no bastards around me.

Sometimes the slow fat snow
falling at midnight
feels like home, but it isn't.

Sometimes I stand beside my shadow
with fists up to my face
reminding my bones of straight and curved angles
and that's pretty close, but there's no joy
in violence anymore.

We can't learn what we don't understand.
The future is as loud as a god,
and precious as soil.
We must be our own prophets.

What do you do when every thing
you acquaint with home has turned cold?
As cold as life, as trying.
As cold as hell and the world that owns you.

That's when you have to sit down and say:
"I am home. I don't wanna be home."

Poem: the title has evaded me

I knew you for a long time, but don't know you anymore.
Something happened in the middle;
you're too depressed to be beautiful again -
someone's left you with sad smiles.

When it's booming with tourists, nothing
is more dead than the colosseum,
and nothing is as dead as Rome and words,
so I stayed quiet. Watching. I saw
you'd discovered that the stars, sun and moon are burlesqued
by poets and artists. It's a cheap varnish
on a striking elm, but the tree isn't seeable yet.

Sometimes it's impossible to see right.
You look too hard and take everything apart
until you're left with a mound of worthless fibres.
You can't understand the heart; we're too smart.

Know that sophistication kills passion
and know it soon. These little towns don't drag you down,
places don't depress people; It's consensual.
Hurry. The winters are cold and the summer's windy
and there's not enough time to curse the weather.

(Forgive my incongruous addressing,
only the free
can target names. Only the free
and the careless.)

Jack Gilbert's "Betrothed"

You hear yourself walking on the snow.
You hear the absence of birds.
A stillness so complete, you hear
the whispering inside of you. Alone
morning after morning, and even more
at night. They say we are born alone,
to live and die alone. But they are wrong.
We get to be alone by time, by luck,
or by misadventure. When I hit the log
frozen in the woodpile to break it free,
it makes a sound of perfect inhumanity,
which goes pure all through the valley,
like a crow calling unexpectedly
at the darker end of twilight that awakens
me in the middle of a life. The black
and white of me mated with this indifferent
winter landscape. I think of the moon
coming in a little while to find the white
among these colorless pines.

Jack Gilbert’s measured pace and spare technique runs solidly throughout the book. Never have I read such intelligence on humanity, and emotion. Many poems are focused on futility, solitude and not only sadness after losing his wife, but something within that sadness. A kind of hope maybe. The book is appropriately called The Great Fires. Appropriate, because of the events and memories from which most of these poems spawned.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Poem: Urban Integration


                                                        Already burnt
lumps of Britain where the crude cars escape.
Where I sat by the rivers in half-light
there was only me. Someone put a bench there
so people sit on it. Hard to claim a thought once it's taken.
I could trace her bottom rib, up her spine, through
                                                     her hair --
                                                 through the sun
                                                         on petrous skin. 

Walking in shadows of huge buildings
on a sunny day. The silence of cars in the city.
The pigeons find their pews. Custom built, they'd laugh.
No homes for the jays. Nothing's welcomed,
and the beggars forage with the pigeons, but the birds are home.
Unfortunately --
A fox-walks onto a road, in bare sun.
It doesn't remember how the trees were,
how a bark met the soil and clouds;
how they meet the crowns of trees;
wild and strange. Nurtured and culled
without words, or voice. Sand lies affably
                                                           beneath the weight
that's bedded under the sky's sole;
It meets the hinterland paths here.


Poem: What they'll Say(new poem)

You would understand it. Because you are.
It is always the forethoughts that drive,
but the memory of the moon, that remembers
the sun, that freckled my shoulders, that builds a future.

What comes from nothing? What could?
Been more than dead many times; forgotten even
and repeatedly tossed from the mud
like Lazarus, into the dried dirt choking,
and scuffling 'til I die again.

They'll tell you you are strong, and you'll listen.
Loping's only for the weak. Bounding like rabbits
to safe holes, where the light is dull, the air dry
and they can only hear the gruesome stars when it rains.

Poem: omkara

one thing that is everywhere
and will outlast every blaze and shimmer
is the foe of light and life
and I can't see any sensibility
in its neglecting or failing evasion

I bury my every squinting eye far
from the aches of a swollen pupil
it's the only place to be knighted
the only way my name can be heard
echoing through every temple's whisper,
sigh, mutter and wince of denial or indifference

the dark will always transcend light
a black flame with an eternal glow
never flickers or wavers
as long as I accept the fate of all things

I am dark

I am existence

- Published in Thirteen Myna Birds 2012