Cow town

We return to childish homes
Stealing pieces of ourselves
Blocks where
Almost nothing left
Fits
Except  the criss-cross shadows
The iron in that deep part of your nose
Spit on your thumb and rub
Indelible welts
From the formica table’s edge
Where cigarettes burned down
Left from fingers, hard as yellow 
A slight tremor in the ribs
When passing cattle trucks
Slowing, brake, the hard, pneumatic wheeze and shriek
Jolting square, starvation eyes
The jigsaw door, half-smiling
Clouds of puffing smoke
From the stacks above the abattoir 

Silvered & bird’s eye

Sold the dresser where
You daubed my face
For nights out, glittering
Too pretty, you said
Lashes like a girl
The bird’s eye maple
Lifting, on one edge
As if some creature
Of dune and heartwood
Half-slumbered still within
You eat with your elbows
I replied, the way a gull
Fossicks in the dirt
Ignoring gold and sea glass
For lesser morsels
The mirror with
The spreading stain
Of decaying silver
A blemish tiding from the edge
As if the dawn sea froze
Where you jammed
The stems of stolen roses
The wings reflecting three times
Caught the train
In the watchful desert evening
Ninety three dollars for my name
Leaving you behind
In a suddenly, echoing empty room
For a discontented world
The dresser on the rails
Following behind

This house on fire

The library makes the small mouse noises
Of a patient after defibrillation


I have eaten my way through several volumes
Of the intimate correspondence 
Of poets and kings


Learning (almost) nothing


Except the peculiar bombast and reserve
Turned in that intimate, sinister way
To bemusing incriminations
Of those who know their private thoughts
After death will be widely dissected


A particularly servile aggrandisement
(The fireplace alive with sparks)
To providence and
The self-important moment


Knowing (almost) nothing
I gnaw on


While grandiloquent lives become
The substitute for everyday dissection
Limbs splayed and pinned
Entrails and misdemeanours 
Humbly and shamefacedly arranged


The map (almost) illegible 


With that turned half away
Scalpel bright
But strangely grief-struck grin

Quite mad, Kate

Have thoughts like a dog
Pat and scold them
Until they behave
With that desperate, Pavlovian drool


There is no news today
Just stray cats and poetry
And the crisp meringue
Of clouds


If I wilt in the disdain
Of your withering heights
Perhaps you will forgive
My awful pun, bleak and mad
As it is, with thwarted love


A bird will steal your voice
If you let it


Nevertheless, a hand full of crumbs

Tadpoles & legionaries

We mostly made buildings
of different kinds of light
stolen from trees, river bent
and man-eating concrete culverts
the silver of Ariadne’s thread
stretched from crypt to bald-faced
waiting mountains, mercury temper
gathered in two cupped, prayerful hands
disdain transparent but distorting
with the descendant ripples 
of amphibians slipped
between numbed fingers
sloughing away
grey autumn mud, sheathing calves
as if wading rancid pools
beset by the warfare drone
of damsels and of dragonflies
made us legionaries 
languid as invasion
with all its noxious gifts
matted reeds as if
a holy child, in some regretful sacrifice
was abandoned here

In the curled leaf of your eye, still full with sleep

The morning has holes
Like a summer leaf
Withered by all those excesses
The swelling lymphatic process
Curtailed again, in that shirking act
That ebbs in sacrifice
Closes, a bent fist
Inside the marble of your eye
Thought you had turned the world
Inside out, the moon-thin meniscus
Serpentine and fluttering, in return from sleep
For that, the ocean dark below
All the pooling magma
Defying sunrise (you said the name
Of some lost shape)
Between wakefulness, and
The still suffused surface

Poetry & bingo

There is no news today
Today, no news
How strangely
New today
Without the shouting

In the White House
The president hums
The Stars and Stripes forever 
When making love
To his wife
Or almost anyone
With a dose of fluoxetine
Hair blown thin as gossamer
By his compassionate dreams
Of all out thermo-nuclear
War
An unfolding morning chrysanthemum
To atone for countless misdemeanours

In the quiet of apocalypse day
You can still dance with yourself
If you keep
An appropriate distance
The Holy Spirit in between
As you said, the Mercies used to say
Before they gave it up
For poetry and bingo

Seventy-seven
Gone to heaven
Seventy-eight
Heaven’s gate

With no one left to venerate
We all are martyred now

Jewry st bridge

Gunmetal road
xylophone rails
breathe like that old
vapourlocked EH Holden
your dad had
strangulation blue and around
the goon-eyed, bifold fender
a three day growth of rust
an astronaut grin, the jawbone
from high orbit, crashing back to earth
more patrician than abrasive
the one with Venetian blinds and rainbows
in the curvature of the glass
as if a gondola raced down
Constable’s flooded streets, past the Doge
a fallen gumtree lurking
with a crocodile intent
beneath the red brick arches
of the Peel St viaduct 
nothing is ever quite as close, as it seems
the rail bridge
built by invading Romans
of iron cast, from sheeting silver, curving away
in brute and manacle latticework
their mathematics lapsed, levied
to that noxious lead paint intoxication
highway frequencies 
monoxide bright
time in that clumsy columnar link
grinds from first to second as it shifts

Shout hail

Somewhere it rains
Somewhere you go out
In the first shreds of rain
Wreathed in ice-cream breath
Not here
Here you stay in
Until
After the lash
After the capsize threat
After the rimfire cadence snare
After
The ground and branches ricochet
In that frenetic St Vitas dance
Of tremolo ingrained
In the timpanic surface
Shout, hail
The rivers coalesce
Become trees
Again
Everyone steps outside
In the bruise-belly afterglow
In the broken, fever-pale wax
Solemnly righting bins and barrows
As if these were the remains
Of reliquary saints, or fallen cricketers
Resurrected to defend the crease
Of warfare green limned in wounds
Of white-stained efflorescence 

Beachcombing

There in the seance 
of pewter dark
and falling afternoon
I ran from the rain child’s father 
snail shells eye empty
seismic, abrading, polished sutures grey
skulls in catacombs
tumbling, unmade 
with that peculiar, watchful nonchalance
of sacrifice gone too far into neglect
the gods respond
with neither grace nor storms 
but the dinosaur fragments
of fossil nacre, edges inviting
pressure against, the too soft mollusc
silent, salt and piercing
pedestal like a kiss
lightning fragile (immediacy erased)
in the afterimage inverse
of the slowly leeching beachcomber’s
lope long passing steps