No-contact drop-off

Start at the hard, policeman’s knock
We share something of the privilege of madness
At the door’s carefully narrowed gap
Sun-bleached curtain drawn 
For an impromptu mask
From sidelights across a long night’s roughened mouth
To greet in weary remonstrance
(A mule joy nevertheless)
The carelessly dropped bounty
Of the morning post

Monster

A poem lumbers, gathers grace
A patch and piecemeal monster 
Listening
                                        To the threnody
Of a blind man’s flute
Feeling, in the air’s bird shape
An evasion and escape
From the demands of its creator
Until, in the misunderstandings 
Of other people’s mouths
In the arctic fury
Torn apart 

The sound of days & books

The streets are library quiet
A clarity, hid in the serried facades
Serrated trees and telegraph lines
Crossing at that infinite point
Where perspective fails
I put my reading glasses on
Finding in the shapes of words, clear and close
The world – not so far, gone indistinct 
We abide in our houses, like rough, disordered books
The leaves of other people’s dreams
In that owling susurrus
A white noise blur
In my clumsied restlessness 
A few loose pages rent 
Gusting down the road
In obdurate branches, catch
Wondering if
By a kind, entangling osmosis
What stray words are crossing in between

Petals

If you eat these petals, before retiring

Through properties as yet unbeknownst to modern science

Sight will be restored

Mrs A Clarke of Winnipeg saw meteors on

A new horizon, she thought the chariots had arrived

Short-sightedness completely cured

Mr Robertson of Manitoba saw, the grain of skin

Like an isthmus in his child’s hand

Held firmly to cross highway 26, sick with salted ice

From the woods near St François Xavier 
Home where the fire was the orange

Of his mother’s tongue, strangely bright and black

With summer’s laughing frozen fruit

Spilled accidentally in the kitchen sink

Dishes high as Babylon

The far-sought malaise, gone in the panchromatic

Wilderness of criss-crossing lines

Sarah Clawson, aged fifty-four, of Mobile, Alabama

Insomniac and half-prayered with macular degeneration
Reversed the waterfall rush, the flowers broken

Steeped, in a kind of tea, with sugar cubes

She could still get, because the factory was old fashioned

A bitter taste, but despite the door quite crooked

Swinging freely in the sycamore breeze

I guess, praise be, the frame’s bent too, she writes

In her thank-you note, vision now restored

The distortions in her peripheries

Where the dead once talked

Almost completely smooth, because

With a firm but gentle hand, the jags of fractures spreading

She crushed to sintered aromats

These falling petals

In the thrall of your looming dialtone

The phone shrills, eternally

Until it stops, beyond a threatening hiatus

In storm clouds starts again

An annoying reincarnation, when the machine kicks in

Of a robot voice, the timbre thin

And splintered, with the urgency of desperation

Yet, pronouncing stumble stilted

Admonishments and infractions

Warnings ending with that spy film click

Of an unseen listener, purpose all but unknown

The intent, inexplicable

Except perhaps to instil

A vague anxiety

As if somewhere, cloying in a desert land

A machine lumbered ingracefully 
Towards us, having cut the line

Nothing left

But an ill-determined menace



A cat’s breath

In my mouth

That strangely intimate purr

As if I were a child feeding

On some wild nectar

In the cup of too wise savagery



The insistent hunger

When a voice in the white noise

Of emptiness, says suddenly

Is that you?



And as then, I still don’t know

Which one of us it was, or is

That speaks

Corridor

Almost half awake
blanket warm
That strange lopsided walk
Of sterile corridors 
A smile in the side
Threads of rotten teeth
Holding desperately to silence
Except the ventriloquist muttering
That untowardly thinks; you left a bird inside
Obtuse and andiron blunt
Chest too cramped to so childishly fly
Arms that half stretch out
The sinews almost disconnecting
Wishbone flexed
To that hyoid shout
That leaves me palely clinging 
Against the ribs a cowl
A rose in my mouth
The glass has two faces
One folding in
The other folding out
Falling sideways
Through the airy space
That I halting breathed
The miasmic shape
That you left behind

Dandelion ticket

Still quite young
I have a map for sunday afternoons
Going nowhere, just the roar of mountains
The whisper of wet tyres leaves a wake
On shining roads with a machine-like grace
The first reluctant drops of rain
Where it pools in my hand
Still cupped to lave and scry 
Sets the mirror of the day to trembling
Distant thunder wraps her cloth around my ears
I imagine fierce and blinding
A ragged sky all crumpled
I wonder where those onward trains
Where they go, where they leave
These smeared signals black and white and red and green
Broken tendrils on the pane
I have a pocket full of earth
To grow a dandelion for my ticket

By the enclosing sea

At the beach we fall like Carthage
Tasting salt
In the dunes butterflies grace
Small stars on the bramble bush
Bright as copper burning
There is no one here but dreams of wanderers
Worn as sea glass
In twisted nubs that fire never made
Green and agate against your lips
A taste like mermaid skin, you say
I say, as if
For curling winds
We bow our heads
Your face big as the sea-lorn moon
Pocked with hollow frowns
A garland temple on your brow
Pollen on your breath
All fell down
Two mouths make butterflies, of course
Flying away
In utter blue
To wind-torn speechlessness 

Blind morning sun

January is the longest month
After the cacophony
Of the morning’s war
We lost the world in chipped cups
Bird demands and traffic ricochets
Rope burn and gravel skies
Dead teabags high as Babylon 
Cigarette ends crushed into the floor
Stations on the map
Of harsh, devoured moments
Crooked and splayed and almost 
                                            immediately forgotten
There is no running water
To keep the dead at bay
The crisscross handle bites at your wrist
The throes of something
Desperately still alive
As if you inadvertently held
In a stigmate hand
Knocking at the walls 
Lazarus emerging
The day suddenly brazen 
Climbing hand on hand
To the second floor
A smudge on your chest
From wounded lath dislodged 
When you scraped against the parapet
The surface lunar dry
But beneath, a rich wet earth
That smelt of hungry winter
Tugging at your coat and hair
The building has no face
We are in the socket of its eye
The pages of Salverte’s
Philosophy of Magic
That you translated
In blemishes of ink
Blown on a rising wind
Through the sunrise swelling blindness
For the unfathomed dead to read

Cowboy holidays

We are going on our holidays

Never going back

Through the apocalypse traffic

The vaporous mirage 
A dissolving dragon’s breath

Of steeples thin
 as falling glass

Spilled tropicana cordial

On the strangely serene damask

And leatherette upholstery

The boats all turtle-backed

Marooned above the shingles

Sea birds stalking on the keel
Crusoe desperately waving

From the shadowed underside

Level crossings and cattle grids

Iced-cream coloured songs

Droning on the radio

The static full of summer lightning

Not quite knowing why

We are dressed as cowboys

When we prefer the Indians

Nested in the back seat

Breathing deep
 the plastic old car smell
Smeared in grins
Tears and sugar
On squalled faces

No, we are not there yet
We have bows, and Colt 45s

Caps and arrows

For passing threats

In Clint Eastwood voices

We are gone
Lost as lariats 
On our cowboy holidays

We are never coming back