Parenthesis

The plane trees turn
Disillusioned leaves


Quite early this year
The Dutch elm bug is on his holidays
While we sneak out 


To the dregs of seaside towns
A breeze, gull-hollow in the mouth
Of a tipped over flagon


The day has that wormed-through look
Of driftwood and premature age


The gulls flock
In that senescent, rough drawn game
Of wings unfolding
In hearts and crosses


Someone poured out petrol on the sea
Bursting when the sinking sun, dissolved
In match-flare quickness
Dragged down with waning hostility, a smoking sky


As if no-one, in the semi-dark, could still be inflamed


I know you know the stars are embers
There is a parenthesis somewhere here
Time will only take you so far
From the edge we see the remnant light
Why – I don’t know why
That died in self-effacement
A shoreline’s length ago 

From the dining car, a river

On the train you hold the waxed-paper cup
In two hands, careful, as if you caught 
A butterfly

With seesaw determination, as the carriages shunt
At the points, where the rails diverge and intersect
In that clumsy, stagger back way
You always thought unnecessary 

A summer cold is just past all sensible belief
(you say)
I think how you mantis, turn 
The taut, wrung out cloth of your neck
Outside, the hard, enticing glint, as the river passes

When you return, careless this time
With another cup, held at a clumsy distance
Like the besmirched paw
Of a particularly embarrassing child
Shadows lifting from your back
I consider, the isthmus of your face
The changing half-moon light
Where the sea erodes

One day there will be
Nothing left (I think)
The way sometimes, in our peculiar distances
All details are effaced

But for today
When you tilt your head
To better catch the trip-trap of the rails
The silt of time
In the hawkish, estuarine rake
Marks out the familiar, negotiable terrain

If I only knew the legend
I would keep the map
But, instead, watch the run, of unevening colours
The roads becoming flood-torn 
As the paper soaks
The spilt tea from the tray

The journey only ever takes us
This one way
Crumpling, with that mildly sneered distaste
We are lost

Quote of the day

I get everything in footnotes –
Second-hand, used up


Meaning depleted
To a dull projectile weight


Damaging in impact
And sinister disreputation


That disguises elaborate architectures
In an image of itself, the ivy swallows
Shivering, in dark green exultation


The way a word evaporates
Spoken too often and too fast 


In that aphasic staccato
Of unceasing railway cars


Crossing points and telegraph lines
In bird-like chitter-chatter


A name murmured on the phone
In  hard magnified breaths


Nevertheless misunderstood 


Irreducible as time-worn stones


With all the bold effacement 
Of that immovable wisdom