Cleat

I cleat the soil

A soft black earth

Strewn with flecks

The frozen skin of mica

Long since gone to dust

Leave a mark like a cross

A promised, graven treasure

We span a gentling curve

The distant water blinding 

There is a stone like a ship

Defiantly sinking

I think

No one I know is buried here

A Bird In My Sleeve

The rain harangues
Curtails the rags of afternoon
To a kind of twilit comfort
Of these few close held rooms

You are in my sleeve
Sate as other Sunday evenings
Hesitant as a bird
Crumpled as if you were already thrown away
Like the stone the tailor threw
A knit as camouflaging
As any grass-thin shadows

Your voice, close enough
For doves to misconstrue
Still, against the staccato dark
Of shades rigged tight as seabird sails
In any failing storm
I don’t understand 
How suddenly you flew

This poem has no name

This is the kind of note
You should destroy after reading


Scrabble pieces in a cup
Spilled out across
The worn parquetry of meaning




Tear it from the book
The ragged seam almost invisible, but
Now the pages
Never sit quite flat
The teardrop bowing of lacuna 


A whistle elongated between 
Fingers placed uncouthly in the mouth
Saliva wet
Shrilling in that forest way
Of sunlight and warning
Decanting through the myrrh and honey branches


A cat grows in sunshine
Poached eggs, an insistent wind
Left over from the barbarity of desert summer
Small clouds dragged across the sky
The eclipse almost fatal
On thick toast for late breakfast
Flour dusting
The distance almost serene
Between then and now
Crumple, discard, forget
Almost, once upon a time
Someone died today

Analemma & gnomon

I can only imagine
you turned into wood
one of those silvered, slender trees
now quite alone
bent by ragged seasons
shorn of leaves, and, extraneous branches
the fallen, skeletal remains
of life’s importunate sundial 
illegible but, in unquiet earth
the marks deeply incised
bark skinned away
bone pale underneath
a sail for a smile
reaching from whence to whenever
with the ruffled sigh
of birds with knots for eyes
on your carefully held limbs
quietly watching

Walking in Armstrong’s footprints

Sunday is the colour
Of black and white TV
No signal anymore
Just the radiance
Gnawing in your ears
We still wear
Last night’s epitaph
In a too bright fervour
Of distorted red and green 
A magnet to the cathode ray
As if the laughable geometry
Of neat lawns and backyard swimming pools
Were the height where with
A half-humbled prayer
You could,
(only sinking slightly through the screen) 
On that pocked and pristine surface,
So easily walk

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