blood

Grange Road

Grange road runs crazy
from between the church and the shopping centre
up to the foothills of what we call
the Dublin Mountains

and we know it for this small slice of time,
a year we've spent in a strange house
full of musty books and stale chocolate,
rusting knives and forks,
shivering patience of lace curtains
on windows overlooking the road,
catching the odd glint of red at sunset
over slate rooves and cold chimneys

we know it for what it has been for a year
alive at night with drunken teenagers
kicking over bins, smashing car windows,
hanging around Londis asking you
to buy them alcohol
they'll bring it to the park
they'll drink it hastily in the darkness
they'll break things in an ecstatic rage
and blindly let the road swim them home

it's a river of life and death
and apparently random decisions
we saw a boy in a red car lose control
around the tricky corner
and destroy 2 cars in a headlong collision
they both lived - this time -
residents gathered to watch, talking
about the other accidents at that corner,
the ones who made it and the ones who died
right there on the road
in bloodstains bleached by the streetlights

over the park wall among the dead leaves
you can hear the cars moaning past
you can imagine dying souls travelling home
there's a stream that follows its path
for a while, under and over ground, through gardens
it runs to join the Dodder
where this road is forgotten
its memories emptied into cold black water

prayers and curses for two miles and fifty years
and we've known very little of it but what sings
in the blood in the small hours
what beats in the heart in the wind
an infinite procession of hooves and then tyres,
young feet growing older, then young feet again
what is a road anyway
it lays itself down in your mind
and in your dreams you follow it
and every other road you've ever known
to the gates of your sacred city
 

My Fake Mechanical Hand

I was looking after my mother's cats. I can't remember the reason, and there probably wasn't one anyway. My mother has this cantankerous old black-and-white cat called Velvet, and I was carrying her into one of the upstairs bedrooms when she started to piss herself. I put her down gently and went to get a towel, but she just kept pissing, until the carpet was soaked and cat pee was trickling down the staircase. Eventually she stopped, visibly smaller than before, and with a strange and bashful expression.

I picked her up again, and she sank her claws into my hand and wrist. I tried to let go of her, but she just kept tearing at the skin until finally I got free. I looked at my hand. At first it seemed okay - just a few scratches and a few spots of blood - but every time I looked, it got worse - the gouges welled up with dark red arterial blood, which started dripping to the floor. I was trying to clean up the stains, and then I noticed that the cuts went all the way around my hand - they were so deep that I could see my muscle and bone, and it looked like I could have pulled on my fingers and pulled my whole hand off like a glove, leaving only the bones. There was no pain, but I started to panic.

Luckily my friend J is a doctor. He looked at my injuries and laughed, and for some reason this made me feel better, even though my hand was still getting worse - I wondered if I would get gangrene and it would have to be amputated. J brought out a carpenter's vise and I started to get really worried, but it turned out he was just trying to freak me out. He had this idea that people take their injuries too seriously. He looked at the wounds again and said
"This is going to be expensive."
"How much? Thousands of pounds?"
"Expensive."
I kept trying to call the hospital, dialling the numbers with my good hand, but I couldn't get through. Eventually J drove me to the hospital himself. He said he was too tired to do anything himself, but he got a friend of his to attend to me, a young doctor with blonde hair and a calm aura.

He opened up my hand along the line of the cut and extracted a long piece of metal from it. "How the hell did that get in there?" I asked, and he showed me my hand. It was a thin wooden box with metal hasps and a mirror inside. I started to laugh, saying "Oh my god, my hand is mechanical," and he laughed too and took the box away, revealing my real hand. It had just been a joke.

    At this point I woke up, went to get a glass of water, holding my hand delicately because I was pretty much convinced that it had been badly damaged. I went back to sleep and re-entered the dream at exactly the same point.

The young doctor used glue to stick my hand back together. He was in a rush because he had so many patients to attend to, and he was only looking after me as a favour to J, but he did a pretty good job. There were a couple of places where the wound was not fully closed, or where air had been trapped underneath my skin to form a strange kind of bubble, but I was happy enough that it would heal up and I wouldn't lose it.
 

A zero expanded as the world

one winter the man fell through the lakeshore ice and felt a god's cold hammer slam into his heart and his brain. in his terror he heard in the distant reaches of his memory  his mother's voice telling him the story of the snow queen and the young boy with a splinter of ice in his heart. his sister saved him. the ice was above him like an endless window to paradise and he beat upon it with his fists as you would beat upon a rock. the water of the lake was like liquid iron. he began to want the darkness. he turned from the unbreakable light and floated towards the darkness as if he had found a way to go home at last. on the ice above, his gloves and his canvas chair. a tartan  blanket for his legs. an unopened book.

the colour of her on the sheets of the bed. pale on the dark blue, she dances and drowns in your dreams. blood wave. star whisper. ice flame. she knows she is only in your mind.

WHO SAID that your heart is a zero - a zero expanded as the world - like that delicious raindrop summer that never existed except in your dreams of your dreams. the unimaginable zero summer. all of the things you ever saw and ever knew are melting like celluloid on fire while the obsessional music grows louder. carousel jingles. frantic, overwound musical boxes. fading away as if into intergalactic space.

a never ending chess game with your friends and lovers as pieces - their personalities, powers, likes and dislikes sliding and merging into geometric fields of influence in your tired brain as you slumber on the long train journey home. I have earned this. I have earned the voice that speaks like this, the vision that sees the world in this way. I earned it by enduring the madness that produces it. it is mine.

You Felt That Way

dark houses
the burned bones of children
you felt that way

black hole stomach
like an iron universe
exploding

no mercy
for an old yellow rose
in a glass of water

or a girl with her face kicked in
leave them both to die
you felt that way

in your rage for relief
Sartre: iron in the soul
mercury

instead of blood
silverthread pain
let me not feel this way

except
I need to love
an old yellow rose

decayed petals
in a glass of water
I've felt that way

and I prayed
for the ones I love
not to discard me

in my ugliness
dark houses
walking with girl-ghosts

black hole mind
falling into silence
into bare loving arms

it burns me to love
it's not poetry
you felt that way

Blood Flower

Getting dressed up in the evening,
spangles on her blue dress glittering
in the bathroom light, she gave the mirror
a maroon lipstick kiss,
lush happy petals on the glass.

For just a moment she stepped out of time
and dizzily saw herself
and her friends, strangers, all dancing
in the disco strobes, forever
as roses snowed from the ceiling.

She glimpsed a bearded and coated man shivering
in the hot Tel Aviv night,
his eyes bright with something unnameable,
his mind frozen, seeing his God's sky so full
of stars, faces - in his last moments, he realized
it was as if he had never lived until now.

She shook her head and wondered.
She wasn't a girl who saw visions.
She wiped the lipstick rose
from the mirror, and walked into a future
of ball bearings and bones and nails;
to become the impossibility of beauty.

To be the blooming of a blood flower
in a bed of bodies and flame.