body

Snow / Flesh

it rained a lot / there's not much snow left
but last night was magical / we've been living like hermits
barely dressing / take-away food every night
cuddles at night for the body / but the mind has been king
ruler swayed by the wizard Internet / we're bloated with words
and people / but the snow changed everything
nothing abstract about a face full of snow / innocent
caught in a social web / but crazed beyond caring
no friends or enemies, only bodies / ageless white
dance mats for children / branches snapping under cold weight
I wanted to forget who I am / like everyone else
I was a ghost in the snow / slipping and staggering home
air frozen in the lungs / hugs for old friends
they'll soon be gone / the rain is really coming down
you could fill a whole mind with regret / for the disappearing white
but only the flesh exists / only the flesh is alive

Cold City Cat Food

Outside the front door, stars, in holes between steel blue rings of cloud. air's almost too cold to breathe, can't stay still, muscles jerking, body trying to survive blindly against the ancient glacier enemy. body doesn't know about time, and the warm living room waiting just a few moments into the future. mind knows about time, forces body further out, past the slippery first step, down to ground level, to see Mars steady and orange above the terrace roofline.

pick up the cat's food plate, pouring off the rainwater and dead leaves. the neighbour's cat likes tunafish, comes to our house every day looking for what we buy cheap in white label cans from Morrisons or Tesco. gets bored with cat food, I would too. domestication and boredom go together. but I remember when I was wild, and it's still there, not just as an artifact in my symbolic mind but as hormonal and cellular memory in the body, chemically-burned knowledge of the way the world really is, waiting. let a giant meteorite or comet strike the Earth, all of the cities fall apart, and watch the chemical, atomic body resurrect itself, rise up to take control. the fighter, eating roots and garbage and doing what's necessary to survive in the unknown present. meanwhile I'm getting a nice domesticated belly and tired eyes from staring at cathode ray screens. there's time for it all, it's all taken care of.

muscles getting a life of their own as the cold buries itself deeper into the meat. turn around to go back to the warmth, but then there's the terrible shrieking sound of cats fighting a few streets away. is it Jose? put the plate down on the wall, run to find out, forget about the cold. bare feet starting to go numb on the concrete and tarmac but they'll recover. breath steaming, jogging carefully, watching for glass and tin and stones to cut my soft feet. the fight's a bad one, someone's in pain, an ear or whiskers or fur torn, an eye scratched,  a claw ripped out? let's hope it's not Jose, he's such a soft little catthing and Stan doesn't look like he can pay too many vets' bills. not like my mother who brings the cat to the vet if he looks tired, at £30 a visit. learned how to manage money from my mother, what a fucking tragedy. still, at least she cares about cats. i got that from her too.

every street is cold and quiet and empty of movement, red brick terraces with lights out and chimneys dark and unused. we all have central heating or electric heaters. no one burns wood or coal any more and even the candles in the wondows for Christmas are electric. they have an artificial waver built into them as if to appear more realistic despite the fact that they are green and red and yellow and placed under curtains that would have caught fire. gardens are paved with concrete slabs and the plants are all in pots. feet numb now, no cats in sight, the fighting noises have stopped and there are only the factory vents and the distant cars and my own breathing. my lungs are getting chilled. I make miaowing noises but there's no answer and any minute now someone is going to wonder what psycho is creeping around the street in the small hours trying to be a cat. time to go back to the warm place. time for bed, even, maybe. no work tomorrow. the faint, faint mist of the galaxy overhead, reminding me how short my own life is. measured in increments between short, pointless weekends, and moments like this, mostly unrecorded, lost somewhere in time, "like tears in rain", like something that never happened. there was no catfight. next morning Jose will be scratching at the door looking for more tuna and luvvins, and it all goes on as normal for another day.

takes a few minutes for my feet to get warm again, held over the heater as i balance on one leg and try not to look silly. the vectors of the house take over my mind so easily, as I count off the next few steps mentally. a cup of tea, some time on the computer, then get ready for bed. lock the door, turn off the heaters and the lights, brush teeth, snuggle, fall asleep. i don't know anything about the stars and i don't know why every night i have to stand for at least a moment on the porch looking up at the sky. maybe something will fall out of it, or into my mind. maybe one day they won't be there. maybe i won't be. there's no story to the moment at all, no compulsion and no reason. like a marble in a bowl, i roll into the zero point and stay there until I'm moved again.

Kendron, The Body

Late at night, screaming at the nameless bright stuff
Kendron is trying to get the drop on the insane
catch it unawares, rip it apart and eat it
sleep exhausted shivering on a shed roof

squatting on a rock by the edge of the water,
shoulders hunched, listening for bird calls
somewhere behind there's a presence, a mind:
ignore it, it doesn't exist, it doesn't matter

Kendron has a gun, Kendron sweats and screams
glowing blood-orange in an oven-hot kitchen.
He won't fuck you unless he loves you;
but it's okay. He loves everyone.

A marble in a bowl, chasing zero,
hands and eyes focused on a synthetic plane
tuned into the overworld, spine a shockwave,
a fish slingshotting up a cold weir,

a strangled gasp in a freezing fog,
Kendron can close his eyes and hold his breath
and suddenly, beautifully, he never existed.
Reborn every moment. In debt to every atom.

he obsessed over a terrible nightmare from his past
until it broke him: baby-killer locked and drugged
in an asylum, he lost 20 years of life and mind,
emerged to see his father, his wife, his own hands

lined and trembling. realization like the collapse
of glaciers. he'd been wandering the labyrinth
of his own mind for decades, thinking it real.
horror and loss, tears, waking and relief.

but the fear lingered.
how could he know what was real?
who could tell him?
and then, to remember:

I am Kendron, the body.
I don't dream and I'm not lost.
there's nothing but this.
there's no NEED for anything but this.

sun, frost, roads, branches, faces.
spirals and soft sounds. cats.
a star fading into a yellow horizon.
at last, dying and living for no reason.
 

The Bucket of the World

It’s not just a clarity of vision or hearing, or any of the senses, even though it can feel like those sense are sharpened because you have more attention for them. It’s not just a clarity of the mind, even though thought can become very easy and obvious, or even stop completely. You could call it a clarity of the heart, because there’s a feeling of emotional harmony, but that’s not all it is. It’s so hard to describe because it doesn’t lend itself to description. It isn’t anything you can locate, and the words available to describe it are loaded with so many other meanings which vary from person to person that it’s impossible to know if anyone else could hear what you say about it and understand. It doesn’t need to be the end-point of any search, because it’s always directly available and totally ordinary.

It doesn’t make you divine or special, because it’s so ordinary that (probably) everyone in the world experiences it most of the time without realizing that it’s anything worth noticing or enjoying.

You can only realize you’re ‘in’ it if you know there’s nothing else to search for.

It’s here. It’s you.

Maybe we only think we’re unhappy because that’s what we’re told. We all perpetuate this strange message of incompleteness to each other when really our deepest secret is that no matter what has ever happened to us, we are happy and at peace, in the most permanent and unreasonable way.

I forget it sometimes. Instead of a bright, spacious clarity, my world narrows to a tight, anxious focus, locked into time and fascination. But even in those moments I know it’s all OK. I know I will die, or that it will all end, or even if it doesn’t, that its ending is inherent in me, in my own consciousness.

This is all crazy, bright, unknowable.

I don’t know what I know. I can’t parcel it and write a book about it because such a thing would be of no use to anyone. It isn’t a thing. It’s nothing. I’ve realized nothing. This is just life, direct reality. I don’t know if I’ve understood anything at all.

We’re looking for something extraordinary, but they can’t last. The only thing that lasts, and the only thing that satisfies us, is the ordinary. You don’t have to make any effort to be ordinary. This world is real, crazy, bright and shining and immediate. Everything is right here, and we have never changed since the moment we were born. There’s nothing left. The bucket of the world has been emptied and all promises and dooms are null and void.

Unzip

If you think you know me today, please,
unzip my skin with your knife;
see if you can stand to see me
unravel before you;
see if you can bear the little sounds
of organs plopping wetly to the ground.

Without my face, who am I
that you love me?
No insides, no outsides, and no shape.
What is the feeling, the thing I call my heart,
when you can see this bloody lump of meat
pumping gently at your feet?

Love, no need to heal, to kiss -
there's no need to be afraid of death.
I know I'll come back stronger,
held together by something even stranger
than this invisible brightness - and then -
we'll cry, and tomorrow, softly, start again -

Dark Night of the Soul

shrieking under folds of blackness,
hands clawing at the fabric of an unlit tent.
veins swelling in a vacuum, empty eye sockets wide.
the midnight of his memory full of monsters.
what we know as horror: the crossing of death into life,
the corpse walking with a blind smile,
the puppets jerking at their strings.
his mother's bloody grin, holding her own head by the hair,
and he ran out the door into the apocalypse they promised him:
the destiny of the destroyed atom, and a trillion ghosts
left to roam a nightmare planet in unfinished visions.

slicing himself for the feeling of bright sharpness, the reality.
sky on a frozen winter's day, the cloud diamondcutter.
the clarity when he first loved her, when he first recognised her
and became a river running to her. the deathly fear
when he lay awake in the living night-time, presences
crowding in his awareness, afraid to turn over.
when he took the elevator to the basement of his mind
and found the mutilated man, madness shining in his remaining eye.
the boy in the abandoned house who swallowed a living scorpion -
tongue numb with venom, his skin turned black and livid -
but inside he became a storm of daisies, summer light and wind.
someone who would love the demons and angels alike -
an alchemist, at war with the dead physics of his universe.

strange notes from the other side of a drugged mind:
"what the FUCK happens when we die?" and the feeling
of crossing into an unknown land. his only journey:
miles of roads lined with bodies and flowers, tiger paws,
daggers, vertigo footage from cameras falling off cliffs.
or, like faded newsreel, spotted and flickering, set to the sound
of muttering, whispering voices, old showtunes:
the body's last words,
spoken on a sunlit evening stretching into neverness.

XTC

I'm running
I'm high on birdwing delight
I'm drunk on old sunlight
I've had enough of insight

I'm suddenly brave
I'm dashing through the streets at night
I'm not wrong and I'm not right
I'm insane and impolite

I'm shadow, I'm ammonite
I'm spiralling through time tonight
I'm breathing and bright
I'm stealing the moonlight

I'm struck dumb
I'm afraid of the energy
I'm in love with the anarchy
I'm a part of the synergy

I'm as fluid as a symphony
I'm enraged in ecstasy
I'm the enemy of entropy
I'm a tender anemone

I'm a melody of one
I'm Celsius, I'm Farenheit
I'm running at a great height
I'm stealing the afterlife

I'm dawning in the dark
I'm in the park in the morning
I'm the man you see yawning
In the lemon-yellow light.

Watercolour Homework

all my reasons are at rest in her arms
and though the daylight shines through the curtains
we close our eyes and be who we are

she is warmer and closer than the sun
her face is like the soft shadows of leaves
she cries for me, then smiles and is calm

at night we are a dark sweet wind
our colours drowned in our bodies' blindness
being without, seeing within

she walks with me in the long garden
she kneels to kiss my shadow's feet
of all my loved-ones, she is my guardian

Insect Orange

When the lowest clouds turned insect orange
I looked through you and saw stars, atoms, petals
realized I was flaking away like white iron
because you were breathing on me

you foamed in patterns of arms and legs
circled and eddied to iris and pupil
became a river to inhale me
became a screen to show me visions

the moon shivered like a penny
through cloud-branches, dead silence
summer cold, sun-music
singing like a child with my fingers in you

everything peeled off like fruit-skins
even time itself, we see each other
“luminous undying and translucent”
we are a fire within a fire

we are doors opening to one room
what we love is the part that is the same
recognizes itself and kisses and cries and comes
reaching out to itself like a baby

I never knew who you were, tiptoed
around you like an idiot not to wake you
let there be no morning, no endings
one of us dreams the other, let it not be me