Buddha

Needles

Late at night, Liadain's asleep on the sofa
and the cat's curled by the heater - TV down low -
silence through the window behind me turns into hissing
then a thin thunder like the shaking of heavy chains
as a week of still cloud dissolves into 5 minutes of rain

I open the door and stare at the clear cold sky left behind
I'm a needle in the shallow groove of the street
held still by the stylus of the stars
while the planet turns, making weird music
I don't belong here, but somehow I'm still in tune

sometimes at night there are explosions, gunshots,
the roar of souped-up engines along the warehouse roads
the twitch of spying curtains, the cat's confused voice -
it won't go into its owner's house since his mother died -
a hooded face peering around the corner, perverts in the chip shop
and grey-skinned women smoking on doorsteps through the afternoon
the war graveyard tangled with sycamores and oaks, and the hills
covered with tiny red houses: matchboxes waiting for a spark.

I'm a needle in my own veins. The face in the mirror
isn't me. The voice in my head isn't me.
The stoned bathroom dancer, the past and future
of my decisions, the way my friends see me; none of it is me.
I'm a compass needle swinging crazily, magnetized
on an invisible lodestone, for an unknown purpose.

Sitting in Starbucks sipping latte at old newsreel doublespeed
sixties music from the speakers, soft seat cushions
everyone giving each other strange, secret glances -
everyone wants something. The end of the world,
the end of the self in someone else's smile. History
happening every second, ignored, misunderstood
and all of it just a thought, disappeared, already over -

we fight and make up, crash dishes in the kitchen
and go asleep in the Buddha room with foreheads touching -
we make love, we curl up in fear at night, we're caught
in the flow, passing like petals, it's all already over
and it doesn't matter. We're needles placed
in the meridians of the Earth itself, doing what we can.
We have to believe it's enough just to be as we are;
if not, then nothing’s worth fighting for anyway.

Buddha Bookshelf

It stretches out like a psychedelic skirt pulled taut -
they're shoulder to shoulder, smiling softly
before infinite setting suns shining
like rings in each planetary ear.

In each eye he sees things that have no explanation.
Today it's flowers for the famous faces.
The Pope is a marigold printed on a summer dress.
Tony Blair is a carnation held under a crying child's nose.
Dubya, such a silly lily, someone gave him as a gravestone gift.

He used to hoard his mother's cookies
in a heavy glass jar shaped like a bell -
once he dreamed that she kept a young boy's head
in a blue metal bucket by the fire.
He woke up so afraid of being a beggar,
lost in the dark, rainy streets, skidding, crashing,
his fingers tracing some remembered music.

He knows history. He read about the ovens,
the war machines and the Nazi lampshades,
but he keeps seeing them in blue,
made from Krishna's skin, stretched taut,
immortal fireflies for stars within.

No one would ever know he isn't crazy.
No one sees the Buddhas on his bookshelf,
endlessly mirrored, one for each decision and each life,
the cut of every knife, the kindness of every kiss,
the blindness of his soul and his unanswerable bliss.

Gravastar

Like the dust in the corners of the bedroom,
I need to suck out enough of my dreams,
write them down, that what remains
won't choke me in my sleep. I am a cord
that binds spirits, feelings, handfasted
until they recognise each other, and dissolve.

The girl who lives under the bed, huddled
over her only book, unable to talk. My grandfather
crying, telling my invisible mother how sorry he was.
He never wanted to hurt her. That time
is like a dream to him now, distant and psychic.
How the setting sun shone on the cold grass.

The real and the unreal melt together softly.
A nervous little ghost, hovering uncertainly
at the door. A gravastar: raining light, matter,
energy on the darkness of an unknowable surface.
My sandwich in the park, shared with pigeons,
while the alcoholic woman ate old lettuce, slowly.

Buddha and Shiva struggling from the corners of my room
to enlighten each other, deep navy against pale brown,
while the lovers wander near the blue waveshore. The pagoda
lost in a rain of bamboo and willow. Our kaleidoscopic photos
of family and friends, our coffeeshop conversations, these words:
a meaning that no single thing can hold.

Everything and Her

my world is unfamiliar
the Buddha bracelet on my wrist
the heat of the air
the distance to everything

she doesn't answer her phone,
and suddenly I'm alone in America,
a boy perched on a hotel bed,
uncertain about everything

maybe I'll visit the city museums
and wander with an open hand
where her hand should be,
a tourist, alone in the everything

outside the trees are shimmering
and I forgot my path, my way through
this labyrinth of mornings, in dreams of her
and what we mean together: nothing and everything