Christmas

blue, dry, silent

blue, dry, silent,
we killed the tree
shiny, silvery globes
jewels, red, sweet,
we threw it away.
we slept and sat,
we thought and wasted,
yellow, grey, glasses,
cleaned and broken,
one hundred tastes.
sparkles, green, sad,
we let it go
and lonely down the days
one by one by one,
we gave it away.

Biological Angels

Christ's face on a bronze crucifix worn smooth by fingertips. Beside a book about angels by a Spanish priest who says they are all unique, utterly magnificent, flawless kaleidoscope snowglobe dynamos of Divine love influxing into the universe as conscious spiritual energy. Angels for planets, countries, and even poor individual people like the smiling Spanish woman with deep dark eyes who used to see them rippling like firelight along the walls of her bedroom. They spoke to her and told her that she would have a daughter and a son and that they would both die; but she herself, Manuela Estes, was chosen by god as a messenger. He treats his dear ones badly so that they know two things: life is suffering, and he, God, MEANS BUSINESS. The seven thousand year old texts have been corrupted into fables or buried under the ash of liberated buildings so it's time to inject some religious methadone into the veins of a society that's crumbling and trembling to its end. If I was God I'd ignore everyone with any idea of what it means to be holy, or any idea of what society is, or even what a human being is; I'd enlighten a naked ape by a river somewhere, fill him full of such a glorious god-song that lacking language his skin would shine radioactive with it. Do it properly, you know? You can't talk about it anyway without being misunderstood for two thousand years, so why bother trying? Pour so much divinity, so much of the angel-energy into some poor mud-born creature that the mere sight of it would trigger reactions in other mud creatures; seizures and revelations and diarrhoea and suchlike. Let the cult of the Ape Christ begin, and may every notion of pride and sacredness be trampled into the mire of discarded bodies.

Today's list of desires: vegetable soup with a nice bit of chicken. White bread and butter and some lemon curd. A sardine with half a cup of sweet tea. Something woollen to warm the knees, and a nightcap for the head at night, because it sticks out of the covers, happily excreting half of the body's heat due to the inconvenient placement of the nostrils. Stamps for Christmas letters, and presents for the family; books for preference. Everyone likes books.

The sitting room drifts sideways through the afternoon shifting between universes - no choices are being made there after fifty years of gathering and fifteen of quiet dusty memorial: LPs, cracker animals, bills neatly folded in decade-long piles, artificial and dried flowers, books no one needs to read any more, out-of-date stamps and chequebooks; boxes of whitened, stale chocolates, congealed jellies and rancid nutty treats. Once every year the crib comes out and pictures are taken and saved in an album full of identical pictures, and at the end of our lives we will play with the album like a flip-book, watching ourselves decay. This may seem pointless but what else is there to do? Unless God is hidden in the chemistry of the cells and we're all biological angels with wings of muscle and bone and lymph and blood singing with mystery. Evidence for this hypothesis is slim but we refuse to give up hope. We have dedicated ourselves to the assertion of impossible truths and we will never give up.

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.

The mind giving birth to the mind

"I recognize you," she said. His face was the colour of pale wheat. He was hunched over a dark pool, staring at the space between his outstretched hands. deep in that space, a tiny spark. a white snake, a filament, wriggling and glowing. the force of his will heavy in the air, making a sound like the moaning of a high wind in the folds of the damp rock.

she shakes her head. this is not real. she says that she knows him. that they have been in this place together many times before. his eyes lift briefly from his work. the writhing light fades, and his attention returns to the space between his hands. she touches his shoulder and his skin is cold and hot at the same time. he is giving birth to his own mind and she knows that this must not happen.

my friend's eyes are so soft, his pupils dark with drugs, and he feels like everything is underwater. I felt that way once too, and there was no sense to be made of anything. he is sweating, smiling, in his mind he is naked. he leans close to me in the luminous dark and tells me things I already know. we are friends. he is lonely. his work is destroying his heart. in my dreams he is always just like this, like a child with happy, tearful eyes.

he's asleep under an old willow, like a faery imprisoned in a christmas bauble. the willow branches trail in the bright water. he doesn't know about the world any more and his brain is empty, full of sounds and tastes and sights only, and silly dreams of circles. he sleeps and wakes as if there will always be tender arms to hold him. and in my dreams, there always will.
 

Christmas Card

a small boy pushes a reindeer
in a trolley
through a snowy landscape
cartoon-blue night sky
bright smiling moon

his riches in the pocket of his body
his food in the air

careful of dragons
from ancient stories of how and why
patterns in spirals of the I and the I