loneliness

Signs Of Life

In the crevices of the cityscape, high up on forgotten, unwitnessed rooftops, or deep underground in eternally-lit car parks and basements - tiny and green and clinging desperately, there are grasses and ferns, shrubs with browned leaves and loose roots - darkened with car-filth and stunted from shallow beds - fed on poor chlorophylls and glass-reflected sunlight - worming through gaps in the paving mosaics and the storm drain labyrinths, the roadworks fissures - or trapped in dry pots on balconies, island universes unpollinated, glass bubbles hurtling silently towards dying stars - new leaves and shoots for a cold spring - hurricanes held fast behind double glazing -



God help us, but there are signs - I wither in the wrong arms and the wrong gaze, my love - like the patches of green we see in the dead cities, like the tenuous flowers in your gutters, I am vulnerable - I feel myself change in response to sunlight, anger, coffee, sadness -  I miss my family, I miss solitude - I cannot turn the page of my book and I cannot switch off the television - children frighten me because they are still savagely free - and I don't know if they're better that way or better like me.

There are no bees for the blooms and no nests in the tall trees and the water is lumpy and sick with plastic and pollution - and yet there are swans patrolling the canal docks, there are willos leaning away from the tarmac and the concrete, leaf-shadows still move on the water's surface too. There are house cats curled up fat and sleepy in sunny patches on new hardwood tables in the steel penthouses and there are mosses and ivies creeping across the stonework of neglected warehouses and the walls of car parks, old stairwells, dull alleyways -

Where we lie awake at night in fear of the inhuman demands of the next day - instead of going insane we go asleep and are filled with new patience every morning. Our children run down corridors uncaring that the light at the end is flickering - for them the sun is the only sun and now is the only time and they have no memory of our failures - life crowds their minds and heats their blood and drives the words out of their singing mouths with their birthright savagery. This purity, this vulnerability, this renewal.

There are signs of life - music in the city squares and parties in the rental honeycombs - children free-running in the urban gardens and somersaulting off the statues - new expressions and new addictions and new perceptions in eyes that didn't exist only a few years ago. New eyes - can there be a greater miracle than new eyes? Where did that mind come from to see the light entering those eyes, what radiates, what binds? Lord, what soul is this that knows you? How did a new being come to exist, how is it that this world can be witnessed? Glory, glory, glory - or something like that. Words to do with dumbfoundedness. With crying for all those dear ones that we have left behind in time and will never see again, all those new leaves and secret green and glowing things, all those new eyes opening on an always new world.

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.

Other Suns

lift me out of myself and carry me
to someone else's house
and leave me invisible on their sofa
or sitting at the end of their bed,
empty of whatever it was I used to look for

I will be the star they chase in their dreams
sparkling through their clean bathroom
smoking cigarettes on their patio at night
I'll smell their eggs in the morning
and make them shiver when they look in mirrors

I've forgotten what I thought I had to do
so lead me into someone else's purpose
let me read their story and guess how it ends
I'll see how they feel alone when they're with others
and how they hold themselves together when alone

if one day the sun gave up and disappeared,
this planet would still move through space,
no longer orbiting but tangentially hurtling
into the sugary galaxy like a starship
cold and lost probably, seeking other suns,

beautiful light and inescapable gravity -
to be enfolded in another orbit, lovingly -
someone else's house and someone else's life
and all of history and memory buried by time
until she becomes the only sun that could ever be

Ragged Umbrellas

 

the sun is a dark smudge in the sky
for the ghost women of the birthday
pale fat arms cradling plates of apple pie
trailing smoke from a burnt out day

the clouds bleed quietly down for hours
and they dance under ragged umbrellas
singing about how they love to be powerless
the houses of ritual have made them careless

and sometimes the light shows their true faces
behind the opera masks - there are no words
for their expressions - there is no place
for comfort or for grace, the songs they heard

as children, when afternoons on dirty strands
became evenings drifting out to sea in dreams
asleep in the back seats of cars, hands
twitching in the rhythm of piano lessons, hymns

washing in from memory shores like wrecked ships
as sadness and failure like cold voids
suck the clouds and the sun down into their lips,
their skin, their hair; they frown, they get annoyed

by children who will not obey, pets who want to die,
dolls who will not stand upright, friends and lovers
self-obsessed and desperate, who cannot cry,
cannot speak the truth, cannot stay together -

the ghost women drift through parties and wakes
as the songs and the rain tell them in whispers
that they were once young, that the hand that shakes
is a punishment, the skin that is wrinkled and crisped

is a judgement on their innocence, and they watch
the children learn about loss, they watch the graves
open and swallow and close and wait, they watch
the works of the Lord, noting who he damns and saves,

what his plan might be, why he does not love them -
they gather between lifetimes where the water shines
dancing on the endless beach under ragged umbrellas
pale arms linked, lonely only in their minds

Little head's 7 days of loneliness

Liadain and I were going on holiday. It had been a long time since we had been able to get away and we were looking forward to it; so much that when we arrived in Dublin city centre on our way to get a coach to somewhere in Europe, we barely noticed when Greta stumbled on getting out of the car and fell on her side in the gutter. Why was she with us in the car? Why did we not help her up, but instead continue on to our coach without thinking about her? There's no answer to these questions, this is just how it was.

The dream stretched out for a long time. I mean, we had a real week's holiday - there were plots and sub-plots, parties and strange drugs, odd friends and journeys through unfamiliar landscapes. Unfortunately all of this time became telescoped and faded into a few instants as soon as we arrived in Dublin again after a long coach journey back. We emerged in Temple Bar and immediately I saw what we had forgotten: there was Greta in the gutter.

Except it wasn't the whole of her; it was just her head, lying on its side with its eyes open and blinking.

"Oh my god, oh my god..." I ran over and picked up her head in my hands. I had to do it carefully, because she had been lying there so long, unnoticed and unmoved, that one of her eyelids was stuck to the road. Where was her body? Why had no one noticed her here on a busy street? Why was she still alive? No answers. This is just how it was.

"Oh...I'm cold..." she said. "I've been so lonely."

"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry..."

I ran to the Garda station, which was a small shop just a few doors down. They seemed annoyed that I thought the issue of Greta's head was so important, and the guard grumbled as he looked at her blinking, forlorn expression; then he seemed to remember something. Yes - they had a body, it seemed. It had been found last week and put on ice. Her head could be reattached, although, he seemed to be saying by his manner, he hardly saw the point, as she was so old anyway.

We were taken to a facility of some kind where I laid Greta's head carefully in a vat of viscous pinkish fluid (I think they called it "bacta" in The Empire Strikes back) that would regenerate her tissues and prepare her to be reattached to her body - although, as a white-coated scientist informed me, she would "never fully be her old self as regards walking and suchlike."

She looked up at me from the liquid, wide-eyed. The horror of what had happened suddenly overwhelmed me as I imagined what it must have been like for her to lie helpless and afraid and lonely in the gutter for seven days. How had she not died? How could I have left her?

I started to cry and ran out of the room, and Liadain followed me and sat beside me while I sobbed. I was responsible for the whole thing, because of my selfishness. The feelings were awful; but when I woke up and told the dream to Liadain, we both laughed at the absurdity of the situation. Lonely severed heads. It felt very real and devastating at the time.

Mistakes We Have To Make

You,
standing for a photograph
on the Pont des Arts

with the sun in your eyes,
laughing
because you loved me.

A room
in a small hotel,
just for one wild day,

to make love in the dark,
to music
from across the courtyard.

Hugging goodbye
in the early morning –
the strangeness

of our time together
before
and after that moment

making us weightless,
ecstatic.
Your scent on my skin for days.

You,
not a secret but a mystery,
unanswerable, horizonless.

I am a call

against a cold window
palms spread
this I surrender
 
morning star
over fiery horizon
loving wind
 
songs under the atmosphere
at a great distance
melody
 
I couldn't sleep
whole night writhing
between two lightnings
 
breathing fast
dawn in stages
like dying
 
open eyes
kitchen window
house damp with silence
 
I miss your heartbeat
June a.m.
outside they're kissing:
 
boyfriend girlfriend
supercharged
by summer sunlight
 

No Outside

I cycled home through empty roads
under dead lights haunted by the ghosts
of cars and houses with dark curtains
tyres whispering on the tarmac
everything in memory is sweet and sad

climbed the wall and stood by the water
streetlights glittering above and below
a bird fluttered over the surface
bats arcing silently over the rooftops
while I stared into empty kitchens and gardens

taste of beer and chocolate on my tongue
stars blurred through mist and space
silent like swimming underwater
holding my breath to try and stop time
standing on the wet grass like a stranger