love

Whirlpool

we're in this house,
and the rain and the car sounds
and every day hollowed out by

snowdrops, finally, I thought
sad when the woods grow dark
I thought they would never

and in this house we drift
and there's bath time and silent
my son watches the spiralling water

and he smiles and his eyes are
so bright and I forget to disconnect
and I forget that I hate endings

and we're together in time,
just in time for the last spiral
and we watch the water disappear

every day hollowed out by
what we do and do not see, by
what is both there and not there

by that 
spiralling 
moment of love

The city knows I'm leaving

The city knows I'm leaving and although it reacts slowly its judgements are intractable and painful. The roads are becoming difficult — decayed patches in asphalt and tarmac appearing every day, collapsed in on themselves like cavities, like sores in a long grey tongue. The ghosts are getting angrier. Maybe it seems arrogant for me to describe fellow human beings as ghosts, but I include myself. To me they are all ghosts, the grey ones passing me in the morning, stalking their own rain-shadows to work - they pass through me without seeing me, leaving only shivers. I pass through them too. Their faces flicker past me and begin to merge like the images on a zoetrope. Laughing, shouting, frowning, empty.

Everything here seems designed to keep an obsessive mind occupied for all eternity. Late at night, where I used to stand feeling lonely on the balcony overlooking the apartment district, now I stand with a baby, gently jigging up and down. Baby likes to be rocked, and I don't feel lonely any more, but the view is the same: endless lego-block buildings stacked and jumbled like the unfinished projects of a child. Everything is square, rectangular, straight, reflective. Office buildings like grids with coloured flourescent lights, apartment buildings like gigantic nests of cubicles. The window, the wall, the building, all right-angled, calculated for spatial efficiency and economic maximization. Stack us in like sardines and charge us as much as possible. On our walls we have rectangular pictures, the frames strangling the scenes. The windows strangle the world. The buildings strangle the people. Thousands upon thousands of straight lines and right angles as far as I can see. The cellular automata we have created as our dwelling-places and artworks. Our legacy of lines and frames and grids, our blocks stacked to the sky, the triumph of the endlessly repeated unit over the organic whole.

I dream of myself as a country. I dream of myself as a battleground. I dream of myself as a videogame territory, gridlines and hexagons and cubes all bundled together, arteries like superhighways, mapped out perfectly, and those warriors, those soldiers, those thoughts, go to war over my cells. In my body's day they fight by the light of an inner sun and by night they light torches soaked in enzymes. Their feet stamp to the beat of a polka, to the tick of the metronome that replaced my heart.

The city knows I'm leaving and it turns its best face out to me sometimes. The sun sets over the river and all the glass office rooves catch fire and look like the citadels of Byzantium. The canal docks smell briefly of the sea, and gulls and herons gather on the jetty, crying. I can close my eyes and imagine myself at the beach, on the shore of an island, on a hill overlooking the ocean thirty thousand years ago. The pounding rain melts the harsh angles of the windows and doorframes and everything seems to flow in my sight as I sit in the warmth. The baby is asleep and so is his mother and my apartment sits in the sky like a bubble of safe warmth suspended over distant walking ghosts, boats, toy cars. That's how she woos us, the city. That's the bargain she offers.

One day I will miss these shining angles and windows and the million ghostly reflections of myself in windows and mirrors, but not today. Today I miss the trees. The silent language of patience, the way a stone is embraced and loved by moss and rain until it forgets it is a stone and becomes the ghost of a growing thing, a home without angles. The way I will walk ten miles without seeing a straight line that has not been broken by something chaotic - a crack, a branch, a slant, a collapse, a meander. The way I'll feel that obsessive chant in the mind weakening: the city's voice, her final siren song painting images of a timeless perfection. In the future, love, always in the future. Until it stops, and I return to where I was before; to what I always was anyway. Imperfect. Alive. Now.

Phoenixes

smell of cherry blossom and coffee
cut grass illuminated summerlike and
uneven ground, footsore and unsteady
sitting under falling petals, shadows
your easy touch on my cheek, hot
from walking and sunshine, your eyes
and smile drowning memory and questions
we cannot follow the seagulls
we giggle at the robin in the hedge
he's not scared of wind, or us
and in the evening cloud squeezes out
the nothingness, the cold, stars, fingers,
cups of tea on the edge of and old bed
a balcony over the river, I held you,
kissed your neck, held my hands
on your belly and felt the baby move
and saw boats and raindrops, smelled you,
remembered you from long ago
and for a game we rewrote our stories
a game of memory where we collided,
were separated, journeyed, cried,
crashed and burned and were reborn
as incredible winged things full of the sun

Werewolf Poetry

I was in my old school    it was mixed    there was a different feeling to other dreams of being back at school        I wasn't stressed running from class to class    it was more like I was a visiting ex-pupil on a celebration day     then we gathered in the main hall, which was huge and round like a great lecture theatre        they started to play a piece of music    the words were from one of my poems    I was annoyed about this    my mother had sprung this surprise on me        I was uncomfortable with the attention because I didn't like the tendencies it needled in me    love of attention and need for approval

***

I was coming down a snowy and steep mountain slope, my travelling companion a girl. All around us were amazing patterns of ice and rock. I fell and slid down to the bottom in a mini-avalanche that buried me, but I was OK. It was a bad line to take down the mountain, the girl admitted. Then we found ourselves on the edge of a tall warehouse building. I was scared to approach the edge because I thought I'd slip on the icy surface.

My companion went ahead of my to a door in the side of the building, while I stared at the street below. When I followed her, she was gone, and the warehouse was dark and silent and full of closed doors and long corridors.

I chose one way and ran towards a door at the very end of a long straight corridor. I felt there was something behind me. When I reached the door I found it locked, and when I turned around I saw a small figure behind me, hunched over a light. I ran back that way, loping like a wolf, struggling with my own fear and trying to make myself appear powerful and dangerous. As I ran past I saw that it wasn't one small figure but several - children, all huddled together around the light, terrified of me. I ran on, realizing that a werewolf had been preying on these children at night, and that was who they thought I was. I wanted to explain that that wasn't me and that I wouldn't hurt them, but I didn't. I ran on and found my exit.

***

A storm was coming to my grandmother's house. The cats' things in the garden would blow away and we were anchoring them with stones. The cats themselves were confused and scared.

***

I was in a second-hand shop with Paul, wandering around. It was run by a Japanese lady and therefore had a lot of Oriental things and a lot of kitsch Western stuff. Weirdly, there were also a lot of things I remembered owning, such as mugs and comics and silly ornaments. I was browsing these old things of mine wondering if I should buy them because they gave me a nostalgic feeling. Then I thought "I gave all these things away, so why would I want them back?" They all belonged to Liadain and I, and we gave them away one time when we moved house. I found it very funny that this little shop contained so much of my and Liadain's life together and were redistributing it to strangers.

I sat down in the shop where a group of people were performing an odd birthday ceremony for one of their number. They were lighting candles and blowing them out with an exhalation of cigarette smoke. At one point they decided to start over because something in the ritual hadn't been quite right. For some reason I thought that the ritual had involved taking pills at the start, because I said "You can't chemically reconstitute these, you know. You can't turn back the clock and begin again - the drugs are already having their effect." The guy who had decided to begin the ritual again turned to me and his attitude said that I really didn't understand something. He told me a few things, most of which I've forgotten, but the most important thing was "Don't ignore things that exist." I asked "Like what?" and he answered "Well, like love." I didn't know what he was referring to or what I was missing, but I woke up feeling like I've been allowing something to slip by me, or that I've been ignoring something real in order to live my own life or to choose what direction I should go in. I've been wondering if I turned my back on love, or on my family again, by isolating myself. There are so many demands for love and companionship. I'm not just an empty means for the needs of other people to be fulfilled. I am a being unto myself. But what am I and what guides me? What am I missing?

Smiling Shining Everlasting

She asked me years ago how I stayed the same
when I cut my hair and years fell off my face
and I was just a boy and I wandered in my thoughts
in libraries and offices and bedrooms alike

how to remain the same, she wondered, in the grey world
the same as in the bright, the rainy, the blue world,
the neon worlds, the dark dancing worlds
how to walk through worlds wide-eyed as one being

as if I knew something, or worse, as if I didn't -
either I kept some knowledge from her, some secret,
or I had been given a gift I didn't deserve
that she, stronger and smarter, should have received

and neither was true - I kept nothing secret
but neither could I share it. I am what I am.
I create myself every moment in full awareness
but I can't tell you anything that would be any use.

How to remain the same through years of rapture
and disillusion and amnesia and loss and laughter
essentially untouched, walking in innocence
we are outside time and nothing can destroy us

it's nothing that you don't already know
we are outside time and nothing can destroy us
she asked me where the barriers were in my mind
between this and that, word and deed, yes and no

she saw me as a world, an atmosphere, a star
beautiful in my ignorance, beyond arrogance -
she saw me skimming stones at the edge of the sea
she said I was this: smiling shining everlasting

like all our generation, spiritual but rebellious
we ache for the church and the god we rejected
we see purity and we fall in love with it
and afraid of being abandoned we try to destroy it

but it exists outside time and cannot be destroyed
lighting us up: smiling shining everlasting.
In the neon world, the dark dancing world, the grey world
I'll do what I have to do, and so will you.

Health Warning

we should warn each other when we feel like kissing -
that in a few weeks time one of us might be pining
or in a few years time one of us might be crying
things that you would think should be understood -

because things don't always work out, for so many reasons -
in fact, they rarely do -
in fact, given a long enough timescale,
they cannot.

So we should warn each other, and ourselves,
when we feel like kissing, or maybe more,
and our skin is tingling and our pupils are dilating
and our hormones bubble and we get excited
about life and love and all the pretty things
we had allowed ourselves to become cynical about -
when our faith returns as chemistry in the blood -

we should warn each other, I may be the one for you
but you may not be the one for me - or vice versa -
we should say, I may cheat on you, or you on me -
we should say, you or I may be secretly psychotic
beneath these skins of attraction
or worse, I may want to marry you and have children with you
I may fall asleep with you into twenty years of destiny
and we two may only wake when we are old
and think it has all been a waste and a mistake -

or worst of all, my maybe-love -
worse than any of the above -
we may be in love our whole lives -
problems overcome and age accepted,
children and marriage beloved and finally irrelevant,
growing old under the same ancient sun,
and then one of us will die, leaving only one,
and then that one is gone, and of us two
only memories and dust and a space for something new

so how can we be expected to warn each other -
what is there to say to a potential lover -
everything ends, but what else is there to do?
everything ends, but you're so beautiful?
and for as long as neither of us fucks it up,
lets just enjoy it for what it is -
no past or future, nothing but us
and a feeling like maybe we want to kiss

Ghat Smoke

we are all going to die
that's the perspective
haunting my dreams
hanging over me awake
like clouds lit by the sun
chemical flames flaring
across a grey ceiling
thoughts of emptiness
thoughts of loneliness
and the harbour of the body
frozen in time
the lucky ones find each other
we are told
hair alight with sky fire
kissing to crazy music
we must marry and retire
to the baby-making bed
and give purpose to it all
then death will not touch us
death shuns lovers
we are told
but the graves are full of us
our smoke rises from the ghats
and the battlefields
bloody footprints, bloody mire
and the blood of lovers
tastes the same as any other

wind over dunetops
silver blue island waves
meet me somewhere like this
so we can talk about life
when it doesn't matter any more
we'll both be dead
finished forever with blood and smoke
and we create our own islands
we are some kind of ridiculous song
we can replay our lives
did your skin really wrinkle so fast
did my legs gnarl that way
watch us crumple like leaves
the sun burning us hollow
watch the years pour through us
we will meet at the river's end
we always feared the sea
endless toothlike mountains
waterfall over the world's edge
was that the dream or is it this

slow silent withering
in our mirrors and our minds
who you say I am is nothing
who you say you are is nothing
these words are not the words of a body
that will wither or burn or fall
the body is earth and earth is silent
and these words belong to something else
something original
I mean primordial
something lawless and experimental
not intended and without purpose
therefore deathless and meaningless
ridiculous by any normal standards
something more like a ghost or a virus
unnaturally endless and reflective

this story ends with us cold and rigid
or so they tell us
but I hear different

Your White Chemistry

For what you are, I'm grateful
and if you get angry
and if you can't stand me
for a minute or two
and if I forget who you are
for an hour
and we become silent
memories singing in my head at dawn
chemical names to free tunes
and meaningless sentence fragments
gleaming shaking in white radiation
whispering you join me here
and thankful we creep under covers
if I forget who I am
and you get angry
I'm grateful for an hour
of singing fragments of tunes
shaking radio sentences I can't remember
creeping under what you are
joined by dawn whispers
and the radiators gleam silently
as I forget anger
I am shaking
I am meaningless
and your white chemistry sings to me
the gleaming tunes of your memory
an hour of whispering
under the covers
if the morning joins us
I'm grateful for what we become

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.

Gravity

The lights are streaming past,
burning sodium starlets hurled
by the hand punched through the membrane
of the bedroom scene;
the bright faces plunging through the tunnel
of limitless space and time, forever;
the fabric glimmering of the air
and all those who slay in her.

The driving thrum of guitars,
the energy in her eyes, holding the wheel,
facing unafraid the darker coastline;
rising out of the warm, luminescent water,
stepping into a held towel and a kiss,
asleep in our wilderness, my companion,
stopping in the downpour to see the islands,
the sun holding the hills, the sun on her hands

In one moment to see it shake to a halt
her eyes curiously regarding you –
how suddenly you fell into the future of her,
stars and water and stone and all
blurring and flowing towards an invisible image –
the unknown heart of her,
her thoughts when you kiss her forehead,
the feeling in her when she smiles:
the sun’s dark sister, drawing us near.