sun

Infinite Eight

When I was a teenager my mother saw I was sad,
and told me to draw figure eights on their sides,
over and over. "It makes you happy," she said,
"Psychologists are just finding this out."
I drew the eights on my books in school,
at chess tournaments, on toilet doors,
even on my own skin, until the ink sank so deep
that after a week it still showed, like an old tattoo.

Owl eyes on the blackboard in maths class,
moth wings traced on the window with a fingertip,
sycamore seeds spiralling on to sterile concrete.
An old photo of a birthday party, taken
just before I blew out the candles - "I am 8"
on a red badge pinned sideways to my t-shirt,
like an affirmation: "I'm still alive. It's not over yet."

Around the sun and its dark, smouldering twin,
something orbits in a vast, endless figure of eight -
remembered in myth as Marduk, Sekhmet, Nibiru, Rajah Sun,
the great red dragon, the fiery cross,
the one who came and will come again,
something barely remembered, like childhood trauma,
made unreal, fading like ink into skin, waiting for renewal.
If it didn't exist, something else would take its place -
another comet, another nightmare memory, to fill the orbit
linking our bright and dark suns:
the life we know, and the death we fear until it finally comes.

A Ghost's Journey

The wind was driving the clouds insane -
terrified shreds flying off,
glowing sun-pink over the pine silhouettes
and foaming into a daylight moon.

We climbed the graveyard wall and crept
between the decaying headstones,
counting the years that have gone missing:
1843. 1875. 1912. All times as one.

Through a low stone arch, many tombs
like soldiers' markers in a quiet clearing.
The last time I was here, the sun marked me
as I invited the ghosts on my journey.

One followed, out of love. Now it was stormy,
and I'd returned, and no time had passed.
A new bench beside a new stone; statues
cut into an old sepia photograph.

I hugged her and kissed her hair,
feeling the energy between us. I wondered
if my ghost friend would stay or go,
if this was to be an end or another beginning.

Her mother sat smoking by the dead wife's grave
as we kissed, and the pines shook and crashed.
All time as nothing. All the death around us
had never happened - just life turning to life, forever.

The Circle

We caught a bus out of the city near dawn
and crossed the wet football fields into the park
after a night of reading and talking and no sleep;
thin psyches, sensitive eyes, amazed by simple things -
oaks and crocuses, birds, breath vapour in the morning air.

February sunlight on the sycamores and chestnuts;
flickering on the spinning edge of a boomerang
bought in a music shop, thrown in a ritual circle.
A dog grabbed it, chewed it up and ran out of sight
over the lip of the hill. The horizon's circle placed us
at the centre of a world that moved with us like an aura.

We squinted when the sun would break the tree cover
and catch us talking about the four elements and the spirit;
about friends and past lives and drugs and spiced tea;
water spraying from a dog's wet fur, geese croaking
over the flat lake water, street lights flicking off on the waking roads.

Everything became concentrated in the ritual of the walk -
up the oak and beech slopes to the edge of the golf course,
along the river gully and past the tall, scarred tree,
around the edges of the lake; our conversation
fusing our experiences and memories with this reality:
the alchemy of the elements. Lake, sky, sun, mud, and us.

Once in a while, something notices how scattered we've become,
and decides to bring us together again: poetry, pub stories,
sharing sandwiches on a cold bench, kissing under a crumbling wall.
We collect what we can, and offer it to the other for blessing:
an oak twig, shaved and sanded for the altar; the names and shapes
of seeds and leaves; feelings summoned into the material world,
like the perfect oak, alive in space and time until the final storm.

The Golden Apples of the Sun

Tuesday evening waiting in a bus stop gutter
shaking off ten hours of travel and work -
from here I can see the bank building,
thousands of black blocks stacked
back to back, blank, reflecting nothing.

I stood on the bus's center circle
hanging on straps, turning with the corners
while a grey-haired man recited Yeats
somewhere in the back seats -
everyone window-gazed like it was normal.
He proclaimed: "The silver apples of the moon,
the golden apples of the sun," and smiled like a Siddha.
He didn't care. He moved on to Shakespeare.

The Liffey was low and lucid,
dark brown-green mirrored bridges,
totally calm, absorbing sound and light,
wasteland water full of traffic cones and mud,
and the rain held off until I got to shelter,
and I felt like myself again -
soft apple flesh rotting around a seedling,
I don't know what I'm becoming.

Chain on an Angel

I thought I was raging to be free, but really it was something else, words and numbers and feelings inside me. they showed me visions. they said that I was their prison. that I am a chain on an angel who could sing to the heart of the world. the language of nothingness, the black-rimmed sun, like the dying petals of a lily. a lily in his hand for no reason.

I met my parents in the recesses of an infinite library, like Borges' brain, expanding on the fuel of phrases forever. I watched their outlines glimmer. all the colour faded from within their outlines, draining into the floor. they stayed still, like ice sculptures, empty. I saw how happy they'd be that way: clear and quiet, everything about them forgotten and at peace. the contours of their faces, their hands: a map of everything that was ever important.

in another dream, I was reading fire from yellow pages, my mind translucent, waiting for inspiration, a spider in a rain-bright web. the crows on the sunset-shadowed roof. the burning petals of a yellow rose. lonely for friends' voices, an unknown home, woodsmoke in the trees. hallucinogenic bluebells and pinkbells rippling through the undergrowth. running through tilted dreams of sky islands.

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.

Transient

sky on my skin in the morning, cold air,
the blades of a diamond, wings of glass
drenched in alien wines, hallucinogenic indigo

swimming awake into deep blue sheets
from a dream of a luminous girl dancing
in a dark sky, or a black, silent mile of ocean

now her breath warms my eyelids -
she glows, all the light in the bedroom
rises from her skin, she's been set alight

I can feel her like the empty body of the air,
on fire invisibly, ionized and irradiated,
torn by storms from the sun itself

she's alive in the mind's sea, a siren, irridescent,
opening unknown doorways - she's something
that isn't awake or asleep - dark, but radiant -

sky on her skin in the evening, tangled hair,
the waves in her mind wash over us -
breathing hard in my arms, she's going under again

Exposure

concrete mountainrange starshadow
the uncountable windowpanes
of the Sears Tower
dark outline, a figure in a dream
barely beheld, looming
we wished on a penny
thrown into the smoking, black river
we would have followed each other into,
laughing, shocked, overwhelmed

on a hotel bed you swam in the dark river
of your own mind, and I couldn't reach you -
face hidden, crying, pinned in place
by the pressure of all your past and future.
You said your face was not your own,
that your dreams were an alien landscape,
that you were afraid we would destroy each other.

I could photograph the Chicago skyline,
caramel sun, grey lake, jagged buildings
making us so small,
but not you - bigger, more real
than water and skyscrapers,
smiling in your sleep like a Buddhist statue.
I want to expose a film to your inner suns -
delicious alien light exploding in the skin, bone and eyes
of the destroying goddess dancing

Honour

ice and cloud in the evening, walking home
to a feather bed and a glass of milk
only a memory of her skin in candle-light

the samurai a dancer in my mind
flaying the air in ecstasy
lord of the bracken and the ditches

leaving the flickering screens empty
hiding to listen to voices from the road
as the brown dusk brings mist

i kneel in her shadows
i lie down before her to see her smile
to me she is the flame of a cool fire

i swear we are not like this
this couldn’t be me, who kisses good night
hears his lover’s door close

stands on the bridge over the oily canal
unable to cry, no pleas left
scared she cannot love him as he needs to be loved

Samurai
cherry blossom on white robes
white like the eye is white

draws blade to strike the sun itself
dances before the sun itself
unafraid

only the ghost me is unafraid
only the ghost me needs no one
i’ll beg for the touch of her hand

i’ll never accept the ghost of the girl
the drowning dancer who smiles
and asks me not to ask her how she is

Nemesis

the sun has a sister
a dark little petal
of a white spiral rose

her heart never exploded
like her effervescent brother
a trillion miles away

she looms through the comets
invisible, planet eater
silent in dreams

she knows what she is -
dark matter
for crushing the universe again