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.

Vertigone

that half self that dust devil that
storm chaser, that dark drunken nothing
neither brother nor son nor husband nor father
that devil that cannot that will not
am not, never am, drowned in darkness

that devil chuckle that angel whisper
come alive come alive come alive
and that dark rhythm, that one last drum
that heart that fakes that fist that fails

all gods all laws all promises driven down
deep and dark and memories of dust
that dust that brings that sickness that desire
for the centre, the centre, please god, any god,
that place of rest at last

that one sick moment of, that deafening spiral
into the self, that self I am not,
that am not me that moves as we
that cannot see that cannot be that free

that voice that lost itself in the garden
that garden of neverending bodies
that bloody grass, that dark green horizon,
that silent immortal pantheon of loss
in you and me and all of we who see

Wishsongs

the walls are crumbling, but only because so many were built - skeletal ruins in the style of all the dead kings together, dark against reddened clouds. licked by dragons curled around the rotten foundations. the players are picking the last tiles, one by one, placing them carefully on the green felt. white dragon, five circles, west wind. they are all holding and so the final end is only ritual, until the final brick is exposed and the wall is no more, and the board is washed by impatient, happy hands. the family heirlooms in the attic turn out to be empty rusted biscuit tins and torn clothes, newspaper cuttings from an imaginary country, unplayable vision reels and books in a script that swims and dances. this house is a person and this person is a universe, and the mind has swarmed through every barrier, lives in the abandoned cobwebs and spider corpses, the hunched, autistic corners of the sitting room, the god-intoxicated wishsongs of the One True Church.

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

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

The Meadows

We beheld a city of hypnotic scents and rhythms
looping trails of lights like fireflies
swirling around spectacular buildings
air vibrating with thousands of voices
chattering like crickets
electrocuted tumbleweed on power lines
interiors washed with overlaid sound
cool-air-swept and timeless
deep pile carpets and mysterious dials
interfaces for minds obsessed with chance
randomly built from desert ground
randomly filled with purchased anticulture

ten days could have turned into a year
until fallen from unreal horses we wither
as the unarguable earth drains us
reminding us about scale and size and time
the labyrinth of dreams and canyons
and dreams of canyons
and deserts apparently beaten back
that reappear as dreamed deserts
crowding the psyches as lights and sounds
deserts in which soul water disappears
and Jerusalem and Babylon become one

the soulless mind craves shining things
the thrill of risk and reward in the glands
hormones racing through tired veins
the heat, the cold, the heavy blue silence
and the endless dark layers of music
the mind wants to be seduced over and over
led through stranger and brighter ways
labyrinths of the real to match
the endless unreal dreamscape of every night
and led by the mind we risk being truly lost
becoming one of the unreal, shining things
a mirror image of a vanished someone,
dark energy rushing through hardened arteries

and God hardened Pharaoh's heart
and the plagues were called down
and the seas were ripped back from the sand
blood in the rivers and corpses in beds
and no land of milk and honey, only
sun-hot rocks, prophecy and stricture,
holy cities raped by every soldier nation
and the invincible, eternal desert uber alles

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

Twin Universe

now to wait for the truth, the root and the fruit, the voice that was supposed to be a birthright and has been silent, not the voice but the images, the dreaming flow in the mind and the unselfconsciousness, not THIS IS GOOD, not WHO AM I but the dreaming flow, the images that twist and shimmer and are never the same in the brain, liquid and milky and fickle, words written over and over like the name of god on the devil's book, words dancing like a face on the water and everywhere the image, the evolution of the image across a million years of a golden beach, erosion and sunlight and the footprints of fantastic beasts, buried monoliths and megaliths cracked and fallen, moons lost in memory and the words, the words, what was I saying - when I lie asleep sometimes I'm not asleep and that's when the other eye opens -

there's something in the symmetry of the floor tiles in the cafe where the old women mumble through mouthfuls of cake about the old rituals and the new rituals, and the rain thunders on the plastic roof of the shopping centre and the smell of chips - something that's reflected in the mind and emerges in science, in painting, in the rhythm of fingertips on intimate skin, something in the beauty of her obsessions as she sculpts her thoughts into something permanent, something that glimmers in an electrical web across the light years between stars - or am I being overdramatic - is it nothing but patterns averaged over eons of randomness - the laws, the edges of clouds and the incredible colours - blades of grass moon-bright -

another time I might have sung into my sleeve / I might have cried and hid my face / I might have stood in the shadows and watched you leave / another time I might have decided that it was time to go / peel back the air with my hands and peer into the universe under the skin of this one / the shy twin who waits

The Idea of Myself

A meditation mutation,
I don't know any way
to live but day to day

wandering planless
through every moment's maze
the inner artificer stunned

by a stupid loneliness,
tired and tricked by thought
there's nothing left here except

swirling faces in the warp
of damp wallpaper
a shimmering fright

of stray-focused eyes,
that full, swelling energy
blossoming in the body

I will never be famous
never gratified, never certain -
the soft afternoon's sleep

in my lover's arms
will have to be enough for me,
and the insane laughter

of a moment glowing and lost
like a dropped match.
The idea of myself dances,

just one more ghost in the gyre
of the mind's eye, on fire
with living light.

Seven Seven

I was in Iraq, staying in a large house with my wife, my Italian cousin Francesco, and Saddam Hussein. Francesco and Saddam got on very well because they were both heavy metal fans. They especially liked a song by Bruce Dickinson called "Seven Seven", which they were playing and singing along to constantly. One of the lyrics of the chorus was "I am the mother of Touch Hero."

My wife and I were getting bored watching Saddam and Francesco get drunk and play air guitar together. Saddam's face was getting redder and redder, and the right hand side of it had taken on the colour and texture of raw beef, leathery and pink. He looked very unhealthy, close to death even. I was playing with a cat, who kept trying to crawl on to Saddam's lap and bite his fingers. I pulled it back and said "Silly kitty, don't scratch Saddam," and I nearly added out loud, as a joke, "Or he'll gas and torture you," but I stopped myself because it occurred to me that he might not find this funny.

I turned around on the bench we were sitting on to look out of the window. We were on the 1st floor of the house, and I could see people in robes and sandals walking on the path below. The air was full of huge wasps, each one at least as long as a human thumb, some of them even larger, buzzing angrily over the heads of the people as they walked.

My wife and I went out for a walk because we were so bored of Saddam and Francesco's little double act, but she turned back after a minute or two because of the wasps. It was hard not to panic, hearing them buzzing and circling just overhead. It began to rain, at leat at first I thought it was rain, and I thought, "Good, now maybe the wasps will go away," but there was something strange about the impacts on my hood and my coat. I looked around, and I saw that it was raining locusts. They were bright green, and they were falling from the sky in their millions, hammering on everyone's heads and clothes and turning the earth green. I ducked and hid around the corner of a building to get out of the shower. A voice in my mind told me that these locust storms happened regularly in Iraq, and that it was illegal to collect the locusts when they happened.

Finally I made it to a large, dark cathedral or mosque of some kind, a historical building which was full of tourists. I was glad to make it in out of the rain of locusts, but then I looked over to an alcove on the left and saw that it was a polar bear enclosure, separated from the rest of the interior by a thin rope barrier. There was music playing, and two of the polar bears were having sex in the missionary position while the others loafed around and read books. I was scared of the bears, and decided I wanted to get out of there. Then I woke up.