The New Mummies

how you lost yourself in the wire labyrinths,
dark plastic and green tea and blue screens,
how you drowned yourself in drugs and data,
downed pills for the headaches
and found thrills for the dead days
the afternoons that pressed down from sunny skies
like an avalanche of pillows and silence
surrounding you and her - taijitu -
the supposedly light and the supposedly dark,
huddled behind the crumbling arch of the front door
and the sad thin light of the net curtains

and how this deadness of now began then
as hearts on fire with romance and creativity
calmed and dwindled to embers in safety
kissed and held and rocked each other to a sleep
hidden deep in dirty cities, drugged up and wired
and roaming abroad in the astral of the web
bodies hunched and still in front of screens,
tended occasionally, like pharonic mummies,
organs quiescent in jars, skin pale,
the deafening quiet of the stone tomb
as the souls wandered in the Western Lands -
how we linked dead hands and sent our living spirits
into a bodiless land of dreams and futures

This is the place

this is our place,
river water walls, no words
nothing but the view over empty rooftops,
silent daylight, heavy glass
I know the flesh means nothing
it's withering and burning in time
every few seconds I have to begin again

this is a place
where things slowed down,
slow breeze, car engines, spiced tea,
mornings into afternoons into evenings
night-time too long and too short
ghosts started bleeding out through my skin
dreams and memories of someone like me
emptying himself to start again

this is no place
for anyone real
the stage is set for the pale players
the water spirits, revenants in the mirror
we who can never be full, we who
can never feel at peace, we
who can't stand the sight of the sky -
trees, birds, the dark mouth chewing stars -
every newborn word is crushed -
it's no use, I have to start over

this is the place

Harehills

Harehills, choked up with red brick
and flowing with arms and legs
neon, rubbish, laundry and takeaway food
and trees, receding up the road towards Oakwood,
Gipton, Gledhow valley, smells of fruit and spices
from the grocers' displays and the restaurants
traffic endlessly flowing through a nexus
and the hills swarming with rust coloured terraces

everything is moving, snow in a snow shaker, storms
of thought and movement like driven raindrops
the hotels are half empty and the call shops are full
as everyone tries to reach home -
distorted words at 30p a minute, stories that now seem strange
and back to the neon, red brick labyrinth,
storm-stunned, hallucinated and now precious

Homelight

when I lifted my hand
I felt blood and nerve and sinew stretch out
like ropes along a slender bridge,
the feeling of water curving in a circuit -
and there was Jupiter and its faint moons, Orion
through the gap between my arm and the side of the house,
icy blue black sparkled sky -
I wanted to walk slower and slower -
I need the planets, the stars, like food -
warm little limbs pulsing against the chill,
vision drawn into infinity
where it belongs

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

Kendron, The Body

Late at night, screaming at the nameless bright stuff
Kendron is trying to get the drop on the insane
catch it unawares, rip it apart and eat it
sleep exhausted shivering on a shed roof

squatting on a rock by the edge of the water,
shoulders hunched, listening for bird calls
somewhere behind there's a presence, a mind:
ignore it, it doesn't exist, it doesn't matter

Kendron has a gun, Kendron sweats and screams
glowing blood-orange in an oven-hot kitchen.
He won't fuck you unless he loves you;
but it's okay. He loves everyone.

A marble in a bowl, chasing zero,
hands and eyes focused on a synthetic plane
tuned into the overworld, spine a shockwave,
a fish slingshotting up a cold weir,

a strangled gasp in a freezing fog,
Kendron can close his eyes and hold his breath
and suddenly, beautifully, he never existed.
Reborn every moment. In debt to every atom.

he obsessed over a terrible nightmare from his past
until it broke him: baby-killer locked and drugged
in an asylum, he lost 20 years of life and mind,
emerged to see his father, his wife, his own hands

lined and trembling. realization like the collapse
of glaciers. he'd been wandering the labyrinth
of his own mind for decades, thinking it real.
horror and loss, tears, waking and relief.

but the fear lingered.
how could he know what was real?
who could tell him?
and then, to remember:

I am Kendron, the body.
I don't dream and I'm not lost.
there's nothing but this.
there's no NEED for anything but this.

sun, frost, roads, branches, faces.
spirals and soft sounds. cats.
a star fading into a yellow horizon.
at last, dying and living for no reason.
 

Invisible Road

everything we ever hoped for, swallowed
in the last desperate act of a suicide
refusing the places that the mind wants to go

the sound of the cat scratching at the door
the stars are biting the blue air and the moon
is lighting up the clouds like chemical flares

ambient music in the chilly front room
sound bubbles popping craters like raindrops in sand
a link back through memory to another city

the road ahead is invisible
and all the lives behind us
forgotten

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.

No-one's Garden

Parin tends a garden owned by no one -
bushes growing stunted in the red brick dark
between two terraces; old wooden gates
that only he opens; a path from street to street
never used and usually never seen.

With no alternative and no one to stop him,
he plants parts of his own mind in the dry soil
along with the shrubs and the ivy:
blue clouds blown across a cold red sunset
as he crested the hill at Roundhay Park on his bike;

the cold air and the noise the fox made when Sajid
killed it behind the school all those years ago;
the way the motorway noise never ended at night,
eventually drove the cat insane and made her shit
all over the house, until Dad wrung her neck in a rage.

Parin buried her in the soft dirt at the edge of the park,
because their garden was only glass and concrete.
The soil between houses is hard and thirsty, but he's healing it.
He remakes memories on the city council payroll
every day, in this dark little space between lives.