Colourless Fire

and then the rain of colourless fire
on the children dancing all night in warehouses
skin greasy like candles, dark wicks of hair,
chewing on rat poison, speaking in silent tongues
blind in the embrace of the mother heartbeat

in the living rooms of strange houses, black paper
holding the creeping dawn from the windows
sweat streaking the walls, bodies swaying
like fronds of seaweed, sleeping heads on stalks
drifting forgetfully down the dry ice river

when you're coming up, do you like to talk?
or to hug, dance, fuck, sing, laugh, cry -
to make a crucifix of yourself against the sun
something to hold back demons and daylight,
to exchange a year, three years of life just for tonight

magnesium babies burning karma, like sadhus
in their years of penance, palms pierced
by their own fingernails, limbs withered,
eyes bright, gaze unmeetable, bodies twisting
like saplings in a slow flame, the ecstasy kids

rubbing each others cheeks and bellies
chewing spearmint and smoking menthol
crushed and burnt and moulded into each other
this is how they learned to link hands
across their void, and they don't care how it ends

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.

Mind Rain

she's there, between the eye and the brain,
like liquid crystal under the surface of a lens
listening to rain, thunder, strange city weather
like flames and devils in the wallpaper,
dancers in the air of the bedroom on dim mornings,
the shifting, coy disguises of the body
possessed by the ghosts of actors and the words of history
we like to take a walk to buy chocolate at night
we like to lie beside each other
raining through each other's minds

this is the outside, streams of whatever-you-call-it
flailing like octopus arms around whatever-it-is
everything bleeding, everything exploding
in and out of forms and bodies, the hot red and yellow
of it all, the deep green taste of the thawed lake,
blinding, tilted out over the trees, mirroring
their echo, their resonance to their own insane sound

this has no direction, that has no flavour, no texture
the ice cream is the same to me as the news and the sex
as I swim into the flow, as I divide into a million rivers
of attention and thought, tickling at the molecules -
they say it's an illusion that one second follows another,
one thought into the next, one dream into another day -
one by one we unreal things kneel down in the dust to pray.

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.

Dark Lifetimes

I thought I wasn't human sometimes
like when we drank too much on the tracks
of the old railroad, and ended up
throwing garbage at each other
and I got sick on my own coat
and had to scrub it in a puddle
before I went home

Or when I was on the bus in the morning
and the tough kids were smoking in the back seats
and my elbow hurt from trying to sleep
leaning against the rubber window ledge
I saw two burnt out cars together in a field
bleeding rust into the long grass
- this year's Halloween blaze -
- will be like islands in a sea of oil -

I went crazy, I stole bicycle locks
and left the bikes behind, I talked to rivers
and made them promise to remember me,
I thought my cat was a spirit sent to guide me,
I screamed in the living room at night
when my mother was away on holiday,
only alive after dark, naked warrior for destroying
demons that existed nowhere

dark lifetimes lost for nothing
smoke from smouldering moments
I was a slow fire, lying alone
on my teenage bedcovers being a burning snake
a star in a strange structure of light
compare this
to the taste of cider in your throat
the smell of your own sweat in bed
the nothing you thought you were
and always would be

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.

No Funeral

dream horizon
    rising indigo
        swallowing the sun

no one owns
    the killer wave
        or the destroyed city

in the arms
    of new friends
        we’re drowning

ivy seaweed
    fish caressing
        our shocked skin

where we lived
    hammerheads
        circling the hearth

no warning
    no funeral
        for these memories

I haven't been myself

I haven't been myself
been passing myself off as this other guy
with a golden look and a smile
hiding behind his eyes in mirrors
that kind of thing

been hugging myself close to his wife
because she's so warm and soft
don't know if she loves me or him
she says it's always been me
but I don't know who she means

I feel like a ghost baby, just pushing out
everything's starting to look insane again
like it was years ago - insane and full of light
I wasn't trying to understand it back then
I was just playing

but was that me or the other guy?
he's a whore and a liar, a mobile mask
turned to mother as she claps and kisses.
she made him and without her he's dead -
no one else knows him or needs him

stuck down in the primal dark
I’m afraid I’m going stupid or crazy
I might forget how to speak, how to make
my face look normal, how to move my body,
how to be liked, how to fake it, how to fit in

I haven't been myself
been this mannequin instead
sneaked him into places using my ID
let him use my name and run my life
now I want to come back and he hates me for it

it's natural
he doesn't want to die
and he doesn't understand
when I try to explain that
he never existed
 

Dark Sugar

Younger than three, and my memory
darkens into ash, the remains of thoughts,
the nothingness from before birth:
soft darkness outside time.

I go back there every night
to watch it fill up with colour and shape -
sparks and streaks of people and stories
like spice ripples in dark sugar.

I build myself around a seed
of loneliness and sadness, the feeling
of the soft darkness, the stone wall
and the endless, softly darkening sky.
I'm stupid, but not that stupid; I know
you can't run from the end of your own story.

If I'm lost, it's been for a long time
and I've betrayed myself over and over
and I'm just waiting to crumble -
like dark sugar in a spoon, slowly
stirred into the seething silence.