No 26 - 2005
The Earth in Patches
She set you running as the building-site lifted
Its single rose to the hills.
Carried to where the pigeon-muck clogs the clock-tower;
Up through a long tunnel at the back of the market:
Your real self -
Arm in arm with a lustrous vapour;
As the lease-holders and whores tick towards you like fleas.
All kinds of maladjustments and accidents:
Second cousins go drowned down the river,
The tower of the prison and the gates of the prison;
Brendan Behan peering through a slit
As they surround him with concrete:
How grey it is! In Manchester in the 70s,
With no choreographer
To send us rushing through shuddering exhausts,
As the kids wag it by the joke-shop,
No-one to tell us when it’s cold and when it’s roastin’
Fire in the bins and between thumb and fingernail
A white planet spins
And involved in white loop of gravity -
You will feel alive
Compared to nothing.
A rabbit runs through the gardens -
A girl chases him through her tears.
A Star of Bethlehem floats in the rain.
Most of her short life will be spent by this
Dull and squashed sparrows' nest, this skull
Of a sheep or legendary beast;
This block of rock salt.
For two or three years you will be lost
In the royal blue of the carpet.
And one mystic winter dusk,
In a backyard kickabout,
You will get carried away:
Tackling everyone manically,
Falling into the surrendering plants.
You open your lunch-box
And are surprised by an iced-bun.
Your journey ends here.
Free-wheel down the winter,
Push your bike up through the summer,
On the way to buy new paper,
Pedal 'til you get there, carrier-bag swinging,
Use your legs to stop without brakes, and turn in.
Your scarf blue under the blue wisteria.
A book of satirical stories in my pocket;
My glass leaving wet crescents on the table.
This was our life; a pilgrimage to Canterbury:
Wanting to pad our tales, we scoured a landscape
That was busted and full of dead birds.
The years of the flooding water and light
Left little nests of straw on the brewing-vessel,
Rusted the key-holes of condemned buildings.
Left us high and dry, above the c.c.t.v.,
Up against the blue blur.
Twin octaves of cat-gut -
(The theme is your life and how you survived it;
In memories and in my car under a rose-diamond sky
As I drove you through chill speckles to your first day
Somewhere a baton sways and joy issues from us.
Waiting at the cash-machine, she shrugs into her scarf -
Balance £20.40 - You may withdraw £40--
Her amber eyelashes light up a giant grey.
This is where I want to stall for time: at the edge of the
The winter sunrise streaking the eyes with hypothermia.
Above your bed the blizzard, everything let loose.
A tiny wheel of fire spins on the end of a cigarette.
The fridge is ticking cold with cams.
And, in dreams, you are holding the fort tomorrow;
Waiting for the man from the gas-board,
Taking Bowser to the vets for a check-up,
Putting the casserole on at 4,
Glancing up through a long prism of blood -
Thread from your red-riding-hood coat.
(Love abiding as the stars
That burst in super-novae,
Whose very atoms are degraded and vanish.)
The soil dries, little flowers come up -
We shall walk about and scuff the summer grass.
You cross a parquet floor, leaving work.
It’s late autumn and the buildings are brown mirrors,
blocks of slight resin; the evening lambent with them.
Up the grey ramp to the hypermarket -
pick up a few bits on the long way home.
"We’re losing her!”
Up where the trees are falling off into the sky:
they wrap you in red emergency blankets,
sunlight and mirrored spires, hid, in turns,
then surfaced in bright bubbles;
and in a world squeezed between tremulous lashes -
water pouring from a bucket
over washing drying on a line
and a woman in an apron with pegs
trying to save her home from a white sky
suffocating us all with pure oxygen.
How from an imperfect start I was raised to average:
on a bridge of faded posters and fizzy-pop - we met -
in the charred equinox of the soul.
and I promised to refrain from lies.
Now, with your folks, on these marble steps,
Homer launched into space:
it never stops singing: many, many
brightly suffered and are gone,
as you, too, are gone.
This then is death -
a disconnected handset I pick up to claim my prize
while the sun they say will kill us all
filters lightly on the bean-patch.
Barely touched me...
A mere collision with the Earth.
I’m not hurt, I just like walking like this,
With the world turned suddenly on its side:
The way a drunkard wakes up and seeks the comforting vision
Of the tower at Strangeways.
On the sixth day:
Children in the park
A wavy line of light
Light turbulence turning
Turning like the world
With slanting willows towards evening
Turning like a roundabout.
Shallow soil with fancy casts.
Crowds of people in light summer clothing.
(Her reverie continues as the coolers and carts
move about in the shade.)
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The