&

SH

I have great desire. My desire is great.

Paint, peeling in salty sunshine,
skin chewed from fingerends.
A flaking incantation, each letter cloud high,
each word catching the breath, throwing
it in the scraggy fashion of gulls
chasing chip paper.
Feet score up and down up
and down steps from the promenade
to beach to promenade
for the best view of sea
its horizon
and who is beyond it,
who is sometimes nearing
sometimes far away
and blurring from memory.
 Someone else has done this
(painted it up there on brick) and someone
before them; and someone after today
will bridle again, and another, again.
Each of us hanging by our own tongue.

JB

On the wall

I have been trailing you across city
trying to see you at work
above doors, tunnelled walk ways
in white galleries they make me stand back
away
intimidate me with entirety, long to lean in
lick the whips of paint
but you I shadow
like a dial following sun
pressing my palm against 
single bricks you leave warm
with your name

SH

Sundial

Under the shadow of breath, exhaust
and air conditioning,
these bricks will crumble back to clay.

My fingers are splintered with fishbones
sunk in the cement of the old fishmonger’s.
Palms heel unevenly against sawn-off railings.

The walls of this city shape-shift
like the corridors of the dismantled infirmary
would have once danced for its residents.

We’re all scattered to the streets, chasing dreams
as though they are Arctic Foxes
slinking in the white space caught in glass.

JB

Two Thousand and Nine

1895 in sandstone over the door
like a tick buried in the skin
it is not so very long ago, after all
these doors can pass a 6ft man, no timber
over-head, all walls are level-straight

to share 6 rooms, 7 windows
(how many bricks?)
creaks on the stair, bubbles in the glass
familiar to someone else. I tell you this.
You think me afraid of shadows, afraid of stories
that can’t be told, think it an excuse
to leave these piled-four-walls

Outside I look up at the date
days and rain rubbing away,
put my ear against the stone
cheek to cold, mouth to grit
– whispers are growing faint.


SH

Kiss this Cross

Wait. I need to lace my heart,
raise my eyes above this ruckus.

He’s tall enough to tipsy me over.
It’s bleeding, like the real cross.

Don’t shove. Look. It cracks.
Or writhes. Are those woodlice?

No. It’s glued to his fingers. Shhh.
Oh. A polished promise.

What? What did you say?
Why do you hold yourself like that?

She has no dignity.
She stalks him like a cat.

I hear its wooden rosary
rattling in my throat.

My thighs chafe. My charm rubs
in the pocket of my fox fur coat.

I am crucified, plug my palm.
I’m ready, and cannot wait.

You’ll have to, like the rest of us.
If you’re overheating, stand in the shade.

It is hot. How everyone glows.
Did she just lick her lips?

By the time I get there
it’ll be swollen with your spit.


JB

Tilt

Hold yourself upright
tilt your head to one side
look at me
with your short-sight eye
focus and I will bring
my face towards yours 
leaning the other way
so our necks make one
perfect cross, our kiss: 
a screw fastened off centre
lips catch like odd grains
shedding splinters
we don’t come apart, wait
–wait and I will come away
look at you
with my long-sight eye
holding the level out like a rung
–balance it, balance it