Five storeys up, in the city above the city, two boys lean out
from the lip of a rooftop and spit down orange pips at men who walk
as if they’ve homes to reach and who feel nothing as they hurry past,
or pause to shrug, and thank the lord for promised rain.
blackened chalky stems
I poke free of clay
with a straight paperclip
and blow clear under the tap
eleven in three summers’
here in Somerset
rooting bushes out
from a lost
taste the smoke
of long dead tobacco.
I promise this is how I’ll choose to go: my one good pathway muffled by the snow,
the fish stock-still beneath the river’s sleeve, the white goose feathers of the leaves.
In front, a heron’s pale uncertainty while, at my heel, my footprints barely follow me.
25 lines not about how you make me feel (about myself)
Numb on my belly in wet grass I offer six confidences to newts at the canal edge, swear I’ll care for them if they’ll live in my jar.
Part of me knows all about the Monday stink of tiny bloated bodies forgotten since Friday without food, love and air. Heart, man; love, me;
rainbow, zing; mine, be…all share a sound now Rufus Wainwright sings Garland sings me (though we’ve never met) whole-hearted Broadway/
Carnegie Hall burlesque from the Palladium. And for you I am drafting responses to send with plain chocolate biscuits and jam.
Do I find in myself any cruelty? No.
Do I let myself care that my cat died? I do. I wanted to take myself out for the night to the Quaker House, get in some drumming
in the cold, make my hands sore. Instead I get down to church papers, wipe my shoes clean and give them a drubbing.
If you listen there’s a whizz as the palette knife scrapes off paint from a wrong place, too thick. In itself there’s a pattern that pleases, means more
than reflecting the glow of what’s seen. Colour strong as the smell of the turps – regardless if it’s door-frame or elbow or wing.
The taste of water chestnuts
To come from neither north nor south. To hold a strip of paper in your mouth. To ride the last bus to the depot every night. To test your signature against the light. To wear your name sewn in the collar of your coat. To leave the house, and leave yourself a note. To look like a newsreader when you grin. To rent the shoes you’re standing in. To kick across your footprints in the dirt. To see the stars as moth holes in the sky’s black shirt. To cut the crusts before you eat. To have a voice like February sleet. To rise each morning from a borrowed bed. To call the name of someone else instead. To stir your coffee with a see-through spoon. To hold your turn, then speak into an empty room.