Against the mountaineers

Disastrous mountaineers with your boyfriends
And girlfriends weeping later in documentaries
While slightly better looking actors impersonate
You in your final moments: Do you wake, as I do,
At 4:36am with the ability to see through your own hand?
How about when you realise nobody’s forcing you?
Yes, the mountain looks lovely from a distance,
Almost invisible against the music festival,
Same colour as the diet slate sky,
But do you look up and see one painfully slow
Technologically augmented foot sticking
Into some gravelly snow over and over again?
With so much equipment and £million research,
Might you not just use a helicopter?
I hope, when you achieve the summit
There is a fat mountain eagle waiting for you
With his beak that doesn’t shut properly
Just like your screen door back home.
I hope you get mustard on your flag
And once you have gone the eagle eats it.


A splutter of experimental oxygen

Dangerous boyfriend, junk the artful crampons:
banister the knife-edge all the way down to Safecamp 1.

I long to release your sealants, your ragged salopets.
We can share, dangerous girlfriend,
a splutter of experimental oxygen
(I can just hear the obstruction in your harsh breathing apparatus:
I have the fluids for soothing and for sound).

Here, eagles wouldn’t dare –
after all, they’re merely natural.
If they could begin to match the mountaineer
in the energy of such imagination
they’d just like to be flags
or, witless, compete in some abstract ritual.
Real mountaineers conquer the summit
because it’s not there.


Artist in residence, ski lodge

Somebody is looking for Lisa in the base camp:
The girl you visualise in every novel, out of focus,
Whose compliments transfigure the world like snow.
Yes, every newspaper is an anagram insulting you 
And you alone at length should you take it that way.
Yes, you are a clerk who files, lovingly, evil tidings.
Like me you wake up ill and unoriginal, a brick
Wrapped in Parma ham, hating even the bold 
Pencil lines and charcoal smudges. Call it subfusc:
My subfusc town, my subfusc family, my numbered,
Subfusc tomorrows. Heart-shaped drinking cabins.
My aspirations dated as a record deal, a living room
Step ladder accident, jacknifed with the pebble infantry.
Water spilled on parquet floor, a skiing magazine,
Open on an advert for skiing. The skiers leave 
Before the Gospel reading to ski. The homily
Would have gone over their heads anyway.


Delicate greenery

There is poetry in the suburbs, not only ´poetic´ desolation.

For me, no colours mean more than Lego´s:
there is strength´s idea in its red, in its blue,
in the boldness of its yellow. Already I see
the ambition of a ski-lift, ascending,
in parallel blocks of bumpy plastic,
up from the patio to the highest ridge
in the low retaining wall. In the Eiger rockery
there´s the soft purple of aubretia,
allysum´s white lace. The delicate greenery
of sharp alpine foliage completes the Suffragette livery -
as if my mother had arranged this tribute to that vast realised dream.

I accept the complexity of a childhood apparently organised,
I bear witness even to the gold of wasps as the monitor the fuchsia in overbrimming bloom.
I remember, now, three of us, circus-acting my father´s stepladders
all the way up our feature stairs.
The breakthroughed loft held just two vinho verde bottles.
Once the hearts of my parents´ bedside lamps
they were tactilised by Cub Scout Andrew with Wester Ross shells.
In the half-darkness Andy and I heard Lisa Nardini´s confession -
hers was a hunted clan, Macgregor her forbidden name.
In reply we each entrusted our virtual sister with our animal ideals -
Andy a charcoalish horse from the caves of Lascaux,
mine a fox, scavenging ski-resort throwaways, thriving,
living always almost alone.



In the hell of minutes and issues arising, the mind’s kaleidoscope –
Like the memories were gathering competitive interest,
Like the memories were drunk on lost cat posters, 
Budding suddenly, fertislised by coffee mud and aftershave.
Outside the bank three stocky men lean on the railings:
One fantasising about his girlfriend, 
One a transparent dancing string in the corner of his vision,
One eating the ghost of a poet. He lights a cigarette.
I love them, as I have been taught to.
You dream about doing something about the rattling window,
Wake up rested, the window still rattling.
The crows, necessary and solemn as bad excuses,
Sweep the park like beaters at a crime scene. No,
In fact they hop in with big cartoon eyes and charming insults:
The slightly older childhood friend, the one with keys.
In Luton I licked a yellow wall to see if it tasted of lemon
Which it did: And Other Beautiful Glitches.
The bar is run by an old boxer with chess pieces tattooed on his knuckles.
‘It’s not that we drink too much, it’s that we’re not doing it right: 
You should drink like an old man surveying his extended family under the cypresses.’
From a distance, his smile a flickering back-lit screen.
A politician is a bestselling computer game:
It turns out the point was to absorb glowing power orbs.
And we say, ‘But I don’t think…’ and he interrupts,
‘It turns out the point was to absorb glowing power orbs.’


Pinnacle wordfinder

Kaleidoscope -
competitive interest, memories.
Budding aftershave, railings, fantasising girlfriend -
the corner of the ghost.
I love them, taught to -
´Dream rattling, wake rattling.´
The crows as bad. No,
hop in: the slightly older childhood
in licked glitches, chess piece knuckles.
We drink too much, like a family -
a back-lit game, it turns out.
Don´t think: absorb.