Catch Up

You're awkward without a Guinness,
stir with suspicion, inspect the sugar cubes
as though they are a new invention.
It seems a shame to interrupt the scene
by stepping in beneath the awning.
But our hello is a gang of pigeons, erupting.
Our goodbye a plate, somewhere inside, breaking.
In between, we talk the magnificence
of solitude; the clarity of mind it can bring;
how, like a wet finger on the rim of a glass,
the silence can make the muse sing.
In our love for privacy we are kept apart, 
united in mutually-assured destruction.
In life's complicated affairs, well - 
that's the closest it gets to perfection.


from Remedies

The bitters muddled 
into suspect sugar time.
The awning knuckle-rolled.
I stand in understudy
alongside the gods
useless like a riding boot is tall.
My buckles brass-cast into cauldron.
Dreaming of lobsters, 
their claws protect me.
Today no longer exists. 
I drink not a drop of it. 
The mosquito netting 
a white lantern,
my mouth a whiskey tomb.
Inward desire versus 
outward spectacle.
Duchamp's signature 
on cardstock-
a forest with no valley.
I wake up, covered in ant bites, 
bathing suit still wet from my swim.
The re-routing of rivers.
The wolf's leash longer than you think.


The Rope

Here, the virgin can step on six daisies at once, 
so it is spring.
The slightest leaf of the Sunday papers in the backroom
sends the bird table pigeons taking wing 
into broadening arboreal bloom. 
You are somewhere that requires mosquito netting,
a sorghum broom 
to sweep varnished floorboards of dead insects 
in the cold sweat of morning.
A bayou beyond the blinds cackles ‘drink up!'
and you reach for the bottle
to wet the mouth of your tomb, 
to quench until it overflows you, 
turning your bed into a whiskey lagoon.
But the bottle is as empty as the Sunday here.
Dust motes dance in the space that is spare.
Two chairs with only one of us to fill them
may as well be a stadium of empty chairs.
The made bed beyond the ticking anteroom.
Your return can't come a moment too soon.
I am up and about, pottering in the quaint hours
kept by the English on Sundays, 
the Mean Time that can be spent in manifold ways
but is spent the same way each time;
the one day when the outward spectacle 
can match the inward desire to laze, 
to live Churchill's energy-conserving ethos:
In life, never stand up when you can sit down,
and never sit down when you can lie down.
My doze by the spring-lit window 
had become riven with anxiety:
I saw you lying on a far-off beach 
in your bathing suit, being eaten by ants, 
and alternated between the desire to forgive -
wanting to fetch you back right now -
and hoping I'd given you 
enough rope to hang yourself with.


Beneath the spasm, 
a mountain. 
Then no mountain. 
Roped at the base, 
food and decorations in crepe paper. 
Ever-root, ever-rot, wait 
for my skin to turn to moss. 
I've gone off to live 
inside the white room of a coconut. 
The hand-painted sign in the tree
says, "Pretty, pretty please."
I can only take this to mean, marry me.
Time for some bitter truths. 
I'm already up here.
Charmed into inscription, into pilgrimage,
beginnings and endings on the tongue
where words carry whatever message 
or marvel, the release of light, the spark 
given off from the glint of a beetle's back, 
smoke that isn't smoke but rising sand-cloud. 
Grit far from the oyster shell.
The reed never looks away, 
having no bed skirt or companion 
to share the seeds, the ribs
of a jalapeño pepper used according to recipe. 
Pickled in its own brine, the cereal grass
as a different kind of birth, serious flooding 
in the Nile valley, or in the prison's courtyard 
jasmine buds unveiled as currency.
Don't make me prove myself an oasis. 
The wine watered with more wine, 
the palm fronds braided into pyramids and crucifixes-
the cup so full it's bound to be broken-
the small Coptic horses who have yet to learn 
how to rock on their planks, ever softly, the traitors.

The letter

This coconut-white, sea view room,
its balcony doors flung wide and filled
with the sound of surf, is a vacuum
of thought my soul savours till the moon
brings the quiet, low-tide and night-chilled.
On the bed your letter flutters, re-sealed
by the weight of a wave-smoothed pebble
plucked out of the day as a Jurassic fossil.
The part where you refuse to be my wife,
I can't hear you in it, I can't hear your voice;
your words like a shell once contained life
but now like a shell are empty with noise.
Retreating here was the obvious choice
to drown it out in a tempest of waves
that can claim a man, or have him raised
out of the undertow he thinks he craves.
The sea, the sea: an oasis from the need
to perceive - in murky depths - an oasis
in the eye of another. From that I'm freed.
I comb the day beach and at night get pissed
on the heated patio of the harbour bar,
each mast-light in the bay a bobbing star,
and teeter up to this coconut-white room
quiet and grey under the waiting moon.

Time for Now

My own Liberty of London 
apricot tie in a military tie-tuck.
What I remember from the crash.
That the sculpture was low
to the ground, and we took turns
sitting near it, stroking the beaded
petals, the shabby outer layers once 
ourselves, the news that could have
restored everyone to their place:
each mast-light in the bay a bobbing star.
Dirty panties or hot whiskey, 
united by nothing but the uniform
since it was late since for forever. 
Chiffon burned like industrial waste.
What resembles you. We talked 
under the clover like it was nothing.