Poem as punctured lung,

as bladder, wracked and spongy.
Follow the language deep inside;

pipe bone flutes into a dog’s rump,
inhale and play. What’s on your mind?

Cross-section of a larynx in full flow;
sphinx at the open window as baffled

kitten kitted out in rain-soaked mufti,
tuft of ginger felt above the sphincter.

Nothing says haircut like good breeding.
Now that’s a leading question. Suck.

Suck and blow. Lick the inside of the head.
In jest, ingest your self, reconstituted

and immensely minced as burger, Bolognese
and steak tartare, rerouted on the wire

as news that doesn’t stay but constantly
gyrates like Kristen in the mirrored gym

I bookmarked for a future visit, a trip,
if you will, in the looking glass, her taut,

Lycrad arse arse-bobbing out of shot
like a minister on Question Time

coughing in a silent hail.



Becoming cacti

When the phone rang I couldn’t answer. I was the size
of a matchbook and getting smaller. Oh baby, because of you
I became a gleam on the kitchen sink, the silence of tins 
in a cupboard. I became cloudbanks of dirt on the windows 
I wander through my house looking out of. I became so small 
I couldn’t speak; I wanted to just be: be opaque in parts 
and in other parts let the sun through, like a variegated leaf,
I wanted to pour you in and out of me till we were rocks 
and a waterfall, till you were bark and I was the trunk of a tree. 
It’s hard to do this. I am all pieces of a house and you’re 
a voice in my ear with a body and many things to do. I can only
show you how I feel with this slight tremor, with a trick of the light; 
by angling my mirror to the sun and burning something. 
The way I feel is like the look in the eyes of any kind of animal, 
a duck huddled down in the grass, or a cat I met on a wall – 
that tiny glimmer always breaks my heart, as if it could be 
someone signalling for help. When you call again I’ll answer.
I’ll be straightforward. My promise is how hard I’ll work 
to learn to be at peace. And by then we’ll be as calm as soil adrift
in a saucer, or the roots of an urban hedge; we’ll be the cactus
on your windowsill, that lived all these months without water.



I’ve learnt to spark and kindle even that last, damp match.
It’s about ownership, you see; not becoming. The hoarder
must return to his stash again and likewise all these holes
in plaster are a coming-home you’ll never understand
and shouldn’t have to. You could map my life in sundry items,
glimpses, memories left around the house; matchbooks
from the bars of four-star hotels in the Strand I shared a gin in;
packs of Durex stockpiled optimistically in the bedside cabinet.

You are one more metaphor away, keep distance like a crab.
Military manoeuvres. Nursing mushrooms after dark.
You will find the typescript of my memoirs, one year later,
stuffed behind the sofa we first and last made love on.


The typescript of my memoirs

In the bin were dental tape and condom wrappers,
a handful of hair squeezed from a brush. Despite
water shortage notices we left every towel damp;
I cracked the spines of all the Good Hotel Guides
so they fell open on the ones I liked; you struck
the complimentary matches, shredded ‘local interest’
leaflets and rolled the pieces into roaches. These are not
the things that matter, yet they’re the only other
traces of our stay in a room where you loved me
so much my back left a smear on the mirror.


You must be mistaken…

… that room was no hotel. I do not smoke.
          You rewrote everything.

Only the roaches were real; gritstone
          spines we lost ourselves in
hunting the last of the wallabies
          through a mist
                     towel damp.

This may come as some surprise but
          I am bound by more than Bostik:
no unfinished Scharnhorst.

          Figure me a U-boat
skulking sea lochs
          or a mummer (the quack,
parka full of vials).

          That summer
you coughed until your larynx
I studied gunships in the bay
           on news reports
that came around again.

           I have dusted down the room
for prints, found none:
           what does this say of us?

           It must be Wednesday.
           Leave a note.
           Don’t feed the cat.


Dear boy

Actually it’s Tuesday, and I’m taken aback.
            You rang me up three times and said I can explain everything
into my voicemail. You know perfectly well I believe nothing worthwhile 
            is explainable. Dear boy, don’t be so literal. 
I’m not sure if you were there or not. Did you want to be? 
            We can make something up. Perhaps it was you I parasailed with 
above the Mediterranean? I think I remember you now; my young love!
            You complained that the harness was hurting your balls. 
We had such plans. We were slung between sea and sky. I tangled your legs in mine. 
            We were a knot in the grain of the world.
Suddenly the sea was a blunt spur at our heels, remember?