I start with a wooden barrel
for a chest, smoothing the planks down with grit paper until at long last I put my cheek to it, to check it feels right.
It does, so I then move on
to your arms – I strap on thick ropes, wrap them round, and tie myself in a knot that won’t break, that holds tight.
For legs, I pile stones,
two towers, unkickable as the sky – straight and tall, they hold and do not sway or bend, in their might.
A lamp for a head –
the light of a mind that shines, leaving no shadow it throws a yellow glow across me, and burns bright.
Alas, for a heart, a blank.
Only space, an emptiness, as I have nothing to take the place of the thing that loved, just for spite.
Now, when you burn,
you will burn right.
You probably already know about them:
where the group is from and how they banded, what year their first EP came out, if the lead guitarist is left or right handed.
Maybe you own a few of their albums,
perhaps you’ve known of them forever, but this song reminded me of you though we’ve never listened to it together.
We didn’t ever hear it in that place we like
where the barmen all wear pocket flowers, and we never queued it on the juke box that night we drank and laughed for hours.
And it wasn’t playing in your car
when you dropped me at central station, but this song reminds me of you and fills me with a blue elation.
So I reckon, several year from now,
needing something to get me through I’ll play this song I’ve played so much because it reminded me of you.
the trees have long since popped
their soft confetti trails mingled with the dirt trodden brown no longer pink tiny tissue papers dropped in a quarry and I think
why do I worry?
As they sat in the garden
with sun on their shoulders, they saw two moths mating: Elephant Hawks, enormous, olive winged and brightly tipped – pink as a kiss, their bodies tail-pinned in a union older than them. Both gawped and tutted at the audacious clasp. This is a family neighbourhood, he said, smirking, and they left the Fornicators to it.
What she didn’t tell him though
was that, later that same night as she went out to lock the gate she saw them again – still stuck together, one dead, the other not, but flying low, unable to breach the garden wall or free itself from bondage as, in frantic flutter, it dragged its cold mate through the blue light of summer night.
do you remember
when we had to cancel our very first date because I had a last minute shift at the bar, but you came to see me anyway and asked me about the movies I love and drank gin and winked when I walked back and forth past you serving other people but how I’d always circle back
and another time
you asked me to get free drinks for you and your mates, got hammered hogged the juke box broke the top button on your shirt and called someone a fucking rat lost a tooth threw a glass and got kicked out and I had to quit later that week standing up for you
I just remember
that’s all and wondered if you might too
the kitchen is hot today
wet with sunlight blood heavy slippery and yellow
outside, flies are
driven mad with heat they circle like they did in Jericho
light hits the car’s roof
blurs like swept up chalk and hisses muttering a febrile rosary
today it made me laugh
to think you once said to me poor baby there’s no living in poetry
An hour into Scarface
(for the fifteenth time) the power cuts and the sloping Bolivian hills snap into darkness.
The silence thrills us;
it hits like a car crash. We slowly clank into action.
You use your phone light to find the fuse box –
Who owns a torch these days? I light a candle: the one in the burnt yellow glass and look out the window at the street in pitch.
I imagine our neighbours in the dark
arms outstretched, like swimmers, reaching for lighters and batteries – whatever glimmers.
I wonder about kids crying,
dinners spoiled, and hands feeling in the dark.
After a while, still nothing:
no spark. We step outside.
The night is balmy –
the bricks hold the heat of the day and it floods back into the house.
I fetch beers from the warm fridge.
The bulb is out so I feel for the tins: I know where they are and grab a few.
Outside you’re looking up
and I at you.
whenever she’d get bad
my mammy would say baby we come into this world alone we go out of this world alone
how funny it was
that she chose the word we –
all of us, suffering together, knowing the same low down, gutter-licking, earth-swallowing, blackout blues
misery en masse
the tragedy not in feeling it
but in feeling it alone and not realising how we aren’t
Look up directly at the sky:
see how quickly it has turned white as a blanched almond.
Notice how the yellow sunlight
has slipped into the ground where we were just walking.
Now stop talking.
That way, you can really hear
the bristling shush of dried ferns; they sound so like the sea.
Sink into the sound of this.
Let your breathing bow to the wind as its veil billows before us.
Now insects join the chorus.
They might be flecks of dust haloed
in gold, stung by the sun: stitching a map across the day.
Trace their idle threads of flight
and sink into the upturned palm of earth. Feel yourself breathe out, at last –
but hold still with me
until the moment’s passed.
Here I am
Here I’m stood I’m in this house I’m in this wood
I waited here
As best I could Inside in this house Inside in this wood
You will not come
You said you would I’m in this house I’m in this wood
And now it’s wrong
It can’t be good Here in this house Here in this wood