Dream Shark Secret

Dream

The other night I dreamt you came into my house and wouldn’t leave. At first, I didn’t mind – we were just sitting together in my kitchen – but as I neared the dregs of my second cup of tea, I started to wonder when you planned to go. When I woke, I considered the parallel universe where we now somehow coexist: your keys in my fruit bowl; your hands on my bath taps; your feet on my couch. And in the haze of my morning I wasn’t sure what it had meant or whether it had even been a dream at all, and half expected to see you pass by, step-less and slight, like a ghost on the landing.

Shark

Finally! A good one. Can’t remember who asked. Who knows how these things come up, just go with it fast. Which creature would you least like to be killed by? If you had to. If you just had to. Doesn’t matter why. We dipped into silence, underwater in thought, each seeking an answer in the fashion we’d wrought. The lot of us sat in a circle of green bottles and spent ends, barely friends in a debauched fairy’s ring – and, for a second, not saying a thing. Godzilla doesn’t count. Then one spoke out. A grizzly bear. Why? You could just run. From a bear? You’re fucking joking, son. A few others offered and we talked through the zoo. But I didn’t have to think – I already knew. How, being frozen in the deep, I’d die thinking of you, as it swam, torpedoed steel, and took what it wanted. It’s eyes gloss and haunted. I wondered if you’d feel it burst you apart. Turn your organs to mulch. Teeth through the heart. After a while, we spilled beer, and turned to something new, but I sat for a while, and thought of the blue, of the dark and of death, and of it, and of you. 

Secret

Later on, as I’m walking back to the station, I remembered when she used to do her lists. They started years back, before she started ditching mass, before she started pinching things – even before Nan. She would spend hours somewhere secret, because I never saw her do it, writing list after list of all the families we knew – our neighbours’ families, our teachers’ families, our friends, their mothers and fathers, families off the telly, their names, their ages, aunties, uncles, cousins – all the many ways in which they belonged to one another. All the families we had ever known, all but our own, hidden away in drawers and under mattresses for years. In that quiet house, I always found them, and when she didn’t think I was in, or if she didn’t think I could hear her, she would cry, and no one ever came. 

Night In, Light Out

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.

We Talk When It’s Late

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

how inclusive!
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

Spell

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.

Cache

sometimes it feels stuck to the back of my chest
as if it has caught one of its many blue threads
on the door handle of a room I’ve just left

sometimes it feels still, and lurks like a mad ghost
cursing its haunt in the long well of my throat
as I am trying to speak gently to it

sometimes it feels hard. It tightens with each thump
and one day I will not be able to wriggle even my
littlest finger inside it

a red knot
I can’t unpick

Painting the kitchen in your new flat

it’s one of those nights 
when we decide to give in 
and sack off the cleanse –
two friends 
with enough rum to feel
sore tomorrow

you’ve still got paint on
from where you’ve touched
your forehead and cheek –
it’s midweek
it cracks when you laugh
and drink

I remember you as you were 
when we’d stay up smoking
wiping a CD on your jeans –
just fifteen 
we’d talk about where we’d 
go together

doesn’t tonight feel almost like those
and still not quite the same as before
when we’d sit, sentries of dawn –
and yawn
sleeping long past the birds and
the sun

I ask if it’ll ever be like it was 
when we were kids, and you 
smile and don’t say a lot –
probably not 
then we laugh and we don’t 
know why

and now it’s one of those nights
when we sit and remember
and pretend we’re not blue –
it’ll do
but I’ll never forget being young
with you

The things we do for one another

in a lukewarm bath
with you perched 
on the side 
I watched as you 
scraped pink curls
off the soap 
before you told me
you needed a walk
and left
but before I heard
the latch I heard
your voice
on the phone
and I wondered if 
absent mindedly 
biting your nails
later that night 
you would taste 
that soap or if 
someone else might