the door clicks shut
like a cocked gun a threat a black tonne dropped lead an ugly word the colour red a hang rope one heavy tread a death bed deepest pitch a stabbing clack a real bitch a cry, a smack and I long for you to come back
May we still think of them
all of the time and tell them cool things
like what good films
just came out on Prime or that there’s 26 bridges over the Tyne – same number of albums in Bowie’s lifetime
May we remember them
whilst we’re apart and tell them daft things
like how you can’t hear
real music in the charts that there’s nowt bitterer than the human heart or that shiver is the collective noun for sharks
May we fear them
at the end of it all and tell them sad things
like the 52 Blue whale
and it’s lonesome call that your brother begged Santa to make him tall and how sunlight passes across your bedroom wall
Look at this, you said.
I saw a dozen grey torpedoes hung,
such monstrous baubles, in the depths of the ocean, motionless and unaltered by the heft of water surrounding them. Scattered indifferently, their fleshy tonnes suspended like great iron pendants, laid bare to the perils of foe and flow in a thalassic slumber.
We sat sipping tea in silent dread,
to think of such cryptic bed.
I’m drunker now than I ever was
before we saw this through
And I don’t know how to look in love
without looking at you
Because I find ways to put your name
anywhere I see a blank
I’ve touched the wood of hopefulness
each time my courage sank
And though nothing true is ever said
when lovers speak at night
We stay up late and laugh and sing
and to us that feels alright
I heard it first
when I was a little girl before I understood
I looked down at my chest
fancied I could hear the whirring
a cold release in every rest
the squeezebox rise and fall of springs that sprung from two iron lungs
wondered if my other organs
were built the same, drew pictures of the biotech
a silver chest
beneath my dress
years passed, we had a laugh
at the way a child can think
how their open minds
paint a picture without the need for ink
I see now how we are
too fragile to be composed of anything but paper and glass
bone and heart
a crack and tear, here and there
until we break apart
not even when blackness came
and small waves bounced upward, obscuring the shoreline from sight: biting at the sky
not even when their necks numbed
and boreal steel filled their pockets, with weight like loss: the rush of fear in a vacuum
Still, nobody screamed
instead, their throats made small alarms,
guttural from behind clamped jaws; layers of yellowing silt shifting until they all saw sky
instead, the march of steady breath
fell out of step with each arterial beat; one by one they hissed like matches softly dipped in water
Beyond weak, she
was now spelling it out for him, like a mother – holding the small fat hand of her first born, pushing the stubborn fingers around, as they clutched a pencil to shape the letters of his own name.
How many times
had she said it now? Could she count how many times she had laughed it, asked it, stuttered and moaned it and even once – in the vacancy of quiet hours – called for it, loudly across an ocean of silence.
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 years 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?