They’re pushing and shoving to get through
the gate, where darkness appears to be
calling the numbers out. He rides
in a Ferris wheel, wearing the hats of his
numerous god-like fathers. Erotic blockades
slow them all down for a second’s
check on the purchase of their sexuality
and they’re off! harried by waves
into lines of hysterical
bunting above the judges.
A scent of madness
is one thing they share with
the mythic world, which is perhaps
eager to see them gone. It walks
towards an open window without flinching
at the word ‘outside’.
Those waters run deep.
They have, it would seem, been somewhere else
and to drink
is to be alone with them.
To be alone
is one way of living with darkness.
To live with darkness
is one way of counting the flags in the breeze.
And then the breeze drops and the flags are still.
It does not always want to be heard.
We extend the untended colonies
just as the travellers
hung in suspension
like an uncut coil of piston rings
will spiral down a staircase
to possess the earth.
And isn’t that
the kind of spiritual miscarriage
only a man with imagination could father,
his long-range devices scattered
across a favourite landscape
whose colour is local to itself. Nostalgic barque.
The fruit of the pine.
This is where nothing need be named.
The least confusing thing
opens the voice to boredom and so the voice
becomes desperate, at times confused,
seeming to shut itself out of whatever is
likely to happen. As though I were on the point of
telling you a story about yourself
that has barely begun or describing the room
in which you read
or inventing a language whose logic
would be glass-like and open
onto a brighter garden than the one you know.
All that could be done. Like plaiting strands of
or waiting for the wind to lift or crawling
through the mouth of a cave towards the sound of
falling water and an unexpected, unwanted light.
Anything that doesn’t hurt is transparent
as finding an old
unanswered letter from someone who
signs himself ‘J’. A story
that does not ask to be told. All of its
trickily-guarded secrets are realised before the end.
It makes up a bed in the guest-room for the voice,
flirting before it dies.
Love becomes local and woven
into the webbing as dark wings
cover the cathedral square.
I think I am shelling peanuts
or leaving the floor to be cleaned
by someone else as a part of me
scrapes the earth and a part
of me dreams one plausible
end after another. Hopeless
languages are house guests here,
waiting to be entertained with
wine that loosens the tongue as a
prelude to the bird’s vain
silvery gift on your shoulder.
Nothing to be done to protect oneself from that
danger, I told him. He listened
as one listens to wind make small talk out of empty
withdrawing hours. The weight of a slow and reluctant
withdrawal into space,
out of the body, into the space of my own. Nothing
can be done. Do everything, emulate
everything. The weight of the city is only partly
disguised by its crimson balloon-like walls
and the voices you hear are truly the voices of
wanting to be possessed. The sadness and evasions
vanish or become
a crueller, more substantial element
than you are used to,
and what is left you can be had.
What wants to be possessed is soft and heavy
as soaking cloth or the terrible lack of
colour inside the body
and the bands that herald darkness are coming soon.
One day I shall be taken
into that darkness, and left with the drum.
I shall hold out my arms to be written on,
waking to silence.
This will happen
and no way of talking about it now
can stop me taking the slips,
unfolding them, calling the numbers out,
assigning them each to each.
But the events call out their own,
are pushy like people who make it
in small boats off the cold, unpopulated
coast, or lean on the rails of liners
staring down. The several skins
hold everything, howling, at bay as
small waves eat the moon.