Two Women

They can’t hide it, these two,
their coy playing with this risky silence,
and the way their buttoned down lips,
unmoving, communicate
the most complex metonymy
poets could wrangle with.

I watch them from
the not so surreptitious corner of my eye,
and wonder how they manage
to pass so much unsaid through empty space,

pregnant with beautiful failures.
And there’s always one in every coupling
who needs more than this,
the dark haired one’s knees

earnest, exposed, pink,
magnetised to their essential pole,
like compass dials
seeking acceptance speeches.

There’s always one
that needs more than love’s silent inertia,
and would have words to wrap around
like a bright sari, tactile, yielding,
and would have tongues say
what they can’t possibly know.

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Stubbed Toe

Sometimes I wish
I could just turn off
the roaring thought engines
in my head,
throw a spanner in the word press
that won’t stop printing
endless questions, endless polemic.
I’d love to escape
these solitary daydreams
and step into this warm flow of life
on the pier,
that the dusk is out
taking for a walk.
And I’d choke on my guffaw,
talk too loudly,
swig back a big glass of moon,
just be, just be.
Take the doorstop from my mouth,
un-stub my big toe,
free up my clogged flow.
Let me forget about her
and the thought barbs
that snag my albatross heart.
I want to stroll with the impish night
and make promises to the coming dawn.

A Meeting

When I meet you again,
in the silver hair years of our life,
I’ll tell you how much you’d hurt me,
how the gloves of pain that you flung down

were too much to take,
so too the robes of dust and years that trailed you
erasing the corners we’d filled with
our hoarded monuments.

The first to go, your touch,
then your eyes,
last the words that fell from your hair
like whispers on my soul.

And I’d tell you how I
walked, without respirators,
in the depths you
bore through me,

consuming liquid oblivions,
felling the plans I had watered into
great solid trunks,
hollows where we could have lived
till death took us like a wind.

I’d tell you how I fled from shipwreck to shipwreck
and all the women I bedded down like anchors,
and the awful silence that came in between,
leaving me wretched in your looming,
unanswerable beauty.

Then when I had reached the final angle
of my hewn madness,
from where all the torrents that had consumed me,
had finally run off,

I’d tell you how I had laughed
the laugh of all the booming peaks,
and could, at last, live my pain
like a song I’d whistle at forgetful dusk.

I’d tell you all this,
and hope that I could see it in the sad,
triumphant corners of your softly wrinkled eyes,
answering back the same pain.

Bus Ride

How many times had we taken
that winding mad road down
into the floating lights?
That road which made
all the bus drivers drunk
and veer dangerously close
to the teetering gorge.

Gravity always left us
at the last corner,
and you were never more beautiful
than when you grinned far out
over the barrier
of our silent danger.

And then in that blink of a life
when your body decided
to exit the bus in full swing
round the final bend,

how I reached for you,
before my body did,
and pulled you back
to life, to solid spans, to predictability.

I saw it in you then,
that for a brief moment
you had been in love with your soaring death,
eyes sparkling
as if you had walked a tightrope
at an impossible slant
over this tame city.

And I, clinging to your
hot little soul, a fool
who tries to reel home
the already persuaded.
What if I had let go?
What if I had simply let you
and chaos play your dizzying games?

I Would Like to See You

I would like to see you
through a crowd of half-drawn faces,
and though I would not recall
the name that they’ve raised around you,

you would reach me somehow,
across these oceans and
nights of the unsayable
that separate us like fears.

Maybe you could never return
my hopeful song set down on these waves
that bring all things to their heart’s intention,
but still your silence would come to me;

and I would stall and fret how to reply.
Ah, what, in the end, would I know of you,
and the foreign continents that shift within you,

yet I would be changed from
when I first gathered up
the scattered motives of the day,
and crossed all those thresholds to here.

It is in an almost unperceived gesture
that I would feel the colours grow nearer, fiercer,
the way you look up, away, and gaze,
as if you are a mirror for the world to peer into.

And what would I see returned?
Some stalking promise,
some challenge burned on the retina of the sky,
some purpose I would love to be.

Lavender Bush

How you could snap
under the salt of these harsh seasons,
so near that you’ve wrapped yourself tight within
your softest colours,
and wear your consternation like old world dignity.

And we see in your hurt shrinking
from these sudden thrusts of foreign air,
that you expected to bloom in
the warmer hues of that land of baths and frescoes,

and its wandering troupes
who sang the birth of language
as they passed your dipping purples and translucent greens
that not even the sun could cast shadows upon.

Do you remember your weightless dreams
planted along those chalk white roads
that meandered from monastery to monastery
in the deep wine of endless afternoon?

But now, this antipodal sky,
harassed by its own southern sea,
sows its wild blooms, burnt too close by the wind,
all about you,
the bright laughter of unfamiliar flowers.

And your fragile strength, despite yourself,
like the quiet urgency of a refugee,
feeling your way through the crowds of unwritten faces,
to take a seat in their midst, half unsure, half fleeing,
yet utterly sensitive to the tingling newness,
the touch of a world that is yet to name you.

Cat in the Long Grass

This country of the untrammelled grass,
that weaves into fingertips playing songs on the luxuriant breeze,
is your kingdom.
From this oak to the splintered fence, you hold a vast realm of the moment,
perched atop that old stone staircase that leads us
deeper into the idle days you keep here.

If you need it, this grass is like a cape you can pull over yourself,
absorbed in the verdant pleasures of your prowling dreams.
If you need them, these towering branches
are places to test the lightness of a soul.

When you linger here, everything, at last, has its place,
the trees bedazzled with coy ivy, the birds forever out of reach,
teasing your claws,
the cicadas’ bright cotton rolling down to you like a carpet.

And you lean into the hours bestowing a feline order,
a flush world humming with life spending itself.
Brief king of the afternoon, how you spend us,
who dare to approach and pay homage,

spend our lives like doubloons, like a plummeting sun.
What circumstance do we presumptuous ones have to rival you?