A black blackening
Stirs in the brain of the man.
It is the hatred
He bears for other brain-burdened men

Like himself.
His lips peel back comically
To reveal an impeccable row
Of bristling ships.

Dreadful sounds jam in his mouth
For a moment,
And a shudder runs through the city.
His bones rattle like rusty sabres,

His sockets eat his eyes
As he strikes his political enemy to death.

A bull is loose in the well-arranged streets,
He is knocking over the statues
Of the dead generalissimos,
He is goring the beautiful mannequins,

He is tearing open their dresses,
He is violating their navels.

The streets are now a disarray of fallen hyacinths,
And the man and the bull have
Taken over my city.
Tonight I will mourn ten thousand cats,
I will begin to bury the massacred flags.

The Burghers of Calais

The-Burghers-of-Calais

Some with eyes of bold acceptance
Of impending horrors
That cancel others.
And this one turning back,

With open pleading mouth
To the city that
Already goes about its daily business,
And hears the hawkers in the streets,
And sees the watchmen at the wall.

And this one with grim determined cheeks,
Gazing straight ahead
At the arrayed captors,
While the condemned hour
Dances on his lips

And he almost smiles.
And at last, the key holder,
In the centre,
around whom the others
Revolve like abandoned stars,

His head bowed with the weight
Of the sacredness of his death,
While it is not despair, but
Release
That floats across his gaunt face.

That the city may be saved,
These five must go away.
And so, like one without a homeland,
Whose body is no longer chained

To anything,
His feet move toward the open field
As though they were
Of another’s volition,

And how light,
How pleasant the wet grass
As he gazes into immense distances,

Eyes filled with reverence,
Far beyond the bristling soldiers
And the walls of the surrendered city.

Night Poem VIII

The night is a stained basin,
and a hot bulb that grins over me
like a hitman.

Down the drain come voices
of lead centuries,
of sexual hurt,
of girls in love with their eyes.

The pipes are clogged with
hair and bad love.

And the night holds me to the mirror
like another failed experiment,
the third this week,
like a cautionary tale for earnest youth.

Because the girl has left me,
because the night is terrifying and young,
I seek the medicine that brings the
heaviest lids,

I seek a way to become
new on the cold ceramic tiles.

The hours drip from me now,
the deepening acceptance
that nothing is waiting on either side of the divide
of night and mountain.

Shivering,
I rest my forehead on the
stained basin,
with a childlike desolation,
I wait for her,
I wait for exhaustion.

My Lady the Moon

flkr-full-moon

She has everything now,
up there.
And when she turns to me,
as if to say
there is no one else you could love,
her regard bores through
these hands I raise
to show I am nothing
but a receptacle of her night.
She has confiscated all of these,
my affairs,
my days used up with love.
Afflicted by a burning chest of solitude,
in the month of her fiercest song,
I sit atop the highest hill,
far above a town full of
sleeping dogs,
of waiting bells,
drunk and full of ache
with a wind-devoured bone,
I try to patch things up
with my lady the moon.

Black Currant

I wouldn’t say I am at a loss,
for speech, for words, for flowers.

It’s just that, in the mouth
there is something,
dark, growing, blooming,
death.

I call it death,
but really it is the birth
of an exquisite black currant.

Where am I going?
I’m going to the middle,
the middle,
to the heart of the black currant.
At each bite, through the skin,

itself a galaxy, a life, a cold and deserted song,
I’m wading into the flesh,
blue, female.

It is a breast, a fullness between my teeth.
I know what I will find there
at the centre.

It is not a final nipple, not
completion, lust, perfection, fleeing guitar.
At each bite, the currant diminishes,

at each bite, the lungs full,
so gorged with the juice of fear and sleep.

Animals sleep in huddles of sand.
My palm is a vast plain in the night.

A single tree shelters the
black currant,
the current of my death in the desert.

A wind like a woman strips the dripping canyons.
What is it I find at the centre of my currant?

All fruit falls in the mouth of death,
my voice blooms in the mouth of death,

an ejaculation of stars,
smeared over the parallel skin of her waist.

Refugee

I cage a ride out of Africa,
a boat packed with war-torn emissaries,
a crew of blind, leprous kids.
Behind me,
only the afternoon of a broken sun.

Here, the sea alone, is sea,
time alone, can be without hours of dread,
air alone, without the indrawn breath,
and the sky, an arc into all directions.

Out here, what is state,
or territory for the unmoored?
What is symbol?
The ocean takes us all in her abundant folds,
like a flag or a body bag.
Here, at last, we are free.

But my fellow refugees
know no other way
than how to recreate ancient animosity,
and replay the whole hopeless farce
of our scorched memory
on this waterlogged plank.

Already the society of worms
breeds in our midst,
division of skin,
and words sharpened into toads.
Already the new world is old.

Those who die,
we slip into the quiet, waiting water
and watch them float like buoys
marking the failure of our diplomacy.
We could have rebuilt a country of love
on this raft lost beyond the dry earth,

a brief paradise
between the weapons we left behind
and those that await us.
Countries and martyrs revolve
in our starved minds.
We send our dead ambassadors
ahead to shore.

Happy

There’s a man staring at me,

at all of you,

through eyes as heavy as boulders,

and he hates us all.

And his face is

shrunken to a pinprick

of essential loathing,

of joy never received,

of love never received.

He’s picked off

all the legs of his

insect brain one by one

until, at last,

there was pleasure, ripe, burning,

about the puss-hole of his days.

Look how his eyes,

black rejecters of the sky,

pull you in,

churn you about

in those factories

where hope is blast

into iron ingots

and spit back out,

hard pips of despair.

He loves his work,

and to him, you are

already cadavers,

mute, empty:

he’s hollowed you out

with the surreptitious

scoop of his smile.

Grinning, he’d like to

shake hands with you all,

to transmit, by finger, his venom,

so that your children

may grow withered and old,

so that the tree you bought

may die in its pot,

your house may

rot through the soil

and your job

may be out-sourced to Bangladesh.

And he’s christened your children

with a broken bottle,

while he jabs, drunkenly,

at the passing crowds

and kills dogs in his sleep,

and flays your

neighbor’s cat.

He’d even step on a snail

to brighten his day.

He has you all,

like rusty pennies,

which he stuffs in his pockets

and rolls into mothballs

between his soiled fingers.

He rejoices in the pennies

that feed on your minds,

and sometimes drive you mad.

He loves your wars,

your fanaticism,

your neighborly spats.

And he can’t wait for the day

of the ultimate orgasm

when you blow yourselves up, finally,

with biological, neurological,

pathological weapons of

mass reduction.

Grinning, he haunts

your shopping malls,

happier than you,

drunk on the

death of laughter,

that god who hates you all.