My Oldest Enemy

I was low last night.
I don’t know why.
The words would not come
To form a night I wanted to sleep in.

So I stared at a blank wall
And watched it become
Only wall,
It loved nothing.

I rushed out into the night
And found only a street,
Not death,
Not the echo of compassion,

Not even a dismal hedgehog
Nuzzling the mane of the wounded earth.
I put on my coat,
Pockets filled with used up solitude,
And walked and walked.

I don’t know what I wanted,
A voice, a breast, a crime,
The outbreak of a new war.
I was looking for the source of my ache,

In the silent doors
And the shuttered windows,
In the gardens with their flowers
Closed like the fists of women.

I was low,
And there was no origin,
No starting point of my sadness,
There was no woman to blame,
No wrong, no mistake.

There was only this vast night,
Night of dogs,
Night of flowers,
Filled with the destruction of voices,

Night that I could not sleep in,
Like the bed of my oldest enemy.

Summer, Here at Last: And a Tragedy

This summer’s passed us by they sulked.
We’ve been cursed by a season of miserable Mondays,
because someone’s accidentally
locked the sun in a cupboard,
and somebody’s forgotten to put the twelve pack of beer in the fridge.

They speak as though the weather is like central heating,
and there’s someone you can shake a finger at
when it all goes pear shaped,
a dodgy plumber, a senile electrician.

And I hear they now sell summer pre-packaged
in certain upscale supermarkets.

But boy did the sun put on a big comeback show for us today.
Still soaked in the pungent aroma of her
extended stay in tropical Rarotonga,
she wrapped us all in a big scorching, sticky sun-hug,
and caught the popsicle venders totally unprepared.

The mercury licked the stratosphere,
by noon it reached a wobbly thirty,
and the streets had that languid yellow equatorial quality
that feels like the onset of a hangover, sunstroke,
when even the fat, black flies don’t move
for the half-finished melted cones.

At noon the trees tilted to swipe their brows,
and a crowd gathered round a fallen man,
mouth open gasping heat,
a woman frantically fanning the life back into his cracked face,
and wail of sirens like the opening of hell.
Too late the sun winked behind a cloud.

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day,
goes the unofficial slogan.
Summer brings oiled up crowds off the cruise ships,
bums on the beaches, booty in the souvenir shop coffers.

And the sun’s supposed to dutifully play its part,
court jester to the pickled pedestrians.
But today she showed us who’s boss,
under her bright and fierce tongue we all sweat like popsicles,
and when she wants, she can suck a life down to the flimsy stick.

Kids pulled their tricks down at the skate park
high into the woozy air,
a crowd watched a few brave souls doing bombs into the greasy harbour,
judging the height of their spray with raucous cheers,
life and joy and death crackled on the skillet of the summer.

Love Poem

Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells.
It rises at street corners,
or in morning gardens hurt by the rising sun.
Sometimes on the breeze
I smell you before I arrive at your chipped red door,
scent of dinner for two, baked sweet potatoes,
scones with cream and jam,
the things you make from the songs you hum to yourself;
out of these your soul wafts
through this drunken garden to me.
The summer is in your dress as you turn in the window,
the sky is in your eyes,
sky overflowing with a bouquet of cranes,
of lotuses.
And your world is in your embrace as I cross the threshold,
as I press myself to your impermanence,
and it is lighter than any migration,
than any wing, or moth, or mantis.
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells,
and I seek it out with kisses,
which I plant like little assassins on your agile neck.

Valentine

You left me cold last night,
and the sky threatened to
erase all my love.
You turned from me,
and a silence, heavy like wet earth
buried me forever.
I do not like to be left alone
without your love’s last word,
to fill in the spaces of broken meaning,
to retrace a collapsed street of kisses.
Seduced by visions of wicked schemes,
I go, breaking off rose stems, hyacinths,
in this barbed night you bequeath me.
I dance alone, beneath a tottering moon.
With a twisted smile,
I rejoice in love’s destructions.

Cathedrals

Air that holds me up to this burnt day,
let me fall.
The floor will open up,
I will drop beneath this unbearable,
immaculate place where life scrapes,
down into the roots that muzzle
the desultory girls,
the traitors who sold their teeth,
the tyrants with their dainty fingers.
I don’t want this inheritance of ache anymore,
I don’t want what I cannot repay
in a hundred lifetimes of drunken contrition.
I want to build a cathedral of all my sorrow
for others to worship with incense and hysterias.
Then I will go on pilgrimages
far into deserts without conviction,
into wastelands that erase all my gods.

Goodbye Apricot

So, you’ve packed your things
and you’re ready to go.
On a little leaf folded into a dinghy,
you set off on a great, wild wind.

It’s all too big for you,
for me alone, I fear.
You’ll smash to pieces
on some calamitous street,

or a handsome hotel drifter
will hold you tight,
and on some cheap and neon night,
ruin your pretty little feet.

I’ll read about it in the paper,
and lose my appetite,
and my day will retreat into its room
and never speak to me again.

But that’s okay,
because if I’m honest,
you’re more like the apricot’s hard core
leaping on a tide of world.

I’ll never see you again,
that’s for sure,
but you’ll grow sweeter in my mouth,
with a sweetness that is sad.

And like me,
the lovers of all your hours,
bewitched and inconsolable,
will break their lips on your dark pip.

A Perfect Circle

My day in endless loop,
I pretend, at least,
that there are tomorrows
loaded in a cosmic gun,
that go off with a bang and a bright sun.
You see,
there’s so much I should be doing,
and outside a world
to love and reject,
to take out on summer walks,
to fight with in evening streets,
and forgive in shadows of tenderness,
presses up against my window,
and peers in.
But I will lie here
in the thickening moods of myself,
while the day is lost to the sky,
while the knots of my love untie,
and the birds of the dusk rise and fall.
I will lie here on this floor,
in a room smeared with gold,
and cultivate stillness,
as a rebellion against the promises I’ve kept,
and the hours that march us all
to scaffolds of life.