MID-WINTER POEMS

December 24, 2008

I

OUTSIDE THE AIR

was stirred by
flows of birds,
not being a flock
but racing
on clearly
converging
collision tracks,
then gone,
more completely
than the dream
I’ve woken from.

————

mouthsized

BEHIND MY EYES inside the black
hole of my head a dry tongue clings
to the sandy gritty feel of the palate,
the sour washes of saliva

from the back of my mouth and
sweet ones underneath the tongue,
knuckles sit under my upper jaw
and over the lower pressing

cheeks into teeth, and words
rush out as bubbles in a fish tank.
I might as well look at these
and intuit their individual stories

as set down my active and passive
physical impulses, or talk about
the faint reflection of the lattice work on
my nightdress white on a white
screen, or the itching, touches
of cloth, the longing to travel on,
to find a core, some thing or place
where understanding is living

separately from the things it illumines,
some light in which the hologramic
cells of self acquire consciousness
of each other.

————–

seaweed

UNHELPFUL
cranky theories about
the redemption
of molecules, or
the influence of hidden planets,
the formation of new bodies,
the cessation of time,

the codes of plants and texts,
ancient assumptions about divine
power and submission to it,
all these can be dried out and
looked at in museums, like

so many species of seaweed
taken from their environment
their gleam lost, their smell
evaporated, their true glories
not just lost but negated and

valued only as curiosities;
and then a day may come,
when half asleep on a bus,
or just out of nowhere these
odd unlikely forms appear

brush against experience,
and you think yes, and you feel
what they wanted you to feel,
and you see why it was set out
like that, and these ancient

foods re-hydrate. So probably what
we are doing is a squirrel activity
for future generations, and mostly
what we knit and plait will not act
as confirmations, but we can’t

be deflected from the attempt.
It is the mind’s urge to procreate
out of the unfathomable and we
must bequeath the absurd rendering
of our own fat.

rendering

————

STORIES TRY TO

take us out of time by
reframing events into past or future
by distressing, expanding or contracting,
speeding or slowing what cannot be
meddled with except in fantasy.
The seduction of story is thus
the illusion of remaining still
as the narrative unrolls,
while, with unpardonable stealth,
time changes all our functioning
loosening what was tight and
tightening what was loose
externally and internally
readying us for the long flight.

———-
amd-and-e

SEE THE ENAMELED surface, the bright
circle inside which the orchard trees
shine with apples, the now familiar
snake on legs is the worm that
corrupts flesh and it is speaking,
just as god has also spoken.
Words created paradise
and words wrecked it.

Because, being sequential
words can only exist in time.
In their multiplicity they also
split the Word substantially,
creatively like cells in the womb,
or later on destructively
when their memories fail
and they have lost their
original instructions.

Words are perfectly imperfect,
the accidental spoors
left overnight in the laboratory
or the letter we ought not to
have posted.

————

THIS HAS TAKEN
me in a direction not aimed for,
who would want to dwell
on or in the apparent descent
from order to chaos.

No, the function of myth,
is to give us a set
of interacting images,
a net which catches
the splitting fragments.

————

MYTH IS A NEST of mirrors
in which to lay words.

birds
————

MYTHS ARE AMOEBAS shrugging
their boundaries seductively
from their gleaming shoulders,
enticing us with desire for
the very fixity from which
we most need to escape.
No sooner is the impossible
formulated than we want to
achieve it, or else we
beat our autumnal wings
against windowpanes
wanting to be let in to die
in warm structured spaces,
and are condemned for it.

Myths are for watching,
wondering at how they
change significance,
telling us everything
in numerous series of
conflicting understandings,
they let us know we cannot

continue to worship you,
as you leaned over the Formica
covered table and your hair fell
forward and love spurted
through our veins.
They tell us why, and new
every morning is the why,
the specific why of the day
which many assume is
invalid, scorning
multivalence
as we do, saying:
this is the product
of ignorance and error,
they lack what we embrace,
the insane drilling of holes
through everything to find
the one intact substance,
the narrowing of truth
into the sharpest most
dangerous, single point.

————

‘TELL ME, TELL ME, how it all ends?’
It ends in the boiling mass of spiteful
wish fulfilment, embraced by
gentle hearts,
that none the less
are pleased
to see,
‘them get
theirs’.

————

baptism

AS MY GRANDMOTHER told me
in amazement about my cousin
Myrtle, who had converted
to something extreme.

She knows that when
she dies she will be saved,
but we, you and I, will burn
in hell for ever. She seems
happy about it.

So, somewhere within
lies the desire for vengeance,
which, as we have been wisely
instructed, we should leave
to god, or put more simply
not engage in at all.

But still, the conflagration
when only the just shall be
hauled upwards as
though from a VIP
travellers lounge
is a confusing notion
of punishment
when related
to the start of things.

And personally I would like
to disassociate myself from
such an infantile act of
imaginary punishment,
except that yesterday
coming from the post office
after that man behind the grill
lifted his leg and sprayed
me with the smell of his
own resentment, some of
it adhered. My surface was not
smooth or not clean enough to
let his substance roll away
from me. It found damp patches
of latent resentment and began
to reproduce there, small
dramas in which his
suffering featured,
and I watched them unroll
in astonishment, and shook
my shoulders and whole
body, washed them in the air
so that the contagion
shrivelled, though even now
the memory of his bitter mouth
and child-like resentful eyes
impresses.

blake-endtime

————

WHEN I WAS young, I read
the Revelation of St John
and noticed only some nouns
set in ecclesiastical glass
in glowing colours.
I felt the intoxication of vision,
didn’t hear the verbs,
or connect the movement
of the story, I accepted as
fact the wrapping and eliding
of Alpha and Omega,
didn’t try to disentangle
the numerically significant
stars/candlesticks/men/
and churches, did not
question the validity of words
spoken by a man
‘begotten of the dead’.

I entered the realm of vision
myself, was not dismayed
by the bullying threats
and promises, I remember
feeling the cold hard matter
of marble and gold,
the metal crowns
the blinding light,
the endless singing,
the narrowing focus
and it was as though
the vision itself lifted
upwards and away detaching
itself from me, till it became
a pinhole in the sky.

revelation-crown

————

THREAT AND PROMISE,
them and us,
these are the pairings
that generate
further falls from unity,
hell and heaven,
are the words
of the Word, still splitting
and confusing, trying to
imagine a return
through every violent,
despotic means,
at whatever cost
to them, the ones
who bear the marks of
our nastiness in Post
Office and after.

————

bird-hitting-window

MY FRIEND’S MOTHER told
her to interpret a bird’s
contact with a window
as death. When she was
pregnant with her second
child a bird smashed
itself against the glass
while she watched, she
said she knew immediately
that her baby was dead.

————

birds_of_a_feather_map

HERE BIRDS HAVE flown
safely by my window
without touching it for years,
but in these last months many
have crashed, thudding
against the glass as though
the flocks have lost some
essential functioning,
or as though they correspond,
as folklore says they do,
to the inhabitants who
are themselves disturbed
by uncertainties, flailing
and bumping into new
possibilities without
navigational skills.

————

csomos-expanding

MOSTLY WE REFUSE to live
in acknowledgement of
ignorance, of the gap
or gaps that lie between
moments of awareness,
the micro-chasms of
discontinuity and if we
could see them we would
give our lives to finding
ways to join them to the
rest of our consciousness,
but this is impossible as
moment by moment these
tiny drifts of nothingness
expand and our beings,

which are made of fragmenting
islands of delusory
knowledge, are carried
further and further from
each other. Unsurprisingly
we cling to birds, or the stars,
to diet or psychiatry, to law,
or god, to taxes and building
regulations, to bridge the
unbridgeable severed atoms
of time.

cosmos
————
————

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