Dada etc.

Living with another poet is fucking great

Today we went for lunch and made poems for fun from randomly picked words out of my poetry textbook ho ho ho
 

Remember the simultaneous construction
of still deathling vessels,
absorbed in nature,
swelling burden branches
its feathered approximations.
Golden the certain passages
beheld by greater truths.
 

Consider the small floating owls
all across the Northern sky.
Fake incendiaries brought their shadows,
afterthoughts upon orchestral women,
when once compared with
clearly destined fragments
of anybody’s shadows.

Strange Asylum

Suffer longest, ones who suffer least -
Counting unremarkable Christs, Saints and
Marys on the streets, steeped in ordinary sadness -
Clutching wallets, Penguin classics, broken hearts
tranced by nightmares of grotesque compassion.

Here they are, drunk and bathed
in the night train’s sterile light.

Here they are again sweating piety undercover,
hemmed in by unfamilar seams.

Here they are in the morning chasing frost
from windowsills, here they are in a crowd of
everyday saints, their ex-lovers just other
strangers on the streets, and they’ll
suffer longest, ones who suffer least.

Oh world - Oh city speak compliance, speak of ways
to wear these thousand shades of grey, Oh world -
I belong to an age that sings to death in life,
as doomed we fuse ourselves with greyish milk of
sorry smoke, stretching out to touch the yawning sun.
The downhill struggle of the self-appointed Saint,
martyred for comfort twice removed,
Oh soothing breath of midday delirium - You talk
of revelation, mocking transcendental reach -
Suffer longest, ones who suffer least.

Sister sings of forgotten verse
in the arms of one who was almost her first -
She dreamed of one to talk of Greatest Love,
dreamed he kissed the pallor from
the cheeks of moonfaced girls,
who crying flowers, singing…
Reluctant darkness, lazily punctured
with an uninspired scattering of stars,
throws its velvet veil over younger girls
who tiptoe through rainbowed oil spills,
who silent seance misremembered innocence.

Father knows all of the dirty cathedrals,
Pope Piety the Tenth, the women lay their unbelief
at his doorstep and confess their future sins
on rosaries of chattering bones.
He measures them sometimes, measures
with the hands of a scientific man,
hands that measure poisons
in the name of sober beasts.

The corner booth of a dirty bar
is an accidental confessional, where drunks
apologetically spill their sadness all across the table
and hope no one will notice.
Outside at night the wet roads glitter
under the gaze of street lights sickly yellow,
and a sorry man steals away to a 24-hour
florist in the suburbs, the car radio
grinding love songs through the static
with an unsurprising lack of sensitivity.

Here he is in the morning,
enshrined in the devastating dawn.

Here he is again, a monument
to monumental error.

Oh world - Oh city humming praise of dissonance,
of ordinary constitution, overcoming, Oh world -
I belong to an age that sings to death in life,
something of a pop song, of mediocre worship.
Good science-fearing men submit themselves
to the monotonal drone of clockwork.
The downhill struggle of the self-appointed Saint,
martyred for comfort twice removed,
Oh soothing breath of midday delirium - You talk
of revelation, mocking transcendental reach -
Suffer longest, ones who suffer least.

All around you buildings of stony dispositions
hurl themselves toward the clouds, you follow
so at best to steal a glance at the immortal
and measure yourself against their lofty intentions.
Return to ground, you’ll learn to sigh for
city streets that aching pulse with parasitic crowds,
living backwards, biting tongues.
Counting Christs and Marys on the streets -
Suffer longest, ones who suffer least.

In this strange asylum for the moderately happy,
in this century of ordinary hell.

The Leave of Absence

A hollow greeting, everyday
smile chose me to
plunge a hand deep into
absence’s original mist,
where affection is misdirected
to the ones who don’t
deserve it, don’t even want it,
your hands’ slow river gestures
aimed at the one you loved,
who once was on the horizon
before you, bleeding colour
into the dying sun. All you
thought was you were heading
towards him, and then
he was gone, tending
someone else’s sunset.
In a dream you wrote
a song for him, in a dream
you played a flute for him,
in a dream you sat in
whitewashed room,
he left to buy cigarettes,
you never saw him again.
And this, the leave of absence,
where you hear him in
sleep’s boundless corridors,
knocking on your bedroom door.
This, the wavering midday sun,
the hour you brand
his face across the faces
of imperfect strangers
and wait for nature
to align with your visions.
But she couldn’t give a damn for you,
isn’t worth a change for you,
only a half consoling glance,
an incantatory wave of a hand.
Away - your longing for
imagined gestures, love
lost between wake and sleep
in a room with curtains for walls,
suggested silver by the
overzealous sun.
Away - and open the curtains.
Whispered river breezes pull
towards the mediocre city
in the mediocre day,
where every man is martyred
for the cause of disillusioned
dreams of longing, and a
peaceful offering in the day,
an empty smile with eyes
cast down to the mire
that threatens, that nips at our
feet like salted sea foam
tasting of tears.
A peaceful offering,
afterthought of remorse.
Even the ocean sighs apologetically,
sorry to leave you shipwrecked here,
sorry to spit in your face right here,
underneath a canopy of
devastated smoke.
You were perfection in a dream
I had once, and it threw off
the Earth’s immemorial spin.
Beauty to disobey, you apologize
and flee towards horizon’s
infinite dark, mounting
the stairs in moon shine
to the sorry mist
of night.

Supermarket Aisles, Or, A Hallmark Advertisement Disguised As A Poem

It mostly smells of lung cancer and stale petrol fumes,
and sounds like engines or cellphones or
the clinking glass of top shelf liquor.
Outside, the windows of cars are bathed in condensation
from the words of lovers
who have no room left in their lives
for commitment,
so they hoard each other like commodities,
under mattresses or in the bottoms of desk drawers
or glove compartments
where something meaningful might have been.
I once knew a guy who thought that he could fold his girl
four times down the middle,
small enough to fit inside the notes pouch of his wallet,
and another who spends hours in the ‘Wife’ section of Hallmark
just so he could have something better
to whisper in his girlfriend’s ear than,
I want to fuck you so hard your mum will feel it.
I am a spectator;
I arrange the notes in my wallet according to their value
and buy gift cards with messages
that I am too lazy to write,
only I don’t call it falling in love.
More like, there is emptiness in the whites of our eyes.
Imagine if the sky unzipped itself
and leaked a wind that uprooted skyscrapers.
They would lie down in rows like supermarket aisles
and we would shop to fall in love with the ruins of our lives.
Everything will be fine,
so long as we make sure that we are too busy counting our change
to ever look anybody straight in the eye.

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and it’s daylight now, and it’s beautiful -
no more stars to cram down each other’s
throats like the shining silver liars we’ve
all tried to be, at night when there’s only
pleasant waking dreams of half-imagined
lovers and the sweet soft whispers of
wanting coaxing her to curl up naked
in the jaws of the monster in her bed,
safe enough but she never won him over,
only saw his face branded over every boy
with long hair and a five-day beard, like
advertisements slapped across the city walls,
like those pictures where the eyes will
stare you down from every possible angle,
reminds her that she never could forgive
the ones who don’t know when to look away

Salt Words and Silence

I tried to call you on a payphone the other day
because you wouldn’t answer if you knew it was me.
Your voice came like a nightmare with no vision
and I choked on the cracking line and hung up.
I am thinking of an endless winter -
it’s January now and I can still hear the echo
of chattering teeth and wind-rattled bones.
When you refuse to speak to me I question my own
existence, question Descartes’ age old conviction,
a whole new philosophic doctrine for the heart -
I feel therefore I’m not, and a lifeless shudder
at the thought of being better off without
this troublesome hunk of aching flesh.
But life is made of tiny deaths
and you are not considered a full human being
until you’ve been broken, and if all you need
for a joke is a punchline then I’m in stitches, gasping.

I could have been something sweet,
but you fed me salt words and silence for months
until my mouth was dry as cigarette ash, kindling
flames on the flesh of a stillborn innocence.
No one could tell me where the bones were kept,
but I dreamed them buried in our old backyard,
breathing winter into dying peach trees.

Sometimes I’d plunge your hand in my chest
and have to apologize for all the feelings that poured out,
but the landlords hated us anyway, so blood on the carpet,
blood on the walls, the taste of metal in between your teeth
and the string of pretty words I left you
that you never even bothered to decipher.
You’re the false god, the winter wind in January,
do you get it now? do you see?
Breathing life into corpses is a cruel business,
and death reveals itself in the empty whites
of the eyes of the broken.
They haul themselves through the city at night,
and with no stars here to nail the sky in place,
who’s to say it hasn’t fallen?

On Winter

You are the city children,
born clawing at your windowsill
as if you could imagine
what it means to escape.
At night you clutch your notepad
like a bible on the walk home
through buildings that sleep standing up,
or maybe hanging upside down
like stalactites with roots
in the ceilings of
the dead.
The cold wind slaps our faces to remind us
that we are still alive,
drinking all and tasting nothing,
taste of drunken love.
In the morning they will sweep the glass
from the streets like settled dust,
and we will hold hands,
raise an empty bottle to the sky,
and fog the wreckage
with the warmth of our breath.
Winter is a place where
frost bites the faces of your lovers
one at a time until you realise
that as badly as you want to,
you can never save anyone
from the cold.

One Theory, or, I’m Sorry But I’m Going To Have To Ask You Not To Stand So Close

At first there was a ball of string -
nestled tightly in the belly of the first,
all bound up in mucus membrane threaded
with tiny suggestions of almost-limbs -
and each daughter the ball unfurling,
the string cut, the lives spent coasting
downhill, counting years on fingertips,
girls tumbling from each other
like matryoshkas.
And of course I’d talk of birthdays,
of being shaken into growing up,
of life as anything but a fall downhill
with resignation in its effortless yeilding
to gravity,
but the truth is when I ran out of
fingers and toes to count on,
I looked up and found myself still
at the foot of the hill, small and feeble
as a newborn,
the faces of my mother’s mothers
crowded over mine like a spectacle
and 
a crowd to block the sky.
Perhaps I was always the endpoint,
whose solid and self-contained being
carried with it a suggestion of finality,
a promise of completion,
and they stand over me now
beginning to wonder why their own
child prodigy, end point of their lives,
the death of their name and their final
desperate throes at perfection
still hasn’t gotten her life together.
Why she is still writhing around
in the dirt, and I’m sorry but
it’s difficult to feel any older or wiser
or more complete when you realise that
you’ve misplaced everything valuable
you’ve ever managed to own.
Or perhaps they still expect my insides
hollowed out like a nest for something better
to grow and unfurl, something sweeter,
something improved, something that would
justify me.
They are waiting with the patience of
certain reward, only everything I’ve managed
to produce has been clumsy, accidental,
or not in the form they expected -
all hot air and words dissolving
into a far-off suggestion of warmth
in the breath of the wind.
Or, more likely, I am one of those paintings
that only makes sense from far away,
and when you move closer, all unstructured,
fleeting bursts of light.
I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you
not to stand so close.

Change Poem

I dream always I am bleeding,
our bodies bullets dying with the dead.
We are spent lives with closed eyes
coasting towards something doomed,
biting our tongues.
The blood streams from our mouths hot and steaming
and sounding like a scream from the tops of roofs
on war torn streets and into the empty sky,
answered by a breath of vague dismissal -
What more did you expect?
But tell me you don’t feel the wind in your hair,
tell me you don’t feel alive heaving forwards and forwards,
the wind howling sympathy all through the streets,
at night, sleeping under canopies of devastated clouds
and feeling the Earth subdued with sounds of rivers
that sigh with the tears of gods,
of a whole world’s feigned concern.
On the night before the Earth shook
and opened up mountains in the spaces we had been,
we looked back and saw ourselves on the horizon,
far back, dancing, so close to the sky.
Carved in our newborn skins may be the wounds of history,
but in our minds still the right to dream of bliss;
of moving through a place where time stands still,
of the warm, approving breath of sunlight,
of kneeling in settled dust,
of dancing over waterfalls
bathed in moonlight and mountainwaves;
of our children’s children,
of rain healing wounds and
of the place where the Earth heaved mountains
underneath our feet so that, singing,
we could build ourselves closer to the sky.

Untitled #1

She loves silently, stealthily;
a shadow of a longing that stared at him
from the bottoms of desk drawers or
inside undeveloped rolls of film
in which she shows up as a blur,
a cloudlike suggestion of warmth
and the cause for years’ worth of
bad horror films and paranormal fetish.
When we lived next door I would
sleepwalk through your dreams
but you were never home -
only our skeletons’ ghosts listing
lazily in the spaces where the wall
between our bedrooms should have been.
No. Should never have been.
One night I saw you, standing naked
in my doorway as though this were the
natural conclusion of every moment
of your life falling away to
this one.
I touch you and you shift; you take
the forms of all my former lovers
hungrily as if their shapes should have
been your own, hungrily as if
you knew they weren’t.
Our walls built walls around themselves
and I didn’t sleep for days.
I had to move rooms when I realised
I wasn’t sleeping because I knew
you were only inches away, had seen
our room without the wall,
clumsy extensions of each other,
and how can anyone sleep when
their bedroom is a prison?
Or their body?
I used to cling to you as if
you were a life raft, and I would not
be saved until your skin absorbed mine.
Now there are only walls and mostly
dreams of fire.
It should have been easier to burn
than build, so of course
I built.

We Hide in Craters

We walk home, I hold your hand.
I hold your hand and wrap myself around your elbow
to keep me standing upright as I try to count the stars.
The moon is there, too. Look, the moon! Hello moon.
The moon is land, the moon is big and round and bright and blue.
The moon is actually Earth and we are standing on the real moon and it is cut in half.
There is a man with an axe somewhere,
he cuts the moon into pieces and he puts it all together one piece at a time
and then he takes it all apart again, one piece at a time.
There is a man with an axe and now he is coming for us, my dear,
coming to carve our waning crescent, coming to carve us new.
We hide in craters with our backs against the wall.
We hide in craters and pray for gravity.
Your elbow is touching my elbow and I can feel that you are shaking,
I can feel you are afraid, unless it’s just the poison
trying to shake itself out of your bloodstream,
or shake you out of your bloodstream or your bloodstream out of you.
We hide in craters, pushed up against the sides,
crouching down and now lying flat on our stomachs.
If you close your eyes and stay real still then maybe he will not see us.
If you close your eyes then maybe we’ll disappear.

Open Heart Surgery #2

Picture this:
You are in a room, lying on the bed.
He is leaning over you, but not really looking at you, more like looking through you.
His eyes are flecked with green, the colour the trees would be if there were any trees.
There aren’t, but his eyes will do.
You want to climb inside, want to bring canned food and cigarettes and a thermos of hot coffee and never come down.
What better hiding spot?
There should always be one safe place in the world, just one, that’s all you could ask for.
He snaps your ribs apart like twigs trying to get at what’s inside.
So it’s summer, so it’s Christmas, happy Christmas baby, there are lights everywhere and ribbons on the presents and a look of forced surprise on his face meant to conceal his disappointment when he does not find what he had hoped for.
You knew it had to be this way.
You are sorry.

Fridge Poem #2

(So this happened when my housemates were cleaning out the kitchen the other day and found a whole container full of mismatched word magnets. I prefer to think I’m not always this melodramatic, but hey let’s be honest)


You the tempest, You the storm,
Sudden devastation of my delinquent heart.

I hoard the pain of loving false gods
With heavy anchors deep in my devotion.

You dare send men like corpses to taunt me
Singing songs of love and fate -
I hear those moaning tongues curl delicate
Inside my fragile fort of skin
But still I dream of your inferno.

So come -
I’ll be your conquest.
Spare me their devil’s music and let me drown in your fire.

Another Way of Screaming

Tell me the dream of burning buildings.
Tell me how we were inside,
and how we were afraid, the smoke
clinging to our lungs like condensation
and me clinging to you like
condensation, and we ran
until we forgot what we were
running from.
Tell me the part where the streets
spun roads of broken glass and
torn up plaster from underneath
our feet, trucks roaring
past us like a sigh
to clear the wreckage.
Tell me how we stood in the centre
where the daylight splits in half,
and on your half the likeness of
my face carved into every surface
where you had expected to see
only yourself.
On my side, only darkness.
I’m sorry that you got to keep
all the light, and I’m sorry that it
doesn’t really amount to anything much.
I’m sorry about the scene I made at
the bottom of the burnt down stairwell,
my words catching fire before
you could perceive them as sound.
I’m sorry about the part where everything
we did was just another way of screaming,
like the overflowing ashtrays and the
scratches I carved into your back
just to feel as though my hands
were something more than
an afterthought.
In the dark I can almost feel
your breath against my skin,
but when I reach my hands out,
only darkness.
The radio grinds out love songs
from broken wires, and tell me
that that doesn’t sound like
a scream.
Tell me how we built new towers,
but this time we would build them
by the sea, so that maybe,
when the ocean swallows us whole,
we would not be surprised.

I Hope it Kills You

It was on the platform of a half-abandoned station,
my wine-hot face resting in the curve of your detachment
whose fingers leaked a smoke of burning green.
The end of the line was hardly the escape
that called you from the bottom of an empty glass of wine,
but it was enough for you to talk
of sometimes lovers,
of oil spills and rainbows
and street lights counting down
to the roads we built on tomorrows
because they seemed more solid than todays.
You told me that the secret was
to fuck more and care less,
but I was never very good at the not caring.
Or perhaps, too good, only choosing
to know that there is always dust
that never leaves your fingernails, and
rain that never leaves your skin,
unless that’s just the poet in me
and it really is as simple as
to run before it gets too hard.
I have always fantasised about leaving someone
with a closing line just blunt enough to slice their skin.
So here it is.
I hope it kills you.

all poetry by yours truly
2012 - 2014