Sunday, 7 June 2015

Modern Man

I live for Wi-Fi
My music's hi-fi
I'm convinced I won't die

I've friends on the network
Nice guy, but a real jerk
I rarely cry, but when I do it hurts

I'm so loved, yet so alone
So much to do, the choice is gone
I'm right here, and yet miles from where I want

I am a modern man
I am a modern boy
And, occasionally, more of a
Postmodern android

In a world full of green
And a world full of grey
The concrete crushes my soul
And yet it's where I choose to stay

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Boy Soldier

What a smile! One large lamp for a face,
smaller lanterns where skin stretches over
bones waiting for muscle, body all angles.

His Kalashnikov fires at each moving
thing before he knows what he drags
down. He halts movement of every 
kind and fails to weigh whom he stops

dead or maims, his bullets
like jabs thrown before the thought 
to throw them, involuntary shudders
when someone, somewhere, steps over

his shallow, unmarked, mass grave.
But his smile remains undimmed,
inviting, not knowing what hit him,
what snuffs out the wicks in his eyes.

Except that he moves and a face just like
his figures like him to stop all action
with a flick of finger on the trigger.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Mama Dot's Treatise

Are the fattest
Of this republic.

They suck our blood
From the cradle
And flaunt it
Like a fat wallet.

They form dark
Haloes; we spend
Our outdoors
Dodging sainthood.

They force us
Into an all-night
Purdah of nets
Against them.

O to stop them
Milking us
Till we are bait
For worms;

Worms that don't
Know which way
To turn and will
Inherit the earth.

Obeah Mama Dot

(her remedies)


I am knotted in pain.
She measures string
From navel to each nipple.

She kneads into my belly
Driving the devil
Out of my enforced fast.


For the fevers to subside,
I must drink the bush
Boiled to a green alluvium,

In one headlock slake;
And return to bounding around,
Side-stepping bushes for days.


A head-knock mushrooms
Into a bold, bald,
softened bulb.

Her poultice filled
At the end of a rainbow -
The sun above Kilimanjaro;

The murderous vial drawn,
Till the watery mound
Is a crater in burnt ground.


Our rocking-chair counsellor:
Her words untangling us
from bramble and plimpler notions

Into this sudden miles-clearing.

Mama Dot

Born on a Sunday
in the kingdom of Ashante

Sold on Monday
into slavery

Ran away on Tuesday
cause she born free

Lost a foot on Wednesday
when they catch she

Worked all Thursday
till her head turned grey

Dropped on Friday
where they burned she

Freed on Saturday
in a new century

Japanese Maple

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air. 
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do Is live to see that.
That will end the game 
For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Last Night

The worst thing about death must be
the first night.

—Juan Ramón Jiménez

Before I opened you, Jiménez,
it never occurred to me that day and night
would continue to circle each other in the ring of death,

but now you have me wondering
if there will also be a sun and a moon
and will the dead gather to watch them rise and set

then repair, each soul alone,
to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.
Or will the first night be the only night,

a darkness for which we have no other name?
How feeble our vocabulary in the face of death,
How impossible to write it down.

This is where language will stop,
the horse we have ridden all our lives
rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff.

The word that was in the beginning
and the word that was made flesh—
those and all the other words will cease.

Even now, reading you on this trellised porch,
how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?
But it is enough to frighten me

into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon,
to sunlight bright on water
or fragmented in a grove of trees,

and to look more closely here at these small leaves,
these sentinel thorns,
whose employment it is to guard the rose.