Thursday, 7 June 2012

And You Know What Thought Did

If you could eat frost, you might think
it would crunch like an apple. You might think

that it forms in fruit like a snowflake forms
in the air. Crisp, and clear. Not so.

Frost in the flesh of an apple runs soft
and brown, and it California they smoke it out

with stove-like affairs that burn wood,
oil, paraffin or coal. Strange then, that

Californian apples are so sweet; so fresh;
because if you could eat smoke you might think

it would taste like a kipper. Not frost.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I Live in Fear...

I live in fear of letting people down.
Last winter, someone leaked the blueprint for a plan
to put the town back on the map:
that everyone should stand and strike a match
at midnight on the shortest, darkest day,
then photograph it from an aeroplane. No way:

the workers wouldn’t break bread with the upper class,
the wealthy wouldn’t mingle with the mob,
the worthy knew a thing or two about sulphuric gas.

It came to pass that only one man struck; a man whose job
or game was civil unrest and civil dissent, but who claimed
to be lighting his pipe in any event,
a man whose face turned purple as he spoke.

I know very well that man doesn’t smoke.

A Safe Rule...

A safe rule in life is: trust nobody.
That’s the first, and secondly,
the man with 20/20 vision who achieves the peak
of Everest (forgetting for now the curve
of the Earth), looks east and west and gets
a perfect view of the back of his head.

Third, there will always be
that square half-inch or so of unscratchable skin
between the shoulder blades, unreachable
from over the top or underneath. And fourth,

as I once heard said, don’t go inventing
the acid that will eat through anything
without giving some thought
to a jar to keep it in.

I'm Dreaming...

I'm dreaming of that work, Man Seated Reading
at a Table in a Lofty Room
, and while I sleep
a virus sweeps the earth, and when I wake I see
the population of the world is


I take the observation suite in Emley Moor Mast
to watch the skyline from the Appalachians to the Alps;
those signs of life, a thousand miles away perhaps,
are nothing more than fireflies nesting in the grass
across the fell.

I manage very well, become a master in the arts

of food and drink and heat and light,
but then at night, with no one in the world
to cut my throat, I lock and latch
and bar and bolt the windows and the hatch.

Those Bastards...

Those bastards in their mansions:
to hear them shriek, you'd think
I'd poisoned the dogs and vaulted the ditches,
crossed the lawns in stocking feet and threadbare britches,
forced the door of one of the porches, and lifted
the gift of fire from the burning torches,

then given heat and light to streets and houses,
told the people how to ditch their cuffs and shackles,
armed them with the iron from their wrists and ankles.

Those lords and ladies in their palaces and castles,
they'd have me sniffed out by their beagles,
picked at by their eagles, pinned down, grilled
beneath the sun.

Me, I stick to the shadows, carry a gun.

Ankylosing Spondylitis...

Ankylosing meaning bond or join
and spondylitis meaning of the bone or spine.

That half explains the cracks and clicks,
the clockwork of my joints and discs,
the ratchet of my hips.

I’m fossilising - every time I rest
I let the gristle knit, weave, mesh.

My dear, my skeleton will set like biscuit overnight, like glass, like ice,
and you can choose to snap me back to life before first light,
or let me laze until the shape I take becomes the shape I keep.

Don’t leave me be. Don’t let me sleep.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's first green is gold:
her hardest hue to hold.
Her first leaf's a flower
but only so an hour.
But then leaf subsides to leaf,
so Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Let Me Put it This Way

Let me put it this way:
if you came to lay

your sleeping head
against my arm or sleeve,

and if my arm went dead,
or if I had to take my leave

at midnight, I should rather
cleave it from the joint or seam

than make a scene
or bring you round.

how does that sound?