Sway

I have heard tell
of your mighty systems
Your steel-bright resolve
and your blind old eyes.

Your oratory echoes
but does not resound
We murmur
and we sigh.

What, though,
if you sway for us?
What if you bend,
and together
we dance?

Breath (poem)

Hold me awhile
Later
I will hold you
And the dance
Will ebb and sway
As always.

Breathe out
What you hold
Take in
New breath
Full and empty
Once again
Repeat
Repeat
Repeat.

We are swelling
And pouring out
We are weeping
And hoping
Renewed
And deadened
Sprouted
And wilting.

Hold me awhile
Later
I will hold you
And the dance
Will ebb and sway
As always.

I Thought We Would Scream (poem)

We all know the moustache.
The straight arm
The barking Heil-cough.
If he came again,
I thought we would scream.

We all know the plague masks.
The death carts
The weeping widows.
If they came again,
I thought we would scream.

We all know the coalfields.
The black lungs
The buried children.
If they came again,
I thought we would scream.

The war-brokers, despots
Fascists, racists,
Slave-lords, pimps…
I thought we would scream
But
The water has warmed
So slowly
That we wait.

Faith

You can sing to me
You can rock me to sleep
My legs along
The furrows between
Your fingers.
My body across your palm
My head
Resting
On the heel of your thumb.
You can lift me
Can cradle me, unbruised
I am smoothed-out
Soothed
I can sleep again:
We both breathe
In your breath.

Us

I can smell burning.
I think it’s us.
It’s not the windows shattering
Not the door beaten down
Not the skyscrapers tumbling
As planes strike them.

I can smell burning.
I think it’s us.
Not GDP plummeting
Not the supply chains failed
Not the shelves empty
From “looters”; from “aliens”.

I can smell burning.
I can smell it
Our musk
Our stench
Our uncleanness.

I can smell burning
When governments guns
Protect miner’s bombs
When I work from dark to dark
The week of a death
(just casually).

I can smell burning
I think it’s us.

Dear Friend

Dear friend,
We stand together
Not ‘together’ together
But at the photocopier
And sometimes
In the hallway.

Sometimes
I bellow
In the corridor
Sometimes I sprint away
For no reason
After a short exchange
About not much at all.

Dear friend,
We stand together
In the days upon days
Share space
Share breath
Walk towards and apart,
Towards and apart.
We dance
Through life’s meandering quiet
At the photocopier
And sometimes in the hallway.

Boy

My son,
You are always as you should be
Always have been
Always, in these hard spaces:
This soft kindness; this mighty mercy.

My son,
Every kindness you radiate
The warm silence
‘It’s okay,’ you say to us
‘It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.’

But this sweet sturdiness,
My son; my son;
Is too much on your shoulders
Too much for you to fairly bear
And in the cool of the night
I wonder at your warmth
And all I can think to do
Is kiss you as you sleep.

The Courtyard

My daughter noticed
(Weeks ago)
That the magpies here
Are very fat.

This afternoon,
Between paragraphs
(Well, after the realisation
That I wrote down
The wrong page number
And ranted
‘Who the hell is Harrison?
I can’t find the letter!’
And skulked out
To the Social Sciences Courtyard)
I stood beneath the flowering tree
The russet-salmon pendants
With fatted bees bumbling among them
The bulbous trunk
Whispering to me
That I could write
That it would be ok
That I am part of the long story
That I belong.

Walking back,
I saw hollowed green walnuts
Scattered across the path
A pile, swept aside
A sign of industry and resignation
And wondered if perhaps
In the night
Rats chew them.

I went to leave
But the flower-tree called to me
And I turned back and stood on the grass.
Shells and kernels speckled my shoulders
My gaze rose to the sulfur-crested dissident
Quietly chewing through the full, young crop
And I thought, ‘Ah: even the loudest voices
Come here and are stilled.’

I knew, then,
That the silent rhythms of this place
Fatten magpies
And build wonder
In the woman my daughter will become.

Flotsam and Jetsam (poem)

There’s nothing left of that home feeling
There is no bed-remembrance
No warm waiting space
That calls a person back
When abroad; when visiting

There’s no clean pillow
That smells the same as yesterday
And the week before
Fresh and new, fresh and new
The same, the same, the same

There is no chair;
No place at a table
No rhythm
Nothing is where it used to be
Nobody is the same face
As yesterday morning
And last year
And all those birthdays

Drifted into the ether

Evaporated
Into the wind;
Flotsam and jetsam
Split into pieces
You cannot buy your place again
Once you have become nothing
To anyone
Anywhere…
Once you have fallen away from the wholeness of things
And yet

There is still a body
Tumbled through the open spaces
Wedged into the un-home gaps that were
Designed to be in-betweens, and daytime, and outings
These spaces are everything; all of it
And always
And nowhere at all.

Headspace (poem)

Old City Square, Prague

So, you’ve stopped me,
To talk.
I’ll listen,
For a little while.
Unless you give me something
Unless you pay rent
For this precious peace
Of headspace.

What are you wanting
To put in there?
What manner of structure
Are you seeking to build?

This mind is a busy city
German-engineered
Poets live here; painters
Physicists, geneticists
George Eliot’s summer residence
Overlooks Strauss and Kierkegaard
Sitting gently beside each other.

So sure, speak to me.
But for God’s sake
Say something.