The Poet

A poet hides their sacks of words
Bulging with blood and flesh.
Chameleons are less shy, and
Dearer to the ecosystem.
Embarrassing words, those
For the dearest of hearts:
Grandmothers and
Hardworking men
Infuse the poet, from eyes to pen.
Jailed are the words inside:
Kind, creamy words
Like a pastel oil painting
Multicoloured in hue
Nestled between scales and
Orifices.
Poets print them in patterns,
Quelling the colour with structure,
Rigid as the rising sun
Sets below the hills each evening.
They do because they must;
Unless the world is ending or
Victory fresh on inebriated tongues,
Who wants to know how much you love them?
Xylophones are less shy in volume.
Your poet is folding words in their sweater, in
Zebra print, in polka dots.

The Bounds of Ownership

Look here – the scars around our feet
we left in solid ground.
See how the lightest of walking
can mark without a sound.
Then see if your house is harmless
to space, to air, to light;
the shadows cast by home or tower
all blend within the night.

Look here – how breathing shakes the sight
of motes of dust, and they
see how the human beasts excuse the weight of life
by shades of pelt escape.
Then gentle now! Our homes are waiting
upon some flickering sign;
the lungs of ancient, prideful names
devour by design.

Mantra

Poetry is pattern
no juicy splatter of words
and subject matter
prints you a poem.
Poetry is saying
the same things playing
a broken record
that younger people won’t play.
Poetry is rearranging
repeatedly the same set of blocks
and teasing out flats
from imperial palaces from tombs.
Poetry is living
and dying; being remembered
in lonely islands
in a sea of forgetting.
It is redundant and repugnant,
even. It is doing again
and breathing, even then.

Lines for a Romantic

The spark is eaten by the pyre,
And flames consumed by raging rain;
A speck can cling unto desire
When canvas bleeds out from a stain.
The painter struggles ‘gainst the dark
that drowns their light like an eclipse
does drown the sun – so art is stark
as blood upon their pallid lips.
Destruction wakened by the lyre
absorbs the blotches of despair;
consumption paints the knowing liar
in grey – and storms await them there.

Being Responsible Means

I grow into the duty of trimming
the hedges, so they are sweet and not sharp:
not critically concerned about dead bees,
or worms evacuating decent soil.
The thorns wear masks I sew for them. Distress
is contagious, proliferates from one
drop, one drop spoils the pot, I own proverbs
not my own. A rainbow ring of neutral
energy encircles my bare neck like
a halo, as I grow uncanny shoots
staring from pots, from painted milk tins.

On a Nominally Invasive Mutation of Indigenous Species

I am a tree filled with meat and blood
and I am not pure and free. The swallows
that come seeking food and house flee
the forest when they encounter me.
I am a meat and blood and flesh tree;
at night I sleep and dream of poetry,
of desert lands and ocean sands, away
from family. These are not free.
I am a convoluted organ tree,
I have multiple hearts and intestines
that coil, entangle me, so I am not
pure and free. The other trees are
purely wood, and breathe the fresh air
for free
and suck the forest floor
for free
and leave my seeds in brackish soil
for fear they will resemble me.
I am a tree filled foreignly,
and neither pure nor free,
but I am,
I am.

A poem is just

a collection of pickled phrases,

each preserved on a different sunset,

in a different summer;

in a different school or a different love

and we make them go together,

your sentiment and my ire

cook up a steaming dish to draw out

every deep desire:

one for frigid, bitter wit

to validate the pain,

one for tangy-sweet nostalgia,

a squeeze of sprinkled sepia–

oh, these we bind together

with some unifying element

like weaving sprigs of ferns

through an autumn-splashed bouquet,

and a poem is just taste,

like red wine or hot chocolate;

the tongue discriminates

meaning from the empty air.

 

Quasi-honest Poetry on Young Love

Look

Do not make a sound.

See how you mirror galaxies and wrap them the world ’round

You chart the map of time for me

I have made you my sea

(If that makes me a selfish one then selfish I will be.)

 

See

The jump in my veins.

Look, your beauty pumps my drying blood through all the worldly pains

You gift the kiss of life to me

Although we’ve never touched

(You are the fairest lifeline my dead hands have never clutched.)

 

Stop

Tell me not your name.

To ruin your enigma, that would be a crying shame.

You are the Northern Lights to me

You are the god of war

(To give that life a human name would make you a right bore.)

 

Colourless I : The Scarlet Men

An exploration of cultural identity.


So swift they are to tie her

To their crowns and shoulders and waists

So small an infant swaddled

By these crimson strings

So swift they are to lift the knots to her eyes

Whisper, in the way mothers whisper

That she is that shade of red inside

And rock her and cradle her

So she may not deny it

Instead, she drifts off to sleep.

So swift they are to throw her

Into their battles and their debates

So young a child surrounded

By red and ancient things

So swift they are to dye her hair in beetles

Rasp, in the way fathers rasp

That she is that feisty colour inside

And shake her, awaken her

But they are not her fathers

And they are not her mothers.

So swift they are to straddle her

On the road to fame and fortune

So strong a falcon pinioned

By decomposing kings

So swift they are to mount the strapless saddle

Laughing, in the way masters laugh

That they have made her theirs inside

That she is swaddled still

But she recalls the truth

That her blood is colourless.