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.

The Persecutor

Inside an air-conditioned bedroom
they hang a tattered image of Evil:
a face punctured by darts
a race of vapourised hearts.
Underneath a fan, a lamp, beside
the vanity, is where they magic
the lists of undesired names away
names that will change another day.
Behind the coat, behind the badge,
behind donation held up like a shield,
undamaged – there lies the face of Man,
a face of guilt that lies because it can.

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.

Ode to Mirages

I saw an image playing in the dirt,

reflected on the spray of pebbling pores

there! – where shadows dance and flirt

I saw it waver: was it truly yours?

This doubt within me did not dull its charm,

for all this nearness brought too much to bear

its losing. Glass would quail to see its shine

inside my mind, that feared its future harm.

The perfect moment, clearing us of care,

a part of you, confirming parts of mine.

 

Hourglass

I fear the taste of stale water:

the waste of fetid fishtank gunk,

I fear the hot air grows hotter,

the heat of lost hopes, pipe dreams sunk.

I fear the future’s daughter

and her bright, accusing eyes;

I fear that time grows shorter

between her birth and our demise.

I fear that we have bought her,

like the soldier persuades a monk –

with blood, and fists, and torture;

consider the water drunk.

 

Democracy

There is a growling pounding and a beating on the streets,

An open-toed dance of a million angry feet.

The whistles are a-blowing and the business climate, too;

They pick something to picket that the clients soon eschew.

 

There is a siren sounding and a hissing on the streets,

Where clouds of smoke are rising up in somber-coloured sheets.

A flock of birds escapes the scene with shrill and chilling cries,

And yet the crowd will not disperse until somebody dies.

 

The officer sets up his stand, accepts an offered smoke,

Relaxing here would do as much of good as had he spoke,

For there is nothing here that can be uttered to allay

The dang’rous disappointment of a cancelled holiday.

And into Hell with This I’d Rather Go

The silence that I know is soft as snow,

yet swaddles me so warmly in delight.

And into hell with this I’d rather go,

this blanket: seasoned soldier of the night.

 

Arising at the blazing set of sun

to shield me from the heat of envious eyes.

Like teachers, shoo away ululation,

and buy for me more sky before demise.

 

The downy tufts that muffle every noise,

imbue me full of gentle swan-like grace.

Replenish what I’ve lost in peace and poise:

A kiss of life upon my wretched face.

 

Yet nothing quiet can be done or said

to vanquish so the voices in my head.

The Gardener

There lives a gardener in this house,

Although no plants grow here.

Ink and spit both water seeds

Throughout the driest year.

 

At times he tends a swollen fruit,

The love of life it does comprise.

Inside the flesh is plump and bright

And healthy, wealthy and wise.

 

At times he waters nought but thorns,

The blood coalescing at the tip.

They bear no fruit and bare no hue,

And wings of robins they do rip.

 

Who is this man, deemed he so grand, to hold such fate inside his hand?

His land is small; his shield, abstract – a stub of chalk, his only brand.

 

Lattices in Lace

The world and all its time are etched in patterns, fine and deep

and optimists love to recall a flowing tapestry,

but what I see is more a quilt where simple hues repeat:

where squares ensnare our knowledge in our broken memory.

 

Quite often people say that the most sought-out lovers keep

the details of all vestiges that they may deploy in verse;

if so is true, our hearts must be as passionless as sleep –

forgetful strings just doomed to ravel under someone’s curse.

 

And though a needle strikes the cloth in one explosive leap,

and just as quickly can recoil, more quickly than a sneeze,

the stencil is still circular and seldom solids seep,

this world’s a woollen blanket and we, just a passing breeze.