Poems

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Crossing 

 My brother started crossing animals with kitchen implements, garden furniture, screws, nuts, bolts, fixings, ironmongery and work wear, guttering and drainage solutions, door and window fittings, Hi Vis overalls, fillers, aggregates and sealants, work towers and cleaning essentials.

He raised a half hedgehog half old-fashioned tape measure. He was very pleased with the snakes that part-way along fanned out as all the sizes of Allen key.

They would be reared in ice cream tubs, an old chest freezer or on his bottom bunk. And all the animal/objects weren’t obviously upset by their uniqueness in the world. My brother could manage pain with the skill of an anaesthetist.

Our parents asked him about pursuing his crossing as a proper career but he wouldn’t hear of it.

A sparrow/whisk on his shoulder and a pocket alive with woodlice/Rawlplugs, he tried to tell me there was more to life than the obvious but I couldn’t understand a word as his tongue was pimpled with the buttons off an ornate till and his motivation was insulated with a no nonsense and damp-resistant expanding sticky foam.

Forthcoming, In Charge of the Gun

Intermission

We need to talk about how there is no manual

or film to watch of someone just like you

getting through a life like yours, and how the film

wouldn’t end, anyway,

with a sun-filled palace opening every window.

Where you are has not been captured

in an 18th Century grisaille, and your illness

is not distinct enough from what we’ve all got – it has

no attributable mandala composed

by scientists when scientists could see.

There’s no position to get in which eases the ache,

no flavour to compliment this unusual taste,

nothing goes with it, there is no rhyme

for the words that have to jump alone from

the dripping cave where words hang and wait

and wait. And wait.

There is nothing for it but to turn

and bend like the kinder shape

iron beams made when the barn burnt,

which monocle the moon

as it moves through in fossilised panic.

What cuts by being gripped is not documented.

The brain is a grey planet, uninhabited.

Its canals are geographic, incidental.

The music it low-hums, the trombone complaints,

the timpani jungle-worry: explainable.

Observe: the adze flint-edge of

this bundle of thought and speech which

amount to our days together, apart

on the same beach whilst some importance docks,

off-loading the well-meaning but utterly lost.

Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal


    Poem With Nothing in It

I try to write a poem devoid

of everything.

No family, no hopes, no horror.

They say it can’t be done.

I hold my breath

so the train window won’t mist

and I can see the city blink

in the dark without my reflection.

A first empty line appears.

It is see-through, like an odd glass pipe

from the Garden of Earthly Delights.

The next is lonely as Voyager.

I write on. No history emerges.

No influences or echoes.

There is no one in the poem.

I don’t describe anything

but stalk its corridors

that go on like the hall that unfolds

when two mirrors face each other.

The absence of any point is remarkable.

From Well, Against the Grain

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