Saving for a Rainy Day

You can’t plan in the Antarctic. You can’t buckle straps
to your hips like a mountaineer and trek across the glass river
knowing for sure that the reflections of your feet are following.
The rain opens and closes as quickly as a showerhead.

Thick snow might touch your tongue before it cam tap out
the words you’ve decided on. The clothes you put on
are ludicrous in an hour: the Shetland jumper, wetsuit, khakis,

whatever people wear. You can’t even bang the door of the igloo
and run outside because you’re tired of your love,
and expect the same door to be there when you get back.

No picnics are ever held in the Antarctic,
even on the days that look sunny from the inside,
even on days when the foxes and the seals are dancing in the light,
even when you believe with all your heart that the sun will last.

It’s Been Said That A line Can Be Straight

It’s been said that a line can be straight,
or a street, but the human heart
is curved like a road through mountains.
If that’s the case I hope a row of horses
are walking over me on my way to you,
otherwise wouldn’t that journey be lonely?
And that same person said
when so many are lonely as seem to be lonely,
it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.

It’s also been said that time
is the longest distance between two places,
does that mean our bodies have been three, near four, months apart,
which seems so much greater than the few miles between us,
but you’re as real to me as the ground I’m walking on
and the trains I ride to town and back?

And if in memory,
everything happens to music,
what would have been playing as you drank a Dr Pepper
with your legs entangled in the blanket?
Two new fish in a vast ocean swimming side by side,
sniffing out a new continent. I have no idea.

The flowers in the mountains have broken through the rocks.
I don’t know how they did it,
but I’m happy for them,
for gentle things to be victorious
even in the name of destruction.
If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.

Romantic love is beautiful. How easily it is broken.
All cruel people describe themselves
as paragons of frankness. They shout
We don’t want or need you any more! as the rest of us
run into the sea. What else are you supposed to do
on this earth but catch whatever comes to you,
with all four fingers, until your fingers are broken?

I am looking at you through music again.
Add to that the distortions of my own ego.
How cloudy the glass has become.
I tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth,
to myself as much as to you.

It has been said there’s a time for departure
even when there’s no certain place to go.
We all live in a house on fire
with no fire brigade to call.
I suppose that just leaves a top floor window
and a queen-sized duvet to break the fall.

And since we’re all sentenced to solitary confinement
inside our own skins,
and since physical beauty is transitory,
we should all learn to live with it.
Then close the door on it
when the time comes that you look in the mirror
and realise that what you see is all you will ever be.
And then you accept it.
Or stop looking in mirrors.

The day you heard your father died

You must use it now, your heart,
use the wheat and seed of it,
the ears and the crop, and the beating of it.
Listen to him, your heart,
before you take a step, before you write a line.

Live through that heart, his veins, his fists.
If you can, pull him up through your throat,
take a minute to kiss and recollect
the look you got when you first were given it.

Today you and he must move just right
the way you’ve dreamed: always
heads up, backs long and straight, like mice in corn.

(In memory: 22 May 1942 – 11 May 1986)

Managing Anger

On screen, the actress smashes down the phone.
She wrecks the thing because she can’t get through.
She plays it stagey even when alone.
If you were there, she might be wrecking you.

Actors believe they have to show, not tell,
Any annoyance that the script dictates,
Therefore it’s not enough for them to yell:
they must pull down a cupboard full of glasses.

An actress wrecks a room. The actor who
is playing husband to her does not protest
Perhaps he doesn’t have enough to do
All day, and thinks her outburst for the best.

For God forbid that actors bottle up
Their subterranean feelings so that we
Can’t see them. We must watch the wine glass
Reduced to smithereens, the shelf swept free

Of all its crockery. Another take
Requires the whole set to be dressed again
With all the gubbins she got to break
The first time. Aren’t they weary, now and then,

The poor crew, setting up the stuff once more
That someone trashes in a rage,
False to the core,
The screen experience gives us gauge

For our real lives
Not even mentioning some simple fact
That brings us to the aching point of tears –
Lest people think that it might be an act.