Three years later,
a year, ten years from now,
I’ll always remember;
not why perhaps, only that we were there like that, together.
Everything, all of it, leads back to you
Three years later,
Low tide, a boy picks up a stone
and puts it in his mouth; his father yells NO
and peels it out. This is special water
he says, gently shaking his
body. It may look pretty
but it’s very, very bad for you.
The dog doesn’t care, she prances
in the muck, then climbs in my lap
and licks. Some habits die hard, says her owner
Her wet black blunt smelling like heaven
Every crashed relationship has its black box, the blow-
by-blow account of what went wrong and how,
the crescendo of mistakes that peaks, is for an instant
quiet on its crest of trauma, then drowns itself and us
in a cascade of static. The black box is what survives,
anthracite gleaming in the wreckage where, preserved in anger,
the voices that it holds replay their lifetime of last moments
and speak of how, until the very end, it might all have been
so different, and how, right from the start, we knew it never would
Take care of the person
He/She is fragile
Look at the soft cups of their eyes, if you need any more proof
I have known a person who, in contravention of the given
narrative, was taken down
(Reached an end point too soon)
We cold not explain why he did what most definitely
The language showed its seams and could not help
Not at its most bald, or decorated
When a person we love is taken off it is –
1. Better or worse than we might have imagined. Better, because,
mostly, we do not fail to go on living. Which is, after all, the
This is one kind of experience:
You find a rope to hold
You are on a steep incline and you drag yourself upwards
or you hang on in stasis
You cannot describe it except to say there is no light, your
hands on the rope are raw and your whole body aches
At every moment you think
I cannot go on
but you go on
This is one way of getting through but
As you can see, it is not very satisfactory
To pass through something is rarely unscathing
There is also getting by
Getting by is not getting through, to paraphrase a person
2. Worse because –
It might be better not to make any other suggestions.
I was very young when I was cracked open.
Some things you should let go of
Others you shouldn’t
Views differ as to which
I kept hold of everything, just in case
We are trained to revere life
To look back on it at the end of a person’s life and count what we have
found of value
This is a kind of comfort
On the whole I conform to this theory
After all, what else can we do?
Praise be for the human spirit, and the spirits of animals
which also soar
Praise be for the gentle, brokenhearted person
When the terrible thing happened people said Be strong
As if we might lay steel cable for bones, petrify our whole self
(The skin is a sort of protective organ and yet it is not safe from most
things, it is a weak kind of coating to put on a vulnerable person).
I repeated the phrase to someone in crisis
I do not know if they managed to achieve it
I traced a stitch raised by your absence.
I concentrated on this panel of sky
and wound myself into a ribbon of silence.
I have sat at the brink drafting a lie.
I have held my breath, entered the rooms,
drawn down the blinds and opened my eyes.
I’ve stood still enough to find my own way home.
I died a little when I took tiny sips of Spring
and spared no thought for when it had all gone.
I know all I need to know. I breathe in
the shadow’s scent when it is near
and commit it to my own silent skin.
Everything over the past three
years leads back to you.
I rest on the tilted gate to prepare
for rain, the rain that began elsewhere.
He read her ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart.
It wasn’t the story, although the story is good,
and it wasn’t the way he read it. The English
accent couldn’t quire grasp the Americanisms.
The sures and yeahs became parodies that
brought humour to beauty that didn’t need it.
It was the fact that she lay with her head
on his chest and he felt the rumble of his own
voice and a vibration of words gone before.
The story he reads ends full of fire, and they
lay very still, but what to do? How long could
they remain there? So he traced patterns on
her skin with his fingers. And the patterns
became circles and the circles became words
and these actions have a tendency to progress.
He lifted her T-shirt over her shoulders and
we know the rest. There are all types of bodies.
If you’re lucky you’ll find someone whose skin
is a canvas for the story of your life.
Write well. Take care of the heartbeat behind it.
It’s June and sweltering.
The kiss you left on my lips
is dying down.
Everything has changed.
The window shows me clouds
that have not altered,
the sky is ablaze yet refuses
to stain the light.
Meanwhile your morning progresses
and under some other light you’re
tapping out data,
or singing quietly to yourself.
Beyond the gate a man continues sweeping,
collecting fallen things. I contemplate window glass,
quietly fracturing on its own terms.
It is what
it is. But
what is it?
What it is –
whose two terms
Time to give, time
to give myself up
the first winds
the north roads
but towards you
Then in the morning’s grey light
but towards you
Right through the city
and right through
but towards you
To your voice
your being you
punctured into the real
by your lips
on my throat, making
the only possible
your touch a friend
I am getting to know
All of us crammed in there
like buffalo standing before water at nightfall, looking ahead.
All of us shadows and shapes, quietly shifting.
That day being your face, and the constant threat of rain,
the air seeming thick as the ground. Your face
being the saddest thing I have ever seen.
Then the weight of our footsteps
outside the church.
The soft tread of us, our press into the grass,
temporary craters on soft earth and proof of us being alive,
a dissatisfied herd breathing quietly, waiting to act as one.
I spent the whole day
burning and writing, until
they became the same,
as when the planet covers the sun
with all its might and still
I can see it, or when one dead
body gives its heart
to a name on a list. A match.
A light. Sailing a signal
flare behind me for another to find.
A scratch on the page
is a supernatural act, one twisting
fire out of water, blood out of stone.
We can read us. We are not alone.