Friday

Clean shelter and bounding dogs between the lake
and I for miles. A queen in the fresh mountain air,
up above furrows and vines arranged in perfect
portions, a full-fat exercise book of juicy maths.

Not a mountain person with this pouch, a little twinge
in the back of the knees, cold-stuck in coffee, art,
watching, don’t care if you’re better than me, it’s nice
here. The air is rarefied and sends me dreams of

dead babies, a party at which I am weightless as a
ballerina. I rot in the pool like a lily pad, dangerous
underwater as a sister. The unicorn has popped,
grappled in fabulous rodeo, the horn gone down.

Not my Dad. I am on holiday and keep working
to fill up the silence. We hear a story about a
bricklayer whose fingers stuck fast in a pulley,
crow hard at absurdity, dress light.

The old ship left, creaking into the chop & good-
bye to you. Another month with empty arms &
the racket of other people’s luck, tiny little eyelids,
the slight smell of burning from a fontanelle.

Off you go. I am waiting for ze blood to come, it is
baptism, a renewal of hope. They say relax it’ll be
your big opening soon, I say forget it. Ego’s overrated,
the whole point is to give & it seems I cannot do that.

Sandy tears for the tiny speck of morse-flecked
light that circles my Shangri-la, wanting a go. It is
missing me, wants a gro of skin to slip into,
for me to give it a bit of a stroke- old Niblet.

Honestly, perhaps I am not destined to love that hard-
it is hard. More to give the oak-eyed olds a break
& call those quickstep children as my own . Ok then!
We are all one after all. A writhing mass of golden fleece.

Tuesday

Wrong Birds  
after Leviathan 2012

33 Upon earth there is not his like,
Who is made without fear.

- Job 41


Spreading out from the brave houses of New Bedford into the darkness these men- Azoreans and Portuguese, black Cape Verdeans propelled from the barbarous coasts, ghosts with their whaling mouths- where the sea speaks in fish. These oil skinned men hang from the edge with their golden links, her white hand open to them like a roaring Christ.

From one silver-bloodied hell to the next, they haul this rope of a hanging man, sprats held firm in their yellow fists. The bone white gulls, horrible like stars, have throats full of the electric hum of the terrible machinery. It is distilled wind, the sound of death- they are throwing it out across the knocked up depths of her baited breath.

Smoke pours from their nostrils as from a boiling pot on a fire of reeds. Their breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from their mouths. Strength lives in their necks; dismay goes before them- the folds of their flesh are tightly joined; firm and immovable. Their undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge.

Wet lipped, his smoke leaves scrimshaw on the night. She’s hooked and knifed right down the middle as a wingless skate. Shuck on shuck in a steel cage, a man with the face of a pike. Eyes couched in a nest of nets, filmy with salt, hopeless with his sunken chest. He is scrabbling around, lost as a knife as it enters the husk.

Athena, your waterfall of blood. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. He dives down into the blackest gorges and soars out, invisible in the sunny spaces- tension in his neck. Tension in ropes and winches, Tension in the nylon and crow’s feet, tension in floats and forecasts, hands like the jaws of a shark.

Johnny is a sailor, he is in a white vest. he has coffee in a paper cup. by high noon the men are back. Johnny’s eyes are fixed to the TV. Brian makes a phone call home, the crew loses thousands of dollars a day. Indigestion? Constipation that comes and goes every day? 4.5 pounds of fecal waste. He coughs- his throat is fucked. He is fucked.Johnny is fucked up. he has run out of coffee, there is kitchen paper. Johnny is in a room on the sea. he is all at sea. his eyes close. he is asleep- his whole life he is asleep. His eyes are heavy. His eyes are pain, heavy weather, exhaustion, brotherhood.

The birds are upside down and they are wrong. They are wrong and under the water. The fish are gulls with bent wings. There is a joint in them, a small tense joint.  They are giving off light and are the wrong way around. The birds are wrong and your lungs are heavy with them. Thier feet are made of small bones.

Pull in the Leviathan with a fish hook- tie down his tongue with a rope. His snorting throws out flashes of light; eyes like wilting flares.The Lady of Grace is found submerged in 56 feet of water at the bottom of Nantucket Sound, the bodies do not surface. The bodies roll across the sea bed, eyeless, to East Chop- wed with the Summer Flounder.

The mermaid on a man’s arm moves. She undulates on skin, breasts made of skin. She is the colour of skin and the screeching of a terrible bird, harsh as a child. Man as machine, prising out the life and bathing in eternal mildness of joy. Golden beards and eyes that that have seen death forever, foreheads welted as tide-battled sand.

Bug-eyed fish and their gasping mouths. Cut and opened, inside-out and raw as widows. They swim
in their own blood. They judder and crash on the waves, souls like tiny Noah’s, stomachs tipped out, gutted and chucked, wet purses nicked by boys. The sea’s red belly empties across the decks like a sickness- a bloated bird that stalks the bloodied boards.

Chainmail from some giant knight, the mechanism churns and moans. Ropes unfurl like the trunks of great soft trees. The sea and the vessel trawl the other, their hulls like chins that push through butter. Starfish- helms from an airless heaven or the hell above- half-swimming wrecks, piled up like Jews. Call them Ishmael. These men of old and their god-like strength.


Image by Louisa Albani, painted especially for this poem

across a reddening ocean
of tangled cables, sinew,
or by a white bloody van upon
a bridge that does not reach,

one by every one the kids
get pulled like toyless crackers.
old moons, familiar soils. still,
the crones warn us in bullets

love is abstract, childish,
we suffer their unreal flag
in swathes of crime tape-
hyperbole, traditions of sickness,

a terrible romance, these apes.
Palm down, flat with the card underneath. He is buying a small
container of pasta, the pasta is not nutritious and barely satisfying.
Into the station, a clock and also wretches. Some are happy, click-
clacking around, lush. A fake smile catches the worm, she is so tired.
They are all tired but there is Floradix. There is coffee coming from all
the pores in every wall. From every epidermis there is coffee. And time,
all the time. Compared to these skyscrapers and the men who built them.

In the lounge, and hating the way it sounds. Sitting room, Mum would
have insisted. Tapping away, good luck. Stuckist in flannelette.
There are motivational quotes for this I bet, gone viral like a fascist.
There will be a programme for this, a way to re-enter the station.
There is a yoga pose called not depressed, it costs eighty quid at
least, have you tried it. Follow your bliss in an arts admin position, you’ll
be around people: not complex, and they can’t see your eyes.

Back on the walkway there are hundreds of unshackled minds. All with
purpose. A lady nearly knocks my flapjack off she is so full of it. Nips in.
Busy and alive, in her groove. Emotional freedom is an excuse, and it pays
really badly. Also, do you want to be remembered for being tired. She was
always tired! The pews erupt into laughter, they are fond of how tired I was
all the time. Always tired! Just the way she was, changing the world by
loving people. Writing some poems that a hamster made his bed in.

One day the crutches just stop working. It’s ok as we are not chimneys nor
romantic enough to be a drunk anymore. It has lost its mystery. One whole
packet of Nice biscuits is guilt. So now I hobble around on cocktail sticks
stopping only for a single robin. More truth in a single bird than anything I am
told by anyone, more sense. Or a dog’s eyes. I crouch and understand the
dog. His head is solid and my hand does not go through it. Or when a child
speaks to me I can make them laugh. When they like me without trying.

Or I could buy a Graze box and browse products in Boots, they used to hold
such promise. All the potions and stinks, now useless. I see the package
design in vector and people decide to have a different colour hair, how
are these decisions made. People represent themselves and I am lost, can
only see the way they move, with bravado or hesitance, a sudden faltering.
Trying to get past you, winding up to make speed, to their futures on time,
toward the olden days clock with no lovers.

Wednesday

Brace to expand the only magic space
left to us, a place of folk that exists beyond
money. I love money! If only
I had some, or the other thing they all
want, called exposure, or big ears.

Disruptive in itself, the voice amongst
ads, pride in my artform, graffiti all
over the banal- nice, I like it. But
also, why does that vast nation get to
finger our last starry trench with a yup,

filmed on metro sets of faux-reality?
Imagine yourself surrounded
by cameras, your words tripping out to
potential emptor, shoehorned hard in
to fit the brief. The future etc! Saving.

I would melt with the absurdity of it,
my self droning on about shares or family
when I have neither, not quite the way they
call it. Grubby poets with their terrible
clothes and outsider faces, spun

to gold in terse intermission. Lol
at the Night’s Watch, volunteering
to keep the tiny slice of light alive. We
never did it to make ends, but for love-
to transform right and organise.

For we exist elsewhere, always. We do,
time bends. I am useless in the mainstream.
Here are some words that fit ok. Spokey-
Dokeys on your wheel, for recall. Sorry
I cannot sell them. They are already yours.

Friday

There is a decent amount of stillness
in snow, and also in the yellow of
daffodils. It would be easy to say they remind
me of you, but they don’t. The crown of each
burns. All around, people

are effortlessly people. Some elsewhere.
Poets are ghosts. It is not especially
romantic. Stillness and the urge to participate,
hoping the snow sits. Casting out lines, always
wonky, the agony! Sounds good does it.

Yet in the centre, amber. Suspended,
knowing our faces are lunatic gaps in some
bottomless armour. So far into absurd that
money is unfathomable, hearts birthing
bright from our sleeves like hernia. Still,

the need to be a part of it, to have existed.
To never forget that we are slipping away
all miracle. Vivid and extra, skin and light,
experiments in weather. To touch, to write it
right. Staying open in the only way we