Sunday 19 August 2018

Did it ever really go down?

Did it ever really go down?
That time on the ice-rink in China?

Maybe the place was up near Chengdu?
Or still in Kunming?
We took a bus near 9pm, right?
Then we walked the suburbs
and finally found the empty indoor rink
as the sun collapsed on us.

It sounds all wrong
and I’ve wondered
why there are no photos of those hours
or why we’ve not spoken of it since.
But I’m sure that once on our China trip
we skated some lonely ice-rink
late through the night
in a neighbourhood to the south of the country.

I have this one hazy memory
of you dressed in black:
you skate in circles at some point
then slowly draw near.
We stumble and embrace,
perhaps for the final time
before the decay.

Our damned decay.
Up till then,
we must not have even known decay.
We were but 22
—young love in a strange arena
in a part of the world
that already seemed unreal.

Or perhaps we never loved each other.
Perhaps we were far too young to.
Perhaps there was no such ice-rink.

But I think there was

and I feel my mind is struggling to recall it
for there are some things
only the heart can remember.

We're each of us a passing breath

We’re each of us a passing breath.

We're each of us a box
which lies on the lawn
as god moves from one day
to the next.

We’re each of us a can on the shelf
or a novel in hand

We’re each of us a pebble skimmed across the ocean roof.

We’re each of us the rolling caravans
—the convoys of history: arriving, looking, leaving.

May we take our time
like history takes its time,
     like the tent
     —pierced to the skin of the earth—
     takes its time.

May we take our time
as when we watch our parents.
We’re each a passing breath.

Our tramp through China

Our tramp through China

came to end at the Great Wall.

And though it’s got that damn iconic rank,

it truly was an outstanding


as it bubbled from the peaks like History’s champagne.


We set up camp

and watched the sun

lay down

its head behind the tips of the West,


from where,

more than two millennia prior, as

Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi oversaw the build 

of a fortress of farcical proportions,                                              

as the Xiongnu to the North prepared invasion,

Rome prepared to split its cocoon.


We walked along a while.


Looking south, we felt tourists still,

but in the face of the formidable north

we had the strange sensation of feeling local.

We were tired but impassioned

then unexpectedly moved

as we took our backs to an undersized segment,

which for all we knew marked the bones

of half the poor wretches

now perished

from bringing to life

the outrageous magnum opus,

the now dormant reptile sprawled across Northern China.


—The nation’s true dragon.


A final speck of sun fell back;

an idling wasp withdrew within a crackling section.



following the first of the Dynasties

whose guardsmen lined every one of its towers,

after digging its ancient heels in the sands

of the Cultural Revolution

and clinging on to life,

after Rome’s capitulation,

the mammoth beast just lies silent,


on a small pension

of the odd tourist dollar.


But it never does go short

on providing the wasps

some shelter for the night.













Monday 13 August 2018


the old refrain:


and a little more

Then, before the final throes:

a rush
like fuel,

a glow
like god.

It might as well be god.
It’s likely merely gut.

Yet who am I to imply
a difference between the two?

I've childhood recollections

I've childhood recollections
that stick like paint
to my brain-flesh.

That first instance I dropped a plate
sticks hard
—the world cracked
as porcelain hit the ground.

I once smashed my head
and the scar still lives
with the bathroom memory of a blood shower
pouring forth like raspberry cordial.

Then there were the robins in our shed
—that flittered, that settled to nest—
as we drove away to euthanize the dog.

There’s the giant Ferris wheel
and me atop the world in a carriage to myself.
But why myself?
Mum, dad or someone of age
was surely with me
yet the memory has me on my own
—a grey sky,
a carnival below existing like a thought-dream.

There I am,
a small child atop a monster Ferris wheel,
supposedly alone
though this can’t have been possible.
It’s a fake memory

and a favourite of mine

and it’s telling me something
but I’m unsure what.

The memories of the smashed plate
and bloodied forehead
tell me that things, ideals, perspectives 

but life goes on
in any case.

The memory of our doomed Alsatian
makes sense
with the memory of the nesting robins.

But why am I alone atop that Ferris wheel?
—The grey sky, the carnival below.
Why the false recollection?

I’ve no idea

and feel no need to understand.

Some things make sense regardless.

Thursday 2 August 2018

We've two dogs

We've two dogs.
One is sleek;
off the streets;
a mean face
—a fighter.

The other dog is a dope
—a contented moron.

The fighter always jumps the dope,
ceaselessly pins him down in anger.

A decent dog would quit
but the dope never does.
As the fight goes on,
the fighter loses nerve.

With a dumb, absurd enthusiasm,
the dope comes through
—throws the fighter up against the wall,
panting lovingly
the entire time.

This dubious excuse for a dog
is prophetic
—this embodiment of dumb devotion to life
continues out-brawling
the brawler.

It came like a song in thunder

It came like a song in thunder.
It came like cadence in storm.
It came for it’s always been coming
from when it was brought into form.

It came like a bolt of lightning
upon the peaks of the heart.
I’d not witnessed them reach so high
till I witnessed the wilderness part.

It came like a shot of presence
through sadistic roars of the age.
Love rained down its immortal blaze
to lighten up centre stage.