Darkroom

put all the lights out
I beg of you
my love is made from whole cloth
I don’t dare to cut it

so put all the lights out
reduce us to mouths seeking each other in the dark
I beg of you

because I cannot take in more
than one part of you at a time

because your mouth is like a light
and each of your eyes is a light

because each of your limbs is made of clear jade
and glows like phosphor

because there is a new sun in the sky
and it burns me to look upon it

so help me

put all the lights out
put all the other lights aside
put your incandescence under a sheet

hide in the darkroom with me
until something develops

and let me take you in
one angle at a time
until my eyes grow accustomed to the light


Now in song form on Soundcloud – performed with Vince Cabrera and Fernando dalla Pasqua

Aubade II

Sleepy crucibles pour languid legs
into molten contours where bedsheets
were first scooped out by you.
Languidly we meander toward daylight.
Bodies do not work until they have played,
and so I give dreams over to idle arms.
Love is an amoeba dancing in a Petri dish
and backlit by that one kind of smile,
you know the one, the one that stuns me.
Now come closer, little darling, let
me squint at you before I put on my glasses.

There is a battered community piano
that lives by the waterfront and likes
to let its paintwork breathe in the sea air,
even though that’s bad for its tuning.
I like to think that old instrument delights
in little visitors inexpertly petting it.
If I hear you sing from a cracked throat,
your mouth opening as for the first time
while the morning breaks open,
I will take that as a true ode to joy
and accompany you with clumsy fingers.

 

One of the pieces set to music, with the help of Rose Duxfield, at Beatspeak in July 2016.

Penny

Penny

she jumps in like the last line of a haiku

felling every stroke of wheat before her

that I had painted so carefully across my landscape

swift as the wind from the mountain

that dervishes hot and dry in the streets

playing with leaves like she plays with my heart

clumsily but with such panache

that I forgive her and will do so

each time spring rolls round

she knocks

like the rhombic edge of my knee

against the underside of the chessboard

dashing all the squares from their places

with one impetuous diagonal

she is forked lightning when she flashes

one nipple at me in the middle of the railway station

while a hundred backpackers

heap up their prayers in soft cairns

she winks in and out of view

like one side of a spinning penny

heads she loves me tails she’s gone

a world away

she flicks me on my edge and sets me spinning

spinning and shining

Onion Lady

Onion Lady 

Each evening we’d negotiate

An electric peace

While pacing green corridors

Following the colour coded stripes

Long as wagging tongues.

At some point a switch would flip

Tipping a nine volt contact

Ionic bonds tasting sweet and sharp

Like lemon chicken sauce

Licked up from the bottom of the plate.

You are better the second time around

Laying out your yellow flanks so tender

Battered, buttery before my blue foothills.

Snap frozen moments sit in the chiller

Ready for my phone raised in prayer.

Its glossy black monolith

Oblongs for kisses that sink

To the bottom of the Leith

Along with discarded shopping trolleys.

Paper picnic plates, wide and white

Cover each of my floating eyes.

Follow my story downstream.

Look up at the river in the sky

Open to past and present alike

An eclectic piece

Played in electric blue.

Open and closed

Open and closed

Close your bag, he says.

Anyone could just reach in while you are sleeping

On the train and take things

While your eyes are closed:

Your phone, your books, your wallet.

When you sit on the train you fall open

Like an abandoned bag.

Your knees are spread and your lap is wide open

Like your mouth when you sleep,

And like your mouth it sings an invisible song.

Your bag breathes in and out with every

Unconscious tiny movement of your stomach.

The bag on your lap lies open to strangers.

You leave yourself open to theft.

You’ve been overseas. Don’t you know better?

I can’t help it, my darling.

My whole world is an open bag.

My morning commute runs along one half

Of the great zip delineating its mouth.

Nature and geology has turned

My house into an opening.

Deep inside it, anyone can reach

With inquisitive hands

And find knowledge or wealth or connections.

I have travelled, yes. If I ever feel homesick

All I have to do is put my bag down,

Expand the opening till it makes an O

And step into that singing shape.

I will let the topography of my bag enfold me,

Mouth open, eyes closed.

hydria

hydria

walking the thin line through the columbarium

imagine that you see me and take me down

from a dusty niche

funerary urns

hold the dry ash

ash goes in and is never meant to come out

lekythoi

hold the thin oil

grown stale from waiting at the graveside

I’d like to ask you a favour

shape me

but not like this

make me something less ceremonial

more practical

your wet fingers

describe the line from my waist up over my shoulder

in an unbroken curve

forming me from red clay

spin me

with each excited motion of your right foot

driving the treadle

I will turn to face you and then away

and then to face you again

as I change day to day

showing you new faces

delicate white with a long nose

or the gorgon at my breast

let us try to make sense of this vessel

so easy to break and ready to hold so much

as you release the large handles for carrying

and take hold of the slender handle for pouring

rest me in your lap

not on a table or the floor

keep me close

keep safe the contents

that you have filled me with

water

sweet water

coursing from me

that’s it, wipe my cheeks