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.


The matriarch

The matriarch

Crows fly out of my mouth,

And starlings, and riots of tuis,

Adding to morning’s clamor.

I am the forest that lives inside the city,

This office tower is my eyrie

And my steel gaze on the steel sea

Is the hawk’s squint piercing

The wrinkled hide of this harbour.

All of the above mine to command

Should I choose it. I am of the flock

And the cloud. The hard sea bore me

In on the gale-struck tide.

Sailors and wise men fear me

When I lower my glasses

Down my beak-hooked nose.

The Town Belt is my dogskin

And your sculptures adorn me,

Metal in my hair and eyes,

Plastic ringed around my neck.

I am your fire at night, I bring shape

In the wallowing dark to you,

Adoptive home, you, womb

Beside the seaside. I reach out

With great grey wings to catch

Your peach-tipped sunrise

And bottle it for the winter.

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.