Passing effect: The effect of passing through things – Leaves, hair, branches, hearts – Equal and opposite reactions; We pretend that contact is only temporary, that everything always only passes by, and through – and yet – even Jupiter’s tiny moons affect the giant’s gravitational field.
Gravity: A force so weak, you can defeat it with a fridge magnet, or a piece of tape; – and yet – Even the weakest forces can surprise you, how they keep coming back; The persistence of the everyday: You can jump up, but you’ll always land.
All these fleeting melodramas, the private riots, the secret rebellions, a universe of stories unfolding inside this infinite travelling picture show; one might call it a kind of madness.
…and yet… Sometimes, for one suspended moment, as we stand on the brink that little voice in the back of our mind, daring us to take that one small step out into the air, we remember some future day, the one we’ve waited for, all this time when everything becomes clear and we know at last that flight is, finally, possible.
here, a feather falls faster than a brick feast and famine are interchangeable and pens are all the same colour
what colour they are, is up to you
here, frogs can leap by halves and halves forever and never fall off the log
what colour the frogs are is up to you
sometimes, the dragon’s tale is sharp and cuts the skin sometimes it billows around you like smoke and you wonder where the fire is
what colour the dragon is is up to the dragon
here, elastic bands are stiff and brittle and shatter when you pull them while the dead branch on the ground pulls and stretches like taffy sprouting limbs, roots, whole trees a forest of caramel all the apples pre-dipped
here, skies are green, grass purple a magic marker heaven drawn on thick bristol board what colour the paper is is anyone’s guess
It is Saturday again, and they are leaning over the wooden railing, watching children play. Boats made of sticks and paper bob in the green water. At the end of the boardwalk, a woman in face paint is giving out free balloons. Is this real? he asks. She shrugs, says, that’s up to you. Her hand on his is warm and cold, like ice melting. The sparks from the bonfire jump and spit like firecrackers in the final throes of ecstasy.
Above, a gull circles the sky, white against the blue.
The watch lay where he had left it, next to the bootleg Pogues album. Some live concert in Bristol, before it had all come apart. The face was dark, lifeless, until he ran a sentimental finger across the scuffed glass, leaving a smear of brightness that faded like fogged breath on a window.
Before the fall, the sight of a naked woman strolling through the wreckage as if on a summer beach might have startled him. He had seen many such sights since, although the shapes had often staggered and stumbled, as if half-blind. He had thought, the first time, that the fire might have returned, that the moon might once again be reflecting the sun. They had all left, in the end. His brother had died, trying to follow them. Now here she was, marching through the steel graveyard towards him, as if she knew him. She must have gotten lost, he thought, all those years ago. Only she did not walk like someone lost. When they finally stood face to face, he realized that he knew her, had known her all along.
Sorry I’m late, she said. He held up the broken watch. The way his cheeks felt, oddly stretched, he must have been smiling. I remember now, she said, how to bring it all back.
Like most of her kind, she could not remember being born. Her first memory was of floating, suspended on the wind, surrounded by winking sparks. Their rising action guided, not by physics, but by something else – something that had dipped its fingers in the sunspots and swirled them as one might swirl milk in coffee, something that had watched molten magma cool and solidify, had seen the first rain fall on barren land, buffeted by waves tall as mountains. Were she anyone else, they would have called it foolish bravado, this attempt to resist what they all knew to be an irresistible force. But she was innocent, and so when she sang herself down again, they smiled and shook their heads and said, young people these days. She won’t last long down there, they said, all alone in an unforgiving world. She’ll come back eventually, it’s only a phase. She could not mark the precise moment when they forgot about her, but she felt it happen. It was some time after the first moment she set bare feet on stone.
Winter came, a shock of snow on the trees, white against unseasonable green. Darkness had become habitual, and so the light blinded him at first. There was a hint of sweet decay in the air, blankets of leaves settling after the rain. There had been fingernail scratches in the stone, shining blue-white against the black.
He’d been given a watch as a child, its letters bright green in the unlit bedroom. For a long time, he believed anything that glowed was radioactive, and had the potential to bestow superpowers. He also knew these things could only happen by accident. And so he willed himself to forget what he knew. It was, after all, the only reason he was standing here now, blinking and shading his eyes against the glare. To return to the living world, one need only forget that one is dead.
Mistaken for dead, they carried him to a stone room, the room where his brother lay. Seven years since the fall, when feathers had drifted snow-soft, and silver blood pooled mercury-thick on the frozen ground. Measuring the hours by the frequency of the static on the radio, the day by the twining of the vines that grew from the bodies, how long it took for the red flowers to open. When the pollen broke free and drifted up into the night sky, bright motes of dust turning to stars, he would know a year had passed. And so it went.
Ghost ships founder off the shores of Elysium we came here to find the answer to something lost in the Aether conceptions stumble, presumptions fall apart, like paper in the rain, belief in the inevitable lost like leaves in the gutter no longer individual but indistinct, irresolute handholds slipping the long fall into uncertainty no longer buoyed by memories of bliss Is it fog or billowing smoke that hides the enemy’s sails? Is it fate, or blind chance that becalms us here on glass still waters? Only the albatross & the moon know, only the wheeling gulls and the absent wind and they’ll never tell.
Another spring poem, from back in 2014. composed while walking homeward on a spring-soaked afternoon past low-rent apartment buildings.
Improvised flower vases and wrapping paper trees roots like mountains seen from the eyes of circling eagles at once emerging and settling, growth and decay, no more contrary than rose petals and thorns, a discordant symmetry: the cosmic wail of distorted electric guitar spelling out the names of stars and forgotten background radiation, pain that verges on ecstasy, a ringing of celestial strings struck with the well-worn pick of disillusioned immortals;
How a stranger’s intangible yearning can translate through the ephemeral code of electronic pulses and magnetic fields, a fixed point enacted in the so-called past becomes immediate present, time and space erased in an instant transformed into a perfect moment of rebirth, a dagger in the mind piercing to the core; it leaves no trace of bloody injury, only a shedding of unnecessary skin, a lowering of barriers to permit this temporary osmosis of the spirit
Noble silhouette against the pale blue sky under the serene white crescent of the four o’clock moon
(meanwhile, across town)
A freedom of starlings congregates below the peeling green windows while reflections of flight in warped bulging glass give weight to the theory of glass as a liquid flowing at the speed of war between the sun’s fickle warmth and the ever-hungry shade