Poems

INSOMNIA

the aforesaid owl
knocked cold with centripetal howling metal
starts with the right
& of course the left follows
in a kind of somnambulance
heads straight down the white line
of a deserted midnight road
all is in total eclipse
the barns & chimneys
cows, chickens, alarm clocks
& pesticides
but the owl is awake
& walking
down the aforementioned white line
although it has been run over
at least a hundred times
“i can teach you! i can teach you!” it cries
looking right & left
with its broken eyes
toward the barns
& corncobs
& scarecrows
& of course they all follow.. a handsome troupe
if you were to see it

FALLACY

down & up persching boulevard
ladies of unprecedented height
apparently aiming straight for me
but always veering off left & right

BOTH PART 1

a child, one & a half years old
over-riding all assumptions
pushes both arms into the pillow
“truck!” he says
sheepdog is asleep on the floor
not looking for things
for the unfathomable truck
“oh i’m ready for beddy-byes
truck! truck! truck!”
old dog grunts
(it is raining in his dream)
shifts on the floorboards
& offers an enormous sigh
yes, that is true
old oranges peel easier
all these things
child has a feather in his hand
it does not matter whether or no
the soul is made of wood
if it is not in fact a thing
to be stepped out of
like a cradle
whether or not that first cry is still present
a shock not diminishing
as we tell ourselves
whether or no it doesn’t matter
child has a feather
(& it has stopped raining)

MAKING THE REFRIGERATOR WALK

making the refrigerator walk
corner by corner across the lawn
making it step up the sliding door
shoulder past the bastard curtains
it dragging its lead, the plug bouncing
in a world of its own

making the refrigerator talk
a gentle slam on the noggin
no? then wave a threatening knife
to cut its switch out, or box its ears
thump its belly..
hmmm.. wiggle the wires
that’s the trick

ON THE PLAIN OF EGO

on the plain of ego
nothing happens
there is nothing
not even maggots
not even bones
not a warm breeze
that would outline the shapes which don’t exist

there is no sun
nor stars nor moon in the sky
there is no weather
there is no sky
there is nowhere to go
that is not the same
as what it was before
there is nothing new

it is a plain
an unthinkable plain
nothing happens
just blades of grass

THE REMAINS OF A LUNATIC

1. i am the alterer
live in a new part of the world
with very little symmetry
& spend my time in the hills sifting sand..
there’s no holding me back now!

2. my wife says that sometimes she catches me laughing
in my sleep
i didn’t know she’d been listening to me sleeping
i guess that’s what happens in a new part of the world

3. recently
i had all my tastebuds replaced
a lot of people will say “so what?”
but then their thoughts aren’t necessarily
relevant

4. until just now
correspondence between my wife & i
had dwindled almost imperceptibly
to the point where all we had left
was our own two voices
although even they didn’t work all the time

5. we keep our house open to all those
who have left home
who aren’t in love
& who work on their knees..
needless to say we don’t have too many visitors

6. instead, to fill in time
i calculate the load
my wife is carrying on all her shoulders

7. i confess there’s more going on elsewhere

8. i own up to having worked myself into a position
where i could tell you anything

9. the tide is out

10. the gigantic purple ancestor is asleep &..

11. i have secured a position already in the ashes

12. ah well, what was it? the remains of a lunatic?

13. teeth

BOTH PART 2

& if i could improve on the wooden soul
i would go in for mum’s shoes
clogging for the toilet
armed only with a kitten

i would have at least two names
i wouldn’t speak
i would be too intelligent
i would be affronted by affronts
i would be a master of the bottom lip
i would love water
i would be destructive & cute

& if i had to choose between mum or dad
between good & bad
between sea & land
between happy & sad
between work & play
between up or down
left or right..
i would always choose both

WE BIDE OUR TIME

we bide our time
we have too long to wait for the next poppadom (& we hope there’s not another poem)
we have nothing to say & we know that we have said it
in return we receive spam from florists in pakistan
we want this new kind of yellowness
thereby we forge a shortcut to nothing
our wives, our pets, our husbands interrupt us for good reason
we seek solitude in the queues of those expecting something
we are the same & refuse to accept it
we paddle in the shallows of certainty
fame beckons
the recluse
the martyr
the ordinary

THE SUBJECT

the subject used to be temperance
the subject used not to be the drug but happiness
the subject was a drug
a drug for temperance

WHO HERE IS DRINKING WHO?

then is it a very bad trick if i fall in love with..
so ruby a daring, the nose a..
with miniature kisses of nymph, mosquito &..
in that, when the moment arrives to be..
i escape with a surprised look, as if..
but meaning..?

LAST NIGHT I DREAMT I MARRIED TAAMET

last night i dreamt i married taamet
above our slow embroidered procession so many stoneheads gawk from their windows
so to distract the solemn, the beautiful, the wed
as if taamet might admire her green
her red and white
herself

i watch her climb to the upper room
to the kid’s throat waiting to be cut
to the blood spurting towards the bowl, also waiting & given me to drink, then i to her, & tastes like..
taamet had never seen a pencil
when she touched it, it rolled off the table & broke
she picked it up & examined its brokenness
i lay dead in my chair
“look in the drawer for a silver locket,” i said
“see what is inside, a long time hidden in the tooth of the saint”

it would be irresponsible to say taamet was now born a man & lived in tahiti
with his true adoptive family
no longer cursing herself so many times
looking for shirts in the dark
but i still have goat’s blood in my mouth

autumn days drag so slowly by
which is why god invented the 50cc honda step-through motorcycle
tomorrow, I will have moose coloured hair, be five years older & unmusical
i show my new passport to ahmed & he just laughs
he can’t get over my hairstyle
“but this is the truth!” he exclaims
later on he informs me: the upshot of democracy is that the very few will end up in power
the participation of women will quantifiably increase the suffering of children
people with no qualifications whatsoever will run the country, industry, education, the military & everything else
but even these will yet be subject to the wants of the very few & the need to make children suffer
i call ahmed a true redneck
who could possibly have a problem with democracy?

by now, i’ll be walking between the great orange trees of new york
i’ll be skipping over five storey shop rooves in paris
i’ll be boarding the ferry to the chinese mainland
i’ll be the semblance of a purple ticket
i’ll be under the underground
i will be everywhere at once
i’ll be lost

i huddle in the corner between two crates
“my eyes hurt,” captain pavlov insists, puffing on a cigarette
“i’ll be dead in two years, or worse than dead”
parrot keeps her eye on the darkened sea ahead & a hand on the wheel
rogue spume arches gracefully into the foredeck lights
in the rolling darkness we hold a course calculated to pass gracefully by some island

pavlov is the kind of seafarer existing only in comics
his long, frizzy hair & communist-era uniform an unlikely reflection in the half price sunglasses of life

with ten francs to my name i could’ve bought a whole meal
instead, i find the cheapest bottle of wine & a loaf of bread
& position myself overlooking a countryside consisting entirely of dirt, stones & grapevines
i begin writing a letter to my parents
coincidently, an inchworm, black & white stripes between burnt orange globes, humps his way across my loaf of bread
dear mum & dad
i am surviving on water
is not water good for surviving?
they say the grapes here are not yet ready for picking
except i have tried them for myself
them & the tomatoes
but then everything is unready
& i wish i had a 50cc honda step-through motorcycle

the clouds here are ranged in long black lines
but i am not afraid
i will walk under one to see what happens
but now, as i look up, the sun sends forth rays slanting here and there in an upside down crown so picturesque, i resolve to cancel such a path
& a voice says
“the sun remains written on your forehead”
why in english, i cannot tell
forehead here being pronounced “forrid”

only the god of pinstripe inchworms would say such a thing

i am beginning to smell
miraculously, three young people (two girls & a boy) pick me up on some country road & take me to a swimming hole
naturally, I am astounded at their nakedness
a man takes me to the supermarket because i look so hungry
another gives me a bed for the night at his family’s house in the country
or, unthinking, i camp in the middle of a roundabout

i am standing at the entrance to a freeway trying to hitch a ride
the wind is so strong & so ferociously constant i have to hide behind the on-ramp sign in order to stay upright
the capital is an eight hour’s drive away
any car that picks me up will be going in either of two total opposite directions
north or south
i decide to take the first car that stops no matter what
& now i am going the wrong way

i choose a group of bushes close to the highway & look for a piece of ground without light
in the darkness i rake together a pile of leaves & crawl inside
i listen through my knees to the cold
for the moonless traffic
the sounds of any intruder
i remake myself fifty seven times

a snake disturbs the roadside grass
a brilliant thought strikes me
i stop, admiring the empty grass
then another thought appears
i begin walking in circles so as to keep these two thoughts in relation
i pace round & round in the middle of the road
a third even more brilliant idea occurs to me
i reach out with my foot
i put one foot after the other
i leave myself behind
i will not be ensnaked by even four brilliant ideas

THINGS TO DO TODAY

vacuum
mow lawns
shopping
clean bathroom
arrest the nsa on suspicion of espionage