Friday, September 18, 2009

I Never Saw a Wild Thing

after DHLawrence

Clearly out-of-it in some way
a wasp goes through the motions;
stumbles around the rim or
homes in on my sweet beer breath.
Wafted away it stalls, falls off the air
clumsy to the table, too weak to evade;
to programme the usual lines of code
but she walks into a spec of sweet.
And like an idea dawning on a human face,
Babbage’s last tumblers falling into place,
the sweet seems to select a sequence – nest.
She turns, clock-wise, aligns to the light,
rolls a cold sun like a solitary bearing
to shine down the funnel of a compound eye:
checks angle, declination, wind
then casts away on to the wing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Winded words: “What
what what where?”
subside to sleep
and wake as “want
want want”.

Upper and lower lip pluck.
“Yes yes yes” you say;
your language, drawing in,
receives another word:
“Gala, Gala”.

In a small corner of the universe
one who comprehends has arrived;
a spec of graphite in the lubrication
on a ball bearing in a roundabout at the fair.

[The celebration of the birth of a child into the universe. Gala being the Greek origin of the word milk and so our galaxy the Milky Way. Also of the milk as the baby is put to the breast and begins to develop the oral capacity for language; sucking and swallowing being pre-linguistic skills. And then gala is also linked to celebration with the image of our galaxy as a fairground ride and gala as a celebration with us microscopic carbon based life forms as its lubrication.]

A Sense of Place

Attwood Street
A third of a mile separates where
you were born from where you live now:
in between, The Mount - of your youth -
visible from both. Marriage and motherhood
took you a mile and a half out of town;
but you are back within your horizons
and you pray each day to stay.
Thirty Seven Attwood Street, is gone;
all new flats. And a now too stiff climb
would take you on up to Whitehill.
Across the Cheshire Plain the view you showed me
still reaches to the Welsh Hills and, out there, a year my elder,
Jodrell Bank scans the heavens on your behalf.

The Mount
The Laburnum sapling planted at Long Row
to remind you of Number Two - The Mount,
has not thrived: a bad graft onto poor root stock,
planted through thin mulch into sub-soil spoil;
though of course a better gift than none at all:
family ties trying to buy you time; buy back
the dark laburnum bark blackened with acrid soot
risen from the Loop-Line cutting culled at Beeching,
the Birchen Wood pit and gas factory
and from every coal fed chimney that signified ‘home’:
The mature tree of our separate memories:
mine the rough scramble up the trunk
to catch a view of trains, and yours
the ‘happy’, now ever-flowering yellow blossom
that, greets your home-coming memory.

Long Row
The old Long Row’s long gone but none the worse
for being replaced by bungalows; though you
all joke across the fences that it’s dead man’s
shoes to get a place. And I keep a straight face
at first, wrong footed by your deadpan delivery,
before a creeping smile; permission to laugh.
Not like you to pull my leg these days
but I feel warm, like you’ve just told me that
I’ll catch chin-cough for sitting on
cold quarry tiles. And I smile but can’t catch
the laughter that ripples down the row.
Is it that I don’t know or that I don’t want
to know what only the companionship of widows
can know.

Happy Shriney

True, I don’t much visit your grave to place flowers
and ponder on your mouldering remains;
the dead plot of earth,
the standing stone
and chiselled Roman script.
You could’ve carved that in your sleep.
And with one hand tied behind your back;
so to speak.

But maybe if the stone was an old packet of Park Drive filterless fags;
red and white with its curly, cursive writing and silver paper slips.
And maybe if this bench was the back seat from your old Hilman Minx;
smelling of leather, trumping and squeaking to an eight year old’s pleasure
and the pewter pot was your old golf bag with its clatter of clubs
and the celestial music was Riding Down From Bangor on your old guitar
and maybe if they made a pergola like your yellow Isetta Bubble Car

with its engine loud enough to wake the dead.
Maybe if they livened this place up a bit,
then maybe instead it could offer me more, more than I have;
more maybe than I already carry ‘round in my head.


You must now
gently rub away your whore’s knees with the pumice,
style your hair and dress to please yourself.

No longer proxy to a brood of other mothers.
No kneeling, prostrate to their progeny,
cleaning the shitty little bottoms and
sending them home with something for Mummy.

So style your hair and dress to please yourself.
Ease the years from around your eyes.

You must now
Look to yourself.


I remember the night that the wasps came in;
the laudanum hum stirring the cup of my still sleeping ear;
funnelled air thrummed analog onto membrane drum,
signalling the switch to nervous sense;
scrambling for purchase; hovering beyond consciousness;
searching for meaning in the heavy eddy of memory.
Then, sudden and stark, I see, inside closed lids;
through walls, through doors, through thick air:
‘The wasps are in.’

Awake, and the baby between us stirs.
Another in the cot breathes and turns.
I slide my feet to the floor. The door,
ajar, fans a wedge of light across the wall;

light that – I have seen - at its source is drawing them to its core;
misdirected, missing the moon or beacon star that would guide them in.
I have seen the light and thickly pleated red silk shade;
the melee of muddled exhaustion and fresh attack, hard hitting
the heat, flaring parabolic, looping out and back, back to beat
themselves to death or until the greater light relights the open window.

As I finger open the door, second sight confirms the scene.
Too stark in painful sight I shade my eyes and stoop, commando,
to exit under stinging blades, crouched beneath the downdraft,
arm crooked up to ward off blows.
The shading hand now shields the nape of my neck,
which senses the sound and creeps the antenna of my spine.
Suddenly, gooseflesh. Every hair traps the air around me
bristling, vestigial, to my defence, raising a field of archers;
hackles taut and longbows drawn in primal fear of pain and poison.

A second kick of chemistry conspires to stir me,
my heart beating as their queen throbs at the heart of her nest.
In the pit of my stomach the drones are nervous as the heat of the hive
is lost. My cold sweat and wide eyes place the hive-mind on full alert;
tense to fight or flee. And I have left my babies asleep with their mother.

Down unfamiliar stairs, in breach of all codes,
intense with purpose, I tear open doors and
reaching into strange cupboards I gut them of their
useless viscera, until my hand finds, rough and rusty,
an old can of Raid. Clearly there has been little
appetite for insecticide in this house for a generation.

In a moment of perfect bliss I fly
Without thought or mind, except for me and mine,
to release the paralysing mist;
without hate or heart or compassion;
too late for second thoughts
of first do no harm.

A supercharged cloud spits, predetermined and exponential,
pitting chaos against disarray. Aerosol droplets out-swarm
the swarm and in suspension, molecule for molecule,
supersaturate the available oxygen, fouling spiracle gills;
denying the insect blue blood.

As discoordination grips each misguided worker,
their common error compounded,
it is one by one that they fall;
leaving hanging in the air the taste of
bitter almond and crunched apple pip.
Spitting at the acrid tang and sputtering
back to awareness I consciously
release the finger from the button.

Merely choking while they drown, I back to the door
and like a little boy watching dog-fights in a war film
feel suddenly sad for the underdog. Pathetic to regret
such decisive action I turn unturning to re-enter the room
where a nestling baby nuzzles for its mothers breast.

The light follows me in and I close it down.
Following fire drill I set a seal under the door.
Turning onto cold sheets I seek the sleep of justification.
How easily I weighed the balance; there is no restitution possible.
The nest will regenerate and in the morning
I will wake to walk a carpet barbed with dead revenge.


Once knit
the essence of jumper is warm;
get inside it
and it is being worn.
It inside you
means you are warm.
What is it doing?
It is warming you.
What are you doing?
You are feeling it.

Once lived
the essence of experience
is did.
Wear it
like a uniform
and you are known.
Wear it
inside you
and you know.
What is it doing?
It is being you.
what are you doing?
You are making it.

Being is doing,
newly fashioning
the essence of done.
Why be?
To do.
Why do?
To be.
Do? Be? Do?
Do be do be do:
That is the question.