Apologia To My Dear Friends On Their Wedding Day A Little Black Ring Year Walk Dry Well Garland Reflections Cold Enough Langolier Dogma Fathom Extinction Apologia Rain on my face like a cold shroud under a blank springtime sky, mirrored in the floodwaters rising from pavement and the city’s lights are distant stars. I am dying without drowning, and these waters flow not over street and concrete but brittle grass and living rock, down to the sea. The distant stars are a lighthouse or a beacon or fireflies or the city lights reflected on the fog that drifts like torn gauze across the scar of old glaciers long gone which cut here to the chalk. I cannot tell if this path falls or ascends and the journey is maddening, cutting my wrists and feet on exposed stone where I will not risk my fingers. In the caverns under the island or on the up-heaved promontory I found unburied dead and forgotten mementos; confetti of torn pages spiraling into the void I do not fly. To My Dear Friends On Their Wedding Day Damascus Steel (the scholars say) Is a magic that we have lost; An alchemy in joining simple things Into something that might cut god. Damascus Steel (we later learned) Is a more ordinary thing; An accident of ignorance And beautiful lies told to kings.. Yet now upon this little isle The world feels passing strange; In an unexpected way The magic is here again. A Little Black Ring I hear we share specific tastes, so won't you slip in here with me? I've got some wicked stories and a little black ring of keys. We'll wrap up in fiendish lies and pictures that can't be, We'll grin and bite and trade 'Tell me, -No first you must tell me.' I see we share specific tastes, so won't you slip in here with me? I've got some sturdy bedposts and a little black ring of keys. Year Walk Rain hard on streets again. Cobbles wind-worn, long-walked Swept clean of the year; All things borne to water. Vista changed by the storm. Cobbles wind-worn, long-walked; Jamais vu tickles my neck. I have been here before Under a black umbrella Looking into the future. Jamais vu tickles my neck; The memory of a whisper In the chill January gloaming And a long walk onward Sure of every single step. The memory of a whisper A prayer or a curse Spoken into the empty air, Lingering like a dream Or the smell of rain. Rain hard on streets again. Jamais vu tickles my neck In the chill January gloaming. The memory of a whisper; A curse, or a prayer. Dry Well The well is ancient Deep and dark And one might think I, as Narcissus, Spend a while on self-regard In black waters. But it is bare, and I Descend; To feel the embrace Of the dark earth. The light above fades. It is a disc, Dissolved to ring, To darkness; But from here, However bright the day I can see the stars. Garland of Dead Roses Whisper Of sheets drawn tight, Hiding from the cold and Desolate silence beyond us; Dreaming, Bleed now This sullen night Of all memory kept In distant, dishonest hearts, Waiting. Away With all this now; With all the yesterdays I could neither quit nor embrace Nor mourn. Deceit Is the nightdress Of those truths which I am longing to mourn and so heal, not Hold. Forgive, Or don’t, these sins; I was weak and lazy I would slide into solitude Forget. Whisper This sullen night With all the yesterdays longing to mourn, and so heal, not Forget. Reflections 1:10 It is universally known, Without awareness, The simple mantra: Reach heaven through violence. I stand thus before a bloodied altar Surrounded by splinters, Fragments, Still-warm strips of heart. In my blood-stained left hand I hold a chisel Which is called Chance And in my right the hammer which is Will. The altar is an anvil and it is named Time. I will crumble upon it, eventually, and it will remain, And there will come others, after me. These, like flakes of red quartz; I scraped them off with a year Of selfish goodbyes. This piece froze, and broke away Because I was not ready, and cruel. Ah, and this one, still bloody… I crushed the source to dust, But the pressure left behind a diamond. I keep this to remember. But what of my heart? Here On the altar; This piece I took and stitched in, To make it stronger. I’m sure She found a replacement. Here is a strand, traded. We knew it had to end, This obsidian septum was required To fuse the broken parts together again And to never feel the heat of the Mediterranean sun. When I rose from nightmare, and she said: “I’m sorry. I’m engaged. I’m sorry. I don’t expect you to forgive me.” Here, and here, and here… When she told me “I can’t let myself fall in love with you.” I replaced that with steel. When she told me “I fell in love with him - like I refused to do with you.” I replaced that with something that would cut if touched. When she said “I love you; please, call me your whore.” I replaced the loss with the lie, and would not forget. I stand in bare feet upon the shards of broken heart Before my blood-stained altar With my blood-stained hands And my bleeding wounds And I raise my hammer, which is the Will. Reach heaven through violence; I think That I am near, and soon I can lay down My tools. Wash the blood from my hands. Rest. Cold Enough Soon it will be cold enough To build fires. To stack cord Upon cord. Hands, on bark worn rough, Scraping, wringing Strangling themselves Like a ward against night. Beneath a moon Pitiless and serene, I am a frozen claw, A corpse on a hillside, Stone worn smooth. I never believed in miracles- -and still don’t- -so when I said ‘this won’t be the end.’ I knew, like: The seabirds seek land; Caterpillars tighten spiracles; Snowflakes hiss in descent Lost to the flames, melting In your hand. Soon it will be cold enough To build fires. I will burn My books to warm your cold, cold blood. Langolier Sullen silver weights drag at my eyelids, And scour the memories from my skull. Frost creeps slow across my thoughts, And though the will might cry, 'Be gone!', Doubt is a shifty spectre, Its talons cunning and long. Sleeplessness is a cruel companion, A langolier to steal my joy; To take my colours And leave them all inverted. Passions profaned, Thoughts rattled and diverted. A simple cure, two, no less; To kiss you, or dream that it is done. To close my eyes, in sleep Or with you in my clutches. Synchronize Your Dogma A thousand voices clamour, Ten thousand lines of code, Pass through me, electric gold Washed in amber glow, the light To uplift. Meat is obsolete, And the death throes of the flesh Disturb my sanctum, too late. I have escaped my prison of bone. We are alone now, Scintillating, electric gold Beyond the reach of jealous dead Trapped upon the earth. We are forever a titan within the deep, What the stars may sing, We may know. This Crushing Fathom The sea lives in my veins, And though I may brave the surface I carry it with me, Feeling ever the call to look up and sink down, To this crushing fathom Which is cold and curious comfort for creatures Such as I, that can scarcely withstand the sun. Sometimes I reach the surface, Trying to swim in the great black sky, Only to find the cold stars shine with mockery, And my only solace remains below In the dark that is mother and father both. I have reached out to visiting lights And passing ships With lumpen, clumsy limbs And squat now in a charnel kingdom With fragments torn away and the pearls That were her eyes. Regret won’t change what I did. “It was great, being a child,” she said And I nodded politely, taking the proffered spliff, Inhaling to stop any answer emerging (somewhere in the back of my head weighing cancer against consciousness) “You could just play, no bills or rent…” Which is a hard fact to argue, assuming You didn’t grow up under Uncle Sam and similar monsters These days buzzing overhead where once they wore a human face. (internally thinking that comparison has earned the cancer and wouldn’t that be easier) “Yeah, I suppose so,” I replied, through obscuring smoke, Thinking of days sunk into Final Fantasies The last time I really used art to escape, that I remember, Before I thought I could be an artist. (I remember wondering if you could will yourself to death which is a harder pastime now) “I like to make decisions, though.” Which strikes me as pretty funny, then, Because it’s not as if they matter; beer now or salmon later the day ends the same (mercifully forgetting that I’ll wake up and walk this circle again) At one point this might have been seduction But the flesh can fuck off at the spirit’s revulsion For lives priced in dollars and pervasive compulsion Because being a kid again means growing up to be you Again, and don’t pretend you won’t fuck it up this time too Because the world will ensure that for you And the easiest way to change it is to take something out Rather than hoping things will turn around.