Monday, 31 December 2012

The Melodrama of Solidity

The sky doesn’t laugh anymore,
But folds autumnal and crisp in our palms,
Papery and fish-bone thin;
Its brittle horizon safer in copper resign,
As we ice things, sober on chalk, 
All holes, friction and discontent,
Hedge our clouds in a tumorous fashion - 
A windless artillery against this stale skyline 
Of hopelessness and self-consumption. 

We haven’t always sold our steam in rusted boats, 
Landlocked in algal waters as brined mist corrodes our cobbled past. 
We once feasted on charcoal, rain, and the maimed chime 
Of Big Ben dressed in his best oily philosophy,
Breaking atoms along the ley lines with dirty feet
And a wooden conscience. But now we drift, 
Surrendering to the wars in shadows
That breathe heavily on our starving eyes
And slurp at the metal we sold our names for.

The Earth has forgotten us. It lives on its knees,
Feral and drugged, suspicious of our hands,
And the birds are nestless, 
They fly like rocks, overloaded in submission and
Judging in their applause. Though I will not feed them.
Not now, as we stand on the brink of Land’s End, 
Ensconced in the melodrama of solidity, 
Our discoloured empire draped in the sighs 
Of a collapsing moon that has long since regretted us, 
Violent and incoherent as we cut its hair at night.

“You have to smile”, they said, it makes it easier; 
Though you can’t love in bone, and the hollow beaks
Growing between our footprints threaten to unsettle 
Our instability. We must embrace the tragedy of silence,
Grab it by its tail, and pin it to the naked masts, 
Wash our rags in the bones of blue,
And swallow the coal-bred depression 
Foaming in the dreams of the altar-less monks
Who fought so long for the nothingness we call our own.

No, no. The sky doesn’t laugh anymore, 
And for that I am glad. 
I fear a laugh would shatter our delicate state of 
Piecemeal rebellion and earthy resentment;
I fear a laugh would undermine our alloyed sanctity,
And know too well how the stars became diseased 
All lonely in the closed mouth of day;
And I fear a laugh would break the cold solidity we cling to,
Mollusc-like and babe-handed.
Though to break,
Could be a fine thing this undying night. 

It's been nearly a year since my last, so thought I'd finish this piece which I started quite some time ago and left. The brilliant picture is called "element of the sea" by Vadim Trunov, who has many great pictures here: (copyright subsists in him). 

Monday, 9 January 2012

On The Box and Deciding Not To Be

The box is back.
Made of bone and sea-skin,
Its skull floating in Israeli sand and its
Stomach full of Peyote soldiers who nest
In tiny metal cocoons and chew on cordite clouds atop
Descaled mountains buried in copper skies.

I hear them sometimes, 
When the box is sleeping,
Whisper-shouting as they head off to war
With weapons of dream;
Their little limbs puffing cardboard smoke
As they set sail along the arcadian canyon.
They battle the opium eaters,
The wooden ones, who dwell on the riverbeds
With foxfire eyes, licking their fingers 
And dressing their root rot in olive oil.
They fight over air, revolution in a box,
But none can breathe, so all retreat when the night curdles
And the moon cuts itself from its stalk.
I try to help them, send aid; 
But the box knows me well and scurries off
With bark nails if I’m silent for too long,
Conspiring with the pennies I planted in the carpet,
Who’ve now taught themselves to walk, and mimic
My eye-o-logue as I sit canvas-like on a Victorian easel.
I called for the exterminators, the best of the best,
Spectacled and illusive, though Freud advised me it was only a box, 
And Skinner just stole the rats that had moved in over summer.
The box is crafty I told them. It speaks in foreign tongues,
Of spices and red; but I know red well,
It smells like the sun and sounds like a thousand deserts
Thrown teeth first into an incubator with blue babies 
And homeless diamonds. They left after that, and now
I think I too may be infected with sand, 
For even the cracks in the wall have learnt my name.
I must confront the box, break it or maim it; 
But what am I? Just a lonely gun
Coughing up bullets wrapped in paper words on a laminated floor 
Littered with heavy-lidded shells that don’t wish to sea. 
I am no shell, the world will not close,
And there’s no pearl on my tongue,
Only salt in my veins and anarchy in my pockets.
It is of no matter today though,
For today, I’ve decided I do not wish to be.
No, instead I am fictional, the furniture, 
A self-contained suitcase,
Only empty and christmas-like, 
Illumined and wall-less with lungs full of snow.
Tomorrow I will silence it, stuff it with glass, and bury it
Under the tree that has no business where it stands,
Uninvited into my garden,
Debauched and buckled over the grass it eats.
And then I will gas the tree, like all the rest,
And use its plumage to feed the sun.

This piece was loosely based on/inspired by Plath's brilliant "Arrival of the Bee Box", though I drifted off quite a bit as always - we all have our own boxes to contend with.