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a city waits

June 11, 2021

a city waits

food delivery drivers fondle telephones
and vague sentries sit in vague sentry duty
as the time ticks by

waiting for gates to unlock
and doors to swing open
much veneer has had the sandpaper
and fatalism is clear on the rough surface

reds and yellows and waiting for green
in a country where – as it’s often been said –
traffic lights are more of a suggestion

a lethargy born of too much guessing
counting until there’s nothing left to count
haggling with fate is rarely productive

bursts of colour, some will fade, others nervously flicker
on those city blocks where such things are anticipated

on other blocks the answers are clearer: not yet  

things fall apart

May 30, 2021

I have nothing to teach
I barely have time for all the learning I must do

stories dissolve
interpretations develop
facts shrink
things fall apart

necessities and priorities shift and change
imperatives vanish
decisions wither into habits

things fall apart
I have nothing to teach
things fall apart
I have nothing to teach

exposed to memory, worlds warp
while the present steadily congeals into itself
in pursuit of instance

I have nothing to teach
things fall apart

these fragile cannisters of ours contain
all the leaps and plunges and burps and whistles
that somehow we strive to balance
within the invisible maze of rules
that we are promised
we already know
but we don’t
and we barely have time for all the learning we must do

and still the heart will pump
and the toe will tap
and the muddling through is done
to the burbling soundtrack
of melodies weaving/rhythms insinuating/
through the static

and I have nothing to teach
I barely have time for all the learning I must do

midnight music at noon

May 19, 2021

midnight music at noon
won’t get things done
but such places will be gone to
and such thoughts will fly

midnight music at noon
the chill of the night
in the heat of the day
and the slow of the time

midnight music at noon
fills in no timesheets
empties no intrays
answers no emails

midnight music at noon
doesn’t need to leave the room
to slip into something more intimate
even at high noon there is some shadow to kiss

midnight music at noon
sits the endless present within eternities
surrounded by imaginings
countless in shape

midnight music at noon
calling from the incomplete past
framing the restless present
answering the indistinct future

midnight music at noon
won’t get things done
but such places will be gone to
and such thoughts will fly

needs must

May 3, 2021

the neighbourhood corner
where I usually get my transport
and emergency coffee
and haircuts (which reminds me)
has this morning become a
marketplace (needs must)

greengrocers and butchers
have parked in the street
all through the junction
and some have gathered just because
there’s something to look at

word has spread fast and
old scratchy music is already playing
as those who buy are doing their choosing

notice that we have learned to
chat through masks and
smile with our eyes
(needs must)

like a freshly blooming flowerbed
the bright colours and the bustle
come to an unlikely spot

ashes from the archive

May 2, 2021

searching the archive
for new old sounds
following leads and
looking under rocks

thus approaching a long untouched stone
unsure what it covers
when the music takes me by the hand
and says:

don’t be scared
it was a long time ago
you know the scars are healed
you did the work

sure enough
but stealthily
an afternoon creeps through old soundtracks
anticipating words and phrases
from back in the driving days
long locked up

hidden inside are the fruits
of my raking through the ashes
even while I was building a new fire
itself long ashes now

we spend so much time driving
and singing along
some bits are bound to stick
and there are always some that taste of ashes

we spend so much of our youth
hard at work figuring things out
and so much of our post youth
justifying how we got here

it’s good that we find friends
who we will never meet
who unknowingly help reflect our angst
back between their lines
and never get cross when they get put back in the drawer
or abandoned under stones

dry spell

April 28, 2021

“The first ten million years were the worst,” said Marvin, “and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years I didn’t enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

something of a dry spell
the imagery is still
and will not be bounced
against anything,
least of all the walls

the walls that absorb
our rising contempt
through no fault of their own

the absurdity of dressing for coffee
due to the absence of gas
while taking the long term view
or at least trying to

strategy fatigue
moderation fatigue
self absorption fatigue
it’s enough to make you want to
argue on the internet

think of that

I shall make up my mind

April 21, 2021

I shall make up my mind

foundation for my fundamentals
pluck my ethics and redraw them perfectly

a little lipstick on my logic
mascara on my amygdala

rouge for my rationality
blush for my anxiety

using subtle colours for complexities
and broad strokes for simplifications

shadows and lines for my imagination
bronzer for my boldness

lotions and creams for my ego
beauty soap for my conscience

and so I shall make up my mind

Saturday

April 17, 2021

if you tell me it’s Saturday
I might not believe you
but I’ll have nothing to refute you with,
no place to stand and to point at the shape of the sky
and insist that it’s Tuesday
or St Steven’s Day

the sun has risen
and I assume it will set
although certainties are
thin on the ground these days

change has been driven underground
for the moment
and is only showing up in accumulations

in times of slumber or uproar
I flee to the familiar
if I had Chandler
I would be reading Chandler
celluloid versions must suffice

slowly adapting to
drastic shift in my hours of business
no more nights, only days

early to bed early to rise
makes Jack a dull boy
so a little inconvenience
keeps things interesting

rationing the good coffee
each morning wondering
when I can replenish the stash;
rationing the beer and vodka
for soon it will perish
and what an experiment that will be

in the meantime
there’s work to do,
so I’ll work
until I don’t feel like it anymore
and go check up on what Philip Marlowe
is getting up to

I’m awake anyway and I still have coffee and
it’s Saturday, after all

take away

April 15, 2021

a stranger new year
than even the last
we wish each other’s families
health and happiness
and spin slowly and hopefully
in our own circles
smaller and smaller

a walk down the gaptoothed
naked emaciated street
bejewelled with signs saying: take away

staff keep vigil outside
just like they always did
but now there is nothing to see
and no one to watch

the inn and saloon is locked off
but the tape used to keep us out
says high voltage cable below

a man I knew
chose this moment to: take away

we cannot gather
and drink to him
gathering will have to wait
but we try our electronic best
and share shards of our impulses
into the webiverse

these moments of quiet
the raising of solitary glasses
and the ceiling’s responses
will have to suffice

Limitations

April 11, 2021

a poet
built for wistfulness  

were I a novelist  
my arcs would be more fully realised
and the scenes would hold more drama  
and my character would be finer drawn  

but I’m a poet
built for wistfulness and longing  

were I a screenwriter  
my wisecracks and epigrams  
would be pithy and salty  
my vistas would be wider
and my themes clearer

but I’m a poet
built for wistfulness and longing  
and patience

were I a memoirist  
my anecdotes would sizzle and sparkle  
and my history would be more complex and vital

but I’m a poet
built for wistfulness and longing  
and patience and questions  

were I a journalist
my stories would seethe
with adventure and daring
and bristle with detail

but I’m a poet
built for wistfulness and longing
and patience and questions
and witness