So where do you end up when your eyes are finally working so well you can hardly see in front of you instead you look inside out you feel the acid in your brain working through to the page as pitiless as economists adding up zeros you live in this world it opens its arms exactly what you feared it is worse than your dreams shutting your eyes to find the tortured boy printed on your retina the hole in his cheek the slashed arms bloodless now the cigarette burns how did they and the big stupid money fracking the laws of mercy all the connections obvious and obscene and still you dream of linoleum in kitchens that years have demolished into hygenic visions mothers in aprons squawking for decades of migraines and butter or bending over shining ovens in their Good Housekeeping skirts their hair in scarves their perfectly polished children executive husbands televisions you murdered them all you stood in high heels and vomited blood better than madness your sister’s eyes turned in to policemen coming to slash her to ribbons her visions of Lear her naked pain poetry you never saved me but there was the rail of words that promised a fake redemption you knew it was fake but out of the dream stepped those ample summers as real as the camellias opening outside your window red as your fingers red as your newborn babies beautiful vaginas speaking the possible here in this same world where chemical hells scour the skin from children o poetry who stepped down and clapped her manacles speaking her legislations knowing the sentence is life its fluid chains its solitary rooms its knives of ice and blood opening inside you like forgiveness you think of your mother’s will where she ministers justice your sisters and you laid out in columns neat and shy and obedient polish the skirtings weed the roses death will visit at last and run his finger along the shelves and find us wanting but he can go to hell him and his little brothers all those feminine lessons I flung on the fire of my ego refusing death although I invited him in with every word every cigarette every failure poetry you never lied to me
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Sunday, May 4, 2014
We were woken too early, before the moths had died in the streets,
when buds had barely hardened in the frost, when stars are hurtful
and famished. They took us through gardens and past the halls
where once we had lingered, past the houses and doused markets.
Our footsteps echoed back like iron. Of course we were frightened,
that was a given, of course we remembered photographs we had studied
that then had nothing to do with us. The empty light of morning
made anything seem possible, even freedom, even God. We stumbled
on familiar roads, and everything turned away from us,
lamp-posts, windows, signs. They weren’t ours any longer. Even the air
greeted us differently, pinching our skin to wake us from its dreams.
Words of course were beyond us. They were what killed us
to begin with. They were taken away from the mouths that loved them
and given to men who worked their sorceries in distant cities,
who said that difficult things were simple now and that simple things
no longer existed. It was hard to find our way, we understood
the tender magic of hands, we knew the magic of things not spoken,
but this was a trick we couldn’t grasp. It lifted the world in a clump of glass
and when everything came back down the streets had vanished.
In their places were shoes and clotting puddles and sparking wires
and holes and bricks and other things that words have no words for
and that silence swelling the noise until you can’t hear anything at all.
It’s said that the dead don’t dream, but I dream of flowers.
I could dream so many flowers – lilies like golden snow on water,
hyacinths the colours of summer evenings or those amaranths they call
love-lies-bleeding. I dream of none of those. I dream instead
of wind-blown roses that grew in our shabby yard, of daisies
glimpsed through the kitchen window, of marigolds that glowed
through nets of weed. But most of all, I dream of red anemones
that never grew in my garden. They rise on slender stalks,
their seven-petalled heads bobbing and weaving in the wind.
Wind-flowers, Pliny called them, because they open only in the wind,
and the wind scatters their petals over every waste in the world.
Friday, September 6, 2013
I worry for the small things - Raising Arizona those with teeth and thick skulls need no advocates. their fists are dumb machines smashing the earth, clumsy with the insolence of wounded giants. everyone knows when the sly world plots and slides a flat blade through their shouting skins and those with flexible tongues they can look after themselves. they use words like dangerous toys spinning a beam of colours into a white shield. pain stares in its blank slant and goes away empty handed. but small things can't argue their way into shelter when the world explodes on them implacably as stars. they have only feathers for the hurricanes and thin leaves for the fires. when bulldozers eat their houses they squat on the edge of valleys with nowhere to go. The world is too mean for trust but generous enough for murder. It's getting worse. I worry for the small things. From This Is The Stone, Penguin Books 1991
Sunday, August 25, 2013
For Nicholas Walton-Healey the true fact is that I am invisible the light that bounces off my skin through the aperture of a lens is quite a different phenomenon and is possibly a spectre who will walk around inside the shape my name is supposed to be ordering books on the murderousness of opera or secondhand Dior nighties or committing acts of production that wake me in terror at 2am or conversing with unsavory strangers on the corners of the internet it is very confusing like invisible clouds that liquefy the tundra the phantoms won’t stop proliferating they keep sending me emails that I can’t read no matter how hard I squint they are never about what they seem to be success love happiness no one seems to know how to escape into another dimension stuck on our mundane sofas watching that movie where the monster wriggles inside our own skin and up in their mansions on the hill the dead-eyed madmen whisper it out and feed it every morning it all ends in explosions that’s what it’s for and then we export the virus to another planet as if there had been a time when once we were more than data transmission in brutal economies yet still we go on imagining rainbows and other physical objects hovering beautifully in the vapour of our breath I am never quite sure who is thinking perhaps it is me or perhaps it is my photograph who maybe went fishing which I have never liked and is admiring how the light ripples its endless changes over the same river when I’m especially sad I like to read Viktor Shklovsky who was the saddest critic of all time and who always began his books with a description of a landscape those were optimistic days he said the nightingale doesn’t know that it has been refuted he said a riddle always has two answers one is literal and wrong and the other renews meaning by rearranging things I wonder if there are still crows in Yalta one day I would like to buy him coffee and we could converse in cyrillics about fairytales and how art has its own laws and how a poem is a riddle of sorts and not like a photograph which may be another kind of riddle but dissimilar of course
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I listened for you in the throat of summer, in the fanfare of trees I lingered and spelt their shadows you rose out of my darkest soundings, inaudible fish eyelessly twirling in warm currents autumn cauled your arrival, tracking my veins with weariness and floated you out on sad leaves of blood down to the icy waters where my fingers will never prise into life your voiceless promise and my kisses will never spark your hair joyously into brief unknowable beauty nor will the eager petals of your skin char to brutal seed
Thursday, November 15, 2012
The road wound white Through the darkness Running before me Running behind me A silver thread Leading me home Life before me Death behind me On either side Cliffs of stone Hung like clouds Veined with blood Lakes of tears Glimmered softly Huge and old As human sorrow And she walked behind me, her steps as light as rain Her grave clothes crumbling around her Stumbling on the path like a woman in a dream And sometimes the blood waking in her bruised flesh Hurt her, and she moaned, and I heard her Crying I fixed my gaze Forward always As my longing Reached behind me How I longed To comfort her How I longed To hold her close At last I saw The dayworld light Bright before me Like a blessing And in my joy I turned to speak In my joy I looked behind me For one moment I saw her face, her eyes as dark as rain Her grave clothes crumbling around her Standing on the path like a woman in a dream And then the blood cooled in her bruised flesh And I stood alone on the lip of the world Crying My song after that was a world of mourning They said that the trees woke to listen And that all living things ran to hear my voice But I was playing only for the dead to hear me And the dead were deaf, alone in their shadows, Crying
From Night Songs, a music theatre work commissioned by Bell Shakespeare's Mind's Eye.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
The lamp broods on the table In its predatory circle of light Dust rains down on an open book The suburbs ebb into darkness Hungry and desolate under antennae Rats hunt in the weeds You thought it was beauty That shocked you to a husk All your life a collusion with dying Even the air tastes bitter Her skeletal wings slice the walls She lands and opens her eyes
Published in The Australian, July 1 2012