Monthly Archives: November 2008

view from a car park #3: The Breath


The Breath

“There was a man made out of earth”, they said.

“Twisted reeds and lattice-grass knotted at his heels,

And sinew born of old, old seashells tightened

Thigh and chest, and tilted head,

And knuckles pushing down to home”.

They pulled long feathers from their belts

And indented his quickly flaking skin,

Mapping out whorls and rings and family trees

Whose tight canopy seems folded twice, and falling still.

The children sit at the widest point, and watch.

Soon it is we, the children, piling soil into hands.

Over years it fills in lines,

Leaves old cracked seconds mattified.

The expectation sits on boughs above us,

Dropping the want to build a man of earth,

Or family tree

To call our own.

view from a car park #2: The Body


The Body


Gather close.

When held up to the light, these capillaries

Fool the eye.

Although once engorged, their viscosity lessened

To leave a most delicate cityscape, bird-skull brittle,

A mess of empty tubes, roads of filigree stitch,

A new network for another life, built

By tiny human hands.


Let me spread this wider, show the map

Of coronary cartography built on air

Filled in by dust-fine dry papyrus

Buried beneath contracted tissue

And pulsing: Once, twice.

Then stopped.

This crackling fern bone, this bracken

Tightly wound for miles and hidden

In a box,

To sip, to gulp at that which

Flows between our old hands.

a view from a car park #1 – The House


The House


This girl I see, she is weaving through the nave,

Punching her passage against the turnstiles

And kicking up faceted coal-dust

As bottles drag about her ankles, chiming out

A melody on the dusk-specked kerb.

Her neck looks stiffened, thrown back and held

In rapture, euphoric bracing on her shoulders,

More bones that crunch together – mechanised

Elbow joints that throw another measure down

This gullet now throbbing full of song.

A tuneless hymn, the Lord’s Prayer bounces of the windows

And throws my eyes to meet the gravel.

What attention burglary is this?

“Our father, who art in heaven” and all the rest

Echoes around the old walls, as dry and dusted

As any out in the sticks.

They’re falling from the shop front now –

Pockets dripping with strange incenses,

Begging for deliverance, some small bread, some change

As nylon flashes and tears on kneel-worn legs.

Staring now, I cannot help but pick up the tune

“For Thyne is the kingdom, the power and glory

Forever and ever, Amen’.

I too am picked up by the wave, and am dropped into another bar

Where forgetfulness is granted, where sins are washed

Down gaping throats.

The congregation is voided from the door, the guardian

Wishes us luck, for a penny. And pissed, we chant

Some holy names, and laugh with absolution,

Cross ourselves against subway tiles

And think on oblivion before

Waking up in agonies, and a will to keep the Sabbath pure.

Little Hadrian

hadrian-sagalassosLittle Hadrian builds a plastic wall

Lego bricks slick with secret spices,

Chicken grease and almost-memories.

Though the Goddess loves your body

You’ll grow to be a killer, boy.


Little Hadrian hears the picket moan

As Picts and Bloods hit pavements

With blunt-bottomed pikes –

They’re marking out their territories

Left of the disused train line.


(Someone’s brother wants to tame

This suburb, to raze the wilderness,

To raise a voice

And burn his face on every coin

From here to Dagenham)


Look! Racing from the Estuary!

On wheels some say held teeth of Chrome,

Comes Streatham’s warrior queen, her

Battle moans stained blue with woad

And dripping with obscenity.


The old just stand and watch aghast,

A crumpled face fills weathered hands.

They call and shout to sign them up,

To send the symptom far away

And martyr youth on sand.


But little Hadrian’s troops stand proud,

Their boots, the boundary of youth

And age, laces trailing back three years.

The standard rises, spreads it’s wings,

And years begin their slow march in.