For Matthew R Webber
“Singing for the love of broken horses
On twisted palisades, stretching to the left
A thousand ringing symbols
Falling from palms like
The archer on his knees,
The whip-bearer whispers
Into unborn ears
Dripping, filling up poppy cups
(Each war is exactly the same)”.
“Cutting cacti with leathered soles,
A view of three boys, from this
Hotel room – either east or west.
Separated by tastings, goblets raised
To the king, the king is dead.
Long life is overrated.”
Can you hear him? I thought I could.
Fluting breath – even here, now! No.
Eastwards of a Southern service
Between sips of communion piss,
Small talk from smaller minds –
Oh, months apart.
We used to talk so much, heavy vines
Hanging from your battered lips
Which wrapped around the forking paths
That fell, stony, from my chipped teeth.
Your hands are worked, man,
But not as worn as I remember them
In a hired room hot with dust,
Our voices excited with old songs and
I gave you cracked paint, you gave me
The words which I could see with.
It has been too long, friend.
Lower your eye.
Was there ever even envy?
Viscous tar-like matter knocked from ears
Thick with insect legs,
Or scrabbling around a coffee table
That we adorned with Sunday mornings.
We used to dance, as well, you and I.
We smuggled Czech glass
Beneath our greatcoats
(All the better to prick and probe).
Do you remember the horror of the hostess?
The time we shocked the Christmas
Out of those who questioned our crowns?
We have not the time for darkened air
To taint the corners of our visions.