The light

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
You take acid as we’re sitting in the air
The old woman pours whitewash over her husband’s head
We’re on the left
There’s no box, no comfort zone
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
Two girls with acne and stringy bleached hair
Occupy Wall Street
A month in the hole
In solitary
The way to connect is to work together
I had a clear vision
Looming orange clouds, an apocalyptic sunset
Something that makes you smaller or channels your movement

The light has to get somewhere
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In the dream we’re on a plane, rows of seats, going somewhere
We don’t know what we want but it isn’t this
People keep pets
The husband is grey and decrepit
If your mother couldn’t hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
Try to hide yourself
If you throw up the next morning
does that mean you’ve poisoned yourself?
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing there

The light has to get somewhere, touch something
Is that the same t-shirt?
Occupy Breastfeeding
Howl, keen, be the banshee of yourself, announcing your death
I take scissors out of your hand
You’re taking acid
Seeing the nothing inside yourself
A curve through spacetime
A function
A journey, transmission, idea
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
In the dream
the husband is grey and decrepit
The woman pours whitewash
Anything but raw paper is a compromise
The noises when I cried and cried frightened me

The light has to get somewhere, touch something, to exist
People keep pets instead
Curl into a ball, try to hide yourself
We don’t know what we want but it isn’t this
Fenced in, fenced out
You in the aisle seat
I in the middle
Light is nothing, only
potential
When you look for yourself as a thing
there is nothing
The way to connect is to work
against each other
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Reflected, absorbed, refracted
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself

The light has to get somewhere
I smile a little
Acid, you’re taking acid
Light is nothing, only
potential, just
an idea
Occupy Everything
Looming orange clouds
The window seat free
No-one looking out
This is not conditional
A month in the hole
Two months
Give you time to think
What if the neighbours come
and try to cheer me up?
Not depressed
Not ill
Don’t need anything
In full control
of self, life, responses
An adult
Tear at your clothes and hair, bite yourself
I don’t know what I want
If your father couldn’t hold you while you cried
hold yourself now
In touching something, the light
is not destroyed, but changed
Polarised, amplified, focussed
There’s no box
This is not
conditional
You don’t have to be
a good boy, a good girl
I had a clear vision
The light
has to touch something

(First published in Uneven Floor)

On the road 2

I met him on the road like I wanted
but we were walking in opposite directions
We rested and talked a while
That     was all

I met him on the road
like I wanted
We were walking in the same direction
but I could see shapes in the distance
and got ahead of him
When     I looked back he was gone

After that I walked slowly
I studied the stones in the road
the politicians’ posters
the trees of unpicked olives
the ornamental roses
Yes, I stopped to smell the roses
The roses were thick with     longing

I met him on the road like I wanted
We were walking in the same direction
but he talked about shapes in the distance
and got ahead of me
I could have matched his pace
but there were roses on my left
I called his little name
as he went off towards     whatever

I met him on the road
like I wanted
We were walking in the same direction
We walked and talked for an hour
We stopped to steal the roses
one for me and one for him
We walked for another hour
comparing petals and thorns
Then I     put out     my free hand

On the road 1

In case I meet you
on the road
I will don
my sharpest clothes

shine my boots
gird up my guts
soften my hands
confine my hair

practise my words
arrange my face
squeegee my eyes
check my teeth
     in the cracked mirror

I will don
my sharpest clothes
in case I meet you on
the road

     however unlikely that
     may be

(First published in Uneven Floor)

Essence

Lao Tzu says dwell
with the fruit, not the flower.

The flowers sun themselves
and fall from the vine
The fruits get pulped
between teeth, under heels

But you, my beloved,
are beyond all that.

Long-stemmed,
you’re not the flower.
Liquid-hipped,
you’re not the fruit.

You, lucent,
sunlight-scented,
you, wooded,
oblivion-tongued,

only you,
Essence, are the wine.

(First published in Australian Love Poems, Inkerman & Blunt 2013)