Drift (Collected Poems)

Extract

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In Your Bee Box

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I suppose my mind is your box of bees.

The noise outside is nothing. But,

caught in my tight-boned skull. Caught,

the buzz breeds. Vibrates. A saw against my bone.

Trepanning makes the most sense. Somehow

we will let your bee cloud free. Somehow

we will unstop this trap and loose your bedlam

of angry wings rubbing on wings, the words

of women, the chatter of children, the low,

low hum of men in their wise assurance.

The smell of venom is a thought inside. It

reeks in here, an acid smell between those wings.

Right now my skull is your tight wood box,

the world a shrill of vengeful mouths. Your hands,

your thick-gloved hands that carry me, hold some

promise, the companionship of a ghost. The thought

that if you did not survive, I will. When winter

creeps its deadly cold your bees will die. My skull

a skull again, my mind no more a hive. I

will outlive you all.

.

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Isn’t There a Fanatic Somewhere in All of Us?

.

What is it with you people?

You, who stand with your heads above the mist,

you with your Easter Island faces,

turned to the here and now, outward looking.

And I, here I am, elsewhere.

I balance on my straw raft,

float toward the horizon,

sea brine seeping past my toes.

In my delirium

I seek fresh water in the depths

and see monochrome men,

the lingering smoke of cigarettes,

the watch inturned and the hands adept.

Somewhere I lie with my face downturned,

my hands downstretched, catching

currents that left the shore decades past.

 .

I couldn’t be happy in bobby socks

and outspread skirts. But.

But I will stand in the shadow by the dance hall wall.

But I will watch them spin.

I will watch the play of muscle under skin,

the lucid eyes and the dark ones.

I will watch the sleek wet cling of cotton,

grained on film and left when life was vital.

I can look through the sheer water

and dream of the oxygen beneath the depths.

And dive, and dive again, and bring back pearls.

.

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To Darwin, on Hearing of the Twenty-Two Chronometers on the Beagle

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Did the ticking drive you mad?

Twenty two clocks to tie you

to Greenwich, to the damp land,

to the paved streets and spires

and the blank glazed windows

of progress and age? Did time

become fathoms deep, and the

dwindling abyss transform to

thoughts of deep, deep time?

The blind eyes of bottom dwellers,

the feelers of those that survived,

the wellings of primordial soup

perhaps flavoured your thoughts.

 .

(you never saw them. We know

you never saw the elemental broth,

the creatures like to dinosaurs

in a Blackpool of phosphorescence.

But the mystery, perhaps. The thought

that things exist beyond your imagining.

The thought that time stretches, deep

and wider than the books all told.

Perhaps that ocean thought stirred you.)

 .

And when you thought of long

lived turtles in their shells and short

lived finches with precision beaks,

did you think of second hands and hours,

the life of a gnat and a continent,

the age of the rocks on which the

lizards sunned? Did, perhaps, each

degree of longitude between your feet

and the Greenwich mean, and the depths

of ocean between, seem like an age

in itself, your life fragile, stuttering

on the shore, and all your hopes placed

in wood and the subtle degrees of time?

.

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