The December Poems

Into Things

It’s about getting into things:

Unlatching the red tan leather suitcase

Where you keep the blouses, skirts and stockings

You haven’t worn since the years

We first met and walked the gardens

Of kings – our finest moment.

It’s about untying the black cotton bag,

The one with the white pull string

Knotted like a true scout;

And I’m not disappointed

To find your tights and leggings and sweat band

Huddled together with a pungent sweetness

I remember from past, rampant intimacy.

It’s about breaking off

The lock on your diary,

To ravage through and retrieve a life

Hidden in a secret script, unfamiliar,

Frenzied words and to read

Of the school girl you were,

And I laugh, laugh hard, my heart

Hung, drawn and quartered -

Because you are who I thought you were.

It’s about opening the door

To our bedroom where you still sleep,

Breath rising

And falling,

Unchanged, despite everything.

And once into things

I see that

We’re too far in

To ever get out.

 

 

Alba Scura

Alba’s mornings were never sunny places.                      

Neither hot buttered buns nor steamy tea,

held without the light her shadow replaces.

 

No merry-go-rounds, no day at the races,

No first light walks down by the sea.

Alba’s mornings were never sunny places.

 

A pair in one while others held aces.

She tore at her hair, va via da qui,

held without the light her shadow replaces.

 

We wore down walls and packed suitcases,

but from within herself she could not flee.

Alba’s mornings were never sunny places.

 

Come night, hide the other of many faces.

How she was loved she couldn’t see,

held without the light her shadow replaces.

 

She runs, lasciami, but the dark one chases.

Day, break these screams and scratches free.

Alba’s mornings were never sunny places

held without the light her shadow replaces.

 

 

Vertigo

They say that at the beginning

and at the end

lovers cannot bear to be alone with each other.

 

The beginning was like vertigo. But not quite, because that implies a lightness.

Waiting for her to come over was more a feeling of being too heavy on a tightrope.

She’d be bringing first things: First kiss; first awkward touch; first semblance of a dream.

 

My house was clean. There was even a full moon out. Something she’d noticed.

But I felt surrounded by inimical things, the very things that were on any other occasion

Precious: a globe; a potted fern; a Schiele print; an orange sofa; an old wooden chest.

Could these things harm her?

 

In the end her visits, even her calls, were like waiting for bad news.

Even on days when the news was good, or even happy. (And she could be so happy.)

The good was not expected; so strong was the bad.

 

She’d come over at nine.

The decided hour.

I’d look at the clock above the door;

 

Five to nine.

 

The first evening I could not sit

for fear that something was out of place.

By the end, across all the evenings, I would sit

knowing that everything was wrong.

 

Five to nine.

 

Hell, the thoughts I’ve had,

and still, nothing’s changed.

 

She insisted on eating supper with her family first.

She insisted that they tormented her at the table.

Tormented and hated and derided her.

 

She would eat fast. Vicious like an animal,

angry at the food for how good it tasted.

And then in the bathroom, she would insist on locking the door.

 

I would read, one line and then another.

Between those lines I’d look up at the clock

and wonder who she’d be tonight.

 

She liked that I was bookish.

And so I read three lines more – without looking at the clock

or listening for her on the stairs.

 

I read on, for her,

so that when she came I would not have to lie

when telling her that I’d been reading.

She arrived minutes after nine

and caught me once again with my heart between my teeth.

In truth I had been reading, and thinking, and afraid.

 

I leapt from the sofa, book in hand, and opened the door

letting in chaos or an avid love.

 

She stood there, my Pandora.

She stood there, my Aphrodite.

 

 

 

China is Far Away

The Last night

before the end

I dreamt of us,

which I never

did before.

Just leaving

a party,

the taxi pulled up,

when a Chinaman

appeared and said

‘Im going to another.’

‘A party?’ you said,

and ‘yes’ you went

without me.

After the end,

after the last night,

that dream made sense.

China, like you now,

is far away.

 

 

 

No Ordinary Room

No ordinary room above a high street,

further than all the places in picture books,

Was where she led me up the stairs to meet

A side of her hidden from cheats and crooks.

With the door shut tight and the curtains drawn,

Edges fell away and tides swept in below.

She removed the winter coat I had worn

and held me steady as we went down slow

to soft cushions and pillows scattered round.

She let me look but I was not to stare

for by her sad eyes I could be drowned.

Quiet then, she held my hands and said a prayer

For the love we’d found and the love we’d hurt

For love, forgotten treasure in the dirt.

 

 

 

This is Perverse.

It leaves you lonely, this city life.

Never knowing how to behave.

You want to reach out for the knife

Or the dead dark quiet of a cave.

 

You walk the streets or take the bus,

You brush up close and listen hard.

But still there is no sense of us,

Instead there lies a soul that’s marred.

 

The sky above seems no better,

The moon ignored by countless stars.

The girl next door loathed your letter,

The friends you loved all drowned in bars.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                               

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