Just Words

Kind words sink silently into the

memory-sponge of the walls but

harsh words carom around the house

forever, their cockroach-carapaces

impossible to crack.

The Band Room, Pinewood

In the shadow of the gargantuan stages,

I worked in one of those

fathomless spaces which seem to

sum up time and

seam it in its walls: where

big bands rehearsed for

big musicals; dancers

warmed up at now-rusty barres;

where the mechanics of my business exhausted

enthusiasm, energy, blood; where

despair sometimes stuck you to its

sweat-stained, tight-beamed floor; where

once an unknown man

hung himself from one of its

high substantial stanchions;

where now is the home of the

nostalgia of Science Fiction; where

sturdy security guards shiver on their

late rounds when the

memories drift down

like dust.

Moonlife

I

New Moon

rocks in its cradle

blissfully unaware.

 

II

Young Moon bashfully hides behind

curtains of cloud, scared by

all those eyes turned on her.

 

III

Half Moon, half adult,

half kid, uncertain,

slutty, defiant.

 

IV

Gibbous Moon, sure she’s pregnant,

remembers no father or parents to be

mad, determined to go to term.

 

V

Full Moon doesn’t give a shit, splashes her

cash about the sky, free of any

doubt or shame.

 

VI

Gibbous Moon bemoans her

mommy-belly, is wistful and wonders if

there’s a gym nearby.

 

VII

Half Moon has a terminator to die for but

worries something else is

eating her inside.

 

 

VIII

Old Moon looks at what’s left, remembers

reaching out a lazy foot to

rock a baby.

 

IX

No Moon gives the stars once,

and once only,

free rein.

 

X

New Moon

rocks in its cradle,

blissfully

unaware.

Remainia

I dreamt I had to leave you alone in Remainia

without a passport but you insisted you could

still slip back in, claim benefits,

beg in the streets if necessary, and if the

police tried to deport you—well

Remainia doesn’t exist

does it?

Breathing, Listening

Have we not slept with someone who

seemed to stop breathing?

Have we not stopped breathing,

listening anxiously for the belated

exhalation, the murmur of

incomprehensible words, the

wriggle of toes that allows our breath a

final release, knowing

life yet lives?

Sidings

Coming into Crewe I passed

debauched old rolling stock

rotting, reeking of those days of

three classes, compartments, corridors,

but at least a proper

buffet and a bar and a

decent rolling restaurant with

good wine to make

delay at least bearable.

 

And then there was the

great white worm of the

Advanced Passenger Train, the

promise of a past future of

more speed but less pleasure, now

tired and tilting.

“Young Osric”

I run off stage in character keep

running to the Tiring House

tearing off the wig from

God knows whose head

rough hands helping me

strip my dress and bodices as I

sweat out the woman I was as

tears and rough usage

fumbling with different buttons as the

Clowns fumble with skulls

laughter and dread silence my

cue to be Young Osric

baited as a chough a

water-fly and fated to

hold a dying Queen’s head amidst

all that blood

an empty purse on a

vast stage but at least and

finally I can be a boy

Cannibalism

Poetry is bones, the flesh

chewed to the gristle, leaving

just enough to recognise a

human being.

 

But you won’t stay a

quiet skeleton in the corner,

keep growing more flesh for me

to gnaw on.

Craquelure

Perfect from a distance,

up close your face wears

faint lines of age which

others seek to mask with

expensive unguents or

cheap powder, but of which you are

proud, knowing a stylus

dropped into any groove would

replay a fine memory

perfectly.

Spheres

Perhaps Ptolemy wasn’t so wrong when

I feel some nights the

spheres within spheres, the

roiling clouds wracked by

moonlight, the slowly

circling stars and the

great red-hot iron

rim of the galaxy

rolling soundlessly

millions of miles

above my head.

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