Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Smoke

I sit on the step so my

smoke goes out into the

evening rain which

absorbs it into the

four-car, eight-bogey rhythm of the

London train, empty here but

filling with night-workers and

night-crawlers as it goes through

little towns, soaking up

pleasures anticipated and the

septic worries of

families left alone with

disappointment, their parents

cleaning up after

selfish children whose

smoke snakes into the night’s rain

congealing into the

sticky detritus of morning.



“It Must be a Camel” F.Z.

Philip followed Peter into the fog but

Peter only went there because

Simon said so, on the

advice of Andrew, though

Thaddeus disagreed and the

James’s jointly followed the

doubts of Thomas, whilst Judas

sniggered up his sleeve and

Bartholomew beamed but

kept his counsel: John and

Matthew were on a course.


Waiting is not just for rooms, it’s

done on windy streets trying to

light a cigarette, in

pubs eating meals you need but

do not want, in

corridors that end in

doors that won’t open, in your

head mostly, that other

larger chamber of the heart.


In that dim room, between

dozing nods, the people looked like

figures in an Adoration around an

oversized crib; next moment a

different tableau, a

Night Watch, then an

Exemplary Dissection, a Demonstration of

Gas in a Jar, a

Dawn Vigil—all, my

fuddled brain knew, with something

very precious at the

focal point of all those

nocturnal witnesses.

Mauvezin, Night

I couldn’t begin to describe the

clouds that night, with an

oblate moon backlighting crabs,

archipelagos, the ribs of

some archaic creature,

crazy foam, ruptures, stucco,

flaking paint, failure,

incandescence, a

soughing sea with

tidewrack and



I can’t make or build anything

except in my head and

even then it has a

tendancy to fall down.


If I could make things instead of

dreams I could perhaps

unbury my books when I

fail to prosper.


“Ode”, Stravinsky

A life compressed between staves like

stooks of corn which fall apart at a

touch when—after love’s

cantering chase—there is only an

ethereal, never-quite-resolved



I try to master the

tortoise pace with which my

wife defeats heat but my

child’s metabolism keeps

speeding me up, making me

parse the verb “to sweat” in all its

damp tenses.

Button Life

It’s a button life, to be

polished and kept

bravely in a drawer and

shown off now and then,


a balanced life with no

edges to be

stropped to Damascene or

pared to bare and blunt,


a straight-ahead life with no

detours from the well-trodden down

dubious alleys with no

certain outcome,


alleys in which we are hiding with our

envies too—of

polished, neutered,

financed surety.



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