Monthly Archives: September 2011

Zodiacal Envoi/ Orion

The vast lasso the sun throws ropes twelve but

thirteen is the true number as

all roads lead to Orion who

chases and is chased—by the

scorpion, whose weapon was really a

sting-ray spear or the

arrow of Artemis or something that

shivered in the night; he chases

Seven Sisters, none of whom will feel his

frigid hands riffle through their

gaseous skirts; and he is

chased by—well, you

get the picture.


In some way they’re all chasing each other,

the stars, a round-robin of ridiculous malice

mingled with the ennui of

never catching up.


We have a ringside seat: the

bell rings nightly.

All we have to do is

crane our necks and look.




Needing to escape

needing to smoke I

crashed into the garden–

eyes blurred, flint catching–and

ran right into

immense Orion

caught in his cartwheel

across the sky.


He looked so mighty and forlorn,

pinned between buildings—the

stars of Spring

surprised in Winter,

bejewelled scabbard flapping on

frozen thigh, reminding me

how late it was.


Hunter looked on hunted: who

pitied whom? We

both were cold, essentially

alone, but behind me

was my house, warm and



Flint caught,

smoke rose,

keeping him



“Scorpio’s are very faithful,” she wrote

making me think of the fidelity that

chases after you, begging and

cajoling, threatening

suits in shreds and

lives in tatters in pursuit of

love — tender game but

nocturnal and elusive, unwilling to be

pinned down in someone’s

specimen case or be

biddable or be



So the sting is raised

passive-aggresively while the

prey keeps running, forever

out of range, and the

rage congeals into pride that

so fearsome a hero fled from her

into the black night that she

only now notices is

ice-cold and empty– she

who is so sure and so


The Great When

When will it be, the

great When? In which

month, which season,

which year?

Will the body be

fit for purpose when

when arrives? Will it

welcome when with the

pleasure of a glass well-filled,

liking the lack of

who, or will it

slap when’s face with why



If confronted by a scorpion, the

eye is drawn to the sting and the

claws are forgotten until they

nip you, painfully.

So Mythistory lost track of

one end of a big beast by being

fixated on the other, inventing some

guff to placate Venus—

scales or something?— that

ignored the danger

immanent in the stars whose

names spelt out the trap:

Zubenelgenubi—Southern Claw;

Zubeneschamali—Northern Claw;

Zubenelakrab—Scorpion’s Claw;

all neatly tightening about your neck.

So drop nice notions of balance and

equanimity and peace to all men because

claws close and when they do they

sting as deeply as the tail.



La France Profonde

Bare-legged boys beaux

bejeaned belles down

beaches buried beneath the

beginnings of a barricade.


As the sky empties itself of light it

fills with sounds—of children

called to supper and

cats to warm beds, distant traffic, a

row, ascending aircraft, squeals of

girls at a party (why is it

only the girls?), whimper of

bat, crump of a firework somewhere,

soft wind, sussurous of leaves, a

tightness, the

ache of silence penetrated,


A Mother’s Letter to her Son

Why do you stare at me like that

as though the cat

disdained to drag me in?

When you arrived you

half-turned your body so that my

hug met your bony hip and my

lips kissed unwashed hair, and now

you sit in sulphurous silence, a

dead-pool in this

maelstrom of merriment with

eyes that poison me.


I know you miss your Father: do I? Not really,

no.  That hateful man took me like he took

Norse forts—often, and with no pleasure for the

taken—and once I was big with you, my

maids were besieged instead so the

court is full of your half-brothers—

didn’t you know? Children you

played with—maybe your

best friend? All I could do was

weep and leap at kindnesses and your

Uncle was always kind, with a

smile here and a hand to help there and a

murmured compliment on my looks when my

husband’s eye told me otherwise, and you

grew up, grew distant, went away, and then he

died and I rejoiced, God help me,

freed for one second to be myself.


That same night your Uncle came to me, to

mourn, commiserate, say all the

starchy, hypocritical things one says but I

stopped him with a kiss that turned into an

embrace that turned into the

fuck that changed my life and

wretchedly seems to have

changed yours.


It’s the sex that disgusts you,

isn’t it? That your

middle-aged Mother could

kiss a man, want him? Well I do

want him—my deluge after the

draught of my marriage, my

wetlands where I will winter

safe in his feathered breast.


And why are sweat-stained beds just for

the young? I revel in the

draining effusions that

drench the sheets, having never

felt them before: they

make me feel dirty and happy and

sixteen again. Perhaps I will have

another child? What do you think?


Oh look at you! Poor monkey! So much

intellectualisation and not enough

sex: why don’t you put that

sad lust-addled girl out of her

misery? She follows you like a dog so

fuck her like one, or are you

too cruel, too obsessed with your

Father, your uncle, me?


I didn’t expect my sweet boy to

hate women so. I beg you,

stop this now before it’s too late and

every night becomes like this one, full of

rancour and sour distress,

going round in circles, suffocating

dawn’s hope with dusk’s despair

because every night it will

end badly.

“I wanna….”

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