Poem: The Night


Alone together just this side of dawn,

you asked the questions and I traced my answers

on your smoothed body parchment

with just enough paint and inspiration

to reach the end of a line before turning back,

ready to start all over again.

I wrote my hope on your shoulder blades,

feeling the muscles taut like dancing strings

and etched my fears on your lower back

until you opened your eyes like a princess

lifting a pair of gleaming gemstones

out of a secret drawer.

The prying sun brought back the same old doubts,

but by then the night had nothing more to say.

 

 

(from The God in the Box, Agàpe Publications, 2003)

Poem: The World


Wrapped snugly in its holed coat of space and time,

the world puts up the hood and runs away,

never showing its face and always one step ahead,

casting us off like loose change as it goes.

But the world doesn’t really move anywhere;

it’s like a balloon on a string

held by a child, or a boomerang.

I realised this much too late

and lunged for the world

as if trying to grab the trailing chain

of a dream, but by then it was gone.

 

(from The God in the Box, Agàpe Publications, 2003)

Poem: Necromancy


From one day to the next, I never know

when the face will show itself again

in a mirror or a pan of water,

as if unearthed by the ceaseless, circling

plough of my mind. It’s always the same;

a happy, younger me, long gone,

the dead returned to speak with the dying.

I wonder if he understands me,

as I don’t understand him.

As we stare at each other

across the abyss, he fades to watery thinness

and so do I, from one day to the next.

 

(from Temptation in the Desert, Agàpe Publications, 2002)

Poem: Waiting at the Water’s Edge


Another day of hope and nothing

slides into evening’s apologetic grey;

I’m in love, but I don’t know who with.

Somewhere, upstream of love

and poetry’s floundering strokes, she’s sitting

as fine and clear as the first gasp of oxygen.

It’s getting dark

and once more no one’s turned up;

every day’s just a poor copy

of how we want it to be.

 

(from Exercises in Unreality, Agàpe Publications, 2002)

Poem: Thursday


And rose.

And fell.

Once more.

Something at the corner of my eye

is thrusting its bony fingers

into the gaping cracks of my life,

pushing its stained fingers

into the empty spaces where my life should be,

where all my principles and goals,

my reason for being

should be safely bedded down.

I rose, I fell, I rose again, calmly this time.

Something’s trying to force itself on me,

just like I used to try to force myself

on the world and everyone else.

Something jams its fingers, probing

deep into my chest.

My chest rises and falls, rises and falls,

slowly, gently. It’s almost tomorrow,

but somehow still yesterday.

I rose.

And fell.

Once more.

 

(from Exercises in Unreality, Agàpe Publications, 2002)

Poem: Pilgrimage


After that, it’s all a blur,

just a mass of people rushing past

to get somewhere that seems important,

and I’m the only one going the other way;

twelve years of elbows in the ribs.

Places I’d seen countless times

through the grimy windows of speeding trains

began to seem interesting,

to offer the chance of finding an answer,

or at least a question.

Stepping onto the platform

at a station I’d never heard of,

I felt like an old copper coin

handled and spun for thirty years

by dirty hands, bought and sold ten times a day.

The woman shoved by me and boarded,

slipping a photo and a ticket

into my hand. As the train pulled away,

we watched each other through bleary glass

and I knew I’d never seen her,

though the photo showed us together years before.

The ticket was standard class

to a city I’d never been to.

Leaving that day’s redirected postcard

on the bench, I went to ask about the next train out,

thinking that this time I’d upgrade to first class.

 

(from Exercises in Unreality, Agàpe Publications, 2002)

Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven


An early 70s last night of the world story that ends up as an apocalyptic story looking forward to the post-apocalypse. Niven rigorously explores the various explanations and possibilities.

The suspense (which of the above categories will we finish in?) is very well maintained. By the end, I really wanted the main characters to survive to confront the challenges of a post-apoc world.

My mother in law does not usually like science fiction, but she identified with the main female character in this story whose last night of the world wish was to go and window shop at the jewellery stores along Rodeo Drive.