• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 03
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Lines

These double white lines if
that is indeed what they are

in the middle of this long road
that seems to undulate towards

an infinitely far-away horizon
swerve suddenly to the right

when seen from the direction
in which I am travelling myself

shortly before they vanish over
the crest of the next low rise

as though whoever drew them
lost concentration or maybe

ducked off sideways to avoid
a quick thought or a mosquito

then set the right course again
the two lines steady and straight

as the heel-marks a dead shadow
would make supposing someone

had such a thing dragging behind
them and could never lose it or rest.

1

An unsolved mystery of quantum mechanics

Last night I saw … I know not what or who.
Pale twins, they stretched along the ground,
alive or dead – or even both at once.

They came from nowhere, silent, colourless.
A single wavelength, monochrome, rising
from darkness into ghostly light, they grew

and swelled, hoping for someone who might determine
their identity, know something of their substance,
give them a name – which is to say a home; or must they

stay unclaimed for ever, not known, not understood?
It's a mystery: like the way two slits in parallel allow
light waves, or particles, or single atoms at a time

to pass and make their marks in points of light
and though different, the outcome will be the same:
an interference pattern on a screen.

So even atoms can acknowledge kinship,
but these have none – just the tails of two cats
born of dark and fighting for their lives.

2

ON SIDING WITH THE UNALIGNED

This month
asphalt is in ascension;
asphalt is in acute-resistance.
I came to occupy (whose) absence?

Nothing/Nobody
has /had a
come apart/come-apart.
I try to sound the same, the same.

A flown-in distance, foreign
distance. A rift so bereft
I cannot shake this fleeing.

Dust is in the air. All dust seeks another dust.
Dust-patterned likeness: all of it/self in reverse.
I’m all grit, and register as atonal.

3

Close

It was another one of those nights - I’d worked later than late.
I was dead tired, frail and utterly glum.
The glare from the oncoming traffic was blinding and if that wasn’t enough, a giant lorry tailed behind me – too close – too close.

Its headlights loomed inside my rear view with aggressive impatience. My palms sweating as I clutched the wheel tightly, desperately struggling to follow the lines.
Another anxious trip – another thirty miles til home.

My head was pounding as I played back the day. Re-living my mistakes, listing my shortcomings, weighing up the kindnesses and the offenses - the 'what if's' and the 'should haves'.
Awkward, self-conscious and blundering.

Why is perfection always a landslide away?
Each goal, dream and wish - so close, so close.
Yet missing the mark by a nose, by a hair, by the skin of my teeth, or the clumsy offering of my other cheek.
Any flaw, smudge or delay. Any wrong turn - misused word or turn of phrase. Any mishap, misunderstanding, mistake in character, or instance of bad timing undergoes scrutiny that would make Herod seem a gentle man.

Approval lost its way leaving crumbs of feelings but no map.

Barely tethered I followed the lines leading me up to the steep hill that is my street. I was home, but I was lost.

Outside the air was cold but I breathed in deeply and looked to the sky.
Whispering an urgent wish for guidance, for strength, for renewal.

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4

Nine dart finish

You are pressing me towards the ground,
playfully I think you think, and while
this wasn’t what I had expected
when you asked me outside at 22.53,
all the better to see in another instalment
in the serial drama ‘Our Future’,
I resolve to say it is the sort of thing
I’d hoped you’d do when I said
I wanted you to be truer, straighter.

You say: these lines are the wires
on the cosmic dartboard, and we are
somewhere near the triple 20 bed. I am
the fletching you need, your nine dart finish.
Come, live your tungsten dreams with me.

5

Too much

Two lines set off to the horizon
Too far to see where they go
Two pathways of people together
Too close but at least they know

Two trails, a scar of our past
Too blurred to see where we’ve been
Two parallel thoughts unconnected
Too much, too soon, unseen

Two lives uncomfortably untangled
Too heavy, too straight, too strained
Two lines entrenched like a battlefield
White lines, don’t do it again

6

Heel Drags

Like the chalk drag across a board, those dusty trails echoing through space - I can't help but become intrigued by the texture, the wealth of the parallel.

The ignorance of us.

If nothing is permanent, then the lines of the parallel must touch, eventually, right? It feels like the architecture of my veins don't cut off, don't end at the smooth barrier of the skin, but run and run; a blueprint of my future. A tale already told.

I follow these ideological traces like a bloodhound, whose sense of smell is deteriorating. They say the sense of smell is a sign of danger. But do they also say time is an imaginary lover in the face of entropy?

Floating here, in space, it becomes hard to make a connection. I can look at these parallel lines that I have drawn and ponder them until my very particles become re-absorbed into them. Like a frieze on that Grecian Urn. Maybe it has already happened.

What are the lines? Time and us? Life and Death? Humans and other life? You and I?

It feels like my life has been dedicated to solving these lines. Knowing if and when these eventually touch.

7

Fake Plastic Highway

August '93,
Fake plastic highway,
Las Vegas desert sea.

Rolling down the sideline
playing with your American Express Card,
rolling dice on the road like jacks in the playground
spin the wheel around knock them down in a row,
white lens double vision straight up double rum tumblr
fashion icon seventeen Calvin Klein Queen,
pale skin pale lines, dark circles dark minds
minimalism is beauty
like a sea of the infinite failings of matrimony,
‘Happy Halloween’ two fingers of ghostly addiction
don’t even know the time of the year
like ‘Happy New Year’ have a shot of
Sambuca, Vogue Italia December ‘92
into ‘93, Dada you’re ninety,
Tzara cut the cards
deal me twenty-one,
Duchamp bathroom break
dual stream in and out
pairing the self with the mirror image superego,
porcelain cuts.

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8

Please, come

They were the whitest, skinniest, longest legs she had ever seen on a man. Sometimes she wondered how they managed to carry the rest of him around – not that there was much to carry. Tom was always lean, even before this happened. And now she was speeding away from those legs, from him, as fast as her little car could go.

Alice could drive all night and into the dawn and still not come to the end of those legs.

The sarcastic part of her mind asked what other body parts would she meet on this mad flight. An Arby’s sign shaped like his nose? Fence posts that were really finger tips? And the corn fields on either side of the dark highway, all those thousands of ears - it didn’t bear thinking about.

It would be simpler if she couldn’t still smell him on her clothes. If she closed her eyes, she could taste his skin. He was a part of her, she knew that. She didn’t know he was a part of everything else. Foolish to think she could ever leave him behind. Foolish to think six feet of earth would change anything.

Alice pulled over. The sky had begun to lighten and she could see the grass beneath her feet was yellow and soft. She kneeled down and stroked it with two fingers, the way she used to stroke his hair out of his eyes when his fringe grew too long.

“The funeral’s at two,” she said. “But I can’t do it alone. Please, come.”

9

The Last Leg

She appeared in the lay-by
tottering on spindles.

Placed her white limbs close
to the camber, dragging my eyelids
from the tip of sleep.

Stayed with me, constant, luring me
onwards, flesh blurring on tarmac

taunt of trim ankle always
out of sight.

10

Crossing the line

‘You need a rolled up ten pound note, go on, use the one in my purse,’ Betty said, her polyester cardigan making her feel like a roast-in-the-bag chicken.

Hyacinth paused, this was it, the penultimate thing to do on her bucket list. They’d stolen expensive perfume from Harrods, slashed the tyres of the Born-Again Christian’s car two blocks away and spray painted a heart on Mrs. Duble’s prize toy poodle. They were feeling pumped and not just from the medications they were taking.

Hyacinth cleared her throat. Even though she was going to die very soon, the next thing still went against a deep, moral code. The other things were prankish, the sort of things kids would do; but this was serious, after all, old people don’t take drugs. She shifted position on the sofa.

‘Getting cold feet?’ Betty asked Hyacinth, hoping she would say yes. The thought of needles or smoking drugs scared the living daylights out of her, let alone inhaling drugs up her nose.

‘No, course not. It’s on my list.’

Hyacinth rolled the ten pound note, put it to her nose and leaned over the table. Betty burst out laughing. Hyacinth stopped in her tracks.

‘What is it?’

‘Just imagining what a great photo that would make, we should take one and leave it in the safe for your children to find!’

Hyacinth’s eyes lit up. ‘Not a bad idea Betty, grab the camera, it's in the bureau.’

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11

Stuck

Here
everything is blurred,
unfocussed,
foggy;
black and white
run together;
thoughts slip
from my grasp,
ideas dissolve,
memories merge...

There
everything is distinct,
defined,
doubtless;
white cuts cleanly
across black;
there is clarity,
concentration,
creativity...

But I cannot tell
whether
'there'
is where I am headed
or where I have been.

12

Wherever It May Go

Her skeleton legs
stretch out through the fog
of my hazy intentions,
my muddled recollections,
my grit torn, whitewashed,
blacked out, gray perceptions.
Her winnowing path
is not paved in concrete facts,
but can only be traveled
by those who are light of foot
and willing
to leave the abstract horrors
of yesterday’s towns
and tomorrow’s unknown destinations
in the realm of nowhere nothingness
where all might-have-beens
and still-could-bes belong.
Her mangled elusiveness
draws me into a grainy web of distortion,
and though we both have
our set of scars,
we also have the eternal Nowness
of this One primal moment
that pierces down to the marrow –
so we dance with these hollow bones
along this path to our grave,
laughing in the madness all the while.
13

In a rush

“It seems I made it.

I just crossed the finish line.

Yes?

And yet why then does this look more like the road less travelled by?

How could it be, if they built it for a race.

This is a race?”

From where she was

flat on the ground

she whispered these words to me.

I knew what answer she so desperately needed was.

Her life had passed her by.

Way past the speed limit of what she could contain.

“Can I rest here with you?”

“Can we just sit here? Us two”

“Can we catch up, do you think?”

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14

WHALE

The backbone of a whale
undulates and leads off
on a searching path,

Focused on a glint of light
the journey starts,
the motion, lumbering, muscular

seems infinite - the hunger
of the incomplete never quells
in a bedraggled sea.

Only the rain on the water
tells the creature of another
airy life above...

Eventually, the end of atmosphere
death's barrier, leading beyond hope,
beyond nothingness.

15

SKETCH OF AN ABANDONED JOURNEY

For Vasu

When they meet, they drink Grey Goose
And artfully talk about long legs soaked
in bubbling darkness. He looks into his
face like she looks into hers and together
they reach out for each other without
making a move. Then there is snow falling
nowhere. Their talks gray into Polaroid stills.
They return home in a sip of drink, cold still
As a leaf bites the air in its nape. He asks her
“Grow up”. She looks at the moon running
away stealthily leaving the clouds overhead

16

Parallels of Time

There's salvation here.
The roads are electroplated through the universe.
The one not taken may well be the one on the left.
But you can always change your mind.
The engineer at the street corner box is plaiting
their colourful lives like basket weave,
his head nodding towards the centre of the earth.
That's where this road leads. The one on the right,
light, shimmering, still bubbling
under the warm tarmac of childhood.
17

POEM FOR ISAAC

You asked me why we left Providence;
I said, 'I don’t know' - so we talked about
other things while I carried your sister
in a sling, breasts leaking milk across my front;
through Christ Church Meadow to Christmas lights
on Broad Street, the covered market, coffee
from a stall facing the butchers; sat staring
at all that blood - carcasses of hare, deer hung
by the door. You asked me how the world got made
then; I laughed, grateful for a question I could
answer; no Gods to fall back on, told you
about the noiseless explosion - planets scattering
across all that darkness. You asked again
why we left, again I said 'I don’t know'.
18

Towards The Penal Colony

Legs of light, long and sinuous stretched into the unknown dark,
like Moira’s legs, so supple they were almost boneless.
He forced himself not to think of her. She belonged to the past,
in his turbulent ocean of storms -
Oceanus Procellarum.

Now, present and future are the blank page.
New thoughts burgeon. Thought is allowed.
At last. Freed from the Mind Mentors
He floats on a sea of tranquility.
He rolls its Latin around his brain -
soon it may emerge from his mouth -
Mare Tranquillitatis.

19

Lines to Follow

It is dark now and all I can see are these lines.
Line and line, they go on and on,
I know not where to, but it must be right
Because someone put them there;
They went there first,
They laid the path
Which it’s best to follow.

They’re straight and narrow;
It’s hard to keep my feet inline,
But without them I’d drift
Perhaps to the wrong place.
The lines must be right
Because someone put them there;
They went there first,
Everyone takes the path;
It must be best to follow.

Before I found them I wandered
With my toes scuffed by
Rocks and diamonds alike.
But the lines keep on, keep on,
Smooth like talcum powder underfoot.
No meandering, they keep a course
I know not where to, but it must be right
Because someone put them there;
I won’t be first,
I couldn’t make a path
Which it’s best to follow.

20

Limbs Anonymous

Supplicant arms reaching out
in prayer, fingers pointing heavenwards.

Attenuated legs, ballet toes
pointing in the end position.

Calves so thin as to be a victim
of a cruel wasting disease – best left in Africa

Forearms lengthened and stretched.
Strong at least for now, shovelling
up bodies tossed along the roadside.

To be carted away and buried
in communal graves.
Names too numerous just itemize:
Father - Mother
Boy x 4
Girl x 2

Upload the statistics and flash,
dash across our western screens.
This might be distressing to some viewers.

Reach for the cheque book.
Down load the song.
Don’t get too close
Dying – doesn’t take long.

Front line workers, carry on their backs
our collective consciences.
As if their limbs could bend and support us all.

21

The Rainforest

Little Charlie stood on the side of the road and peaked at the two white lines again. They cut right through the middle, and were perfectly parallel to one another. He glanced up at his mom and back at the road. He tried shaking her hand, but she was on the phone and couldn’t be bothered.
Oh but Charlie was itching to go follow the lines, to see what became of them. Just where they ran up and over a small hill, he could see them curve and flow into a river, cutting through rainforests that were sparkling after hours of heavy rain. The trees were awakening with the timid calls of animals building up the courage to come out of their shelters. And the air smelled fresh and free, ready to be filled with the new ventures of a new day.
He started dancing on his feet because now he could hear, just around the corner where the river ducked behind a cluster of palm trees, the water cascading tremendously over a cliff. It roared with power, louder and louder until his eardrums and his heart were pounding. He knew it must be an enormous waterfall, unlike anything he’d ever witnessed. And he knew, too, that somewhere below, amidst the tickling spritzes of water bouncing off the rocks, there was a mermaid, beautiful and expectant. She had her world to show him, and he had his to show her.
Charlie gasped as he sensed her faraway presence.
He broke from his mother’s hand and dashed toward that hill. A car swerved around him and honked with fury.
“Charlie!” His mother screamed and rushed after him.
“Mom! I gotta--”
“What have I told you about crossing the road? Please Charlie, for your own safety, be careful about where you’re going,” she said, and dragged him back to their car.
22

Coney Island cap

There was a time, not too long back, when I couldn’t imagine him without his Coney Island cap. It seemed to me that he wasn’t quite him without it.

The day he turned seventeen, he was thrown from a motorcycle in a near-fatal crash. He didn’t speak to me about the accident - apart from that one time - but I’d sometimes glance at him when he thought I wasn’t looking, from the side, if we were on the sofa. And I’d know from his furrowed eyebrows, the shifting expression, eyes darting from the wall to the television (which he pretended to watch), to the framed family photographs above the fireplace, back to the TV, again, again, that it affected him a lot more than he’d have liked us to know.

When I visited him in the hospital he hardly said a thing. I’d brought along grapes from the supermarket which I realised too late were the type he didn’t like, and I perched on the uncomfortable chair by the bed, struggling to think of light-hearted anecdotes from outside (but not too light). He looked straight past me, out of the window.

For a couple of years after, the motorcycle rusted in the narrow space between our house and next door. He didn’t mention it and we never brought it up. One day, it was gone. He’d sold it to a kid for half the amount he could’ve, and never rode a bike, drove a car, or showed any desire to control the road again.

When visiting hours were almost over, he told me he’d regained consciousness for a minute, waiting for the ambulance to come. He’d opened his eyes, and there was the road, snaking off towards an invisible horizon, the future. He could hear someone in tears nearby, though we don’t know who.

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23

Shadows

swooping next to me
in bed,
my shadow and i
play a game
of invisibility.

Erebus peeks
into my soul
and leaves crumbs
of yesterdays
piling in my unconscious;

the paths to so
many lifetimes now
blurred.

24

What Happened in the Hold

The ship lurched and tumbled in the dark,
Cresting waves that flashed white in the moonlight
Before plunging back down, down, into oblivion.

Below deck, a young man crept between the hammocks,
Passing his sleeping comrades with a small candle
And soft steps until he reached the door to the hold.

Balancing the light, he scaled down the rough ladder until,
Standing among the cargo, he set the candle down atop a barrel
And navigated his way in the near-dark to the farthest corner.

These barrels, larger than the others, stood alone;
Smelling the sulphur, a grin flashed across his features,
Unobserved by all but the rat in the shadows.

He dumped some powder out,
Creating a blanket of fine dust along the floorboards,
And ran two fingers along the surface, leaving two lines -
A pair of reflective strips in the black sand.

The powder stained his fingertips.
Lifting his hand slowly to his face, he touched his cheekbone
And dragged the charcoal along his skin -
Two marks under each sleepless eye.

Leaning over, he looked for his reflection on the floor,
Shifting his weight in hopes of catching a glimpse of madness,
And finding no such visage there, he grabbed the candle
And let the flame fall.

25

Over the Limit

She rubbed her eyes to clear her vision.
The white line in the road had doubled and
was blurred.
Was she ill, tired or had someone spiked
her drink?
She had only had the one, she was pretty sure.
The two lines were still there, fading off
narrower in the distance.
They started to distort but she held her gaze.
Was it two or one? She was sure it was two.
That means no overtaking she thought as a car
sped by honking his horn before he disappeared
from sight. Why is he blasting me, she thought.
Then there were flashing lights,
and she was pulled over.
Blow into this a voice said.
26

Moonlit Road

The pale blue light
Of the moon
Travels across
The barren landscape,
Illuminating the dark
Blacktop
In front of me.
Parallel lines, which
Usually shine in
Bright yellow,
Guide motorists
Along a path
Towards
Their destinations,
Looking white
In the limited light
Cast from above.
Walking along the
Cracked and cooling
Pavement,
I reveled in the
Solace surrounding me,
Never knew so much
Peace.
27

night: pixelosis

s:s
the two stay in the dark
when the night lets the cat
out of the bag
but it escapes you
"what else is there:
the captain orders the sight
of land to be erased
from the log, as well he might"
now it’s all hush-hush
higgledy-piggledy
ground and grounded
looked at and looking
soot particles pixels
28

Colgate

he had left the cap off again
but instead of squeezing
fudge mint ooze
onto side of sink
he left a deliberation
doppelgänger thin
the space between
message to him
that we were categorically
never going to get back
together and yet
the symmetry
of his twinned trail
sluggishly minted
leaving a double white
no parking sparkle
on the vinyl squares
of a promise
he had not kept
gingerly stepping
to squat over porcelain
the smudge of his demise
staining hem
never again
29

Circles and Lines

Your baby, they said, is seriously ill.
      All she can remember now are the nostrils leaning over her as she lay in bed trying to make sense of these words. The nurse’s nostrils were like a horse, the consultant’s a perfect paisley tick, and the flat lines of her husband’s as he held her hand so tightly that the blood stopped flowing to her fingers and she had to free her hand and wave it between them until the feeling came back. Flap flap in the wind, he’d say later, when they could laugh about it, trying to replace that moment of terror with a happy story to tell their now healthy son when he was old enough.
      But while her husband remembers her flapping like a seal catching a ball, she remembers the way his nose closed in on itself as if he wasn’t letting himself breathe. The white skin on her hand. How quickly they had forgotten to touch each other without pain.

On the train to the hospital in London she lets her gaze soften until the telegraph poles stop standing separate and proud but instead merge into one black line, blocking out the lines in between. It’s how Gestalt therapy was created, she remembers the counsellor saying, that realisation that humans will always long to complete a pattern, to see a full ring even when it’s broken.

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30

Distraction

As he opened his eyes the lines were fuzzy, indistinct, out of focus. He squeezed his eyes closed twice to force them to work. As he looked farther away the lines became more distinct as they undulated down the road. His attention stayed fixed on the line they took noticing the fine detail of their path; the little kink in the lines path; how the paint was not even spread and at one point he could see odd lumps embedded in it. The line painter must have rushed the job that day, or maybe distraction took his eye from a straight line.
It was strange to lie here so close to the tarmac. Bits of grit that are pushed to the middle of the road by passing traffic were digging into the side of his face. One noticeably large piece, feeling more boulder than small stone, seemed to lodge itself into his cheek like a miss-grown tooth. The road felt slightly warm, he expected it to be colder, but the pieces of grit in his face began to sting distracting him away from his study of road architecture. He realised he couldn't really move to stop the grit digging into him. As he unfocused his attention from the road he started to notice noise around him but couldn't make it out, it was disjointed and hazy. Then he realised he couldn't move his toes. Why he focused on them he was not sure but try as he did he could not move any. His right leg was twisted under the other, at his age he should not be able to twist like that.
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31

Crossing the line

My hyperopic eyes make the closest things seem blurred.
It’s the distance that looks clear and well-formed. The distance
that is easier to imagine than the closeness is to interpret. Always
has been for me. Now, here, is muddled and overwhelming
without the space that detachment allows and time ensures. Distance
is where I’m going and never reaching, never managing to cross
that line.
32

Yarn

Sitting in the gloomy light of the attic
I hold my mother's sewing box,

every evening she darned
my father's woollen socks.

And when the skeins of yarn
ran out she unravelled

her greying veins to make each stitch.
She always said, 'mending is better than ending.'

33

What Can Be Forgotten

Sometimes, when driving home,
I lose all consciousness
And wake up by a road
Surrounded by fir trees
Which do not speak to me.

A dead fox is seeping
Into the eternal
With its teeth like statues.

On some mornings I wake
And eat porridge with fruit.
Fir trees gather outside.
I take you in my arms.

34

In white traces…

In silence
In blackness
Silent black
Almost beautiful white
Waver more and more
No birds
Just traces
Tears and death sleep
In dark matter
Strings of the world’s survival
And then
Grass sings of happiness
To bare branches
Clock’s shadow
Peaceful pointers
In parallel
Solar flares travel
Through
The sweat on its neck
Fan of the space wind
Flickers.
35

Bad Habit

Mum used to tie my brother's shoelaces.
She would glide through his protests and tantrums
to make neat little knots around his ankles.

He was fourteen and he still couldn't tie his own shoelaces.
She could have settled for Velcro.
But mum still bought him lace-up Converse
for what perversity I don't know.

Now mum doesn't come home anymore.
My brother has Velcro shoes, just like he wanted.
Every morning he sits in front of the door
Converse out, two strands of shoelaces
Arranged neatly beside.

36

ARRIVAL

A buzzing noise as spacecraft landed.
Strange voices. The crew disbanded.
Alien creatures on this Earth
made a choice to prove their worth.
Efforts taken to disembark
each peered with one eye through the dark.
Arrived in Area 51
with sliding gait and bionic tongue.
Their oily feet made long white tracks
imprints left deep icy cracks.

Alarm bells rung and sirens sounded.
Too late! Green men were grounded.
The sheriff in this covert place
trembled, yet met them face-to-face.
The language barrier blocked the way-
but the visitors were there to stay.
To prise apart Pandora's Box
of secrets and security blocks.

With knowledge of this hidden place
they could mingle with the human race.
Some Spock-like brain could intervene
Broadcast the news of unforeseen...

37

NO OVERTAKING

It was well after the seas rose and we moved up here that we made the road. Sean said the sea was once much smaller and the land much bigger and there were a lot more creatures. Well there are all sorts of fish, aren’t fish creatures? Well Yes he said - but there were more land ones, fierce hunters and gentle vegetarians. Well, that’s what his gran said. I’d only really grown up with horses, dogs, cats, pigs and chickens. Pigs are the cleverest if you ask me, but chickens are precious. Sean said we were the lucky ones but few remembered what it was like before, except some of the grandparents and their memory was hazy. The house we all lived in was round, with about 16 families in all. We took care to be fair about who would fish, who would cook, who would try to grow. We all gathered.
So, anyway, at the start of this summer Sean and Michel said we needed a decent track to get to our nearest neighbours in the two far houses. We needed those others. They were now growing carrots and potatoes, and we could give them fish and eggs. And it only took a couple of downpours to make our track (which was barely a track) virtually impassable.
First Sean and Michel tried gathering small stones and laying them down on the track. It was backbreaking. Some women started to help, many men were off fishing. Next, they all tried breaking the stones even smaller, and on it went until the end of August when it rained and the little stones got swallowed alive by mud Read more >
38

Blinders

Never one to walk the straight and narrow,
I’m slipping time and meandering paths.
Though, I’m consistently equidistant
from my demons and my dreams.

My eves and morns a blur
between muted shades,
pallid palettes in tear-drunk days
and matte black nondescript nights.

There’s a curve up ahead,
but it’s always up the way a piece
. For in the now it’s merely pixilated motes
and dust driven dawns of another day.

39

Legs That Go On Forever

She’s got legs that go on forever, I heard him tell his friend.

I pictured those legs, and I wished them my own.

Legs that would just keep marching through stubble-sharp mornings, and dance their way non-stop through lotion-smooth nights. Thighs that could crack walnuts for a century and still be around to climb every last mountain. Legs that go on forever. Sprinting faster than the forty-denier haze of the past and outrunning the mortality of denim. Legs that would only lose their ankles in a black hole and could hup-a-handstand beanstalk up to heaven.

Legs that go on forever.


I pictured those legs, and I wished them my own.

40

Lost in Woods

The two hands
rubbed in sly cognition
as the brain that ruled them
planned various schemes of destruction.
The arms stretched on and on and on
to increase their grasp on the world
getting thinner till they ended up looking
like an elastic rope.
The two hands were on a journey of the world,
moving like slithery snakes on the world's slippery slope,
they rubbed on the earths undulating terrains,
passed through the rough mountains and the smooth sea,
until they lost contact with their headquarters,
and the sight was replaced by feelings.
The two hands finally reached far enough
where they no longer required the brain's instruction,
they were two lovers lost in the woods, who only cared about moving
                                                                                                  forward.
The two hands made a life of their own, until the plastic broke and they
                                                                                        died in unison,
even our corresponding body parts forget each others feel in the cold.
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Found

Somewhere
in between
the place she'd rather be

and where
I actually am,
it was found,

accidentally,
the cure for her
young malaise.

Over the parallel lines
on the ground
and all the years gone by

from the point
whence I began
she called out:

"'Tis called Present for a reason".

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THE PARABLE’S PARALLEL LINE

The divergence, as it were, occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas steals away from the supper as before. Peter cites his constancy in the same assured tone. The watchful sons of Zebedee still succumb to the drowsy grove after the walk from prayer.

Away from the sleepers under the trees, Jesus thrice plays out the agony of flesh and spirit. The die cast, the end as prophesied, he lies resolved and pictures the hard hours to come: the damning kiss; the denials; the judgement that will be; the pain; the long and lonely passing. Behind closed eyes, he follows his stoic shade along its predetermined path and feels the pangs of the lacerating crown, the wrath along the roadside and the weight across his aching shoulders at the foot of the fearful hill. His father's will be done. A last desperate climb to Calvary. The heart beats slower. The flesh hardens.

But there is no clamour of arms in the olive grove. No rough hands are laid on the scourge of the servile, sycophantic priests. Sleeping soundly through the night, Jesus is roused by the chattering sons of Zebedee long after sunrise. Peter is gone, they stammer through their tears. Stung by the words at that strange last supper, he rose at first light with the crowing of the cock, spoke his master's name three times and vowed no more to follow false messengers. Why would Peter deny him unprovoked? What was the meaning of the wine and broken bread? Where is brother Judas?

Barely able to draw breath, His will undone, Jesus flees in uncomprehending terror from the brothers in the garden and is seen no more in the great city. Slighted and ashamed, the remaining disciples turn back to old trades and angrily deny their relations with the missing prophet until they are no longer recognised or remembered. Read more >

43

Not Really

not really here
or there

not really now
then
or
in the future

a simple
dragging of fingers
across the alienated skin
of a city
or a bruised knee

or sleep that won't come

and deep in her room
she makes birds
no one
sees

44

Cables

Love, quarrels, death, dreams;
mutterings in the deep dark
where blind fish listen
45

South ave

I rode it on my back
Rolled and slid until raw
From blades to butt.
I may have been a gutter ball in the the end
But I know
I began true
In the middle, as hip dented hood
Wow what a woman would wonder
While sending a 7 year old boy
Right down the middle
46

That Last Trip

There they lay, the banes of his existence.
Across from where he rested was gravity's accomplice.
Two clean white chords, gently swinging with momentum.
Dancing together triumphantly at his downfall.
They had brought him down to their level.
Rubbing bellies against the worn, abrasive carpet.
Wearing earth and ash and hair and flakes of flesh.
He grew red with rage and pain and blood.
This time, he thought, he would get revenge.
The last trip he would take would be to the electronic store.
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The End of the Road

-Do you wanna do this with me?
She doesn't. She's done enough. She doesn't know what else to do with me. It's like this is all we have ever done together. She doesn't even look up. Just rides the lines with her eyes. Her pupils already eclipse her irises.
-You don't have to.
She's all hypnotized. Everything we have left ground and racked into two parallel trails. Like double white lines on a highway. This is the end of the road.

I reach over the double white lines and place my hand over hers, limp on the table's edge. I realize how clammy mine is when I feel the back of hers. Somehow she's still so smooth after everything. I realize how un-comforting this is. So does she. She slips her child's hand out and away from mine. Leaving mine vacant. I feel like a mime artist. Still following the double white lines up and down, she picks up two fivers, rolled-up, loose and used. She flicks one at me. It lands with a paper clatter before me. With her left, she holds hers at either end with her index and thumb. With her right she pulls the end of the note to tighten it. I taught her that. Now I copy her.

The end of the rollies linger around the edges of our nostrils. In unison, our heads descend towards the road. Our foreheads leaning against each other's. Her eyes are still fixated upon it. Mine are still fixated upon her. I want to cry I want to scream I want to sweep it all from the table I want to save our minds I want to save her. I look down. The road is so long that the end of it is blurred. I follow it up. What is below my nose is a blur and the distance is now clear.
Read more >

48

Gateway

This is me.
This is mine.
This is the road I’m upon.
This is the double white line.
This is the middle of the road.

Don’t cross the line.
Don’t overtake.
Slow down.
Sharp bend ahead.
Rocks falling.
Children crossing.

I put pedal to the metal,
drive further, faster
till the signs all give way
and the tarmac too.
There’s just rock and sand
and land, endless land.

The path is the one
the wind has blown.
The lines are the ones
that creep 
around my eyes
as I smile 
at my getaway.

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Vapor trails

These are the ropes that bind us to this world. He remembers a silver comb, passing through long black hair. His wife's face, turned away like the three-quarter moon, the sky full of white braid clouds.

This is the place they lived in. Just him and Keiko and Miu Miu, the black-and-white cat. Wires hum between the houses. He watches the sunlight move across the garden, an orange butterfly resting on the cat's stone.

Mr. Miyake was known for his tomatoes and moonflowers, both grown each summer from heirloom seed. The neighbors used to complain about his stand of milkweed, until he explained how the plants attracted Monarch butterflies. In October, their kids help him gather the ripened pods, white filaments flying in the breeze.

There is no attachment. One day, a careless match thrown in the alley, and the garage burned down. Keiko cried, "People hate us!" but he showed her the garden in moonlight. They had an unobstructed view, now.

Vapor trails, he would say, combing her long black hair. Even after the treatments, and it was coming out in handfuls, he would tell her she was beautiful, and her hair would make nests for the sparrows.

50

Diverging Lines

Two lines diverged in darkness,

Hazy.
Specks of carbon scattered.

The sliver of darkness permeates within,
It engulfs us in the abyss together.

We make love in the darkness,
Terrified,
Lose ourselves, losing ourselves.

51

The Digested Read of Us

Me?
      You.
Numbers scribbled.
You -
      Called?
      Why not?
      Date?
Date.
      Turned into a few
More.
Feels like
      snowflakes
Sprinkling on my face.
      Will you?
Yes.
      I
      Love
You
      Better
Worse
      Death
Part
      I
Do.
Tick. Tock.
Blue cross in the little window.
Read more >
52

Perspicacious

is one of those words that
I know how to spell but
I’m not sure how to say.
I don’t mean words like

Shrewsbury or scone.
Or jargon words like ‘chthonic’,
‘solipsism’ or the name
of that drug I take for my acid

reflux.

I mean words such as ‘palimpsest’
or ‘chiaroscuro’ or like ‘interstices’
which, I think, refers to
the spaces between things. Words

like ‘paroxysm’ that I’ve got
a vague understanding of and feel
as if it’d be good to taste
on my tongue. Words like ‘hiraeth’. Like

‘love’.

53

Reason-less-on-life-less-reason

Between reason
able words
on life
there is less and less
on life.

Reasonless
lesson
on life
lifeless
less reason
reason-reason.

Reason on life.
Reason less on reason.

Love the noise, learn to see through it. Between the lines, nothing.

Reason on life.
Reason less on reason.

Learn to love the noise. See love through, see to it. See to it, or else, nothing.

54

return

her legs are permanently open in wait for the home coming silence
from abroad
from tented hollows and dugouts
her pelvic ribbons knotted, kneeling towards borders

an owl hoots softly on the bark
over her face it takes its camouflaged wing to blanket her beak,
the masked avenger Don Diego de la Vega
the one who returns time and time again
beneath the asylum of darkness
but when?

legs bend and stretch
the Gumby girl with eyebrows of yellow
umbrellas of corn covering windows of salt
her fingers flood out to the transistor knob of glory relaying stories over waves of air

coming home, leading home, some come home after they've left but then remain where they've been

legs drifting, exposed

55

Love

You said: I’ve drawn a line in the sand, and made a sweeping gesture with your arm.

The flick of your wrist, elegant, like a dancer's. The grace of that movement fooling me for an instant.

Until I realised what you meant was: here is the point beyond which you may not cross.

And I could feel myself split in two. Dividing and dividing, again, and again. Lining up versions of myself, an army sent to defeat you.

Or perhaps appease you.

I drew a line of my own, but did not tell you. It followed the contours and undulations of your steadfast delineation. Rising and falling in parallel. Stretching forward to the horizon, to a point where the world falls beyond reach.

You said: This is the path laid down for me. The path I must follow.

The glint in your eye, the tight resolution of your lips, causing me to nod my head in agreement.

Until I realised what you meant was: I have lost control. Let fate decide.

And I could feel myself rise up to meet the road, setting my feet down to walk, step by step, side by side. Counting the rhythm of our footfalls as the dip of the road sought to topple us.

I kept my eye on the horizon, watched carefully as it drew closer. Saw the darkness that was the edge, and tried to blur its sharpness.

Read more >

56