• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 12
Image by

Turbacyon

Adrift, rifting.

This thing of turbulence, aloft on and (then) sinking. Into, handmade my fingers (in) bereft (and then).

When we realise/d that – on the momentous day when – at that moment – o

that it really was flight, this lifting
belly of self
self touching. To the point of. It. Is. Interstellar
transport, here and (then) here
again.

Self-generate delta-v (propellant, thrust) & slip earth
gravity beyond the Kármán line.

Inner /
outer,
it's

believing that’s hard. This ripple
~ spacetime ~
soft as. That we have been
travelling
all
this
time lighting lights seeding nebulae
from our unknowing.

Read more >
1

Shepherd’s Pie

When I was your age. Yeah I know, I have to stop saying that. I agree, It’s quite possibly the least sexy thing I could say at this point. Ok, when I was in my mid twenties, when you were - how old would you have been when I was 25? Year 10? What’s that, primary school? Oh, fifteen. What, am I like ten years older than you? Oh OK, I’ll stop going on about it. So when I was in my mid twenties I used to work in this art gallery cafe. One time Maggie Hambling came in and I gave her the biggest portion of shepherd’s pie you’ve ever seen in your life. An A4 of it on her plate. She ate the lot. Anyway, there was this security guard, older than me, who I had a thing with. It was the uniform. Sort of muddled up fantasy and reality for me. I remember she said she was a top. What would you think if someone said that? Exactly. I thought she was going to, you know, tell me what to do and that but what she meant was that she wanted to go down on me. Which was fine but she’d do this thing where afterwards she’d look up at me with this face like, I don’t know, like full of wonder. Like she was amazed by my orgasm. It was sort of like this, kind of gazing, Sometimes she’d even shake her head a bit like this. As though she was in awe at the power of my cunt. I never knew where to look. Me and this other woman I was seeing at the time used to call it “the face” and do it to each other all the time for a laugh. Sometimes we’d even do it after we’d had sex, to make the other icked out. I don’t know. I suppose I’m thinking about it now because I could imagine like say I made you come, that I might do the face. You know, because I’ve thought about it, obviously, and whenever I think about it I can imagine myself looking at you like you’re magic and I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I hope you’re not as vile as I was when I was your… you know what I mean. What? Just get on with it? Ok.
2

mv:echo


"i never met a girl named echo before"
                                              bob dylan

echo echo incantation
echo echo lamentation

echo echo   silted river
echo echo meandering


echo echo wave upon wave
echo echo         umbilical


echo echo spirit daughter
echo echo pleurocera


echo echo     texture velvet
echo echo favourite clothing


echo echo ruched up sideways
echo echo pissed at bus stops


echo echo up the junction
echo echo               alluvial


echo echo              fallen ego
echo echo glitter word hoard

Read more >
3

A TEAR HERE

There is a tear in her / She was torn / He tore her

a new universe
describes the known

surfaces which never seem
to change facts like

a tear / She, torn / He tore

galaxies so vast
and the direction always
down towards

theory
since city light
sings over
any possible

Tear in her / she / He

drips glitter
from space,

a cold somewhere
inside her,
hidden

Tear / her / his

Read more >
4

Bright star

I think I can remember walking into the garden, over damp grass, worrying about snails. Through the bars of the rusty climbing frame, we looked up at the light-polluted sky. Even in a city you could see it, Wikipedia tells me.

Comet Hale–Bopp (formally designated C/1995 O1) is a comet that was perhaps the most widely observed of the 20th century, and one of the brightest seen for many decades.

In a “secret” diary sealed with a purple heart padlock, I wrote:

Tonight I saw comit hale.

21 years on, I feel pleased with my 10-year-old self for recording the momentous event, witnessed by so many; for claiming my stake in this shared history.

I knew exactly what I was doing. The key to the purple heart was tied to the diary with a pink cord.

Though I drew it, I cannot remember what the comet actually looked like. But I have a memory of the strain of trying to imprint it on my brain, the panic of the moment passing without trace, the guilty fear that I wasn’t thinking or feeling what I was supposed to be thinking or feeling.

That feeling is familiar.

Floating on my back in a pink-edged sea. I remember thinking: remember this. The sun was melting into the warm salt water, but louder than the gently lapping waves was the rush of blood in my ears. The expanse of the ocean couldn’t breach the brittle bounds of my head.

Read more >
5

Cracked skies


moment between life and death
breathing in her spirit
dreams of other worlds
rescued souls travelling into cracked skies


silk walls
sharp edges
slicing through souls
slippery touch


sky people descend
gathering together
watchful and cautious
sweet smelling land catches them


sliding upward they fall free
into the abyss of us
leaving shells of skin
into the galaxy of abundance


ancestors circle
sing to the past
where there is no more time
just space between us and them

Read more >
6

The wee hare

If you watch closely
you will see
the wee hare
jump over the moon,
she said,
pointing up
and we searched
the moon
watching for ears,
long ears,
longer than a rabbit,
and could make out
stars we had not
previously noticed.
They were there,
tucked in the back,
too dim to twinkle
but just a rumor
of light
in a sea of black.
And yet still more
if one stood very still
and stared long enough
and hard enough,
a throb at
the edge of the eye
that couldn't be
looked at direct, no,
it would vanish,
Read more >

7

ON THE ROPES

‘Freeze their seas,’ said Stargazer the First. ‘They’re polluted beyond control. Soon they won’t support a single lifeform.’

We stared down at the yellowing orb of Earth, breathed in its stench, some of us even cried. We’ve seen this before. We hoped we’d never see it again.

‘Agreed,’ said Stargazer the Second, fifty million miles and no distance at all away. ‘It’s clear they can no longer control their self-destructive ways. Do this for their sakes.’

‘Enough is enough,’ said Stargazer the Third. ‘My family came from earth and I will not stand by and watch my heritage perish in a stinking sea of selfishness. We’ll freeze their planet. In time. Not in temperature. And perhaps, when the thaw is commanded, they’ll have had a change of heart. A change of mind. A change of sensibility.’

We Junior Stargazers followed our Masters’ orders but I – hopeless romantic that I am – deliberately missed seventeen families in my sector. Families who are now staring up at us as we stare down at them from our – still uncountable – galaxies. Staring up at us through the great fissure we’ve made in their home. Because I still have faith, I still believe in their gifts and, if I’m proved right, when they find a way to right their wrongs, it’ll be just as my ancestor, Stargazer the Third’s grandmother, always said: Give a family enough rope and they’ll hang themselves. But give them the flax and the sisal and the cotton and the hemp and the jute and the bamboo and the coconut and they’ll find a way to live.

8

Handwritten, Calligraphic Postcards from Sirius, Mars

No skies, no stars to fall tonight
No wishes promised they will happen
They say it’s Sirius, they say it’s Mars
and I keep traveling – counting the hours.
The waves are crashing inside my head
my hands are craving some kind of passion –
if Sirius, Mars do understand
they look at me with great compassion.
Hundreds of mes and shes and hers
Hundreds of questions left unanswered
a tiny dot, fuzzy and pale
lights up the dark, in night time fashion.
Naturally, I close my eyes
I'm lowering down my wooden towers
I'm giving in to Sirius, Mars,
and to the songs of pretty sirens.
My head's rough seas are now calm
My hands adorned with little stars
Sirius, Mars send their regards
in handwritten, calligraphic postcards.

9

serpent sky

serpent sky
its milky eyes
its milky light
the rasp of its belly
grazing stone
the severed land

it gathers dust
particulate matter
dioxides, monoxides
carbon, ozone, lead

its spangled
flick and slide
communicates
a quiet contempt

constellation shift
and a new message
appears
this one says
dying species
planet obtainable

10

The Stars from a Canyon

the stars from this canyon
can never stray,
there in the middle
is the Milky Way,

snakes between shadows
when seen from below,
can we look beyond them?
who can know?

down in this canyon
where silence reigns
the hope of the stars
is all that remains

down in this canyon
where the heart beats slow
and there is nothing
and nowhere else we can go

11

Gutter/stars

One ricochet of left-handed fate later,
and there I lay, floored in my sort-of-prime,
out for the count – your old unlovely flame.
I slept, wept, and then watched the world grow brighter,
a rivulet to start with, in which better
worlds – exploded long ago, each spasm
a cosmic blip, a beat to a dead rhythm –
coursed along. Twin outcrops eyed each other.
Find peace? Christ, no. Afraid to say I crawled
a little, serpentine, that line of beauty
snaking above me. Only, overawed,
I stopped, lay still and stared. My liberty
put a whole new shine on things. I wonder:
which of these kind stars was I born under?

12

Sky River

What fish swim here? Above
this struggling, saddened earth
my eyes wander to find love
along a stony bed. No dearth

of sound might dull the flow
of hopes and dreams staring gives.
Together we stand below
and wonder why harmony lives

so far away, so out of reach.
Celestial celebrations lend
a certain hope which may breach
the distance such rivers lend.

13

Living Water

I’m glad they discovered it –
the crack in my soul.

It is a stream,
cleaving my heart.

This opening has led
to my release.

To my realising
that I have a voice.

The real me is a dart
of star-spangled fresh water.

Bathing my inner self
from head to foot.

14

Split

At first it was a rift
between ribs,
a strange shift

of breath, new
hope rising
in cobalt blue

a deep running stain
of life patterning
through muscle and membrane.

The CRACK-out freedom
took me river surging,
splurging into a season

unexpected,
each breath split
by let-loose laughter injected

into soul and body,
and I knew as bones snapped free –
I was whole. Somebody. Me.

15

canyon

I was screaming into the canyon
At the moment of my death
The echo I created
Outlasted my last breath
— Fiona Apple, 'Container'
(The Affair Opening Credits)

of my death
at the canyon
I screaming
the moment
the echo created
I was
outlasted
into my
last breath

at the moment
screaming
the echo
outlasted
into the canyon
I created
my last breath
I was
of my death

Read more >
16

The Deepest

The deepest, we called it. Deep without end.
It made us weak, looking over the side
Of the boat as we approached the island.
Yet we could see the bottom, the lost troll
Lines, and wave-shadows flashing on the sand.
The infinite, to a child, is quite small.
The water turned red as we got closer
To land. Clay carved away by the blind craft
Of time and water, the skilled composers
Whose work rests on the infinite shoulders
Of the deep. But we contented ourselves
With ersatz quartz arrowheads and boulders
The size of our fists, and finer matter
To skip upon the face of the waters.

17

end of summer in rome

implore
the obvious images to vanish
milky way and chocolate velvet cake
night-lit himalaya-scapes, the silky folds of a ballgown
oblivious to its flowing
for reasons it matters not to understand
bathe in the dream myriads of color, of texture
of all divinations of destiny
there is poetry everywhere, penless and wordless
generations of pages like brittle
autumn leaves willingly captive
to captivate our eyes into overtime
and inside light-year vast brain synapses
a quickness
chemical reactions which outsmart godliness
in philosophical evincing
then: a suggestion
an a-capella melody cornered in the sistine chapel
solitary and patient
the one day tourists flock elsewhere
waiting for something unimaginable
it finally buds into otherworldly resonance
growing beyond the grips of creation and death
into the L of life, pouring loneliness
back into love, its depths sought by the world itself
bathed by the universe’s unendingness
these visions are the bouquets of proof
that nothing is final
Read more >

18

Leo’s conundrum

Have you carved the sky or the rocks
to give us this glittering azure meander,
that winds or cuts through aeolian souls
gazing up or down as they swirl and
mosey down wondering what is next,
rapids, falls or endless air,
floating nothings, dancing between spheres of gold winking coyly —

A lion takes a chunk out
of a dark chocolate egg
leaving a dust of white ashy cocoa
but his teeth don’t reach any further.

19

Milky Way

honeymoon
        on artichoke boat
                       after being hit by
                                          monsoon

bride in flower chafer
             as a salsa dancer
                    dives into the sky river

bending her thin legs
              in all directions
                     causing convulsions

meringue of soap bubbles
                             swell and
                             swell in the wind

flower chafer stiffens her toes on the surface of river water
eventually she left at ephemeral life like the    shooting    star

20

Darkening, Brightening

At midnight I stretch flat on the wooden raft,
out on the lake by my father’s house.
It is August of 1999, the summer I begin to tie my hair back.
The boy says he adores the nape of my neck.
How lovely of him to use “adores” instead of “likes”.
The grass is warm to touch, kissed by the light from stars
that are already dead.
Surely nothing that beautiful could live long.
darkening, brightening,
sixteen winks and a tulip.
Most of the time I meditate on the dark waters.
The moon is my mother.
My mother is the moon.
White as cow’s milk, round as a breast,
lactating, and sagging over me in the bluest air.
And I am that baby fattened like a little buddha.
Flower buds bloom, bloom, bloom,
until moony milk turns sour.
I wear my mother’s white silk dress without a bra.
I dance across her retina like a bright ballerina.
Such is the ritual to perpetuate one’s youth,
the waiting through the hot where nothing has significance.
It’s funny and a little sad,
that no one notices me gone,
moused out of the great house without triumph.
In the family room Josephine is playing the piano,
my father’s out cold at the bottom of his bottle.
Daddy’s blue and mystic hours. Daddy’s lullaby. The husk of the house
chases me down, down the lake,
now in sight, now hidden behind a yew tree. Read more >

21

Alien

With a long-handled spoon, I stir
my hot chocolate until it whirls.
Froth from the milk steamer drifts
and dwindles, disappearing
in an eddy of rich darkness.

I remove the spoon,
open a crack
in the universe,
a swathe
of galaxies,
pinpoints of light
and energy,
nanoscopic sequins
on the scarf
of space and time.

The coffee machine gushes, jolts me
back into Earth’s atmosphere,
where humans scoff fry-ups
from greasy plates on dirty tables;
I am an alien here.

22

‘Take Me To The River’

A river, sparkling sapphire, runs through;
Naked, raw chill of early morning;
X-ray image clarity/
Iridescent mineral hues.
Echoing, booming force of water;
Turquoise, appearing jewel-encrusted;
Yawing, deviating curvaceously.

Scraping, sluicing verdant valley,
Transporting alluvial detritus away.
Roman-emperor purple backcloth draped;
Eroding/dissolving; re-depositing/replenishing;
Snaking through clean-air pristine wild-scape –
Soothing visitors' careworn blues...

23

Nurrevir

A river runs through it. Like blood coursing over stones. Like love cursing over bones. Blue blood pouring through my veins. The divining rods twitch and do their work. Glinting in the dark brown velvet murk.

Riverrun, past eye and appendix, from swerve of gall to bend of pituitary, this my blue fluid tributary. This, my inner snake-like charm. This, my poison-tipped messenger of harm. This, my blue-lined life-force within.

By the rivers of Styx, I broke down and begged, let me in! Let me cross, let me pass. I’ve paid my fee a hundred times. My amniotic aquifer can no longer hold its precious blue liquid gold.

Ocean blue, midnight blue, the blood-rust blue of bruises, both above and below the surface. A bend in the river. A-mend in my memory. A last-gasped, gift-wrapped au revoir to Nurrevir, my inner serpentine self.

For a body which no longer flows with its burning-blue star-flecked stream of consciousness can no longer be considered sentient.

24

Truth – a master sculptor

Truth, 
a convoluted river
exists in the deepest of the ravine
like the glistening ends of the skies 
it shines and glimmers in the darkness 
/a beacon of hope/
for the crestfallen souls
when the darkness is sculpted 
in our benign existence
screaming for hope
a dream so divine.

Truth, 
cuts like a double-edged sword
through its serrated ends
slices the edges of the abyss,
/the irrational hem of the irrationality/
scrapes and scratches
resisting the erosion 
those pointy convictions
moving ahead with time.

Truth,
an army of a zillion stars
armed with sharp pointy ends
marches with synchronicity
carving and shaping the future
with its bloody knuckles 
and its ferocity.

Read more >
25

River of Life

I've found my river, it glitters
streams through purple velvet
heavy hues of night
saves love from despair
swims me towards tomorrow

yesterday so far away    now
I danced with denizens of hell
wept exhausted tears
hopeless and fanciful    brained
with delirium I think I died

until morning and waves
of life trickled by my feet
water caught the sun    I sighed
paddled to stay alive
preserve flows of fortitude
and crawl strong-armed strokes
coherent with sacred currents
ready to live and later expire
drenched in sapphire peace

26

We Look Up

From your still form
that discarded husk
of cooling flesh
to a river of stars
parting the maw
of darkness—
a spill of light
shining undiminished
from the first
beginnings
a gift of brightness
between one empty night
and the next
swallowed down death's
long dark throat
only to rise
and turn again
across the wheel of sky

27

Astral Villanelle

These are the pinprick veins of night.
Our intransigent geology:
Years are mere distances of light

Will you see me in the kestrel’s flight,
In the arroyo’s cold anomalies?
These are the pinprick veins of night.

Remember me as adder’s bite,
As cool tooth’s lithography.
Years are mere distances of light

Orbitals of starry jasperite,
They make their prosopographies:
These are the pinprick veins of night.

Constellation me by easy sight,
See still my dark’s topography.
Years are mere distances of light

Trace me in the chalcedony heights,
Our memories’ worn doxology.
These are the pinprick veins of night,
Years are mere distances of light

28

I Have to Go

It looks like we might just fit together after everything we've done. Like puppy dogs – we are puppy dogs – here in the park with the gates locked but it's still warm, still summer – why can't it always be summer? We upped and left that grey soggy island and moved to a place where we thought it would always be summer – didn't we, meaning me, didn't I accumulate knowing out of three or four summer trips thinking it would always be like this. And here we are. I can hardly speak your language but it looks like we might just fit together – I mean didn't we just prove our necks were delicious, the entire organ of our skin was delicious, like puppy dogs on the grass, sniffing and licking, no place too much for sniffing. Did you hear that? The guitars are playing for us, have they too been locked in the park – why can't all good things be locked in the park with us and why can't it always be night, always be summer, always be us realising we might just fit together? Serenade us, person with guitar, turn this moment into a beginning. This is the beginning. We have found each other in the park in this city that is now home – we are home! Did you feel that? A cool breeze, but I don't want to get dressed, don't want to move from looking at you looking at the stars – don't move! - can you hear the cars in the distance, can you hear steps on gravel? We are puppy dogs. We are mountains. Don't you love that moment when the guitarist stops and you know he's kissing someone, taking a sip of someone, I mean something, deciding what to play next? Can we shout out requests – I am the walrus! - no, not that, can we shout out requests to the heavens, to the guitarist? Each breath threatens to disrupt this moment of us almost fitting together, turning from rock to mud, if only we could melt into each other. You need to go – tengo que irme – someone always needs to be the first to say it as the guitarist begins to tap the body of his guitar, the beat that could be the intro, the drumming that could be the march, the rhythm that could be panting, could be the breath of puppy dogs rubbing dry grass off their hides as they prepare to find a way out of the park.

29

Bottle of Stars

When she pushed the cuticles back,
she revealed crescent moons
hidden behind thick layers of cloud.

Then, brought about a sand-storm;
tornado of brittle nail-dust
filed into the air: made a burning.

Uncapped a bottle of stars;
spoke in glittered tongues,
licked my fingers back and forth,

left a trail of dreams on tips
of digits I will hold up to the sky.
I will hold them to the moon,

lying with my back against
the wet night-grass, with
the universe hidden in my hands.

30

Good Thick Darkness

The darkness enfolds me like a cloak,
a good thick winter one
with a deep velvety pile
warm and comforting
matching its shape to mine,
the good thick darkness.
It was blue before,
then blue black
turning purple
purple black
before
the good thick blackness came
the good thick blackness
that I need to wrap me,
the good thick blackness that I like.
And I know that all too soon
it will be broken
penetrated,
first by the harsh, pinpoint lights
of stars
glittery things
pointlessly breaking up my dark
and then
as the day breaks through
splitting it open
cutting it
blue,
Read more >

31

HERE BE DRAGONS

It was announced officially on VoiceHub but it is still hard to believe. For centuries our people have lived in these caverns. My own ancestors were among the pioneers who positioned the mirrors that flood the passageways with reflected light, and my mother’s family is known for their hydroponic vegetables. I myself am an Air-flow Engineer First Class.

Outside is another world entirely. Our source of light and air, of course, and everyone makes at least one trip a year to the viewing platforms to watch the stars move, but otherwise Outside is alien territory.

But VoiceHub informs us that the Gateway has been closing at a centimetre a decade, and we are no more able to prevent it than to halt the stars. Before my children are born it will be impassable, though my grandparents remember walking through it side by side.

Tomorrow our group of young people will squeeze out one at a time. We bravely say that they will find another entrance, but in truth we know there will be no coming back.

32

Swallowing Stars

We lie, tired, on our backs
on the cold red earth
and watch the river of stars
flow in a cool curve of indigo.

The wind has spent eons whipping rock
into curling dark waves, now poised
on the verge of crashing –
a rush and fall suspended in time.

No white horses dance on these crests:
instead, black shadows cling to stony sea
as we fall asleep, thirsty, wondering
what galaxies taste like.

33

Two Lovers

Night sky is a river that braids
its path through a dark gorge,
splashes silver glitter in a blue
that drenches the eye with light.

Here in the crevice of time,
once an ancient river roared,
carved earth, stone, rock,
smoothed edges, etched furrows,
deepened and folded stone
ramparts in and outward.

Sinuous walls rise to dance,
two lovers afraid to touch,
shadowed in stellar incandescence,
between them a river of stars.

34

The Third Thing

The noise was the first thing:
the slam of the door, wood bashing wood;
the crash of the keys splaying on the table like a shot antelope;
the lazy scuff of his boots across the stone.
His bellow: ‘Woman!’
And then there was the silence – which was us – on the other side of the wall that he built.
I remember the whirr as the belt swiped through still air, and the snap as it made contact, momentarily curling underneath my belly like a comforting arm as if to say sorry.
On her body, pink worms and crimson roses too sore to touch.
And, through eyes brimful of tears, a kitchen which should have been the heart of the home, blurring to earthy tones and echoing with heartbreak.
He broke me.
And now only darkness gets in.

* * *

My chest ticks like a time bomb and in my gullet is a clod of mud as I lead the blind man across the rocks by the hand. His dinner suit has lost its sheen. His fly gapes. His sulk hangs unchallenged.
The husky rub of his soles and the hard pits of his fingertips in my flesh serve as nudges of encouragement.
‘How far?’ His gurgling voice is swallowed by the landscape.
‘Not much further. It’s just over there.’
‘Someone should...’ – he rattles and wheezes – ‘... get this… path… levelled.’
The silence is deep. The sky goes on forever.
I shine my phone and stop short, just in time. I release his hand. It swings like an aborted pendulum.
Read more >

35

Carved

Right down the middle of the fabric of my soul
The softness of me
You just dragged it through
Parting my soft edges
With your dazzling colour
Letting in your darkness that is curiously light
And I stopped existing then
As a whole
Because you were there
Right through my middle and my parts never came back together.

If I look closely I can see that there is a future in the gap you left
My eye is drawn to it and away from it all at once.
I am distracted by the brilliance of the path you carved through me
And annoyed that what is me no longer exists.

36

Between Two Rivers

In the gorge, I am caught between two rivers, one far above me and one curling below my feet. But I am not drowning. The winding river above the gorge, High River, glistens with star-fish in its azure opalescence. The small twitching stream below, Low River, remains black, mysterious, unyielding. The red, shadowed rocks of the gorge seem strong and stolid, but their curves tell of the gush of river water that could rush through at any moment. I imagine the night sky casting shadows on High River, but I cannot climb the smooth gorge walls to the river, and I could not swim through the river anyway.

This gorge between the rivers must be where the jackalopes live free of the pressures of our myths. My teachers told me that to be an artist I needed to understand nature, that of animals, of humans, and of Earth. Maybe I should have known a hike too far into nature would defy nature – or how we’ve come to expect it.

If water filled the gorge, the narrow, high walls would create a depth and density that would produce extraordinary speeds. For a brief moment High River and Low River would be one with the real river that's sometimes on the trail map, sometimes not. Its force would propel me through High River back to dry desert rock, night sky above. Hard to imagine where a desert gets all that water from, makes me think it's been holding back on us, just like it hid this secret nook above and below two rivers – neither of which are the one sometimes on the map. If I didn’t survive the force of the real river thrusting me through High River, I would stay swimming among the star-fish. The desert has mermaids, too, you know.

Read more >
37

The Spelunker

Crawling into caverns and dark places
at home in the tunnels without many spaces.
Seeking to explore what has never been seen
over rocks and boulders and in between.
As we stumble upon a cavernous room
the starlight above brightens the gloom.

The rarity of such a find
fills you with wonder and opens your mind.

Between the cliffs of the cavern above
is a rift to the universe sparkling with love.
The clarity of the sight astounds
shining ever brighter from underground.
How can you choose on which star to wish
they are all magnified as if on a Petri dish.

The rarity of such a find
Fills you with wonder and opens your mind.

Never imagining such a place could exist
wishing upon a star, blown with a kiss.
All of this glory in an open vein
carved by the wind and washed open with rain.
Some day we know we will return
to watch the stars light this place as they burn.

The rarity of such a find
fills you with wonder and opens your mind.

38

The Space Between

Honor the space between leaves where sky shows through
Between vines against the fence where rough brick meets dry mortar
Between notes in a prelude where fingers poise over the keys
Between telephone rings where you can hear your heart
and you wonder who it could be at this hour

Honor the space between lovers, children, dogs you have owned
when your heart begins to tell you there is room there for one more
Between breaths
Between thoughts
Honor the vast space that electrons travel as they swarm around the nucleus

Honor the space between atoms, between dust motes
Between lives: your life and mine — that space you’re always trying to fill
Between words, where truth resides
Honor the space where a fissure has opened between canyons —
shine your eyes there on a dazzling river of stars.

39

VIVID

You parade multihued breathing canvasses
with more regularity than Northern Irish loyalists
and look down on my pallidity
much as they sneer at independence.

This, though your organ chokes
via ink-clogged pores:
mirror of their constipated hate
and delusion of superiority.

I am the eye of wisdom
muffled by cavernous echoes
peering at a blur of fading stars:
perception as sharp as chiselled flint.

You are slaves to vanity’s punctures,
but I am free … no parlour’s thrall.
My tattoos are on the inside,
the colour of pain.

40

Blue blood

His blood was blue and glistened as
It poured out of the meander
       In his hip. It ran parallel to the margin
Of his underwear, the crevices and tracks of rubbled skin—elastic imprint—and where
Underneath opened up the dark unknown, that stark thing
Which could and would make you feel
so small and startled, could wash
Over and under
You
As though you were laying on a river bed looking up at whatever it is that swirls
Above and in your skin, eyes, nose, mouth.
You, still breathing; the mark which
Cleaves to his skin shines with a nebulous plasma, immune to the miasma of a dirty
fingerprint which might dip
itself in that bright blue gash and paint with it a swirl, a big
meandering
       curve across a page,
or a piece of glass which you could look at under a
microscope, catching the things that were falling out from the curve of his body, where
you’ve sat and stargazed for hours before.

41

Karakorum

in the ruins of Karakorum,
in the stark sands beyond Agadez,
in the sluiced plains of Okavanga,
in the raised stone fists at Chicxulub,

stars twist like snakes,
slither and hiss in the welcome night
at incandescent dawn
falsely flickering in wicks and filaments

and wait, patient as neutrons
for the inevitable decay of men

42

phoenix uprising

crickets chirp sing their crepescular
song /herald the rising curtain of
stars – heavenly bodies take centre
stage a play which dazzles ignites the
preoccupation /penned up /animates
within paralyses without /winding
wind tight tight tight till explosion
is eminent.                  save this time
it doesn’t.                    inhale /exhale
in out sigh /sails becalmed /breathe
the waves rising falling rising falling
sanction pause for another moment
until chaos resurfaces /claim bounty
sanguine havoc reframed necessity

43

The Colour of Silence

It split her in half, in two,
like grey granite hemispheres.
Her entire left side emptied.
And I’m googling brain bleed,
intracerebral haemorrhage,
looking at pictures of brains.
Walnuts. I can’t help it —
brains look like walnuts.
And the doctor says she’s
in a coma. Deep. Aneurysm.
I go cold, my stomach knots
into an icy stream’s bend.
I am a pulse. Blindsided.
There’s DNR written on her
wristband. Nothing beeping,
nothing churning, or turning.
She’s a bird without flight.
A cloud without air. She’s
a hollow peace waiting
for God's whispered end.
The nurse says, talk to her,
she might hear you, but
I am as silent as grass.
Mum died the following day,
peaceful as a meadow and
quiet as stars. I’d like to think
that she sang her way through
life's cliffs, life’s anchorage,
and wrapped herself warm
into the night sky. As for me, Read more >

44

Atacama

You need the cold.

You need the
solitude.

Here
we have
plenty of both.

Strange then
that what we’re doing
is sifting though
a night sky
filled to
overflowing
with heat,

a billion billion
incandescent stars,

searching for
a sign
a hint
a clue

to prove we’re
not alone

in the cold desert.

45

Grief Like A River

From somewhere above the stars, you make a river to swim down to me.

I try to picture you, beyond the light pollution, laying out crushed velvet the colour of dark chocolate.

You’ll pick out the banks, the bends and the curves, arranging it just as you please.

Where you are, does it look like a better version of the sky from the window of a plane? My stomach lurches, thinking of all the trips you never got to take. When you swim down, will there be turbulence?

Do you base your river on one of the rivers we cried for you? And if so, which one? I jealously hope this is my one. I hope you’re diving down to me tonight, even if I worry about what you’ll make of what you find.

Grief comes in waves, they say. The tides come and go. But more often than not, for us it’s a river, gently cutting its way through the air. A constant current swirling around us, mostly quietly trickling and flickering, sometimes roaring with the wrongness of it all.

Maybe you’re wearing that awful baby blue suit you insisted on bidding on from eBay, with the stain blooming across it. More likely, your dressing gown. I smile to myself, remembering how many times the postman saw you in little else. I regret not picking up some white Magnums for when you make it here. You’ll be ready for one, after swimming so far.

I can imagine you pressing your face to the river’s glassy surface – or would it be the river bed? Your breath steaming, collecting in little clouds. Your fingers, plotting your route, leaving greasy marks. The stars swimming towards you like you might give them something to eat.

Read more >
46

scission

‘The power
of the world rubs
against inner visions and the
friction
generates pictures.’
— Carroll Dunham

the clouds were sown so regularly under our little plane, the first we took together —
vaporous lumps plucked and tucked into the verdant folds of the valleys,
their gauziness testing the limits of form, our wisdom of it —
small markers of our journey across the atlantic, some number of plumes per hour

protective carapace of metal shoulders any friction as we stream through the sky, the plane shade shifting over the protrusions and voids, shading deeper in voids, though deeper within darkness

that night’s darkness brought inversion
in plain sight, looking up from a crease — vision framed by pleats of rock
                                        rumpled in the course of time —

eyes held the abyss
in a scission between stillness and motion
                                        the constellations held us
                                                            in ferocious isolation

                                                            (their brightness testing the limits
                                                            of form, our wisdom of it)

Read more >
47

Nothing else but alone

I lie here, in the ear of the canyon,
facing heavenward, while tarantulas,
scorpions and sandbugs step over me, careful
as though hurrying home with their shopping,
as though I were roadkill or a sleeping cat.

A helicopter thrummed by, hours ago,
and I called out, but the walls held my cries
repeating them back to me, childish.
It wanted me, all to itself.

No other hikers came, no searchers
claimed my name, only my breath
ragged and trapped, echoed around me,
my legs squelched by the crafty loose rock,
that had plummeted for just

a hundredth of a second,
leaving my pelvis in an unexpected
million pieces.

Now the numbness inches up,
and my rest is silent,
nothing disturbs my cradle.

The sky above glows like a star-spit river
winding through the carved rocks
flittering and inviting.

Read more >
48

Drawn

we have always been close
at least as long as I can remember
it's something about mass that draws us
towards an inevitable intimacy
where there's a fine fit of all our parts
hewn by wind and rain over millennia
– and we don't mind that –
drawn closer and closer together
to blot out the stars and moon
even the very sun in time
though we are incapable of such intentions
even of thought
though there are always exceptions
amongst rocks
and everything deemed impossible
looks too good to be true
with the surprise of our form –
we who are so close
express long term – and we mean long –
are horrified at what you do too

49

Oh Well

No offence taken if you look down on our town as you pass by,
deserted, unremarkable, crumbling, and contracting every year.
But please remember that there's great empty miles of 'em
right across the ripples of the map, where you can squint
all you like and never find a name. Mister Frog, you ask,
exasperated, why do you stay here, when all of your friends
have left for the bigger, better cities, gone to hear the night
music of crowds and the fireworks of electric lights?
Don't you ever want to get away and arrive,
Mister Frog? Maybe make some waves?

Oh, it is not that bad - and sure I've seen the sea,
even if mostly on tv.
Heck, I admit I'd rather comfortably outlive Alexander
than march over horizons and make the whole world known.
See, I like my home, safe and cool deep in its bricks.
I'll understand if you have to lift your nose, adjust your glasses
and sniff that this here isn't really much of anything,
when it's all happening in a ocean of importance out there.
I don't mind.
It's the greatest relief to be an unimportant Mister Frog
far from the rush and the roar, free to be small and forgotten.
And at night it's the loveliest thing – it gets so quiet that
you just look up and see all the most wondrous worlds
you could ever want.

50

Cave

I wake up suddenly, too apprehensive
to move. The wind is bouncing off itself
outside. The window's blown open
and seems more like the entrance to a cave.

Thoughts this time of night are solid blocks
to grasp onto. The curtains are two wolves,
head to head, twisting round each other.
I look beyond them, focus on the stars.

51

Well, just a thought.

Don't you have any that filter blue light, I asked the woman in the wordshop.
Colander, she said, though I only have the plastic whisper version. Then nutshell is a more layered one, she said, and it is sustainable. It might also be a good investment, she said, light years from now. Words that are not seoed are quite sought-after for auction.
And the ones not seaed.
That she also said.
The intergalactic void in her shesaidness blacked out my already eclipsed retina.
Then nutshell is fine, I stiffupperlipped, while scraping up seven doaldrs.
Though ...,
one more question, Mrs Notwithstanding.
Does it also sift blue light that is speckled?
She pointed at a tongue-in-cheek dangling above the counter.
A nutshell once sold will not be hindsighted, she said, it says.

52

Stars Behind Your Eyes

Stars break free, diving through
cracks in the sky to bury themselves
like diamonds behind your eyes.
You move through the darkness,
galaxies tinging your skin celestial.
Your heart beats so loudly,
I can almost taste the rhythm.
Is this always what love
feels like, sparkling under your skin,
stretched across the expanse of nightfall?
I wrap myself in the idea of you,
warm to the touch and lingering
like cinnamon on the tip of my tongue.
When fear creeps up the back of my neck
or loneliness tries to devour me,
I will search for the stars in your eyes,
weave myself into your grasp,
and believe that it isn’t all a dream.

53

The River of Stars

We landed on planet Earth at 09:23 local time. The hardest part of the journey came after, as we hiked across the desert on foot. None of our training prepared us for the blistering heat. It kept our medbots so busy that I was worried they couldn't charge fast enough. Night came as a relief for us. We finally stopped moving and set-up camp to eat and rest for a few hours. We couldn't linger too long though, for our destination was time-sensitive.

We started moving again when it was 21:23. The desert night suited us better and we moved faster, energised by the excitement of getting closer.

01:01. Our guide halted us and requested that we set-up camp again for an hour. We're close, it told us. Too close. We need to arrive just on time.

At 02:01 we moved. Calmly, surely, and together. You wouldn't know that there were three thousand and fifty-seven of us.

We arrived at 02:20 and we merged into the snaking route of the canyons. We trained well for this – there were no mistakes, no hesitation. We were one with the canyon, and one with Earth, as the oldest known portal opened to us, above.

I read about the River of Stars in stories of legends, and heard it in tales of people. It does not allow itself to be described, for it will always be so much more and yet nothing. As we came together, we distanced, and the River of Stars took each of us where we wanted to be. I looked up and I was there, in an instance, at ULAS.

02:22 was the last recorded time I have from Earth. Here, time is eternity, and time is irrelevant.

54

Moving

The river is moving,
ending in a return
to itself–
a shoreline shaped by the moon
worshipping the sky,
bowing to the land that holds its bones.
It sings like the stars–
the river is moving,
connected by stories,
signals strewn on the wind–
imprints
ending in a return
of unrevealing.
The metaphor empties–
becomes something else
to itself,
a path that follows
unseen,
released into the evermore–
a shoreline shaped by the moon.

55

Locusts

Take me to still water’s edge
we can catch the stars in cups
and get drunk on how life used to be

we, an ever-growing locust swarm
never sated, always wanting
take us to still water’s edge

play your siren’s song and bring us home
let us fill that lake until
there is nothing left of us

but the pure and dead night sky

56

AWAY FROM THE YELLOW STREET LIGHT

Nights when she couldn’t sleep, when the air was hot and sticky and breathless, Darcie took to catching the late bus that drove her out to the furthest edge of the city. The bus driver knew her by name, even though she always went upstairs. She sat at the front and she sang songs she’d learned as a child, skipping-songs and songs for throwing balls against walls.

Some nights there was a man on the top deck, too. Not young and not old but something in between. He said he couldn’t sleep either and he was on his way home from his job in a city centre bar. He smelled of smoke and beer and old sweat. He traveled beyond his stop sometimes, just so he could hear the end of a song Darcie was singing, and soon enough his lips gave shape and whisper to the words of her songs.

Once, a child sat beside her, so close she could feel his milk-breath warmth against her. He was maybe ten or eleven and he said he was running away from home though when pressed, he couldn’t remember why. He had a small rucksack packed with apples and crisps and a bottle of milk that was soon not cold. He listened to Darcie’s singing and he smiled to himself. And when she paused for breath, he said she sounded just like his mum, and he missed his mum then and so Darcie helped him back to where he had started.

But in the end she was always the last to leave the bus – if you didn’t count the driver. The driver swung the bus into the terminus, brought it to a gentle hissing stop, rang the bell twice and said, ‘Here and no further, my dear’. She answered in song that ‘Here is far enough, kind sir’. Then she descended the stairs on light skipping feet and danced away from the dipped headlights of the bus and away from the last of the yellow street lights.

Read more >
57

Stargazer’s Lonesome Song

My old telescope
reveals a kaleidoscope
of bright clusters;
a river meanders
through chocolate rocks:
curve from nowhere
to nowhere;
starry splendour,
glittering grace,
astral music plays
over mystic milky ways.
Moonstruck, I stargaze
the never-never land;
the faraway seems near,
the remote close at hand.
Amid the luminous band
sparkles a singular star
that brings you to mind,
seemingly within reach
though it flickers so far—
all that’s rare is tough to find.

58

Temptation

I watch as the rich dark chocolate ripples
and drizzles in its mold.
Waiting to be divided into squares
and laid lovingly into a confectionary box.
But wait,
What is this?
A river of blue honeycomb
Undulates through the smooth dark brown.
Glistening as the light catches its sugary crystals.
Tempting me.
It calls.
Almost taunting.
As it meanders through the shiny chocolate.
It laughs as me.
Confident I will not resist it.
Tantalizingly mouth watering and delicious.
They unite as one.
Partners in crime.
The only crime being
Sheer indulgence!

59

Between red rocks

I shared a moment with a firefly
with whom I felt I had a certain
affinity, being smaller than I’d like
and, I’m told, more gorgeous at night.

I admired her cold light which,
bouncing between red rocks
honeycombed with nooks,
flickered like a tiny tealight toiling
away to escape the clutches of a
curving and unforgiving stream.

She was a sight, I said, here at
cloudless twilight, in a place that
wanted for so little and gave with
such charity all its calm and light
to me, so that I was euphoric at first,
then jealous, since I was far from home
and would likely never be here again.
But she struggled, still, and struck
against the red rock hard, trying to
burrow inside its fissures. She hissed.

I said, You struggle, firefly, but why?
It seems you do not love this world
enough for all its beauty and wonderings
and for all the ways it makes you feel
at home, and for its silence and its
stars, its shelter and its sky like a
velvet scarf that wraps around you.
Read more >

60

The Wind

"I am a stigma," said P. "In this flower, atop an ovary, a long I with the smallest head, a dot attached, enclosed with inverted dress of petals. A wind moves my world, and I don't feel it, but see below me through the imperfectly folded petals a sheet of blue flecked with pollen that strives but never quite reaches me."

"A wind rocks me," said C. "I am the petals, and I protect and guide. My edges feel for each other, pull towards a central point. Around me flow ribbons of green, twisting and falling, browning and snapping. My task is an eternal folding and unfolding, guided by a gradual change of white to red to blue to black."

"Day turns over," said T. "The house behind me cools and warms the air. It shines white like a lost tooth. It echoes the moon. A breeze washes over the garden where dahlias and hollyhocks grow together. I eschew the path and tread yielding soil. It is night, and I should not be out. I stand hardly taller than the cow parsley which has crept in with its plates facing the moon, or the moon itself served sliced atop a stalk. I crouch beneath the apple tree. I am the rivers of dark that run between leaves and flowers, sending messages of night through green channels. The soil is warm and dry. My stomach flutters."

"The soil is warm and dry, and here beneath it I slowly grow," said R. "The weight of earth keeps me strong. I am forever reaching out, seeking, bending to carbon and oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen, calcium and magnesium. Here there is only darkness. A movement is of no consequence to me, yet I am the most fragile thing. I can drown, and I can choke in air. The light burns me."

"There is a gap, and it is made for me," said M. "I triangulate by moon and find myself against the cool petals. It is warm and sweet inside. Here I may stay awhile as a wind pushes itself above."

61

Crazy girl

she painted a blue river,
yes, blue on blue,
where rain had room to fall
and stars had dropped by at night.

Crazy girl, why would she do that?
she knows we fed the blue to grey
with our urban garbage.

With nowhere else to go the rain fell on
cluttered land and storm washed our
white bags full of wood and metal mimicry
to feed the meander of plastic soup,
the detritus lacing our riverbanks.

Thing is girl:
we feed the fish with false food,
the river feeds the ocean
and the fish deliver our discards back
to us on a plate.

62

Stilled but not Quieted

Swathed in the luxuriant
velvet darkness of your cloth,
using strength I did not know I possessed,
I tear at the fabric and rip a space.
a jagged opening to a dawn sky,
blue but still dark enough to reflect
a river of stars, of possibilities.
My tear is imperfect but it has
rent the darkness.
At least now I can breathe and speak.

63

The Narrows

it was a river      it was the stars
your chin          on my chin
it was October        and we looked up
there was nothing    to eat
we hunted water          in the season
after the season        of floods
we had no map       no ursa major
we smoothed rocks        hard as pears
canyon wind carved         our throats
the stars turned        a torn map
to teeth and           october slit
our tongues                    all of it rotting
unpicked and yellowed    in the sky
your chin on my chin        cidered clean

64

Just Home

satin landscape                        sculpted
                                    by rain
                                                by river
                                                            by wind

stone cascades
                      cut
                            by azure mystery

current of stars
                        indigo galaxy                                 planet of silk and stone

Are we seeing through your waters to the heavens?
Are we wafted on breezes above your flooding stream?
Do your currents carry traces of light immemorial?

neither up
                 nor down
                                    neither over
                                                          nor through

no divinity                   just light                                    no spectacle                                                         just home

stars—or their reflections—swept toward unseen
oceans through fjords of burnished stone

our granite outcroppings                           our light-flecked rushing stream

65

Schism

Our Worlds are split asunder
By a schism wide and deep
Hewn from unyielding granite
Both vertical and steep

A river courses through
The deepest valley floor
A frothing, bubbling barrier
We hear its distant roar

Our fingers reach out, stretching
All sinews are deployed
And yet unable to caress
We fall back from the void

Have other lovers found a way
To breach this yawning gap?
Is there a ford, a makeshift bridge?
A swing or leather strap?

This fissure lives in peoples’ minds
A harder rift to heal
Concretions of their prejudice
Eschewing all appeal

But we will be together
Transcending all taboo
As from above, the river calms,
We drown in sparkling blue

66

Cups and Pentacles

A sea cloud wisped out of the ripples –
fins of multiple sharks ripped through

their placid countenance; two boats and a water
bike raced for the shores, only one made it.

His heart is enormous like the sky – he spills
from his cups like a knave on the decks,

like wet fields under fresh seeds, and his
shores are rusty sand of savage habituation;

people will use his waters selfishly. In my dream
he lights a fire behind my veil; he rides the sea

crushing against his calves; he walks liquid roads
between crosses amongst a ball of constellations;

his fantasies are the folds of the splits
of rock-skies – and I know that which

is written on his flames, they are indigo-
whispers preying on his flesh; I am the

pentacle brandished on his forehead,
a waterfall of embers, like my hair: black

on a white night. We put cracks in the possible
and shine through dead clouds fallen into

seas, metamorphosing as spirits, the bodies
of these on which he races to safe possessions –

Read more >
67

My Stars

I see the river, my stars, I see the river
so wide I cannot embrace it.

I see the rock, my stars, that you gave us
to hold the sky on a plate for our feet.

I see your waves that follow a cadence
my heart tries to teach my breath.

I hear, my stars, your silence
on rock telling me to stand firm.

I think of you, my stars, when the light
blinds so bright I’m tempted to forget.

I am grateful to you, my stars.
I am little, not belittled,

I dream of you, my stars, to fly
through the alleys of the desert

and the furls of the forest
with only my stars to guide me.

I give you the pronoun they.
You deserve that much and more.

68

Dream Vacation

collar blue like the night sky,
like the pins pushed into the wall
marking destinations on a map
held more by their punctures
than ghostly strips of tape

your favorite travel destinations
to explore in your dreams

adventure that costs less
than the push pins you use
to hold your dreams together

pliable dreams
like the photos you rip from magazines
shaped by the ebb and flow of your desires
like the river carves
the red rock canyon
taped to your ceiling

shake the coin jar under your bed
to hear the sliding chime of metal
that will alchemize those magazine pages
into photos of your own

69

Bodily

The space between the rock
formations a mirror image of S,
the formations one sliding left
the other right, like sliding doors.
I shot through the inverted S into
weightlessness, hovering as cosmic
soundlessness. Stars numerous
as pinpricks circling the massive
chest pain earlier, before I saw
the doctor from the ceiling, hearing
him say, “We’ve lost him.” But I
suspect the voice saying, “It’s not
yet time,” was what sucked me
back through space, in time to hear
the terrified medical examiner
exclaim, “Jesus Christ!”

70

Creation Story

Here, in the hollow of the desert’s hand,
where rain is just a rumor, pocking
the sand so seldom and so hard
it cracks the ground, a tortoise
gazes up from its umbrella carapace
the gaudy black and yellow of a flag.
Every night, a river of starlight
chisels at rock faces, abrades
the limestone with its diamond edges,
stars carving hoodoos and spires
like medieval cathedrals, twisted
like the cypresses in a painting
by Van Gogh. The cliffs’ two fists
knead a hot stream of starlight
the blue of a gas flame, shape it,
cup it between rough palms.

71

Runaway

I know they're watching
which is why this is OK.

They are colder than we are
holding candles in whisping hands
our flesh a ghost of what it was
and they on the brink of memory.

With them up there
what happens here
is fine – they know, they'll tell
they're closer to him
and one day I'll be as well.

Some must fade,
or there would be no darkness.
There must be star reviews –
those whom no one looks to,
like the words no one says.
They get dimmed, go back stage
their mutterings swaddled
in black curtain.

So the more lighting I do down here
the longer mine will burn.
I won't spread the word,
won't even tell you –
the circus of affection
would be smothering,
but I know you'll look up
and find me. Till then

Read more >
72

A River of Sky—but Why?

More stars in the sky than the atoms on Earth;
more people to come than have lived ’fore my birth.
Since that day arrived, we’ve learned more than when man
first set sail on our journey, when wond’ring began.

If the Earth’s flat, would the planets be, too;
the Sun, Moon, and stars, and the sky—even you?
And would that mean atoms aren’t strange, fuzzy goo,
with multiple stratums—and life’s a flat zoo?

From canyons at night, looking up to the sky
through a gap in the earth formed by rivers once high
which have cut through the land, both the hard rock and sand,
we’re intent to learn more—that’s our journey’s demand.

Why do stars sparkle, and why do some rocks?
Why doesn’t the sea clump like volcanic blocks?
Why does the Earth quake; why does the Sun bake;
Why doesn’t my arm have a head, like a snake?

Some answers, so simple and obvious now,
would not have been learned if no one asked “How?”
The mind is a mystery, much deeper than space;
we’ve more questions than stars, and can barely keep pace.

73

Vintage Incense

Your eyes speak of a strange absurdity,
a nakedness of stars
cleaving my periphery of moons and stars.
Stillness. Solitude. Numbness.
I am ready to announce my curve of wet words
cascading on your waist,
the chillness like blue swirl,
a vintage incense of romance.
Skewered, obtuse like lotus and petals,
I swim in the warm blanket
of lanterns and rosemary eyelids,
somewhere like a poppy and a dream.
wild, origami flowers.
yes you, you sit upon my bosom,
like a bumblebee of lust,
raw acts of time slapping my cheeks.

74

Another Alcoholic Sky

Drinking alone in cities is always problematic, being at risk of getting mugged or murdered or maybe just managing to stumble into the gutter and never making it out again. But out here, where both the landscape and the people are binary (left/right, light/dark, alive/dead), it is more dangerous, nature’s method of stabbing back.

You might be the one to start the fight, of course, with a drunk’s focused fascination with the mundane. At any time, in any place, there will be someone who can only hear the shredding of their fingernails or flower petals, in spite of the thudding music and someone else screaming about Jacob Rees-Mogg. But in the countryside, stark and sheer as it is here, there is nobody to yell at you and nobody to tell you to shut up.

Nature makes no attempt to smother you. Shouting into the bottom of a ravine (‘I wish you were down there too, ex-girlfriend’) is perhaps as satisfying as shouting into a stranger’s ear, although it would be more difficult to have sex with a rock formation. You don’t have to repeat things to a ravine, don’t have to move their hands away from your crotch or stop them from drinking what is very explicitly your drink. The ravine does talk back, offering the highest form of flattery, and thus it is possible to hold a decent conversation.

But it’s the sky that holds your full attention, something out of Van Gogh or Monet or whoever painted that trippy painting with all the swirls. You think that you’ve been spiked, but then you realise that you haven’t spoken to another person for 72 hours. Loneliness is next to godliness, right, and being a miserable bastard who purposely isolates themselves from society for unaddressed psychological reasons means that you’re in more need of salvation than the rest of us.

Read more >
75

SAINT THERESA AND THE FIREMAN

She was the tall candle
In a cold cathedral;
And he the wayward moth
That came to tease
Her flickering flame;
And when she scorched his wings,
So he fell fluttering
Beneath her shifting shadows,
She neither felt joy nor blame.

She was the shy splendour
That wrapped her feelings
In a January flower;
And he the bumblebee
That came to test her nectary;
And she – exalted by her power
To entice with ice –
Felt no need to shake her snow gown free.

Then she was the Host
That gave him elevation;
And he, like a lark, thrilled
On the tremor of the rise.
But the dew point was an icy ablution,
And she said, “Greed is a pollution;
Nor can lust become sublime –
For it but chides with years.
Thus it is my paradise
To feel a freedom in the confined:
To become a connoisseur of tears
That never moisten the eyes.”

76

The Hagfish and the Blue Shark

It
  snakes
   along while
      imagining new
         carcasses of old
             ocean creatures.
                It needs to break
                   its long fast, like
                      a leech starved of
                        blood for months.
                            Behold the hag-
                               fish in all of its
                                 horrible beauty!
                                It is blind to the
                               undersea world
                             within which it
                            barely survives
                         with fittest fish.
                      When it happens
                    upon a motion-
                   less blue shark,
                it digs in fast to
             obliterate its fast.
           Behold a carcass
          coming alive and
          attacking the hag-
            fish! The bold hag
               is no scavenger –
                 it is prey. The hag
Read more >

77

A Time Like This

The stars were a surprise to me that night, when we first set up camp deep in the canyon we now called home, a sliver of the clear night sky the only scenery to behold.

“Mammy look, LOOK!” I cried out, pointing upwards, in case she could somehow missed the gleaming diamonds directly above. “Can you see? DO YOU SEE?”

Mammy, distracted, gave me one of her withering stares. “Yes, they’re stars, what about it?” she said.

Her caustic tone rendered me silent, made me feel foolish. But how was I supposed to know of something that nobody ever told me about; that she had never told me about? How was I to know that the murky city skyscape had been hiding such a delight?

Stars. What a pretty new word.

Nobody ever told me anything. Not about the stars, and certainly not about why we had suddenly up and left the city, leaving our lives and everything else behind. All I remembered was being woken in the night, being covered with a heavy blanket so that I couldn’t see a thing, and being bundled roughly into Daddy’s rarely used car (Where was Daddy, anyway?). All sounds were muffled, and remained so until we made it out to wherever we were. Mammy had ordered me to not to take off the blanket. And you always followed Mammy’s orders. So I strained my ears, trying to pick up anything at all beyond the low hum of the car’s vibrations. There were distant bangs, one or two stops where Mammy spoke in low urgent tones with voices I couldn’t quite make out, and the occasional deep heaving sigh. Was she crying?

Read more >
78

Ever Afters

On tonight’s menu
something whipped up only for
discerning palates.

Our clientèle will
taste the cream of the cosmos,
the ambrosial.

No, let’s go further,
the aphrodisiacal,
the doozie of sweets:

Chocolate swirled through
with turquoise-coloured fondant,
icing sugar dust,

Served on slashed velvet,
shot through spacetime’s riptide wave,
continuum’s tear.

Sit down this evening,
poke a bib in your collar,
tuck into dessert.

79

Every single light bulb

You can take the bottom of this canyon
as a metaphor for where things are with me
right now – flat on my back, looking

at a rapidly receding ambition, forever
out of my reach. But I’m thinking of a
story a neighbour once told me, of how

on his 80th birthday, a tea clipper – once
fast and famous, and now gently sliding
out of memory – sailed into the window

of the restaurant he was eating in, and he
could feel that every single light bulb
in the world was illuminated for a moment.

80

Enlightenment

you exist in your meaningful patterns
scattered through spaces
unaware of your age and movements
and unburdened by your weight

we learn of your formation, evolution, composition
your velocity and luminosity
we know of your distances and how constellations
change shape across the sweep of time

we travel back in time by looking up at you
yet, you hover over us
knowing much more than
we ever will

81

Wolves, Higher & Lower

“Here's a house to put wolves out the door”
- REM, Wolves, Lower

Sometimes it’s impossibly hard to know

if we should be looking upwards or down

at an acrobatic act for the ages.



These interlocking partners demonstrate 

delicate engineering and balances

honed by years of river flows, rain and trust.

A whole performance, we tell ourselves,

they learned from us, passed on through the howling

of ancestors that cast aside our heated tents.


They’d watched the apes get to grips with two legs

and left to adopt what made useful sense

from their early attempts at showing off.

We catch up with these performers mid-flight,
and will them a safe landing as one peace

of a whole under the fast-moving sky.

82

The Crack and the Stars

‘I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like it on the programme before,’ says the tweedy expert of The Antiques Roadshow. How did it come into your possession?’
‘It didn’t,’ I says, smoothing the crumpled piece of A4 to give the viewers at home a better look. ‘It was on the internet, for this monthly writing thing. I just printed it off and brought it along.’
‘You just printed it off and brought it along? Yes, well, it’s a striking piece, and I can see from the signature it’s by Mark Basarab. He’s an artist with whose work you’re familiar?’
‘No, never heard of him. But I liked the look of it, the crack and the stars and all that. It’s as if you were looking up at them from within a vast crevice on the surface of an as-yet-undiscovered planet.’
‘Yes, it does rather look like, erm-’
‘Or a Crème Egg.’
‘A what?’ the expert says, sending his glasses for a swing on their camp little chain. ‘Cadbury’s Crème Egg. You gotta admit, it’d give the artist a wonderful perspective – being inside a Cadbury’s Crème Egg. I mean, I don’t know this for sure, but what if the artist is a really small bloke? Really tiny fella, so tiny he climbs inside a Cadbury’s Crème Egg with his paints, his brushes, easel, the lot, and he paints this wonderful night sky...’
‘Milky Way, perhaps,’ interjects old Tweedy, looking at me, I swear, as if I’m some loony just come on the programme to make him look like a complete idiot.
‘No, it’s definitely a Crème Egg,’ I tells him. ‘You can tell by the consistency of the chocolate, where it’s been gouged out. It’s thicker and has a higher cocoa content. Plus, you’d never be able to hollow out a Milky Way by yourself! Need a couple of lads to help with that and, ‘course, most artists are lone wolves. Nah, it’s definitely a Crème Egg. He’s seen it’s a clear night, tons of stars out, very little light pollution – Read more >

83

Me and Her

Me and Her sat up for hours one night watching the sky, watching it move—well, not really move because we were the ones moving but it looked as though it were moving because we were sat in the same place all through the night, or for as long as we sat there, which was hours. Did I say that already? I’m losing track.

Of time, I mean. It’s not linear, but curved, I think. If you asked a child to draw a straight line without a ruler that’s what time looks like, wobbles and ripples and lead shavings flying off where we can’t see them—well, it wouldn’t be lead, you know, that’s far too dangerous because it could poison the children. What I mean is the graphite that’s in those HB black and yellow bee-coloured pencils all children use. And that line’s the same line we looked up at that night. That great gash in the sky which bled out stars and cosmic dust which found a home between our lust.

We sat there for hours (sorry, I said that, didn’t I?) and tried to make shapes with the specks, tried to find the constellations, the Seven Sisters and Orion’s belt, that Plough thing which got dragged across the sky before us, blasting out waves of radiation which can last much longer than the amount of time which we sat there for. Which was hours. This sash, that girdle of the sky meanders about Me and Her like some kind of nebulous thread coming loose leaving a seam seemingly open, seeming cinched apart.

84

Glance

She was the stars she was.
Blue, she was, and blue.
She danced and sang.
One day she looked down at me
All the way
through a single dark space
the depth of a soul.
186,000 miles.

I got butterflies.
My mountains swirled.
She smirked:
"I eat rocks like you for breakfast."

85

Dream Valley

In my dreams, I would fly
over steep brown gorges
and glittery blue rivers.

In my dreams, the mountains
would be seventy-five
percent Belgian cocoa

and the rivers, blue mint:
so strong, that I could still
smell their scents, lingering

in my room long after
I landed and saw life
again, just as it was:

colourful, though less bright,
a challenge, yet no flight.

86

Help Me Written In The Sky

Lying on the mucky ground,
Puddles seeping through his clothes,

He looks up at the sky,
Flowing galaxies in his veins.

Buildings swell around him:
Unnaturally looming, immobile.

The stars spill on the concrete,
Run red like fiery orbs.

Consciousness hazy, constellations
Chase each other across the indigo canvas.

He stares at the sky and hopes that soon,
Somebody up there will rescue him.

87

An Idea

In the darkest of sediment, where muddled thoughts
roam, obscure the possibility of notion, truncate

the significance of invention, there’s a gap,
a stream of untapped awareness, a river where nibs

of clarity gather, invite inspiration, become expression.
It begins where prelude of light originates

from root of font, abides until threshold of readiness
meets with moment of purpose, merging luminescence
with the mainstream of being.

88

Infinite night

The engineers had made their observations and calculations. The mathematicians checked the figures. Retired professors scrutinised the data and analysis. All agreed that the atmosphere was now safe.

There was so little noise as, one after another, the three layers of lead-sheathed doors slid open. I had been expecting creaks or clanking sounds, but the ancient machinery moved smoothly.

The librarians had offered us novels of 'science fiction' and histories of space exploration. We had viewed recordings from the olden times, but ... that first sight of stars is beyond preparation.

89

A Transit of Blue

A strip ripped out of the Milky Way,
a slice of galaxy, the boundaries
high walls we can’t see beyond.
We imagine
illusions where the image flips:
first a hag, and then a beauty.

Whatever our mind’s eye selects,
we erect
a vision and follow it forward,

hoping to find reality –
a glow-worm grotto
or devouring mouth –
forgetting that we define what we see,
we see what we expect
while the truth is blue and boundless.

90

Not a sonnet, but clichés and metaphors in homophobic conditions

I’d like to write you a sonnet, but I miss you, like I miss summer on a winter's day,
And I've been thinking how I'm between a rock and a hard place,
That cliché, because you're there and I'm here, and everything feels impossible right now –
Like writing poetry and original metaphors or a sonnet.

But then you phoned, and you said it about yourself, that
You're between a rock and a hard place.
Suddenly, I saw the stars and the sky once more,
I felt your warmth on my skin, like the light of the moon caressing my face.

In that moment, all the things that are keeping us apart fell away, like rocks falling through the
Chasm between the cliff edges we're living between. You know what I mean:
Other people's assumptions, society expecting a couple to be a man and a woman,
And how couple's bodies are supposed to reflect each other's skin colour.

A woman and a woman, and our skin colours contrasting,
And here we are, between the rocks and the cliff edge,
And in the moon and the starlight we're just bodies and skin and
We're in the same place together, in free fall, floating, and now anything can happen.

Read more >
91

Galaxial Wreckage

I am what happens
after you are gone

a staggering drunk
discarded rope

galaxial wreckage
fractional circles

fashioned by hardness
and the harvest of light

I know my sins and
my unscripted path

gone but still here
denounced and saved

observing every morning
death making mistakes

but moving forward
under a swell of discovery

wandering is the treasure
living in the question

or the invention of being
lost in the predestination

embracing the debris
of the extraordinary

Read more >
92

in a single pull

it is a fist penetrating the inner walls of the stomach
making the wound
visible to the self, to the world at large,
intestines wrapping themselves in knots
and then unravelling the person in a single pull.

mourning trust self-emulating, which today
colours old streets with a holy trinity.

resentment: negotiating making the table longer for Christmas this year,
and every year we can. present you to my grandmother,
show you of my life what you showed me of yours, and you
can't stand to be alone without killing every hope of doing that.

doubts: with a friend, so close, did you always, was i in the --
was that time -- but our nights, how --

insecurity: i couldn't measure up, i was too young, it was all sex
all convenience of distance, no one was going to cross
the motherfucking ocean for you, it was all a long goodbye
there was no plan there was no desire to keep going
it was too fucking hard, you were too fucking hard.

i remember you playing river but can't stand the sound of the memory,
it breaks me like you'll never know.

93

First, Decide

First, you have to decide if it’s a littering
or a glittering. You have to decide if
it’s an indigo blue or a reflection of
you and those eyes they say change colour
sometimes. The blue is joyful and the green
is a deeper, more watery brightness.

Once you’ve established colour and mess, you
need to decide if you’ve fallen into a ravine and you’re
looking up at the infinite possibilities of the universe,
or if you’re standing at the riverbank looking down,
and the stars aren’t stars but silverfish,
slivers of moon reflected in ripples.

You have to decide whether you are lying face up in a gorge,
adoring the sky, or teetering on the brink of something,
a little too high for your liking, or if you’re ready to jump.
Are you trying to fall or fly? First you have to decide where you are.

First you have to decide who you want to be – a swimmer
or an astronaut, a diver or a pilot. Do you have a submarine
or a jetpack? First you have to decide whether you
are aiming to grab hold of stars that died long ago
or fish that will slither out of your grasp.

First you have to feel confused. First you have to
forget yourself. First you have to forget where
you are. First you have to decide whether you
want to grab stars that will slither out of your hands
or constellations of fish that have already
burned to blackened shards. First you have to decide
Read more >

94

Fossil

I have never seen stars like these,
winding into the sinews of the ravine –
I remember when the crack opened, it was
the day after the last of the earthquakes
that rendered the green land tar-brown
and barren

The ground still heaves and shoves
but the air is iced with points of light
as if we have started to mine the sky
for remote fossils – they have been fuel
for our dreams and vain wishes
since the first breath.

I can remember yellowed sodium, white
LED glare, blue screen glow. Birds sang
all night, bats flew off course. We
couldn’t sleep; our thoughts disrupted,
our every function measured, recorded.
We forgot to look up.

Now we stare down, wary of cracks.
Now, from the depths, I look up.
There is beauty in this desolation.
This is something beyond measure.

I have never seen stars.

95

They Were All Made of Stars

Someone once said that the people were made of blood and water, flesh and bone; everything that would rot and weaken with age.
The people believed. Because someone said.
Someone said that they could – that they should – plunder the resources of their planet to preserve their fortunes and potency – even their lifespan.
The people believed. Because someone said.
Then someone else said that the people were made of stars; not blood and water, flesh and bone after all. That someone peeled back the skin on their leg to reveal a vast fissure of stone, an artery of stars that then poured out into the ether.
Yet the people did not choose to believe that someone displaying their galaxy ichor instead of crimson fluid, their rigid rock instead of pliant tissue. Because, as they all looked at their now decrepit planet failing all around them, no one wanted the responsibility of the terrifying realisation: that power had been theirs from the very beginning.

96

a starry-eyed dalliance

silhouette — eyes draped
to forget the view of
                               that touch,

stars wave their flesh,
hang together in
an unreliable
reminiscence,

of what it was, in its night-
time sagacity —

                      the landmark of my body
                      rose and fell, began so to come
                      to an end,

                      every breath became star-dust,
                      haloed in the light of its own
                      remembrance —

can i be trusted with the s-shaped
curves of that juncture?—

         a rendezvous
         of halved lusts – biting, igniting,
         believing – of a brazen luck,
         or a chance companionship
         or a calcifying causality
         of a lost need for love —

Read more >
97

Light or No Light

Let me move like water through this canyon.
Let the milky constellation guide me.
I am trapped here, a puddle of my own making.
But looking up, I remember that water
has been found on one of Saturn's moons.
There is a way out from here.
I cannot feel my nose or fingers

but there is heat in those stars and
where there is heat and light, there is hope.
Hope can taunt. I know this now.
Each glint of starlight staring through this slit.
Each crack, each scratch.
Each bone broken, gristle scent of
my own blood sprayed on sandstone.

Which is stronger—rock or water?
Silt soft butter to the currents that carved it,
sharp blades to my touch.
Let me be the water that permeates
evaporites and chemical sediments,
splashes through silt and shale
wends my way across this chasm

and out of this roofless tomb.
Water knows there is no terminal—
no destination, Over time all water
moves restlessly, relentlessly. It falls
and rises, falls and rises again, light
or no light. And so will I.
One numb footstep after the other.

98

Shape Shifting

Ray guns fired in comic books,
flying saucers suspended over
streets; a simple Sputnik then Telstar.
Our future was guaranteed.

Moon base missions not achieved;
lunar landings no longer made.
Shifting shapes now probe through
infinite space, aiming for alien life.

Humans projecting to distant stars
remain in the realms of a colourful page.

99

A Little Longer

Aurora whimsically untouchable
as she dances across that starry backdrop.
Eyes like the coming winter, with hair bleach blonde
like a fairy from tales of old.
Dressed in cloth emerald green and violet bright
that changes and swirls with the wind,
with an overcoat of starry light and darkest night.
She shines beautiful and everlasting.

To gaze upon you as I wander
a wish I hold dear.
Every time I gaze upon that starry backdrop,
bordered by sheer cliffs of smooth earth,
trees tall and ancient and wise,
on a field of flowers moving in the wind.
To gaze upon you
in Norway or as you travel
a wish.

Dance before that backdrop
a little longer, for all to witness.
Do not diminish yet
for even if I never gaze upon you,
we all live below the same sky
humbled by its size.
Let others appreciate you
a little longer
before we all fade…

100

Yon Gob Agape

at neet, starstruck.
Rocks kal in dialect.
Spoutin' foreign.

Oyle in rock
is a wobbly gob.
Tha spies stars in spate.

Can't dip thee hand in
and grab a mite
o' clear blue and sparkle.

Stars are sparking
molten steel,
creation unmaking,
remaking thremsens

in words wi a different roll
off of the tongue,
that touches a new
combination of tuths.

An almost oxbow and meander
frames itsen agog
at leet streamin' into this cave.
meks sense on another lingo.

101

Spores of stars

Like algae on water, they bloom
and beckon you. Join them:
dip into that deep water
and float among the specks
listen to your own heavy breath
scatter the glitter.

They know the way and
oh what sights await you
oh what dreams are built upon them:
castles, and leaders, and pride,
and lenses wide and unblinking
to see beyond them.

Feed them your wishes;
feed them your promises;
feed them your tears.
They will burn your eyes out,
they will, and not be sorry.

102

Bypass

In the geography of bodies
I made a map of every crack
Every depression
Every protrusion

That light in the line
Of sky grazing land
Of supernovae
Surfaces

The deep mystery
Of intersection where
Years transform into dimensions
Of love
And experience

Knowing the territory of
Your heart
Keeps me

103

Only by the Sun’s Light is the Moon Visible

You took the sun
for your eye orb
and I was a silver sliver
a perfect half
or bent to a crescent
on my back

When you turned your
face from me
I drowned by night
in a river of stars
'til someone let slip
that stars scintillate
with their own light
and explode in heat,
rock, dust      molecular
elemental

Who were you
to rule the sky
to be God of the sun
to call me lunar?
Don't you know
I am stellar, celestial
supernova
in my element.

104