Domestics and Internationals
1999

on

 

she is all the time laughing & sick
for an america she has never seen -
she is always on about leaving one day
just like that
placing it all in the future - here

& now there is someone on the corner of the room -
he’s your guest I presume & why
is trying to sell me a ticket
he won’t even say what it’s for?
your laugh down the hall hardly knows me -

 

my tatty edges are nailed to a tension
I fight off with both hands - you are pin-bright
with smile is terminal & over there

the wink to the ticket-man is plain amorous -
tickets luggage farewells the whole bag she says


my connection leaves in fifteen minutes
& shows me the mirror - my facade

is so friendly beguiled & forgiving that I have to smile
& turn to stone enough - a hope
she’ll take me as a souvenir?

 


one

 

you know the scene intimately -
the woman hunched & kneeling over a brown briefcase
a small white paper bag that you might
keep sandwiches in blows though the automatic doors

 

a couple of men group round themselves a couple of meters away
pretend to ignore her  - the security guard
looks the other way & out onto the tarmac
while she cries behind her cooling hand -

 

there are only so many magazines to be read on the flight
so much food & alcohol to be had
so many constructive things to be done on the way
after all there are only so many

 

good-byes you can get through without
pretending it doesn’t matter any more -
without the weight of what you said
or didn’t say stinging you at check-in

 


zero

(elegy)

 

you took strange pills that night
dribbling long sentences that went precisely
nowhere - here
let me comb out your hair with my long ecstatic fingers
& smooth your eyelids with sighs - now I can watch you

 

disappear as brightness will at dusk
now I can take you out
& light candles & sail with you over the icy lake
that runs the length of your spine - here
just here is the staggering pulse & there

 

is the cheap made in korea watch that I used
to count it with - see how the plastic
melts in the flame? can you see how
the absence we inhabit
spits out against the idea of completion?

 

I will always try to be with you - even now
as you tick from one state to another
solid to liquid
liquid to gas
breath to stone

 


plus

 

the intimate specialties of your groove
unspool like floss
& lead me on -

 

I brush against your hip
you step through my spine
& pick me up

 

& shake me hard
leaving me
breathless -

 

I am a diver for your touch
a sentence for you to unravel
in your search for a body of language

 

even the cranky urge of your anger
is at worst a friend at best
here is another day

 

a new curve to be drawn
in the arch
of your most wicked smile


minus

 

the sea’s alloy sheen pulls me from the city -
this sequence of falling sunlight
each frame is hand-picked by a digital artist & overlaid
with attractive effect - even the same old hills
look gold-dipped & humming & not belonging

 

& there is no one immune to the scenery -
the swimmers lazy paddles the deep
& aromatic shadows where the lovers are
even the hot indices of gossip are tumbling my ear
trying for the possibility a belief

 

that there could be a way that all this
fitted together & made a pattern that was otherwise
living and native - there could be
some alien inflection to a hopeful word
that gave me some new way of saying it but

 

I kneel at the place `10,000 volts buried under’
commute to the ocean & place my palm to the sand
& I'm taken over by a lust for cheap chinese fans -
the young boy who looks heroically out to sea
& has `people’s republic’ in gilt across his chest -

 

anything rather all this beauty and life -
the sun’s edge dips the horizon
& my willing body falls apart in perfect halves -
one is for someone to remember me by
the other for the black reach of the tide

 


two

 

I walk around the tide
& find you there - mouth to the cave
laying notes end to end
to finish your song

 

with each step I am finding
something nearer my true weight -
my path is punctuated with the glyphs
of your lovers language

 

likewise our meeting is full of half-figures
& eyes & hands falling to bodies
themselves wrapped heavily against the cold -
our world reduces to the small orbits

 

of eyes in wonder at the sway in a hip
that pushes sand while the moon
pulls in its’ heavy raft of waves
littering the bay with sighs

 


off

 

the tap water goes this colour & that -
you can taste the rust at the front of the tongue
& the shit at the back but I can’t say anything

 

I’m afraid to talk to him in case he gets shirty
pulls everything off the line & puts it with the fishing
& then & then I have to do it all again

 

again you will have guessed that
there’s not much between us anymore
the songs he never sings to me

 

the jerseys I imagine myself knitting - all that’s gone
occasionally I’ll put something out between us

a child say but it crawls & is clumsy


like a half-wound toy & that’s the end of that -

or I call out that dinners ready & he shoots the horse
I’m sorry I haven't been in touch

 

& that holiday you wanted with us?
you won’t be able to find us anymore
the road sign the southern sign

 

is weathered to a splint
it’s only a sign that says
here was a someone you used to know

 

now gone - just a note then
to say we’re somewhere of his choosing
inside his caravan of anger & denial

nothing

 

light comes in & dim to a whisper

lays your window down on the kitchen table -
four blond squares
four perfect seas made for a book of maps

 

the bend of a fork joins two of the seas
is a rainbow in the smaller world
& the glint on your specs
the evening star for the passengers to marvel at -

 

but their tiny desires are something to wreck
you push the fork into shudders & squeaks remember
black boards & fingernails & dettol on cuts -
even the way  he used to moan is in that sound


& sucks you back into his recent departure

that is always leaving you here -

weighing the value of silence

against the oncoming night.

 

 


everything

 

having to sponge you out of the room
dirty corners
papers five layers deep & your ashtrays -

I’ve waited a week already
for your smell to follow you -
you’ve got to let go they say

 

so I open my hand & try to drop you
but I’m reaching for the earring I gave you
& you lost but always wanted back

I am love’s pathologist
tracking the  path of your stains for a sense
of order - here the red wine


by the door - that favorite blue-black ink
by the bookcase - the books
I stroke the broken spines - & yes I would break this
stop fingering the curls of  your hair in the sink
but even these smallest remainders
are the waves on a beach we always meant to get to