Poems

Words do not communicate how little we understand each other.

For CKG

1

I've come to return the things I've forgotten:
travelling north, a glance by a kookaburra quintet,
strung out or electrified, a barber's pole against
steel doors, parquet floors squeaking underfoot--
it's a habit, being there, waiting - who knows?

This line has become a habit. Or a way of ending
nearer without the blink. As the case
usually is, braver in the after-moment, that glorious
interlude when the plates have been realigned, clods of earth
fall rested, and there is so much space

to shuffle the feet, the accidental
piss on heels of dark green shoes. It was
never this slow, never this scripted or ordained to be.
Gather in closer, lean in and smell, sweet scent, and kiss
a smoother slash across the palm there never was--

a tattoo on the tongue: speak once, once freely only.
As if this would bring us closer.

 

2

I've come back to return the things I've forgotten.
Travelling north, behind the sunlight and sixteen wheels,
the exhaust shoots out a fan of black feathers--
no blood, no crunch of bones beneath, no colours are ground under.
Black wall, black walls, all walls are black at night.
We wait for one sleep: to act, to feel, to be
other than what we are awake. The drip is set,
a man walks, stethoscope adorning his thick neck.
This one will die, this one needs a catheter, and that one,
that one sleeps. Do not wake her; the others are acting.

 

  3

Travelling north, twenty years seemed neither long nor short--
a series of words bawled out and a creeping sun. Fixed,
meaning to remain in one spot, meaning to exist unaltered, or fixed:
repaired, running soothingly, efficiently, no more need
for band aids, bandages, prayers and damnations.
'Sirrah, I ask you. Can we ever go home?'
But there are always pockets of forgetfulness: a table with French
linen, a tankard of beer, the feminine case in Russian, the plum Morgan
parked in the church's private car park. More than enough to wrap
around one's self and leap off tall buildings and coral roofs.
I'd come back to return the things I'd remembered.

 

4

Travelling: it was a sea voyage, to begin with. All the usual
foreign tongues mixing on the deck:
suitcases, Hessian bags,   portmanteaus stacked in the finer cabins.
Tickets had been bought and paid for but no one had bothered to ask
where the ship was going. It didn't really matter. They were on the move.
It's only while standing still that fabrics cling, rooting you to one
course, one destination, to root out one's duty, to play the part
in a team. 'Aye, aye' captain, it's a fine night for passengers and crew,
and all the words that fall between the waves.

 

5

It's not always north. I'm just trying to flip another line
through this razor-sly land.
We always come back, some search for the centre:
sometimes an apple is just an apple. A note expelled from a melody.
A circle come full, lush, ripe, uncrimpled by aging light. We pack
this down tight and move.

 

6

Down in a valley,
a church forks the road in two: I can shuffle past the small eyes and epaulettes,
salute these termite mounds or return
what I've forgotten .

 

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