Observations on Hope

 

Smoke of incense, even when curled across

Its own question, is perfectly balanced.

 

Candlelight, although by definition rising

Upward, is in essence motionless.

 

There have been nights, so black that one can’t feel

For surfaces, or signs of what is there;

 

Yet calmed awhile there’s light enough to sense

That lack-of-light: we see what we can tell.

 

And though it weeps, the most deserted heart

Can only overflow with surplus love

 

Or it weeps not; just as a window pane

Though clear, in sunlight, becomes saturate.

 

On Discovering Manhood

 

This manhood will unmake you. See the pain

Run down your brother’s face in red arraign.

 

That racing heart, this blood that triumphs through

Your aching body shall not nurture you.

 

Some day, once aged by loneness and concern

You’ll find that shame: and how I hope you’ll learn

 

That hate and harm are fed on emptiness

And strength is found alone in gentleness.

 

Sleepless Sigh

 

That sigh you slept, that dwelt from dusk til morning

Tells me that your sleep is but one breath.

 

Even in dreams I feel your waking woes,

Held in uneasy sheets, in lost repose:

 

That life, kept in, keeps hold until our dawning.

Breathe out your wakefulness, and sleep in death.

 

Caveman

 

I know it’s hard: but imagine, if you can,

A world without you. Think of my landscape

As it was for countless years before you came,

Valleys carved by the care and fine attention

Of millennia of accident. With no help

From you, a source of water happened: utter

Serendipity, in motion, washed

My face and praised my fierce, proud body

Right down to the seas. There was life before you,

Wild and terrible things, beautiful, savage

Honest death; creatures in paradise;

And though you fancy yourself unique, I’ve buried

Stranger things than you. So you see, although

You thought you had a pretty sweet deal here

And that I’d let you ride me raw, young man,

It pains me greatly to have to break it to you:

A thousand years from now, when all that’s left’s

A cache of five hundred pictures you took of yourself,

Cave art, if you will; when those quaint daubs

Of your face are your last mark, I tell you, babe,

No-one’s going to see them, and want you back.

 

 

Partially inspired by my pagan friends and their faith in that the Earth will outlive man, despite ourselves; and partially inspired by the different but analogous philosophy, that even in the toughest break-up, you can’t let any man invalidate you. I think we’ve all had moments where we feel like our identity or our individuality is being challenged. It can be particularly bad in some relationships. Well, I say, bury the caveman. It’s his loss, his own stupid, neolithic fault, and nobody’s going to miss him. 

Wait for me, late August

You’ll wait for me. Through evenings drenched in sun,

Low light that draws the summer out and out;

When that last choice of yours has been let free

In leafy solitude; with August, gone,

As stranger colours tend that thought to doubt,

You’ll feel the heart of cold, and wait for me.

Asmodeus

 

Even at that first stretch, as I unfold

Myself from this once-white bed,

I can feel from my shoulders the absence

Of wings. Haunches of tension, relaxed;

Supple curves and the arch of my torso,

Bicep you could bite; my abs, just morsels

Of perfection. I am exquisitely painted:

But I assure you, nothing divine about it.

 

Stirred again, I am as ancient as Babylon.

And this lover, this tender, woebegone

Victim beside me: he is as old as wine,

Present in one tableau or another for five

Millennia, below and before me, keen

Eyed, soft-skinned; lips, whispering his need.

I lay here, almost as if fallen from some

Loving height, to make these beds my home.

 

I am twenty-one. And the nakedness I bring

Is new to me; it’s newer still to him,

And even in dreaming it fascinates his own,

Bareness upon bareness, dreamt upon.

I wear this life like the torn-up vest

He dragged from me, once clung to my chest

In parody of him. And, now he’s sweet,

I drape myself in shameful thoughts, and leave.

 

 

Another adolescent attempt. Bless my silly young silly self. 

What to do

 

What shall we do this time? Shall we throw

Long arms of catastrophe into the windows

Of neighbouring homes? Shall we salt the very

Tulipped gardens of proud women; shall we

Dance victorious in spite of abandoned warehouses,

Setting fire to silence, dust and emptiness?

Shall we delight in fireworks, tracing patterns

With bright worked fire, Venuses and Saturns,

Mercuries and divine chaos? To claim this night,

Shall we throw it away, and spend every second of it

As teenagers would, in righteous misery?

What shall we do as, when the vacancy

Of morning wakes us, we hope to dream awhile?

Tell me, what we shall do to kill this time.

 

We’ve all been young and foolish, once. And wasn’t it fun?