Who’s left to destroy what is important?

Flesh that is the pinkest is turned up
To the light and
The hurt done tonight will be

The glass slips through your fingers
(Giving, I can give you
Showing, I can show
The material fact)
A splash of gin on the table and
Domestic tears
In front of the final behind-the-scenes
Of Survivor
The Passion of Jon:

A different island, another scene
But the same rehearsal

Because you saw them strike the sets
By burning them
And a million-dollar cheque
That said, Nothing is original
Or so original
It can be lost,
so it can be lost

Stopped and reheated and brought back
To a kind of life,
It can’t be

Because it was just a game
It can be time
For TV to pass time
It said, I will cure you all;

Because your love is burning
In a place called paradise
Around the children
Million children who
Are a Crusade of paradisiacs
Forgetful incendiary devices
Slow and set
On time out;

Another set
The island same, repeat:

Your love is burning
Like a suitcase
Like a black ballot
Canvas flapping at the back
To lost-and-found
From state to state
Never never
Within useful reach

But given
The material fact
Showing I can show
The pain of loss
The pinkest round
Turns up
Six times nothing –

Check, it’s important, reheat
Like a million lives
To ash and back
To passion –

It’s unacceptable, unspeakable
But look anyway
At what’s happened to the land
The sense of earth
As a region of delight

The gin-glass slips
Through your fingers, all right
The genitals turn
Up to the light lost
The soiled light
Vegetable, vulnerable

While trucks are moving
Their cabs, their drivers
Sweating along the black-top
On well-oiled meanings
And intentions:
As long as they’re rolling on the hard
They’re happy and shiny and clean

Soft above


The important things
Draw bodies to them, lovers:
It’s impossible to get a clear shot

Personal events
Inconsequentially small
Acceptance speeches
Beginning with Yes –

After I have wiped the mirror clean –

You are the first step
You must attend
To the matters of the journey
Who is waving up
Or she’s reaching out
To you, beside herself
Out of my mind for me

Turn off the TV
Press the screen to the wall
How are they paid for
Who? Them all
All of them, you
Attaching themselves, them all
To a movement like litters
These letters
You walk in
You spoil the shot

And I spent a year or two numb
Matching the stock
Rolling out through the whole
Of reality,
Where are your drugs?

Soft above
Two full full moons have passed

I’m your mark
I work in
I hustle
But the convoy is leaving without me

You steal the show
I love that show!

She drives at the wheel
My target is large
To waste in the temple

If you leave me on this side
Of the world of ideas
The first rung
Who is left to destroy what is important?


Now transports carry the thoughts
Of millions far from home
Fires rains of cinder
Hot coils smoke
Into the pinfield spins
Fear out of glass
And pain into dust rises
As each leg twitches
Around to an unbearable,
Unbridgeable tension
(Brittle wheels tyres coals
And oil in the engine)
Between us
Above and below the race

But charges are laid
On horse-headed chariots
Eyes folded from us
Beds of violet jonquils
Evening heaven
To the underneath

How is the hour salt?
And to all other senses railed against?
But lighter than gas
In my heavy lidless sight, the judge
You dream swings the crowd
Around a concave world
Like a popped balloon from inside

In the interior the trauma
Pleated pressed and skirting
On the king

The mere hallucination of up
Reflects a ghost limb
Severed over the edge
Of the muscle
The brittle the mirror

The little pop
Over an andscape lego

Darkly is my hell demented
In the moving frame
Of a train window
Awaiting the return
To still
In camera

When the units come again
Like a melody
Like a camp presidium
When I can kill all those
All them
Who have kept time


Carrying water
In cells
Passed mouth to mouth
The code
Forms a brief but significant
With the host
While inside
The oral cavity
Afforded the advantages
Of moisture, warmth, a ready supply
Of oxygen

Under the tongue
Of the host
The pathways of life quicken
Through a division
Of the living component
By necessary partition –

A process like taking your typical
Inner-city studio apartment
And throwing up a scrim
To house different individuals,
Whose lives unfold separately
Although linked
By a similar provision of means,
Pushing up the premium
For qualitatively superior accommodation
As a myth
In turn giving landlords the leverage
To talk up rents
And lessees
Incentive to move –

At which point the cell
Can rightly be called an egg
Stuck to its course
Of lifestyle improvement
Pending the availability and
Attraction more-or-less
Of new mouths;

Given the preference of
Other over better
Since the market for mouth-
Owners is a playing-field levelled
By mutual agreement
As to the absence
Of the ideal;

Also accounting for that mouth-
Swapping is the rule
Not the exception:

Thus tenants are in a symbiosis
Feudal in fact
But also parasitic, abcessive
With the ‘place-ntas’ of their host-
Under-tongue-regimes –
Enveined albumens
Flowing and sticking
In the rivers of our discourse:

Waters past listening
In the dense subterfuge
Of rain, saying,
I can’t hear you
Because you won’t listen

In the pinfield
Behind the glass

What pain is possible?
By our feet? Then, what to?

What clawing
At irrational surfaces
To find my assistant
My partner
In the experiment?

Should this come first?
This nostalgia?
With the sentiment of
Breaking open the dust
To find the dust in it:

They are dark actors
And especially their skins
Are not
They desiccate
They draw the wetness from our mouths
They officiate
At the conjugation
Their teeth
Are all teeth

This is important as well


I don’t know if you know
That you know
Strapped back in your seat
By another sort
Of aggression
And if ever
You who are meant for this
Should read this –

By the peace bought
With the fortunate
Transports leading
(If you follow)
With your skin gathered loosely
As any cerebrum
(Should you think)

Your gorgeous limbs
Your atrocious limbs

I’m cradling the missile
Of this love
I am in your vanguard, injured
I am you tomorrow –

All these have said, your tomorrows,
Hear me not
Listen to what is past
The water

But you know
I am the thing
I cradle
And the future
Of the thing
I made you


There’s no point to the rain
It is general, overcast
It affects the light
Plays tricks
Ghosting what I would like to say
With television static
Pixellating the face
Of a criminal
The genitals
Of a celebrity –

I would pay for what is revealed
To be covered
Recovered and communicable
As a narrative of enchantment

The other
Neither you nor I see move
Her lips hear
Sight riff on the unseen
Scur on the lake to
Blame not the searching
Gaze for breaking her
Integrity of surface
But the surfacing whisper
Which is all and only there
On the shut-down mirror

A culture for its identity
Finding a frame
You are in –

Although you
Are on a journey
Inspired by geology and genetics

My head is shaved
By the box I keep
My monster in
Downstairs in the river
It leaks
The seeds of sedition
Because important

I flow out of it in all
Directions he gave
By saying, Demand
Is outpacing capacity
In our violent, hazardous
And ever-changing

She murmurs,
No such thing
As society:

But they are without gods
Who will truth

There’s no will, he notes
And the emotions
Are box-
Here, basalt

Silent, quivering, idle
We have the soft integuments
To absorb any attack
Our wheels run underneath
The landscape
Sound so framed
In sound and
To the eye
Winds breathe on us

For fast-moving field manoeuvres
These pastures of oil are God’s
And He has come
To claim bliss as of His making

Ritual humiliation has become
A very big factor
In the show’s basic DNA:

So I pay
For the dark dynasty
The tyranny of light’s black name
At Bora Bora

The lady heard sight
In material fact of an intensity
Of longing
Hassan himself entrained gravity
Under hash
Forsaking of his houris


But you
You separate unequally:
The mausolea are all
On this side of the glass
I don’t see you
I wonder whose bones are these
Dressed up to resemble you
And to whom or what
You have given up your flesh
That is the pinkest
Up to a plough
Called ‘steel resolve’
Though it’s tin-amalgam?

The driver’s teeth are all teeth
They reach the record
No material fact can withstand
In time
Was important as well
But who’s left
To resist what is ordered?

You’ve fallen
From my affection
And I’m still dizzy in love with you

And speechless in your morning noise
The confusion of the simple songs
Of birds and crickets in the summer
Now, early autumn
I try not to step on twigs
To avoid tree-roots
To be of service is hard
The pose of balance is difficult
In this pose

I’m in the afternoon
Before the day’s conditional
Opens evening’s wounded
And I find solidarity
With the night’s bureaucracy
That is so independent
Of the moon:

We gossip
What we reap’s inedible
Having been
In one mouth after another –

Pushing up her
His tongue
That flower
To be stung –

Clacking on their plates
Like silver
And stars sinking into ink
She told me a shining thought
I listened with my teeth:

She fears me as if I’m the one
She feels me drive her up the wall
But I don’t feel the desire
Only the cold
In the interior
Deep in the colour-chart
Of a painter’s overcast

The heat of summer will not be hot enough
There is no will
And the wall is so bright behind you
Your shadow sticks

I’m not the one to tell you
Your best work has been done
Because nobody tells the stars to do
Or what to say
Because nobody tells the sun
Your only work was
The depth of shallow
The shape of sorrow
The colour of shadow
(My morning silent)
You’ve served another purpose
Let it be luck
Approach its body with fear
The whale
The wall
Risk the letter on your chest
The number on your wrist
This is important
Written in rhyme and rhythm and not
In music
Lest it betray you
Being like the ocean
Mostly unseen
Like the ocean
Beneath your skin,
It is behind you.


History will mistake what happens here
Inside a generation

Because Puritans have no ears
How we know them
Carrying water by the stream
In the bush –

One word of love
One deed of land
A thong of muscular predestination
Is an Overman

She is a tongue
She is licking in the moss
For one eel to nest in her mouth,
An old ram’s carcase
Lies across the rocks,
The ribs, the cartilage
In useful reach –
A catacomb of lips are kissing
In a single kiss

From creek to creek
Observe the row of cells
That spread the minerals –
It’s wrong to think that nothing
Happens here
It’s just that what happens here
Doesn’t happen

A stream follows on a track
Everything is dead
Sulphur in the mattress:
This is how
I imagine a destination to be
A box
That feeds back every word
Into our mouths
Until every compartment
Where they sleep and work
Looks like a grill
Behind which is a bait
Attracting a
Certain organising principle
That dissembles life
In useful images
For the sake of moving
Non-organic material around

To be attractive the bait
Has the characteristic
Of recognition
It smells familiar

But a woman has eight children,
She is the mother,
Who meet their fate
She cannot remember
The smallest face
Of the last born child
She cannot recognise
Their hands

How big
How small
Is the box
We put our history into
That we put our children into?


A radio-dish is like an up-
Turned mouth waiting
For rods and spurts of rain
And eel in the water
Pass from mouth to mouth
Leaving a kind of clotted
Kapok of words, a custard
On the tongues of Puritans
Under which they organise
Their colonies
Forming nests
Already informed by the image
Of the ideal attributes
That colonies are said to represent

There is no will
In cells of bone and bait
Where the transport
Of water
Is pinked by arrival
At sunset

Its invisible and iron hand
Picks clean the ribs
Stretching out
Moonlit cartilage
From the softest palate
In the shingle-pan
Fleshing out the alluvial plain
With cattle sheep
The story of the desiccation

White liver
Muscular slave
Oil his intentions
By your love
Seal his meaning
By your kiss
Of loving-kindness
Anneal his resolve
By your iron clown
Predestination repeat
As he who does
As he who can

The premises of international
And intense despair
Arrive together


Seeing you there in the mirror
I see you
What man is strong enough
To reject the possibility
Of hope?
And seeing you there I hope
In order I may be proved wrong:

Rooming without a single thankyou
To destruction
Your eyes are crystals
Your teeth the dried nests of a paper wasp
You are composed of my demented speech
Of an also-there
In which is choice

Who’s left to destroy what is important
To originate in destruction
And out of argument?


Would have thought of one word
One deed America has become
The one great imperial power
At a time when empire
Has stopped working
Suffice the people on the tank
Spread out like jelly
As they were
On the earth-moving blade
What we now know to have been
A black sun
Because it had to have been
When we lost the ability
To communicate
Exactly what our predicament

And turned our ablest minds to despite
(As one)
Of the many many
Beside me

Then behind a scene
Implacable with hatred
Fearing what might
Be done

Then fearing what I might do
To myself
Were I to hear them
Behind the dirty glass
The grill of constant interrogation

Then preferring pain
To fear
In the end

In the middle of a step suspended
Far too long
Searching high and low for the drugs
Poetry has hidden somewhere

At the end
Out of reach


I’ve recently spent all my time
In front of a mirror
To see how you expose yourself
To an idea

Is it better to live
To write many
Bad lines
Is it

There is an idea
That turns people to jelly
But it’s not in the poem I’m living,
A poet wrote

Then in suspension
In the brittle running solid
Of words

Only the callow among you
Recognise something
You can use

Because none of this works
My acquaintances my friends
My family my one lover last
You’re not left to destroy this

It’s important to resist
What is ordered

That box you made for me
It’s a long time ago and it’s a memory
I think you made it up
But I lost it
In the river

Even as the night shakes out
Its crystals
I have a way of looking
That makes you ask,
What are these

But poverty robs the ground
Before our eyes.

(February – March, 2004)