Imagine we are paper-chained men
or Russian dolls
stacked one inside the other.

We set out like this;
unpuzzling pieces
cut apart to fit together,

sprinting the length
of mirrored halls
to outnumber one another.

You arrive a fraction
ahead of me, or I
a split second before you

pulling the thought out
by its long white ears.


A Frenzy of Messages


When I open the bathroom window, they swarm in,
seeking their god in a globule of light,
oblivious to the greed of its white heat.

They keep on coming, their tiny anticipations
building up into a buzz of something far bigger,
misguided towards the glow of the shrine.

Their cellophane wings beat the argon-lit air
into a frenzy of messages, thickening
against the matt white walls. They clog here –

an agitation of followers, signing up
their flimsy limbs to the source, neglecting
the lakes that await their egg-laden bellies.

I take a swipe and knock out a dozen or more
but the only recourse is to switch off the light,
shut the window and slip beneath the surface

until the tinnitus dies down. The stragglers
scuttle around, all sense of direction lost;
deceived by the cold bulb of a failed promise.

For John

Someplace north of where land ends, you are folded
between the pages of an unfinished book;
a new poem for the old world

where brambles tangle through the hawthorn trees
and the buzzard hangs its flight
above the pines, far beyond our reach.

We stand a hundred-fold, watching, like ghosts
joined hand in hand; lost avatars
caught on the lips of frozen accounts.

I could describe what makes me call again
and again at the open door of your words,
the distance beating its wings towards me,

instead, I trap each line you cast
along a hollow in my tongue, to feel its hook,
to taste the flavour of courage

and I follow you the full stretch of a bare August
as the sun ripens silence into gold
and dry throats call upon the gods for rain.