Kyoto

Yesterday I saw new tyre tracks hieroglyphed into the street for the first time.
The only phrase I’m sure they spell out, these poor rubber maidens squelched to gel,

today and tomorrow – make sure you stay hydrated, they chant –
is: atsuidesune~ We cannot bear you. It’s too goddamn hot in hell.

The Paradox of the Sulk

We are too close for comfort
and it makes us wriggle and squirm
like worms in a hole.
And all this time I just need
you to tell me your mind for
as close as we are, I cannot see
it through your hair and your
skin, and your voice gives it away,
and it’s in
these moments that I feel
held at arm’s length with
one hand, but these speeches
we’ve just thrown at each
other crash clumsily together,
and I know mine sounds like an
budget catering tray,
bendy and tinny and
insincere, but it is sincere.
I just don’t know
how to harden up
but it’s hard enough when now
it’s 5 o’clock and
we’re on either side
of the glass
and neither of us
is looking up.

Hiroshima

When the earth is soft and the clouds quiet and no longer fungal,
the three-pronged bridge finally calms above the thrust-up river.

This is not your time.
You are cast as a shadow in the pavement
even if your body wasn’t, your home squeezed mud
inside to out between the fingers of the little boy’s tantrum-fuelled fist as
he fell like a fat diamond.

Letter-red flakes fluttered down from a dark
tunnel in the sky
and from the skin
on their backs
as you walked and kicked up flame.

Tears melt like milk bottles did to each other –
one mangled piece of glass. Or is it my heart?
A tangled tricycle caught in the blighted love
left behind to die in this spangled buzzing cyclone.

This is the out-of-tune choir of ladies, old now,
standing at either side of your hollowed-out dome,
a fatal glow guiding home those light-seared souls
on the wings of paper birds.

Summer

How instantaneously the weight slopes off my shoulders and chest
Washed up and into the air by the emerald-spangled fingers of early afternoon.

I had forgotten this smell of summer.
Aching calves as my body choked me up the hills and into the blue
Hair whipped into a flame, to touch the sun.

These speckles on my arms and crackles in my back when I lie
on my red salted skin, pulled taut by the waves, burn,
like my eyes adjusting to the darkness of dreaming from the damp warmth of caves.
Unfurling undulating days and sore muddy toes –
where does it end? I think.

The grass ripples just once more and it does.

Night Dreaming

Her face has not been behind my eyes in what feels like years
but this time she appears
in a dream, and all I can really
remember is sobbing
into my pillow, coughing on
what it felt like
to be eight years
young and asleep in her too-cushy beds.

And the smell of her dark-salmon apartment,
friendly old ladies and two gentlemen
living up the halls, and
Sue with her cigarette trail
popping by for tea under sunny summer skies.

I remember the hunched marzipan smiles,
and the Radio Times between the lines
on her cheeks as she chuckled
at some silly joke and whacked him with a spoon
– or so it goes.

I am passive still, in this return, as it washes over my slumber.
Scrabble tiles rattling out of a bag, something nice.
I let the lacey clouds and glass bobbins, in their hundreds, and
the feelings of love, countless, I have clearly kept
bottled up,
bubble up
in my sleep to break me come the morning.

Mortality Salience

the thing about all this good faith
and blind faith and peering through periscopes to avoid face-ons is that
we’re all afraid to die

why else would we
build up
next steps and greater goods and gods and
lose out on a beautiful whole

what could be better than flawless
in the arms of mr creator
in the throes of a cleansing
in a final solution

it takes a few moments to sink in
so far down is the sea floor, but
when our toes touch it
electricity jolts
our cardiovascular thumbs
awake for two thousand and eighteen seconds
how long is that?
before the shroud falls over our eyes again
and once more, once more I am afraid to die like all of you

and so build holographic lies
and reach for something and wish it were there when i know
it is not
to build good, blind faith
to blind them, to blind everyone

asympathy

You come back, your face scratched off
and pus dripping down your neck and ask
for what? For kisses on your fingertips
to ease the rage that wrapped them around her neck?

These snaps, these claws on your back –
She screeched to wake the neighbours, you said.
It’s my house, you said. What could I do?

My ears ring for you, but you will not have my tears again
when your stories make my hands shake and
I thank everything those knives weren’t mine.

I have grown up now, I can see in the dark.
Don’t kid yourself:
no sick woman baits where there are no sharks.