The weeks constrict, pythons around my ribs,
under which the turbid valves of the heart
pump on with blind certainty.
Dreams of flapping wings outside windows.
A nest of telephone calls, letters, deposits,
routines in which I can submerge peacefully
and integrate with process, a limbed machine
conferring golden fries, cigarettes, tins of ointment.
Money is running out. No more dappled coffees, queuing with confident secretaries,
agency workers, neutered parakeets blinking in light.
In the engine room, plans are hammered,
pounded, blunted under blind iron
by agents with invisible hands, by necessity.
I do not want to know of life denied,
love cankered, ratty days, autumn grit on tired streets, sparrows tumbling in the cold wind.
Collecting myself with effort,
I use dead time to scan the creamy newspaper.
Everywhere is the code of violence.
Clotted blood. Broken bottles. A leaf storm of receipts
before the money machines of K Road.
Shouting and percussive, a Saturday night street is a cyclonic eye of thrusting fists
and fish eyed munters on the piss, deadly serious.
We avoid it. We avoid the blank gaze of dawdling homeboys.
We avoid long haired men with ruined faces and grubby suits.
We avoid smiling evangelists and devotees of Lord Krishna.
We avoid them all, and concentrate on our table, our jars of beer.
There was a commotion outside the window.
A million people arrived overnight and moved swiftly
to assemble petrol stations, delicatessens and strip joints.
Signs point everywhere you cannot go.
I think of the past to hold myself down.
There are more products than you can imagine.
Throttled streets lined with plates of black ice.
I sift endless papers that rustle with a faded sound.
Nicotine eyes watch from doorways
and stare without relief. Houses are pulverized
by hornet-painted demons.
There have been twenty nights of inexplicable terror
and black shapes twirling fire in the avenues,
banging on walls, screaming cats and violent pauses
between days and nights and days.
Everyone wears the same inscrutable mask.
The rain allows escape when we drive onwards
down the tributaries of the Underworld.
From Ambient Terror
She was shifting form, encircling and seamless,
swirling from moment to moment without apparent sense,
with sudden violence and traitorous appetites,
with knowing persistence, with perpetual conviction.
He was locked within a severe carapace,
contained by ancient heat, never acknowledging her lightness,
nor her storms that could last for nights and nights,
an urgent magnet tearing up within –
and they met and congealed,
constantly, never apart,
withdrawing and falling together,
until it is impossible to tell whether they are one, or two,
or many, submerged and unconscious,
their adversarial stances, their mixture and admixture,
of opaque, flickering jade,
of sullen, crooked shoulder,
of broken earth and quickening currents,
as encirclement stills anarchic hands,
as encirclement dissolves their torn faces
to dancing infinities.