This circular symmetry of notes
Makes me think about kissing you.
Leaning down to your still sleeping face
To steal a gentle one before
I make my way out in to the world.
Angelically pale. Make up still wet.
Your lipstick tastes waxy
But sweet indeed from these lips.
The ghost of you keeps me company through the day,
Leaping from chair to chair like a child Avoiding imaginary lava or hissing snakes.
Peeking over my shoulder to see me write my name for the thousandth time
You push my hair back over my ear.
In your sleep you wrinkle your nose
And your fringe falls low over your eyes.
The circles of my days
Begin and end with you.
And at night I dream.
by Ted Hughes
With love so like fire they dared not
Let it out into strawy small talk;
With love so like a flood they dared not
Let out a trickle lest the whole crack,
These two sat speechlessly:
Pale cool tea in tea-cups chaperoned
Stillness, silence, the eyes
Where fire and flood strained.
by Nick Laird
Go home. I haven’t slept alone
in weeks and need to reach across
the sheets to find not warmth but loss.
The lack of which now sees me fat
and not content – by that I mean
I couldn’t manage either tough or kind.
Not fit to speak to man or beast,
I wouldn’t suffer you to see
the sight of me drawn inside-out,
which means the thing is being there.
Not here. If you knew enough you’d
know removed is how you’re loved.
Get up. Take yourself into the night.
Walk streets that lie against and cross
themselves to pray for shade, then light.
The blue screen is drowning me.
My mind flips like a fish
trying to breath in all this
The discontentment is feral.
It draws back its lips to snarl
and the teeth are sharp and dribbling,
the gums pink and flecked with bile.
The fear in this room, reeks and spreads
like wild fire. It laps up the walls and over
my head. My cheeks are flushed. I press them
against the milky coolness of your thighs.
How can someone, anyone sustain
such short breaths and such a wracking,
howling fear? “Lick your lips and calm yourself”
you say and, at last, the darkness fades.
In a Beautiful Country
– Kevin Prufer
A good way to fall in love
is to turn off the headlights
and drive very fast down dark roads.
Another way to fall in love
is to say they are only mints
and swallow them with a strong drink.
Then it is autumn in the body.
Your hands are cold.
Then it is winter and we are still at war.
The gold-haired girl is singing into your ear
about how we live in a beautiful country.
Snow sifts from the clouds
into your drink. It doesn’t matter about the war.
A good way to fall in love
is to close up the garage and turn the engine on,
then down you’ll fall through lovely mists
as a body might fall early one morning
from a high window into love. Love,
the broken glass. Love, the scissors
and the water basin. A good way to fall
is with a rope to catch you.
A good way is with something to drink
to help you march forward.
The gold-haired girl says, Don’t worry
about the armies, says, We live in a time
full of love. You’re thinking about this too much.
Slow down. Nothing bad will happen.
Do you remember that evening
That we spent at the beach,
All decked out in hats and coats
And brightly coloured scarves?
And you said that, right then,
You felt nothing like yourself.
So we traced other people’s footsteps
Trekking their paths in the sand;
People we maybe were or
Could have been somehow.
The pair of gloves
That I found in your car glove box,
Aptly named for once;
I still have them.
I just thought
You should know.
The glowing ember
Of your cigarette tip
Gives you away
As you lunge forwards
Out of the shadows
Of some waterside willow.
The glint of a blade
Catches the glow of
A streetlight and you
Bark some incoherent
Order or threat to me,
The releasing of valuables
Or something of that nature.
But I stare
If you had to,
Could you have
Used the knife?
Perhaps, to seperate
Some of the stubbly skin
Just below my jaw or, maybe,
To loosen the flabby midriff
And thrust up below the ribs.
Would you have lowered me gently,
Like someone bathing an infant,
To soak up the murky canal water
Like a human sponge, my face
Sleeping but blue and bloated?
Fortunately or not, we shall never know
As the horn of some passing houseboat
Unsettled you and you told me gruffly to
‘Fuck off’ and I made my move
Off into the night and towards home,
My heart beating like the hammers of hell.
Isn’t it funny
How time passes
And your oddly curving smile
Has replaced hers,
With a calming reassurity,
When I close my eyes.
Grief is a gift
from the gods.
They keep it
locked away in a cupboard
in the old woodshed out back.
But when it’s needed
they send the children out to fetch it.
They open the rose wood box
and fold back the crimson silk
and decant some small mess of it
into a glass vial for you
“Take. Drink this
This is yours.
This is the sum total of grief
that you have been allotted
for so short life.”
You choke down
the pitying ration
with all the tears
and sobs of a child
taking his medicine.
The sickly sweet,
even long after
you have nothing left
on each side of my head
and we stayed like that for
until the whole world fell away
and all that was left was the
soft blades of your fingers
entwined in my deepening brown hair.
I know you probably don’t
but I’m going to wait for you