How do you lose something you never had? That
perceived loss contains an imagined belonging that
contains an unacknowledged loss that is premised
upon a right to belong and the circles get narrower
and narrower until it reaches a point where both
grief and denial exist. Grief that there is denial and
denial of that grief. Is that how the earth drifts
through seasons? How the sky needs a dark cloud?
The ocean is the arbiter of all sorrow. Who owns
the shore that it leaves again and again? A bird
that loves the rain not knowing when it will come,
not knowing how long it will stay, learns twenty ways
to say the word drought. It sings of a remembered
rain. It sings of a forgotten rain. Birdsong, if you can
translate it, is the original dictionary of contradiction.
I say nothing. But nothing is not a vacuum.
Think of a very small number. A very big
zero. There are degrees of nothing, decimal
places with codes and guides. The sum of
several somethings, big little things, things
that cancel each other out. An empty theatre
is nothing. A moonless sky is nothing. You
see the equations slipping into the fault lines?
A poet dies. This too is nothing. A liberation
of being, negated by the poems that will
forever be shackled to an open window.
Waiting. For nothing. You ask if I am alright.
I say nothing. There are big things and little
things duelling for air. I make a list. I cancel a
list. Flutter. Fall. Say nothing. How are you, you
ask again. Maybe you are just being polite.
How long will you deny
teetering on the edge?
stories barely held together with
chewing gum and stolen tape:
broken beginnings mistaking
survival for choice
existing for life
‘moving on’ for dragging
one shackled foot
in front of the other
in front of the other…
What is more corrupt than
the false idiom of success?
When the finish-line is static
no matter where you start,
no matter how you start
there is still a race, still judgement
from the bleachers, still a winner?
The abyss is endless, terrifying.
I toss a little rock and watch it
disappear, face first.
What is the velocity of a falling dream?
How long will it fall before it finds wings
and floats away into the vacuum?
Winning is not relative.
Where is that dubious podium?
Where is my victory parade?
How long will you deny it?
At the very edge, you will
find detritus: gum, tape,
wing, impossibility, a shiny
medal no one
If that is all I learnt:
to see a storm and
draw a teacup around it
so I can feel safe
so I can stay calm
so I can be in control
if that is all I want now
if that is all I am now
then I don’t want
this growing up
Let me look that storm in the eye
Let me paint it bigger
so it swallows the horizon
Let me paint it louder
so it can match my scream
more anger, more anguish
more hyperbole, more
theatre of wet and light and dark
Let me chain that feckless moon that
slips in and out of the churn
Let me mock the heaving sky
that turns itself inside out
Let me feel the trembling
underbelly of the universe
Let me shatter your teacup
Let me steal all your boats
Let me be until I am
Let me be that storm
from you: bruise from bruise touch from touch
look up, cable tv and power lines
hold up our mottled sky
lies rise above that grid
so do prayers —
the more ridiculous among them
self-destructing at precise altitudes —
falling like ashes
like dead birds, fallen angels, limb from limb mouth from mouth
truth sinks, heavy,
corroding the body from the sole
somewhere in between
skin is washed
over and over
scrubbed like flint, causing fire,
the universe swirling, once, twice,
mixing in soap scum,
escaping down the drain, nothing from nothing
I think this can be heaven
neither lie nor truth
nor prayer nor filth
just a fucking bruise
you touch sometimes
so you can tell scream from scream hurt from hurt being from being