Epitaphs for a New Century
on the count of GO run for your life.
apply elevated heels for a better view
and remember no-one tips the gallows.
in television county ancient stones
weigh us down. the axe cools beside
new recipes for double-butter muffins.
rise from the armchair to hear agony
creak. nothing exists beyond the bridge
of your nose. minutes refined by sand.
anchoresses in limousines. old trades.
flesh money. from spiders under glass
to backbone tumours—shared breath—
enough for a pulse in the rough houses.
behind thick red smoke the informants
appear proud as parents at a home plate—
each wears a silver watch on his left hand.
mirrorlicker. you snooze you win.
a loud selfie to cure worrywarts.
the dust particulates. no tallying
the bodycount. scene in Damascene.
hearse ears. silence is a threshold.
the buzzfeed echoes like hills—
who wouldn’t want to be counted out.
two slats fell from the roof last night
almighty crashes. inner-hymns.
what else is there to write about.
flowers in vases. chain-link fences.
how summer grasses drink the rain.
so much for shovelling up shadow.
on Which Poet Are You I got Walcott.
corvine skeletons in frosted tents.
package secrecy of the mail queue.
take a tree but it won’t water the apple.
build cities from mud and culture with
money. death counts beyond numbers.
outside The Spastics’ Society a white goat
chained and puerile tries to lick its own
arsehole. air was the cleanest weapon
of all. woof goes the one-eyed century.
nailed to wounds and in barrack-shadow
the kid chewing chole sells old postcards.
ideodeities for the tourist’s hands that
dance as if attacked by hornets—to ask
—how much will it cost to get you out
of my face? the unholy cow is butchered
the markets emblemize life and there’s
no friendlier way to sacrifice chickens.
pay up or put up and know your place.
milk drains off and friendships creak
with the past like an old bullock cart.
the dream of the cobbler possesses me.
Duchamp in Acheron or Dostoyevsky
in London—we want to live in the sea
that is not our home. no patron saints
only laser-eyed community directors.
the kids are turning into chrysalides.
work—wrekan—meant to persecute.
its variant wreaked. robots of rabota
love not sleep lest you come to poverty.
the man our village calls Polish Mick
trembles curtains and twitches the whip.
it’s action that makes a community.
the good shoe will fit like a readymade.
what cannot be sold to us is fog-logic.
aquariums dance well not the fish.
winter early this year and so much
bad weather as if it were between us.
why is it some painters suffer more
when painting breezes while others
can hear seeds clicking in a field.
Van Gogh’s sunned orchard beside
tile cats laving in late afternoons.
Shostakovich suckerpunched by the 14th
same as for Nietzsche patting stirrups.
activist or terrorist but do not blemish
the human canvas. be still and spectral
as woodsmoke or grubby as old jokes.
like the one where Guy Fawkes laughs
at his own funeral—the most honest man
who would ever set foot in parliament.
girl among the hawthorns wait for me.
the bluebells are speaking in Spanish.
let’s clear the table for a game of cards.
forgetfulness devours. thunder is luck.
there’s always more kindling to burn—
stave off the heat by closing shutters.
practice the disclosure of photographs.
in the bright fields we have shat upon
in the boiled-down effigies of nature
open-air aviaries. blood on hessian.
what does it mean to return to a native
place. pennants of memory. a river.
family trees still logjam the Goree
caste fishermen steady up spears.
so much for the redemption of Libra
rising. the hidden filigrees of gold.