Epitaphs for a New Century

1.

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.

2.

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.


3.

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.

 

4.

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.

 

5.

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.


6.

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.