LEAF EULOGY

There is no shame in undressing

But I can’t help feeling

If the trees had teeth they’d be gritted

Down to the gums

As the cold licks them clean.

I’ve been thinking a lot about hurricanes

People and possessions and cars

Torn away on unknown currents

Houses buckling and spilling their contents. Exorcisms

Everything gone with one sweep of tide

pollution spat into a swirl of Godawful senselessness.

How our losses end up in landfills or tangles of wheezing gulls and turtles.

Our impermanence fossilised in plastic

Junk that we’ve buried in the frenzy of squirrels

Knowing the winter will starve us

Knowing as we wait on the roofs of our lot,

No one has sent the boats or helicopters for us.

And wood, wood knows how to rot,

Even rock doesn’t know how to let the tide

Scape it so smooth.

If we could lose our bones like beachwood

If we could slip out of our hair and teeth

And ability and family and homes

The way trees release their leaves

Rot that smells so sweet

Ripe with pips and seed

The concrete filling live

With curled spirits

of bugs and frogs and mushrooms and mice and

I never learned how to conker

All these tiny losses

Mouse curved and twitching all over with whiskers,

Skin dried to bird’s-chest fineness,

Tail loose with sleep,

Frost at its nose,

So brittle you can see skeleton

Too fine to be bone

What will be left of you?

Not even a pip at the centre, not even stone.

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BED HEADS.

I turn over to you restless, fingertips at your jaw

I’ve been waiting on you, I’ve been all on my own

and I think you know.

 

The sun has crawled into bed with us,

seeping into our clothes

wrapping her arms around the smalls of our backs-

and I’ll give each day of my life

for that familiar nose, field of pollen specks

and the way it nuzzles the warmth of my neck.

 

Snowed in, I nudge at the covers avalanching you

wake you like lightning in Arizona

hitting deserts, fingers feathered out

like the hours that you licked tenderly from my face

lifting up my head like the wilted sunflowers-

darling they broke me.

 

This generation gave birth to machines

manufactured dreams suscitated with thumbs

an art collective, and we’re just two bed heads

two fuzzy bums keeping out the cold.

I FELT THE EARTH SHAKE- BEN ZAMO

It’s okay; we can both take the blame

I’ll take on most ‘cause you don’t need that again

But your frown remains

Determined that my being around means I’m kinder

Means I’m caring

And I suppose you’re not wrong

I just dare not think of the reality:

You lacking sleep

Unpacking memories in a rented apartment

Playing Tetris with your feelings

As though squeezing your eyes closed will make them disappear

Your ceiling feels like it’s getting lower

And you’re slower to respond

I don’t think much of what’s going on

You’re just-        distracted

That’s it

I think it’s a little bit of both of our faults

Because I didn’t realise you were still scratching love letters into her front door

Slumped

The cold floor numbing your bones

Vaguely hoping she’s not home soon

I just want to be there to tell you it’s ‘Alright!’

Hold tight

Pull your weighted body home

Pretend I don’t notice how you change with the moon

I’ll ready myself to take your hand

Turn it over

Pick out the splinters as my stomach churns

Learns all the ways you wish you could change her mind

And your eyes spill secrets

Hitched breaths

Turned head to hide them

I’m not blind

Still, I don’t ask you the ‘why’s that have been hiding in my mouth

My lips can’t quite pronounce them

When you’re sending me thank yous in your Halliwell smiles

Insisting I’m kinder than

I am

A blessing of poor decisions

I kiss away the dampness on your cheeks

Use the saltiness to soothe my chapped lips and hiss

Your body shakes the bed

Tries to break away

Struggling to catch your breath

Pushing me-

Back

The attack of memories still plaguing blue

And you

Somehow apologising

Still crying

And I’m prying at fingertips

Apologies kissed in pink welts on my wrist

I-

Had a hollow heart when empty arms held me

Couldn’t breathe

And like I wished my mum’s arms were hers

I know you wish these lips weren’t mine

Even as you remind yourself that time will change things

And I’m scared because I wanted to prove that some people stay

But I’ve never known a pain that makes the Earth shake.

 

Ben Zamo 

 

DEATH’S DIETARY REQUIREMENTS

The eggs I haven’t the heart to crack

Lie dusty under my childhood bed

Where neglect was beautiful

 

In recent beds

Death curls at my sleeping feet

The imaginary friend

I forgot to love

Forced-feedings of sweaty traumas

He refuses to digest

But coughs up like hairballs-

Lumps of coal as dense as holes.

 

I forgot He loved me

As Baba Yaga loved the stars

She reeled in for dinner

 

I forgot because of Pulse

Because of the girl they found

At the bottom of my road

I mistook Him for drones

And gas leaks

And television static

 

I forgot dawn, I’m sorry Death-

I forgot your sunshine tenderness

A breath against my ear

As I nudged an eyeless badger stiff from the road,

Stood in a mountaintop plague of flying ants

And wetted my hands

To carry a toad’s sopping chill

From a palace ruins

 

There’s always a fat golden centre

A nucleus of warmth that almost is-

The sweating hands in mittens knitted

With trigger fingers.

The yolks

Unformed chicks slick with newness

 

I should have fed these to Death,

Spirits curled yellow and malted

Fried up for breakfast

(To show I knew there were maggots in his bedsheets too,

Mushrooms and dried blood and bone)

I should have cracked them against his fleshless chest

Like kisses against His intangibility

And let their stringy spill slip

Heavy into His swirls of absence

Splitting and merging

He could cradle them

And whisper welcome home.

GIRL WITH THE DULL DEER EYES.

I opened up my chest

ear to the low-frequency

tender as tenderness goes

wool soft and bird-boned.

If only we had read the signs

girl with the dull deer eyes-

I caught your head first heart

sunken in like the rain.

The evening it dissolves

this dwelling feels a little the same-

Ghosts prefer the chance of you

but this home is needing you

as I, your candid stillness.

We walk in the sun’s demise

girl with the dull deer eyes-

feet drag along smashed bulbs

that know the same hunger

deep where the light reaches them.

I opened up my chest-

it’s been stitched shut

by your implacable sweetness

cupped desire

we held up to the sun like water.

MIGRATION.

I fold the night around me

and I wake up in my bed of molten blue

beneath the shade of the Banyan

as I sniff the last patches of sunlight you sat in

where sometimes the light settled on you like pollen.

I’m here in your Supernova wake

thinking that the brightness will keep you safe, here

and the wind vehemently pushes the cotton sheet

running canyon along my back-

I can only think that your hands are strong

when mine are spent ripping tokens overdue

from the earth by the handful.

I fold the night around me

and I wake looking for some benign truth

as to why the earth was much bigger when I was four

when every day was forever and people like you

were blown like kisses to the stars.

I often wonder if gravity only keeps me here

or whether you’ve found yourself a better place

migrating, instinctually inside the cupboard or the sheets

so you can go in there to hide.

HABITUAL ISLANDER.

I do not know her now

but in between I do, somehow

pearlescent moon, title of traveller

far flung from her orbit

onto greensand, shifting shades-

little sea reveller with graffitied arms

habitual islander

pulling apart with the currents

tendons afloat, wide sargasso

torn ritually from bird skulls.

Hands sifting, searching

for love in the spaces of pumice

but it was just wet sand.