SUBJECT

I often forget

The mirror isn’t camera

There’s a hacker under the lenses

Of my corneas

Shooting me paralysed and pickled in snapshots

Of someone else’s desire,

My own skin rendered a suit

I’d rather crawl free of like pupa.

 

There are a lot of things that send my vision spinning:

Deafening offences

By women

And the screamingly obvious ways we’ve gagged their honesty.

 

Men’s eyes catcalling behind their lids

How can a look be so loud

And the subject so silent?

When did we forget to look quietly?

Catch the softness of an afternoon in the garden

The unspoken amongst the leaves

The bare tangibility of an unmade face in the morning

TRIOP [EULOGY III]

Body serrated

The kind of monster you expect from a puddle

Leaf-like

So little time

Sift this temporary grounding through my gills

Tusked faeries hunting females

Toads rutting in the gloom

Eggs left in the dirt

Tadpoles grow legs

Crawl free

We are microscopic cannibals

Cloning ourselves, splitting in stress

Of the daylight death swelling

Above our heads

The choking that’s to come

That small, mud-born

Egg-sacked ghosts of ourselves

We will sleep until the rain falls

MONSTER

Let me read your palm little astronaut

You’re gonna outlive so many comets and stars

Let’s dig up dinosaur bones in the backyard

And lob tennis balls at prospective meteors

I’ll be the monster under your bed

‘Cos you make me feel giant

With all the motherly might of mountains.

I’ll always see myself as kinda frightful

Like a dragon in skin-costume

All scales and spikes

My tongue hungry and blue

I’ll eat you up for supper lovely

If you nick one more chip off my plate

I’ll make a necklace of all your baby teeth

 

I know why monsters keep children

Your sleep is time travel

You are my lonely history outgrown

My copy

Our matching genes linked like constellations above our sleeping heads

I’ll be a better monster than mine were

I won’t squeeze you too tight

I’ll let you sleep little caveman

I’ll let you gnaw at my wrists

And fight me with blankets

I’ll let you love me beyond my stitches

Love me like the velveteen rabbit

With the stuffing all knocked out of it

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.

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.