Dead letters

December 29, 2009

I thought

you would be everywhere,

in every hidden face

behind gold.

I thought

I would have to hold myself

against touching shoulders

to know the truth

of a turning stranger’s surprise.

But that is gone.

I knew you too well,

seen too often,

watched too many times

as you moved away.

I have stopped

looking for you

knowing that I will know

if you cross my path

and knowing

that if I do not see

it is not important now.

So much I did not see.

Now I stand,

shelf-stooped and spine-scanning,

an addict’s restless gaze,

seeing all and finding none.

On your shelves

or on your table,

a book of mine.

I want it back,

to read of course,

but more to unravel

the weave we once were,

knotted loose and useless.

We have become the memories,

unannounced and unwelcome.

They move too fast and too slow,

soul-blocking hazards.

Uncharted shallows

hidden in the waves.

A sea of those who mean nothing.

Will I learn one day

to see you coming

and sidestep smoothly ?

I already know.

I have read you once,

and need not again.


Return

August 27, 2009

Up here,

the boredom leaks through his gear

and the dust stops

its constant evolutionary battle

against his skin.

The cooler air

pushes web and pouch and pack

aside

and the turbines

drum the magic of flight

in subliminal statements

of mechanical fact

into his listening bones.

Banking over the drab squares

of desperate lives

divided by the stale and crumbling

grid of a worthless town

the sweat dries in the slipstream

and if he reaches out

he can feel the air gather itself

against his glove.

The innocence of a sandcastle

from here, but below,

the walls are cover and question.

The sweat and breath

of dashes to jam

a shoulder against the bricks

that separate life from life.

To sight along lines of fire

with weapons solid

and eyes aged

in concentration.

Waiting for the elongated second

when it all breaks away

and the boredom compresses

like a spring and leaps toward

the flat cracking noise

that draws the shoulder blades together

and ducks heads,

too late to change its destination.


Homecoming

August 26, 2009

The exile

shrugs his hometown back on

like an old jacket.

Hung unworn too long,

aging unused in the darkness

of living away.

Pockets full of changed memories,

the lining torn

and the life not lived

rubbing like a misplaced seam.


War baby

July 9, 2009

A war baby by choice,
but not your ragged terrified
road hugging, bombed, dirt faced
newsreel staggering refugee.
Not a many homed army brat,
with multiple schools of almost friends
and inconstant bedrooms
and fated participation.
I wanted war, technical seduction,
cheered black and white tanks
dust plumed and deadly
rolling across the fields of nineteen forty
long dead death dealers sitting straight,
propaganda valentines.
Watched parades and charges,
knew the enemy in his uniformed strength
and focussed fear and knew the attraction.
Played it too,
always the winner against
the younger brother nations
because history had left us clear on the score at least.
Behind our house the Golan Heights
were a meter high, grassy
and we rolled and shot and hit and lived to
fight other endless summer days.
In the ritually silenced news time living room
drab green machines quieted by voiceovers
jumped back from punched messages
that flew over desert and hill and
wrote history in flying stone and flame.
Or jungle expanded,
the slashing sleight of handfrom a deadly magician’s sleeve,
an earthward fleeing comma
punctuating with an instant ink blot
of obliteration.
I was a war child, and needed it,
until age sensitised
tough thoughts
and imagined hardness
and I felt the fleeing footsteps of fear
the unravelling edge of terror.
Now I watch, eyes trained and uncertain.


Forgotten

July 8, 2009

To stay forgotten

that is the test,

to not have memory

scratch,

the afternoon stubble of a morning shave

under a palm that wearily crosses the grain.

Or light,

floating before the closed eye.

Or handwriting,

calling with a voice and an accent and a tilt of the head

from a falling paper

in a book marked for reading.

To stay forgotten.


Gift

July 7, 2009

Some past poison,

dry and dead now,

while still corrupt

marked innocent eye and unwitting tongue.

Gifts are not what they are,

for I cannot take them freely.

Somewhere the taste remains.

There is always the lost second

between giving and receiving,

where I search for something,

a motive, trap, or misheard note

in friendship’s dance ?

Yet each gave, unique and rare,

unrecognised.

Now I run my fingers along memory’s shelves

and touch the keepsakes

left on my thoughts

by one lover after another.

Changes learned from another’s eye,

unwrapped afresh

when the effect fades

and perception echoes

a once familiar voice, unthanked.


Flight plan

July 5, 2009

Out over the patient ocean,

waiting for every pilot

is the circle

that maps his point of no return,

beyond which

the fuel that trembles in the tanks

will only carry him

and his craft

to a different end.

We fly further

no checklist

or manual,

nothing to tell

when the fatal point

passes under an innocent wing.

We fly on,

heedless navigators,

against all regulations,

waiting for the voice and the word

in the static of our hearts.