Water (so a ragman told us) finds its level,
by cut, channel, dyke, drain, delve, drill,
and drole; the fields bree to the banks, held
by alder and loosestrife; the burgher fixes a
lade by concrete where once the soft ground
fell into billabong. A demon reads this and
fills in every letter O. There’s no reason to
disbelieve the ragman: “Culvert,” he added,
“every schoolgirl knows that one.” From the
top of the bus you can see the sand martins’
restlessness, they skim the wall and leave.
The sky insists that it will wear a
coat even if you don’t; it’s impossible
to fault a sky for this, and it seems
effrontery to ignore such passive-
aggressiveness; that is to say, if it’s
the sky’s only expression at the time.
A bridge is the pique of folk who
won’t get their feet wet, and the moon
looks down on them, in many senses.
“A constellation set in a quincunx is
only a sleight of perspective after all.”
An old man without a hat is prey to
the sun, but only as the untidy acrobat
crows sidle upon roadkill in a quadrille
that mocks courtship display, that kind
of prey, the kind that upsets a child’s
concentration. Rainbows and dragons
feature in an exact equality of legends.
Background hiss is called sky-noise.
Follow a cartoon series long enough,
turning to that page in your favourite
newspaper, and you will see this: the
protagonist, now a solitude of rage, is
drawn crowned with a thundercloud.
The further adventures
of Schrödinger’s cat,
having escaped from the
box: a lesson learned at
midnight is forgotten by
morning. Light is air, air
is light. There is a castle
whose name is Wonderful,
whose stairways are many,
and whose rooms are hung
with narrative tapestry;
there is also a daytime
street along which laptops
are hawked, and “Brother,
I know which scene I’d put
my hand in the bucket for!”
The walk from the dock to
the city centre is one mile,
measured at one pace per
second; you pass a place
of flowers. Moon is air.
The faces of the children
in the skate park (your
attention was attracted by
the roaring of bearings)
are joyful but mimic grief,
are momentary but mimic
hours, youthful but mimic
age; gestures (especially
the one tipping up his board
with his toes, resting a hand
on his hip, looking down rapt
at his little rectangle of light
(air) which he caresses with
a thumb) are casual but mimic
the deliberation of statuary;
they belong, as pieces belong,
to the chessboard courtyard
of the castle, where subtle
magnets move them, such is
their familiarity to the caress
of forces they don’t recognise
yet and music they catch on
the breeze (perhaps drifting
out of an open car window).
The cat, out of the box now,
exploits its existence/non-
existence to the full, finding
the window of opportunity
open/closed. Moon is light
(except on days when she’s
a beige penny, bouncing on
the old UHF antennas and
caught briefly in the corner
of your gaze). Possibly the
city is sleeping when it is at
its most active, everyone,
even those most savvy at all
things current, forgets that
each garden once had its own
patch of kale. Life is feuhold.
The children are the many-
armed form of Vishnu. Listen!
The leaves make a sistrum
you can (sometimes) hear
above the traffic the rattle
of dry litter reaching its way
along the foot of the wall
makes a flapping prayer-flag.
2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, arguably the inventor of the domestic novel. Critics point out that Austen appears to have been almost totally blind to the existence of servants in her fictional world. This is much more of an explanation that you’re ever likely to get from me!
Not hearing the words, the refrigerator hummed to itself, its grey seal with a slight thumbtip of discolouration or stain vibrating but maintaining an airtightness; the hum was a C; the song was of butter, cheese, milk, Icelandic yoghurt, the dance that leftovers had made in a hot pan now a scape of stilled molecules, supermarket grapes and sliced chicken, an open carton of Tropicana in the double-darkness of which a meniscus trembled and rippled finely to that steady music, that background drone, scallions inert but ready to tang when taken out and bitten into. A day had steadily climbed. The heat of the argument escaped through the back of the machine, where this white good was black, the product of vapour compression; and yet everything about the unit was still, standing by, potential. Rivalled sentiment ranked the inertia. Counter to the hum, every sequestered produce sambaed a millimetre to the right at the prompt of a thump on the nearby melamine surface, the promise of use brief. Token. Meanwhile, a room away that it couldn’t measure, the tumble-dryer stood at half-maw, anticipating, its space a womb. Each appliance had been inched into its measured slot, and now hid secrets, dirt lodged in a random alphabet of its own; the filter of the tumble-dryer was long due a clean-out, the fridge a de-frosting; the rage implied but not spoken. As it happened, neither floor was precisely level, a cylinder or a sphere set free would surely roll. The dryer-hatch, at shin height, accepted a passing nudge. Closing hard in emphasis, the back door presented its stained interior and shivered, its pane of frosted glass was the affordance of crying eyes, its exterior stoic to the elements, but the reverberation of the jamb and the surrounding plasterboard was (soon, by a second’s brevity alone) muted and dampened, the rest of the fabric forbidding sympathetic motion. What if there had been a creation of light inside the refrigerator? What if a half-bottle of over-chilled Rosé, to cool its colour-sister’s anger, had been exiled? A day had steadily climbed, and all those witnesses remained at their alert.