Lost Lines

Lines delicately traced,
like a sketch by Toulouse-Lautrec;

all colour & movement, sweeping angles
tangled into a lie more real than the truth:

who is that person now?

What do they dream about?

That the past is forever lost
is the only proof we have that it existed*,

but the City,
the City stays standing:

poisonous giant always reneging
on its promise to keep us safe.

Just as memories will disappear
so too will the city
& all those within it & all those yet to come.

Even the light will die in time
& nothing will remain of the elegant lines;
not yours or mine.

Our strange gift is to know this
& then try

to accept it.

* J.M. Coetzee

The Myth

In the beginning
                there were two Lovers & one Mother.

The Lovers believed in her dreams & she
believed that memory hides like
                                shadows in light,
like death in life.

The Lovers soon decided that
they wanted pretty lies
                                &,
equating beauty with simplicity,
demanded a story explaining everything.

So the Mother told them
that songbirds never remain in cages
without dreams of escaping;

                                that agape love
is a concept only a virgin could conceive of,
because rejection is integral
to all romance;

                                that others
must be sacrificed to indifference
or love means nothing; fabric stretched too thin
always tears apart at the seams.

The Lovers rejected this:
                                they wanted comforting,
to believe in their selflessness
& inherent goodness.

So they ignored the Mother, searched
for a new teacher & found the Father.

The Father took the little songbirds &
plucked out all their feathers;
broke their necks
to make them
appreciate
                                the sky,

& refused to answer any questions

including “why?”.

Writing

You want to put the barrel of the gun in their mouth,
to stop the noise drowning the music out;

in thrall to the curvatures described by birds in flight
& feelings inscribed in nameless street lights.

You want a language defiant of time:

                                    indelible lines,
chords of memory
                                    transcendental & sublime,

the contingencies of life unified
into one
        single

                song.

You want what you cannot have:

an abstract/visceral expression of all that

unknowable,
                                    ephemeral

sound enclosed within bones
where the brain sits
& compels you to this
                                    futile release:

the fading gaze of a caged beast,

never the same as its first raw moment
of existence.  

This is how we live now (if you were born after 1984)

Expensive mistakes made to wait
for the cancelled screening of lost futures.

                            Never mind,
just watch the trailer;

sentence brought forward for bad behaviour,
particular particulates chosen
                            for both air & water.

Which method of suicide would you like?

No need for haste,
we have a decade to waste first,
                            & anyway
the decision was already taken
from us.

We just failed to notice.

                ****

Desperate times & desperate measures,
insanity as reflex against insanity;

                            a litany
of clichés & new prescriptions
for yet more medication.

Don't question
the efficacy, or the necessity
or the cause,

just take what you're given & be grateful
someone is pretending to listen.

This is how our problems are solved now…

                ****

Pull out the roots & the flower wont grow,
just like weeds won't;
                            to consider
weeds to be as beautiful as flowers,
is to consider the power of words
to change the world.

To hold contradictory thoughts,
                            is to survive
& thrive, like weeds become flowers.

To speak of flowers is to disappear
into the ideas of others but this
is consistent with the insistence that
                            nothing can be
new until it's too late:

words no longer matter on the page.

Now only screens change the world
& dreams are as useless as a pearl necklace,
draped around the neck.

                ****

Those of us for whom the drugs don't work
are told to focus
                on the small things
& ignore the world dying
all around us.

So:

crouch down to a round, purple flower,
notice the green-tipped wing of a butterfly
upon it.

Reach for the phone as reflex
                to take a photograph,
& watch as

the butterfly
flickers away…

Pathétique

For days I’ve said only
half of what I did and didn’t want to say,

& did all that I do every day:

tried to escape.

I don’t know what I’m doing anymore
& escape makes such a mess on the floor.

Maybe one day I’ll make a decision
I won’t regret again
        & again
            & again:

always the same,
always failing to stand up to myself
& forgetting
to hide from the scaring knowledge

that all things are pretence
yet everything is true…

but I’m lying to you
            again.

I have no pain
just a feeling of constant nausea
& all the talk of trying to escape

is just a way
to plead for sympathy;

pathetic, really,

            isn’t it?