“…poetry makes nothing happen: it survives” -W.H. Auden
A wish to kiss your eyelids &
the heavy weight of images
Guillotine quick & clean
in the most golden morning light
we’ve ever seen in our lives,
nothing but beauty would survive;
light without darkness means nothing,
so maybe joy needs suffering.
Is there even any memory you
would want to lose?
poem is impotent
& yet still it persists:
to take those heavy images
& leave you only with those that help you
what’s the price?
Suppose you lied, suppose
the scars bring you pride
because they display your fight against life
since there’s no shadow without light,
no death without life,
you fought life & death &
Suppose, suppose you
the question came as a surprise – why
not try to act like you don’t know
what made you
strip naked & run screaming
into the abandoned building
licking flakes of old paint from walls bleeding cold
petals on the floor lost to rot
ing & ignored, what
does the paint taste like, why
did you decide to stop when
the dirt-black sky
ran to hide from the bleeding sun that never dies?
suppose you only wanted to try & fall
suppose that you never meant it at all.
The track was carved too shallow to follow
but still remains & always will;
water warmer than blood & a bandage
of elastic bands & any paper
to be found proceeded by dreamless sleep.
In the morning a red-stained scene
of failure & a shame deeper
than the track that missed its path by an inch,
& lead instead to survival.
Weeks passed without a word
until, where the track ends
something was discovered
to be beautiful & trembling with life**,
in unknowing defiance of winter.
Then a morning came when
I awoke to the smell of your skin, &
that the journey would never be
until the time was right
& the endless night would arrive
in due time.
*New Dawn Fades – Joy Division
**Three Peaches – Neutral Milk Hotel
You have a favourite tree in this city,
& the one he hung himself from
is in the same public garden.
You took me there once:
we were drunk.
You climbed the trunk & sat on the branch
where he swung
for hours, years ago, until
the grounds-keeper found him in the morning.
& quit their job soon after.
He is always somewhere in your mind,
the memories you want desperately to survive
come flooding back to you sometimes
& the pain in your eyes is unbearable.
So much trauma.
you plant flowers at the base of the tree.
you despair as age reminds you again
just how young he was.
So much trauma.
I asked permission
& you let me sit on the branch with you.
Looking down on the ground,
every suicidal thought returned &
I realised I wasn't ready;
to lay beneath a cherry tree
& bleed, buried beneath fallen blossoms:
I wasn't ready then…
was your friend?
You asked me & the only answer
that I could find
was that some of us need more
than life can provide,
but we search
until the searching
becomes too much.