Lists of Words We Have (poems from old notebooks, September 2008)

There are lists of words we have,
implacable, stained at their edges
with the dust of silk roads
to the distant yellows of forgotten linen,
the pale, dry stamens of saffron,
or the patinas of old ivory cue balls,
but gray at their centres
as sodden bone ash spilled behind a kiln
when the potter hurried to fire
a soft-paste porcelain pitcher
with an involute spout closed at the end
and tubular as the lumen of the brain stem
through which our word lists loop,
implacable as blood through
the open systems of vein and artery and gut,
across hours and years of hunger and deferral,
through the cerebellum, cerebral cortex,
amygdala and hippocampus
to become memories and wishes
and harden into habit.

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Another Night Done

Weaving home through crowds—
another night done in this
bagsticker July
below clouds like torn, piss-stained
sheets under the turnt up moon

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Where Prime Ministers and Other Pricks

I am, it turns out, a misanthrope,
And, though I don’t wish you all a rope
Around the neck with a lovely knot
Tucked behind the ear, I’ve often thought
A scaffold—black with ravens and crows,
Where a white dancer dangles his toes,
Percussion knock knock knocking in his knees
While he jangles his bones on the evening breeze—
Should stand on a hill above broken bricks
Tumbled in strews down towards a strand
Where prime ministers and other pricks
Are buried up to their chins in sand
As a spring tide rolls in, cold and green,
And the rising moon finds me still, serene.

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After a Hurricane

The tide green and full in the harbour,
the contrary remaining winds stipple
the taut swell like skin after a shiver.
More rain and lightning in the forecast;
the clouds still thick and dark in the west
with a chance of thinning towards morning.
Maybe through them we’ll glimpse the slender moon
foundering at dawn—if we’re not busy
as usual ignoring each other
by then, heads turned opposite on pillows,
nothing left in our larynges but rasps
after a night of talking feelings
instead of facts. Or maybe I’ll step out
and listen to the crows grieving the moon.

Posted in Art is lies, Consciousness, Epistemology, Harbour, John MacKenzie, Memory, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Sonnet, Summer, The Brain, The Moon, The Rain, The Sea, The Sky, The Wind | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


The sea sorting sand grains
by size and shape
into this beach we walk on.

The wind gathering loose
grains into high,
slow-cresting waves behind us.

The sun’s photons warming
wind and water,
the complex swirl of currents.

Matter’s slow compression
over eons
from gas and dust into stars.

The clench of gravity
driving fusion
in stars until they explode.

The drifting of atoms
to molecules;
oxygen, hydrogen, ice.

And molecules chaining
into proteins
and amino acids—cells.

The division of cells
into blood, flesh,
and the firm, round fact of us.

The pulses of current
through our axons
and dendrites—decision trees.

The syntax that brings us
here (and patterns
our faint footprints in the sand).


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Afternoon, by the Government Buildings

At the edge of a bench,
elbows on restless knees,
is it you in the park with your head down,
amongst dandelions gone to seed?

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Down Here By The Water (Crack Open That Goddamn Tequila)

The moon rises over the harbour
The wind grows heavy with salt.
Mars is a pebble thrown at the sky,
Rusty as the dreams we forgot.

Slow decline down here by the water
Watching the tides ebb and swell,
Blood on our lips from biting our tongues
While being told we’re living well

(Tell it to rosebuds cracking open,
Birthing petals out of pain,
And weaving jesus crowns from the thorns—
Our messiahs are salt and rain).

Crack open that goddamn tequila—
It’s the last bottle we got.
Look, the pale lemon moon is rising
And the wind will kiss it with salt.

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