00000000a bacon sandwich on the kitchen table,
a message in ketchup beneath its upper rung of bread.
00000000In which I swallow whole the note and never know it’s there.
I spell I’m sorry with sodden clothes, with smiling too long and flower stems,
sorry on my mistakes, all of them, as they are happening.
00000000Poem in which my mother is maddened, not disappointed.
00000000Poem in which all my mothers are maddened: the old ladies
smoking at bus stops, scanning bacon and bread loaves at Tesco,
under flapping umbrellas in King’s Cross and High Barnet. Poem in which
I forget my umbrella, am not a failure and my mothers,
all of them, are pretty and called Margaret.
00000000In which the rain spells their name on me
and dry patches of escarpment.
if it’s not winter but it feels like it / we wear
ourselves out to get into it
an elbow caught where the neck goes
spices not to taste but they dry
what would otherwise rot – what’s left
of sweetened tea & cinnamon sticks
a bowl of grains in wool. a breastplate
of oats rolled from one pit
to the other / the grammar that only holds us
so that we don’t know we’re held
the tight swirl of red, a clump
is the heart / a sweat before the sun’s up
although it’s been said many times
many ways / what’s left of all of us
is the base / the grain
that we season out
windows before roof,
heart over mitts.
And wilfully missing the point.
And a making a wave
in the wrong direction.
And courting burn-up, an aviatrix dropping
bombs in soft air.
Leagues away, he is cutting out shapes,
passing them round.
I take it
he is also at stake,
in the cool part of the house.
And I laugh at myself without much
of him to laugh through.
Lakes of him aside, this is what I pretend
to much prefer: the volcanic heart pump,
plane like a lute
likely to flame.
ghost flutter wing reflex
fist ripples in stoma/ch/asm
expectant in autumn air
rolling black backf/lip/ids
nocturnal spinning in which
a fairground is a waiting room
summer day flash flood
polka dot oil slick
heavy feathers treacle beak
in which the words are stuck
darkness rotates in/voluntary waltz
Ultimately does it matter if the pearls are real
or not? The earth is a pearl, blinding and flawed
nestled inside the mollusc of the Milky Way.
Do you prefer your pearls cultured in the art
of oology, or simply coated in fish scales?
Check if you must, where would I start to look
for your realness? By prodding your cheeks
perhaps, holding your eyes against the light,
taking a sample of your speech for testing,
cataloguing evidence of feeling in your tone.
SOMETIMES WE LIKE TO FORGET OURSELVES
IN THE DARK DEEP SPACE OF CINEMAS OR
SOMETHING SEEN OUT OF THE CORNER
OF A MIRROR AND WE REHEARSE A FEW
LITTLE LINES LIKE A MYNAH BIRD – WHOSE
OWN TOOTLING IS FORGOTTEN
AMONGST THE SUSHI CONVEYER BELT OF PHRASES
EACH SO NUTRITIOUS AND RAW PACKAGED
DELICIOUSLY ON RED BLUE YELLOW
PLATES – ONLY REMEMBERING THE QUESTIONS
ASKED OF IT IS JACK A GOOD BOY WHAT SOUND
DOES A DOG MAKE WHO IS SO PRETTY RIGHT NOW
AS THE CAGE GROWS DARK WITH THE SHADOW
THE OWNER CASTS IT CHIRPS BACK JACK JACK
GOOD DOG GOOD DOG WOOF WOOF WOOF
there is a silence
the silence is a quotation
the quotation is from Agamemnon, a play written in 458 B.C.E.
the play is about a woman murdering a man
the woman’s murder is predicted by another woman: a mad woman
the mad woman will not be silent, she remembers
the remembering happens to everyone except the man who is murdered: he has forgotten
the forgotten thing is:
And on her lovely mouth—
to check the cry that would have cursed his house—
he fixed a bridle.…
for she used to sing to them around her father’s table,
blessing their libation in her pure girl’s voice—
what happened then I did not see and cannot tell.
the telling is done by Anne Carson, two and a half centuries after the silencing
the silencing is a curse, and is full of curses
the curse is these lines, spoken ten years after the man murders his daughter; a thousand lines later, the knife falls on him, the one he raised on his daughter
the daughter is alive in the silence
the silence is the poem