Advice for Grieving (delta)

wreck image

to cross a river at its mouth
            is a great though necessary risk
best carried out alone

            when beginning      make    plans to
            cross, not at the water’s slack
                       but on the ebb,

             wear     broad     soled     shoes
             pack     light       (if at all)
             carry hydrophobic metaphors
             in       mind

consider hollowing your bones
             if,
            stuck and stranded
as a whale among the mangroves,
            you flounder in your grief,
all slapping tail and
                           slumping lungs,

and keep in mind
you won’t have failed at all if you,
            weighted with your rocks,
sink in mud up to your knees,
            lose a sturdy pair of boots and fall
face down into the silt
            of this,
                                         your best attempt
at fording through your loneliness.

No, no, this matters, this matters as much as everything else, that doesn’t matter, matters

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I’ve never been particularly good at subtlety. Nor at the slow ‘ease into’. So let’s not be subtle nor try to ease into the message here. The message is this.

By end of February I will have a perfect bound, 120GSM Knight Linen two sided 56 pp ACTUAL BOOK printed with my name on the cover and my poems inside for you (if you feel like it) to get your hands on!

It’s a collaborative effort between myself and Chloe Callistemon, another local poet, whose work was short listed for the Shapcott prize in 2013 and was also Speedpoets call back of the year. Trust me, you’re gonna love it. We are getting towards the final stages of the project (negotiating with printers etc) and I am actually getting excited now as deadlines loom and the manuscript has come together.

I’m finding myself in an odd place creatively at the moment; as this project is nearing completion and another project is reaching a critical point in the drafting phase, I’m finding my writing is less spontaneous and more focused on refining and ‘corralling’ work rather than plucking it from wherever it comes. I’m also finding myself reflecting more often on what functions my writing fulfils for me, how it separates from and then reconnects back to my own subjectivity and how it has become both a means of being and a means of getting-in-the -way-of- being. More importantly, I’m finding myself trying to strategise as to how and where it will fit into the (so few) hours of the (so few) days of 2014.

And now here’s a poem (or three).

three examples of taking this thing too serious-like

1.

the street is imagined as an echo of dust
(how quaint) as chambered
rounds in your throat sit politely
and you wait for delivery

you busy yourself with drafts
multiplying and unfinished
as ballpoints in a drawer you fish
through when looking for something else

2.

you think perhaps this is how you will
lose the found parts of yourself
among old pens as ink
in you clogs then cracks as clay or concrete
grateful when rain comes at last
conducting earth out from under you

and it and that and this and you and everybody else
will all be always already entirely okay with it

you think of this
how it and you will feel on paper
as you become a small voice
lost in small voices

3.

you hear her as a note hurled up
three and a half feet tall
the only thing you wrote worth singing
la-la-la-ing her way down the hall

while you busy yourself in maps to something
of great purpose and something to call daring
hurling yourself back through your bones
she pulls a face and calls you silly
steals a pen and draws the world

Falling Back- after Cai Guo-Qiang

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how light the heart beneath a fallen tree,
how tightly clutched the stone,
how still around a lake (no swimming)
ringed with hand swept sand (keep off)
and bent and lapping beasts (don’t stroke)
and an aching bridge of wolves
all faux faux fur
and snarl
and leap
and crash
and turn
and leap again

and how,
when you asked me how my year had been,
were language more precise,
I would have rent the sky with powder burns
and said exactly what I meant.

If not by falling #1-3

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1.

You will follow the river upstream one morning,
pushing your barrowed bones against the pulse,

watch morning light press threads through clouds
to stitch across the waking water,

the sky above will turn from lead
to stone, then to phosphor streaked blue

and you will watch the river rise beneath
a body arcing now above and you will wonder

what it would mean, to love like that, to lift,
to be lifted by gravities against gravity

and you will feel so small, so accidental,
your sadness now, a pink guilt blushed indulgence.

2.

When I say to you the river speaks to me,
then I mean to say the river speaks to me

3.

and in its way moves always out around us,
swallows the limp limbed grief we pour in

and asks what use would I, a river, have for this
but accepts it still. And continues on,

having stripped the hills upstream of stone,
smoothing out rough metaphors

and pressing mountains out to seas.
You might throw yourself from a bridge one day,

to slap and burst against it, or walk into a
waiting deep, a stone to sink at last but you,

will go belly up and bloat as fat
as any other lost and lonely beast

and the river, all curve and tidal constants,
will only have you long enough to cast you off,

until your bones tangle in mangroves
or snag amongst the rocks,

are pulled apart by crabs
then ground to sand and lost.