Arc light

When they come to tell the story
they will say that they could still smell ozone in the air,
could still hear thunder drumming all around
when the captain asked your name,
held the raw of your hands in his
and said make two fists,
then breathe out slow
and let go.

They’ll tell it that they found you smoking,
arms outstretched and rigour locked,
feet bootless on the deck,
eyes pinned to a sky still sparking
blue against the black, the mast above you
split and splintered black, smouldering
and weeping smoke into the night.

They’ll say the storm had risen in the east,
its belly growing fat then full of drums and fire
as it folded in towards the ship, and speak of how,
at the storm-sail call, you made it halfway
up the mast to unknot a stuck and twisting line
before the sky lit up in fire.

They’ll talk of how the sky pressed its face to yours
and threw you down,
left you baptised in electrons,
burnt the shadow of a crucifix into your chest
and left a tuft of hair still smouldering.

They’ll cross themselves, then pour another shot
and speak of revelation as they recall your mouth,
yawning like the earth, singing up the dead,
a pale blue flame wicked up on your tongue,
translating the binary of lightning,
some message from the sky.

We are the song of sparrows
hurling themselves through glass.
We are the sound of axes
swung at something brass.

Fall (II)

IMAG0131 (2)

Another quick little example from the verse novel draft that I’m getting close to finishing up. Enjoy!

I see you now, crouched beside her in the sand,
explaining the slow cosmology of endings,
as she, my only light,
plucks from flotsam at the waterline
a starfish, carried in by night, discarded by the sky,
cast to sea and washed ashore as common as the tide

Perhaps, this ceaseless grey,
this rising, ashen quiet
is the coming of an end to things,
and we, the orphaned notes of a song now fading out,

If so, then perhaps a pact between
the water and the shore could yet be made,
brokered by this light that sings between us,
the ocean of you, calling all my bones,
now casting up a starfish,
as an echo of a sky
that birthed such a light as this,
a light that lashes me to shore,
that stills and sures the ache of me
when all reason says to turn to sea
and go.

We, such stuff as dreams are made

it’s true sometimes,
a day     will end like this:

the river swelling as the tide
                    comes in,
the sun slouching down
           below the ridgeline,
light unstitching the horizon.

the shadow of a hunting hawk
spiralling a thread of air
          above the headland,
waves singing quiet through the water,
      golden light    washing your hands.

your daughter carrying
a bucket full of shells she plucked
         from the lowtide line,
     she’ll spill like jewels
across your palm,

and you,     for once with no desire
to weight these things with any
       meaning but their own,
for once with nothing 
                 in your head but
                         thank you.

Some lost and broken thing

Two interesting things happened this week: a whale beached itself on the Gold Coast and the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers got even more horrifying.

***

some lost and broken thing

the whale, thrown off course,
a compass no doubt spinning in its skull,
came ashore in the night.

its belly, fat and heavy with myth,
bottomed out against a sandbank,
then hauled itself, fat on grief,
into the shallows, and waited
as the tide fell away beneath it.

in stranger days than this we might
have taken to the sand in celebration,
lit a pyre and hauled the beast above high water,
sunk a blade into the flank and carved the fat
in slabs, rendered blubber into lamp oil,
cut and cured the meat, carved totems
into bone and offered up the heart
to old Poseidon.

now we, so thoroughly enlightened,
so insistent on solidity of borders,
hang fences round our necks,
take those who’ve lost their way
or fled from something brute and full of teeth
and say ‘no dear, this is not your place.’

we turn the the lost about,
point them back towards the waves
from which they came
and declare the brace and rope
and chain we used to haul them out
the proof
             of our compassion.

when the ocean offers up a metaphor
we look anywhere but inward for meaning,
for the risen scrimshaw guilt,
the bloodied history written
in our bones and all our unpaid rent,
we tell ourselves everything can be forgotten,

that all history is palimpsest

unremembered as words written in sand, 
scraped by tide and draining out to the pacific:

“Here some lost and broken thing
tried to make its way to shore,
here we hurled it back to sea.”