Elephant 2

By the time the cops finally arrived
to cordon off the scene
a crowd had gathered across the street

Old women in terry towelling dressing
gowns whose hair was
curled around the plastic fingers
of an ancient suburban cliche
stood and quietly clucked
while the pensive men stood
about in earnest, useless circles
of folded arms
and thongs

Some kids had started up
a noisy game of cricket in a driveway
but no one seemed to mind

Nobody had ever seen anything like it
much less heard a sound as morbid

It takes a great deal of force
to push a grand piano out
into the street
and then to swing an axe
clean through its spine
even as the strings held on
to life
and song
and keys were cast about
in splintered proof of an angry dread
that finally won out
and ended with broken legs and
steel strings strewn across a front yard

As the street began to fill with cops
and that high tensile macho
swagger that they bring
the morning power walkers
joined the gawkers
and the rubber necks

And no one even feigned objection
when the Wilson’s labradoodle
crept across and stole a splintered key
and scurried off
to see at last what dead elephant
tastes like

It’s unheard of
they said

It doesn’t seem real
they said

No one had ever murdered a piano
in the street like that

No one had ever murdered a piano
full stop

Elephant

You become accustomed to this,
this falling down sound,
this deathly, stately, crashing sound.

These days,
you are a piano hauling itself up
flights of stairs,
blocking fire escapes,
leaving sweaty shoulder prints on walls,
scraping your polished corners
and wheezing your way up towards
the topmost floor and
a room whose door you wouldn’t
fit through,
even if you made it.

When you finally slip
and play a doomsday sonata
all 30 stories down,
you are fucking angelic!

But,
you never sound as good
as when you finally hit the ground.

You get used to this sound.

Purposefully 2

Oh purpose,
look at all the holy ways we seek you.
We crowd ourselves in church and temple  and fill the singing air with pleas
that we might see your face.
We throw and are thrown over ocean to walk on well worn paths, 
to sit in shade of Bodhi Trees, to walk in seas of self round holy rock,
to weep at wailing wall and carry cross,
we stamp our feet in mud and dance to true dreadlock prophets. 

We look to our hands’ lines for signs of you,
but you are not in us.
We have dug you out.
So we look outward, 
to the inwards of others,
to find you.

We cast knuckle bone and tarot,
we break bone and read marrow,
we have cut steaming human hearts from chests,
and heads from necks and piled the grinning skulls in pyramids.
We climb these to be nearer to you.

Oh purpose

We stand on death for you. 
We cast about in our enemies’ guts searching for you,
we tear each other open to find your proof,
press steel to vein to see you drip from throat,
crush chests under treads of tanks to you see you bloom
like rose from bud, in blood from lungs,
you who are all things, you are our guns,
we load shotgun shells in the smoking chambers of your breaking heart
and rack your halo head. 
Our prayers are held in pistol grips and Hellfire fists
that swing on reaper wings
and swoop to bloom in fields of fire flowers, 
but we find no proof of you in the holy bones
of children we have buried.
We have dug you out of them.

Oh purpose, quiet your weeping,
we are looking for you.

Gush (For Olivia 2)

Your great grandmother sits with all the perfect poise of an orchestra,
pulling her arms across the empty air in front of her like a bow pulling across the
perfectly strung strings of a singing cello,
as you thumb jump plastic frogs across that same lawn
where I sat so many Sunday afternoons,
hearing the same singing stories that you hear now.
And today, the mouth of that river we scooped you out of
is gushing salt and story.

And the sky-
whipped white and perfect blue.

And today,
I remember when your great grandfather lay in that hospital bed,
his face an agony of waiting,
dragging his hands across his stomach,
those earthquaking hands that ripped him free of the earth,
his fingers catching on the cords
that strapped him in to his skin,
and while the morphine would have explained the shaking,
I am still convinced entirely that it was just his holy soul
breaking itself loose of its cage.
I know this because
when his quaking hand held your tiny dancing feet,
his fingers curling and folding like a blanket furling
about you,
he was still,
stiller than a stopped clock.
There’s no better reason to stay than you,
even for those who were promised that death,
is just a going back to god.
No one ever deserved a promise kept more than him.

I don’t know if you will remember these things,
so I will remember them for you.
I will wrap these stories round me like sheets and make my bones a torch.
When you are lost, take my spine and light me,
hold me in the dark like a lantern,
lift me to the night sky
and I will light your way back
through the black,
to here,
to the mouth of the river that
wept you out in gospel song and tears of perfect blue,
to the place where all of these words written,
across all of these shining skies,
are just complicated ways of saying,

I love you.

 

Audit This

When you find that you’ve become little more than
a maker and mover of well formatted pieces of paper.

When your creative days end
with endless data entry and you dream of
checkboxes carved into the cell walls of your skull.

When you find yourself staring at pile after pile
of heart breakingly white pages
outlining strategic visions,
facilitation plans,
and means of leveraging client relationships
                to generate positive, upward traction
                                in a dynamic market environment.

When all you hear at night in the echo chamber quiet
                is the fingernail scrape and squeal
                of a sharpie pen
                ticking off compliances
                                like seconds on a time bomb
                                                tick,
                                                                tick,
                                                                                tick,
                                                                                                boom.

When all of the beautiful miracle goop
of a mind
is poured out into the microsoft square moulds
of excel spreadsheets
and filed away in clean white spiral binders
                that no one, anywhere,
                for any reason, would ever want to open.

Then…

Then…

Go in early,
turn off the smoke alarm,
take a mouthful of metho,
hold a burning photocopier manual
in front of your face,
spit,
and be a fire breather again.

Shotgun Throat

We spent the day chasing cow and calf
from stands of nerve wracked scrub
and bent back trees with faces carved in bark
and drove them up to holding pen and crush.

And felt like we were doing something that meant something
to someone
or something.

You bent down to black dirt earth and plucked a loose shook root like a violin string and said: this is how the ground sings when you pull on its vocal chord.
Quiet and full of
bones.

That sun was brutal burning,
but we made no mind of putting cancers in our pockets like coins that were gonna spend us later
because we sure as shit looked at least like we knew what we were doing down there in the dirt.

I learnt that you can cut the horns out of cows with something that looks like a two handled ice cream scoop,
but to cut out angry takes a blade.
You can ear tag them,
and hole punch them,
and they’ll still get up and walk away,
spraying perfect red.

And I learnt that if you line up enough men who don’t really know how they got there and have them look all stern and earnest while the one who does wields a blade like a kite flier knifing through the dry, you can step back and they disappear into the dust lit light.

At the end of the day,
as the sun hit the ground and bled out,
you let the dogs in with the shadows and they snarled over the tangled pink
while inch long ants came to drag away the bloodied scraps of skin and skull and root of horn scooped out
and no one, not even Captain Kurtz,
balled up in the corner, rocking and sweating,
croaked a word about ‘the horror’.

We stank of blood and sweat and worse things.

I went to sleep that night
knowing that out in the black
wild dogs were licking the blood trails
and singing our bones from out their skins and down the hill to where they were waiting.

You probably slept quiet
and woke with the sun.
I slept like a cyclone
and woke with my throat full of shotguns.

Mighty Thumbnail

On the day the ground opened up and swallowed you whole,
some strange part of me wanted to reach inside that box to smooth my cracked hands across the beautiful  blue of  that suit I know
you took with you into the earth.
Wanted to see how they arranged your hands
and the shining silver halo light that always hung crooked but perfectly holy.

Whenever I stand at open graves,
I hold my breath,
and in my mind,
I jump.