“another one,” I smack with my vowels
the balding head of the leprechaun of a bartender
the clown with his false smile and polished baritone
of friendliness, he pours me my Guinness;
he’s a… well, you know the type, a youngish fellow
who when no one’s looking turns away from the bar
and reads Spinoza’s “Ethics,” out of that naive belief
that there’s something philosophy can teach us,
or more likely, just to impress the glances of arts students
who come here Tuesdays for half-price drinks

I mull over the black coldness of the glass,
the shapely smell of french fries gurgles around
and for sure there is talking in our midst
but who would notice words;
the Heat have won (buzzer-beater), and the only man who cared
just went to the bathroom
and all is merry
it’s life to be lived
with no obligations to us, who live it
and a smattering of thinking, only allowed behind the bar

air torn in half by amber angels
no less real than
a burned finger.

pure as laughter, time’s debtor
the knot of flame
will pass with the very first caress of draft.

A solid tear formed from its exertions
comes to rest not very far from the ground.

See how we stand together, calmness rising,

lanterns carrying it to trees and eyes

grass breathing, stormclouds fading, and inaction

sweetens mood of the moment.

 

Cool music of the evening rings ascetic,

a skulking cat’s soft step, and flimsy prose

leaving our mouths sometimes, sparing and floating

smoothly endangers nought.

 

Brisk flow of understatements, thoughts unwhispered

emergent and insistent, peach and straw

of sun and sunrays, swimming past the vision

that colours us a smile.

I hate the mirrors of the world, held up to my face screaming

20-year-old poets, schoolfriends with PhDs from Cambridge

One, even a journalist whiz-kid, reminding of that dumb dumb ticking of seconds

That rise like mould on the substance of youth

Already pretty much cemented by the time.

The world forgets me, is “sorry”, knows “that

This letter is sure to come as a disappointment for me” but

“the calibre of applicants was outstanding this year” and

“the competition stiff”. “Many of high-quality”

Have been left stranded on the self-erected island of hope

While the banner and the crest were quietly rolled down.

 

There comes eventually calmness in failure, that allows at least

Enjoyment of things which otherwise would only be

Of weak sentimental significance, like

A comment under your blog post with a new poem

An understanding of a difficult passage by Habermas

20lb less on the bathroom scale,

A sip of red wine, so nice, at this price!

A sight of the sea, at last.

 

Disappointment is too quaint a word

To do justice to that rot, which gets pushed back

By happy trifles, that sets mellifluously on

The dulled consciousness. Relief is so frustrating

In its fickleness.

Casually swept past the orange flame, father’s call in tow,

Lung, tooth and nail, a swirl of air sweet to the taste.

A god who gave you this smile, the man who gave you this

Scrap of godliness that sent your soul grinning.

In this world, it all ended well. All sweat and exhaustion

Breeding the silent current of survival, disappointment,

Borne patiently by brown earth and water.

Where, only where, the eye can fall,

So the heart does not rend.

 

This poem has been submitted to this week’s short story slam.

Had there been thunderstorms?

.

No, but there had been dreams

.

April rolls its laughter of light, enabling

The world to announce itself, bursting

Cocoons of consciousness woven by a practiced blacksmith

Who then decides to let

Coldly sweet thighs of women

Turn black streets of England into a pinacotheca

.

And there was a flowered procession

(June set the imperial scene, as if the day were Corpus Christi)

To a perspicuous fountain

Our coalescing presences withstood

Lingering dogs, heel-minted petals,

Our breaths (which were the beating of our wings)

Purified of the sacred distance

Foretold

Melancholy torpedoes of this rain

.

Our bodies held to account

A dazed forgetfulness of grass

After that our entwinement was easy

Our ecstasies sung by beautiful prescient poets

And in my hand I then felt

A soft shape of attentive Summer

.

There had been thunderstorms, I know

But there must have been dreams