Friday, 28 January 2011

Read poems from 'The Space Beyond'

Not Young

Today, perhaps you woke to find
that overnight
all this old stuff −
until now just gradually gaining ground −
had put on a spurt,
entirely engulfed your muscles,
lagged your bones.
You nursed a brain
slumped heavy in its skull,
old and tired.
Your crabbed old feet, leather
in leather, set about
their tired old path.
The day waxed
old before its time.
Even the sun looked every one
of its four and a half billion years,
heaving wanly up the sky.
Maybe you reflected
that someone as old as you
should at least be wise,
all-seeing? All you see
is your long long life
tumbled like the chaos
in the wake of a tornado.
And blood welling
from hindsight
sharp
as a stiletto.

Skin

We don’t leave the light on any more
and we take it slow, tantric.

If you’re measuring pleasure
it’s the fingers these days which give

and take the most as they travel
the rollers and troughs of this

the largest organ.
Sixty-odd years since we two virgins

cast off together, startled and star-struck
by the newness of the other,

its alien complexities, its concaves
where convexities might be, its

unexpected hards and softs.
Now there’s untold solace in tracing

the progress of each sag and crease
when, as if to dope a biplane,

the hand smoothes and varnishes
places where skin fits over bone,

or it animates flesh hanging
folded like the wasted wings of the moa.

No more the fervour of discovery −
it’s the same secret island

only, a simoom is blowing, dry
and dusty, re-forming contours

into a comfortable approximation
of how the land once used to lie.

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