Title: New Poems

BLADE

 

I could really cut it,
that ice-rink sheet of white,
arms out, finely balanced on a knife edge,
one leg out-stretched, poised.
I’d scratch up the figures: the six,
the eight, the difficult double three.
I was chopping up numbers
like a massacre, digging my iron heel
into the centre spot and gouging
its red eye into a mush of blood.
My enthusiasm was my trainer’s despair.
When she wasn’t looking
I’d graduate to words.
Not odes, but etched obscenities
which I’d then wipe out, angled back
like the steel of a Jack-plane,
shaving the skin off the ice
in a shower of slush, leaving it
rough as my Father’s stubble
or the chafed paper my school-work
ended up as, rubbered to death.
The speed-stop was my speciality.
I’d screech to the wood, spraying
ice like sparks off a grindstone or 
Hokusai’s Wave, swamping the barriers.
Figure skating: It was my Mother’s fear
that got me there. Worrying that
her little boy had got weak ankles.
But I didn’t care. I was going
to slice up the world.

 


ROADKILL

 

The animal
has come apart from itself
where the wilderness
crops up short at its containment;
where the straight route has cut
through the entangled wood.
Set type     flat as a template,
and all articulation arrested.
Feet that held to the road
in the sudden headlight are now
rigidly oblique to the touch of tarmac.
The moon, with its embezzled light,
reveals her  ­­   a creature all
spelled out. The vowels of entrails;
the consonants of teeth and claws;
small syllables of bone
burst out under pressure.
A meaning, of sorts.

 

 

RESURFACING

 

A metallic rasp rises through the trees.

 

The wood answers to the new sound, bird
by bird, attentive to any unfamiliar call.

 

As if broadcasting giant seed
something is sowing gravel in the oakland drive.

 

The alarm is spread through interlace of leaves
above where the sea-shingle is being shifted

 

wave on wave. Each quadrant of sound,
like the splash of a scythe, overlaps,

 

and the the birds respond to every shovel load

 

 

STICKING PLASTER

 

At the dissection, it was not the cracked thorax
split open, like a beetle, between
the flat grey folds of her breasts:
Not this which stuck. Nor
the cindered lungs, cut from the trachea,
scooped on a steel dish, awaiting the knife
like a turkey dinner; withered,
Siamese-twinned, joined at the throat.
It was the patch of Band-Aid on her brow.
Livid pink, puckered on the grey gathers
of her skin, water-warped; the only
gainsay of her nakedness.
As if the corpse sat up,
it made her a person again. Just such
a hint of her history as its tiny acreage
could bring, stuck in my throat,
made me pause the scalpel.
Here was a woman who, before her final fall
into the canal, had battered herself
against a wall, or into someone else’s fist,
and who had been patched up.
Some neighbour, passing stranger,
charity worker in a day centre, or perhaps
herself, had shown, in this plastic patch,
a small gesture of concern. Somehow,
between respect and distaste, the morticians
washing the body had left it on, as if
it somehow plastered over that join
we do not wish to contemplate.
An anatomy specimen with a past
becomes as incongruous as a foetus with stains
of nicotine or scars, repulsively human
at an inappropriate time.
I picked at its peeling edges with a scalpel,
Its adhesive outline still emphasised in grime.
Still fixed. The only water-resisting thing
they hooked from the canal.

 


READY IN ADVANCE

 

                  Out of the front door
Not forgetting to lock it behind me.
                  Down the stone steps
Taking care not to fall on that loose flag I never mended.
                  Past the garage
Where I shall collect a spade along the way.
                  Over the wide road
Not looking to left or right.
                  Jumping the ditch
Whether it be in winter or summer
                  Along the path through the wood
Where spiders hunt, and once I saw a glow-worm.
                  Up through the rocks
Where one can hear the distant factories but cannot see them.
                  Up to the base of the waterfall
Where, in the event of world breakdown,
                  I shall bury this poem
And a photo of you, in a tin box
                  Two feet down,

And mark it with a stone.