The Realisation

As a child you used to play an odd little game:

                        When the ball came your way you wouldn’t pass
                        But rather would sit brooding over it
                        As if it were an egg, or an abyss
                        It was your function to impregnate

Until at length you realised that play
Is just a preparation for
Necessary labour, art
A way of coping with sexual frustration—

                        (Johnson asking Reynolds was he not concerned
                        About the physical longevity of his oeuvre:
                        ‘Ever considered painting on copper
                        Or steel?)

And as is so often the case with me

            Signs are mistaken for signs, samsara
            Is not nirvana; and here’s a giant golden-yellow prow
            That sinks out of the deracinated earth
            In the opposite direction to the one
            I’m travelling in
            As housing estates give way to paddocks

            The people have come back here all
            Too recently, bearing seedlings
            By way of apology, which they install
            Like candles in little wind protectors

The Contest Winner

A cult without a leader, creed, tax
Exemption or uniform but
Winner nonetheless of the contest culminating
An ecumenical religious festival
Where each has its booth
And devotees compete in sculpting
With a kind of sweet paste, like halva or marzipan
Death masks, the winner to be determined
By resemblance to the person chosen by lot
At midnight for sacrifice
But where you escape to
The curtains are of painted canvas
The lead actor hilariously fitting
On the balsawood boards
(A model not of any aircraft but
Of heaven itself), at twilight
Chewing through a spoon as if it were
Of the same material
For he was fool enough to plug in the home-made
Electrical device his father had bequeathed him
Intended to call back the age of Saturn
This brother of yours

Vanity of Vanuatu

A spinster who thinks her house is clean and tidy
Blind to what she can’t see

Her own adolescent poltergeist
Hanging about her

At the point of departure
Packing her bags either side of the Pacific


When the firing threshold was reached
Brain-chemicals scurrying about on all-fours

The object in front kept getting
Bigger and bigger

Like a pregnant woman or a train
That can’t stop ‘not taking customers’


            The suitcase snaps shut
            In your head, with you inside it
            And you come to
            Looking up at carpoxylon leaves
            Synthetic a priori in number
            Cross the portal like the sun
            With you in the same spot you’d swear

But from where I am standing looking up at them floating
In air they are foreshortened
To a singularity, and it seems
As if they have no body and nobody

Ironic Consolation

A blind and broken-headed spider
Caught in a folded leaf
A child fearlessly pressed
Skitters still, while, visible
Through the darker of that mock-cocoon’s two ends
Someone who should know better
Sits down in a cafe to eat a meal they bought elsewhere
The thick, anonymous white bowl
Having broken into symmetrical shards
Like a piecrust, in his backpack
Now filled with an unpalatable mess
And out of pity the offender
Is not chased off. While on the high street
Traffic is stopped
By an onrush of feral pedigree dogs—
Too late to save the youngest, their leader
Who, having had his hind legs crushed
Soon ceases sobbing and commences laughing at
The prospect of having those legs replaced with wheels