Weekly Poem #202

People Watching

 

Expressions without words, faces contorting,
Some semblance of emotion, untethered from context,
Lively, fluid muscles, shaping canyons and valleys
Stretching outward and inward again and again,
As if manipulated by some massive, calamitous storm.
Pick a direction and follow it, stay still
Or get caught in the middle, shuffling aimless, perplexed.
Crusted minds cracking as they bash into each other,
Glued like mites to circular silken highways,
Firing out signals, taking on water, negotiating,
And scanning for a line of best fit, somewhere in the tangle.
Only questioning it in those quiet, solitary moments,
When you watch the rest of them going past,
And try to figure out how it ends, or where you fit in.

Weekly Poem #186

Thoughts Tumble

 

When the mind meanders towards thoughts of death, it halts, it shunts,

Like a pilgrim ambling between flowing dunes and coming to face a towering wall,

A black obsidian slab stretching out to touch the horizon from opposite sites,

An unknowably ancient obstacle, speaking to him, telling him to venture no further.

How can one thread of thought, however harrowing, carve our culture so deeply,

Draw the blood of all our ancestors and send it rippling out to the furthest corners

To pool in the hollows it finds, settle there, and slowly ferment, and stagnate.

You try to imagine the way the universe began, an explosion of pure existence

Snapping out from darkness, like the storm of white bubbles set loose by a breaching whale,

Or the burst of light as a fork of lightning whips down from the raging heavens.

You stare out into nothingness, feeling your heartbeat and knowing the tank will one day empty,

But there’s no way to know what that’s going to feel like, or what lurks on the other side.

‘Nothing’, some say, ‘everything’, say others, ‘judgement’, say some. A chorus of blind leadership.

Living life based on the outcome of the endgame is like raising a child just to see it disappear,

Or watching a kite catch the swelling wind and waiting anxiously for it to fall back down.

So we hide those thoughts, we let them tumble away and fizzle to nothing in our stomaches,

We drown them out with prayers and hymns and drum beats and numbing potions

Because those are the questions we can’t answer, and the unknown haunts our steps.

We stare out into the cosmos holding back the maddening attempts to comprehend,

Clinging to theories and fantasies rather than accepting that we are hurtling through a mystery

Which we will never really solve, whatever leviathans float out there in the gloom,

So colossal that they drift past galactic clouds of dust, so far beyond us

That the very notion of their existence would tear a human cortex to neat little shreds,

They are no closer to these answers than we, because these answers do not exist.

Our touchstones of time, gravity, the self, the meaning and the questions and the answers,

They all fade away when you yield to the infinite, or to the coming end.

When the mind meanders towards death, it halts, it shunts,

But when the body goes with it, they soften together, and open up to it.

Weekly Poem #149

Backwards Compatible

 

A canyon of perfect, chiseled angles,

Flush with a deep, artificial glow

As generators hum beneath the worked earth.

Information fires along grids,

Bouncing, breakneck backchatter,

Cradling the pulse of this lively, lifeless world.

Veins of collected wires quiver, wormlike,

Glassed flowers gather the dwindling sunlight

And all is balanced, all is balanced.

Somewhere, deep in the catacombs,

Something new stirs, something unbound.

As the land ventilates in numeric swells,

A heartbeat sounds for the first time.

Blood feels its way through fresh arteries,

An eyelid opens and thoughts are unshackled.

This world, built of technology, devoid of architect,

Has birthed a living being.

The need is unclear, the want is shrouded,

But this will change everything,

One can not exist without the other,

But neither can they work together.

The second is destined to destroy the first.

Weekly Poem #144

Bugs

 

An invasive scuttle across a naked collarbone,

A slick, sticking dangle of wicked, woven silk

Or the minuscule clicking of a creeping carapace.

It’s nightmare fuel, a primordial smorgasbord

Of ancient fears, beds of bites so venomous

That your eyes will bubble from your skull

And your remains will be sucked dry

Like an apricot left to rot in the desert sun.

It’s an expired dread, a needless nervousness

So tightly woven into our genetic tapestry

That we still flee, flail, squeal and recoil

At the sight of something that’s at the mercy

Of our big toe, or a particularly potent exhale.

Is it true fear? It’s buoyed by a careful curiosity,

No matter how hard or heartily you hate,

You can’t help but observe them

As they buzz, bustle and rustle about,

Lives unencumbered by emotional weights.

There’s an alien world existing beneath us,

Cutthroat and cloying, but balletically fractal.

Dancers, artisans, singers and aerobats,

Imbued with small-scale superpowers.

We can’t be distanced from it, it’s all around us

And without it our world would slip into death.

Do we fear them because they pose us some threat?

Or because we know that we’ll always need them,

But they don’t need us.

 

Weekly Poem #124

Crustacean King

 

Gentle rain chatters across the material world.

Heavy deluge reduces rock pool to chaos.

A targeted air strike thunders down rhythmically

As windy wisps stir up the surface tension.

Shrimps and shells slam into rising stone boundaries

And stardust twists and dances in the soupy air.

The king is tied down to his throne of elephant bones

With his eyes tucked carefully behind his heavy crown.

Disturbed sand stirs up subterranean dwellers

And pushes them into the dancing circle, unwilling.

Court jesters hurled into a heaving hell,

Their limbs torn away and set flailing into the abyss.

Searchlights evaporate in the gathering, malicious murk

Which devours light and spits out the fraying shreds.

The king’s court of translucent microbes and worms

Not evolved enough to comprehend a firm foothold.

They become part of the storm, resigned to the whirl

As the world sheds its outline, and life starts to spill.

Weekly Poem #108

Steelworks

 

Dead metal is more alive than us,

Rust is a pulse, it’s a chemical reaction.

The old skeletons of early industry

Will tell stories that haunt and harrow.

 

When the canvasses and carcasses

Are rolled away like rotting astroturf

Only steel, iron and copper will remain.

It will map legacies, it will trap souls.

 

Take a walking tour of a movie set

Touted as a city and have a closer look.

The glass panels and paving slabs

That will not survive a strong tide.

 

There’s an attraction in desolation,

An alluring romance to a long-dead landscape

Where we once ruled, but eroded away.

A camouflaged courtyard where gazelles graze.

 

Why are we so obsessed with our end?

Our lingering departure into otherness?

We see a frail, despairing footprint ahead,

But this Earth will be beautiful after us.

 

Picture industrial districts alive with lichen,

Panthers stalking between storage units

And the climbers claiming waning streetlamps.

Picture what we can never achieve.

 

What legacy do you want to leave behind?

No pharaoh will ever outlast the Nile.

No blade can carve a curve in time,

So take a step back, smile and exhale.

 

Weekly Poem #102

Icicles

 

Something knocked against the back of my eye,

Some world-ending firestorm decades into the distance.

Fastened into my cocoon, I could reach it, if I chose to.

Cracked, warped clocks were little more than stepping stones.

I was beyond death, now, beyond the mitigation of mortality.

 

Something blared and bolted through my ears.

Some rusted, redundant alarm from one of the cargo bays,

Worn and wearied with days and months and dust and icicles.

None of it mattered anymore, the ship was a loose definition for momentum,

A shell for windows, a carcass for a living, wanting, wandering host.

 

Something rattled past my lips and settled on my tongue.

A historic hint of saturated air, nestled in amongst the stale sterility.

It evoked ballrooms, banquets and the honeyed breath of beauty.

All of it distant, none of it relevant, faded into a world I didn’t belong to,

At least not anymore, the wider universe was my banquet now.

 

Something crawled up my nostrils and settled there.

It was difficult to place, like an important memory fogged by a repetitive setting.

Some part of me wanted to rise and search for it, but centuries held me.

Centuries of binding in the embrace of my space-age throne

Wavering past nebulae and clusters of blooming solar systems.

 

Something pricked my pale, pining skin, something felt wrong.

A mind flooded with concepts and wide, wise notions but still empty,

Still devoid of some key component to catalyze the scattered wonder.

The pricking, the future icicle snaking down my granite cheek,

The knowledge that coldly faded into the abyss of the alone.

Weekly Poem #94

Fulcrum Fifteen

 

This poem is not for you.

 

I was all of ten

When the fireworks failed

Over the Thames.

Flanked by hope and heart

Heading to a centennial of new starts.

One decade decayed,

Another divided and here we are.

Aching spine, damaged desk and doubled-doubt.

A five word introduction to stasis,

Seven months on it still stings

Like citric acid on a deep, lasting paper cut.

All of 23 and suddenly a family stone,

My father reeling from a stroke,

My mother battling through suicidal depression

And me, right in the middle of it all.

Picking up the scattered shards

Of a secure life, a life that made sense.

Now I’m stood on the precipice of the one-five.

Nine months away from a quarter-century

With a crippling, blackened fog in my eyes.

Shouting statements of new beginnings

But failing to hear them resonate or reverberate.

Some demonic innervision of the current routine

Rewinding and repeating until I’m sucked dry,

A pile of ash sitting brittle for want of kindling

Until a sighing, loveless breeze ushers it offstage.

It’s up to me to resist the dejection, to deflect it.

It’s up to me to take my life back, to reclaim it.

Not so long ago I had no path, no heading

And my ambitions of writing seemed so distant

But now I have hundreds of articles behind me,

A prominence, a recognition and a way forward.

I have to use it, I’ve been churning up a current

Like a breaching leviathan and now I have to swim.

Every debilitating dog day, every lost day

Spent surrendering to aggressive boredom

Wondering when it will end but never standing up to it

Will be rectified, I’m going to change everything.

It might sound cliched to affix new beginnings to a new year

But I need them now more than I ever have.

I’m done hibernating, I’m done with dissatisfaction and envy.

I’m done with hiding from progress and cursing chaos.

This is the year that I siphon and sap every ounce of strength from,

The one that I hurl against barriers and breach them.

No more fucking around, no more complaining, no more hypothesis.

Just hyperbole, cutting through the thicket and setting it alight

Like those fireworks were meant to set the Thames ablaze.

I will succeed where they failed, I will capitalize, rise and supersize.

My family needs me and I need me, more than ever before.

I won’t disappoint them, I won’t disappoint myself.

 

This poem is for me.

Weekly Poem #71

Soft Eyes

 

You could live to be ten thousand,

Combing libraries and archives

And the paintings in caves of distant lands

But it’s something you’ll never find.

 

You could study, bend and shape.

Travel from beach to bank to harbor,

But there’s no shortcut, no new way

To understand how to be a father.

 

This world never wanted much from me

And I never offered much at the altar.

But there’s a beautiful boy with human needs,

Needs that mean I can no longer falter.

 

I can’t see myself reflected in his eyes,

His steps are out of time with mine.

But I’ll count his rhythms, oh I’ll try;

Then one day perhaps we’ll dance in time.

 

This spent, worn husk that carries my name

Has no soul within to fill the void.

It exists for him and through my pain

I’ll make a life for my perfect boy.

Weekly Poem #68

Reflection Rejection

 

Somewhere down the line dancing got sadder

As the beats sped up we lost our grip on the ladder

And now we shiver back and forth, bitten by an adder.

We’re all twitching and itching like we’re on a full bladder.

I could be madder, but the rave has sucked shades

From my name and face and I can’t fervently fight the fade

Or fake a smile when my brain is stained with ingrained

Disdain and strain, it wanes, wilts until it spills

Out of my gills like the ink I didn’t mean to knock over with the quill.

I’m ill, I’m ailing and I can hear my innards complaining

A pain that was ordained by a diet of shame

Force fed to me by flashing lights and endless nights

That would even grip Marguerite Chopin too tight,

It’s a blight to indulge into these artificial delights

Until age bites and burns and shatters and spurns

As it finally takes its turn to help you learn.

You can lie through you mouth and eyes but not your bones

And goodness knows that entropy takes what it’s owed.

Time flows, grows and tiptoes up your spine

With designs to start making your climb

Ever higher hills that can’t be cured with booze and pills

Or any other cheap thrill that might flush your frills

Because you’ve had your fill, you’re done,

You’ve had your fun and now you’re searching for the sun

At the tip of a this final tongue, this real-life Logan’s Run

Have you won? Find out, peer over the precipice

And measure it as you gaze back on the line you stitched,

Did you pleasure it, leisure it? You better have treasured it

Because it was a mountain from the bottom, from the top it’s a pit.

Jump.

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