October 31st 2021

Lines Supposedly Written Avril 14th

As the day’s edges appear

to slope outward or away, 

we’re beginning to talk past each other.

“The only difference between ‘jet suit’

and ‘Jesuit’ is a question of technique

on how best to ascend”, you say.

In lofty beams, infidel bunches

of boysenberries are beginning to go 

ripe inside the megachurch.

Something thrown is cutting

a wake through a window.

“An orchard is quite like a brain.”

Today, for the first time, you both

‘heard of’ and ‘heard’ a peal of bells,

the terms modulate, attack, release, decay.

I follow you through: every room 

of a Bruce Nauman retrospective;

a ribcage of pews; a sheet of laser

making a canopy over our heads

at an Aphex gig near some docks;

a conversation over pianos.

We’re beginning to talk past each other,

to slope outward, or away,

as the day’s edges appear.

October 30th 2021

and throw your face through your face

– Graham Foust

Cancel every meeting with the sky.

Forward all my calls to the colour-

field. I’ll be staying in the abstract, today.

It’s time to claim to fail to climb

out from the depths of my mouth. Let the oat

milk curdle. Forget to freeze the halibut.

Regret is finding the rub of the truth that even

hitting backspace simply sends you to the future,

a newer blankness filling with almost exactly

what went before. Now I’m receding into now

regret’s this week’s worst hangover, a pain like fireworks

through mud, like trying to throw your face through your face

or the boiling veins in your eyeballs. Still, what we do

here’s the stuff of gods. The roots are also the cosmos.

October 29th 2021

Are you still watching? The screen going blank to save

itself, or cutting cold to a red-brick maze?

You can only live so long before you hurt,

at least, a fly, only long so long

before you’ve slept in every room of longing

’s curious house, which generates its corners

more the more you try to turn them. Sleep

mode overcomes me, haunted by the next episode,

my future queued in stacks like postcards sent

before untimely death (the only kind), arriving after

over what appears to be that “It”

that nobody won’t shut up about. Anyway,

if anyone’s still watching, I go blank

to save myself, let the autoplay ride.

October 28th 2021

You can learn a lot about yourself

by your relationship to rain, what

you use to interrupt it. Palm, tongue,

or jerrycan. Crown, rib, or eyeball.

Strychnine local waters lapping loosely

in the font begins the beachside funeral.

Over by the buffet, forcing meat

between my teeth, I bump into a guy

who says, as rain tattoos the sand, buddy,

you’ve gotta forget what death does to a face – 

mouth folding like a shattering zeppelin,

eyes like an oval of sky fizzed with flame

then greyer than fog in front of rotten temples – 

if you wanna continue to look at the living.

October 27th 2021

I bumped into another autumn morning. Ouch.

I admit it, I was looking over my shoulder

then over another shoulder, then over there

at where something has just vanished from the sky

like Poussin adding pigment to remove

a flock of pigeons from beyond a citadel,

painting, therefore, aftermath itself.

Like long-exposure prints of rivers, every

painting is a painting of an after,

the present moment streaming into history

behind the canvas like inks in fast water.

I run my throbbing head beneath the tap

and think, does ‘me’ begin at skin

or some other, further cloud.

October 26th 2021

Is a grounded group of birds a flock,

still, or is their recognition based

on leaving lakes behind? Is a toast

a prayer to drink, a prayer a toast to God?

I know as I sit here that somewhere there dies a boy

in a street, his mouth filling up with leaves.

I know when I leave here my blood will transform a cup 

in the mouths of my friends. I know I’ll never know

quite how or when to say goodbye,

but hope it’s known, in general, that I wanted to.

Towards the end of vast and massy chains

I am, I think, responsible for dim

and spacious griefs. Forgive me. Cancel Christmas

if it helps, swap my soul (goodbye) for thine.

October 25th 2021

Open onto morning like a blister

– line removed for use in a different poem

The days like grains on grains don’t heap.

A moorhen’s summons calls us to the mornings 

of our cells. A suburb of children with scoopnets

in fists disturb the throats of frogs. Frogs throw

their voice with a sound like wet glockenspiels.

Bernadette Mayer writes a duck

flies away / using circles. By

the end of this line, you’ll have a new memory

of wanting to feel the way you felt the day

you wore your first uniform for school.

By the end of this line, you’ll have a new

memory, a new memory of the previous 

line. A kid throws crumb, then crumbs, then the whole

bagel at a duck, using circles to give the world flight.

October 24th 2021

The days like grains on grains don’t heap

– line removed for use in a different poem

Open onto morning like a blister,

biscuits of light covering either eye

like cucumbers in a cartoon spa, I turn to be

unable to see your blinded face for sun.

The mathematic edges of the calendar

solve into the number of how many towels

we can set to going dry on the bannister,

whether or not the cat’s saliva dropped 

like chaos into my coffee, its pattern of heat

coiling into my palms. 

If love is not 

enough, perhaps it is that every day

we wipe away each other’s gunky sleep

from the ampoule-shaped ducts of our eyes,

then take it in turns to do the same for the cat.

October 23rd 2021

after RJCB


Because the poem can’t decide for us

if winter’s yet begun

because the future marshals us with gestures

learned before we’re born

because everything I’ve said could fit inside

an ampoule of ice of your spit


because “we are not in the same place”

because “the subject is unaware of our presence”

because I turned away before the clouds completely occluded

because I’m looking through between two windows to where I’m sat

because it might not happen only

because it already has


because the poem decides all this for us

you obviously have my permission to do this.

Note: the lines “we are not in the same place” and “the subject is unaware of our presence” were spoken by, I think, the popular Dutch artist Casper Faassen, a slick and polished Art Fair favourite who nevertheless summed up this idea nicely enough. The poem as a whole is a response to a better poem written by Rowland Bagnall.

October 22nd 2021

The things of winter lurch into your path.

Some branches paw agog the space that’s grown

an emptiness between them. Foxes sniff

the fibreglass on undersides of cars,

a knife of wind in either nostril, limbs

about to clutch into a scrabbled exit.

The air is only cooling, can’t quite get

cool. There aren’t the peals of bells beyond.

Again, I’m looking through a bay window

at the outside of a window set 

into the same wall. To be clear,

the bay protrudes enough for me to see

back into the room in which I sit

ignoring the foxes, the lack of the sound of bells.