“You forget whole years, and not necessarily the least important ones.”

—Javier Marías,The Dark Back of Time


 1. Hold On

 The song isn’t as loud
as you think it should be

It accompanies the road

You hear it in the rain

Hang on, even a cicada has got
its dream rhythm

That walks with you
through the door

After you’ve crossed the river
look back, it’s passed you

The notes trail

Its attributes are lies and truth
the clash of pasts


2. I’m Coming

I can’t give you any more
although the weir overflows

And here in my pockets
another flow

Of cellophane, an old musket
a slide rule, seed catalogues, powers

The river rises
in the hundred year flood

There’s something planetary
in the moan of levees

I lay my hands on
evidence changing gears

My logbook is full of
sneaky miles

The lie is of the tongue

And I would kiss you with it
when I come


3. Fields of Wheat

The hour is a vast frontier
moving into day.
In it I spent a year
and then a decade
moving you all around.

It was all down to
bad timing at a desk
the design of borders
a lack of motivation and petrol
and now the Russians have come
with gold lame g-strings
and a kind of unattractive
that beats queuing.

I know these are dreams of salvage
and dawn the rescue hour
climbing stairs into duties.
But the orders are confused
and nothing seems to grow.

I ask the Russians for true grain
and a giant sleigh
but it’s become too warm
and foghorns tumble.

It is each according to need
and the sun strikes up the band.


4. Bird on the Run

Somewhere the war
is outside my window
showing on a graph
and inevitable.

But I do not roar in pain

I am waiting for the birds
then I’ll know.
They are not a chorus.
They do not know
how to come home.
They no longer bear
the message.

Which is why

    I jump the sill
    I jump the rocket launcher. 

    I jump the map

and it bears me.

    Hear my wings!


5. Flesh and Spark

And when I came
to you
it was raining

We had to be covered
in something other
than ink-black night

The guitars had all drifted
in their boats
animals were nervous

If we don’t get access
there’s still
recall, its open moment

Along the curled map
of seeds
and their prices

Among the shot
the falling lead
and winged cartography

There, let us have
our doubts
we grave them secret skins 

Though covered
they tell flesh
and spark


6. Unusual

The air fills with
after rain on sandstone.

It’s unusual, and we must
speak it
this drought, this daring.

It will be fire.
It will be cord and rope.
We’ll sing it long.

The war wasn’t a lie.
The bombs dropped … so.
And near where you told me.

Trace it on the sheet
and this once
dream it on the beach.

Then outside awakened
again we walk in the depth
of field.