Where is the first man
Stepping out into the New Year?
Out in the ocean, somewhere—
Floating among the gulls and
Last year’s Champagne bottles,
Standing under a darkened sky
That may not know its own magnificence;
Waiting for the planetary ride to go
Sometimes I think with a
Smile that doesn’t reach my lips
That the lights in my eyes and
Yours are manned by tiny
Torchmen who curtsey modestly and
Yet uphold their duty admirably.
I think of this when I see you hear
Me, the delight catches in your
Cheeks, your eyes relax, or are at
Ease, free from the constraints of
Your busy thoughts. I like to think
That then, I can see your tiny
What do you know about
Those early adopters of the sun
Building up from winter’s ravages
A reconstruction of the spring?
Come summer, they’re forgotten
By the shady splendour of roses
Peonies and bleeding hearts:
Leaves and petals with divine right
To squander sun and lavish daylight.
But before it can be said that
The sun has come back
The crocuses believe it will and
Bank on their hope and
Declare the spring from
Out of the snow.
You won’t see these flowers die
Perhaps you’ll go abroad and they’ll
Be gone before you return; perhaps
The subletter doesn’t have much of a
Green thumb and they just can’t make it
Through the two weeks. Perhaps you work late and
Your flatmate chucks them without your
Consent because really, they’re well beyond
The pale. Or maybe they’re a last-minute
Gift to a dinner party host you don’t really
Know but they’ve invited you out of some
Complex obligation that pins them and you
Like peas in a pod or more like butterflies
On a board. But maybe time is kinder to them
Than to you; they may be the last green thing
On earth you see before you leave, and they may
Know you, and live to see you go.
Skyscrapers know nothing of the human soul.
Cathedral spires soar and breathless domes evoke
A celestial reality seen only through reflections of
Gilded frescoes; meanwhile, corporate towers groan
Skywards like a multicellular organism whose
Organelles know nothing of a heart.
Like Babel aspiring to nothing.
Even stone can make me weep, I know, if
It is made with the faith that my soul could
Contend. These glassy towers, on the other
Hand, scrape away the human tendency
Towards devotion until there’s
Nothing to do but surrender, again,
To nothing new, eternally
Every old Monday at dawn.
When I wake up
I need there to be news
I need to know that what I’m reading
Is new to others and
Not just the personal failing
Of me falling behind the
Paper from pulp
From aphonic forests
Where machinery roars no warning
Where what falling timber doesn’t kill
Deforestation will leave lifeless
That’s not news to us though
As old papers burn for kindling
As we in the serenity of a stand of trees
Try to get away from
The newsroom blues and
The constant buzz.
Richness sits in the body like
A wellness too far;
A surfeit of prosperity
Tightening the skin
Till it cries out
God help me
Let me bleed.
Perhaps Giordano Bruno’s
Endless wandering was
Madness or maybe
His ashes found in eternity
The Fields of Elysium.
They must exist somewhere
But whether they’re our due
Is a different question.
For now, I wonder
How many heretics
Due wreaths of laurel
Have burned in
For preaching the
Greatness of God,
His mercy’s boundless scope?
Angels have six limbs
One to bless
One for might
Two for flight
And two for dancing
In groundless delight.
Romulus surveyed Remus
The Wolf-suckled grave diggers
Standing spade by spade
Blades sunk in the ground.
The sun-tough corpse
Of the she-wolf lay
Bare carrion by them;
They broke the clay to
Bury what had
Needed To Be Done.
So many birds
So many hills
But in The End
What kills is what
You were when Necessity
Caught you. The Rise and
Fall of many tides is
Time; but in time nothing’s
left at all.