hill end

you said that metaphors are
for the weak-minded

i counted the cracks
in the windscreen
of our hire car

a landscape
riveted by insect carcasses
with a film of earth so red
it leaves the taste of rust
in our mouths.

we are children again
melting into the back seat,
the windows rolled down
and i tune the radio
to the frequency of
powerlines and rabbit fences,
the perfect broadcast
for a journey that

starts out with a promise

but quickly becomes

it is the fundamental law
of movement
– of course –
to be always not quite there,
and not quite here.

in fact,
the further you follow
the thin white line
the faster
it disappears.

you wanted deliverance
but instead we came
to a ghost town

“let me go home!”

some where
the landscape moves so quickly it
and you tell me that
this is how you see through time.

i concentrate, staring out the window,
colour pixels
rendered in rose quartz
and honey ant yellow—
those mineral shades that
are always part-way
through some kind of chemical reaction, alchemy.

i let my gaze become unfixed and
think about “continuity”…

our car is always
a movie camera
and each window
the perfect frame.

on this road
there is no beginning and end
and beginning and end,
only the part in the middle,
the part
happening now.

metaphor is easy

metaphor is easy
it’s language that’s hard

i could think of
a hundred ways
to explain it in images
but nothing in words

maybe it’s
something like
that single straight hair
detached from a body
that keeps finding its way back
to my bed sheets

or maybe it’s
the weather this week
reminding us
that some things are

a dream message

that tingle
at the base of your spine

right now

in the world

a revolution
is happening.

five days

for 5 days
i slept in your car
the seats rolled back
as far as they would go

my hot breath
kept the
cold windows
as the inside of a ribcage.

you were on the radio
most days
you played old love songs
a broadcast to no where

i kept the motor running at night
nothing careful, nothing tentative
about that constant hum.

how to invoke the sunset clause

you begin to stir. woken by the sounds of traffic from the street below. motorbike horns and the humid surge of afternoon. a constant humming from the fluro light in the bathroom. you crawl out of bed and the room seems green around you. infinite shades of green and in the heat, the promise of rain. we don’t have much time left in this city. i am a world away from home. you are a tourist in your own country. “do you know about the sunset clause?”, i say. but you don’t hear me. there is not much to do but sit and wait the afternoon out. sit and wait for the storm.

six fragments for jim carroll

you were the real
voice of a generation

i photocopied your poems
& handed them out
like pamphlets at
a peace protest.


i thought i’d found
a whole world
in your words,

but the pavements kept pressing up
between the pages
until everything was unfinished.


one day i noticed
the street signs
of new york
all spelled out
the letters of your name

and as if that was not enough
of an omen i kept walking, walking.


your voice
from the tops of skyscrapers
the perfect city

your tongue clicking
like needles
a pure hit of metaphor
and the comedown
like waking
from a dream.


nothing was dangerous
except for words
you wept yours
down a thousand
empty sidewalks

& i was left with amnesia
and a new language
all those perfect memories
slamming against each other
like a pile up
of cars on the interstate.


and you’re passing
through me
even now.

a gift shop in chinatown

A high powered radio transmitter and all the information in the world. I still couldn’t reach you. I wanted a monument that was invisible to everyone but us. Like a still body of water and the sound of the city at dusk. Or a reflection.

Later I was in a gift shop in chinatown trying to think of something significant to buy. There were charms for health and prosperity, but nothing to slow down time. And definitely nothing to stop it.

the vanishing city

We set about building a vanishing city. We took apart pieces of politics and body parts. We painted walls with the imaginary shade of twilight. We powered the population with involuntary mechanisms. Like heartbeats. And revolutions. I stayed still in the shadows of our cities’ tallest buildings and though about c words. Like ‘civilisation’ and ‘collapse’ and ‘cunt’. To us community was something unraveling all the time. We did not want to put people together, but to pull them apart. We made governments and religion that were nothing more than the sound of wind through leaves. Or an afterthought. There was no such thing as manifesto. Only shopping lists and the places where posters had been torn down from walls. We were always afraid of loosing language. So we spoke in riddles and some times in song. Nothing was written down. Nothing was kept. We thought archives were vanity and libraries science fiction. Every morning after we slept, we burned our beds to the ground. Our photographs were invisible records, like a distant voice on a telephone line. Everything absent, everything incomplete. Everything open. Nothing at night and nothing in the morning.