synapse

he thought about the little bay
where they had taken the children on holiday
and where he hadn’t been as happy
as he should have been

and he remembered holidays
with his own father
that brought him up with a jolt
like an electric current

connections occur across a tiny space
a synapse

or the passage of many years

now like a couple in separate rooms
he was out of kilter with himself

sleep couldn’t come too soon

scratch marks 

after the dust broke
I hardly spoke to anyone

but took my relative to a psychoanalyst 
and while he hung about outside 
skated about on the elaborate floor
of the consulting room
apologising profusely for scratch marks
neither of us could see

outside
my relative remained reticent
declining to be recognised 

I bought a poster of the whole event
but have never unrolled it

although I own it
and so does he

release

I open the door and release them
one by one

they come to the door and I watch them go
in pale December sun

and some of them are beautiful
and some of them are old
and some of them are ugly
some as cold as stone

and some of them are holy

[first posted Jan 3, 2016]

thaw

snow came early this year

my neighbour and I cleared our drives
without speaking

now there are two frozen piles
at the roadside

like pensioners chatting
at a bus stop

[first posted Jan 17, 2015]

helplines

while she held on to my hand
and whispered soothing words
she had one eye on her car keys
and a quick getaway

there is no common currency here
just rates of exchange
that fluctuate wildly
in different circumstances

try calling the helpline she said
there isn’t one I said
well try calling anyway she said
so I did
many times
many helplines

fifteen of them

[first posted Jan 2, 2016]

total recall

in the electric sympathy of your touch
I found my wilderness
and heaven both

but heaven is not measured out in dust
and dust was all I reached for
when I woke

you had a birthmark
we all have birthmarks
that much I can recall

here on this barstool
this barren outcrop
I recall the electric sympathy of your touch

An Otherwise Cheery Night 

My sarcophagus –
enclosure of the soul;
I thought I was there
when the bed was cold.

I feel better now
but when you’re old,
sometimes your pulse
gets kind of slow.

I wonder when the worms
will start to bite.

Just some thoughts
on an otherwise cheery night.

[first posted Oct. 17, 2015]

the price of light bulbs

you sit at your table writing
while I sit at mine
I’d like to have coffee with you sometime
a glass or two of wine
discuss the price of light bulbs
or the intricacies of verse

there are subjects far worse
such as love
loss
domesticity

it would all be with the greatest civility
though I cannot remain serious
for too long

I knew a girl once made me laugh so much
I could have wept

but now she’s gone
and I am undone

so here’s to you
and whatever it is you write
so feverishly
uneasily
at your table

I am unable to stand the light
for much longer
at any price

[first posted Jan 10, 2016]