breath 

blank like the stars are blank
and the leaf
and all the leaves
and the carpet
and the ceiling
nothing brings relief
when not even love has meaning

only breath
only breathing

obtained by digging

experience flashes over us
like the morning shower

the more intense it is
the more difficult to grasp

for one whole second
let alone an hour

if I could only hold a moment
from that wellspring of joyous giving

but all I have are these
dull memories

like casts and molds
no longer living

so long ago it seems
intangible as dream

but for these cold fossil forms
obtained by digging

no book

I imagine the room will be small
with pale blue walls
and a neat bed
with a thin coverlet
perhaps a curtained window
overlooking a communal garden
like the one we had
at the flats you never came to

there will be a bedside table
but no books
except for the one you leave behind
after your visit
with the black covers
alongside that copy of The Racing Post
the cleaner was reading

I’d send it back to you
if you hadn’t gone on ahead
I only back certainties now
want no book at all

the sanatorium

and if I visited the sanatorium and met you there
as a visitor
a paying guest
I might say that I had come to take the air
and was not sick at all
just not feeling quite at my best
but the truth is I am riven through
and while each one of you
might shortly pack your bags and leave
I must stay on indefinitely

but this is only supposition
there is no one to meet
and no sanatorium
just the window and the city street

but my stay
it seems
remains indefinite

parchment 

the sky is orange
the mountain pale yellow 
I wrote on parchment 
words of great sorrow
words of great tenderness
left for tomorrow
love lies in pieces
nothing to follow

sudden joy

sudden joy
was never yours at all
it’s like your lover left the room
or love never even called

sudden vacuum

tulips

once he bought her tulips
to put upon her windowsill
because he thought her beautiful
and wanted her to know of this
but she would not approve of it
and called it inexcusable
and so he gave her silences
cold and painful silences

no one buys her flowers
to put upon her windowsill
because she is not beautiful
though to him still beautiful
pretty coloured tulips
sitting on the market stall
once he bought her tulips
now never shall again

[a sad tale in a deliberately naive style]

the restaurant

table 1: a table for two

somewhere
in some far-off
corner of the earth
upon a broad green leaf
a butterfly is emerging
from the chrysalis
a glory to the world
dazzling wild
free
and that
is how it feels
to enter a crowded
restaurant – find you
at a table reading
and see there is
an empty chair
for me

table 2: a separate table

you ignored me last night
I’m ignoring you today

I’m at a separate table
a thousand miles away

shall we order?

table 3: ready to order

I won’t have a starter
I don’t eat dessert
I shan’t have a mains
I hurt hurt hurt
I can’t take rejection
but I can take a hint
just bring another bottle
and a wafer thin mint

table 4: menu

today
a stranger wore my shoes
choked down the morning news
ordered the wrong food
alone at a table for two

but it was me
who chatted to you so freely
over the menu
and died a little more
before the coffee

table 5: two types of silence

I sit alone at dinner
listening to the couple
at the next table
who hardly speak at all

you clear your throat
ask me to get the bill

there are as many
different types of silence
as there are colours
on a paint chart

probably more

here are two

table 6: table talk

two apples in a bowl
got us wondering
how we’d go

between two breaths
between two tides
before the pudding
has arrived

we were chatting
over dinner

you said
I was looking thinner

I said
rotten talk for supper
on the garden I’ll be scattered

if I have a soul at all
it falls just as the apple falls

to ground

we drank our fill
I paid the bill

a silent walk

table talk