Night Light

Awoken by cramp
in the middle of the night
I got to thinking:
if I move it hurts,
if I don’t move it hurts,
whatever I do it hurts.

And in this comedy of helplessness
and the glow of the landing light,
I felt a voice within me say:
pain you can survive
pain means you are alive

And then came sleep,
and then came sleep,
and then the clatter
of my children’s feet.

powder blue

out in the kitchen
just before dawn
I finally worked it out

the old back door
that I keep promising to paint
powder blue
like when we were first married
that has seen children
come and keep coming
seen dogs chase down our love
with the same enthusiasm
they chased out cats
that has seen
ingress and egress
tempest and termite
songbirds at daybreak
foxes by moonlight
that I have stared at
on a thousand and one nights
with a thousand and two bottles
while you lay drowsing
amid a thousand and three
radio shows

it has a use

you see there is never
just nothing
there is always something
even pain is something

it has a use

so tonight
I worked out what to do
and I painted
that old back door
powder blue

sweet powder blue

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that sharp anvil

we all know something about pain
it is hot-wired to our brains
like electrodes applied to tender places
by visitors with cruel faces
who drag us harrowed white
in the screech hours of the night
and on that sharp anvil of a pin’s breadth try
one breath before we die to break us
like they used to break men down
upon a wheel while in our secret heart
love waits to be revealed

pray love comes to all who remain
we all know far too much about pain

[first posted December 2014]