Friday, 2 April 2010

Skin Poems

Metal (my father)

Blood is like rust, crawling in crystalline

forms, unmaking geometry as benign

and calcareous kaleidoscopes

across the skin of human thought and hope.

Hopes are forged and riveted together,

children cast like coins or fathered

by a hammer swung in rhythmic comprehension;

a pattern to be copied through generations.

So I was made in the fire of my mother.

I am melted and reformed through ardour;

orange iron bones, ferrous flesh –

a conscious corrosion of all histories past.


Wood (my self)

Standing straight in bound fibres,

muscular trees are cut and dried like flowers,

roots and heads discarded. A stolid torso,

doughty arms sawn straight by metal jaws.

I marry wooden limbs, arrange assignations,

match-make, half-house, dove-tail for tension.

Un carpintero whose eye lifts and measures –

designing a fit for all parts with pleasure.

The passage of my saw through plank and rafter

marks the passage of its future and hereafter.

A creation through destruction, cutting to heal;

a shelter of roof and walls for life concealed.


Rope (that held me)

The beginning and the end are difficult,

but chiefly the end, whose strands, laid out,

are hard to unify because it is the nature

of fibres, once twisted, to unwind into the future so

this rope, by which my life hangs,

was made with the stalks of nettle and

each thread rolled between finger and thumb

to sustain a tension once begun

and every thread spiralled in will be

thicker as strands and strands, three on three,

together give the strength that hold me

clear of the earth


Paper(that holds me still)

An elegant summary, this sheet,

a temporary suspension of disbeliefs.

My life reduced to lines and flat,

sheaves of information caught, stacked.

A page is made from all the little pieces,

all the ends and scraps complete it.

Swollen with water; confused, adrift,

then squeezed and held until they stick.

My skin reproduce upon a skin,

pierced by points and cut thin;

a bold tattoo that beats the drum

of my life in words and pictures.

Feather Mammy

Frozen at the moment of inception

Cold beyond thinking

Father’s mother’s

Sister’s brother’s



Hips bones connected to the thighs

And the world keeps,

Feather mammy

Can’t keep still


Hammers knocking like a heart

On my ribs

Pulse thickening

Mind at a dead


Birds crackle overhead from

A sky electric

Grammar forms as ice

Rimed around my

Arms legs

The growl of a stomach outside

My door opens

And I walk through

My soul takes wind

I am born a loft

Perspectives clash lost in fog

Horns roar, I dance

Horns roar, I dance

My shoes don’t fit

Too well

One to ten counting quickly

Puts a finger on it

Chicken skin fits like shit

Red plumes and quills


Shake a leg it won’t come off

Arms without bodies

Nothing to eat for days

Come in

Sit down

Working like a bee grown

Older than I’d care

Looking towards the sea

For something

To change

Writing into a corner cut

Off by letters

Feet out of control from

Warm applause I bow

Before you

Running up the mast

Like a flag I

Wave and wave

At where I think

You might be

Singing changes the mouth’s lines

And talking makes

Shapes in my back

Like chain links

And iron scales

Feather Mammy

Ran out

Of reasons