Fate’s Catalyst

You were Fate’s catalyst and the moon roars
Out your name. The ground has shifted
With tectonic life-changes.

The autumn leaves fall like guillotines.
Nothing here can move quickly.
Constant rain; perpetual drizzle.

Tonight is the climax of brooding sky:
A world in an arthritic cast.
I sink deeper into my chair

And into nowhere, remembering
How our epoch opened like an atrium.
I sit alone. Separating

The night’s black veil to watch
A rabble of stars slowly appear.
Submerged and drunk and melancholy

While you roll behind the darkness.
I think of you as though in séance
And our last night rises up from the air.

I have never heard a more
Honest and open cry
Than the rising howl you made that night:

I held your hand in the rain
And you held not just mine back,
But everything together –

And I never even realised,
All that time while I held you,
You were the heart of a moment

That I let fall into nothingness.
You were the planet’s core, you were magma-glue,
And that’s why the happiness stuck to us.

If it was raining then the sky did not bother your tears.

The Ballet

The light collapsed with the weight of dusk
As we went to watch the ballet.
We only ever went that one time.
A special performance. In fact,
I had never seen ballet before
Or since – it wasn’t me. But you,
You had. You loved it, lived it
Regularly. It was a childhood dream.
However you had missed your chance,
Apparently; “You have to start when you’re young”.
The opportunity had departed
Like a missed train. No second chances.

I remember that night because
It was the first time I found a bad evening
After weeks emulating honeymoons.
We had left the bedroom overturned,
Littered with arguments over nothing
That I can remember now,
But your barbs were like arrows
Craving the sight of strung-up martyrs.

Suddenly, you didn’t seem like you –
Or at least, not one that I recognised.
It wasn’t. The first of many.
A temporary distance between worlds.
Your face clamped shut to barricade you in;
Your voice hidden as a pearl.
You used to describe it as your mind
Becoming untrustworthy.

We arrived and entered the theatre
Quietly. It echoed like a church
Lacking crosses. Hushed voices.
It was already not going well.
We were always late and lost.
We searched for our places in the dark,
Repeating our seat numbers
Like the combination to a safe,
Relaying up and down the aisle
As though hunting for lost keys,
Until the right row finally appeared –
Somehow we had lost a letter
From the alphabet. We sat down.

The ballet teetered on the precipice.
The curtains quivered like lips
Of the Red Sea. We awaited Moses.
I tried to pry open the silence
But every time I spoke, I saw you
Shrugging off my words like air.
The lights dimmed further,
Then the music opened floodgates.

Dancers poured out from the wings,
Spilling onto the stage in a torrent
Of song-spun pirouettes and soaring jumps
As they blurred into more than humans.
Their black feathered costumes combining
As they undulated like returning birds;
Synchronised as though grown together
In the one womb. Each leap said words.

The room rumbled with awe.
The air swelled with approval.
The audience reinforced the grace.
Meanwhile, I didn’t understand a step –
Nothing more than childlike-mesmerised;
Open mouthed, as though held
By a magician’s watch.
Occasionally, I tried to whisper
Something meaningful, non-elevator.
No luck. Mostly, I blinked forwards.

Yet, you understood like it was home.
Awakening gradually,
With eyes like sparked coals.
The dancers pulled you out from the depths
Of you, and lifted you up
To the surface on a tide of red velvet.
Your face beamed. Sunflower joy;
Turning to find the warm sun
Just as you couldn’t imagine
That it would ever reappear.

Eventually, the curtains closed
And I found your smile, resuscitated
Inside of some clothes
That you didn’t usually wear.

Our Winter

That winter looked too good on you.
It adored you, like a mother –
Birth certificate confusion.

The summer was almost obvious.
Winter was better. Lurking.
You could camouflage in the cold.

But it was also something more profound:
Months followed you, mirroring.
The skies seemed to shiver.

A world hiding in hibernation
While I watched your cheeks blister;
Dimpled red apples, licked by frost.

The tarmac crunched like rubble underfoot
As you spun away, plucking out the air
With the premonition of blossom

Concealed somewhere deep in your smile.
You knew the eventuality of change
And I opened each day like a gift.

God. You were gut-punch beautiful.
In the devotion of those short, dark days
Nothing could stop you.

But like the snow, tumbling
Down altitude’s umbilical cord,
It all soon would be fallen.

You Sleep Between the Sighs and the Sunrise

You sleep between the sighs and the sunrise.
Scratch marks running down your back like train tracks,
Chasing the curvature of your pale spine
And the memories of moans in the black.
You wake each day with fresh finger traces;
Repeatedly healed in the night until new.
Different, distant. Slowly, you are time-changed –
A concertina of hands holding you.

But not mine. Meanwhile I stitch the remnants
Of what is left in the depths of my dreams;
Wearing your aftershocks as a pendent,
Oscillating wildly between extremes.
The doctors would call my love a crisis.
My lips condense heartbreak into silence.

False Idols

I see you, hiding
As a face in the puddles
Of this street;
Dark and dense with wine
And ghost memories.

You look at me,
Full of tremors and echoes,
Like you are still a hole in my earth.

A wet murmur.
Bright craters, glassy imitators
Shine like mirrors
In the rare, rippling light
Of the urban night.

A cloudy veil around the moon;
A river of streetlights;
A semaphore traffic light
Illuminating you with primary colours,
While, beating your eyelids,

You jump from water to water.
Briefly disappearing like a hot storm
That remains in the muscle memory
Of the air, still twitching –

And similarly, you stay with me;
Accompanying, following
Like a sticky religion, like honey
Between your fingers on hot days.

But I should know
Not always to believe what I think.
To value conversions, clean hands.
This is not you. You were you.

You were once too human.

And this is just a drunk creation,
Nostalgic self-flagellation,
And thoughts like biblical arrows.

My imagination has remade you,
Summoned and raised you,
And I have created something new:

A love, worthy of a pedestal.


Falsi Idoli

Ti vedo nascondendo,
Una faccia nelle pozzanghere
Di questa strada scura;
Denso con il vino
E le memorie come fantasmi.

Guardandomi,
Pieno di tremori ed echi,
Come se fossi ancora un buco nella mia terra.

Un mormorio bagnato.
Crateri luminosi, lucidi imitatori
Splendono come specchi
Nella rara luce increspata
Della notte urbana.

Un velo nuvoloso intorno alla luna;
Un fiume di lampioni;
Un semaforo
Ti illumina con i colori primari
Mentre, battendo le palpebre,

Salti dall’acqua all’acqua.
Brevemente,
Sparisci come un temporale estivo
Che rimane memoria muscolare
Dell’aria, ancora spasimando –

E allo stesso modo, tu stai con me;
Mi accompagni, mi segui.
Come una religione appiccicosa,
Come il miele tra le dita nei giorni caldi.

Ma dovrei sapere
Di non credere sempre in ciò che penso.
Per valutare le conversioni, pulire le mani.
Questo non sei tu. Eri tu.

Prima eri troppo umano.

E questa è solo una creazione ubriaca,
Auto-flagellazione nostalgica,
E pensieri come frecce bibliche.

La mia immaginazione ti ha rifatto,
Evocato e cresciuto,
Ed ho creato qualcosa di nuovo:
Un amore che merita una medaglia.


So, this poem had a very interesting life. It started off in Italian with the first line, which I came up with and really enjoyed the internal rhyme, however I got around halfway through and hit a bit of a brick wall. I translated the poem into English to see if that would make things easier and fortunately it did, with the “path” to the end becoming much clearer and different language choices suddenly appearing. Then, once I was finished, I translated the final few verses back into the Italian.

There are subtle differences between the two versions, but mostly for language purposes. It was my first time writing a poem in this way and I liked both versions a lot and thought they both deserved publication – also I’ve been threatening to publish poetry in Italian for a while so this seems like a good place to start. Writing in Italian is much more of a challenge for me personally as it’s not my mother tongue, however I really liked the interplay between the two languages and testing my own poetic abilities in this way.

Revelations

A blue dawn, summering storm
Wakes you with a clatter
Of colliding clouds and sideways rain.
But then you look down
And see her,
In a dream sanctuary

Between the sighs and the sunrise.
And suddenly, sleepily
Your legs, arms, fingers,
Thoughts are intertwined
In the disappearing night;
Coiled around each other
Like loved-up snakes

While she continues to be
Safe and self-contained.
Oblivious. Twitching subconscious
Words on the cusp of her lips.
Tired eyes tightly shut
Like two imprinted, inky little stamps.

You are not affecting
And she recuperates
In the night like a deprivation chamber;
Inhabiting parallels.
You keep watch like a guard dog.

Her hair shields her face
From you
As a separation,
Like a wall of palms,
And she becomes more miscellaneous
The more you look.
It could be someone else

Again. Bury the feelings
Deep like a guilty bone.
You smell the morning breath
Brewing in her cauldron mouth,
Watch her limbs out-stretched
Like a content child;

She is often beautiful.
You decide to retry sleep
And redemption,
Covering your bodies
Under the ghost-thin sheet,
Laid dead like pharaohs,
Waiting for the inevitable alarm

To unveil you.
With your heavy
Hands, you hold her
Close like an undeserved gift,
Like something that hasn’t been broken.

Scars

We showed our scars for the first time
And shared the wounds like love letters,
Revealing some of the ways we were marked forever.
Our damaged bodies pulled through the years
Like scuffed toboggans, baring fading remnants
Of ageing hurt, the colour of fine red wine.

I went first. A cut through my cheek
That slits my face faintly with a sickle curve
Reaching in and around, playing hide and seek
In the allure of a sanctuary thorn bush.
My cheek flapping open like a new mouth.

You went next. A sunken bite mark arm:
The memory of mousetrap-dog jaw –
A small dog, you reassure me, no pit bull –
Just a colour-blind limb like a juicy bone.
A family pet, the size of your powerlessness.
The wound went deeper than mine

So I returned serve, my hand tentatively
Sliding further down my body
To pull up the bottom of my shirt
And expose a keyhole belly slit
And a young boy, curled under his bed
Like a foetal, dead caterpillar.
Wailing and dog-whimpering
With tremors and appendix aftershocks;
A body like a burst, useless organ.
But you reached out, touched it.
Read the raised, twitching belly scar like Braille.

You pushed your fingers into my hand
And guided me into your mouth.
You pulled your bottom lip down like a drawbridge.
I pressed my fingertips into the pink
Hiding behind your lip. It was bumpy.
Like grit clumps, rock lumps. A van velocity
Embedded with tarmac impact;
Your body skating over the concrete
Like a pebble skipping across water.

Your tongue didn’t flicker any words. I saw
Hospital beds, IV drips. You held my wrist
And aimed next for knee cartilage –
Gently, gently, careful. The glistening
Skin like a surgically cut crossword
Of incisions and hard answers.
A bystander telephone call mapped out.
Your mother’s phone hitting the floor
As cobweb echolocation,
Searching for her baby. You said nothing
And I had no worse scars.

You said more nothing and hid more hurt
In other places that I could never see.

Clear

We are stranded
On a mattress island.
The carpet lapping
Gently against the bed
While we sit in quiet unison
Like a waiting choir.
Our crossed legs, our touching arms
Coalescing in the pristine isolation.

I am in bubble vaccination,
A bed-bound vacation
And the earth can only rattle
The window with two hands
As the trees outside
Drop their autumnal clothes
And dance skeletal.

They don’t blush
Because I am too busy to look.
Waiting, daring you with silence
To glance up
And make me
And in that moment
Cause a breath with nothing but a look
Like a jolt of defibrillator.

A sudden, sharp inhale.
Unexpected, altering and pure
Oxygen that summons a gasp
Like a puncture from my xylophone bones
And pops the vacuum and breaks the sky.
Atomise me quickly.

Until, finally
You tilt your head
Upwards.
Your eyes lock on and you push back the room.

The second splinters, cracks
And I become white noise
Grasps for a clattering lungful
To fill me
With bits of your exhalation,
But instead I just remain.

My pupils stretch out
Into lazy, swallowing chasms
And I imitate the dead.

My blood slows. My blood shows.
My heart thumps, lightly.

Moth Days

With you, with the night, I lie
Mesmerised: watching a lone moth
Float to the surface of the dark
And stick like a dusty lilypad
To the window-partition.
Slowly rising, like the sun
Breaching horizons;
Pressed against the glass,
Wings fluttering like eyelashes.

I thought we were hidden.
In a bed of escapism,
Pinning our reflections on the sky
With finger-painted smiles
And offering Judas kisses to the moon
While it scowled down like an ancient Mass.

That we had imagined new selves
Hiding in a building’s forgotten pocket
And toying with separatism,
Our slice of concrete hive
As distant as blue-remembered hills;
We had declared a new periphery.

But the world continues, endlessly
Slipping axis-revolutions
To try and flush us out.
The room swells, spot-lit.
Light thickens around us like amber.
The hanging bulb
Shining like an anglerfish lure;
A glass ball of night-sun
God, reflecting in our eyes.

The moth fizzes, hones, dilates,
Eclipsing our bodies
With a shadow like an omen.
And then, gleefully, he swings
Like a wrecking ball hitting the glass.
A clanging thorax alarm clock.
An exoskeleton belly flop.
An incessant, pounding pendulum.

The stars begin to expire.
A glittering dark, a mansion of lights
Slowly extinguished, room by room
As the morning rounds towards us;
The moon tarnishing until soon
It is little more than a dull, silver coin
Rusting into an awakening sky.

But I can close the shutters.
Push back the dawn.
So we lay in the black day
Sleepless like addicts,
Burying ourselves
Further into the sheets,
Our helium words sagging
Like tired, withering balloons.