That is not a television screen
You are watching but a mirror –
I think, unwillingly
Setting with the evening,
Searching for mindless passivity in the TV
After another day falling over new words
Like my tongue is a toddler learning to walk.
But flickering through the channels
Nightly, I see the mute brigade:
Tall, blonde, acolytes
Paraded out in single-file
Like jets in formation
And walking like they’re missing
Collars tight around their necks
In clothes barely stitched past idea.
An Italian TV trope so common
They have only their own noun.
Clearly, they’re not meant to be people
But to the audience this must be palatable,
Because I watch with my foreign eyes
In silence, waiting for an outcry.
These are not women, stripped –
But nameless, lifeless beauties;
Tottering blow-up dolls, rolled out like vellum
Flanking the liver spots of the Hefner presenter.
A blinking apostate, reflecting in the glass.
The room bathes in grey, grainy beams
Of an arriving fantasy, fifty years too late.
Is this Venus and Cleopatra reincarnate?
My English sensibilities, glaring
Like silver chewing gum foil
In the Mediterranean sun;
My dropped jaw, culturally dislocated.
You debut a smile.
The first time that the muscle-balls
Dormant at the tip of your cheekbones
Ever leapt out so proudly into the world
And I marvel as I take you
To the spasm of a diaphragm
And the wringing of gut;
The place of popping faces
And rosy protestations
Where your neck wrings with escaping laughter
And your hair writhes with joy
And your eyes burst with happy tears.
We mirror a smile like replicas.
Hours subside with the reddening,
Until finally we wander out
To our new-birth Earth,
Kicking with baptism.
I give you bones wrapped in blushes –
Trembling in maroon
And hypnotised by the plughole lines
Leading me into your fingertips.
The air is photograph still.
You hold my hips and watch me
Turn to a gaunt, shivering bruise
Beneath you. Slowly,
You lower yourself
Down from above.
Compressing plural into singular,
Our flesh arranging as tightly as muscle.
I trace blueprint shadows in the dark.
Your sighs roll away my eyes
And hide them in the back of my head.
I am little more than sweat
Layered with blindness.
But I can shape you like hot clay.
My thumb presses the hollow of your
Temple, summoning gasps
From deep until they push
Against the underside of your skin.
Here, I can hold you as mine.
My pale devotion held close.
And I don’t want to let go.
I feel how we are:
Panting and breathless,
Choking on the recycled white of the other,
And the rhythm of us shakes the sky.
It’s like you can open my chest with temper.
I’ve never known pain that spreads like ivy,
That grows in hot, poisonous unrest,
That tightens around my flesh like masonry,
But you know how to run your fingers
Through my trembling branches of ribs
And splinter each bone-like twig. You linger
On each nerve, ending. You search in my skin.
I want you to dig down. Find my origami heart
Of disjointed angles and let it ache
In your smaller hands. Pull me apart
With double-edged lips, I am yours to take.
Because even though each wound sings you vicious,
I still crave the sting of your citrus kisses.
He was hers and his eye sockets throbbed
Like two syncopated hearts.
She took him in, biting into the soft.
Perfectly, she captured his body.
She tasted him, she pressed him.
This was an interrogation.
He was held in the black without a lamp-lawyer
And he blinked to no effect.
The deeper dark of her open ‘O’ searched for answers,
So she sunk down and through him like an anchor.
The wake of her died above.
She wrapped him in sensation.
He filled her completely
And spluttered animal moans to hold her attention.
She found honesty
In the sounds tumbling
From his tongue.
She wanted him to know
That she shared no reminders.
Sometimes, she loved him.
Then, just for her, he burst like a ripe balloon
And shattered every night into dawns.
I caught you once, trying to dissolve.
The water cupping you with candlelight
And the flames flickering incantations –
You punctured a quiet ring of shadows
As a dwindling in the dark.
You had sunk yourself in the bathtub
Trying to escape, kicking below the surface
And shaping the sinless fluid around you
As your last compromise: an urban night-lake.
You bathed between the porcelain lips
And bubbled for rebirth.
The surface tightened above
Until your lid on the world was taut
And you were sealed away.
And then you pushed, towards breath’s edge.
Immersed in a warm vat of underworld,
Disappearing into pale ripples
With your eyes closed.
I watched your hair wave goodbyes
While the tiles echoed like sirens.
I stood there, almost alone
In that airlock of cascading waterdrops,
Scrutinised by splintering futures
As condensation dripped down the walls
Like freely abseiling wet spiders
With refracted hyena eyes.
Each enclosing droplet, a tear
Brimming with imperatives.
You needed me to embody saviours
With my trembling hands –
But you were womb-smothered,
Submerged, dulling heartbeats, lost
Weeping naked-open from your wrists
And my body was a still purgatory,
Hearing the muted thuds reverberating upwards
While you waited; underwater, urging
For me to become the same shade of void
So I could join you in the below
And we could dissolve and emerge together.