Stairs fly as straight as hawks;
Or else in spirals, curve out of curve, pausing
At a ledge to poise their wings before relaunching.
Stairs sway at the height of their flight
Like a melody in Tristan;
Or swoop to the ground with glad spread of their feathers
Before they close them.
They curiously investigate
The shells of buildings,
A hollow core,
Shell in a shell.
Useless to produce their path to infinity
Or turn it to a moral symbol,
For their flight is ambiguous, upwards or downwards as you please;
Their fountain is frozen,
Their concertina is silent.
In her closet next to a shirt
hangs a concertina pleated skirt
she slips it on with grace and ease
the tiny pleats are there to please
like a million shimmering crystal shards
all tightly pressed like a pack of cards
as she moves they sway and dance
upon her legs they tickle and prance
the feeling makes her smile and shiver
which makes the pleats start to quiver
they skim and flatter her hips and bum
like the majestic rays of a rising sun
such carnal delights found in a skirt
as she hangs it back next to the shirt.
I learnt this week
that time and distance
can be friends to memory
their respective lengths
only wet and sharpen
the edge of love
but for us dear friend
we hold hard to hope
that we may
one day soon
share the present
and live each moment
in each other's heart.
Hearing you on Holkham beach
- whose soul is greater than the ocean
whose spirit stronger than the sea -
did I doubt for a moment
that you, though buffeted
by a cold east wind
would never age for me,
nor fade, nor die.
Nor you for me (she said)
Goodbye, my love,
a thousand times goodbye.
Write me well (she said)
and turned and ran.
The Reedham ferry was but a river's width
and yet I stood at the water's brink
and watched the reeds quiver in the wind,
watched the rain splatter on the puddled path.
All around to the human eye
this valley, a plain of grassland
broken only by reed-fringed pools,
was a gentle, unpeopled, easy place.
The absence of relief left
no fixed frame of reference.
Places apart from one another
would concertina and merge.
Tempted to cross I waved a no
to the ferryman in his quayside hut
then turned and walked quickly
back down the long, low road.
Hallelujah Simpkins, Syllogism Brown,
Wandered up to Barkingside to walk around the town.
Does it make you wonder, when they ring the bell,
How they press the organ keys and sing along as well?
Syllogism wondered so he climbed the tower to see;
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, I know that I am free.
Hallelujah Simpkins, Pendlebury Jane,
Hurried to the hospital and hurried home again.
Does it make you wonder, when they run so fast,
How they know they'll ever reach the hospital at last?
Pendlebury wondered even though she couldn't run,
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, today I have a son.
Hallelujah Simpkins, Academic Smith,
Never et an orange if they couldn't eat the pith.
Does it make you wonder, if oranges can float,
Why they catch the Underground and never catch a boat?
Academic wondered so he went and caught the train;
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, and said it once again.
Hallelujah Simpkins, Concertina Flight,
Hear the song the angels sing in Dagenham tonight!
Does it make you wonder, climbing Heaven's stair,
How you'd speak to Hallelujah Simpkins, if he's there?
Simpkins only wondered whom he followed as he soared;
Hallelujah, Simpkins said, and glory to the Lord!
RUM tiddy um,
tiddy um tum tum.
My knees are loose-like, my feet want to sling their selves.
I feel like tickling you under the chin-honey-and a-asking: Why Does a Chicken Cross the Road?
When the hens are a-laying eggs, and the roosters pluck-pluck-put-akut and you-honey-put new potatoes and gravy on the table, and there ain't too much rain or too little:
Say, why do I feel so gabby?
Why do I want to holler all over the place?. . .
Do you remember I held empty hands to you
and I said all is yours
the handfuls of nothing?. . .
I ask you for white blossoms.
I bring a concertina after sunset under the apple trees.
I bring out "The Spanish Cavalier" and "In the Gloaming, O My Darling."
The orchard here is near and home-like.
The oats in the valley run a mile.
Between are the green and marching potato vines.
The lightning bugs go criss-cross carrying a zigzag of fire: the potato bugs are asleep under their stiff and yellow-striped wings: here romance stutters to the western stars, "Excuse ... me...". . .
Old foundations of rotten wood.
An old barn done-for and out of the wormholes ten-legged roaches shook up and scared by sunlight.
So a pickax digs a long tooth with a short memory.
Fire can not eat this rubbish till it has lain in the sun.. . .
The story lags.
The story has no connections.
The story is nothing but a lot of banjo plinka planka plunks.
The roan horse is young and will learn: the roan horse buckles into harness and feels the foam on the collar at the end of a haul: the roan horse points four legs to the sky and rolls in the red clover: the roan horse has a rusty jag of hair between the ears hanging to a white star between the eyes.. . .
In Burlington long ago
And later again in Ashtabula
I said to myself:
I wonder how far Ophelia went with Hamlet.
What else was there Shakespeare never told?
There must have been something.
If I go bugs I want to do it like Ophelia.
There was class to the way she went out of her head.. . .
Does a famous poet eat watermelon?
Excuse me, ask me something easy.
I have seen farmhands with their faces in fried catfish on a Monday morning.
And the Japanese, two-legged like us,
The Japanese bring slices of watermelon into pictures.
The black seeds make oval polka dots on the pink meat.
Why do I always think of niggers and buck-and-wing dancing whenever I see watermelon?
Summer mornings on the docks I walk among bushel peach baskets piled ten feet high.
Summer mornings I smell new wood and the river wind along with peaches.
I listen to the steamboat whistle hong-honging, hong-honging across the town.
And once I saw a teameo straddling a street with a hayrack load of melons.. . .
Niggers play banjos because they want to.
The explanation is easy.
It is the same as why people pay fifty cents for tickets to a policemen's masquerade ball or a grocers-and-butchers' picnic with a fat man's foot race.
It is the same as why boys buy a nickel's worth of peanuts and eat them and then buy another nickel's worth.
Newsboys shooting craps in a back alley have a fugitive understanding of the scientific principle involved.
The jockey in a yellow satin shirt and scarlet boots, riding a sorrel pony at the county fair, has a grasp of the theory.
It is the same as why boys go running lickety-split
away from a school-room geography lesson
in April when the crawfishes come out
and the young frogs are calling
and the pussywillows and the cat-tails
know something about geography themselves.. . .
I ask you for white blossoms.
I offer you memories and people.
I offer you a fire zigzag over the green and marching vines.
I bring a concertina after supper under the home-like apple trees.
I make up songs about things to look at:
potato blossoms in summer night mist filling the garden with white spots;
a cavalryman's yellow silk handkerchief stuck in a flannel pocket over the left side of the shirt, over the ventricles of blood, over the pumps of the heart.
Bring a concertina after sunset under the apple trees.
Let romance stutter to the western stars, "Excuse ... me..."
Arms at her sides
Hangin' like a noose loop
Radio music sporadic static
Choking on some air waves
Her heart is locked up
She keeps it in the bottom drawer
Her house is surrounded by chain-link
Shes too good for you
She has a picnic alone
Feeding crumbs to the ants
So grown up and independent
I thinks its just chemical imbalance
Are you still waking up
To the shotgun blast alarm clock
Sleeping in the pitch black
Washing dishes burning matches
Watching television addict
To have it all figured out
You'll choke on the pieces
Dog on a short chain
Too good for me
She's too busy curing cancer
And feeling sorry for herself
Someone told me what you said
I was a piece of shit hick
Drug addict rat
Because you know me?
I've got a strong chin
Been hit harder than that
There's the door
In Nana’s bedside drawer
I slipped some in my pocket
To even up a score
He came knocking
With that smirk upon his face
Yet another tawdry night of being
Ways are always here
Taking you for granted
Having my way
I set the scene
Thought I was finally coming out to play
He drank the drink
Vermillion visions slice through the stagnant air
Cleansing me of
She doesn't know
That bottle of wine
A Cyanide pill
Something’s not quite right
I have a
Why am I experiencing
Evil starts to slither on my heated skin
Maybe he just slipped me a dirty Mickey Finn?
Feeling now bedeviled
I take another sip of wine
Bachus sits there laughing
Regal and divine
Where did this migraine come from?
But I am here laughing
As she drinks her fall
Damn, I feel sleepy
Could she have?
She wouldn't be that shrewd
Women can't out think a man
So she smiles with me
Rubbing her eyes
I ask her to dance
It will be her last dance
I sense strong arms caress me
Music fills the air
Fluidity of movement
Lays my soul stark bare
I beseech the cold dark eyes of this man that I abhor
Concertina to the floor
in small steps go up in cadence
go higher in volume raise intensity feel
the growth tap a foot fast then faster soft then
louder tap tap tap beat against the floor keep pace call out
my name I am
the maestro you are a prima donna
this concertina is playing this our heart strings plucked sweetness and sound growing in volume in density I scream hear your bravo!!!
I return, Bellissimo!!!
I bit in to it.
Gunpowder in a cherry stone.
The flavours fit together like a jigsaw, then drifted apart like countries on an ocean;
Heat from old coals on a young tongue that hadn't tasted the world.
Fluid concertina accordion flavour -too many colours spoil the canvas.
It's a short sentence but I've never said it.
Let something like that drop and it goes on long after it stops.
The ripples spread beyond their little puddle confines
The echoes ricochet through the fullest of minds
The gravity of the sentiment is enough to tug the moon from the sky.
Or cause the vessels of hope I've come to know as my eyes to change.
Martini glasses left out in the rain.
around Folsom prison
& watched the water
tumble over the dam.
I saw the concertina
at the top
of the fences
& wondered if
the armed boys in the tower
would shoot me
if I took off my boots
in the cool
Then I thought to myself,
"Naw, I'd better not,
think I'll swim a mile
or two away,
it's safer that way!"
I rolled into that city
sometime after midnight,
had been fighting
my peepers from closing
I wore shades to hide my eyes,
sixteen hours on the interstate
had made me feel like toast,
less than human,
a bit comatose
& I needed a room.
My pointed boots
accented my slim jeans
& I moved through
the lobby with ease,
as if I were a ghost.
I could feel the disease
in that place,
bars were in the windows
& hookers glanced
The concertina wire
should have been a clue.
And without a sound,
I slithered back
to my spaceship
& moved southward,
onward toward El Paso.
With one more to go,
I floored myself
had to get
out of that place