At Home, the virus

Up from my pages
My gaze hovers on the ceiling.
Imprinted on Cornish tin, precise and recurring
Geometries of another time and place.
Oregon pine in serried ranks on floor
Czech pane on door, stippled, translucent.
The remains of an earlier world. At home.

Black and white tiles alternate aslant
The floor resonant of other times and cities.
Feet planted firmly, my tongue dreams
Of flavours from old Parsi restaurants.
Blue gas flame, the sly crackle of fat
The meat sweats in the steam of clove.
Quiet. But a star has fallen somewhere.

Drawing a line of colour bisecting my vision
Filigree of greens crowned with pink, purple and yellow.
Low slung electricity wires, occasional birds in a fret
On the horizon. Serrated line of buildings, a tank.
A pointed tower like a hypodermic syringe
Injecting the clear blue sky
With the anxieties of those at home

Plastic fronds of the kitchen broom
Send dust and crumbs skittering along the floor.
Refuse bags, blue and black, the remains of the day sorted
A walk through the archway of green and white to grey bin.
The steam hisses downwards from the iron
the fabric stretches and relaxes luxuriantly.
Even as the sax frenetically builds up tempo.

My fingers run along spines
Dappled, stained. Peeling from the sun
That angles in through the study blinds.
Phrases, words, fading aphorisms
Making stories through anagrams of titles.
An Actor Prepares; Nausea; Laughter in the Dark.
Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Late mornings. Unhearing the chatter of birds,
The rumble of the garbage truck on Tuesdays.
Quilt presses down like the weight of the world
Feebly, eagerly, one turns into another embrace.
No command to rise, work, produce
Reaches the conscience. Still dozing
One dreams of the days before and after.

Sic Transit

It was Monday yesterday, but the weekend is on us
Time again to cook while jazz marks the rhythm
Of the chopping, dicing, slicing and frying.
Low sizzle of the fire as on a hot Orleans roof.
Muted trumpet, a held note pierces my marrow
The lamb stretches in the pot, bone up in the air
Workin’, Cookin’, Steamin’, Relaxin’. Miles.

I have been thinking of feet all week.
Calloused, cracked, blistered. The burning road beneath.
A ritual of fire walking in the hope of finding one’s door.
Railway tracks in the wilderness, each with one home in sight.
Bare feet pedalling, writing precise circles of return.
It’s a long march. Not towards hope, redemption or hearth.
As they say it’s not the journey that matters.

The day ends nursing a glass in one’s hand.
Inch of amber, glowing, reflecting tungsten filament.
The world, death, and histories elsewhere
Slowly sink and sediment in the liquid depths.
A sip, warming inner cheek, constricting the throat
Leaving a faint irritation, a burn, a smoulder.
The world is not swallowed easily these days.

A sly cold wind cuts through the dawn light
Slicing the gloom into strips of light on the horizon.
The muted rattle of branches and cones on the roof.
Somewhere in the garden, the neighbours errant cat mews.
Shaking off sleep, I stumble into the lightening corridor
Through the kitchen panes, I see the magnolias
Cheerfully blooming pink and nodding.

Winter is upon us; the evidence in my bones.
As the cold oozes in and settles in my marrow.
The gas fire lights with a muted boom and cough.
A prompt red glow from the faux coals already.
Though it will be a while before my blood melts
And runs through to warm my fingertips. As they
Scroll through intemperate prophecies of the end.


Breathing. One does it through masks these days.
Unless someone kneels on one’s neck
And another joins in crushing one’s rib cage. Weight
Of arrogance and impunity, a third, on lower back.
A virus that never goes away, bred in the skin.
White, mottled with rage and contempt.
Living while black, one doesn’t have to fall ill.

Though the king, he knew his days were numbered.
It would be a snake seeking revenge for a vengeful sacrifice
That had condemned generations to the fire. Might. Mere might.
Guards in serried ranks, every crack sealed, an airless fug indoors.
All threats kept at bay, yet sleep hovered, teasing his eyelids.
Fluttering just beyond reach. He reached into the basket of fruit
Worm turned serpent. And bit. The world always finds a way in.

To try and not write about the world is difficult.
It interjects with intemperate ire
As one steps aside to address lines on a page.
Arraying words that would stand guard against
The infiltration of the present, with steely thought.
Is the universe only the space of unresolved rage
Corralled for a moment, before breaking in?

Unseeing, he said, so tell me what’s going down
He could hear the rumble of wheels, hissing shots.
And the caring raconteur said, same old same old.
Men killing men, hoping to get back home whole.
Choosing targets carefully, the young, the scared
The monarch whispered can I do something
Against this blind rage. Don’t fret, old man.