No single dream of god, no soul
no shadowy or shining river to fetch us surely home
only the faint chance of carbon
millions of years ago
and who we are or may be
and all our multiple kin
an outworking of DNA survival
joy, compassion, wonder
micro-patterned into the folds of our brain
triggered by neuron stimulation
yet to be part of all this
to sit in a garden talking of our being,
to the springing of tender grass
and the tiger lilies braving the wind.
I don’t know what to do with all this happiness
– the old Danger notice all festooned with ribbons and flowers –
I don’t know what to do, I’m so happy
I want to throw you up in the air, high, high
out of sight
and where you land I’ll build a chapel.
Pull out the ancestors
with their deep open mouths round as harmony
their horns, animal faces, sturdy human bodies
bearing the holy things,
and their garments webbed with wind
fired with the colours of earth
the bend of sky on their feathers.
Pull out the ancestors
from the warmth of your armpits
your pockets, your hair
the faded box that’s always been there
the places you played as a child.
Against the whisperings of your aunts
take them elsewhere.
Sell your ancestor dolls
to the cultural museum
to pay for your college fees
become like the slim white girls
nibbling at small effigies of themselves.
Phoenix, Arizona 1999
in collection, Design Fault, 2001,
Flambard Press, ISBN 1-873226-42-X
How come there are still design faults
in things as normal as toasters?
Not a new device, edgy with the hubris of invention.
My grandmother had one. A grilled mouse
slid up over the rim one morning
sudden and flat as a stunt gone wrong.
I wake in the night sometimes, in pieces
– I’m darkness, choking –
Quite normal, people say, this fear.
Look after yourself, make yourself some toast.
Can one cook up comfort for oneself
must it not be given?
My old toaster wouldn’t switch off.
The elements went on burning, manic
until it shot into flames and caved in on itself
melting into folds of bruised, lumpen matter.
But the new one is cool to the touch, long as a smile,
gleaming with savoir-faire
even in the critical glare of the kitchen light
at this wrong time.
Inside, the elements are intricate
like bits of writing, or music.
They work to electronic timings till the toast is perfect.
It jolts up –
one slice tossed behind the unit
where there’s only dust and lost things –
the next flat on the cold white floor
final as a lid.
The spring’s too violent.
I open the curtains to numb dark shapes
open them wide to make the morning come,
trust it will.
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