Monday, 14 July 2008

Ennead Cubed


i) Lutherie

With compass and square I set the form,
Bend your tigerstripe ribs to soft curves,
Model your back and belly on Venus.

I lacquer you with a hundred unguents,
Rub your swells and lips to a deep sheen,
Buff you up with a soft rag.

I fit you up, peg you down, make you taut
To the point of screeching, then
Play you to a fine crescendo.

ii) Suppertime

A snuffle a scrabble a tap
At the door and the bulldog
All irony, self-mocking, love-me eyes

Comes scurrying sidewise in
Attracted by the smell of supper
Or perhaps another whiff he's caught

On the air between the chestnut
Blossom, the lampposts, the resinous
Woodshavings and pints of stout.

iii) Chestnuts

I remember your tales of the woods
Of Northern Italy, and hear the hum of
Bees gathering their raw materials.

I spread my toast with Piemonte honey, dark
And sweet, concealing an astringent poison.
The blossoms, cornucopias of purple.

Chestnut: the poor man's oak, and bad for burning,
Home to the cuckoo's clear call of comfort,
Yet laden with distracting horns of plenty.


i) Varnish

An amber necklace: throw it in the pot!
Fused and cooked, the acid reek,
Succinic, a reminder of the yet unknown.

I kept one piece, and when I bought
Your Roman ring, carved it and set it:
Fierce electrum in the harsh bronze.

The oil was made ready, cooked
With quicklime: all the rank scents
Of those summers smoked from the pan.

ii) Economical

Ten pounds stirling, twenty-two
Mouths to feed in four hours
Where are the loaves and fishes?

Nettle soup. New potatoes.
Tomatoes and bacon. Wine.
A cake. Good cheer: a feast.

Later in the easing down, in the
Disintegration of carousal, there came
A self-corrected statement of love.

iii) Backdoor Man

That poor bugger, scrabbling at our backdoor
Like a dog in a frenzy, a Christ-Help-Me!
We hid him in our cellar. His fearstink was amazing.

It filled the room while the white-shirted men
Searched with their pit-bulls the alleys and the gardens.
We had no phone. I walked slow and casual

Cursing my similar build, beat on a door, hoping
The beating wouldn't incur a beating. He
Licked his barbedwire snags and gardenwall grazes.


i) Scroll

Archimedian volute, Vitruvian spiral,
I traced my finger round and round
The outer whorls only.

You spun right in for the centre.
No credit for your fearlessness.
I orbited, quite ignorant, until

One day that vortex caught me too.
Now our two eyes are locked, spindled,
Where all things fold in and look out.

ii) Kitsch Evening

That night was sultry, the night
Of the ghastly jazz room all pink
And glowing: kitsch hell.

I couldn't find you. I went home to bed.
I locked you out. You were too busy
Embarking on a journey.

When you returned you fell asleep
In our dawn garden, listening
To birdsong, dreading the cuckoo.

iii) Crayfish

You came home with pickings,
The left-overs after the spoils.
Plastic bags filled with crayfish.

You made sure nothing went to waste:
An antagonistic spine drew blood
From the blind hock of my calf.

We sprawled in the shabby garden,
Warm with half-touched salvaged wine:
Your pleasures could hardly be called stolen.

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