HOT ZONE CONFESSIONS‘Thomas and Lowell made themselves the metaphor of their poems’1.I am myself the quarantine.The garden spreads childrenIn summer clothes like soresOn a lip. The world quivers,All arrows locked and loadedTo overflow. I don’t quite explode.2.Writing has never been bomb squadTo the great squatting missiles belowOur skins; you don’t avoidVolcanic eruption with lava postcards.Words hurl microbial aerosolAcross the lawn to sicken, invade.3.I’m only paper, metaphor, inky myth.What’s made isn’t mine or shrapnel to own,Contains pandemics in its sly mists.Controlled explosions like punking steam?All dreams are engines to the minefieldMind we try to civilly distance from, or collide in.4.We’ve died in rhetorical verse too often to seeThe trees burst from it like shells out ofBurial mounds; all’s fecundity, even dross,Drivel, moss, or fungal rot. All personal worksSurround me, yet extend, like vines on branchesFurl in forests to the furthermost interior animals.5.Go out, stay …


CICERO UNLOCKEDAfter  W.B.Y & D.T. with loveCicero knows a soul is there or isn’t thereAnd neither bandage unbreaks the fear;My cat’s coalfired sleeping in a fiery poolPut out in purrs sleep derails, his furThe kingdom of panthers all breeders conferRibbons on; in heaven the dead move too –In puzzled sleep, at their side some ownerScribbling also of the worried times: halfThe world is half apart from half the world’sOther part – the solid heart has come to knowThe dialogue of self, and loss, and selfless loss;As Plato told, and Aristotle tossed aside, in scorn.We’re divisions of an army made up of usAlone; the hill-town’s been cut off from its face,To save the sloping nose to keep the mills alight.Economies of scale collapselike climbing biblesTipping off a feeding beltway to appal the stars.It is dust bowling as dollars fly like miceOut of the cat hospitals to die church poorIn single pairs of lost mittens, disallowed to mournUntil morning’s dark and the mountains flat as ice.We …

Reading Laura Mulvey’s Late Style Essay on Vertigo in the Light of Covid-19

Reading Laura Mulvey’s Late Style Essay on Vertigo in the Light of Covid-19She says that film is deathin its each frame, movinglife into motion by lightso artifice plays on reality,arousing automatons,those herky-jerky objectswe desire to own, infusewith fake breath, becauseto dominate the unrealis what only gods, artists,do. In Vertigo Madelaineis memory, crossed twice,a favourite bridge, she’sordinary spouse refused,credit card declined, turnedas in Pygmalion into goddess;she falls doubly, is a doubleimage and the pain is fetishesare never again what they oncewere in the possessing hand;you play, let go, releasedthe toy breaks on the rocksbelow. Freud, Adorno, the onewho died at the Swiss borderand loved unpacking books,Benjamin, the master theoristof machinations and creation;the late style is, Deleuze or Saidboth knew, an outcroppingof what’s placed behind us,the time before the mastery;the backdrop replacing actualsmashing waves with fashion;how we make up and dressplain Mom to b…

On the value of reading during a global pandemic

On the value of reading during a global pandemic

Though it save no life
passes time
that could be wasted
with Money Heist
or Tiger King
on Netflix; or fear

or breaking the law
with walking twice
the same day. To read
is to return
to somewhere never gone
or only in memory;

it is a home abroad,
a power without pain.
Libraries are banks
that never drain away
their fiscal strength;
a book is a mile

of miles at a single length.
You may start Sir Browne
and die before the Urne;
no holiday ends
too late; life is brevity,
reading infinite. We skim

the stone of ourselves
upon the surface of time
like a meteor burning
as it skips the skin of space.
We hold a place
to return again. But even

entering the waves once
permits the wetting sea
to begin.  Death is omnipresent,
gasping at medics
like a vicious shark; they lean
in to serve, are swallowed

themselves by dark.
Though lovers break orders
to couple danger in the park.
Open any volume, intake
the giving breath of a moment
whose endless living

is language’s flowing monument.
No consolati…

Neo-romantic poem

I am exploring a neo-romantic style of poem, simpler and more expressive, of late, partially inspired by recent German writers, and the events that have changed the world as much or more than the French revolution. Here is a new poem in this style.

I saw my first flower today
not only of this spring
but ever
as this time my eye
saw at once
what might never be
seen later if I might die
the next day
as the time is fast
coming of a blight
so the red rippling
flew out at me
like a wild thing
so enraged with living
it seemed no cage
could keep such a tiger in.

26 March, 2020

poem on mothering sunday


Something about duty, about going into the sun
As if it was rare; something about not enough
Of basic things, too much information;
A recollection of locks, distance, and crowds
In parks as if they were safer. A sense the young
Were careless, indifferent, as they always are;
The old preparing for what they knew happens;
A time of waiting, as if the air raid sirens

Had just begun, but the shelters hadn’t yet
Flung open. Something else, connected to being
Apart, a decision we made to come together,
A grander union, after division bells, local anger;
Seriousness at a level you could hear in a stadium,
But they were shut. The image of someone holding
A pint glass, laughing at the figures on the telly;
Stocking up on boxed sets, brown rice, macaroni;

Wondering if the straps of your mask were right;
That clutching in the chest like holding on
To your last belongings; a gust of fight or flight.
More dying than had to, but that’s politics,
A retired nurse leaning over with exhausted fear,


I first published this 15 years ago on this blog (in 2005)… eerily prescient...

The Shape of Things to Come

Resembles a triumphant trump of doom;
Is like a hollow room; a horn of plenty;
A ballerina’s shoe; a house in Hooville,
Like a devil’s mouse; a bang-
Drum, a pirate drunk on deadman’s

Rum; like a broken broom used to brush
Away the webs from day-dreaming boys
In a math exam; like a rack of lamb;
A donut convention; a depleted pension;
Like the sort of position churchmen don’t

Like to mention; is shaped like a poem,
Mute and dumb; like a big bronze bell
Held by a handlebar-moustachioed strongman