last poem

this is the way the world ends
the flowers of green mustard trump the wardrobes of memory
the elongated teaspoons and the sand
trickle through cracks in the overbearing sky
the earth appears to me dressed in a crinoline
and all the shoe shops are closed

a word to the wise

and then on another page

a bunch of flowers and a broken funeral urn
sat in an ill-lit bar in a village in Spain
though nobody went there at all
they preferred to spend their time in another room
where they sacrificed their phones on an altar of tears
and greased the wheels of an antique caravan
so when the cowboy sauntered into the bar
to meet with the bunch of flowers and the broken urn
despite the gossip they knew would result from their tryst
only the flies and the dust and the little dogs
were privy to their exchange
for three into two will always lead to dismay
and the bitter taste of Sunday afternoons
in childhood when the curtains are not quite drawn
and between them you can glimpse your naked flesh
spread like a blanket across the years of your life
extending before you like the shadow of a fork
because nobody knows what they’ve seen

only a few remain

o little snails that have such greatness thrust upon them
show us the paths that lead deeper into the woods
where luminous fungi sprout from the fallen trees
and branches bend to catch us as we pass
lost among the statues that stand in rows
in the deep gulfs of dusk in a time of spoons

and dearer to the memory of God
the customary sparrow falls from the sky
and in its claws
a branch of parsley and an ancient coin

remember the fate of the first man to spit at the moon
who died in an incident nobody cares to recall

third marriage

an unsuspected diadem of rain
and o the soft caress of crepuscular wounds
inflicted by one whose faces are merely skin
a person of indeterminate shape
who fell from the ceiling and rolled across the floor
at times a woman a spade or a broken arm
the kind of person who licks the coconut oil
from the legs of heroes who died in the first world war
but none are left they all rose into the air
when the whistle blew and the armchair followed the wind
a hand with windows and doors of immaculate snow
distilled from the ribs that flicker across the sky
whenever the weather gets bored
three cheers for the sugar that falls from the mouths of whores

the luminous philosopher

a marvellous country
depending as it does on the flowers of the marigold
that grows from the centre of the forehead of the second woman
who collects a packet from the post office at precisely 4 p.m.
she leaves a trail of breadcrumbs
and the birds fly down to count the stones in her hand
and the scent of her gloves makes tennis balls rise from the ground
and the world is full of lips
lips of malachite and unleavened bread
lips of broken glass and discordant flesh
lips of desiccated leaves and unspoken prayers
the tusks of the afternoon slide under her petticoat
and her pubic hair takes fright

this is not a poem about the earth
but rather a slice of bread dipped in olive oil
and sea-lions gather where lichen hangs from the trees
that make no sound as they fall

the enigma of time

here in the curved shell of my empty bones
the years gather like a coronet of leaves

I had three lovers one was the arch of the sky
another dug a trench in the dead of night
and the third dropped a coin in my palm

I meant to say that the inkwell was deeper than that
that the well-oiled machinery of love
would spin its fragile webs across the room
joining our hands and leaving no trace on the walls
or perhaps a comb or an empty biscuit tin
but the shadows that spilled from my mouth never reached your ears

or was it the other way round?

I walked away
leaving my coat on the sand

after a certain time it began to grow
spreading its wings and sprouting a nest of mouths
its jointed antennae dragging on the ground
its fingers brushed my lips and I closed my eyes
and I filled my pockets with pebbles and cleared my throat

I doubt you can see what I mean
for all the bridges you build are guarded by stones
each one kept in place by a safety-pin
and the mirrors that you flash across the void
are hard and sharp in the sun

in the company of wolves

my heart is a chest of drawers
and in each drawer a scalpel and a rose
like a lizard on a wall
like masonry in the foliage of years
like the footsteps that echo in the hall
and my eyelids cling to the floor
green for the night and black for the void of stars
and when I open my eyes I fall asleep
and in my dreams
women descend the stairs of my vertebrae
each costume a mirror
fingering the memories that are lined with shoes
and the toadstools that sprout from my thighs
talking in whispers and laughing behind their hands
and their bodies hang from my limbs
crucified in the postures of surprise
and the spiders build a castle in their hair
linked by ropes to the window that looks to the east
where the rising sun is a bowl of lukewarm oil
that sheds its pennies on bankers and paupers alike
filling the sheepskin purses that hang from the trees
where their parents buried their bones
I would rather ruffle your feathers than sit on your face
for the bright cutlery of desire
has traded its postage stamps for a plate of brawn
on the hill behind my house
where the birds scream in harmony with the leaves
that flutter from door to door with a bunch of keys
in the morning with shotguns and pears

like a jellyfish on the sand

in the depths of the forest where a bell marks the passage of the years
the flowers bend down to contemplate their wounds

a woman walked there alone
with her body hidden in a cone of light
and her breasts wrapped in ribbons of arable land
her skeleton walked by itself three paces behind
handing out photographs of her teething ring
and the people gathered together and raised their arms
and cried out who will save us from the chain
and those who were dressed in lettuce leaves and string
gave buckets to those who were dressed in a cape of moons
and covered their shadows with straw

only three fingers kept her from the sky
whose constellations tangled in her hair
on her table a knife and a stirrup pump
with which she drew the water from her brain
the water that gave life to metronomes
and spent the summer painting on the wall

a cat with a foot in the middle of its back
was the brittle sun that clambered from her well
and dragged its tendrils over the polished floor
in a room where the cupboards were full of violins
with eyes of petrol and fingers of unslaked lime
washing the coins that were smeared with shaving cream
in buckets of resin and wine

she worked hard when others were at play
and sowed her children in the arid ground

island

my island where the birds croak by day and the frogs sing at night
where the roads are paved with hair and ethereal plumes
where the sky hangs beneath the earth
and lightning erupts from caverns beneath the hills
like the hands of a clock that has forgotten what it is
to dance on the wires that are looped between the trees
that strike their matches on the shards of bone
suspended from the walls of a labyrinth
as meaningless as the scissors that cover the floors
of unroofed shanties tumbling through the air
and pieces of flesh no bigger than a palm
my island of pages torn from an almanac
where the rain clings to the steps that lead to the moon
and lidless eyes roll across the ground
mired in the dust and the heat and the drone of the flies
that are dulled by the lust that makes old men drown their wives
standing in rows in the colourful cemeteries
that fill the hearts of passers-by with glee
and bubble up in the places where no-one goes
my islands of stories told in the depths of night
where the painted horses daubed on the banks of streams
seem closer to the bed of the festering sun
than the chequebooks that hang from the rafters like shrunken heads
where nocturnal hummingbirds buzz like electric fans
and blood spurts from the necks of the headless dogs
that lie beneath the tables of the rich
who toy with knives and are buried in jackets of glass

une part de vérité

come over to the pillow
for it’s cooler near the door
tingling warm sensations
like a lemon pressed on the flesh of a nearby hill
ten percent larger each time
why do your knees cross the equator whenever we meet
and brand their anvils with pictures of wanton girls
trading the drainpipes of leisure for ghostly pools
where jellyfish hide from the sun
we’ve had this conversation a thousand times
and you always show me the fan-belt under the floor
hanging stockings from every available bough
one to be smaller than three
your smile is a casket of sapphires that seep through the wall
and resound from the steeples whenever the bedclothes catch fire
mirroring like some vague translucent fruit
the various digits of the elusive bride
whose buttocks are padded with straw