They Were Closing Deals and other poems

They Were Closing Deals and other poems

They Were Closing Deals 

They were closing deals.
They were sleeping and waking.
They were done drinking.
It was difficult.
They were badly out of breath.
They were overweight.
They opened the door.
They ran out into the street
because the street called.
There’s nothing to see,
they said, and could see nothing
that would help them see.
They were hanging in
under a star shower. Bright
sparks in the darkness.
It was a bad year
to be stuck outside. It was
all storm and stutter.
It was a long year
to be ending. It was hard
to keep track of it.
It was elegy 
without a subject. It was
simply vanishing.


He had everything
and felt entitled to it.
Entitled is good.

The taxes he paid
were not the taxes he paid,
why should anyone?

People try to save.
It is natural to save.
Everyone does it.

The moon does not yield
all the sun’s light. It must save
some for its own use.

The sea’s energy
belongs to the sea. Why should
the sea not prosper?

It is natural
for the sea to salt away
salt for its own use.

Far away islands
are a natural resource.
They are resourceful.

Far away is good.
Islands that are far away
are good for business.

Wealth is natural.
The way things are is nature
being natural.

We are far away
and natural. Nature is
just and generous. 


The clouds shift past like overloaded trucks.
It’s summer. We are standing on the kerb,
hands joined, waiting to cross the road.
Our island has drifted off into the sea
and nothing is steady any more. The sea
is rising so we lose sight of the road,
the gutter’s full too, washing over the kerb.
Wherever we look there are queues of waiting trucks.

Where did we start all this? Where were our hands
before they met? Where was the island then?
Where was the sea? The trucks are loaded with clouds.
Our hands are clasped under a weight of clouds.
Soon it will be evening. Whatever happens then,
these are our eyes, these are our hearts and hands.

Homage to Svetlana Boym
‘The Future of Nostalgia’

The future of nostalgia was resolved.
We’d had enough of it. No more dreaming
of grandad’s underpants or mother’s bra.
It was the end, there was nothing worth redeeming.

This was Chimerica where everything was trade 
and free as air, the air of yesterday.
Nostalgia was the present remembering itself.
The present was past and wouldn’t go away.

Lord, let us live in a shower of cheap light.
Let’s trade our bodies as once we traded fur.
Let us be lost in streets without a map.
Let’s be ourselves by being who they were.

Vanishing Act

And so
they thought on friends,
those suddenly vanished,
the magical evanescence
of things.

But thoughts
also vanish.
The moon lies on her back.
The stars remain inscrutable
and brief.

The streets
turn into night
and vanish. The houses
rear dark faces and close their eyes
on space.

Closed eyes
become the street.
The cars in it grow dense
as planets. The pavements lie down
to sleep.

appears like light
fading into itself.
It is as if vanishing were

was what things were.
Normal the night, the street,
the houses, the vanishing, and

Bad deal
was no deal. No
cards. All the vanished friends
had been dealt their hands as soon they
woud be.

The moon
lay on her back,
rocking gently, smiling.
Night lay on the dense cars and turned

Envelope 96: an experiment with fiction/my father cannot believe how old he is

I can’t believe I am 92, said my father. In my mind I am not on the point of death but 
thirty-five with a vast moustache and a small tail.
I can’t believe I am 82, said my father. In my mind I am only seven, terrified, leaping 
off a moving train.
I can’t believe I am 72, said my father. In my mind I am just fifty-two and falling off a 
building very slowly. Like this.
I can’t believe I am 62, said my father. In my mind I am eighteen, handsome, holding 
a dead creature in my hand and asking a question.
I can’t believe I am 52, said my father. Only yesterday I was seventy-one. My shoes 
were burning. My hair stood on end.
I can’t believe I am 42, said my father. In my mind I am only twenty-three. A parrot 
squawks on my shoulder. My slide rule is broken.
I can’t believe I am 32, said my father. In my mind I am three-hundred-and-twenty 
revisiting my ghostly lovers along the Danube while nibbling Sachertorte.
I can’t believe I am 22, said my father. In my mind I am you at sixty-eight typing 
sentences like this one. And still it goes on.
I can’t believe I am 12, said my father. I am a barely developed foetus dreaming of 
playing football on an extensive sunlit beach.
I can’t believe I am 2, said my father. In my mind I am dead at ninety-two, whistling 
something under my breath, my eyes full of sky.


Let us imagine light shrinking from its own shadow.
Let us imagine the world of objects turning inward, losing definition.
Let us imagine our fingers accusing our hands of being masters of legerdemain.
Let us imagine the leaves muttering conspiracy and sharpening their edges.
Let us imagine we are in a boat that imagines itself a wreck.
Let us imagine our tongues as free agents floating into a realm of pure language.
Let us imagine the morning as a distant object lost in the night.
Let us imagine a deep sound that refuses to be music, insisting it is speech.
Let us imagine the sea contracted to a hiatus between moving islands.
Let us imagine the mouse scuttling past the fence with thoughts as fierce as the wind.

Donate Now


*Comments will be moderated