Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
The night air carried nothing of the city;
the sky, a slate grey-blue beyond routine
bankruptcy, the government of loss.
Blackbird, rattling its thicket, had no
ear for trumpets. Spring intuited itself.
What sank from high dark to horizon, stone-in-
water, escaped all newspapers and the day’s
thin infatuations: a canopied ring of lights
hovered there: ghost-carousel, UFO:
the Blackford Hill observatory. Come dawn,
an ordinary world returned: dew on bracken,
a team of painted, fire-forged horses
dropping like stars from the sun’s womb
to carry off a crowd of shoeless children.
Railroad work, through Cavendish, Vermont.
An accidental blast: the tamping rod
enters by cheek, behind eye, comes rocketing out
the skull-top of foreman Phineas Gage,
landing behind him some thirty yards away,
a javelin greased with blood. He sits up.
Reporters note: ‘Alive at 2 o’clock,
possessing all his reason, free from pain.’
Frontal brain destroyed, the healing’s mixed.
His friends confess, Gage is no longer Gage.
Once business-like, mild-mannered, now profane,
irreverent to fellow men and God,
His work revealed by thunder, and the rod,
or living mercy — Gage remains unfixed.
A passion fuelled by foxes cannot last.
Our joiners cobbled up this mirrored bliss.
A skater’s weight will force a pond’s collapse.
Fox-love is a game of hit or miss.
I’ll throw them chicken wings, a slice of beef.
Porch lights will ignite when foxes run.
Our garden is a pool of disbelief.
Vermin have their holes in kingdom come.
The synaesthete sees colour in a word;
a tune is bitter almond, orange peel.
A fox’s nose is cleaner than a sword.
Our kiss was burning bibles on a wheel.
Hail, as foxes gnaw their daily bread,
the winter pavement serving as a dish.
We snuffled out our boundaries in bed.
Christ send me, quick, another night like this.
Abraham wielded a watering can.
With star-mangled fervour
he sprinkled the Arctic, the Sahara.
Five years later, a riot of wild
orchids and tropical liana
convulsed the Arndale shopping centre.
Moths fled their equator.
With twelve-inch tongues uncoiled
they drilled for glacial nectar.
Some species perished: inverted
atmospheres, increased cloud cover
snuffed the jewelled frog, the grail spider.
When moonlight wobbled
Abraham knocked a nail through it.
Moses horned, lantern-jawed,
down from his mountain.
The Law weighed a half ton,
his palms and finger-pads
whispers ran as follows over
cleft palate, mild speech impediment:
avoid shellfish and homosexuals;
dally not with incontinent vipers
on Hollywood Boulevard; cherish
cuckoo spit, the cuckoo wasp.
Secure the election.
Moses, in a marmalade wig,
reloaded his gun.