October – Gram Joel Davies

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The Plan

When old and rich, my love, let’s spend
our last on cliffs, above the copper sea.

A whitewash house with windy slats and slates
that shake, its iron gutters rusted through.

Where you can plant us blue hydrangeas
that conduct the sky into the chalk,

and we might count away the teatimes
by the tussocks tumbling down to surf

as saltwind mouths away the lawn,
until our driftwood porch has gandered out,

a jawbone, jutting over circled gulls.
And this is when the night will plughole ‘round

the crosshatch glow, beneath the highest eave,
and lightning sound the flintcrest heave and ho;

while you and I, my love, at four a.m.,
thunder with the bedstead on the wall,

a bolt will plunge the flower bed,
the headland bitten like a scone,

and we’ll crescendo to the ocean floor —
ride the rocksled through a whooping storm.

 

First appeared in The Lake (ed. J. Murphy) September 2014

 

 

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You Mummers of Lounge and Parlour

Role-Play Gamers, charmed
by magical, cast-plastic dice; strolling
players on your sofas, pastoral
fancies, tinged by nightmare, passed
like biscuits over coffee tables. Brave
enough to take the extra slice —
while other men and women laugh
in the right places, wear their rictus-masks
and train for adulthood’s dark hood
— you dare to differ, lose face, don
the rigours of a visage not your own.
Solve problems unrelated to taxation,

pensions, matrimonial vexations, homes.
You, optimist, you, wish-smith, dungeon-
delver, fantasist, naïve and sly.
Arrival is as nothing to the travel;
you smile at dilemma — tousled, matted luck,
at misdirection — twisted, gnarly death.
You love like sisters, brothers, templar
knights and heralds of bardic justice;
fair as physicists and passionate as priests,
you ward-against gangrenous undeath with faith
in fables, shared and interactive mythos.
Even life’s cold, burning riddles hold
a grail of lust.

 

First appeared in The Centrifugal Eye (ed. E. A Hanninen) 2007

 

 

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Insoluble

He loved her, he hated her

schizophrenia, un-spooled
himself like film to catch

her spitting mind, insoluble
nova, caesium dissolved
in a watery crucible; her sweat-

soaked hands. He clutched
her like a cut across the gut,

terrified he loved her
the same way a camera
loves old photographs.

First appeared in The Centrifugal Eye (ed. E. A Hanninen) 2007

 

 

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Die Back

Over ale, he tells me,
Ash burns wet. Downpour.
Trains in disarray, villages
silenced. The English seem
forever unprepared. To reach
a bus stop needed waders.

That website showed you
how to spot the rot: patches
in bark like porter soaking
shirtsleeves; twigs’
black fingernails bared
above canopies.

We fought flash floods
on roads which closed like zips
behind us, to this inn fire
under these ceiling beams.
Some things appear changeless;
there are no tales of tomorrow.

Away in lanes, overhung by ashes’
banana-bunch branches, comes
a creeping flame. Another ale –
he tells me there were fewer
floods, back in his day.

 

First appeared in Bolts of Silk (ed. J. Wilson) 2013

 

 

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N

For example, N, who is the first boy ever to do it
and is unlike all other boys, though N has been told

boys’ bodies get ready soon, which is reasonable,
like new teeth or those hairs beneath his navel,

being automatic and so much a foregone conclusion
it has nothing to do with sitting here, pulling the skin,

hiding it, revealing, thinking perhaps there is this girl
whose face he cannot see, who keeps saying,

show me, show me, though why, he is not sure, nor who
she really is, only, the idea she wants to see is good, good,

repeatedly imagined – done – though she is hard to imagine
because girls do not say that, why would anyone (except

a boy like N who is unlike others) think of her saying it
as he shows her, over, feeling something, something new,

something like a gift opened, something like gratitude,
or a battery on the tongue, though not quite like waking

without air through bedclothes, knowing boys do not show girls ―
who never ask ― like N does now, as this lightbulb is crushed

into light and there is a flash, as something hits him in the eye
and it stings, stings because she is gone, never there,

fading like a voice going N, what have you done… done…
a waking sickness, and never telling about an eye

glued shut, or a handful, almost yellow, though
he cannot know: it does not look that way, a second time.

First appeared in Linden Avenue (ed. A. Dixon) 2015

 

 

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A Photographer Dissembles

You suspect the bastard
presses your view until it snaps.

His rose is not taken as given
but posed. He waits to prey

on the specific change in light,
keeps his background blurred.

After he uploads his catch
he tampers:

slides chrominance to excess
on particular points,

mascaras the softer lines.
He smudges, and brushes out flare.

He says you must
look at it his way.

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