Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Wild Lychees

From a Chinese childhood

A lychee tree overhung the garden
Its roots above the storm drain.
The hard shells of its fruit stained my thumbs.
The labour of peeling bark-like skins from eyeballs
Rewarded when blisters popped.
Fragrant juice tracked through the dust on my forearms
To drip from my elbows.
Each globe slipped in the mouth
Slid across teeth and tongue,
Till, unable to resist any longer,
Bite released cascade
Of sweet nectar.
Scented flesh
Stripped from glossy black stone
With busy little chews,
And I fell to unwrapping the next one.

Later, my mother, noticing the brown smudges on my thumbs
Accused me of eating lychees
As if it were a sin.
Hands behind me, cuffed,
I bowed and shook my head.
But I didn't really care what she thought.
Some pleasures are too wonderful
to be denied.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

St. Sebastian

A poem inspired by the sculpture of St Sebastian by Claire Curneen (pictured right).

Transcending pain?
The hands open and stupid,
Small features are blankly insolent - mid-shrug.
Where there's no sense there's no feeling.

The martyr,
A thick white lump.
The extremities crystalized.
Hands and feet achieved some potential
He could act or run.

But the rest,
The calves, legs, torso and flabby waist with tiny genitalia
Are but cellulite on a baby.
He is a goat's-cheese of a man.

What would make such a man special?
And Sebastian needed to be important.
So important something greater than can be deceived (to paraphrase the ontological)
noticed him.
Saw his capacity for turning mulish self-aggrandisement into a virtue.
Something admired Sebastian's gullible faith without base.
His conviction.

And taking pity on him
Paradoxically, given his lack of existence,
With ineffable wisdom
He set Roman legions against him
And at the moment
The wounds poured forth,
Wouldn't it have been good
If he'd turned Sebastain's blood to gold?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Wicked Thoughts!

Glimpsed its face,
Didn't mind its own business
As an innocent would
With eyes turned skywards, or
Down, inspecting fingernails.
No, it met my flash of recognition
With malicious glee.
Wet, bulging orbs stared back at me.

Shame, like an egg cracked on my head,
Slithered down to my shoulders.
A cold shawl warped my flesh.

“Everyone has bad days,” they said.
“Nothing's as bad as you imagine.”

Do they know how its breath stinks, and
Now, I must lift it and suckle that bite.
Clutch it close,
Like the secret.

Only you helped me, when you told me
“We all have vile babies, you know.
We spend parenthood justifying their need for oxygen..”

How I laughed.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

In an Empty House

The thin tin cooker
Like a tower block
In the eastern block
Brown window
Greasy fog
Obscures pinched features
Peering out.

Grime with mouse-droppings
Fetch the 'oover.
Steaming hot buckets
And brushes.

Let's clean this out
Out. Out. Out. Out. Out.
Let's replace it with an