grey panes shut out the sunlight
stuffy warmth is no longer pleasant
let us open the windows, wide, widest

what we teach best is
what we do not know
we are teaching is
what we cannot stop
ourselves teaching is
what we do not know

becoming what they want to be
bustling they come in
i sit on the floor
rushing they go out
i count my bones again
the spaces in my head
still not quite sure i'm me

taller than i thought
she was
beautiful as ever
she was
taller than i thought

i shut the door silently
& went away
but for hours sat in
that same room
why i'd left it

alone at the gate
kneeling. ok, i say,
i accept the conditions.
fine, says he all shiny,
but what of all those others
hidden in your head?

i came to you a free man
you were all that i wanted
i depart in chains and shadows
i was not what you desired.
who knows what you desire?

pissing in the wind - he said -
is pissing on yourself - however
if you piss
in the same direction long enough
the wind is bound to change

softened fire deep rain
asleep before
i could even say goodnight
you are become a something
as precious as unknowable
as running water
or the dreams of burning stones

private view

it was of my own choosing &
finally i pulled the string

all my own work
i murmured

the rest paid no attention - it
was opening night & we
were very drunk

those who walk with head
down         smell
only themselves

circled back
foolish vulture
circled back
couldn't pounce
through time

- but that was before
i knew you -

- you joke -
i said

i fell over

what harder fate than
to be woman? she
makes & then unmakes
her man. & this
is what the jackals sang

crazy dance no relief
shadowed eyes sharp teeth

who goes there?
the sandman with his
bag of bones

too many printed pills
bemused strained eyes
the arrogant silence
of a doomed library

ah how we press
each other's faces close
enough to miss everything

unable to dance she sets free
the heart's birds     deeply hidden
walls crumble at their singing

go on, she said


after shaping it
to satisfaction
he will either
hold it in contempt
or kiss its feet
small sniggers
from the gallery

in a summer week wore
a cotton shirt
and myself
right out

a deadly error to mistake
one face one body
for the one that many make

at dusk below the glowing chimneypots
pigeons are fighting - brown & grey & blue
raising their wings to aid the claws' strike
so white their soft bellies in the sun's shadow

one false step &
you're flat on your face or

whose claws are tickling
the stomach roots?

mine mine

no ships in the port
no trains in the town

no way to possibly leave
not today; be comforted

too many holes there are
in all our hearts
where we tore out memorials
to the dead past

one white bird drifting downstream endlessly
the drunk wind trembling touching the small tree
after the stone steps you so simply wanting me
dark roses, petals of complicity,
vectors of deep presence and simplicity

here is where i came to live
directed by unknown desire
between the eagle and the scopion
to balance on this crazy
circling wire
is all i strive toward or am

gorging on the flesh
vulture's beak broke
now i am an owl, he said,
i understand my fears
& look forward to feasting
with slow savour in future

so many years i prized
you above all others
coveted your presence
tried to avoid a death

thank you lady
for refusing me

there are different yous for
every minute & just as many
of me & if some of us
dont get along sometimes
that shouldnt worry the rest of we

not my desire for you
but yours for me
is what i'm hooked on
have no pity
i'm getting old
i'm kicking cold

here is the thing
of mans desire
there the dust
the air the fire

memo to jeykell

under stars no silence now
he has clawed the mask away
his eyes his hands are
clogged with blood and hair
he cannot find the mask
white moon black moon
under stars no silence now
he is screaming for himself

after the fevered harvest
the swords the small bird fearful
of the moons embrace
to go down undrowning to dark water
seeking a more gentle lust
a fiercer compassion

river cry of a gull
sliced by light
travelling seawards
appalled by former loves
without stars grace or favour
closed eyes flecked pebbles

when you are with me
you take the place of time
my hours are measured by
your words & silences

nights of wrong thinking watched the ceiling
for hours streetlamp sullen smoked
a cigarette was rolled too tight
gave me no pleasure acrid as dust
scorched my lips poisoned by habits

try everything! shouts
this man from the departing train.
i could not see who to

time drains into the dark hole
where the platform falls away

mute swan glides again
towards the gull.
beginnings hidden
beneath blue rain.
pods of pleasure
seeds of pain

tail of peacock eye of lion
fish fevered for depth
swiftly forgotten
snare of the sky
earth's hungry hook
ease of our bodies
look of your look

he stepped back
too late the
merest pout
swallowed him

if anything's true, lover
then we are mirrors to each other
and me and you
are only different points of view

whole gardens fade and die
more slowly sweetly
surely than i
say goodbye

they tried to persuade me not
to cross the curious hills;
finally, shrugging, called me
foolish, stubborn.
that's how it is, i said, i'm going
where my pig is headed.

oranges, the dark mirror
cats toying with torn roses
fingers touching fingers
by the open balcony

on such crisp mornings we conduct
an elegant hunt for whatever
may present itself. no-one
hunts us ( we leave no tracks

in the park shaking trees shadows
so many magpies i cannot tell
which way my fate is flying

how can i tell from where
my kind companions come
or what we seek so slowly
in this twilight labyrinth

where journeys intersect we gather
attend the afternoon
the news still small and sane
placid trees
soft rain in our hearts

tarred with fierce jewels
questions out of season
as soresex or melting metal
brain burning with softness

he was deaf he was deep
in the dance the beautiful
music had a different rhythm

for isobel

the high window / sounds rise as smoke
no-one could catch her when she fell

through the mirror into stone & fire
smoke rises as sound / the high window

the day slipping away
as slow tide ebbing from the seaward battlements
hoarse moans from a small woman in the next room
how tightly these travellers cling to each other
on the tiles her toes tweak impatiently
we were going tomorrow
we were getting nowhere

i didn't mean this to happen
she said a few hours later
yes, i said, it was an accident
but i dont think it was a mistake


fingerbook of thumb © dave calder 1975
original publication by Raven Books,
cover by lee noel for Orix