I. Worst winter in quite a while: the guy who delivered our calor gas was frantic, rushed off his feet. “Never been so busy. And the other boy I work with’s went and got himself arrested — driving without a licence.” We sympathised while he put the gas in our heater and then he ran down the stairs to his van, too busy to be cold.
II. The living room warmed by the oven, door open, grumbling of gas; we’ll sleep in here tonight, on the couch that folds down, duvets brought through from the bedroom where we could see our breath. My wife asleep already, ferocious body warming the duvets; me in a chair, reading, in a tartan scarf and red ski hat.
“It’s so beautiful here,” I told the man I was staying with on that island in the North of Scotland. “What’s beautiful about it?” he asked, pouring me another dram. “Everything,” I said. “Just look at the view!” “What view?” he said. “There’s no view. There’s only mountains and heather and trees and water.” When I went back to the city I looked at it for the first time.
you lie on the bed like sunlight sunlight on the wings of birds
no, you don’t
(this is why poetry is rarely to be trusted: unable to accept things as they are it has to turn them into things they are not)
you lie on the bed like yourself yourself lying naked on a bed
and to compare you to anything else would be to make you less than you are
She is getting in bed when she realises she is out of the half-and-half she takes in her morning coffee. He is still dressed. He tells her he’ll walk to the market and get some for her.
The market is two blocks from their apartment. As he walks, he looks up and sees stars
that have not existed since before he was born. They did not know their light would travel so far.
He finds the half-and-half, selects two cartons, stands in line at the checkout. Light of dead stars, her asleep now in their home. Coffee she will drink when she wakes. A journey
of two blocks in the universe.
Frost on the ground, Condensation on the window. Maybe something brittle Broke along the way;
I’ve learned there’s no such thing As a perfect triangle And now there doesn’t seem That much to say.
Between seasons, Colours indistinct, Painted life in shades Not quite of grey,
No stone to be cast Between guilt and innocence, And now there doesn’t seem That much to say.
Water on the glass Makes it hard to see. From outside comes An old dog’s tired bark.
None of this Is near being true. No young or old, only new. The sky is shining dark.
Maybe a strange thing —
a college town at the wrong time of year —
the students are gone but you’re still around, wandering through bookshops, empty art galleries —
tired, sick of it, in a quiet cafe you lose your temper, get up and walk out, leaving yourself sitting over coffee.
The Buddha sits in a downtown bar on a warm night. He’s the Buddha only because everyone is the Buddha — but they don’t know it and he does, so he’s the Tathagata, the Arhan, the Fully-Enlightened One, while they dwell in Samsara and are angry and drink too much.
A woman comes into the bar. Every man in the room wants her, and they suffer because they don’t think they can have her. The Buddha doesn’t suffer; he already has her, even though he hasn’t even talked to her and doesn’t care if he ever does. He has everything because he clings to nothing. He wants the woman, but he enjoys the wanting and he doesn’t care about the outcome. He walks outside, laughing. The moon shines on his shaved head, and his shaved head shines on the moon.
I don’t know when the first star exploded, or when the sun caught on fire. Ice on Jupiter, rain in Tennessee. In a desert city, I help a friend move. We carry boxes from the van to the house, then drink tea from bowls. All but 5 percent of the universe is dark matter. Some of us think we know the other 5 percent. None of us likes being very far from a toilet, however we identify it.
It gets dark, and the afternoon walks into a cafe like a tired old gunslinger walking into a saloon. The afternoon orders a pot of Italian coffee. The guy working behind the counter catches the stink of traffic and murder from the afternoon’s grey clothes. It’s evening, and the afternoon has nothing to say. So it says nothing, just sits at a table by the window and drinks its coffee. The moon shines on the Gothic cathedral across the street.