New poems


For J.G.

I am powerless to change a thing. But
Let me fool you, sweetly, with my pen
Or better still, my fingers, and if not

With my fingers, then my tongue –
Wherever you feel yourself turned
To wood, wherever a joint is thick

Pinned into a pleat or crook, trapping
You in twists of pure human pain –
Let me in. I’ll scratch past bark

Wriggle into sap, sting the spirit still
Living there and turn it facing outwards
Where it can feel the moving truth of air

Forget the tightening rings around your trunk
Let your roots reach into unstopping river
Listen, as my lips burr against your ear

To what leaves hope for, rippling
Invisibly in themselves, from inside
As they reclaim the freedoms of water

Then write back to me in light across
The darkness, the tip of your stylus
A sparking branch, sowing seeds of fire

From the Transatlantic issue of Ploughshares, Vol. 41/1, edited by Neil Astley


This barn with the glass roof you made
To let in the sky, to be an orangery –
All day draws bees up to its panes
Where they bewilder and vibrate
Passing the hours of daylight
Making pure sound from lost honey.

No way to help them out
Nowhere for the bees to go
But over, across and back again.

All they can do is resound the stones
With their drone – a fundamental longing
For the pulsing sky, the promising green
Of the garden and the field beyond,
For the stopping moment of warm quiet
Foraging in the quiver of a flower –

Not this empty bumping and seeking
Until dusk comes and shows them out
Of the window that was always there

Published in The Moth, Issue 11, Winter 2012