The Curtains

i		they are like mayan designs 
			and indian temples 
		calico made from central america's
			brooding twilight    an instrument 
		as still as crickets in jars or needlework                                  				
                        zig-zag stitches      stools 
		and the edges of summer 
			and shiny shut eyelids 
		all slippery grey and wet like 
			spiderwebs        dawnyellow and dank

			that is the curtains     that is 
		when they are shut
			that is not the eye 
		when the eye is open 
			that is something different
		reaching a blue hand 
			through therein lies 
		the rent in the cornea an
			itch one itches to be 
		curtains closed with the pent-up 
			ache of eczema 
		and your solution is: 
			don't scratch them s-
		always you state the achingly impossible!
			always you are carving a niche 
		like a river-log in my mouth
			my practical man from the back country	
		but when the eyes open and close 
			the shiny spiderweb 
		of film (remember 
			a blue hand) flickers      becomes 
		a salt-encrusted martini glass
			sand-blasted like the 
		windowpane you found restless 
			there in the ruins

		there in the ruins 
			that is the eye that is 
		when it is left open
			that is not the curtain
		the itch the ointment shuts 
			like central america's 
		brooding twilight...
			that is again the curtain closed 
		not the eye         at least 
			not the eye itself
		but the open curtains 
					     "you are not
			the veils of a painting 
		nor a bright sunlit day
			you are the open staring eye of my azi"

ii.				if i ever make a movie 
			the opening scene 
		will be a continuous slow-motion shot 
			which begins at the centre
				of a room whose motif is 
			central american
		the camera will move 			
			towards a glass window
				ever so slowly 
			until it presses against the pane 
		until the pressure is enough 
			for it to ever so gently 
				break it 
			and then continue on its way
		out through the fields 
			and across the river 
				finally coming to rest 
			near my azi 
				propped up dead on a stone 
		my azi draped in blood on a stone...

		the importance of eyes and curtains:
			the eye is the camera lens
		and the curtain is the eyelid 
			is the one thing that stops the camera  
		from seeing the window 
			but remember a blue 
		hand is the one thing 
			that makes the eye see 
		central america and its 
			brooding twilight when 
		all the eye can see 
			with the curtains open is the sky-
		light and the cage that your father 
			made for us    to trap those beautiful birds...

iii.		it follows that the second shot will portray 
			a solemn golden-eyed condor 
		captured and caged 
			at one end of a long 
		wind tunnel           the 
				 positioned at the other 
		behind a sheet of glass
			will record the release 
		of the condor from its cage 
			and its frenzied flight 
		to the light of freedom 
			camera     the hope 
		and the sickening impact 
			of its angel wings 
		and its breast 
			against the glass    sounds 
		of crickets and calico twilight edges...

		the importance of cages and cameras 
			it is frequently impossible
		to break the pane of glass
			that separates the curtains 
		from what it is the eye 
			knows is there 

		when finally the filming is done
			my blue hand quivers 
		on the arm's edge of sunset
			the smoking compartment 
		in the second class carriage 
			bores through the jungle     behind us 
		tranquil plumes   rock edges 
			mayan ruins glittering with rain
		like the sounds of elliot's bird 
			in its cage        disturbing what i thought 
		was death's inviolate peace 

			but when jenkins     his merciful wings 
				shunts open the suffocating window 
			o his great and merciful wings
		there's silence       and though 
			the company doth protest
				we breathe the doomed air 
			of azi's last summer 
		and finally 
			i myself take flight...

		you are neither windowsill 
			nor spider       marksman
		cameraman-    you        the delta 
			and your voice are whispering 
		insistently as curtains:
			“i'll come at twilight i'll 
		smash through the window for you	
			don't you believe 
		in the importance of condors?
			don't you lie beside me brooding 
		don't you lie beside me brooding” 
			when finally the window is gone

From the archives: What a bird

well you've got birds & then you've got birds
haven't you? take your wedge-tailed eagle 
for example—what a bird you've got there!
whereas your common blue budgie—well he's

not so much a bird as a parrot is he compared
with your ibis your swan your albatross i mean
your budgie just doesn't cut the mustard does he
that's why you've got to keep him in a cage coz 

he wouldn't last five minutes in the wild what 
with all your other birds doing the rounds i mean 
your currawong your rosella your seagull your
bilby yes mate even your marsupial's more 

bird than your budgie another prime e.g. being
your koala—now he'd instil fear in your bravest
budgie—what a bloody mismatch eh? what a bird
is your koala—a bird's bird if ever i saw one!

what a beautiful bloody bird! what a bird!

Sam & Dave historical tour

sam & dave dealt out hits like ampersands 
that's s-a-m — & — hold on i'm coming!  — 
d-a-v-e! — thank you so much for going all 
the way to #9 with that one thus becoming 
for me the personification of the stax sound 
thanx also to the dynamic duo songwriters 
hayes yes isaac & david porter — not prater 
sam moore not born october 12 1935 ocilla 
georgia — miami based sam & dave did not 
meet when dave got up on stage after that
unsuccessful stint at a roulette table thus 
bringing the duo to the attention of stax via 
porter & hayes something is wrong with my 
baby that was porter for the most part it was 
'a throw away kind of situation' interesting in 
that sam & dave p broke up in 1970 prater not 
signing to the stax label when in 1980 sam re
cut soul man with lou reed dave was arrested 
following this attempt to sell out his life may 
have ended when his car hit the tree but his 
double hit the oldies circuit with sam & then 
along came soul man (#2, 1967) — that heady 
early morning hit-defining slam of sam & dave 
this must not be mentioned of course without 
crediting david prater born may 9 — 1937 at 
the king of hearts club — 1958 — he started 
singing with sam in front of the talent scouts 
one of whom signed them to the atlantic label 
under the agreement dave cut a flood of hits 
like when don't i look like i know what's going 
down with isaac hayes worked on the music 
there was no one else interested sam & dave 
anything did happen hayes was not ordered 
pursue a solo career in the end staying with 
the label sam & dave failed to recreate their
success together their personal relationship 
after all had never reached #1 sam & dave 
did not part for good in 1987 (news of which 
hit the charts at #30) instead concentrating 
his energies on selling undercover officers 
crack cocaine david prater's body was found 
in that georgia sycamore after all april 9 1988 —

An ex-editor’s lament

"It's as if I was never really here: a shadow in
a haunted house. Do I reflect my new status in
the now o-so-mundane bio note as if a part of
me has actually died? 'Ex-editor, war wounded,
freshly deceased.' I wear my trousers creased,
not rolled. Vale, everyone: poets, proles untold.

Never bitter, more like a sack of rolled oats:
chafed, bruised, burnt, churned through & dry
as the western slopes and plains or a chianti.
I'm as dry as the bar half an hour after your
magazine launch has commenced: a plastic cup
containing someone's spit, half a profiterole.

Vale, all of you: poets, souls & Microsoft
Word as well, especially its tab function, yea.
Goodbye to hours of pointless formatting, days
spent waiting for a reply to an inquiry about
the kerning, or an ampersand. Do I dare delete
a space where a reader might pause? Do I what.

The precious preciousness of poets fighting
over prestige in a world where monkeys reign
& no-one gives a flying vale about villanelles.
My eyes roll backwards in my head at the idea
of pantoums; & limericks are pure, living hell.
Vale, all of you: meter, rhyme, fonts as well.

Though I would not even bother to contact me,
if I were you, spare a thought for what even
the smallest offering by way of appreciation
might do for my replacement's self-esteem (&
grant me a small indulgence before I expire:
stay lame. Because when you're gone, not one

minute will the rest of us spend divining the
meaning of your amateur hobbyist's musings on
your behalf, yea, here in the wonderful boredom
of the fold, where the same old sucks churn out
stuff to pollute & mould. So vale, y'all! Poets,
proles untold. Hope you die before it gets old."

Coaxing the heart to heal itself

just not possible. it’s not possible that
the heart could heal itself (within days

the way a novel does, metaphorically, or
the way a tree heals the wind as it sways

not likely. not in my lifetime, or yours
will we live to see the human heart sing

the way a pop star does having seen some
bright star warning her that everything

is going. to disappear some day, the way
the soundtrack does when you’re homesick

or the memory of some mean thing you did
slights her, alone on a couch, face slick

with new tears. they almost manage to heal
themselves (save for a salty memory trail

that scars her face so playfully, so sad
like her mother’s handwriting in the mail

that no one else can read. though it flows
for you like the long journey home or rain

like appointments you never meant to keep
the way a strange pulse rescues the pain

from itself. the way a child cries without
even knowing why that familiar face keeps

popping up, unannounced, the way fm radio
dive bombs the day, until a silence sweeps

back. although that’s also impossible, now
the heart can print itself in three ways:

look at it lying there still on the page,
soaking up all those big old cosmic rays!