Earth will not share the rafter's envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko's slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life
As this yam, wholly earthed, yet a living tuber
To the warmth of waters, earthed as springs
As roots of baobab, as the hearth.
The air will not deny you. Like a top
Spin you on the navel of the storm, for the hoe
That roots the forests plows a path for squirrels.
Be ageless as dark peat, but only that rain's
Fingers, not the feet of men, may wash you over.
Long wear the sun's shadow; run naked to the night.
Peppers green and red—child—your tongue arch
To scorpion tail, spit straight return to danger's threats
Yet coo with the brown pigeon, tendril dew between your lips.
Shield you like the flesh of palms, skyward held
Cuspids in thorn nesting, insealed as the heart of kernel—
A woman's flesh is oil—child, palm oil on your tongue
Is suppleness to life, and wine of this gourd
From self-same timeless run of runnels as refill
Your podlings, child, weaned from yours we embrace
Earth's honeyed milk, wine of the only rib.
Now roll your tongue in honey till your cheeks are
Swarming honeycombs—your world needs sweetening, child.
Camwood round the heart, chalk for flight
Of blemish—see? it dawns!—antimony beneath
Armpits like a goddess, and leave this taste
Long on your lips, of salt, that you may seek
None from tears. This, rain-water, is the gift
Of gods—drink of its purity, bear fruits in season.
Fruits then to your lips: haste to repay
The debt of birth. Yield man-tides like the sea
And ebbing, leave a meaning of the fossilled sands.
Your hand is heavy, Night, upon my brow.
I bear no heart mercuric like the clouds,
Exacerbation from your subtle plough.
Woman as a clam, on the sea's cresent.
I saw your jealous eye quench the sea's
Flouorescence, dance on the pulse incessant
Of the waves. And I stood, drained
Submitting like the sands, blood and brine
Coursing to the roots. Night, you rained
Serrated shadows through dank leaves
Till, bathed in warm suffusion of your dappled cells
Sensations pained me, faceless, silent as night thieves.
Hide me now, when night children haunt the earth
I must hear none! These misted cells will yet
Undo me; naked, unbidden, at Night's muted birth.
Procession I - Hanging day
A hollow earth
Echoes footsteps of the grave procession.
Walls in sunspots
Lean to shadow of the shortening morn.
Behind an eyepatch lushly blue.
The wall of prayer has taken refuge
In a piece of blindness, closed.
Its grey recessive deeps.
And glances that would sometimes
Conjure up a drawbridge
Raised but never lowered between
Their gathering and my sway.
Withdraw, as all the living world
Belie their absence in a feel of eyes
Barred and secret in the empty home.
Of shuttered windows, I know the heart.
Has journeyed far from present.
Tread. Drop. Dread Drop. Dead.
What may I tell you? What reveal?
I who before them peered unseen
Who stood one-legged on the untrodden
Verge- lest I should not return.
That I received them? That I wheeled above and flew beneath them.
And brought him on his way.
And came to mine, even to the edge
Of the unspeakable encirclement?
What may I tell you of the five
Bell-ringers on the ropes to chimes.
What tell you of rigors of the law?
From watchtowers on stunned walls.
Raised to stay a siege of darkness
What whisper to their football thunders.
Vanishing to shrouds of sunlight?
Let not man speak of justice, guilt
Far away, blood-stained in their
Tens of thousands, hands that damned.
These wretches to the pit triumph
But here, alone the solitary deed.
In The Small Hours
Blue diaphane, tobacco smoke
Serpentine on wet film and wood glaze,
Mutes chrome, wreathes velvet drapes,
Dims the cave of mirrors. Ghost fingers
Comb seaweed hair, stroke acquamarine veins
Of marooned mariners, captives
Of Circe's sultry notes. The barman
Dispenses igneous potions ?
Somnabulist, the band plays on.
Cocktail mixer, silvery fish
Dances for limpet clients.
Applause is steeped in lassitude,
Tangled in webs of lovers' whispers
And artful eyelash of the androgynous.
The hovering notes caress the night
Mellowed deep indigo? still they play.
Departures linger. Absences do not
Deplete the tavern. They hang over the haze
As exhalations from receded shores. Soon,
Night repossesses the silence, but till dawn
The notes hold sway, smoky
Epiphanies, possessive of the hours.
This music's plaint forgives, redeems
The deafness of the world. Night turns
Homewards, sheathed in notes of solace, pleats
The broken silence of the heart.