Stride Magazine -



They are hunting a sniper on CNN.
Breaking news is a tarot card
signed I am God
. The firearms expert
talks in millimeters, flashy graphics
number victims and map the shootings.
The reward is millions. Phone lines jam
with tips and lies, truth and hoax.
Police psychologists
think about dreams, two men sleep
in a secondhand car.

Outside the room, it is Cuba.
The Caribbean glitters on the breeze,
old men sing and dance in the square,
salsa is an ease of hips and feet,
bass and step. A young boy sways
like a note is played, music is air
and Castro watches, young on the walls
but old on screen no freeze-frame death
like a t-shirt Che, just a people paused
for the dollars of the West.

The hotel has air-con and cable TV.
It was new in the seventies, and rock stars
lounged by the pool and smoked cigars,
laughed with the Mafia. The sundown
glowed in cocktail ice and bottles of rum.
Missiles came and champagne flowed.
Now the pool is closed for repair,
the girls in bikinis somewhere else.
Less glamorous tourists drink at the bar,
buy cigars for friends that smoke.

I turn off the TV, tune to a channel
from an overwhelmed world.
You turn down the air-con and strip.
Naked on the bed, lined by the sun
that falls through the blinds, you breathe
as measured and deep as a diver at sea.
I move and kiss you. I am submerged too.
Nothing matters here, an arcadia of sheets
and skin, sperm and sweat,
the rhythm of sex for a stamp of being.


I Above Heathrow

The sky is the same palette
for two different paintings.

The grey blue grey brings
rain shine rain
with a spectrum bowed
and spanning fields.

We work between showers
that fall like silver
or light
in fattening drops.

II The Bridge

Where we sit, huddled in shelter
at four pounds an hour,
is filthy with dust and fumes,
fag ends and glass,
the cans of lager that cancel a mind.

We talk
of easier jobs and cash in hand.
The cars that pass
splash and look
with masks as faces
in the noon dark gloom.

When the world
shines again,
we fork piles of mulch around
sapling trees
that blacken already. The grass
shivers in the wind of speeding trucks.

III Transient

I know how close to the sky
I am

when I think of the day I found
that bag

furred with mould
and dank with dew.

The weight

of a body in the clothes
we pulled out

rank with a water expired
like the life he walked from.

We guess

he left his shoes absent
without leave

and slipped barefoot
to the blue of another.

IV Escape

I wonder now

If he hears the motorway
like I still do,
roaring with cars and planes.

I wonder now

If he sees the same dream
of an empty beach,
the high tide fresh
on the wind smooth sand,
the printless steps of a walking man.


The mind of a monkey
is composed by the world.

A breeze ruffles his fur,
blows across the hills.

The land around is nothing
but ruins and a river,

a white-washed temple
as bright as snow.

I sit too with a monkey mind,        
watch the nothing

but space and shadow
of a flag on stone.

It ripples with the wind
and swims in the sun.

A soul of fish, trapped
when the seas dried up.

Monkey turns
and looks me in the eye,

opens his mouth to speak
nothing but air.

Older than words
with pink tongued grins.

The world composes
in a monkey mind.

                  Nicholas Hogg 2003