temporary lodging

as good a place as any       where the book
just falls open       mid-sentence       to start
here       & subvert the order      far

from the madding       & hardly
a stone standing       cities we'd imagined
way off the beaten       the word is out

let's follow that as far as it'll take us
to the edge where even the largest continent
crumbles       how do we bear this

awakening       here       where you come from
you told me once       before the noise begins
at first light you can hear the lions in the zoo

all over the city       bellowing       you cried remembering
here at least the windows are watertight
for the time being       we can take our chance


a sogging drawl       where the body's
syntax is wiped from the map       different elements
compete for the mind       contours shift
boundaries I'd no longer want
to negotiate
                           where can I go
camping out for now       between languages
hoping at least for a good night's sleep
& perchance       that liminal place of dreaming

an autumnal surrey lane       a gospel hall
smelling of damp and old age       my mother's in there
with the others       they're arranging
the harvest festival       & start singing
a hymn       a happiness I can't share
at the door       looking in       looking out

the choices we make       the fibs we try
to avoid       & at last       the mind is clearer
the further away       the closer

caravaggio's lesson

how to solve the problem of light       falling
from a high angle       & all the various conceits
of the dream you know life to be

regardless of where the light falls       it falls
where it        & you       will       & if a dream
let life       not be a nightmare       in centuries to come

you may wish for a dream       or some other
reality than what seems killingly palpable

just here for the ride

a place to start from     or end up       this far
from       say       the sea       the various paths
that have led to this conjunction       & here

the versions part       one myth's as good
as any other       though none allows for difference
they terrify       but give you a head start

I am not one of those who named the stars
& imagined them into constellations       I do not have
the certainty of a fish       a rock       a lotus

I'm left with an unreadable sky       stories
waiting for the retelling       it's what I see
along the way that makes the journey worthwhile


sharing stories       for this time at least
a common thread       our minatory arguments
will ensnare us       finally       as the seesaw of seasons
swings again       tilts towards expansion
of all our desires       we stand at the window
(across blank fields our light       a beacon
deer blink & cough)       what I mean to say

waking early in this house       the night shifts
haunts       accretions bringing home absence

moving on       from room to room       to get the measure
of this available space       & the day approaching
our breath misting       time to grasp       rearrange
whatever roots have survived the freeze

the telling of

where fiction &       let's call it       reality
meet       the digitalised fact       photo finished
as you like it       & who could ever tell

it's enhanced       & all over the place
futures accounted for       image       it's
what you pay for        keeping up with       & it's

virtual       (being almost but not
quite       (question mark))       about specifities
more than we bargained for       of time

place & what we took for granted
explodes in our faces       & things are
not what they used to seem       or what we thought

the body redefined       & all that's in it
& the two-way road is suddenly a multi-
lane motorway       & anything goes       & does

a sense of self (dis-)engendered       forget
strings       it's membranes now       all the rage
colliding universes       scrapping singularities

rubbishing simple binarities       we used
to make any sense at all       what we need       perhaps
when gods & cows & chickens       what we're left with

           Catherine Hales 2006