Shift

While I write by the window, such
ghosts watch the house, consider
the emerging shape of a youth
in front of a mirror, a face
 
from shave to shave unfolding.
Its is
is different each day,
but always the same revenant
wanders in, holding a lamp.
 
'The sun was never brighter,' he says,
'and this apparatus is its gaze.
Here is the past, which starts
in the present. With backwards logic
 
its questions leave you
no lessons as you move the pen
across the page, a dancer
discovering each step as it's taken.'
 
 
 
Plot
 
In an age of oval-shaped romance pictures,
dumb letters as downloads, should we scrap it all
for 'authentic' writing, like a bloody cleft
washed by the waves, which carry torn up
 
messages away in the fringe of their flood?
Who is playing who in this deathless sketch
of an old master, where a woman with a deep
red scarf deftly skirts a man who remains
 
alone in a breathless stance before an all-
too-familiar shaving mirror? We may watch
in the belief that each movement makes
for a whole. We may guess and grasp at codes.
 
But in a stripping of bodies, how can you tell
from a lit-up window which one is yours? You can't
put your finger on them. The story has to begin again
with its tale of a figure never quite centred in its frame.
 
 
 
Vein
 
We enjoy the fiction of encounters, their meaning
in the margins, yet growing from there to be
so true they become everything without us
realising. Ten minutes have passed and we
 
are nowhere, our feet not touching the ground,
the future as someone else's life. There are those
we have never outgrown. We wish them well.
Everyone must wait to come out of their own tale.
 
I open my father's copy. It tells the truth
about him on a great steam train in an ancient
colouring book, its lines traced finely through
my heart, yet lent weight by their scarcity.
 
Why, lad, are you here?  Because sometimes
that's all there is. At the end of the station platform,
coatless exiles share fluctuating life stories,
their white shirts deleted or flickering in the steam.
 
 
 
Photo
 
It comes out on a winter's day, grey
in beak and claw. It strikes the mesh of curvy
women, with a whiff of uncovered leaves.
Looking for a connoisseur? I'm here,
 
though little of what we expect still sparkles.
Behind the scene it's much darker, at the foot
of the bed a texture of something dead,
dragged from the canal. The wild blonde
 
won't stay in the same room. Born on a slab,
I want to talk about Betty's pubic hair,
dark, strange, scratchy. Forget your benign
tinkering. Watch the film again. You've opted
 
not to go, bald eagle. This celluloid trail
has never been an easy place to love. Seeing it,
we are lost.  Do we want
ocular fatigue? Take
your shoe off.  Pass the heel round and invite us to smell it. 

 
           Ian Seed 2013