(Joe 'Ginger' Ferguson, gun-runner, smuggler and adventurer, having broken
out of a South American prison, hijacks G209X, a new improved type of rocket,
and heads for the mysterious Planet X)


Is that a spot of blood on the hand

so casually placed on your colleague's shoulder,

the man with shut eyes and finger
pointing at yes the inevitable sky.
Yellow eye, white lab coat -
merely a cipher at zero plus two -
looks briskly over his shoulder
as the hijacked rocket takes off.

Who cares who's in the saddle?
Who cares who's seeing
sweet Earth smaller and smaller
in the rear-view mirror?
Keep going - Planet X awaits
with her delicate blue-skinned children.
Just watch him go. Devil's speed.
Pass the dice Ronald, open your eyes·

Four horsemen in the beams
recoil. Whites of their eyes.
Mouths open, teeth bared, green hats
dislodged as the horses rear in terror. This
is what happens when you mess with history.
The anchor rips the boat in half.
Rowing down the road the fat man sweats,
the oars ragged from scraping tarmac.
Gaze at the boiling kettle, the modern
steam locomotive. The pillars of the temple
shift, the roof cracks and falls about their heads.
Who is G209X? Lost in the ink of space...

By virtue of his shape, his bulk, his
language, the way his mouth
moves, his hands,
he knits himself a toga, lords it -
his every need - taller than them and stronger,
calculating brain, facial hair.
His sex life on the planet? impact
on the economy? technological
advancement before? after?

Heading away from the blue-skinned planet,
ready to die in his own air·
behind him, a statue in his cast-off clothes
points to the horizon where neither sun sets.
He sleeps in the stern, curled like a foetus,
hands between knees, heading for a stranger planet,
a home he'll fail to recognise.
Sleep on a park bench. Break back into prison.


He unzips his jacket, freeing first one head,
then the other. Three necks stretch this way
and that, eyes squint in the glow from the fire.
Rain hisses on the brazier. I pull up my hood,
take off my gloves, rub my hands together.
He looks at me. 'Why'd you come back?'
'Curiosity. Time for a change.'
Earth beckoned. A speck of dust
in the eye of the sky.
'Where are the others?' 'Early yet.'
They'll come with their bottles
and stories. There are no secrets here.
The noise of the city. Orange fog
across the waste. No clouds. Stars.
Kevin dreams of pond weed and fish
the hollow drumming of a heart
the sky through a few feet of water.

I walk sideways across the beach. Right now
Iâm trying to get out of the sun. It's hot
hotter than Mexico. I've never been to Mexico
but my grandfather has. I never met him
but I know he lived in Mexico.
I like to think he survived Acapulco
where divers dive off the cliffs
into the clear blue sea
but whether he did is a mystery.
He may not have heard of Acapulco.
He may not have seen that Elvis movie.
I'm not sleeping. I wake in a sweat,
go downstairs, switch off the burglar alarm,
drink milk from the fridge. Still alive.

He didn't stop he carried on
didn't play by ear but learnt to read music
filed the frets so it sounded acoustic.
Didn't wake up with the rustle from his rucksack
didn't raise the broom handle and wait like an axe man
while we tipped the bag for the mouse to run.
Didn't miss and jar his wrists.
I didnât see him again. It wasn't him that time
across the bar in the Running Horse.
He didn't strip those wires
that night in his room
he wasn't there when they found him.

Walking back in the immense dark
with the stars above us and the black trees
our ears ring and ring
and surrounded by distance and stillness
we shout in our heads at the top of our voices.

        © Cliff Yates 2009