I have changed the numbers on my watch,
And now perhaps something else will change.
At precisely 2a.m.
You will not get up
And gathering your things together
Perhaps now you will find it is
Far too early to go,
Or far too late,
And stay forever
Doubt shall not make an end of you
nor closing eyes lose your shape
when the retina’s light fades;
what dawns inside me will light you.
In our public lives we may confine ourselves to darkness,
our nowhere mouths explain away our dreams,
but alone we are incorruptible creatures,
our light sunk too deep to be of any social use
we wander free and perfect without moving
or love on hard carpets
where couples revolving round the room
end found at its centre.
Our love like a whale from its deepest ocean rises –
I offer this and a multitude of images
from party rooms to oceans,
the single star and all its reflections;
being completed we include all
and nothing wishes to escape us.
Beneath my hand your hardening breast agrees
to sing of its own nature,
then from a place without names our origin comes shivering.
Feel nothing separate then,
we have translated each other into light
and into love go streaming.
There is a boat down on the quay come home at last.
The paint’s chipped, the sails stained as if
Time’s pissed up against them.
I imagine the sea routes it’s followed,
Sailing through the world’s sunken veins
With its cargo of longings;
A little boat that’s nuzzled its way
Into the armpits of forests,
That’s sliced through the moon’s reflection,
Through the phosphate that clings to the lips of waves.
I knew its crew once,
Those boys manacled to freedom
Who set sail over half a century ago,
And were like giants to me.
A solitary child in awe of oceans
I saw them peel their shadows from the land
And watched as they departed.
What did they think when they peered
Over the rim of the world,
Where Time roared and bubbled
And angels swooped like swallows?
Reading an ancient Morse code of starlight,
Stranded by the longing to be elsewhere,
What secrets did they learn to forget?
I longed to be among them,
A passenger curled up in fate’s pocket,
I longed to be a part of them –
Those ghosts who set sail in my childhood,
Those phantoms who shaped me,
That marvellous crew for whom
I have stretched a simple goodbye
Out over a lifetime.
Gust becos I cud not spel
It did not mean I was daft
When the boys in school red my riting
Some of them laffed
But now I am the dictater
They have to rite like me
Utherwise they cannot pas
Some of the girls were ok
But those who laffed a lot
Have al bean rownded up
And hav recintly bean shot
The teecher who corrected my speling
As not been shot at al
But four the last fifteen howers
As bean standing up against a wal
He has to stand ther until he can spel
Figgymisgrugifooniyn the rite way
I think he will stand ther for ever
I just inventid it today
When I got my finger stuck up my nose
I went to a doctor, who said,
“Nothing like this has happened before,
We will have to chop off your head.”
“It’s only my finger stuck up my nose,
It’s only my finger!” I said.
“I see what it is,” the doctor replied,
“But we’ll still have to chop off your head.”
He went to the cabinet and took out an axe.
I watched with considerable dread.
“But it’s only my finger stuck up my nose.
It’s only a finger!” I said.
“Perhaps we can yank it out with a hook
Tied to some surgical thread.
Maybe we can try that,” he replied
“Rather than chop off your head.”
“I’m never going to pick it again.
I’ve now learned my lesson,” I said.
“I won’t stick my finger up my nose –
I’ll stick it in my ear instead.”
Mr Ifonly sat down and he sighed,
I could have done more if only I had tried
If only I had followed my true intent
If only I had done the things that I meant
If only I had done the things that I could
And not simply done the things that I should
If only a day had lasted a year
And I had not lived in constant fear
Mr Ifonly sat down and he cried:
I could really have lived if only I had tried!
Now life has past me by and its such a crime,
Said Mr Ifonly who had run out of time
I do not know what brought me here
Away from where I’ve hardly ever been and now
Am never likely to go again.
Faces are lost, and places passed
At which I could have stopped,
And stopping, been glad enough.
Some faces left a mark,
And I on them might have wrought
Some kind of charm or spell
To make their futures work,
But it’s hard to guess
How one person on another
Works an influence.
We pass, and lit briefly by one another’s light
Hope the way we go is right.
I did not sleep last night.
The falling snow was beautiful and white.
I dressed, sneaked down the stairs
And opened wide the door.
I had not seen such snow before.
Our grubby little street had gone;
The world was brand-new, and everywhere
There was a pureness in the air.
I felt such peace. Watching every flake
I felt more and more awake.
I thought I’d learned all there was to know
About the trillion million different kinds
Of swirling frosty falling flakes of snow.
But that was not so.
I had not known how vividly it lit
The world with such a peaceful glow.
Upstairs my mother slept.
I could not drag myself away from that sight
To call her down and have her share
That mute miracle of snow.
It seemed to fall for me alone.
How beautiful our grubby little street had grown!