His car is vampire red,
a good match
for the lipstick of the girls
who hang out in the diner.
It’s got the gleaming wheels
long studied in Gomez’ window,
titanium and thirteen spokes
to justify the price.
He eats some pizza, drinks a beer,
walks out into the night.
The guys say nothing,
watch the neon glide along his chrome.
With a roar and spray of grit
on the road towards Las Cruces,
he claims his place
and hurtles into life.
Two degrees of separation
Deep in the night in a building
with no windows somewhere in Nevada,
the drone and all the intel proving good,
Sergeant Billy (the Kid) slams down his console,
roars at the squad, high fives all round.
Over supper we chat about weekend breaks,
one eye on the TV, the News on mute:
an all-white city in afternoon sun
suddenly powdered with puffs of angel dust;
seen from above in blurry monochrome,
a street shudders and melts for a moment
then gels back to show a crater;
a crowd carrying coffins at head height
Slogans on the slaughterhouse wall
They were daubed in passion,
blue and red warring for the eye,
thrilling the blood-sweet air.
Then seasons drained their meaning
as letters roughened into grey and brown
flailed by dust and flecks of bone.
A sudden crack in the mid-day heat
and a blister bursts. A gleam of scarlet
catches the eye, jogs the mind back
to the freshness and the cheers.
Soon the new-found edge will lose its cut
and the web will glue its prey.
He was a giant in his prime,
an icon for his nation,
known in every stadium
throughout the land.
Brought low by booze and sugars,
he lives on welfare in the last street
on the western edge of town,
where rooves are painted red and green and blue
to match the buttes and skies
and lift the dullness of the days.
He wheels himself outside
to watch the sun go down
as black clouds from the north push out the white.
Tonight, the storm is made of sand.
It lashes at his eyes, his mouth,
the bruises on his deep-scored skin.
He does not move.
One day soon he may be carried,
at shoulder-height again,
towards the crackling pyre.
Georgia on my mind
(two days after a visit to Tate Modern)
ninety minutes of colour
line and shape
drag my senses
to see takes time
I take away not flowers
hills or skulls
but Black Places,
My Last Door
and clear pure air
Breezes came gently,
warm on the back.
Flashes of glass
carried in the air.
in bones and genes.
A bill goes up
in the clinic window:
Were you in Iron County
in ’53 or ’57?
Razorwire sparkles in the sun outside,
casts soft-edged scimitars onto the wall.
They slice the hours into silent segments
and cascade slowly to hit the floor
at a slightly different point each day.