tales from the data mine
as you shake a hand
scratch your neck
or hold your lover
unseen flakes fly off
to form the dust that’s you
as you text a friend
browse and dream
tiny bits flash
glimpses of your life
all swept up in
some murky place
to be parsed parcelled
clear as a diamond
for any buyer
who then can tell you
what you think
what you want
who you are
At Another Place
(by Anthony Gormley, Crosby Beach)
I’ve come to see the hundred iron men
who face the turbines’ whirling arms
out on the Burbo bank.
When each one left the foundry
they may have looked the same,
but if I’d been close, I might
have seen the hundred faintest flaws
for the world to go to work on.
Tonight they face the ebbtide
for the hundred hundredth time
leaving a hundred lines and whorls
of fingerprints in the sand to taunt
each one tomorrow Who won’t you be today?
They’ll read the braille
of the hundred wormcasts at their feet
and know they’ll never come alive
at moonset to tell their tale.
I look one in the russet eye. He does not blink.
I was not here to see the storm,
the sand and salt etch the rusty
pockmarks now reflected on my face.
I do not have a hundred lives;
I may not have a hundred hours.
The bay is brim-full, puffed up, warm.
Surface tension holds the bulge
while houses on the far side hide the strain.
For one more day we swagger in the sun.
A bird calls time. The sea runs out
and bares forgotten rocks like broken teeth.
I taste the salt. I cry for help
for I am stranded and have lost my crown.
There’s nothing left to do but wait.
Dust dances on in the afternoon sun,
wheels rattle on the high-wax floor,
a violet smell comes and is gone.
All is still for a moment,
poised on a pin.
And it’ll be grit for breakfast
I’ll have the panino.
Just the one, you understand.
The waitress stares at him. I look away.
He’s staying tonight.
I wonder what to serve.
flavoured with bitter?
A whitebait and single,
The main must be offal -
with seasonal green
and a drop
of an earthy Graves.
I settle for
For two grand (ten days, all arranged)
they’ll help some charity, meet St James.
First night - chateau near Roncesvalles
“Coquilles St Jacques’s your only man!”
Waiters fill their tinkling crystal
with fine white Graves and Pomerol.
They chat about the route ahead
and shriek with horror: “refugios –
nowhere to shag? and rustic wine!”
In four post beds they snore like lords.
With serious boots and hi-tech poles
they walk just a tithe of the scalloped road.
Poppies and cornflowers pass them by -
such golden days and silver nights.
In the cathedral at the end,
a dark-browed novice hears them jeer:
“botafumeiro?” “holy smoke!”
He’d love to aim the swinging censer
and send them flying
straight past limbo
all the way to kingdom come.
gates clank awkwardly
behind him one last time
he flips the coin he doesn’t have
go left? go right?
burdened by a manifest of nothing
he darts across commuter spew
no eye contact
a man who isn’t there
he finds the gaps between
the lines of law have widened
allowing no purchase for
his outstretched nails
the spancel of red tape cuts deep
condemning him to be confined
to black holes on the streets of gold
but he declares:
“My name is Zero, Null and Void”
and jumps on
every line and crack
wholly for the hell of it
before the web of dreams enmeshes him
in rough black graves
he’s made the leap of faith
and bolted free
no longer failing
to the origin