© 2019 by John Edmondson

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

buy online

browse and dream

tiny bits flash

glimpses of your life

 

all swept up in

some murky place

to be parsed parcelled

and presented

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.

Full moon 

 

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.

end

 

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.

An aperitif

flavoured with bitter?

A whitebait and single,

solitary chip?

The main must be offal -

some light

with seasonal green

and a drop

of an earthy Graves.

I settle for

just dessert

and,

possibly,

a quarter

of a

petit four.

Pilgrims

 

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

arms akimbo

straight past limbo

all the way to kingdom come.

dark matter

 

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

falling

gently

to the origin