Two poems from a collection Max is currently working on.
Mum doesn’t believe me about the birds.
There’s a raven on the roof who won’t stop staring down the chimney,
says he lost his favourite feather, the one that gives his wings a shadowy sheen.
This, coupled with what I saw this morning –
I saw this morning a feathered fisherman standing on one leg,
His arms tight folded round his frame, a coat upon its peg.
The shallows sniffed about his ankle, deigned to lick his shin,
Egging him to cast a line and slip his long hook in.
‘Take a stab you spoilsport. This time, my word, you miss!’
The unflappable sleeper, deep in his thought, could not help but smile at this
And, as if in the riverbed planting a kiss, he plucked like a currant that foolhardy fish –
makes me think they’re up to something seedy.
And as for the swarm of swans I saw last night –
The swans are eating kids again, it’s getting out of hand,
They lure them in with rubber ducks, then pluck them from the land,
They look like squashed flamingos, they’ve turned pomegranate pink
From all the brains they peck at (and all the blood they drink).
Their necks once reared like snakes of snow, hissing pomp and grace,
Their beaks rose in an orange glow from out a felty face,
But now they’re ill barbaric things (with useless torn-umbrella-wings),
When one dies don’t dare listen to the semblance of a song it sings.
They’re known to burgle boys and abduct the little girls,
Whose eyes roll on the riverbed like confiscated pearls.
Hate pokes my hornet-heart, my hands begin to sweat,
The moon stubs through the sky like an angel’s cigarette,
I’m standing on the bank with two knives and a net,
My boy was drowned and eaten but I’ll get his soul back yet –
I peer up the chimney. All I see is the razorblade moon shaving a stubble of stars, nicking night’s velvet veins. Next morning. Sun sits unflushed in the sky. Sparrow on the lawn must think I’m stupid, hopping round with a worm-wad in her mouth. Expects me to believe her beak-speak’s real. Last month I found it, stump of a stereo glitching in the grass, surgerying song into the air. Dog dug it up, Holmes of a hound, and since she’s eaten like a monarch’s mistress. Well done Bibi! For sensing what I didn’t, sniffing the lawn’s larynx from its hoax of soily cords. Neighbour’s turf still twitters, starts at 4.a.m., crash of cymbal-sun and they’re away.
‘But why on Earth, Saturn or Mars (or any of the galaxy’s stars)
would birds be bloody lip-syncing?’
I suppose they had to do something
to make us believe in breakfast.
Falling off the Psychedelic Seesaw
The white walls in the living room are peeling off in pinks,
The steel chain of sense melts away in lawless links,
The couch is juggling cushions as the potted plants all clap,
The armchair’s telling the gramophone to spin round on his lap,
My fingers start to wander, the piano flips her lid,
My wallet tells my pocket how I ‘owe ‘im a couple of quid’
The guitar is strumming wisely, as if he’s seen it all,
The chandelier is petulantly threatening to fall,
The newly fitted draws firmly shake each other’s handles,
The wicks are barely peeping out of constipated candles,
The bookshelf warns the hardbacks of incoming new releases,
The stack of bankrupt board games try to pawn away their pieces,
The thermostat goes charging through a desert of degrees,
Then retreats to arctic arms in which his robo-heart can freeze,
The radiator chases chills, lets loose a lukewarm hiss,
Dust cringes as the hoover courts the carpet for a kiss,
Unopened letters laugh madly though their envelopes,
The cigarettes have grown to the size of telescopes,
The curtains try to close (in an effort far from joint),
The TV tells the remote how it’s awfully rude to point,
The CDs slowly suffocate inside their songless cases,
The shoe cupboard is choking on the stench of leather and laces,
The radio is racketeering shady frequencies,
The front door is demanding a more polished set of keys,
Then from the mirror on the mantlepiece there chimes an interjection,
‘I suggest you stay inside.’ sneers the snob of my reflection,
To which I reply, with a roll of my eye,
In a voice at least a pitch too high:
‘Oh fuck off! What are you saying that shit to me for?
I’m only falling calmly off the psychedelic seesaw.’
I plonk into the street, wave away a niggling neighbour,
Stick my tongue into the wind and chug its lovely leafy flavour,
Lampposts flop like flowers as their buzzing bulbs explode,
Cars flow in corrugated currents down the bedrock of the road,
I try to swim upriver but get swatted onto the pavement,
A cardboard cab pulls up and honks ‘Get in my friend, no payment!’
The driver is a striking chap, all handsome and hyperreal,
Slams both feet down on the pedal, yanks both hands up off the wheel,
He shouts above the engine ‘I’m so glad you came outside!
I’ve been parked just down the block all night waiting to give you a ride.’
I laugh ‘Who drives around half naked in a crummy cardboard car?
Please tell me where we’re going and just who the hell you are.’
‘No need for introductions, you know damn well who I am!
But for time and temper’s sake – call me Psychedelic Sam.’
His eyes are tigress orange, his hair is gecko green,
His heart’s made from the cuttings of a Playboy magazine,
His skin’s a venomy violet, his blood runs porcelain pale,
I duck down in my seat to dodge the spikes of his long tail,
‘It’s been too long,’ he mutters ‘We used to be close as clones!
Science labbed my limbs to life like a bonsai from your bones!’
He drives me round the block, round the world, round the bend,
‘There’s a little penthouse party I’ve arranged for us to attend.’
He drives me up the tallest tower in the city centre
Where a polka dot volcano spews up magmas of magenta.
‘Take your seatbelt off we’re going in at spaceship speed!
The word of Psychedelic Sam is all the shelter that you’ll need.’
In those final silver seconds I gulp down such golden glee
From the grail of excitement that Sam passes onto me.
‘Always call me up dear boy, whatever you need me for!
I’m only at the other end of the psychedelic seesaw.’