Cancerward


It’s the answer to all our questions,
to all our deep, dearest swerves.
The annihilations we called
duty, pleasure were — in the long run —
only annihilations.
All along, all along,
we were locked from the best of our cells.
We practised book-keeping
when we should have been breath-taking;
stock-taking
when there was time to take stock;
damming and dreaming
when all we were asked to perform
was a dance from that part of ourselves
awake in uncancellable rhythms.

The Blind Self-Interview

I filled my pockets with the weight of a day’s long pain
and trudged to the edge of a barnacled pier —
not to throw myself off
but to kill myself
thought by thought by thought to the end of time.
I failed in the freeze,
as the chill sun set,
hopelessly unable to see what I meant,
and marooned in that zone between iced
and unthawed, where all I could do
was to find in myself one thought at a time —
and thought by thought to the dead-end
of time — a single good reason
to come back to life
once more. I failed,
but in the freeze of twilit sea air
and in the canvas quiet of so much intricate natural noise
I realized, with my hands,
that pockets could never be filled by that sort of emptiness,
and that dusk in a way can be another kind of dawn —
if you’re lucky —
and that home, if you want one, must be built
out of nothing with hard-heart-felt questions
and barn-nail thinking,
thought by thought
to the end.

Big, Odd, Warm August Wind

In this strange August wind, no one is left alone.
It celebrates with its hissing all the world there is still left to go.
Clouds are resculpted in its image:
not the aëry fancy of poets
but muscular knots of force,
like fists. At ground level
its whistling search parties comb through every single leaf of grass
and tussock,
to prove the essence of its substance
right to the limits of finesse.
If I followed the wind out into open fields
and challenged it by standing
tall into space, it would
punch me
at the knees, circle in voiced
and unvoiced kingdoms, assemble
sky-high columns of pressure
on vulnerable points, whip the light from my eyes
into huge, eerie billboards, give me
just one other good reason to live on.


Photograph: Evette Kwok (August 2020)