Grammar Rules OK

It is almost midnight. She reads rules of Spanish grammar
in Dutch. This lets her fall almost asleep
until she wonders, what rhymes with ‘soporific’
and her mind’s off to the races. Ballads clash
with terse short-footed lines
in epics she remembers or might write
a dozen times again, each time forgetting
that she needs the sleep that’s purchased with the boredom
she can only find in studying grammar rules.

Wide-Awake Pedant

‘It cannot be true,’ he says – and he hopes that is true –
‘that I’ve lain awake half the night, and I’ve sleepwalked the other.’
‘Half,’ he adds pedantically, as true pedants do.
He misses the blanket he’d discarded in fear it would smother
his soul if he slept. He watches his fingers turn blue
with his red eyes shut tight, if that’s possible, and he implores
the god Morpheus to aid him in becoming a mammal that snores.

Deeds Not Done

There were still tears where those came from, she discovered.
The sound of silence found them every time.

She’d thought all day this time she had recovered
but evening lets the pushed-down memories climb
the barriers she had placed on broken dreams.

The memories batter dearly-bought defences
and nothing stays as lucid as it seems
in sessions with her therapist.

She winces
as the songs she’s paid for, hoping to forget,
play back as payback for forgotten deeds.

The deeds not done cause her the most regret
while the seeds of silence grow nostalgic weeds
in what she calls her essence.

Quiet, she waits
as she always has, until it is too late.

Land’s End

Thank you. I will leave you now,
for my cottage by the sea.
I can be sane for hours a day,
when that’s required of me.

When we were young, the Dragon’s song
boomed softly in our ears,
so far away, so very deep.
It frightened us for years.

They say the Dragon died last night.
It was extremely old.
I’d ask you down. I will someday.
Just now it is too cold.

Snap Judgements in the Republic’s Baths

The ginger snaps dissolved in the ivory bathtub.
Whatever ate the sinking crumbs stayed hidden
in the steaming cloudy water. Large things stirred.
Caligula, on his horse, imagined great
futures. He placed sycophantic men
in positions of great power; he let them drown.
He laughed until he choked, unplugged the stopper.

Excerpt from CALIGULA UNBOUND

California Dreaming

The poor people sleep for hours in the rain.
Why? Because they are homeless, and it is raining.
To the senators in the gold towers, it seems plain
that, since the poor’s sleeping takes less energy than complaining,
they can say that the poor are lazy, to explain
why they, the senators, are right remaining
high, and dry, and feted all the more
while the sleeping people slide towards Death’s cold door.