Tracing Eights

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Our room overlooked the museum, the stone Ashmolean

with Apollo on the roof, blind to the woman watching from the warm

on the opposite side. His bare chest white in the dark.

I wonder if he knows I’ve grown a heart-shaped mole on mine,

right above my heart. I don’t stop to wonder why.

I watch his arms, rigid in another gale, holding stead-fast with his invisible staff.

How exhilarating to feel such golden solidity;

the intangible goal for those like me, who used to be so weak.


Old glass windows without their second glaze let in a breeze,

that pulls at the sounds of Rome from so long ago. Those old bones,

dragged in again through the holes, I turn the bolt.

Should not be god stalking, the wind is probably a warning.

I’m sure this life shouldn’t feel quite so transitory. Like it’s already gone,

I’m just watching it all, watching myself punch above my own weight,

always expecting different but behaving the same. Like this finger of mine

forever tracing an eight. Then again I suppose, it could be the green …


I race the lazy star to rise, and then at first light go outside.

Here I am, sand stone-faced buildings, do you like what you see?

I am the greatest unfulfilled-dream depository!

I spy the Big Issue seller, not far from me, I suppose he deserves your attention,

but if you’ve any to spare … The main problem being:

I’ll cry out for something, even if it’s not there. Do I need help?

No thanks. I write myself the finest tragedies, honour killing every dream.

If you like gruesome, then I think you’ll like me.


Gusts of pigeons remind me of when I watched the gulls swirl,

as many as the souls who’d just left the earth. But that was another day, another life.

Not here, not mine, not as I trace this zig-zagged line,

carved into a tomb door – sand stone, like the walls I passed through just before.

Apparently pharos would write their prayers, then drink the ink

from the Papyrus. Makes sense. Could be why I’m so short of breath,

still chocking on some ancient wish. Now, I’m embalmed in eternity,

mummified in plain sight, in nothing but sky. But that’s fine;

because my mother told me moonbeams make the best sarcophagi.

Yes, I’ve lied. Now just take what you please.


Have you had a good think? So what do you say?

It’s never the things you think that get you. So come play

a little further down the rabbit hole, I have a warren of old songs I used to sing,

I would like to hear you play. To see my shoulder blade in the half light, but I can’t,

and now the world is on fire. Do you have any water

to save the Arundel marbles? To save me from burning,

on this transit with Venus across the sun. I did it for love.

I did it for Apollo in December. We all did it all for that tangled, strangled stuff,

that twists in our guts like the gnarls of a tree. As if somehow it matters

what it all means.


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