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Poet, writer, teacher



The Curtain


Perhaps you know that story where people step
out of this world and into another
through a split in the air – they feel for it


as you would your way across a stage curtain
after your one act, plucking at the pleats,
trying for the folded-in opening through which


you shiver and shoulder yourself
without so much as a glance up
to the gods, so keen are you to get back


to where you were before your entrance:
those dim familiar wings, you invisible,
bumping into things you half-remember


blinded as you’d been out there
in the onslaught of lights, yes, blinded
but wholly attended to in your blindness.


Imagine our dying being like that,
a kind of humble, eager, sorrowless return
to a place we’d long, and not till now, known.


No tears then. Just one of us to hold
aside the curtain – here we are, there you go
before letting it slump majestically back


to that oddly satisfying inch above the boards
in which we glimpse a shadowy shuffling dark.
And when the lights come on and we turn to each other


who’s to say they won’t already be
in their dressing room, peeling off the layers,
wiping away that face we have loved,


unbecoming themselves to step out
into the pull and stream of the night crowds.





 And here you are


                      among us again
telling us – with that accuracy,
and hilariously – what it was like,
wide-eyed, exhilarated to have been there
and now back here in a room again;
you here in a room again
with us all standing around grinning,
filling to the brim
to have you among us again
raising our glasses
to your unbelievable absence





All those turning


Blow you wild in the wilderness
    you all who the ever you are
you once of the world – whirl round
    it now – whip more and more
into the blear and blaze
    of your ever-ending circle


Blow you spirit-wind you soul-gale
    you who so searingly outnumber us
howl and haul in all those turning           
    now to dust – to this hot wind
this planet’s bright belt                                              
    of charged streaming dead 


Blow you blinding storm
    you wind of nothing
to the naked eye – turn up the high
    white hum of the invisible
ring made up of all manner
   of things lost to us


Blow you gone
    you still and never-to-be-born
you dead for a century dead for a day
    all you outliving us out there
in the catastrophic air
   of this black and never dawn


See how you blow you bone
    spark you ash-turned air
into this room where I stand
   with these small shaking waves
in this glass of water
    I hold in my shaking hand



3 Poems from Alive Alive O