JOURNAL OF ORDINARY
Do I look
like the sort of person who’s not fit
to go out
and buy a pen on her own? The phrase
borrow a biro” is unspeakable
vocalic ugliness. The task in hand,
third daze of work, is dis- and rearranging,
assessing, keying in and tagging
historical spellings of the verb QUIT.
can’t be a lot? QUIT is such a little verb?”
people have been quitting for centuries, and
in Scotland, all in different ways.
third daze I break from work to buy a pen.
Let it be
an ethical biro. I set out
fair trade Quaker shop. The assistants talk
I do, showing me pens two fingers thick
like scary rhinestoneri charging
delivering jabs in the eye
But not suitable to be housed
zoo of QUIT. Sorry, silent, cash intact,
elsewhere, and not far off the ordinary
this initiative: sell-it-all, old-fashioned,
nineteen fifty-three. nearly customer-free,
newsagent of the English variety.
cardboard cradles for goods on these shelves wouldn’t
store shoes, let alone to be reborn
cut-out stars for a wonky schoolhouse mobile.
reverence for age, I abstract a biro
dried up. I softfoot over to the queue.
So form a
line of one, outnumbered by cashiers.
assistant keeps things under control.
seem to stop his helper singing singing
to him lovingly in a high-pitched tone,
going to put you in chains and take you home.
to put you in chains and take you home.”
raises his voice; nor does the one quiet down.
queue of one I shall queue, change in hand, wait,
a queue of one, however long it takes.
is better than going back to QUIT.
I can buy
a pen on my own. I’m fit.
not born with an instinctive understanding of the mangrove.
out and booked and paid to step in the flat boat bound for mangrove.
on land dissolved ocean dismissed sunset deferred, the mangrove.
top stayed squamous yellow knots of sleep guides tried in vain to shake
anteater too knotted in sleep on high.
mangrove the movement of the mangrove.
ribbing of a gothic cathedral inlaid with no stone,
scuttling tree crabs, branch-attached above-ground oysters, sprung
if pollution resides not in the invisible hills,
wickerwork red and spotted white and black by nature growing not green
this mangrove, salt-nourished, where sea floods inlets?
in yogic and Carib perfection
swaying incarceration over
suddenly all into blue
of lake and fluorescent ibis
to roost in perfection of dusk.
or any memory of serenity
his sleep – your two-year-old
slumbered now beside us in the boat
since we stepped apart from automotive dust?
twice he woke and looked.
peace keep with him?
darling love, as evening falls
the first time I breathe air
the fine and germy plume
sweeps and moults from vent to chair,
the freshness that derives
parking lots that run beside
cold-pressed tourists who deride
a driven hog I streak
my filthy pen. I glow
tea-lights in a scented tub
approach. The dark I know.
detesting lizards but having been given,
ago, a rubber shark plus half a diver,
insulated from this lunchroom shock: riven,
the croc engrossing, jaws that devour.
the ground over which newspapers murmur?
there shark bites so sharp that what makes the surface
swimming torso, red pennants engulfed?
breaks the surface –
gratitude for cold climates and dry land.
of detachment from that which moves the hand.
I dream in a language that is mine only by scratches,
but I can
get the tune of it, a whole conversation
strangers friendly to each other, dawdling behind me
outdoors, a sandy cone of syllables
and falling, whole sentences
smattering to the surface from an occluded source.
it is the actual people around me on a journey
language drifts into another throughout my dreams,
prerequisite for transformation always being
tunes already are familiar to my memory,
the Irish have become Jamaican; the Spanish, Trinidadian;
French stay French, but sound maternal, a loving thirty-nine.
ago, I dreamt that I could no longer see by means of light.
knowing by experience, or even scientifically,
would involve, I saw by means of heat.
gradually I registered the changeable reddish-dark,
my dream environment was room-like, and enclosure,
the pulsing blue was situated in someone, not unlike
whose breathing seemed too loud to me
of the lack of light; and how, instead of speaking,
comforted my shoulder, both incandescing white.