You could not feel it as I roped your hands
to step right off the field. The fallow mud
the only witness to my boots that spilled
a yellow straw in night. A sallow blue.
Myself I must remake, while you remain,
and age, a frenzy still upon the stake.
I’ll take your home. I’ll peer and picture grass
eclipsing rags. This is your normal state,
remember this: my eagle comes to claim
your eyes. I’ll do the job of watching now,
you widows to the staw. I’ll beat that voice
I stole against the wall, it mingles with
the dead that call to slip their given names.
A soldier makes a list of those that pass.
When rhyme recalls us to each death we have
unseen then nothing sounds the same as life.
The eyes roll back, the mass that’s always there.
We dance the ordered steps, obscure the sense
of thought: white owls dress in this white moon.
So blind, their bodies slant the rain that shines
On thatch. Say kind, the ports are eyes, say death,
say no more sea. What fields can’t tell, our hands
are tied, they grow. This straw man born from rags
disrobes the birds, surveys the earth that rolls
away, no more. It glares. It wants to stitch
your mouth, it feels. Your fingers reach the lips,
they taste like grass, is death, this ridge of sound.
A narrow fellow in the grass returns
askew in Clare, its rails in veils of green,
its girders slid or kink in ground decay.
You must have met this bend of loss before
we risk this space a broken tooth can’t mend.
If friendship needs appearance I have failed
to see across its void. Their bones disclosed
her mouth divides and combs the wreck alone
for skin. I know, a row of zeros draws
us in to parse her now a laser scans
a tin. Our words are rations in this war,
that’s not in Clare, where Norman turrets warn
old skies in need of use. I fix her face
to mine, we tighten or efface: the snake.
Fast Arun, pheasants mark a fence, we start
located, high as windows, frail as grass,
they move, are gone, now only fence remains
to stalk you as a grave. A robin bleeds
in white autumnal clocks of herded flesh.
A lilac stain. Forensic maps that plot
and stretch: are these the airless hours? Lines
advanced to those exhaled from mountain paths,
what Jerash saw: the birds depart and miss
isles carve the years of Black September’s birth.
But still we read the grass and hedges snow
as flowers pulse through chest and bone and grow
round stones that score a soft exilic moan.
Their breaths that form and climb and count as clouds.
At Caswell Bay the waves miscarry sun
inverting light the sheaths return it drained
of what it gave the grass it takes to sea
to drown. The sky is bled of shade and will
get dark, but far off constant drones still gaze
with care. A piece of metal burns. On shore,
at faults of sand and grass where glowworms turn
to glass to swing their warning lights to voice
less colic black, a clay that clogs the night
in throats of gulls that lift their wings of tar
or throttle back from rhythmic blades alive
in murderous rent. Intent, they hunger, wet
abysmal depths they dive, for worms that graze
or pierce the soil slit earth. The grass gets mown
A first try at a new poem for a new sequence. Also, really excited that Extraordinary Rendition (American) Writers on Palestineis immanently due. The anthology brings together the work of sixty-five prominent writers to examine America’s culpability in the denial of human rights and dignity to Palestinians in Israel/Palestine and beyond. Some of my long form poem Living In is featured.
I’ve been meaning to write
To you again
Need to spell out a few things
I regret these letters
Their false starts
Cut out my tongue
I’m sorry I wrote you
I deplore its forged nostalgia
Its staged retreat
Its black logic
Its entire lack of yelping dogs
Last year when the roofs
Were knocked in Gaza
Inside the letter
Moved hands of mowed up grass
Tonight my prisoner kissed
The ground of their cell
Tonight in Aida Camp
That glowing stone
Its starlings and its shrikes
In the presence of friends
In their bodies
In their seams of loving scars
You have two minutes to leave your life
Get out of your house
So I give you tonight
And every single other night
To say, Free Palestine
Against the occupying army
Against their petty checkpoints
Their poems of racist laws
Say, Free Palestine
Against their wall
That field of profit
Their webs of ordered silk
Their humiliations, prisons
Their slow control of faucet’s
As in 70% of your body
And then with what remains
Of your flesh say
Against the tourist, the thief
In a hail of stones
In a certain hail of peace
Say, Free Palestine
And these are your only words
At Arizona’s border
Inside David Cameron’s hemlock soul
In Balfour’s bleeding ear
In the ventricular halls of England’s colonial heart
Say Free Palestine
It ends in music
Yes, it ends in frozen coins of blissful glass
Say Free Palestine
It starts in your mouth
It ends in the streets
Say Free Free Palestine
Say its been good writing to you
Say it clear as hell
And then say it again
Free Free Palestine
Go on I know these words are in you.
I wrote this poem for a performance with Rumour Cubes at Bar Bloc Glasgow (11 March, 2015). It responds to the first version of ‘Letters To Palestine’, which was recorded with the band three years ago. In the new version ‘Letters To Palestine’ was followed by ‘Postscript Two’, which was performed over a pulse of clanging sound.
As well as performing the new version of the song in Glasgow, the song was also performed in Newcastle and London. No recording of the full version exists. ‘Letters To Palestine’ is part of the much longer Living In project.