Stride Magazine - www.stridemagazine.co.uk

 

THE GIRL WHO SANG SONGS FOR JESUS

I carved the note on her tombstone,
top G, high as the tent she pitched
at the seaside town mission.

Amid sun-worship, bikinis,
scud divers, and burning flesh,
her voice cracked, fell to shale,

and white horses spirited her
away. She spat against the current,
lungs brimful with living water.

Up to her neck in biblical depths,
she choked swallowing Jonah’s
whale to prove something beyond her.

The choke hit the note I later
carved, ripping the roofs off
the bright Hawaiian parasols

of Troon on a summer afternoon;
a frequency only those deafened
by personal stereos could hear.

The squawk of a seagull, others said,
until a body ebbed ashore,
washed-up like a lump of weed

at high tide. Wide-eyed, she spewed
the whale out, her dying breath.
A crossless rock marks the spot.



 

HOMELESS STATISTICS

Sixteen round the table squiggle
figures in squared notebooks,
watch Mona flick her pritt-stick
with a black bic’s pointy end,
every cycle a perfect circle.

An occasion for equations;


immigrants per bed
night shelters per park bench
blankets per blank cheque
railway stations per whisky bottle

Measured voices tumble over
the labtop’s tap and hum.
Feast days divided
among saints multiply
from the wall calendar,

but I can't take my eyes
off the spin.

 



MESSAGES FROM ABOVE

We lost satellite reception during The Antiques Roadshow
.
Outside, fireflies lit the loggia;
spent candles corked vintage dolcetto bottles
cased in beards of wax. Thunderclouds draped
autumn coats over the stars, pocketed their messages
light years in the making.

Then, at the lighter’s snap,

the sudden crash-landing; an oversize bird bath
cast from an off-course meteorite, a glitch
in the Earth’s orbit, a coffee ring’s levitation
above its cup, a cracked saucer, and in that split
second, a crackle, a message on the screen:
normal service will soon be resumed.





APPLIANCES

The mind a drill    the heart
a lawnmower    the tools we use to make
ourselves heard by one another above all other voices    save them
from rust   
even if there is no garden    no need to screw
holes in concrete walls to beautify a barren landscape    our inner
appliances crave more than appearances    what‚s on paper
    the IKEA kit for the soul    the how-to book of how
things work    the dry formulae of mathematics
and magic portions
   permanent
as technology
    silent as a star‚s knowing
wink    so give us noise and bustle    the clang
of hammer on scaffold    the previous century‚s kettles
snarling on the stove    the electric
hum of the washing machine    its stagger between cycles
    a drill and a lawnmower
to snow imaginary whitewash on the courtyard
    where grass has never grown.


                        © Rob Mackenzie 2003