Do not lie to a lover

but on the other hand,
do not always 
tell him the whole truth;

sometimes your secrets will feel
like a fire  beneath your skin,
silently burning, but they should

be revealed only when required,
like a cat’s eye necklace
on a dark road.

Disclosure exposes,
creates a stalking fear
like that of the grasshopper

who sang all summer
and now faces winter
without provisions,

as the wind whoops and fleers,
and sleet skitters over
the whitening ground.

Under the heart,
a horseshoe shape

I never met you, danny murphy
but I know you had a child of six
and that christy gave you
mouth-to-mouth and pressed
your chest, and when the ambulance
came, they continued for an hour

and your phone
rang in your pocket
someone called kath
and I imagined
a planned date
and you, late

and I imagined your future,
trampled out of existence
in the space of  a car turning
in the space of a horse rearing
in the space of the sun sinking
below the hill


His manner is reserved,
a little secretive.
He scours the room, which also pines
for colour; moves
to the window’s blazing snap of light.

Her age depends on the light,
especially the collarbone’s
slight hollow at the V,
a wishbone, which gives luck
only when broken.

He is both still and moving,
like a tree in the trembling
haul of spring,
building up its nests
and growing puddles.

She spends the water
with spread fingers.
He is afraid of loss –
it’s easier to have nothing.
No way in for the water; no way out.

It’s herself she’s in danger from,
seizing a handful of electric wire,
as though clutching-
a hank of drowning hair.

He paints what’s left behind.
A thought-ghost grieves,
disturbed by mutation;
like seeing the bones of tiny,
once-swimming fish.

She notes there’s no
fountain swishing,
only light.
encloses her.

They share a reading
of each other’s bodies
among the hung-up coats,
mud-sucked boots;
the track.

They look up to find
the sky wiped free
of the drench;
his voice shifting
to a minor key.

Portrait of the Other

Like art (an addiction,
not a cure), you’re
the moonlit flit from
silk to gold, to wings
to glass; light as cats,
and sniper-accurate;
a heliotropic paradox
facing five horizons.
You’re a pack of jokers,
deuces, three-eyed queens;
the immensity of an ocean
or inferno; you’re shadow-
grue, sunlight and lawn,
and all the time in the world.