Misaligned Axes

I’m lying. If that is true then it’s false
if false then it's true but it can't be both

one kick from a horse sends you spinning though the stars
with nothing to slow your momentum you’ll never stop

until you collide with a ball of rooks winging westward
staring into the dusk at a dim early moon.

You could never leave home without leaving something
a book, some cakes or just a loving note

and so when I meet you out there on the marshes
or not exactly meet but just see you pass

hair whipped by the twisting gale to blind your face
and I know you said you'd flown to Italy

I can’t wave, I can't call you back because then you’d know
that I know you’re not there but you’re not here

I follow and know when you reach the end of the jetty
you'll either stand for a while and watch the wind

turn round, turn back toward me, stride right through me
or face forward, flex your fists and walk into air




Text From My Long-Lost Sister In The Spring

They showed us a horse made of fire
everyone wanted to ride it but no one dared
till our little sister shoved her way through the crowd
clutching a saddle made of water.

Later she travelled the continent collecting
antique paper fans until she found
that with age and distance our family
might forget even if never forgive her.

Figures pale in a forest by Cranach or maybe Memling
in deepest holly green with blood on the grass.
How many will choose the narrow path
and how few the slide? The incoherence?

As blossom gorges to bruised fruit
we stowed her light but she didn’t notice
played Chopin to the stars on a summer night
deaf husband beside her frowning at a crossword.

A toad with a city in its head
still knows no way to reverse entropy
but to live backwards and inhale each word
till they fall to bits on its tongue.

I’ve had a headache now since nineteen forty-five
that’s the year I mean not the time. I can’t think
that anyone will ever want us.
There's no air to breathe in a name.

Your heart nearly stopped at the sight of a brambling’s
blush in the apple tree next door
so hand me the tray and the china teapot
hand me the rumours of a small-town adultery.

What can language do that painting can’t?
The forest deepens to black. What it is, it is
all that which bounces back from the mirror
as the rest travels into the silver.

A woman lies dreaming of a glass gown
fists balled against her collarbone in the night
runs her tongue round her teeth and counts the years
since she as a girl found a saddle

made of water set fast in a stone.
You tried to buy the horse with next door's prize pig
with a bible of rain but its owner
set it free to run on the common one Easter morning



[Geoff Sawers’ poetry books include Scissors Cut Rock (Flarestack, 2005), A Thames Bestiary (with Peter Hay, Two Rivers Press 2008) and To the Forgotten (with Giles Goodland, Goose Cathedral Press, 2018). His most recent academic publication is Before and After Oscar Wilde: Life in the Berkshire Prisons 1850-1920 (in The Wildean 2021). Born in 1966, he was only diagnosed as autistic in his fifties. He lives in Reading with his disabled son]

Copyright © 2022 by Geoff Sawers, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.