We’re going in a direction whose reality
is contrived, though the urge will take shape
soon enough to know things as they are.
Meanwhile you ask for nothing more, happy

to feel your way through appearances
where meaning unravels at the edges.
The train leaves in an hour. We’ve still time
for another drink. Where is my luggage?

Can I rely on you any more than I can
the stranger who has caught my eye
in the mirror behind the bar? He says
he knows me. He broaches the subject

of my dubious past. Who is he? Mettez-moi 
au courant, monsieur. Put me in the picture.
But now he is silent, studying the light
in the whiskey in the glass in his huge hands.


Port of call

Someone must have invented the marks
of these lovers silhouetted in the window
of a bus, where just to touch something real

your hands between your knees are fiddling
with the knobs. Press the bell –
this is where we need to get off.  I feel

your little finger wriggle in my ear. Now
it’s my go, before you turn to one merciful
enough to have you. The scars

on your face are painted like an actor’s
with a threadbare fable of escape from a bridge
of torn rope suspended over an abyss.

With each telling your story swells - a stream
released by the sun at the end of winter,
believed again, permitted again. 


Jack in the box

A flicker of light changes everything -
here a train becomes a snake
turning. What will I do if it loses

its way among all the bodies
of the dying stems? Did you see
the slug on the path this morning,

genderless? It still looks rumpled
and cries tears of sperm.  The bleached
creaminess of your thighs shows

wide like a screen, borderless,
about to dissolve. What the black
thing in the middle means

no one knows. It would be okay
if we could decide which melody it is
coming from inside.


Scented tokens

We leave home without knowing how
it happens that the taste for kissing runs out.
The glimpse of the scrubby ridge is rotten
with light features distorted by wind

drawn into the brown hands of ferns,
the ones we meet on lonely evenings.
Their silhouettes seem heavier in your mouth
with their bones the muscles

of the private parts in pleasant encounters
in waiting rooms. If you turn away
between the head and feet, a continuity
is broken. Of the bits and pieces,

flatulent dentists tell untrue stories
to little children, each in his chair.
For years they go quiet in the enormous
jagged space of the glittering forest.


Sheet anchors

At this midpoint, it seems we have travelled.
There are stories, so many of them, and ancient
statues in doorless rooms.  We live
in the belief that they could change.
In the interlacings of each, we see fragments
of what flawlessly might have been.

At night the sea wind. We snuggle back,
dream of a way through childhood
woods to where we could shelter, birdlike
within the silence of a simpler path.
A better angel may lift the stone
and we will find someone there,

his face white as a sail, or a letter
with our meshed histories woven
into a single tale of discovered lands,
the sea no longer blue-green, but darkened
and broken, rumpled and out-of-shape
as we enter with these notes.




[Ian Seed lives in Lancaster and edits www.shadowtrain.com. His most recent publications are a collection of poetry, Shifting Registers (Shearsman 2011), a longish short story, Amore mio (Flax ebooks 2011), and a translation from the Italian poetry of Ivano Fermini, the straw which comes apart (Oystercatcher, 2010). His Threadbare Fables will be published by Like This Press in 2012.]

Copyright © 2012 by Ian Seed, 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.