Iain is the author of five collections of poetry. Recent poems have been published or are forthcoming in Harvard Review, POETRY (Chicago), JACKET2, The New York Times, Poet Lore, Stand, Agenda, Poetry Wales, Long Poem Magazine, New Humanist and The Fortnightly Review. THE INTAGLIO POEMS was published by Hesterglock Press (UK) 2017.
The day holds me by the collar. I stare at my garden, born out of wedlock, out of the trunks of trees & fed on dollops of moist seismic gruel. I think of this girl every autumn. How she picks apples pears late plums. I resist exploratory manoeuvres, crumpled up thoughts written on paper. Gulls high on toxic bloom plunge into a luminous sea. Beached voices, packed together, ricochet off outcrops of granite & alert me to her bending over herbs for the blind, her fingers stroking, plaiting. I often think of her & every winter I live with her in this house of clouds, inside this self-made transparency, this hanging lung of bright water & every winter I close up the house, as if it were a shop. I lock out the night, the strangers who knock or peer through windows, who rattle tongues, or leer at us undressing. Every night we consciously reassure each other the constellations are where they should be, that trees are still making growth sounds, the earth still sucking at the rain, the wind rubbing at our legs. In the garden we sort out the last crops. We squash fruit into our mouths. Behind doors we make up party games, dress up & run around like animals which no longer exist. We do it so well. We laugh, hug & bite, pretend to be what we’re not. We live in each other’s bones.
Speaker of Dreams
children slippery as sunlight, leap crabs, barnacles, the rugs of seaweed. I pass the stretch marks of tides. The beach is a focus for nocturnal happenings, for verbal rants written on walls, for young explorers charging across sand dunes & through endless tracts of pine. They’ve painted the town’s future, refreshed its sharp looks. Blossoms exhilarate. Old people take time out in the park, stroke the earth as if it were a thick green coat. They kneel & grab it, press noses against it. They believe they’ve found the speaker of dreams. I stand on this flat scalp of a cliff, see the faces of families in the windows of houses. I catch them in the full glare of who has the time to dish up meals of diced-up portions of light. I toss a coin, the price for a snatch of clean air. I walk the cliff tops, back & forth, back & forth. I count children present & more miracles are dropped off. A woman unravels her long hair for them to climb & hide in. I believe they’ve found the speaker of dreams. The planet opens its lid for ventilation for the buried in their sleep for locations featuring reruns of the already climbing sea.
Chopin & Where I was Born
The night swells up like a black balloon. A woman in sandals scuffs to a painting of the sun surfing amongst clouds. She plays Chopin on her piano. The night becomes an aurora oasis. The harbor slides up the street unloading cleaners sightseers theatregoers football evangelists. A freak cloudburst dumps instant rivers in gutters. I walk to the white rock, which nudges at the sight of a flickering stellar phenomenon. I locate the navigational light that blinks like a small blue eye. The woman shows an empathy with interlopers who pick up discarded voices off paths, off the grubby surfaces of picnic tables. The woman licks the lips of her wine glass. She leans against a porch-light, her fingerprints claiming ownership of my vision. She asks if I remember the man next door burning rubbish in his incinerator, the runner beans strangling the chicken wire, the summer chasing green butterflies. Why leave this place when she isn’t looking, isn’t reciting her poems. Why go at all. She returns to the piano, which includes baptismal excerpts for young voices. Her fingerprints claim ownership of my vision. We listen to each other’s order of silence. What to make of this night, the solace of her company. Should I show her where I was born.