each one in each corner of each shelf
of my past vacation house
i used to bring them back and forth
as real amulet – small houses
that make houses houses,
such as roofs and floors and walls
make houses houses,
such as people make houses homes,
and hearts make humans beings.
i really believed in the metaphysical character of shells,
the attributive aspect of them.
i never really thought properly
about them as houses in themselves though.
some people lived there inside them for some time:
(ages? years? months? i really don’t know.
more research is needed.)
more research is needed about if shells
are houses or bodies, and
if by carrying them as objects of love
am I accidentally killing someone.
and if that’s the case, this is just a proof of how
lost in suffering we all are destined.
i loved my shells, but i lost them.
losting houses, i lost them.
where are them now?
maybe in a forgotten carton box
inside a wardrobe of a very hot city,
or maybe on a big pile of trash
in another forgotten poor city
somewhere again north brazil,
receiving the air, the water,
and the light until it will finally
disappear? (my poor shells,
one day they were so mine!)
or are they back to the sea?
or in another shelf,
being again an object of love for
someone else? a friend of mine,
A home is a ground sheet
when you’re on a housing list,
away from the eyeline of window shoppers,
living free or confined by boundaries,
remember when you were a cub scout
and learnt how to make a bivouac,
preparing to survive with wildlife and circumstance,
tying sheet bend knots and rubbing sticks,
that majestic wood, a childhood space, an open dream.
But no one holds you when you reach out,
only your shell to keep you attached,
living on the edge,
only one way to keep your life intact,
looking out for one another like brothers,
you could only ever run so far
before they turned out the light.
I open the door,
let you in.
Look at me,
not yesterdays dust.
Sit on my dog-eared cushions,
feel their softness surround you.
My fire burns brightly.
Catch the sparks in your fingers,
before my flames become ashes.
like poems, lost in the air.
Since I lost my mother, I’ve been a ghost,
dressed in traces of what she liked the best.
I wander the street where I grew up,
where she played drums with pots and pans,
slip in and out of my school playground
where seasons take their turn
the green, the yellow, the red, the icy-white.
Another family lives in our house now,
bang doors, shout commands, snore.
They can’t see me hang in hall shadows
or curled up by the skirting board like a dormouse.
Our big mirror’s gone. I can’t see me. Or Mum.
It’s cold outside. No sun, only rain.
But I only have my warm and quiet home to keep me sane.
With a nice hot cup of cocoa and a toasty fire,
I sat down in peaceful bliss with things for me that inspire.
I add a bridge where I might think in miniature Itchy as a crumb, I build my house
Water pulling along the mango tile as I step into the shower,
I lean against the turfed wall and imagine I am in a water park, concoction of
chips and fizz and toilet bowl rides
That bit of kitchen, sunflower everywhere
Three tablecloths three patterns
Identical circles, ever so slightly damp
Patchwork linen, needlework of average to expert talent
A continuous and single, stroke, a mannequin’s stiff suit, a diorama dress
Between this and that, it’s all traffic, between corridor and garden, gridlock
where you can’t turn your head for that feeling of jam pressed to your ears
These walls are flat packed, covered in either appointment or decoration
Tiny letters sit throughout the house, making me nervous
They are those gaps between clarity and bumpy thought, candy apple red against soft neck
The washing line forms a landscape, and I pull the patterns out of my pillows
I dress down welts of mouldy strawberries, that ripen in my dream
I remember your house as a refuge
Away from the worries and cares
Sat in your lounge or your kitchen
Just talking in separate chairs
Or closing our eyes for a moment
Where we found a brief break in the day
Amidst all the books and the paintings
Where we kept the bad dreams far away
I remember that day in your study
When you found me there sat without light
And I thought ‘If I could just stay here’
Where there’d be no more reasons to fight
I remember a place I found safety
In the rooms an oasis of calm
When the noise of the past turned to silence
And there seemed no place further from harm
I remember when I felt in danger
And I ran to your house from the flood
But your house wasn’t where I’d remembered
In its place just some rubble and mud
Had a bomb just been thrown through a window?
Leaving dust where there once had been bricks
Now I wonder ‘Was that house a real house?’
As I do know the mind can play tricks
Prom shelters were for smoking
smooching boys from the year above
skiving Maths and the rain.
Ammonia sprayed and banked with sand
there was refuge to be had in the nooks
that were missed by the wind and the gathered gaspers.
It’s been thirty years.
For fear of colonisation they took them out.
Don’t give them a bench for pity’s sake, you’ll never shift them.
They shifted to the toilet block at the Battery.
Attendants came in the mornings
to find sticks rammed into driers fat lot of good that did
and all the paper gone.
Sleeping bags stashed for later, who’d nick them? And no graffiti
because who carries a pen these days?
If you can afford a tattoo, you can afford a bedsit. Let’s see them pay for their own leccy
Sea-front-gutted boarding houses showcase objects in their windows
a mannequin, maybe in a jaunty hat
a vase of peacock feathers
Views from every room – the next step up from the bogs.
You wouldn’t want to be out in weather like this. It’s the dogs I feel sorry for. There’s sanctuaries to be had for the dogs.
Buses go the back way out of season. It’s been thirty years, I’ve forgotten.
The Prom, abraded by the wind, is no place to wait.
I clip into a café,
when it eases up I’ll walk.
An empty wrapper and two receipts blow in at my heels
If they did something useful it’d be different. Get them picking litter. Most of it’s theirs.
I am served by a boy from the year above, he’s untidy
it really has been thirty years.
I don’t remember if I smooched him and he doesn’t remember me at all
He’ll bring it over and says isn’t it nice to be out of the rain
there’s refuge to be had in a milky coffee when it’s bad out
He really is untidy
There’s refuge to be had in minding your own business.