these muggy nights put the mockers on sleep
stew dreams to sweaty clods of nonsense:
a late long call from Barry MacSweeney via satellite
slurring half-roasted thoughts on a bright new range of soft drinks
then interference phased out to absolute clarity
             somewhere between the cool voice of Pearl on the high fells
& sticky pearl necklaces in Jury Vet
Ba dubbed Newcastle tango onto Walk the Line
     the real phone rang with silence packed into the other end
I reached a hand down to crab a feel under the bed
for my glasses & found instead
the clutter of the past packed in the dark
an old box of fireworks            now exotic names & smells
instructions         dusty leakage      dense buff hamstrung jumping jacks
volcanic cardboard cones        squat tubs of vacant flash & stench
the empty sky after the flares is darker than before
              next to the fireworks a tight white box
              with brass-hinged lid containing rosary beads
Dinky toys           blue plastic lead from a lost toy dog
the hot fists of a great live bonfire    that mad red cage at your face
rocking in its own evisceration          silhouetting your own hair
but then we each walked away through a range of endless open doors
annotated calendars rolled up to fit the bin
dead bonfire      bleached tins      tremulous ash      archaeological hush
I should patch up no. 7 where something has chewed holes in the text
instead I jam along with music for guitar & harp from Mali
& sense that Frank O'Hara's greatest influence was Louis Armstrong
straddling that hectic knife-edged urban whirl
with a lippy rhythmic mastery affecting nonchalance & kites
but powered by V8s bolted to the floor under tablecloths by Miró
I remember when Miró first hauled rope into his pictures
& I wish I could send him one made of kevlar
up which I pull myself back into the present where the drought reveals
the outlines of another house overlapping our own
a house that was never built but shows where we might have lived
a chunk of the house martins' nest just crumbled away
leaving two chicks dead on the oil-stained drive
but all the other birds are well & set to fly into the rest of our lives
Lynn shouts out suggestions for the poem: what about
Paddy McGinty's Goat
    she says  or slingbacks    that's a good word
she's not wrong     thanks Lynn    even though  I only have a few lines left
& a nearly empty bottle of Goats Do Roam too near the mouse
so I move it a span to the right but now my mind's clogged
with Byron's odour-eaters      root-creak embrocation
the network of darkness woven inside         look up
sometimes the sense of death makes you feel more alive
like a jet of warm lemon juice straight on the tongue
from the fruit still heavy with afternoon sun
the end of Goat's Head Soup Ba: Can You Hear the usic         Starre Starre

September             Cambridge