Candles

Birthday Candles

Lights are off and the world is not invited so it is barred out.
My friends, hollow eyed shadows, dressed,
Holding tiny glasses that don’t fit right in their hands,
Like Dad’s playing tea parties with their little girls.
Family are here too,
And it’s funny how some of them don’t seem to belong in the same room anymore.
Strange like candles on cakes,
Or candles lit during the day in rooms where we have electricity.
Everyone sings and it’s a car crash,
Voices twisting over each other.
The wish teeters on one leg
And weeps pale wax onto the icing,
But the icing is white too, so nobody can really tell.
Blow it out, quickly.

 

 

Candles are Lit for the Dead

Lights are off and the world is not invited so it is barred out.
My friends, hollow eyed shadows, dressed,
Holding tiny pamphlets that don’t quite fit right in their hands,
Like Dad’s playing tea parties with their little girls.
Family are here too,
And it’s funny how some of them still don’t seem to belong in the same room.
Strange like candles on cakes,
Or candles lit during the day in rooms where we have electricity.
Everyone sings and it’s a car crash,
Voices twisting over each other.
The memory teeters on one leg
And everyone is weeping,
But the room is dark so nobody can really tell.
Don’t blow it out.

 

Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre

They will tell you, and they will tell you twice,

Life Happens Once, is what they’ll tell you (twice)

And you will think Thank God.

You’ll think it’s a bit superfluous to live again,

Like watching the same film twice,

Which you won’t really like doing because you’ll be pretty good

At picking up details the first time round.

 

Then they will also tell you – three times they’ll tell you this,

Because this one’s important – they’ll tell you:

Life Is Short.

And you’ll say: No.

They will tell you it is, Life Is Short, and that’ll make it the second,

You’ll retaliate, because it’s not,

Life Is The Longest Thing You Do, you’ll say,

And they’ll repeat themselves (third time).

And you’ll give up after the third, just in case life is short.

 

What they’ll tell you next you won’t understand at first,

And even if you do understand

There’s no possible way you could, they’ll tell you,

So it’s best if you don’t understand this one:

They’ll say you’ll be twenty when you’re twenty,

And you’ll still be twenty when you’re

Fifty,

Sixty,

Even when your skin won’t hug your bones anymore

And you’ll be dying and dyeing the grey out of your hair,

They will say you will still think you’re twenty.

 

They’ll only tell you that previous one once; you won’t understand, remember?

But the last one – the last thing they’re going to tell you –

They’ll have said to you before,

Although they were only talking about the dinner you refused to finish.

Don’t Waste It.

 

After this you’ll think about your precious, twenty-forever, short, singular life.

They’ll have told you all of this while beaming, joking,

Honking laughs.

But you’ll be pretty good at picking up the details,

And won’t miss the black hole of fear behind their eyes.

Chicken broth is just liquid meat

Chicken broth is just liquid meat

Rare for us have to been outside on a sweating Wednesday

evening, parting dust-cloud insects with dam-formed hands.

The crushing sunset had us squinting

like a cartoon couple suspicious of the other

until it was just me squinting at you

because I sat in the restaurant with the sun pouring into my retinas.

I always got the unlucky seat.

Your sun-cut face must have scowled

as I ordered the only thing I’d ever eaten from that place

again.

And again the chicken ramen was noodles collapsed under broth

 

‘and isn’t chicken broth just liquefied meat?’

I started to think.

Then perhaps restaurants are just voyeuristic eateries.

Sunsets are just dying days

and going out on Wednesday

was just something to do.

Chocolate Buttons

You resolve to get something different than your regular bar of chocolate.

Not plain Cadbury’s, you tell yourself.

The supermarket has a drowning supply:

Bar’s crusted with mint, sluggish Turkish Delight, antique Daim, riddled with hazelnuts,

Congealed jelly beans, clotted with fudge, wrapped in sugar shells, gristly biscuit,

Caramel encased in chocolate, chocolate encased in caramel,

Pumped full of peanut butter, wet compressed coconut,

Fungal nougat, cloying strawberry, infesting orange and lurking coffee.

 

A reassuring purple packet. They are chocolate buttons.

Just chocolate, no trimmings or extra extras.

It could be just like the chocolate bar, except it is cut into a disc.