This is the third section in the sequence of poems dedicated to the Golden Fleece. If you want to know what happened earlier, click on one and two.



They’re pushing and shoving to get through

the gate, where darkness appears to be

calling the numbers out. He rides

in a Ferris wheel, wearing the hats of his

numerous god-like fathers. Erotic blockades

slow them all down for a second’s

check on the purchase of their sexuality

and they’re off! harried by waves

into lines of hysterical

bunting above the judges.

A scent of madness

is one thing they share with

the mythic world, which is perhaps

eager to see them gone. It walks

towards an open window without flinching

at the word ‘outside’.

Those waters run deep.

They have, it would seem, been somewhere else

and to drink

is to be alone with them.

To be alone

is one way of living with darkness.

To live with darkness

is one way of counting the flags in the breeze.

And then the breeze drops and the flags are still.


It does not always want to be heard.

We extend the untended colonies

just as the travellers

hung in suspension

like an uncut coil of piston rings

will spiral down a staircase

to possess the earth.

And isn’t that

the kind of spiritual miscarriage

only a man with imagination could father,

his long-range devices scattered

across a favourite landscape

whose colour is local to itself. Nostalgic barque.

The fruit of the pine.

This is where nothing need be named.


The least confusing thing

opens the voice to boredom and so the voice

becomes desperate, at times confused,

seeming to shut itself out of whatever is

likely to happen. As though I were on the point of

telling you a story about yourself

that has barely begun or describing the room

in which you read

or inventing a language whose logic

would be glass-like and open

onto a brighter garden than the one you know.

All that could be done. Like plaiting strands of


or waiting for the wind to lift or crawling

through the mouth of a cave towards the sound of

falling water and an unexpected, unwanted light.

Anything that doesn’t hurt is transparent

as finding an old

unanswered letter from someone who

signs himself ‘J’. A story

that does not ask to be told. All of its

trickily-guarded secrets are realised before the end.

It makes up a bed in the guest-room for the voice,

flirting before it dies.


Love becomes local and woven

into the webbing as dark wings

cover the cathedral square.

I think I am shelling peanuts

or leaving the floor to be cleaned

by someone else as a part of me

scrapes the earth and a part

of me dreams one plausible

end after another. Hopeless

languages are house guests here,

waiting to be entertained with

wine that loosens the tongue as a

prelude to the bird’s vain

silvery gift on your shoulder.


Nothing to be done to protect oneself from that

danger, I told him. He listened

as one listens to wind make small talk out of empty

withdrawing hours. The weight of a slow and reluctant

withdrawal into space,

out of the body, into the space of my own. Nothing

can be done. Do everything, emulate

everything. The weight of the city is only partly

disguised by its crimson balloon-like walls

and the voices you hear are truly the voices of

wanting to be possessed. The sadness and evasions

vanish or become

a crueller, more substantial element

than you are used to,

and what is left you can be had.

What wants to be possessed is soft and heavy

as soaking cloth or the terrible lack of

colour inside the body

and the bands that herald darkness are coming soon.


One day I shall be taken

into that darkness, and left with the drum.

I shall hold out my arms to be written on,

waking to silence.

This will happen

and no way of talking about it now

can stop me taking the slips,

unfolding them, calling the numbers out,

assigning them each to each.

But the events call out their own,

are pushy like people who make it

in small boats off the cold, unpopulated

coast, or lean on the rails of liners

staring down. The several skins

hold everything, howling, at bay as

small waves eat the moon.

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