Windmill-shoulder precipices
spinning gannet eggs on tangled
wildgrass snares, harbour bells booming and anchors
breaking spray beneath the bellows of bull-shark horns

Pounding sails, roaring blades slitting skies driving cogs
exoskeletons crushed by bitter beaks, stinging seawater
stoking wounds in lips and scales
on tongues blander than clouds, edged knife-like like blood
and brine which wind the windings of the tongue the same way, salt

in cuts smarting, stonefish, urchins, iodine easing pain through cracks in
skin and seagulls sliding, the twang of wires slipping through the
thrumming feathers of birds bumping against the empty skin
stretched across my window, a brief pretence of blue.

Periods Between

H. Simple. Not to scale. An electron orbiting a proton, a planet orbiting a star, a galaxy swirling about a supermassive black hole. At the heart of each furnace, the same simple structure—an electron orbiting a proton.

He. The male subject pronoun. Little prince presiding over an empty courtroom. Party’s over and the balloons shrivel slowly, the permeation of latex via pores that cannot be seen.

Li. Strength outshone. It fizzles amid its dazzling siblings. The bulbs flicker. You jab the button again, wondering when the batteries died.

Be. To exist. That is enough. No one needs to know your bladed poison.

B. Only second-best—harder than diamond, a well-known universal lie. No one sees, the bonds of this lattice interlocking a cage to free some scattered light. No one sees the diamonds breaking.

C. Middle. We know the stiff four-legged standard, chains of life that burn on ends. But skeletal like Stygian keys—we speak of life like twigs don’t snap, and middle C still moans, in waves across these graphite strings.

N. The cipher unzips the cryptogram, the cryptogram encodes the cipher. Palindromes break. Sewerage pipes flood with A T C G, all the same glyph after all.

O. Nothing, nothing in the end: life fossilizes, but this burning is eternal, exhalation seeping into old futures. Breath comes cyclically, turning diamonds to air—reddening blood, fading telomeres.

F. Failure. She clings jealous like a lover, yellow poison hissing through gaps in the murder vial.

Ne. The octet laments, a queen who will never marry. Electrons buzz. Photons dance orange. Deep in the night, the shophouses glow with misplaced (sur)names.

Chemistry lessons getting to me. This is at least half a year old; it’s still a very characteristic work so I thought I’d post it for completeness’ sake.

Tree of Life

I existed in the shadow of history, when the stars were cold and learning to breathe. I existed in a scattering of plans, a flickering behind a nebula.

I remember, within the slants and bends of my branches, the scattering of photons, the accretion of matter, and the moulding of planets. I remember something of a forming song, the conductor lifting his baton in an arc the shape of a spiral galaxy’s arm.

My butterfly leaves are the score of a symphony rich and resonant as the Cambrian and the warm hum of vast prehistoric insects beating against my stolid form as the lines of the phylogenetic tree etch themselves in my bark.

You and I are the same organism. I die every death you die, and yet together we are immortal. I watch the red sun engulf the world. And we will not die even then—for still we will exist in the molecules, waiting to be seeded again.

I hide in the shadow of future. These apartments around me, so much taller than I: there is no breath in them, yet they too are part of the song. Perhaps the ledger lines, upon which we must climb to ascend the universal scales.

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. So is dictated the promenade dance, as new branches bud from meristems. So goes the song unending, bridging the light-year gaps between the stars, from point to point in the arcing sweep of the growing galaxy. Between the dead lightning rods of the apartment rooftops, and the clouds that circle the world a thousand times a day. Between the human, and the tree He left rising in the flowerbed.

Between the tree and Him. A melodic scale into infinity.

I alone am a map of the universe. And if you look close enough, you can see the stars in my cells—the very stars from which I was born, the very stars to which I will return someday.