Name me

Name me: 
I am anyone, 
I am no one; 
I’m an anima, 

a meanie, a ninny, 
a mommy in a muumuu, 
a nun in a mini; 

I am many; 
I am one ­– 

I am Man.

(A 2 consonant sentence by Wayne Eastman, 1993)

Presently a misty moon

Lo! and behold and hear! 
Hearken to his song! 
Out come the nightingales, 
right about the guns.

Presently a misty moon came up, 
a nightingale began to sing… 
It was strange to stand there and listen, 
for the song seemed to come 

all the more sweetly and clearly 
in the quiet intervals between 
the firing. There was something
infinitely sweet and sad about it, 

as if the countryside 
were singing gently to itself, 
in the midst of all our noise 
and confusion and muddy work; 

so that you felt the nightingale’s song 
was the only real thing 
which would remain when all the rest 
was long past and forgotten.

Gradually the night wore on, 
until day began to break, 
and I could see clearly the daisies 
in the long grass about my feet.

(From a letter from the Western Front, 1915.)

Welcome to the UK

Why is there a guy selling perfumes
in the toilets of a club? The fact
most houses don’t have bars on the windows.
Spring and how utterly lovely it is.
Strangers ending messages with a kiss.

Everything is tighter, narrower, closer.
You coming with us for the bonfire,
they’re burning the Pope. I wasn’t expecting
the litter to lay on the ground for weeks.
Where are the people cleaning the streets?

Houses have string light switches. Two taps.
Gravestones older than my whole country.
You can buy drinks and snacks in a pharmacy.
Quiz nights, Marmite, no bargaining in shops.
Two snowflakes fall and everything stops.

Most people in London aren’t from London.
People who play dominoes in pub bars.
A small group of cheerful protestors
led to a police car, no need for drama.
People shopping in their pyjamas.

All the food is wet. Sandwiches oozing
with mayonnaise, chips drowning in gravy.
Everything is too sweet. Limes are so cheap.
Long fake eyelashes, orange tanning.
How green everything stays. Did I mention spring?

No burglar bars and security gates,
no pallisade fencing. The resigning
of everyone who has a setback.
How much Brits hate Britain, talk it down.
Women pushing prams on the streets on their own.

(From UK immigrants, what surprised you when you moved here?)

Left behind

A Jimmy Choo
Cinderella shoe.
A Pomsky
dog called Beyoncé.
An ice-cream cart,
a birth chart
and tarot reading.
A pair of six-foot angel wings.

A Roland drum kit,
an Angora rabbit
called Thumper, an Islamic
marriage certificate.
The bride’s pet lovebirds, Will and Kate,
which she was supposed to take
to the ceremony.
A GT V8 Bentley
convertible.
A huge inflatable
unicorn pool float,
a banana boat.
A telescope.

A DJI Phantom drone
and a coin collection started nine decades ago.

(From dogs to drones)

Negatives from Aspen

We’re looking for some help for Hunter.
Are you a night owl? Would you be interested?

It took me only a moment to answer
yes to everything.

Nothing that Hunter did could bother me.
The only thing that got to me
was the cigarette smoke.
There was so much of it.

Louder, louder,
slower, slower.

You could trek and ski by day
and do shitloads of coke at night.
There were dealers and busts –
and mountains’ worth of cocaine
flown in on Cessnas.

You’d suddenly see
famous people everywhere.

I decided early on never to get wasted.
I’d seen the scorn he reserved for those
who turned up to pay homage to him,
got completely stoned and started acting
stupid. They were never welcomed back.

It never occurred to me
it would happen on my watch.

My legs buckled and I fell to my knees.
It’s not that I didn’t see it coming,
because he spoke about it a lot.
He was not having fun.
He had this Hemingway crush.

Let’s just dust off
those old negatives from Aspen.

Louder, louder,
slower, slower.

(From He was a handful)

#PinkGlowPineapple

I will always remember the day I first
tasted a borojo in a Costa Rican orchard
near the Panama border. The borojo
tasted like mulled wine and looked like
a baseball that someone had buried underground
for two hundred years; its texture
I can only compare to triple-crème Brie.

I dream of monstera deliciosa:
the fruit that looks like an ogre’s bunion
and smells like strawberry-guava pudding.
Or diospyros nigra, the black sapote,
which tastes like licking date paste off a stone.

This is not a bubblegum pink
nor is it a sultry magenta
or a coy blush. The exact hue
of Del Monte’s pineapple is more
of a peony-cantaloupe blend —
a color I’ve seen on polo shirts
in Cape Cod and on the lips of actresses
in midcentury Douglas Sirk films.
I’d call it Teenage Shrimp.

Each pineapple arrives with a gold-sealed
certificate of authenticity
congratulating the recipient
on obtaining this royal delicacy
and a helpful reminder
to tag #PinkGlowPineapple
and watch the likes pour in.

(From Instagram Fruit)

Flowerspeak

Poppy, scarlet, fantastic extravagance,
Damask rose, brilliant complexion;
Camellia, red, unpretending excellence,
Japan rose, beauty is your only attraction.
Mistletoe, I surmount difficulties,
Rose, daily, thy smile I aspire to;
Citron, ill-natured beauty,
Mulberry tree, I shall not survive you.
Sorrel, wild, wit ill-timed,
Butterfly weed, let me go;
Hundred-leaved rose, dignity of mind,
Cistus, gum, I shall die tomorrow.
American starwort, cheerfulness in old age,
Locust tree, green, affection beyond the grave.

(Flower meanings from Collier’s Cyclopedia, 1882)

In flight

Owls move in a buoyant manner, as if 
lighter than air, herons seem incumbered 
with too much sail for their light bodies. 

The green-finch exhibits such languishing 
and faltering gestures as to appear 
like a wounded and dying bird.

Fernowls, or goat-suckers, glance in the dusk
over the tops of trees like a meteor; 
starlings as it were swim along. White-throats 

use odd jerks and gesticulations 
over the tops of hedges and bushes,
woodpeckers fly volatu undosu

opening and closing their wings at 
every stroke, and so are always rising 
or falling in curves.

(English naturalist Gilbert White, 1778)

Beside me

ok I’m a human and you’re a human
and we’re going to take an intimate walk
through this seemingly ordinary part
of my life but if you look closely
this moment will reveal something
delightfully specific and illuminating
to what makes
me
me
and I want to share
that with you because quite frankly I just like
your company and even in the silence
(sometimes especially in the silence)
it makes me feel somewhere between warm
and content to have you here beside me

(From The Errand Friend Date)