Forget-me-nots


When the sun is pudgy,
and the heat rises like suet,
your sweat setting, settling
in the smile's wet edges,

and the castanet eyelids
shutter to standstill, out come
the leprechaun memories,
slinging their hooks and backpacks out.

Abseiling to freedom, they snick
with abandon at your face,
and their energy rides your
cheek as if they wore spurs.

They come out backwards, for
the hell of it. Into the dusk
come their clapping hands, noddy hats
bobbling. They are grimy beggars,

covening the air, cozening
breath with wild incomprehensibles.
You read about them in board-books:
now they are disembarking

from the first-class cabins,
drooling a little, spanking their lips
for information. There are words
in your ear, even your mouth.

They rest studs on your tongue,
lounge beneath the palate, spit-
roasting their dim skins in sunlight
spilling between your teeth.


ii

Quite what one makes up
of these tiring beardsmiths, no-one
is prepared to say. They are free
to fornicate in your nostrils.

They breed in odd afternoons,
while your fingers are out stencilling
shadows. It's their free season,
let loose from the children's

pictorial encyclopedias, sent
to badger your imagination.
They boggle it. They have the nous
to trample its nether edges.

Bastards. If the skies were duff,
clouds cadaverous, then they'd stay
home with the sandman, silent.
Take the first library book home.

I could spend the whole winter
treading their traces into earth,
drowning them in puddles, if only
they weren't so sure-footed.

They hibernate like cancers,
resting their merry red trousers
on mental inglenooks, snagging
their socks on forgotten images.

When you turn in your beds,
beware these bright blighters. They'll peck
at your present, and steal away
with the last of the happier endings.

From the book Love Poems