No snags, I promise,
simply a gift so that we might part smoothly,
our points of difference buried.
The distance between two spikes
might once have measured our passion,
an infinite world of tenderness there.
But now, it’s enough
that each sharp star speaks of something long gone.
Perhaps you’ll take this cactus with you;
grow into it from afar,
rooted by it wherever you go:
Ulluru, Rio, Arizona.
Perhaps you’ll leave it behind,
allow it to stand in place of you,
holding your memory
in the same way a picture might,
or a closed book on a shelf in your room:
a silent, internal way,
the way of the animate,
the wrist-watch, the ghost.
I’ll tolerate either choice,
for some winter’s morning
you’ll fly home to darkness
and you’ll know that you’re alive,
because you’ll stroke this cactus,
recalling the moment it was offered,
and it will prick you,
and it will hurt.
an elegy to John Campbell
Now I’ll never play Favourites for him. And sweet nothings
will never pass like perfume between us.
Now he’ll never sit besides me, the music of his breath
playing itself out along my vertebrae.
We’ll never rhapsodise about The Chills
or The Clean, or how The Strait-jacket Fits
first formed. And he’ll never stare into my star-struck eyes
like some young schoolboy fresh from the scrum.
We’ll never analyse the gastronomic delights of good old Welly;
by golly, my Saturday mornings will be worse for that.
So let disasters come as disasters must:
earthquake, unemployment, genocide.
Deathly pale, sharp-suited, a swoon of brown hair,
John will bear the world’s weight for me.
Our sacrifice, he’ll offer me visionary company instead:
my doom-monger, my word-maker, my television god.