Ed Churchouse is from Bristol, England.
WHITE NOTES (I)
our heartbeats echo drumskin taut,
played on these last bones of winter
by the rain that falls between us
and the old gods and the new gods
leave you in the same empty room
that isn’t empty because you.
love speaks the language of mistakes
love prays at the it’s alright altar
love fights together wars
and if today paints you upstairs
and me below you,
you understand that all the right words
are just backwards enjambed w/the verb to shadow
holding hands with the adjective forgiven
and my patchwork syntax
holds you honeycomb in sleep.
PROVERBS FOR COBRA
they say elephant knows elephant
and horse knows horse. but when living is done,
death is here. it’s a long way out and a short journey in;
drowning while you clutch at the foam.
your wife first,
and as you beat a dog,
you look at its owner; arriving late to gnaw only on the bones.
a magpie, starved, eats the banyan;
a phoenix, starved, eats chicken shit.
i hold a knife by its blade.
the wind blows,
we’re carrying wood for the fire,
back to its forest,
than alive and hungry.
all our sins
with his friends, a man crosses the sea; a woman fords the stream alone,
worried by the crooks of her knees, the bow of each pubic hair.
yes yes, i know your wife:
and selling rice
at the temple gate.
yes yes, i know you:
you’re the poppy eater with bruised lips, fickle as the palm of your hand;
green face, yellow fangs.
petal face, powdered skin.
fish eats the ants, ants eat the fish.
owl face, eel skin.
ugly as a ghost
yet good enough for her to fuck him,
he danced badly, cried that the ground was uneven
and the cunning eat men while the stupid are eaten.
god made elephant, god made grass.
swinging a stick in an empty garden,
dead with all your sins intact
(ate the whole dog
even the fur;
drawing a snake
and adding legs,
growing hair inside your stomach,
tossed into the ocean.
IN ETERNITY’S WAITING ROOM, WITH HIS WILD STRAY MOTHER
she would sit outside our back door
wet amber spastic sparrow wing eyes,
this way and that,
running when we brought her food,
only eating it when she was alone
two weeks of this
and she gave in,
good evening regret tomorrow,
allowed us closer
allowed us to touch her
and, not long after,
we were her humans.
that she was pregnant,
black too thin and tan,
until one two a.m.
she awakened us
running at the walls
and coughing curses
that only rats and dogs
took her an hour of panting and biting
to expel the first kitten,
brown tabby lines crossing his ginger,
he seemed twice his mother’s size.
the second slipped out easy
and immediate; stillborn,
she simply shat him.
and he was smaller,
pale orange, slant eyes half open
as he lay in a pool of his mother,
seemingly not needed by the world.
she pushed him,
exhausted, with her nose
and pulled her rough tongue
across his sticky fur.
after fifteen minutes or so,
his thin carp body gasped a breath
and he was alive,
ready to claw and feed and struggle
with the rest of us.
a week later,
we found the older,
killed by his mother in her sleep.
the smaller runt’s still here,
not much more grown than when he awoke,
having been in that other place
for quarter of an hour,
having already seen
what his brother
having already heard
that impossible black whistling
which we all wait
to cock our hunting heads at.
he won’t let you touch him,
he’s cold and often dirty,
as if being clean isn’t important to him
he won’t sit with you
or comb teeth flicked
purr his contentment.
we called him
and that he is;
resentful of his mother’s tongue,
resentful of the hands
forced him live
made him leave forever.
for your silent heart;
dropped or fallen
out of june.
still & sideways,
mute blue comma,
w/tiny, turned off
me caesura early
in the walking
home from work.
in ticking slow
for a fortnight
or a dog
but for now,
i’ll stop and stare
while every other
pair of feet keeps
and the only trees are chains away
and the only mark that’s left on you