I wasn't the highest stone
but I did make the crenel
of the northwest turret
where the flag flew - yellow
with three black boars on it.
I avoided the cannon balls,
unlike so many stones.
The rest of us became a ruin.
Children clambered up,
one fell down and died.
I tumbled down later
to be thrown in a pile
with other stones, covered
in green moss and birdshit,
and white, spindly weeds.
What I know is this -
we will all be reborn
in a stone house, by a weir,
with two bay windows
and a huge granite arch.
I want the door red. I want
the darkest teak stairs inside.
I want my owner to be a prince
of rock music. I want to feel
guitar-chords bouncing off me.
Saxophone man, he come,
bright red hair, orange suit,
yellow hat with parrot feather,
smile as big as the sun.
He walk up Hauptstrasse,
stand at fountain and play.
The crows come to hear,
the children all run there.
Me, I'm slow, I limp after,
stand at back of throng,
listen to notes bend and
dance through a sad tune.
Then Redman, he walk,
he walk fast, still playing.
The children run after.
I try, but can't keep up.
Over the bridge he go,
over the bridge they tumble,
then down to the harbour,
to the very end of the pier.
I reach the first blue boat,
then the splashing start,
and ahead, I see them,
one by one, all jump in
and then, the music stop,
Saxophone man, he run
into woods at edge of town,
and he never seen again.
for Georg Trakl, 1887-1914
He ran because he'd killed too many.
He hid in a barn outside the town
his sergeant had made him set ablaze,
and from the rafters he watched
the far-off dance of the flames. Asleep
he dreamed of a noose hanging, and
his head pushed through, although
when awake he knew it'd have to be
the spraying of a machine gun.
Some people had to be killed fast.
He thought back to his recruitment -
a one-legged veteran had thrown
his crutch into the air, and croaked
out The Internationale. A bugler played,
three girls did a dance, and a queue -
including him - lined up to sign up.
Had anyone done stupider than that?
A rat crept out to stare at him, then
quickly disappeared. He wanted it
to come back, to skitter all over him.
Four crows flew in formation
above the train, and at Milton Keynes
they spread out into a wave
and veered towards Norfolk,
and the roof of that Old Church.
He was inside, dressed in black,
as always, meditating, and
drinking his dark red wine.
A glance at his black watch
sent him to the fridge, to take out
a long, marble plate, with four
dead mice on it, which he placed
on the altar he kept outside.
Each crow dived on a mouse,
till four skeletons lay on the plate.
He put on a CD of Nico's sepulchral
singing, and the crows sang along,
almost in tune, with him conducting.
Then he strode off to the back room
and his black, leather hammock.
The Poison Dwarfs
The poison dwarfs are in the room.
The poison dwarfs are in the room.
They crowd round me. They stand there
without moving, yet get ever closer.
They are clones, with the same face.
They say nothing, simply stare -
big black eyes beneath plucked brows,
just-parted lips that will not smile,
that certainly will not be kissed.
That face is familiar from somewhere.
Who has taken their arms, their hands,
and why are their legs so stuntedly short?
They make me see pink spots flickering
on their pale green suits, their faces.
The poison dwarfs are in the room,
getting closer, though they never move.
Their shadows are their reinforcements.
Their stare is mutating into a scream.
A man egged another on to kill him,
then appeared as a vengeful ghost,
whispering to his killer that the cost
of his enjoyment of that final whim
would be nothing less than suicide.
No lifetime spent in prison's care,
not even a blast of the electric chair
would do. He'd need to have died
by the same hand as the other man,
on the same day, in the same place,
and if the killer should prefer to run,
the ghost would float before his face,
hissing that he was no one, no one,
and he would never win this race.