Photo by Paul Brookes

The Burn
Hand over flame:
Determined to see it through,
I will succeed or burn.
Subdued colour subsists on plainest food:
Poverty frightens affluence, 
my brother sustains my flame.
The Blaze
Girls under the thumb of lemonade sellers:
I knock and wait admittance,
 a sun blazes between her thighs.
It is the quality of the light:
My thumb must move the cornfields,
a strong colour palette bubbles blood.

I feel a Failure:
The astonishment of my eye;
extreme Contrast. Skewed perspective.
Gust deepens blue; swept dust from a sky.
A Japanese vortex silvers the dark:
British bombs miss their target.

I’m in Japan. I iron peg and rope 
my easel legs against Mistral.
I’m not timid. Almond trees blossom. 
My mind allows no contradiction.
Breath in quietude: Thyme, Rosemary, Fennel.
Incense of the quiet roadside; colours
muscle into intensity.

Of Tolerance
Can’t stomach this bread; beans and lentils
No rice or macaroni. No potatoes.
Tanned and ‘porcupin’d’, with easel and brushes.
Houses of tolerance. Police registered,
monitored regularly. Windows blocked.
Arguments, fights in the street.

Acrid stench of oils and turpentine
in the kitchen, among pots. Plates and pans.
You always lose in isolation.
Sharp suited mariner with African colours.
I will save him. Sea is mackerel, ever changful.
He wants to rearrange my kitchen.

The Torn
Sky is in full flood. Confined in the asylum, 
“The Yellow House”, those who would be brothers 
climb the walls and cut the rope between them.

I planned a community of artists, 
but, Mariner says he must leave. 
I hand him a torn headline “The Murderer Has Fled.”

The Gift
11.20 a.m. on 23rd December,
outside that House of Tolerance: I give young 
Gabrielle the cleaner, once bitten by a rabid dog, a gift.
I tell her, as Jesus would have done.
“Here is my body. Have this, in memory of me.”
It is in a small box, cleaned and nearly wrapped.

A used razor on a kitchen top; a trail of dropped blood
on red tiles. Up the stairs I sleep among rags 
soaked in it. 
A doctor treats my wound: I am isolated in a cell 
in another yellow house. All around here are cracked. 


I walk as if out at sea, weight heavy on my chest 
as if something on it. It gives me poison, drinks my water
Calm grows in a spiral nebulae of trees; I need quiet.

I live at my brother’s expense. I eat coal and paint,
sup on paraffin. A shot to this chest will unburden so many: 
A bright yellow into their lives.