Nine shafts in steely fluency, between
the headboard and the wall
like ice or gunships brute and serious
a face between cupped hands
and all the saints
polite as china mice up on the shelf.
silver wicket gates
the minor byways
that span and fret the dark a painted heart
ringed round with thorns
eight hard-pressed fingers groping up to heaven.
shining hells, assorted demi-hells his eyes
are humbler than they used to be.
keys to the too-tall maze blue
leaves like folded razorblades you, trapped inside
or opening the door, not knowing me
that hissing water lily, blue
and blue and liquid orange round its ring.
Six bubbles, in a string.
Now count them – sugar
necklace, stream or abacus
a line of silver, running
from your mouth up to the ceiling
that’s how you know which way to swim
that’s how you know
which way is up
Now count them,
count again. Now swim –
fins on the propeller
or any large machine that scythes or pumps or stirs the water.
warrior angels, crumpled round their swords.
twins to my unhinged half
gone missing from the mirror.
black holes where the eyes should be.
One aircrewman, who lives in the museum
his ’chute all rucked and pooled.
nose of the submarine
Old Man Pike, who sculls the dark
and one blunt thought,
its lead balloon: full
stop where the air runs out.