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Empty trees like breath
where the sun that sinks at three
gilds the bronze canal.

Oxidic twig-fur
and the lightning, not quite straight,
of silver birches.

There’s no crystal blade
of the frost-gripped grass moving
to start the new year.

* * *

The fox savages
the dog, near where the owner
lies dead, head in mud.

He’s nailed in the chest
of water. The psalms are read
from a wooden book.

They revive, lifted
from liquid like babies, un-
breathing but alive.

Waking to the wing-clatter,
a pigeon sliding
down an asphalt roof.

Fingers in your hair
feel out the bump that grew that
dream, to rub away.

* * *

Two black boots and one
gold tooth glint on the threshold:
“Sexy show, darling?”

Bored, her broad behind
sways as ‘Jolene’ booms below:
“… just because you can.”

* * *

A sky abandoned
by colour. The gulls go clear
round the bare trees’ nerves.

A sleep-song, cock-stir
in dream is this tit-twitter,
twigs nippled in bud.

From the crumpled black
of the Thames, sharp wings take them
back to where they drift.

Black leaves, paper, mud
and a few thin blades of grass
bowed down: ground zero.

* * *

The stars like drops of
cold sweat; a short-haul jet banks
through Orion’s belt.

New moon standing clear.
She leans back slightly and smiles,
expecting her first.

The midnight fox looks
up, sees nothing in me to
stay for, and lopes on.

* * *

A liquid puzzle
made of springing trees outside
by morning’s blown rain.

Bare limbs graced with drops.
First she puts on ropes of pearls
then the old green dress.

Drunken daffodils
fall down wide-eyed, open-mouthed,
three sheets to the wind.

round the points of March, running
out in April sparks.

(Nations might stand whose
flags were woven of a silk
as fine as these are.)

* * *

Like nothing crossed out,
pointing at a total blue,
singing for dear life

from a crown of eyes
of fire, of red-lipped apple
flowers going to burst.

* * *

By the approaching
mass of their beauty, from base
to height ignited –

flared yellow, shot pink –
black trunks flex to bear their joy
and the states make war.

Hands reach for the sun,
the earth breathes grass, the small birds
are busy building.

As though the payloads
were not to be delivered,
stone buds come to life.

John Gibbens
from Falling Down

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