[The following poem of mine has just won the Vera Newsom Poetry Prize 2011. Enjoy.]
Ashes to ashes…
Dry depositions of death, circular detritus of stars
& planets, your siftings get up my nose
at dawn & I know it’s time to look under the bed
for the mouse-like mutations you meld into hair,
tumbleweed down long waxed corridors pursued
by futile armies of underpaid sorcerers’ apprentices
wielding brushes, brooms, vacuum cleaners,
Dettol each dreary day to do battle with entropy,
ultimate ruler of our median roost.
Any finer & you’ll laugh your airy way
through the hairy defences of my nose
to defoliate the wide, fine-branched universe
of my lungs’ inverted breathing tree: cement,
lime, diesel do their tumour-teasing tricks
to land me, strangled, in your final bath.
Winds lift your ploughed continents into the sea,
wide blue omens of bruised air roiling their wounds
over cities, charged with death & cloud universes
of bacterial life, beetles, spiders hitching rides
to colonise new islands rising from oceans
like volcanic humpbacks singing into wind.
Enter a study & you are there, as must,
addictive homely musk of mould, book lice,
sweet lotus smell to the reading mind.
How lightly you lift in sudden shafts of light,
diamond specks of rising air, a zillion
un-dead souls dancing with gravity, grave
mother of us all, for moments of open-mouth
wonder, overcome by those fine ashes made of us
circling through galaxies, rocks & roots.