Live-birth

The old Gods still move. They step with earthwarm toes. You remain lost in their memory— unseen—unspoken —equal and free. I They mingle with a halfremembered childhood and draw swift lines through cold assembly halls. They beguile flickering light bulbs and eke out the last drops of candle wax. Hot breathless promises above stolen stories catch the eye and blink away in a moment. Their bodies remain in unwritten words; naked characters without the spill of blood or ink. They are the movement of things: the shift of echoed breath scattered across streets stained with battle cries rattling in engines. This is the line that killed them. II Clouds that promised the end have borne children already too old to be sacrificed. You stand unremarkable: lilting lips thick with an unbranded bathroom cleaning product Skin pocked with kisses and bites flinches at its the echo of a dry hand on their pickedbone pew, too polite to sing or pray. Known to all and expected like rain; your skull scattered on the pavement with horror and rendition. III Palm like a blighted field, outstretched fingers twitch with a question, answered with hard teeth; a prayer, canine shaped, calls for cleaner hospitals, calls for whiter walls, calls for warmer summers, better shower lotion,

double glazed duvet wardrobe assembly instructions revenge-porn light switch that new carpet smell a doggerland-dance £4 wine clogged nose softly breathing in a quiet office the feeling of Sunday on the skin celery veins a stranger’s smile grab her by the—

and the answer rings in cool ears. Paper clings to your face, soiled with halfdone sums. The clock flicks its tongue in time to your pulse. IV You rest, buried in a nest that never starts and never stops. The endless sweeping plane bound with glossed pulp, still clings to the mouth’s red corners. Lyrics catch in the throat as dumb lumps. Fat eggs that elude life like stones slipping across ice. A warm body nourishes cold lines curled into themselves; Eyelids flicker against the sun. A fat egg slips down the throat. V

You became lost in crushed rock and unwritten books, to return every month with vague ideas of what might be good. I checked the pan had boiled with my hand thrust into it: an unlocked rage through clenched jaws. Eyes like keys, polished but old and pushing just wide of the mark.

A limp map unravels into a page of human schematics. Vague lines dilate through blurred lips.

I stand an empty vessel and slip beneath the ocean of you.

John Darley