Issue 9: Ian Seed


We’re going in a direction whose reality

is contrived, though the urge will take shape

soon enough to know things as they are.

Meanwhile you ask for nothing more, happy

to feel your way through appearances

where meaning unravels at the edges.

The train leaves in an hour. We’ve still time

for another drink. Where is my luggage?

Can I rely on you any more than I can

the stranger who has caught my eye

in the mirror behind the bar? He says

he knows me. He broaches the subject

of my dubious past. Who is he? Mettez-moi 

au courant, monsieur. Put me in the picture.

But now he is silent, studying the light

in the whiskey in the glass in his huge hands.

Port of call

Someone must have invented the marks

of these lovers silhouetted in the window

of a bus, where just to touch something real

your hands between your knees are fiddling

with the knobs. Press the bell –

this is where we need to get off.  I feel

your little finger wriggle in my ear. Now

it’s my go, before you turn to one merciful

enough to have you. The scars

on your face are painted like an actor’s

with a threadbare fable of escape from a bridge

of torn rope suspended over an abyss.

With each telling your story swells - a stream

released by the sun at the end of winter,

believed again, permitted again. 

Jack in the box

A flicker of light changes everything -

here a train becomes a snake

turning. What will I do if it loses

its way among all the bodies

of the dying stems? Did you see

the slug on the path this morning,

genderless? It still looks rumpled

and cries tears of sperm.  The bleached

creaminess of your thighs shows

wide like a screen, borderless,

about to dissolve. What the black

thing in the middle means

no one knows. It would be okay

if we could decide which melody it is

coming from inside.

Scented tokens

We leave home without knowing how

it happens that the taste for kissing runs out.

The glimpse of the scrubby ridge is rotten

with light features distorted by wind

drawn into the brown hands of ferns,

the ones we meet on lonely evenings.

Their silhouettes seem heavier in your mouth

with their bones the muscles

of the private parts in pleasant encounters

in waiting rooms. If you turn away

between the head and feet, a continuity

is broken. Of the bits and pieces,

flatulent dentists tell untrue stories

to little children, each in his chair.

For years they go quiet in the enormous

jagged space of the glittering forest.

Sheet anchors

At this midpoint, it seems we have travelled.

There are stories, so many of them, and ancient

statues in doorless rooms.  We live

in the belief that they could change.

In the interlacings of each, we see fragments

of what flawlessly might have been.

At night the sea wind. We snuggle back,

dream of a way through childhood

woods to where we could shelter, birdlike

within the silence of a simpler path.

A better angel may lift the stone

and we will find someone there,

his face white as a sail, or a letter

with our meshed histories woven

into a single tale of discovered lands,

the sea no longer blue-green, but darkened

and broken, rumpled and out-of-shape

as we enter with these notes.

Ian Seed lives in Lancaster and edits His most recent publications are a collection of poetry, Shifting Registers (Shearsman 2011), a longish short story, Amore mio (Flax ebooks 2011), and a translation from the Italian poetry of Ivano Fermini, the straw which comes apart (Oystercatcher, 2010). His Threadbare Fables will be published by Like This Press in 2012.