Six preparatory drawings for a video performance
young men dance
graceless and reckless like hippos on a precipice
long drop
no waves below
just black rocks
no awareness of falling
never fallen
the rest of us always falling
I’ve seen whip past my ledge
they break the air with their chests and
think that soon they will fly
I cling, of course
they fall, of course
some, bent from impact
are below me
climbing back
some will
even jump again
some just seem to fall forever
once in a while
one just jumps
without warning
leaps into the air
“I used to jump, I say”
they smile and nod
I know what they see
this knackered bird clinging
claws scratching the branches of nothing
my feathers all scabby and bent
I know that they imagine themselves leopards and cheetahs
big cats as they leap
big cats they imagine
hippos they remain
no brakes
steam roller
down hill
no brakes
steam Roller
down hill
no brakes
you can’t imagine a time when you won’t do this
when you won’t be together
when you won’t meet in pubs in town
when you won’t run down the hills in a desperate sprint
bottles in your pocket, off-licence prices, clearing walls easy, one leap
tarmac junction
dodging traffic
flicking V’s at cars with horn shriek response
avoiding the gangs
the rush of feet
summer crackles
the sun reluctant to leave
desire in the air
sick with excitement and anticipation of the night to come
when the streets belong to us
after the doors lock and the taxis stop
drenched in sweat
the back of my shirt wet to the touch
aching bones from jumping and banging and shouting
somehow we know
it will never be better than this
I remember it
all these nights in one soft sigh
every record, drink, smile, and kiss outside under stars or lamppost blinking
every body has their best clothes on
we throw shapes and catch each others eyes
everything in front of us
all of life is yet to come
I picked her up over my shoulder and rushed the dance floor, laughing
down two steps, swaying
we spin and collapse in a heap
you can’t imagine a time after
but it will come
and you can never find your way back
it’s not like it is on telly
or in the books or songs of the day
but it must always be the same
have been the same
and must be tomorrow
and always after
but somehow
when it happens to you
there is nothing to compare
or describe
the temporary madness
overwhelming sickness
becoming clumsy and ugly and lost and consumed
vicious and reeling into the night
the colour drained
throat dry and words rip like rust across your lips
to colour and scar every syllable vowel and cry
you sob
you sob and heave and abandon god
because your heart is broken
it leaves you foolish in the street
all eyes see you
all eyes know
murdered in your sleep
while your head was turned
sob and heave
sob and heave
if the days run
and charge
skidding across streets
splashing gutters and kerb stone
branches and
hang on
with fingers straining
if you must
let go
and bounce off every wall
if you can
regardless of us
all run
all stumble away
picking up speed
in directions expected and not
with you
be kind
if you can
none of these days
are ours
and all will forget
no brakes

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