Flow and More Delay by Craig Burnett



Thumbs pressed together at his breast,
fingertips a tingle or two apart, lips
a soft horizon of grief, eyes absorbed 

in the haze of space we all inhabit, –
between a breath and what happens next –
a right leg pushed hard into the earth

with enough force to match the tree
at his side. We watch as John tips
a bowl of infinite flow over his hair.

I don’t care about god. That’s not why
I’m here. Piero shows us the pink
in his cheeks, how beak and stream 

echo above his head, the reticent love
of John’s left hand, the man pulling off
his tunic above the water’s still surface, 

lush with inverted hills, cloaks and clouds,
an opaque veil that hides the current 
until you let your eyes drop into the sky.

More Delay 

I woke up on a patch of yellow grass
in the middle of a sun-baked town square.
Two feelings overwhelmed me: I had a train
to catch. There was no station. The sea glinted
in the distance. A fishmonger displayed
his icy banks of harlequin death, offering
a future that will always elude me. I heard
the toot and shuffle of trains on other planets.
I sought shelter in an abandoned skyscraper
festooned with busted clocks, stuffed
with ghosts who wouldn’t shut up. 

The erotic life of impatience will plot
its own course. When the choreographer
came to town he demanded a swoop of the arm
from everyone, articulating a need to harmonise
all our aches and limitations. Dancers filled
the streets, flaunted a mood of pointlessness
and play. I wonder if you could do me a favour:
Pack all my hesitations into the back of a truck,
take them on a ride.

Craig Burnett is the author of Philip Guston: The Studio and Bucolic Stop, a chapbook. He lives in London. 

3 August 2022