L I t T e R

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Mark Goodwin

An Idea of Fire, West Penwith

Fire is my brother’s mistress. (So he says.)

Tonight, through her, as chef, he will conjure
the hot of curry for our mouths & stomachs. He will pull
a meal out of the camping-field

that we will eat

in front of his mistress glowing
in our faces, the dark gathering
at our four backs, the stars white
hot-specks light-years above our scalps.

Whilst she dances
scarlet & orange & yellow & magenta & blue wriggling-hot
as Salome she will eat

the air. And because of the dark
that will gather at our backs, and surround us,
her song
of lit colours will be all the more rich.

First my brother begins a little grave: he turfs
the sward, and to contain
his flickering slut he surrounds
the brown earth-mouth with grave granite -
a wall of Cornish stone-teeth. Then he lays

the fire, the stuff of his fire to be, he puts
wood in the hole, closes
the ground with dried grasses & twigs. He is a purist:

his ceremony has no place
for paper, and he must set
her alight with only one strike.

So he pulls out
his single tiny penis, the stiff pink-bulbed match;
with it he scratches
one of the Cornish granites (with England’s

Glory). Lo & behold

his mistress begins
at the tip which he tickles
the dried grasses with. My brother takes
a one gasp & then gives
a one long puff back: he feeds
her smokiness with his breath. And now she takes
hold of the grass-hair of the corpse she will bring
to lit life.

My brother’s pot of spices
will also come to life, come
to our lives, tease
our mouths with taste-flames, give
weight to our stomachs. My brother’s mistress

begins her mesmeric dance. She wallows
in her searing fluidity. Despite

my brother’s profession
having blessed him
with heat-tolerant fingerprints he is careful
of her touch as he adds
the smut blacks
of charcoals that are like solid fragments of night (dark
offerings that will enhance her).

All four of us, whether woman or man, as we feel
her heat press our faces, are afraid of

and in love with her, & her dance ...

Recalling a Little Boy

as a snail feeling
across childhood

travels a sunset

sinking into a land

whose geology I like like


amongst a tree’s leaves
whose sounds
are childhood’s thinking



breeze-waves of warm corn give
away invisible childhood's dance

while a cool woodland's dense
with spaces of never


hair-oil smells of animals I ask
to be childhood curl up
in a burrow of my nose
in a grassy bank of my head


a precise creak
of my breath in

door-hinges in
a liquid house

I dissolved
childhood in


nostalgia clatters a latch

as my first digital watch flicks
childhood-long seconds
into a futuristic



Mum’s warm voice joins

in with a crisp wind's searching for me
through long grasses
in a meadow growing childhood

whilst in a corner made
by fields’ joining
with a sky wide over childhood

is the well

known secret of my voice


childhood-light snowflakes fall

on fallen until

a silence is muffled


a word curls
in the ear of my childhood

a word stretches
against the inside of my childhood’s throat through

the mouth of my childhood
a word is a moth with a human heart

a word wonders

Staring at our kitchen's quarry tiles

the red floor tiles jiggle
their solid still

they are tongues cemented
to this raw row with you
my children's mummy

the red floor tiles' corners jab
in my tummy
oblongs viscously swirling brick-up
my thoughts in infinity

the tiles' wordless hardness
tessellates the chaos
the vapours of our sorrow gave
the tiles to translate

the tiles are the beneath of a child's
picked off scab
they are right-angled red shouts

the gaps between the tiles
are the canyons of our histories
are the grooves of our sighs
are the squints of our eyes

each tile is a key to our fractals of anger
each tile is a key my eyeballs tap
the tiles are the pixels of our crashed program
the facets of a fly's eyes
the bogus turnings of millennia

each tile is a cat
flattened red on a mat

I can no longer stare at the tiles
I can no longer stare at the tiles
as our insults fatten them
and brighten their red

(can I know long smiles of stares again)

so now the table leg prepares
a path
from the tiles to the table-top

of your inexplicable gaze
where hurt cutlery

trickles metal tears


A stripper on stage
so slow ly lets her leaves fall.
Men pay for autumn:

clip their folded notes
to a clothes-line between them
selves & her winter.

       Her erect nipple
       is a sharp knot on each tree
       in lust's old forest.

       Her thigh in soft light
       is a milky shock of stars
       across hollow eyes.

       Her hole held open
       is a dark beyond the door
       of a gold-filled vault.

Copyright © Mark Goodwin, 2005