I rose this morning and thanked you, again,
for not yet hunting me down.
29 years ago you knelt above me in my room,
vowed a god-punch of retribution
if I ever ran, if I ever hid.
Is that little boy
still seeking witness protection
in my nervous system,
or soul retrieval
in my dreams?
for god-punches not yet snapped
from the elastic horizon,
Eight years ago in Kyoto
I faced eleven hundred Buddhas
- life-sized, thirty-three armed, gold-flaked -
and prayed the bomb remains undropped on them too.
Do mushroom clouds fall
with glacial torque over them still?
Thank you for all weapons unused.
Thank you, most of all,
for the single unstruck match
with which you didn’t immolate my mother;
you soaked her in a witch-trial of petrol,
told her ‘we'll both burn.’
Some part of me holds some part of her
still swearing coma vows of coming flame.
You broke your promise
to murder my sister
if we ever left.
You broke your promise
to track us down again and again.
I never would have known
as a baby falls asleep in my arms.
Never would have been held up
by young people calling my name.
Felt a woman draw me down in the dark.
Shook with helpless laughter with my mother
in our spectacularly un-ablaze kitchen.
To the God I prayed to,
to the God I begged to explain to me
why all things were my fault,
thank you for your silence,
I’m still falling through it,
finding better questions as I do.
For those not drowning,
not pinned down,
tonight at least,
For the chance left to each of us
to remain undetonated,
to not serve the blow,
to provide some shelter
for those who fall through.
Carbon Copies of Love
Alone in your back garden,
bare feet cold on the tiny civilised Earth,
I try aloud a dozen different names for God;
blind carbon copies of prayers.
Not that I believe there’s a correct address,
or that anything asked for is lost;
I’m just trying to find the right taste in my mouth.
Some names are ancient, global,
others free-styled halfway between poetry and jokes.
I sat on this same lattice-work cast-iron chair
last year, under these huge sycamores,
which overlook the tidy enclosure,
sobbing at the vision of her.
I ask for grace to tattoo the name you gave her
on my left heel and my lips; Phoenix.
Grace to meet you as you are today.
Alone in your little bed,
bare feet snug under patchwork duvet,
I try aloud a dozen different names for love,
and for what lies between us;
again searching for that taste in my mouth.
Ask for grace to take what I’m given,
by anyone at any time in any way.
Together in the heavy rain,
shoes wet through in the long grass,
picking a rambling breakfast of apples,
fennel, blackberries, cherries,
under fading tongues of oak, ash, beech,
soaking one last time before I leave,
You’d cried hard enough to scare me,
and I’m no stranger to holding grief.
I take in the seeds;
the children we never make
are so much more
than blind carbon copies of love.
Dave Rock is a prize-winning spoken word artist and storyteller, and a conscious writing, speaking and performing arts teacher. He's worked with thousands of people, including award-winning comedians, actors and inspirational figures.