Ian Dudley writes poetry and short stories.
I climbed until I put it all behind me
and could look back on the valleys
and the pudding hills slumped
under the sog of rain.
Up here the wind
is whipped and bitter,
sucking the heat
off your bones.
Sodden earth dissolves the sky
in blue sheets
spread out to dry
under their spitting image.
From the roof of the cathedral
you can see the whole world
laid out before you
from Blackpool to Pendle.
There are no stones for the tempted
to turn to bread,
and the ground is soft
so no fall would be broken.
Juggling ravens conjure
nothing out of nothing.
If I was offered all this,
I would say I have it already.
Project Rapture Kick Off Meeting
We have the fruits of the earth:
melting ice plugged with sodas,
a ziggurat of berries
to climb above the flood.
I raise my palm to the glass and feel
the hive of sunlight pressing back—
it’s heat stroke weather—
we’re chilled as slaughtered meat—
emperors and kings—cheesy
snacks turn our fingers gold.
We are everything that is the case,
a gift so lavish it sends you mad.
After a week of sleeping in the open air
with only fat and salt and sugar to eat,
I check out. How was your stay Mr. Dudley?
It was fine. (I couldn’t work the aircon).
The snug thunk and change in pressure
is a blessing. Shortly we’ll be pushing back…
We go nowhere and the sky roars past.
My eyes skip the page like pebbles on ice,
and after hours of amped up PowerPoint
I’m lost for words, claustrophobic, a knot
in my neck, my brain eaten by ants,
but everything would be fine if only
I could stab myself with this plastic knife…
I fail and go quietly sane,
disembarking raw-eyed and paper faced,
to stand at St. Peter’s electronic gates
like something the god of jet lag shat.
Your unwritten books
eat their words;
their open pages
glow like bones.
Librarian of silence
I have lent
and lost volumes
until none remain,
and forgotten, in
the inhuman kindness
of time, everything
except they are
gone and never
can be replaced.
Agamemnon and Iphigenia
Even the sea disowned me
for the sun to blister
with the nets and driftwood.
My eyes dried like chalk,
I thinned to a finger;
death was too good for me.
I should let you go, they said,
it was hardly a sacrifice
after the becalmed life
you had led—a Sargasso
of hospitals and waiting rooms
—that couldn’t last forever.
And if I agreed it didn’t stop them
from hating me or taking
your breath to fill their sails.
I have enjoyed reading
Thank you for sending
enough for publication.
Beset and alone, every day I’d mend
the life you unpicked again each night.
You made our enemies seem like friends.
And all because you could never admit
I was the only one you loved. You think
after all that I’ll sigh and take you back?
Forget 20 years in a single blink?
How old can a man be and still wear black?
broke the machine
for refreshing grief
bobbing frozen heads
wait for rescue
from an endless ocean
mind and body
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