new zealand electronic poetry centre


Sally Ann McIntyre

Fugacity 05
Online Poetry Anthology


the shape of towns

hills, taller than scrutiny. it is night
that bites off the far-away. near the roof of life

a high window blackens. a restrained ground of cloud
brackets loose bicycles at the outer grid, but in the near frame

cars stay. then streets erupt in orange hellos,
dry as the voices of goldfish,

each brightness lingers seconds, sinking
its miniature sundown in the glassy, globular eyes

of dusk dog-walkers. a river of smilers,
smoothly passing

hot days sing on the skin like sherbet, but their sleep
incites no riot. a calm water is forecast,

car headlamps blink like lemurs
from the overhang, in this last, weightless

light that fills, like music, the open eyes of drivers
updrafting their flight on the fiery arrows

of street signs. all autumn, the sky
has rotated five legendary mornings: rose, amber, cerise

sunflower, taupe; none of which reach
to the cheaper seats. at the faint end

of gardens, the lines harden. then gates,
pavements appear

afterimages crowd the remaining enclaves.
the plain, brown-headed girl develops herself

in photographic chemical trays, she lives in her name
like a house, a small dry room she built

as a child. in the next domicile, in the switched-on nature
documentary, a lost edelweiss is climbing

the outskirts of the music industry
for want of mountains

(first published Meanjin, 2003)

winter city with sun stutters

1. a day restrained
in frames: limp lights & tough

shadows, spilled spool
of the medicated eye’s

conglomeration of streets,
illegible outcomes

of emotions sinking into
the winter window’s

reduction of the possible:
space, flattened

to a metallic foretaste, a stringy
gristle of unseen avenues,

shopfronts leaning
against light, song fragments

fraying into streets in search
of broken neural

pathways: the cafe’s
still-sun-soaked acoustic,

subdued, “seducing
the eye to listen”

2. and journeying
again out of luminosities,

as the window spreads and
blackens: uncertainties, outlining

each interior image, propped
like a limit: the ruined

architectures of your too-thin
face, a malleable celluloid ingrained

with perceptive, re-caffeinated
alacrities, as leaves

never before seen
are framing us with “vistas”

and the ways of making
steps become crowded

with ways of making trees,
with notes for coastlines, blooming

in the eye’s unhinged cellular
circuitry: we are

malignant with lime-light,
with words for scenery

versions remaining visible

she will read me 
the frozen tendencies
of landscape, surging 
and shattering nervously
into the ongoing unfurl: 

of her half-voluntary
homelessness, gathered 
and grouped, kisslike 
on the rim of a window: 

one shard too many 
(she says) frames 
a still: an airport, a parked
car, a waiting-
room, as at locations’ 

outset, the shrunken 
aeroplane’s black dot 
rested, full stop on 
the point of someone’s
(her mother’s) finger. 

at city centre the pixels 
regroup, cells cluster 
in her mannerisms, 
the blind genetics of verbs
which, unexplained, un-

sentimental, crack 
and re-crack the calcifying 
tendency toward impossible 
nostalgias. and days 
are strewn, in endless 

semblance of a single 
surface, in dropped leaves 
of her arrival, the season
an ongoing autumn
she cannot stop 

to gather. but I who hand 
her coffee in Styrofoam, will 
condense destination 
to magazine typeset, leave her
arbitrarily frozen 

among anecdotes, as though 
it’s possible to preserve,
in Cubist sharding, July-
August’s teetering stack 
of minutes. 

thresholds at the edge of natural

1. nouns stiffen
on the lunch menu: the tense of birds,

prior as narratives
scrolling in dust-grained filmic sky

stammers a loop
embedded in piped Mozart,

some pre-knowledge,
what the doorway splashes -

a kind of light - towards
the all but- tennis playing girl,

and buttery uncaught
by her white cotton arm, held

as the door of a motion
yet to be framed, to be lobbed

past the corridor’s
petrified garden: to be a day flowing

its archival sunlight
in the wood’s age:

in her youth: in the threads
of her instrument

where thin twitters are plucked
from gut-strings: and wind

drives an Aeolian loneliness
into the half-empty breakfast bar

2. fraying and gathering:
her soft brittle hair

adds its breathing script
of names and erasures

to the light: translucent
notes and encodings:

that the rigid house
will fall: or else bend and change

inside its carved garden
of edges and limits: a window’s

lip thickens with slow down-crawling
molecules and the amber

centuries of seeing congeal
around our coffee-buzzing

eyes as she steps through the dead
body-language of wood

in her lightness: into green
into garden: and light

Last updated 27 April, 2005