MENTHOL ZEN

MATTHEW SPENCE: A nomadic poet who practises Zen, who is a vegetarian, who is a peace-loving anarchist.
Tweets @mspence_1 . email mattspence_1@hotmail.co.uk
RECENT APPEARANCES: The Rialto, Southerly, Agenda, The Morning Star.

Lemon Lemon Lemon

Not path nor forgers’ track, not luckless paved, the tac-on-tac of crazes pasted loose on walls (The Tote, The Bendigo), pulp-damp and crumpled fall from billboards like the insides of an accordion!

Do you feel yourself being recorded little Goldmund? B4 you know it someone is hitting the button, looking down like a lamb in the mutton-grate. If there were ever a way of preserving something, I’m not saying you would avoid its technology.

It Rushes In

It isn’t without loss that I ask to be considered
or that a withering team of leaves come channelling in
as they never do in Queensland
in the autumn, where the body meets the sky.

What tonight is is not debatable, or what you choose
to do as ‘the storm of a century’ goes scattering off
with sarcastic national drawl. In the scheme of things
I’ve hardly noticed. Trucks the length of weeks,
the way drivers wink, sunk-eyed and distant,
the slow, full sway of wine.
We return home from our various timelines
like children with filthy knees.

It is said that here in the universe there are certain points,
or in the universal unearth-
ing of certain points in forests or on the pointed-
ness of highways,
where the ground’s slang calms,
chill as boat
and where the wind embalms the night
as if colonizing cute.

Could there be a truth to all of this information,
like a room full of phones? Or as the text requests,
that the blankness below will do the explaining?

60 Miles to the Coast

You chose three varieties of mint, let the vans scent in
soldiers from South Yorkshire, injustice on the wind.

Oh what it is my minty friend, to move in on a point
like dogs about a scent! And to watch the vans grill push against

The wind wet hills of South Yorkshire, distant outcrops like soldiers
in volcanic ash, arms outstretched as trees against the blast.

Got to ask

I came across this poem on my computer the other day, something I wrote last year as part of an unfinished series called ‘uncomfortably short.’ I can’t even remember now why I abandoned the project but it would be a shame to let this little thing grow rotten on the hard-drive. It seems contradictory to be against capitalism/war and yet to walk around ignoring your fellow humans and scowling all the way home on the tram. Kindness is a powerful form of revolt.

Got to ask

in a system that is based
on distrust even the task

of smiling at a stranger
in the road must

be considered
revolutionary

and should
not be underestimated

Drive to Maitreya

What it is to be hunched in space,
neck rolled as a wood gnarled for chopping
meat, spine that reaches a little to the left
like a tree on the edge of a windy beach.

The body is a surprising thing my brother
said comes with responsibility,
like a car
you are given this killing machine though
remember, what is going on inside
is just what is going on inside. Look to the road
and the passengers will take care of themselves.

Arrive Before Nine

The drill goes unsaid, I take the odds, you the evens, head
down, best black (or brown) shoes. Few people are aware
that chain-stores have a ‘make-up policy’ - couldn’t care
less about ‘original face,’ the one you’ve got today
needs some sex appeal.

The best spiel contains a crushable grunt, a jump for the gods
guilt, in stacks, the drifter often has a happiness which can over-
spill into ‘lacks appropriate customer skills…’
Don’t make it obvious too soon that you are there for a job,
Watch their faces change as they realise.

Wash - version three

His body is in a complex state
like a digital lock,
lives in a shack on a plot between sites,
houses either side like opposing forces,
the coarseness of private space.

Bones grate down to plastic, the stream with its rocks and loops,
the great pushers of the cosmos
clutching their wisdom
in polythene bags.

His parents are a couple from the south, throw their weight
about the universe like cars,
nothing is safe from this consumption.

We spend our time exploring
the point the streets take the beach
and giant hotels that reach
up like monoliths and reflect the sky.

There are days, waiting in line for a job
or a cheque, when a sneeze rings out
across the sea of computers,
so biological amongst the ranked machines,
like a spider crawling across the surface of an engine.