The Jugglers

For C.Y.


Juggler I

To throw these plates in perfect balance

as if lighter than the weight of thoughts,

I must believe I’ve taken them from some dream

of a white ceramic kitchen

ungrubbied under fluorescent light

white table and chairs, sink and cupboards

smoother, colder than bone china,

light as bleached bone.

As useless as a knife made

from rippled glass.


In this imagined home, I’m the only thing

which carries colour in and out, quiet

through the door

open close lock unlock

as windows spill light on white walls.

I leave and return to remove fragments

of the outside world from myself

bathtub pale, I pick twigs from my hair

scrape earth from under my nails

swab dust from the soles of my feet


I keep these substances

in Petri dishes, spot lit, micro bacteria

grows and glows on glass shelves.

All of these things are too

fragile to fall

and yet in these dreamed rooms

I learn to juggle real things. Bowls, china thimbles

plates, ceramic spoons.

Everything is breakable

but this is how to practice


safely. The floor tiles are made of foam,

covered in goose feathers and white velvet patches.



Juggler II


I wear a harlequin mask

while pavemented to a spot.

Catching coins in a hat,

clothed in false jewels and

black diamonds,

I’m juggling plates exactly

as I’ve taught myself to

since we parted.


I’m looking for a beam

of light to walk away on

but I see your

ghosted eyes

in this crowd of smiles

you’re waiting for

my hands

to falter.


My eyes catch yours and look away.

You’re still there, now you’re gone.

One plate smashes on concrete

and another and another.

In this world without you

the sun is too bright.

My eyes haven’t yet adjusted.

Even thoughts are bleached white.




Juggler III


Spinning time from seconds

hours fall down to moments in the warp/weft

of clouds over this city.

There must be dust-mines up there somewhere

the air’s thickened again.

Could this fight/flight flit up with seagulls

who never lower themselves onto rooftops,

not when there’s a wind under clouds

is it wing-envy to even look at them

arm span wrapped tight around chest

skin pores too small to ever sprout feathers

is this a throwing or juggle of longing, these

land eyes watching sea birds in flight?


climb up to a roof

breathing is impossible because sound travels

climb up to a roof and throw

breathing is impossible because there’s no empty space

climb up to a roof and throw something upwards

breathing is impossible till anything thrown upwards doesn’t fall down.




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