I write ‘clouds’ more than I write ‘sun’.

Sparrows invent themselves
each time I forget the proper name for a bird.

Did you see?

It was snowing when I was born. An iron square,
the ash and the oak were cladded with light.

3.21 p.m. On the day they told me I was depressed I was sitting
in a doctor’s office in a Portakabin in Tottenham.

It was Wednesday.

Poetry prompt: our last disenchantment = the vanishing of snow.
Poetry prompt: autobiography.

[March 16th] These are the damp days
clasped in the shattering clack of underground trains,

where unbroken lines cross between stations,
faces turned down, bodies grit in the teeth

of scrolling news.

Adverts dream their way onto our thumbs;
the mind’s dissolution an empty aperture.

Did that work? Not exactly. The text reads:
too much information.

[Undated] There are fires in California.

Blackthorn and stitchwort. Bees scuttle in blue corollas, omens
of a future they already knew would come.

Hedgerows. Winged calyx. Smoulder of alder. Hornbeam.

Sour tongues
of rain

clip on tar, a curtain drawn to greet
the earth’s secret language.

I remember when observation was something
other than fumbling, field notes scratched against oblivion.

Summer

“Remember when” is the lowest form of conversation—Tony Soprano

The boxwood mazes hum:
a terse hint of piss.

Electric heat churns in servers. Skinned rays
walk shadowless in the alley behind the houses

rooms sweating in a febrile, cubic warmth,
a leak of brick.

Tuesday. I remember sparrows, darting like mistakes
across the eye.

[16th June] Sirens. Blue light’s thuggish endangering of air, a fragile grip of state wavelengths.
The longest note since records began.

Reminder: Lava is called magma
while it stays hunkered underground

(pressure transforms the word)
so does its release.

8.31 p.m. The couple next door are screaming again.

Last week I met a woman with a name like a god and
a carrier of peacocks

(beings made of eyes)

she taught me how flesh can be more
naked in a dress. Desire, two syllables aching toward three.

Maybe the word becomes human by trying
to be more than what it is?

[19th August] Your local council has opted not
to be a member of the London Air Quality Network.

11.33 a.m. A girl is crying in the park. Her doll is missing,
and the name in her mouth shows us the way

every distance is infinite to love

and the salt on her cheek is a blue seed
in the ground of every goodbye still to come.

Autumn

My fingers lay open the book: September.

The house is a nest of pipes. Tanks and tubs
rusting, scaled with grey flakes.

The waterfalls and streams
imagined by the wind onto the leaves

face the drying light;

slim branches freckled like skin cells
a scrape of brown curling slowly

into fire.

Poetry prompt: a poem made only of last lines.

[12th September] I blink. Sparrows. I forget.
Maybe the word is also an illness?

How original.

Fruit falls with a blunt thud. Crab apples torn
across rail-side fences, squashed, gulping into mulch.

The sea does not remember you.
It rises and falls.

October. Debt and guilt in German are one word.
To clarify, the accounts will not be settled.

English Dusk. Vortical shadows.
Loose smoke moves in the gloom.

Hands try to mark drills, bed in crops, fingers frosted numb.
Soil bulges, thick and crisp. The netted frame

for sifting hardly holds.

There will come a time when the leaves are full
of no one, and the birds

go unidentified
as sparrows

as mistakes across the eye.

Until then we will keep this record, a tea light
drowsing in the sway of mortal dark,

picking up the crumbs that speak of oceans,
reminding one another of a time

before the murmuring of cinders, when
like wasps we built a shelter from our mouths.

Daniel Fraser is a writer from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. His poetry and prose have won prizes and been published widely in print and online, including: London Magazine, LA Review of Books, Aeon, Acumen, X-R-A-Y, Poetry Birmingham, Radical Philosophy and Review 31. His debut poetry pamphlet ‘Lung Iron’ is published by the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre’s ignitionpress. A current humanities excellence scholar at University College Cork, his research examines crisis and traumatic temporality in post-1945 European literature.