A lesson in staring from Mandy Coe:
Drunks and dogs don’t like it.
If you are caught staring, it is no good pretending
to check your watch or study the ceiling.
These are signs of a novice.
Simply shift your gaze
to a mid-distance point. Cultivating a light frown
will give the impression of deep thought.
For most sentient beings, a stare
carries voltage. The subject will sense
anything from a mild buzz to a jolt. Other symptoms
include increased heart-rate, chills
and hair becoming electro-statically charged.
Staring at a part of a person’s body
leaves you open to a high wattage stare-back.
are to be avoided in confined spaces.
Babies under the age of three
experience stares as noise.
They can be woken from a deep sleep by a stare
and will look around the room to identify its source.
Train windows are useful for bending stares
round corners. But only heavily misted glass
prevents them from being sensed.
Keep stares short.
Set a maximum distance between you and the subject.
Tip: gazing and staring are two different things.
It is vital to remember this in relationships, especially
when your partner is naked.
first published in The Weight of Cows
Shoestring Press 2004
By Pablo Neruda
Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.
Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.
My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.
My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.
Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.
Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
but never your laughter
for I would die.
By Billy Collins
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.
However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.
It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.
I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea-cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and – somehow – the wine.