David Howard


The Harrier Suite


‘She must originally have bought
the potassium cyanide
as a sort of aesthetic caprice, the way

she kept a skull on her dresser
as a young girl.’ (Thomas Mann
on the suicide of his sister, Carla.)

But you misunderstand:
your senses merely paraphrase
a translucent day, an opaque night;

too concerned to compose
an account, you take no account
of translucence, of opacity

because you want to own
you cannot own another, the other,
or the dust it will all come to

but for the harrier, your subject.


The harrier does not enter
space as if it was theatre.
Its fictions are indelicate;
it does not regard
your narcissism, that of your father
as either moral or immoral.

Sometimes the male
dives on the female, forcing her to roll
over and present her claws . . .


He drew the bedclothes
back to view my breasts:
I was frightened but he never grew
tired, I was his

The harrier sees prophecy as parody
and relies on carrion:
‘I saw my self seeing
my self, smelling her
kelpie sex and sulphur . . . ’


As peripatetic emperor the harrier rules
wherever: its subject

the river it follows
follows reformist policies, undermining
the bridge’s foundations

while critics hurry over
from the known to the unknown,
out of their depth.


A commercial traveller
your breath is never
immaterial: you

exhale and take essence
towards substance. The harrier
emancipates day from night,

rising through silence like
a question. Instead of.
And you belong to that ‘of’.


this glasshouse is a map of the world
curling around the poles: America
a perennial at the centre
New Zealand floats in a styrofoam tray

this glasshouse is tactile light
it fuses the sky with the hue of
the star-spangled banner
when the long white cloud clears
      the harrier is there



Author’s Note


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