Sunday, 17 November 2013

Postcard from home... Ventriloquism

a bit bleak but I want to work on this one... here's  a 1st draft/ free-write from my phone

On the way to the hospital       a shortcut 
through the long shadows of death
fearing no evil but the sharp        November wind 
which snips through the weak lining
of my puffa coat

and in the distance   a man is entertaining a loud     phone conversation
from the back of a gravestone      with faded lettering
it's weak against the light of the greying sky 
and the sun so low you could seize it with both hands
    like a moment

and there's a metaphor for God in there      somewhere 
precisely because I can't see him
and it seems     in that moment     that he's speaking
for those who've passed on
perhaps       the gravest kind of ventriloquism
because before I approached it was dead    quiet
nothing but squelching leaves to punctuate
   my thoughts.


I hear the dusk used to gather men up here 
for brisk encounters
crouching under bushes      by the crypts
and I won't pass comment
on the partnership between sex & death

not exactly civil 
when the two of them bicker     incessantly
at all the best black tie dinners
you never were invited to 
going at each other's throats with the posh silverware 
(you have to work from the outside in, he says   
amuse-bouche   main    pudding    cheese)
snide ahems passed like mustard      sparing but enough to clear a cold

call it a trick of dark    but the shadows are pressing up against each other     hardening    

and only two weeks ago
I was thinking my life from the far prong    of a distant fork

when you told me it's time to  consider a future 
    with me painted in the frame 

which, if you approach it     with the right light
the gilt edges   the sticker from Habitat     the gurning child in the background 
making speech marks behind someone's head  

you could have hung it just about anywhere

but now my perspectives have turned sideways
and the portrait I had of myself
is rubbing out slowly       like words on a gravestone 

and maybe I'm speaking for you now
but I can't snap back at this particular cold       and the warm
of a smile only lasts me this long     shorter each time
like the daylight

and because a lecturer once told me that dictionaries are graveyards
for words
because writing is forgetting to live        because a tongue births
new meanings with each breath     with each twist
and sounds shift mouth to mouth

because of this I am writing my words     down
to bury my silence.


a youth I do not recognise      pauses   then lifts
his knuckles    a gesture to enter the ward  

his visit is brief
a revolving door;

the trickster
always hides behind the entranceways

drops another version of myself off here  
even though this was never written in the script.


Walking back
taking leaves up with my foot - fallen feathers

from angels, watching over the headstones
that gather dust        beneath their roots

they stretch their thin wings out
to a darkening sky     in silent supplication

while a man-sized shape shifts on a bench
in the distance.


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