My thoughts feel tight this morning,
flat and black but a trifle constricting. Flirt
with the desk clerk -
not too much - he may be useful later.
Early on, while I had yet to place my first story,
I wanted a way to support myself and still have time to write.
Many girls I knew in that state
moved into the sex industry.
You have to remember I'm so good
I work only two days a week,
so I still had the energy.
An admirer gave me my first pistol as protection.
I soon found I had a knack, grew used to more money
than I got from the magazines. I can feel the hard shape,
like a flat black automatic thought, tucked in the back
of the waistband under my jacket. The spare clip
a weight in my pocket I don't need.
Better travel light or be prepared? I walk tense
to be sure it won't slip down and give me away,
sit up straight so it doesn't dig in.
It's a new gun, not cheap but untried
and may not be reliable. When I find a Ladies
I can check the safety. I have painted
my eyes and brows into a perfect butterfly to distract
from my corrupt thoughts, my dark lips,
the mulberry lips, that powerful black pout.
Now that I'll never see you again
I have drawn blinds half over
the windows at my work desk.
The drawer half-open, like a miser
I have counted my medallions,
seeing for the first time
that they are plaster facsimiles
and I have only nine -
number of incompleteness.
And because we may not meet again
my chessboard is broken. Too late
I realise how I enjoyed our games.
I should have been more attentive,
wholehearted. Now you will teach
chess to others.
Now that I may never see you again,
my head is like a painted plywood diagram
of brain, eye and the machinery
of feeding and breathing. Food, air,
even to see and think, have been drained
of interest and joy.
Now that I might never see you again
a dark column rises through
the centre of my life, topped with
archaic motifs that mean nothing to me.
It threatens to upset my perspective
like a new dictator from a neighbouring state
whose language we did not learn.
I may see you again walking out of earshot
in the garden beyond the window
I cannot open. Strange horses' heads
try to speak to me when I sleep.
Outside there are sounds like Sunday morning.
Church bells, distant guns. Nearer to, whistles
as the off-duty volunteer police
quarter the hillside above the footie field.
A shout as they recognise Buonarrotti
huddled among the blocks, disguised
as a quarryman, paranoid.
When for my project: Hotel Toilets of America
I focus my Pentax
with the close-up filter
on the nearer
of the double
back of the lavatory door,
wherever does the further
prong go as I watch it blur
away to nothing in the glass box
of the viewfinder?
It can't be nowhere,
can't that moment cease
to exist in any sense,
has simply chosen absence,
to cover its tracks,
seem to disappear
like the cleverer daughter.
I should maybe say Shallowness: a paradox.
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