in a corner
where vinyl careers
& a loudspeaker blares
& horse eyes glare
the wall is smeared
with bloody mary
A toddler-sized rabbit squats
under the lychgate. Its dusty coat
is nicotine cream. Inscribed
overhead, To The Blessed Dead.
It paws a pleated handkerchief,
ears sweep the varnished seat.
The wooden arch is scratched
TNL and CVL went in WAR 14.
Autumn leaves crackle on a path
to the graves. Inside the church,
stained glass bright, the Vicar’s
wife tips wilting lilies into pails.
water in winter
a rat slips into ripples
silver under clouds
A tall woman rustled towards me at the ball. Her wine swayed ruby in a thin-stemmed glass. Drums ruffled. A papier-mâché mask patterned with tiny red flowers and green tendrils hid her face. Two words were tattooed on her neck: ‘Love’ above and ‘Death’ below. She bent to kiss me. I pulled away from her midnight lips and woody smell.
‘Love,’ she whispered.
I showed her my pocket watch, scrubbed by the rubble of time.
She unfurled her fingers and stroked my arm. ‘You have twenty-five minutes left,’ she said, ‘use them.’
First published by Mslexia
Image by Matt Benoit
He left art on a path.
Passers-by kicked in the cheek,
bruised the chin, dislodged a
nostril, finished the work,
How small I am compared to America,
a microscopic speck.
Am I here at all?
That’s me, I see, passing down a corridor at four a.m.
So quiet now the world’s asleep.
There’s no bustle, no scuttle, no wait for the elevator.
Just me and a moth, a velvet-winged hawk,
hug the cold wall.
I glide down the passages bearing my past,
a stethoscope, and your fading, jade ring.
I’ve been called to Five North
to save a patient.
Sometimes I sits and thinks.
Other times I sits and drinks,
but mostly I just sits.
Neal Cassady, The First Third 1971