I live in a house on Inconstant
Street, with weeds for a garden
and shutters that always stay shut.
I know for a fact that the world is
my oyster—it’s glued to a rock
and I can’t prise it open.
Penny Lope left a note in everyone’s mail,
an invite to a party to be held
in the street. But I didn’t get one,
so I asked her the reason.
I don’t exist, that’s what she told me,
though I’m almost sure that I do.
After all, here I am, telling anyone
who’ll listen the secrets of Inconstant
On Saturday night, I peeked through
the shutters, watched as they danced
a blue tango, and at three in the morning
a car with no headlamps appeared.
Not a soul noticed, and the invisible
motorist kept to his course. With a
cloven hoof on the gas, and his claws
on the wheel, he ran them all down.
His plates were grey numbers,
with innumerable nines, and
though I don’t have a phone,
I jotted down quite a few,
but no-one was injured, they just
went on dancing the blue.
Now Monday’s arrived and they’re still
out there dancing, I’m starting to wonder—
do I live in a street full of wraiths?
When the tango has ended, I think I’ll
see Penny, and maybe she’ll teach me
Blue Tango by Leroy Anderson is one of my favorite tangos, it has a kind of inevitability about it.
Turns out there aren’t many Inconstant Streets in the world. I only found one, at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. Although there were a number of vessels with the same name, I imagine the street was named after the sailing ship that brought immigrants to Australia in 1849. I don’t think it’s a particularly good name for a street. Or anything really.
Smoky day, George’s river.