There’s something unfortunate about seven a.m.,
when the dreams of worlds that might have been
ascend into the vanishment.
As I traveled the Redfern Rail one night,
through tunnels that smelled of soot and ghosts of steam,
I chatted with a stranger. Her auburn hair was wound
with a golden asp, and she told me this:
Your mind’s your own, to do with as you will.
I saved mine for special occasions,
believed in pixels and maquillage,
bowed and chanted to great Osiris,
but I know better now.
Could you be a little more specific? I asked.
While the subtle threads of night are waiting for the day,
the Cleaners come and bleach
our thoughts, erase the otherworldly from
our minds; from mirrors and machines,
from shadowed light and brilliant darkness,
all is lost.
I couldn’t forget her words, and on
one moonless night, I decided on a vigil
with a candle, a weighty novel,
and a selection of low calorie sweets.
But on page two or three,
the Brothers Karamazov and somnolence
I woke with a start to find myself
surrounded by the Cleaners,
pixies in white overalls, small and insubstantial,
yet each as effective as any TV commercial.
They sprayed and cleaned, swept and dusted,
wiped away the outlandish and impalpable,
the supernatural and ineffable,
the unbelievable and improbable,
until just the strictly ordinary remained—
my radioactive print of Jimi Hendrix
and a hint of lemon fragrance.
I formulated a plan, procured
an industrial vacuum cleaner, second hand,
at a not unreasonable price,
with a scoop attachment, pixie-sized,
thrown in for free.
And in my headlong rush,
I never paused for a moment
to consider what the consequence might be.
In the early hours of the following day,
I hoovered them up, each and every last one,
freed my mind and waited for the truth
to be revealed.
I dined at seaside restaurants
with the polymorph Ardênia,
folding paper napkins into swans,
listening as she spoke of celestial mysteries,
while the rain outside pattered on the sea,
and the citadels and spires of old Atlantis,
formed of solid ether, shimmered in the mist.
On nature strips, in parks and gardens,
the Muses Polyhymnia and Terpsichore
chased me with a lyre and a spade,
inflicting bruising punishments on a whim,
and by night the creatures of the shadows
confronted me, invaders from another realm,
life denied by human logic,
and not to be described in media rated G.
The stranger with her gilded asp
has never crossed my path again,
and the Cleaners, who I so callously offended,
never forgave me for their contretemps
in my recycle bin.
Still I pray and offer penitence,
beseech and plead with any god,
visible or unseen, begging them
to help me, to lift the burden
of my perception.
Between the oceans,
from the pebbles to the sky,
shards of darkness lie in wait,
and I know now that I don’t want to know.
Yet I must confess I’d like Ardênia to stay.
- Osiris, ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife and re-creation
- Dostoyevsky, “The Brothers Karamazov” (1879)
- Polyhymnia, the multipurpose Muse of sacred poetry, eloquence, agriculture etc, and Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. I’m sure several of the Muses would enjoy beating me up.
what is on tv? (re-evolved)