Crossroads on the valley floor, a sign,
a part-time river colored laundry blue,
and by the water in a town, the air is scented
with hot absence, molecules in chaos
ignoring windward motion.
The parkland’s plaque is dull, I make it shine,
reflect the woken world with Brasso,
and polish out its words:
You wonder why you’re still asleep.
Your other wonders why he’s still awake.
If none of (a) to (f) apply, please explain your reasons in writing in the space labelled “Other.” Inmates are not permitted additional pages.
[A selection of “Other” responses follows. Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity. Comments scratched into the wall and/or with rows of indecipherable symbols were excluded.]
“Anonímia de Tal”
I measured my expectancies—
mantras, books, and pills in quantized repetition,
overtime and undertime spent flickering from pillow to post,
leaping with the pendulous clock,
though in a temporary lapse,
I once considered skin mites, so fearsome microscopically,
and the sparrows pecking hair lying fallen at my feet.
While I was washing roses by the gate
with a dash of liquid Omo on a toothbrush,
fish-heads came to mind,
and I began a metaphysical meander
with just the two of us: my neighbor’s cat and I.
Two chords for self-taught breathing,
causality’s unwound tidal oscillations,
nor birds nor raindrops nor Pangaea:
everyone is waiting for a doorway in the wind,
feather-dusting the furniture for departure.
The wind drops violins, my ducks are misaligned,
and the day that you created is winding up
and winding down.
I’ve spread the margarine of time
across the bread and crossed it out.
I need no answers, Alícia,
to questions no-one asked.
Cakely words by Sara Lee
are baking in the oven
and I don’t know who’s to blame.
To keep the librarian Millie happy, a library employee has agreed to do some writing. His chosen topic is transmission line theory. Part 1 is here.
Our life’s within our skin,
squeeze me to my broken bones,
I’m still outside of you,
a part of your exterior,
your shared illusion.
Beyond the gates and through the door,
over my glasses and behind my eyes,
a cozy inner planet spins.
where the dream fish leap
A traveler seeking enlightenment has finally reached his destination: Port Botany. Part one is here.
Port Botany was a failure:
answers, answers, everywhere,
to questions no-one asked
and not a drop of coffee.
The voice inside my head was silent now,
my ambition was ambitionless,
and my quest would lie forgotten
in my diary if I had one.
A flightless penitent is journeying barefoot to Port Botany after a revelatory event on the motorway—a pseudorandom monk plagiarized The Rime of the Ancient Mariner while he painted the penitent’s windscreen with seagulls. The polar spirits, Azimuth and Altitude, are helping him stay on track with cattle prods. Part one is here.
In southern Alexandria, my electric shepherds
grudgingly approved a measured stimulation,
and I queued up at a mobile coffee truck.
Before me in the line, an impatient stranger
caught my eye, and I introduced myself
with a fictional appellation.
The kraken goes shopping
I was on my way from leaving to arriving,
idling in a less-than-patient traffic queue,
when an unexpected monk
came tapping at my window.
He offered to paint my windscreen
for an altruistic price, and while he worked,
he shared the tragic story of his life.
In the west, two rivers merge,
the flows of past and future mingle
with the guests, a meet and greet.
From the shore, in a certain quality of light,
you may glimpse a flight in grey,
a moving blueprint, a system of soft levers.
Lately yesterday, lost in thoughts
of solar unattainment, I met the windwalkers,
copper blood and lightning’s megahertz whispers.
An intergalactic basket, delivered to the wrong address,
a three much like an eight,
turned out to be a hamster who used to be a synonym,
five parts fantasy, each alone and falling.
Amelia and an unnamed person, who is probably called William, are picnicking. They’ve decided that they’ll leave the conventional plane of existence by drawing near to each other. The minimum safe separation is half a meter or so. Part one is here.
I was silent.
Sorry, what was that?
I didn’t say anything.
Three café explorations.
“Reality serves at memory’s pleasure,”
something I read somewhere.
I have a tattoo with the very same words.
Quite the coincidence.
Microscopic particles of time
rain upon our lives.
Paper promises grow brittle,
mapped forgiveness folds, unfolds,
frays and tears along the creases.
Our memories refract through prisms
until the brightest day is lost
in anesthetic runes.
I heard a motor revving in the carport,
and from my gate,
I watched my Kia Starfish drive away,
with the spindly legged carport
I sleep beneath the tire marks
on roads of eggshell bones,
carried by the bubble birds
in their serrated beaks from caves
where rainy pebbles fall,
clattering on my roof, taking fluid forms.
I was painting my house with Dulux
when a whirlpool wind came calling.
It was fleeing from the west,
from particulate mirages and miracles of water.
At the Café Économique,
they serve one class of patron,
one strength of resteamed coffee grounds,
a minor bird is hopping on a plastic olive branch
and a mangy city cat is watching.
I’m seated at a likeness of a table
reading faded scrawls on a communal
In a post-apocalyptic world, a detective and his client seek to discover what lies beyond the obvious sea. Part 1 and part 2 already happened.
I follow her, wander through
the ravaged landscape
searching for her dream, a fantasy
from long ago.
At dusk, we reach a silent square
of broken swings and slippery dips,
of roundabouts and culs-de-sac,
where all the fallen houses
are numbered zero.