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 Respondent’s names have been replaced by pseudonyms to preserve inmate anonymity.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.
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.
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.
on an evening in the soft infinity.
The sheeting rain outside
is a comfort and a warning
while I solder in a copper tangle:
connections from the future to the past,
with an insulating bypass round the present.
In the stormy world outdoors,
bright cascades of lightning challenge
my pretense, until a sudden surge and roar
redacts the copper to smoke and honey,
and a circuit breaker trips.
My phone politely starts my Sunday:
Good morning human,
your mission is to find out
whether purpose matters.
Where subdivided paths marked
I saw enough to know
the truth of almost nothing.
Where falling cartoon clocks shattered
into bells and spiral springs,
I waited for a gentle sound.
Where graduated tick marks
switched the traffic lights,
I stopped to contemplate my lies.
At night when everything was hissing,
pressurized and leaking air,
colors came around, reefs of golden green,
and in the distance,
pages tore like thunder.
A rider on an insipid horse galloped
by my bedroom,
and my dream woke up
while I still slept.
Some people think we’re all the same beneath our hair,
they hope the thoughts they fear inside their head
are just a common cold. Others, that their
special vision of dominions and desires
is not a stuffy nose.
But I remember turquoise afternoons
when everything was intermediate,
and you and I could be by being,
when all our past was yet to happen
and even sins were innocent.