star

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a six-pointed fabric gold starRussland, russische Kriegsgefangene (Juden)

pinned to your chest

you attached it yourself

how could you comprehend

it marked you out for death?

 

like the oversize white Xs

they paint on the trunks

of condemned trees

in suburban streets.

 

a line of numerals

on your forearm

reminds you of the time

you fell into a world of harm:

a nightmare you couldn’t wake up from.

 

your cancelled future may have held a child

with no idea that that school badge of merit

that proud distinction

now coveted and craved

pressed onto the top

righthand corner of the page

once spelt extinction.

 

perhaps he can still remember

the unique and special

taste of the paste

on the tip of his tongue,

as he carefully moistened

its delicate reverse.

he may equate it with success,

a past perfumed with chalk dust,

promise and hopefulness.

 

but you too were once like this,

running in a playground

of levelled light-grey gravel,

invincible and breathless,

a coloured sash across your chest.

unafraid and innocent,

not knowing what it was then

not possible to know.

and now there is no unknowing it.

 

 

 

Image from Wikipedia, Antisemitism

five pm

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thank goodness for the ends of days.

arrive home in time to watch old heroes

escape from paradise, to shower off

the menopausal women, talking about

pyrex dishes and bread and butter pudding.

or betty who had her cat put down.

distressing stories passed around like herpes,

or someone’s packet of scampi and lemon crisps.

we say goodbye to the machine.

take refuge in the endless adventures of the screen.

parade

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Equanimity

Is that look he wears

When the sun goes down;

The quiet satisfaction

That another day has passed

Without quite breaking him in its grasp.

 

Through a crowd of others,

All insignificant, oblivious,

His gaze is locked on hers.

And his face is stricken,

A picture of lostness and despair

She simply cannot bear.

 

An anguish bone deep

He can no longer conceal.

But he won’t bother to

Beseech his tormentor,

Expecting no mercy

And craving no quarter.

 

He accepts his lot is

To be brokenhearted,

Vilified and damned.

Won’t stretch out his hand

To save himself;

Declines to even lift his head.

 

Nothing to be done

But weather the storm.

Circumspect and brave,

Endure, endure, endure.

He’ll stiff upper lip them

All into the grave.

 

Video from Katya Aristova on YouTube

uninfatuated

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motel copyhis laugh punctuates his campfire tales

infecting you with warmth –

your limbs relax into a hot water bath

of the safe place of his heart.

 

he spins a truthfulness into your head,

revolves your name around his tongue,

you tend to believe whatever he’s said

when he’s tangled up in damp sheets on the bed.

 

he rubs his eyes like an exhausted child

intent on staying awake to prove a point.

sometimes his expression is astonishingly mild,

other times it’s like he’s burning up inside.

 

there’s a languor to his

early morning limbs.

he could wring his hair out,

its black tendrils drip over

the honey toned sweetness of his face.

 

he’s slick with sweat and accident

in a sticky Louisiana summertime

where the air feels like long ago

and the road in the distance shimmers

like you once saw in a movie.

 

the nicotine kisses you used to find

so intoxicating you shy away from now,

his mouth like an ashtray on yours,

his face lit and unlit by the lights of cars

pulling in and out of the motel lot.

 

there’s times his turning and setting

his watch down on the night stand

by the budget room queensize bed

has a finality as definite as

the metallic slide and click

of someone behind you loading a gun.

 

Photo by Belinda

your mother

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ironing in the semi-detached,

saturday afternoons that have already

blended into night time in November,

do you remember,

as you throw things away out of drawers,

your mother maybe in an apron

(not as I recall her, shrunken, beaten,

white-haired, drinking ginger wine

out of a flask, in an old people’s home)

but young, trodden on by circumstance,

arriving at dawn in strange halls of big houses,

or in rain, shivering outside doors?

 

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