First published in New American Writing
Copyright © 1997 John E.Tranter

Your ruin begins here, on the invitation, its
          nickel-plated manacles;
remember? you went to gloomy London on a wet Sunday;
taxi pumped full of gas I'm talking through the tube

I searched your rooms, your diary, when you were gone,
          but found nothing
at dawn a flash of grief in the kitchen
like a snapshot, the burn damage years later -

the camera fakes a portrait locked in that domain
          I listen for your words
in the space between lightning and thunder:
that gangling vitality I loved now seems robotic

art operates alongside white racks of illness
          cash deposits
notice the gallery owner adjust her taxable assets
this twinkling is brought on by their medication

it's due to a scattering of black tablets
          rattling in a tin
yes I only spent time and money on the telephone call
so you could feel better, so you would get happier

a week later I understood her spleen philosophy
          her greenish look
they can judge that to mean intimacy, or torment
I'm capable of anything when I'm distressed

behind the snow-shouldered hills, mountains of
          cloud heaped up,
in the gloomy suburb at the foot of Echo Point
everyone can hear their neighbors lying

bad liquor bottled and locked in the truck
          and Dakota Bitter,
he tilts the seat forward, and finds the weapon
among the rubbish and shadow on the floor

these were the plutocrats of the beach afternoon
          the lamplight recalled
childhood evenings playing Animal Snap with his
aunt and uncle, lemon squash, a bottle of gin

dressed-up and happy as a prize pig and
          out-staring everything
I was tainted with the taste of rain
furious people, burnt like meat on a grill

oh, what's the use of being the top dog in this
          obscure province
run off to the big city, get sick in a hailstorm
waiting for your acolytes in a red fur coat

under the holiday moon she looked like a pudgy pup,
          slush on the windscreen
clanky wipers, the blue cloud, and the furniture
she was sobbing but she conducted the orchestra

her Mickey Mouse socks like a shout, an affidavit
          attacking the drab
and now the radio speaks from our Sister Cities
with stories of angels seen haloed though a prism

lawn-drenching dawn unfolds her sprinklers
          under a tree -
you have to take a deep breath and drive him there
to the greenhouse, among the squeaky parakeets

his confused and malevolent misdirections got
          everyone lost
you are your own discipline, a motor in a shell,
this is a smeared vision of how you see things

wiping the sheet of acetate and looking through
          the blurry plastic
at some old fool wearing stretch briefs instead of
a nylon swimsuit as the regulations require

his floppy dick hanging out the slot - where's
          your dignity?
you'd turn up to meet him crying, and you should not;
everything's bronzed like the scales on a baby piranha

my room writes a terrible blank onto the mirrors
          dead ring telephone
four hundred volts in the shower - is that my fate?
to find myself lost, just as I turn to go home.

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