Paul Hardacre

Four Poems

John’s Gita

russian ballet bookstore
intersection of vulture &
boundary shelves ache from
the weight of summer palaces
yachts state banquets troops
in review gold &

lapis lazuli the river god
Lennon carried aloft trademark
specs ramshackle palanquin &
saffron-clad ju-ju devotees
eyes down absorbed in text eunuchs
bound in green muslin

the cover reads Collected Snakes
the frontispiece bears the anonymous
hand-written inscription : colour by numbers.
make a house of the world. imagine everything.

Hand Carved Idol from Minsk

In a packing crate, carefully wrapped in
newspaper I found the key to write on
cardboard in disjointed English spread
out exquisitely embroidered cloths and
blankets on the dirty flagstones curse
smart-mouthed private schoolboys cry
poor hunt neighbourhood cats with a blunt
kitchen knife and strangle all opponents
with standard issue KGB shoelace not as
ridiculous as it sounds the blood on your
hands tells its own story.

In a drain that flows down to the river,
under discarded branches and blood-clotted
syringes I found the ability to strike fear into
the hearts of friends cover my flesh in ash
cut oranges throw them about the cemetery
display scars from landmines and other
fraudulent tales of compulsory military
service three years spent shooting and
butchering your alleged Soviet brothers all
you get is a letter at the end of it all certifying
that you know at least twenty different ways
to regurgitate your medication, and that you
have been known to dislocate your left
shoulder at will.

In a cigarette box on a shelf above the
refrigerator I rediscovered an old amphetamine
habit, found myself laughing at the thought
of you explaining motifs symbols languages
then acting dumb playing dead so to speak
the cities of the world know the story a bitter
testament to those unfortunate comrades who
perished in a queue for bread or were incarcerated
for sitting on the floor of a grocery store, staring
at the empty shelves where once there had been
colourful American objects, perhaps even a
can of coke.

In the fire in the sky at night, I remember your
instructions : marry Irina flee to Lithuania make
a home in the forest contemplate the mantra of
the owl draw pictures of God on the inside of your
skull intimidate local troublemakers with an axe
if need be but above all else be patient find salvation
in the fact that the storm, like most things, will find you.

Pacific Star

clutching its chest
pink knitted resignation

a clown
wears knees for medals
blue synthetic flower

eyes slouched against
a mirror
witness to extinction

high in the mountains
no mercy from the Japs

only barbarous poison
stew on Good Friday
and

night seeping through the wall
filling a hole with silence,

a single-pointed star
on the horizon.

Minotaur (A Prayer)

Inside a stand of mango trees
home to spiders rot and shade
you lie before me taut and ashen
pumice-flesh bound in course
hessian cerements. Archaic
and naked photographic flash
burns my mind with murderous
suns I am under the house in the
cool with no memory of bottles
or hands or ancient brown reliquaries
filled with every kind of nail screw
fragrant polishing oil barley sugar
shellac or sweet meat. A mouse
feeds somewhere in the dark night,
cutting ambrosia for food. I do not
know the colour of the mouse. I
have fallen into the sea or sky. A
round of applause. A television.
I know the silence of ground zero.
A dream without sleep.
Barefoot and crouched over your
corpse, I cut. Into your chest I
pour a mixture of warm menstrual
blood the froth of rabid dogs
aromatic gums the tongue of a
corpse-fed hyena and the fresh green
leaves of plants on which I had spat.
You return in a wave that takes me
downstream for days, fearful of
dark expanses that take and do not
give. Photic excitation brings the
journey to an end giving way to
recollection and volumes of photographs
filled with every lunchroom we had ever
spent time in and outside if you look
closely you can just make out through
the window behind me the streets
filled with the bodies of hanged soldiers
and together we sigh and say oh yeah
and recall how the families were always
walking around gingerly in an attempt to
avoid the ejaculate and piss. We talk of
sleep and burnt-out railway carriages
and departure lounges and the mist and
rain of that morning at Varanasi when we
typed the execution orders and threw them
into the waters of the Ganges and bought
prayers from holy men and I can still smell
your skin and I resign myself to the truth
that it is only in my dreams that you are
alive.

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