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Pelham’s Eye

He reclaimed the face by adding an eye to the cog.
Now encased in a black jacket; bread to beef
to flickering horseradish to a loaf filled with slopped stew,
aching eyes.

When the hand coaxes words forward
it’s travel sickness again, it’s being beneath
Christ the King’s light-sucking chandelier.
To one end of that cathedral is fractured light,
pipework of colours.

When they finished reading a page they would discard
the paper, tear it out and wipe their arses, flush folios.
I have a half memory of Henry Miller there,
his dark season, the other half moves to Paris
to delicate lemon tea cakes glazed the same as sweet doughnuts,
fractured icing.

Listen, it’s difficult to make this place warm,
to force it to keep its heat but when pipe-creaking water
boils, clunking and dripping, the hidden heater groans
above plaster cracks and cogs turn dis-harmonic
and oscillating.

“Tell Hayter to get in some lobster.” Skim the herring pond
and listen, when the milk is sipped the colour fades.
White remains, full fat not skimmed,
against the perfectly spaced black of the cog, the pupil dilated
banging a ruler against his desk then silent,
then clunking and drip.

The room warms, we watch the image fade,
offer reflections, offer ash as a mark –
me cross-legged, me watching the clock, me unbuttoning,
me wide eyed.

Then going back find dizziness again.
There is the flickering focus of full sentences,
of your not yr, of chimney stacks absent
beside absent clouds in the absent blue of a clear day,
what a cliché, and slicing through this is the orange tail of an Easyjet
flying Liverpool to Palma.

Listen, they’re lifting a whole city by its gone-jarg roots,
your last flim wouldn’t be enough
to buy back its place in the hollow.
Look, this day-long bubbling pot of scouse
is as blind as a skald, pecked at by a raven so its only song
is a scar made of steam.
Lifting, removing, so Widnes stares into the abyss.
One day they will lift off this roof,
lift out the immersion heater, clunking and dripping,
mimicking cogs, turning though time is stuck and vacant eye
sees vacant hand sees chatter of beak.

Stuck like all America’s obese dead, held in defiance
of life’s unwinding, cradled by reclining La-Z-Boys
like lovers, their form imprinted there,
their bum-luck captured in cheek-dented death masks,
lifted out by cranes into a strange world they left long ago
for fried chicken.

Listen, we can sleep at night now
without fearing cracks, their widening,
their sudden moans of giving into pressure
or pleasure.

Take down the mirror give the wall a clock,
from the gutter hangs an ice-spear
waiting to drop.


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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