How We Used To Speak

For Matthew R Webber

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“Singing for the love of broken horses

On twisted palisades, stretching to the left

A thousand ringing symbols

Falling from palms like

The archer on his knees,

The whip-bearer whispers

Into unborn ears

Dripping, filling up poppy cups

(Each war is exactly the same)”.

Or

“Cutting cacti with leathered soles,

A view of three boys, from this

Hotel room – either east or west.

Separated by tastings, goblets raised

To the king, the king is dead.

Long life is overrated.”

Can you hear him? I thought I could.

Fluting breath – even here, now! No.

Eastwards of a Southern service

Between sips of communion piss,

Small talk from smaller minds –

Oh, months apart.

We used to talk so much, heavy vines

Hanging from your battered lips

Which wrapped around the forking paths

That fell, stony, from my chipped teeth.

Your hands are worked, man,

But not as worn as I remember them

In a hired room hot with dust,

Our voices excited with old songs and

Unread books.

I gave you cracked paint, you gave me

The words which I could see with.

It has been too long, friend.

Lower your eye.

Was there ever even envy?

Viscous tar-like matter knocked from ears

Thick with insect legs,

Or scrabbling around a coffee table

That we adorned with Sunday mornings.

We used to dance, as well, you and I.

We smuggled Czech glass

Beneath our greatcoats

(All the better to prick and probe).

Do you remember the horror of the hostess?

The time we shocked the Christmas

Out of those who questioned our crowns?

We have not the time for darkened air

To taint the corners of our visions.

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About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

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