Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Twenty Four Hours

He swaggers through suburbia,
each turn of the street
a twist in a tale of adventure.

The world strolls by his side
like a woman clutching his arm
dressed in glistening fur.

People out walking their dogs
flinch from his far away eyes
as if he was mad and menacing.

A grit spraying truck passes,
a flying speck splinters his eye
and makes it his only real world.

The neon signs on storefronts
sing in the dark shellac pools
under the needle of the rain.

As if they were museum cabinets
the caretaker moon drapes
a dustsheet over the houses.

Now alone on the damp grass
of the recreation ground,
excitement roams his body

with nothing to cling to.
A nightingale sings to catch its heart
in the air beyond its beak.

Returning to his room
he lies awake, foraging across
the borders of the night.

The cold pipes
wheeze and a tap clicks
its fingers in the sink,

blessings counted and recounted,
as if things spoken, not being,
he turns them over in his mind.

A dark heavy dawn
with domino dots of snow.
He lets in a chilled cube of silence

from streets of a century past.
He walks a jagged track,
tearing open expanses.

The newly minted air
stings his eyes, scrubs
his raw throat.

The snow shivers and slides
from the conifers like pollen.
Cars are stopped in their harness of snow.

Things possessed by place
attract him like a vice.
All things are considered

and analysed as if alibis
for some crime or
merely a misdemeanour,

knowing what it's like to be
a product of the heated reverie
of his room, the bed, the couch, where

subject and object become one,
metamorphose into...
into a metaphor, not real anymore.

The flowers she bought -
her parting gift - group
like a crowd at an accident

or scene of disaster
then drop echoing into
the mirror well on the wall.

His blood flows imperceptibly
like it was someone else's.
He sits before the window's gloom

and grows a little older.
The rain is scoring bullseyes
into the meltwater puddles. Now and

again. Now and... thank you
for saying... nothing (everthing)
as you turned in your scarf, thank you.

He slides a music disc into the player,
hears the vanishing forever
of every chord, every note...

watches the wind flash its silver hair
through the sash window
which he leans to pull shut.

Now the rain stammers
to get its words out,
fizzing like soda against the glass.

His mantle clock chips
away at the block of time to make
timeless art no-one will ever see.

He does whatever people do on winter days.
Now and then he finds himself as still
as people on a station platform.

Like an hour continually striking
are the sounds of this instant in time,
as foreign as reflections in a glass,

no values or desires, as weightless
as neurons cramponing up
the steep glacier of his spine.

The skyline draws a cartouche
of red counterfeit mountains,
the unclimbed alps of the sunset.

A dog barks out a one-sided
argument. A police siren
delivers jabs of chronic pain.

He thinks of raising a gun,
a centimetre from his brow,
the trigger of the undeniable,

the flower vase and clock in pieces,
shrouded in veils of yellow gunsmoke...
He breathes again, the air is cool

refrigerated by the absence of hours.
A knock on the door.
He opens it

for the girl
who has all the faces
of everyone he's ever loved.


© Paul Archer - All Rights Reserved