Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



Twenty Four Hours

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

The world walks by his side
Like a woman clutching his arm
Dressed in pearls and glistening fur.

People walking their dogs flinch
From his far and away eyes
As if he was a thug on a rampage.

A gritting truck careers by,
A flying speck splinters his eye
And makes it his only real world.

The storefront signs glow
In the dark shellac pools
Left by the driffling rain.

The moon drapes its dustsheet
Over houses as if they were
Cabinets in a museum.

Now he is alone on the damp grass
Of the recreation ground.
A blackbird sings to catch its heart

In the air beyond its beak.
Excitement roams his body
With nothing to cling to.

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 chill cube of air

From streets of a century past.
He walks a jagged track,
Tearing open expanses.

The newly minted air
Stings his eyes, scrubs
Into 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 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 where

Subject and object become one,
Metamorphosed into...
Into a metaphor, not real anymore.

The flowers she bought -
Her leaving gift - group
Like a crowd at an accident

Or disaster about to happen.
Then drop echoing into
The mirror well on the wall.

His blood flows imperceptibly
Like 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 CD 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 on the glass like soda.

His mantle clock chips
Away at the block of time to make
Timeless art that no-one will ever see.

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

Like an hour continually striking
Are the sounds of this moment in time,
As foreign as reflections in a glass,

No values or desires, as weightless
As the blood in its alleyways,
As neurons on 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 its one-sided
Argument. A police siren
Sends jabs of chronic pain.

He thinks of raising the gun,
A centimetre away from his brow,
Pulling the trigger of the undeniable,

The flower vase and clock are blown to pieces,
Shrouded in veils of yellow gunsmoke...
He breathes again, the air is cool

Refrigerated by the absence of hours.
And the girl re-appears at his door who has all
The faces of everyone he's ever loved.


© Paul Archer - All Rights Reserved