Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator



High Tables

In a circle of polished shoes, skirted knees,
Trousered legs, like in the ring at a circus,
Voices winging like insects, jackals, birds,
Round and round. And then -
'Where's he gone now?' The bigtop
Flap of the tablecloth opens, a face like a moon,
'Oh, there you are.'

Caught. Like he should really grow up
And know better. And so he did
And the boy slipped inside him, silently
Pleading: 'Please may I get down now?',
Meaning to slide feet-first
Under the crisp tablecloth
To be cross-legged and quiet,
And for the voices of the damned to drone

From above. 'No.'
Not when he's with the red-faced
Philosophers, slashing with shiny knives,
Clattering metal onto china,
Slurping from sparkling goblets. Not when
She's there with her mascara-lined eyes,
Slicing into him, forking chunks
Into her blood-rimmed mouth, dripping
Grease, and laughing.


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