Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator




It began with question marks going off to interrogate
the gravestone of a political philosopher in Highgate Cemetery,
then we saw the guillemets, flocks of them on telegraph poles,
gathering before flying off in formation to southern climes,
like the colon which set off to impose itself on foreign lands,
its non-identical twin ending up in a terraced house in Croydon.

Exclamations were former models from Far Eastern countries
that had lost their grammar, couldn't spell and were keeping stumm.
Dashes were darting about so you couldn't keep up with them.
The ellipsis just wandered in circles that weren't quite round,
while the comma fled to those states with red flags and regimes
repressing the people they represented, to have lots of children.

The full stop started a dietary programme, to which it gave its name,
ever thankful that it hadn't been born female and American,
the letters went into the salad, the phrases were served
with clotted cream, and the paragraph jumped from an aeroplane,
wheeeeeh... we all knew something had gone terribly wrong
and wanted to raise the alarm, but were rendered speechless.


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