The Deserted Soil
I. The Desert of the Dying
Watch then, the hard
Misshapen skin, worn
Away to the bone, It is
Dead and rots, No
Blood, it shrinks and shrivels
Tight against the clicking cartilage.
Pick, pick, pick away, a vulture
Feeds its children, you
Their ready grub, no keep,
Keep, keeping you at bay
(Despite the stutter, some might say)
Your fresh flesh slips down their open gullets.
They swallow, their eyes
Dark, hollow like your bones
Floating in the wind,
Like algae in the soundless, crashing ocean,
No moisture in the slavering silence.
You have never been your own. Arid skin
About your fingernail rots. He said,
Silent smacking, silence cracking.
‘Watch them eat, watch then
As vultures feed their own and the raven
Overhead casts its darkness on your pallid, wilting skin.’
Pozwol mi uslyszec
The silent smacking haunts you still.
The still, dry desert, the waters swill.
Dark, heavy bags,
Beneath your eyes hanging low
Filled with too much greed.
The night comes and goes, he says sleep does not.
One dark day,
Dark, dry, soundless…DONE
‘I’m done, I’m done’
Finally heard, only by you.
Pounding the dust. Making the dust.
The birds plummet closer and they plummet closer and
They plummet, closer still, silhouetted against the sandy sun.
You starve with your head deep in a pillow of black feathers,
Sobbing, deep, dry tears, throat grating.
A forsaken child, a muted scream.
Take him upon your knee; lay him over your knee.
Picking at a scab
To feel the fresh cool blood, but out seeps nothing,
Shrinking to a floating, hollow, skeleton,
Soundless in the sea of air,
The vultures feed.
II. A Phone Call
It is not long, not long now;
It somehow drags, drags you low
Deep, drag on a cigarette, vapour intoxicates your unblemished lungs and fills them.
Within it swells,
Your head is light and there is fire in your stained, sickly fingers,
It sticks and dwells.
A call. The telephone rings, listen, what message does it bring?
Face turning fallow, ailing daffodils late in spring
Your fingers, your wallpaper, your lungs
'The call, it said, that I am dead.'
You had not expected to be alive when it was said
You knew that you had seen them close as you rested your un-weary head.
Your hairs singe, soon the film will start
As the surface falls apart,
Ochre sun surges, yet the night air is held inside the smoke,
The smoke from your conflagrated skin.
Your ecru hair flops to the side as you turn
And facing me you begin
‘Silence is nothing and nothing is all I have, despite my shrieking flesh.’
The jaundiced morning bleeds through the smoke.
III. The Bird
A gun is fired, the bullet hits a bird
Smacks and sinks deep into the pelt. The other
Birds fly away, silently flapping wings. The flies are descending.
People rush towards it to see if it’s okay.
The bird has no head, no eyes,
No ears, no chin, no beak
Or other features of a feathered creatures cranium. The flies are descending.
Nobody eats a head, so 'good shot I say'.
Descending, towards the bleeding, headless confusion.
Poor shot, he was aiming at you…
But you cannot fly, so run away,
But you cannot fly, so run,
His gun is still in his hands and you are too near by
The clatter of the barrel, and the ringing spread from head to head.
IV. Not Swimming but Sinking.
She was taller than me, she is shorter now,
But still she is poised upon the brink;
Tremendous above the sea
She can reach me as I sink.
For I am still beating
My arms against the bland,
With awkward, heavy bones and pockets full of sand.
Oh, on on on, I was too weak always
(Still she is poised upon the brink)
I was never close enough
Can she reach me as I sink?
V. Now I Am Through
Before the sunlight, before the sunlight
Before the silent smacking
Yellow through the up-kicked sand
Before the bloody pain of scorching skin
The silence is cracking.
I never despised you for all you have done,
The shrieking and the bellowing scream
I prefer you now that the past has happened,
(Where once the past was still to occur?)
The past when we were living
The past where we are living
Let us shoot it in the head
And leave it in the desert to asphyxiate in the smoke
Of its own smouldering, putrid, membrane,
It will choke,
No water here in the deathly dry sand.
She will not save that, nobody would
She would kill it, if she could
The vultures will feed well beneath the shadow of the raven
And have the strength to wing us to the brink
Before, heavy we do sink.
But you are silent
You say, you say, you say
I always knew it was you.
You dragged me down, now I am through.