from Ghostly Archeaology (II)

Four shades of the shadow, and one of Clark’s bleary men,
the third, following the locomotive, all the way to the electric chair.
Don’t ask me how I came to be here, so far from the railroad.
And is the iron certain, where the magnet rests? This probe
into legend, exposure of origin… I say, aren’t you going to get up?
The surreal white horse, out of frame, once more, vexatiously thwarted,
shadow people, shoved into corners, under bridges.
Doesn’t the road just loop, straight on round?
I can’t locate the sound, shape a spell of opening.
Onyx water, brink of winter, and three shadows, in my room.
I hear a whisper, sense the musky colour of rain, settles in garnets,
droplets of silver as sleep comes, singing in a bowl, with one last brew
of the stars, before the melting of the clock.

Vertical rainbow, bands of black and blue. Trees, bare of leaves
and a white light exposes a page of confession, torn from my diary,
and shadows in strings, the stave of my wall. Clear-cut stars,
the benign night that sets the sun, in the blood…
Meanwhile, a skeleton rises in a country churchyard,
a twilight meander, through the roots, flint and slate of my bones.
A break in the water, split in stridulation, combustion of light,
stir in abstraction, as I follow the glow, through the interlock,
the path glimmer and branch weave… night vanishes
and a voice says rise as the tallest silhouette sings,
in crystal syllables, precision plucked from a string,
and the omens, a pair of gold scissors, dust in the tobacco tin.
I’m in a confusion, confounded by complexities of cupboards, transfixed
by reflections, fooled by figurine tricks. Upstairs, in my bedroom,
the sliding of a drawer, while I am lost in debate with my dishwasher,
and, at the same time, an imagined conversation with my mother,
as we rake over the coals, legacy of Margaret Thatcher.
I wish she was still alive, my mother that is… then I remember,
she is, and I live alone. The drawer slides closed.

I sleep in a bowl of sound with the music of stars,
Frida Kahlo, bathes in Ophelia tendrils
and I haven’t seen a watch or clock in years
as the way opens once more, the tree avuncular,
golden like a phoenix under its skin of red bark
and I awake to a day that smiles, after following
yards of thread, hoodwinked
in the catacombs of honey cells.

I write in the dark, grey mist at my window, and the echo,
reverb, of an Atlantic gale, a Ferguson TV for company, gold dial,
three silver-tipped switches, UHF, contrast, brightness.
The archaic screen, green, crepuscular and I’m at the trinity of control,
as I try to synch the perfect picture, impossible to unify the shade, haze,
shimmer of a pixelated ghost. Poetry pamphlets stacked under the radiator, forgotten
poets, and the one’s  that were never found… I read a few lines:
something about the edge, and a moth, too soon, burned by the flame.
I step out of my door, the narrow lane of cobbles and a young man,
bald as a billiard ball, ricochets out of nowhere, shell suit,
asks me three times if I’m alright, a can of super-strength lager in his paw.
There’s not much difference between the sound of a raindrop
or a kamikaze bluebottle striking a wall. No, not much at all.
Later, down on the beach, I wonder, what do the black
and white checks represent? Perhaps it is safe here, to play chess?
The Babewatch life-guard, blonde hair and sun-glasses, red puffa,
straddles her quad like Boudicca, scans the sea, and then,
barefoot, treads the invisible tightrope between flag-poles,
searches for capsized chess pieces, knights of foam,
bishops and rooks mated in the shingle.


Jonathan Chant
Illustration: Claire Palmer


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One Response to from Ghostly Archeaology (II)

    1. “There’s not much difference between the sound of a raindrop
      or a kamikaze bluebottle striking a wall. No, not much at all”.

      This is what a poet’s ear is there to catch.

      The great stretches of time collapsed between Boudicca and a babe in a puffa jacket.


      Comment by Duncan Jones on 25 July, 2020 at 4:54 pm

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