The past can also be a malevolent Jack’o Lantern with memories caked round its

arse ----shimmering in your eye ----- stinking to me.


A cunt purse wonderful miniature whale lip smiling

Slit yes                 Slit no

Wearing away mad attachments

Sand bagging itself


Fire sounds seem to come crackling

out of the cupboard.


Above a broken poplar tree under a hawk

I walk a square of tar on a spoon

meet a strange woman on the shore.

She lives she dies

pretending she was never a friend

so I can bump into myself again - - - - -


And love

the disguises she comes in.

The monkey turned somersaults full circle along the roof terrace under a spreading tree, under a grey tinged violet sky filled with swallows, a myriad of them swarming around the three or four kites tugging at their string. An idiot in starched white marched a haphazard line up & down the terrace raised above the river in the smoky twilight to scare off the monkey. Peter Schlumper lingered at his table until the chill of a deepening dusk shifted him. He stood noiselessly. A rosy light hung over the still water with streaks of emerald cutting across from three unusually bright lamps. To the delight of a round faced woman leaning on a balcony the red full moon popped out of the sooty gloom & slowly flayed the river. Schlumper swiveled between the blood light & the gold flame to his right as he heard gasps of pleasure amongst the shadowy walls below by the river bank & wondered if the letter he had sent had set in motion the actions he only vaguely hoped for. Was this moon auspicious? Had the message even got there? One last hurdle, I hope, he said to himself, & I’m out of the wood. He had been buying womens’ jewelry, although he didn’t know any person to give it to, pieces he didn’t need; perhaps the drive for this pointless action came from a desire to recapture some insatiable love he had lost years ago. And he was troubled again not by the mess he made of it all, he had known that at the time, but because he had stayed in it. Deep in the middle of that love he had hated part of himself for being there. For taking the cold-blooded insults.

“I stood there for years dazzled by the heat coming off that body. Blinded by a shape I never saw.” He said to the back of a woman in the chair he held. “Entranced.”

“By what?” She was terse. “Nonsense.”

And he shook his head in disbelief at the times he had gone back on his resolve to flee. “I wanted to escape. But where to?” And with this he owned the weakness, it must have been a grave internal deficiency that made him stay put. What was it that gave sense to the constricted feelings he had of this life together? She had never demanded much, but lived a life fragmented into inexplicable episodes causing hurt & despair by her need to embellish, in it, the memory of a long decayed corpse with wonderful acts. He sighed again at the way he had devised excuses to avoid believing what he thought. Perhaps he had been transfixed by those acrobatic flights of fancy & so able to cloud over the bleak horizon. After the first erotic jubilation had deadened the pain of grief he had been sure the sky was always going to be blue. But soon there had been insidious conditions, narrowing impositions & a variety of ploys & excuses difficult to finger but negative, that had destroyed any attempt at establishing a momentum, so the affair had seized up; atrophied into the exchange of a few pleasant phrases.  He had talked these pleasantries out of his head & back again countless times. They came round & round & round spinning in his mind like a mad dog.

“Clarity & artistry were absent.” Xax’s low voice immediately rang true. “You had to put them in abeyance. Then you stopped painting. You were frozen. Where was it going? Don’t answer. You always knew!” The round-faced woman who had clapped her hands at the red moon took his arm without a word & pulled it close to her body.

As they strode towards his room the top step dissolved & he stumbled against the terrace iron-work, banging his forehead & bruising a finger that took the full force of his fall. She gasped.

As she helped him scramble to his feet Schlumper remembered hearing a voice from the past close to his ear. ‘You said many times, I can’t find the same place twice but I am rooted to the spot. You always asked aloud ‘What could have been?’ your cry was always, ‘What? What?’ Schlumper rubbed his head wondering why he had fallen. He had always been surefooted.