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Poetry

Robert Ford – 4 poems

Inside-out

 

The next day, I found you wearing my t-shirt inside-out – no doubt

the way you would’ve found it, the way you would’ve found me.

 

The statement was unclear. You needed no extra armour,

wouldn’t dream of owning me, of leashing me like a dog.

 

Its fabric stretched and slouched across you in ways I couldn’t

have ever dared imagine. Yet you wouldn’t utter a single word

 

to me that wasn’t measured out by the ounce. And you wouldn’t

meet my gaze for more than a heartbeat, as if its weight –

 

or its curiosity – might propel you over some unanticipated abyss.

But you felt it too, the intoxication, the fear lining your guts,

 

understood the unspeakable power we now possessed,

to reshape the whole, ridiculous world around us at will.

 

🍃

 

 

Growing advice for young rhubarb

 

Stir again every year with the moon still shrugging off Aquarius.

Punch through the dormant shell of the earth,

then immediately unbunch your clusters of tiny yellow fists.

Jazz hands.

Ignore the daily, icy plunge into darkness;

the fear;

the loneliness;

the space, neat rows and unfair support offered to those around you.

Save your sourness for blushing stems,

your bitterness for parachute leaves.

Go green.

Accept that you may well be neglected, unharvested, forgotten, abandoned,

yet allowed – perversely –

to thrive decades later in gardens where the house has become

no more than a shell,

a memory, even.

Fuck it.

Go berserk.

Remember you will always be enough.

 

🍃

 

 

Eaten up and spat out

 

Surely you were left amongst us by accident –

hovering above everything, button-eyed with

extra-terrestrial style, moving casually in and out

of dimensions we guessed were there but couldn’t

believe in? We worshipped you – at least until that

older kid with his monotone, jackbooted worldview,

synapses all raging with learned behaviour,

made a bloodied, breath-taking tableau of you

and your Post Office bicycle at the bus stop.

 

And we all stood by, ovine, mute, ruminating

inward thanks, because it was you and not us.

I watched your new face with its crushed ring of

fallen-angel curls, livid eyes alarmed with a sudden,

animal understanding. At nights – even now –

I scour the star-cold skies, desperately hoping

they returned to take you back, realising you were

wasted upon us. And I wonder – more importantly

– why it took them so damn long to realise.

 

🍃

 

 

Empty

 

All this energy burned up, this time elapsed,

and still everything we tried to fill lies empty.

Numbed eyes ask the other how this can be.

 

A wall of stars has slipped on their coats and

left the stage for another dawn, another silence.

A bottle sits embarrassed, naked on the table,

 

waiting to be beached elsewhere, message unread.

The bed has heard yet another of those stories

it will choose to ignore the sorrier details of later.

 

And you, me. The delusion of us. Never more

distant than when side by side, fighting for the

same air. Whispering, we walk on cartoon tiptoes

 

around the dereliction of ourselves, desperate

to avoid stirring up the forgotten ghosts as we

stumble around, wondering where the exits are.

 

🍃

 

 

Robert Ford’s poetry has appeared in print and online publications in the UK, US and elsewhere, including The Interpreter’s HouseBrittle StarButcher’s Dog and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/