by Ralf Webb

Bite the tape and have it wrapped around
the wound, by sundown, buddy. Carvings;
white shirts. You have seen so many things, etc.
Hello, switchboard? Get me the engineer.
These toy soldiers are covered in dust.
There is a weight that will not budge.
Switchboard switchboard, the tap in the basin
won’t stop dripping. I won’t stop dripping.
Debt, shifts. Winter is half the year every year,
the rest is a blend of haze and treetops.
Rota rota rota. The rain (laughter)
might look nice pummelling the fire escape.
The light, dog-rose and drunk, might look nice,
and evergreens hold your attention
for a little while, but. The omens are always bad.
Inasmuch as good ones mistrusted. Rota rota rota.
Operator: – are third in the queue. Stories
are useful. What happened: the unit unravelled
and its constituent parts slept in different rooms.
You stopped being able to find things funny,
ha-ha funny, anyway. Several deaths
and their associated costs; a collapsed house.
A heartbroken person leaning against
the trunk of an oak, chewing ice, tearing up
clumps of bloody grass and dirt. Wretched.
There was no more talking back, except to walls.
And you grew up, to become second in queue.
Quotes are useful, for the record: I thought
about my life choices, and concluded that this
was not a wise choice, but did it anyway,
persons being frequently unwise.
The pills went in the river with the till.
The charm of the other options wore off;
you went out shopping for knives.
Hesitation, then digging in – a separation,
hot butter, of yourself from yourself.
None of you, actually, thought this would be
a good idea: the vanishings in the basin.
You are yourself a new form of torture.
The carvings have left a bad pattern,
like sleepers on a track. Ha. Operator: Hello
Now you are first in line, at last,
and the inky expanse of your life
with its sinews and flares, its
memories of bare lightbulbs on night porches,
memories of budgets and telephones off hooks,
memories of intolerable eruptions of love –
charges directly towards you, blurry horses.
Hello. Hi. There are some things
I would like to talk about now, please.