The Idlewild Rose
Jump in the air. Attached
to your bare feet a ghost
is leaping down and up:
the shadow you don’t see. For
every person living now, said
Clarke, stand thirty ghosts,
trapped on the flipside
of that particular life. Take yours
and how they would delight
in having your place in the world
no matter that it got so hard.
But this is no land for the dead,
troubled as it must remain
by their shades, the living.
Take you. Your friends are dust.
You walk alone but for their
incognito phantoms listening
in the street tonight. You play
the spoons, you play the spoons –
clacking them up to my room,
murdering my sleep in its sleep. I pull
the window open; stick my head
into your racket like a bum note.
I imagine how you got a part
in this orchestra of one. Some
beautiful soldier at an airport,
half a life ago in New York,
stormed out of your arrangement,
granted you a last half-hour as his rose
before pulling the cord –
and that was it. You were done.
Up he flew into another’s draft.
You were replaced in your life
by yourself only worse.
Now you’re a regular poltergeist
with an irregular ticker
and a chest complaint. Now
there are days when all you want is –
you don’t know what you want.
It took you ten years to believe that you
were not the one who broke his
he(was never broken)art.
Now you are the shade of a shade.
When you met him again that one time
on Sutter his eyes went through
your face without leaving a tear
and you knew. You were the core
discarded when the blade was struck.
Patrick Chapman was born in 1968. A Promiscuity of Spines: New & Selected Poems will appear in 2012 from Salmon. It follows Jazztown (Raven, 1991), The New Pornography (Salmon, 1996), Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights (Salmon, 2007), A Shopping Mall on Mars (BlazeVOX, 2008) and The Darwin Vampires (Salmon, 2010). He has also written an award-winning film, Burning the Bed (2003); an audio play, Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks (Big Finish, 2007); and a collection of stories, The Wow Signal (Bluechrome, 2007). In 2010 he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.