(previously published in Madswirl)
His obsessions could drive you mad,
they make you feel useful and strong
in the mid-November, warm, low sun,
ants, flies, mosquitoes thrive.
Your obsessions are heavy loads
things you believe to be the truth –
absolute, implacable, unavoidable –
while he keeps on mooning all day.
He feels useless, hollow and cold,
except when he decorated her flat:
pinning your father’s aquarelles
on the abhorrent clinical white walls.
Dizziness as you walked back home,
guts out, sickness, disgust, your eye blinked;
sharp glass debris, broken plastic,
as obsessive as the western wind.
He said he had the key.
Is this supposed to mean
he locks you up in your flat
His moustached face is repulsive,
red spots, lined eyes,
butterscotch fat, fiat lux,
the day he asked something
awful, absolutely vile,
a question coming from her,
the fat cow.
No bond was there
though brothers we are.
The gossamer was sliced
on a stormy day.
Filth No More
You buried your forties the same year
you left your pride behind.
They call it a stag night
where you longed to dwell
twenty years prior to the funerals.
Since that summer of sin and lust
dust has covered your life,
you were buried yourself
under layers of sand,
saw dust, pollens, soil and dirt.
No more filthy nights out,
no more sinful exchanges,
no more brothers of joy
crushed in feverish arms,
sprayed with sticky juices.
Since that reckless summer,
the summer everything
could have collapsed, crumbled
under the pressure of your hands,
your life has seemed dull, nauseous.
You buried your existence that year,
one night under the moon
as flying saucers flew by
or were they sky lanterns – you never really knew –
since you could not see clearly behind a veil of dew.
You think you would never use such platitudes as the deafening sound of silence
yet this is what you had in mind that late Monday morning
as you came back from the city of dust where another mole
tried to furrow through your thoughts lasciviously,
and what kept you awake were the red lights of the preceding car.
The radio was off – out of order – you thought – your thoughts fool you
so much lately, and you thought about him, about escaping,
about how iridescent this five-headed lamp is, about the fairies –
they haven’t shown up much recently, probably gone to help
another troubled mind, maybe gone for good, who knows?
They may have never existed. This troubled you. The red lights blazed up.
What if your life had been a long nightmarish lie? A hoax? A fraud?
These lights set fire to your brain, they flickered in this darkness,
the shadow you wrestle in, alone, misunderstood, laughed at –
or so you think. These lights became the eyes of a demon, a sprite,
flashing its eyes at you to warn you of a danger, to prevent you
from falling down in the abyss where silence mutes even itself.
Silence is the Loudest Scorn
Your mother used to say this
each time she didn’t want to be mean
though she was rough quite often:
no sweet words, no candy lies came out
of her mouth. Stale breath, harsh words
masking thoughts of compassion
most of the time.
You remembered this phrase today
as you ironed shirts, shorts, clothes,
it reminded you of afternoons watching TV,
playing in the garden or just mooning
as she spent hours behind the table
making sure the family could look clean
most of the time.
You then thought about these people around you
not answering calls, not saying hello,
not even bothering to lift their eyes
when they walk past you in the street,
or those remote friends on the networks –
vanity fairs, narcissist ponds, puddles,
for most of us.
You expected to become some star,
unreachable, sad, popular.
Vaingloriousness is your weakness.
The hum outside, the storm coming
make you wonder how much scorn
you can cope with, when silence rules
most of the time.
Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher, edits Datura, Beakful and Urtica. He has published over twenty chapbooks and poetry collections both in French and English, and hundreds of poems worldwide. His blogs http://thenightorchid.blogspot.fr/ and https://nightorchidsselectedpoems.blogspot.com/