Tom’s Lagoon (Louis Armand)

Posted on August 18, 2017 by in Heightened Talk


1.
Teeth in a jar, corks screwed to
arthritic fists. A ten-mile stretch
of frozen sky reflected in it.
They stoop there, anchored,
boy & old man pocketing scrap
from the condemned lot.
It’s not what was promised, but there’s a pattern in it:
an interior surface
gazetting the solemn
high reverence
of the late lamented.
Putting on the glad rags,
the wowsers fluff their wings on the power lines,
eyes out for a chance at a dog’s dinner.
The beseeched world
extends a charitable view –
things construed as y’d construe a missing link,
a tribe of unhinged dressing table mirrors.
They’re standing now
at the lopsided front door.
One breath
& the whole
thing’ll collapse.

2.
Well they set up shop there ’cause all around was swamp-
infested, making a campfire of their one lifeboat
& kept watch from under the charred gunwale. Y’d’ve
mistook ’em all for Rabbis. And this was the grand
beacon-on-the-hill that squirt Austrayan with the turd
in his buttonhole was busy praising to the portside of Blighty.
(They knew a good thing when they could sell it cheap.)
It was time, all hands agreed, to found a new master race,
so one of them gold-panning yanks stuck a Wiradjuri girl
up a stag tree & they sat around downing turps while the march
of the black cockatoos dressed them in feathers & buckshot
& gold raiment & made right royal bastards of the lot.

3.
Who knows, how long it lasts –
bringing in the salt harvest,
the dying species under a wire-frame moon,
life after the fact?

You lie there, a withered bathtub demagogue
dreaming a swansong’s bought encore.
Television. The cosmic dark horse
hanged with a two-dollar belt.

One last unbearable meal –
the man in the Houdini mindtrap,
the matchstick tower, the smear on the
sidewalk. Let these be warnings

to children weaving fairyfloss from your dead hair.
Spectral teeth grind-out 4 a.m. soliloquies.
The Indian Summer that year
stalked them more abjectly than ever.

4.
In the dead of night – creeping up to the bar
at the Australia Hotel

like a Burma Railroad demolition crew.
Another April fool

on a three-week binge, hoisting
the Southern Cross

& digging-in for a saga of recaps long as the Mekong,
taxing to a nation

with a five-minute attention span.
The night they burnt

the place down, tabloid photo-fit intaglios
of Australopithecus

with a lip stiffened by a piece of four-by-two:
Such is life, they said,

sensing the moment was historical. The closing-time
referendum declared

an anti-republic six generations antique
bred from Bex powders

& fluked sheep. The fire brigade rang the anthem
through the streets,

the Unknown Soldier wept. Hearing a parade
was in the offing,

the whole town lined up for miles around,
just for the chance to piss on it.

 

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Louis Armand is the author of eight novels, including The Combinations (2016), Cairo (2014), and Breakfast at Midnight (2012). In addition, he has published ten collections of poetry – most recently, East Broadway Rundown (2015) & The Rube Goldberg Variations (2015) – & is the author of Videology (2015) & The Organ-Grinder’s Monkey: Culture after the Avantgarde (2013). He lives in Prague.

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