posthumous (Mark Roberts)


he did show some promise. those early
poems were acclaimed politely but honestly
by the right people & he hoped for meetings
with publishers, small print runs & launches
upstairs with wine and cheese. but he blew
it away, pissed it up against a wall, snorted
it up a nostril. grinding poems to a dust
cutting them with whatever was in the cupboard
& whoosh! even a bad sonnet can get you high.


the dust of poems blew past him.
he can feel them like sand against his face
but they don’t form any more – he types
with no ribbon, the keys striking paper
leave an impression but no lasting image.


following the instructions he turns left
at the station exit & heads towards
the pacific highway. the fog is so thick
he can only hear the traffic. truck lights
glow through  like suns from a distant universe,
tail light flashing for an instant – a red dwarf collapsing.
the house lies across the highway
down the ridge on the spiral arm
of a dying galaxy swirling
around a lost poem.


death of the writer. death of the poet.
he is cut in half by a sharp fronted
sports car driving too fast in the fog
of this poem. he sees his destination
blurry in the distant across lanes
with no stop signs. with each step
it becomes less distinct. he step
over a body lying on the road
& decides to turn back.


flying over his life he places a grid over his poems,
a forest there on the left but everywhere else
a desert. this is no place for a forced landing
but the left engine splutters and dies. the pilot
leans back and shouts we ‘are going down’
& he hopes they can avoid the political poems
near the hill – they could rip the fuselage open
with their subtlety. but with one good engine
the pilot makes a wheels-up landing
on hot desert sand. they have to wait
for the dust to settle before opening the hatch.
the plane is buried deep in sand
& there is desert as far as the eye can see.
the captain must stay with his plane
so he will try & walk out
using a broken compass and a shattered memory.
he set out due south hoping there is poem
just over the horizon.
he remembers how the sun bleached his lines white.
they lay everywhere as he stumble towards the horizon.
above large shadows circle.


how to describe the poet crawling
towards a mirage, hazy words that die
on the page as the shadows grow larger
thinking of the sudden pleasure
of beak on eyeball.

Mark Roberts has been writing and publishing since the 1980s and currently runs Rochford Street Press, P76 Magazine and Rochford Street Review.